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The point of detention? To teach skills

Date: December 30th, 2015
By: Polly Bath

Polly Bath: It’s fine to use detention as a teacher-level consquence, but it matters what we do during that time.

It doesn’t matter how long a kid is in detention for, 42 minutes, 22 minutes, or 10 minutes. What matters is having a cause-and-effect conversation with the child. Discuss what his/her behavior is, what it’s creating, and how we’re going to give him/her the skills needed to make the behavior better. That should be the whole point of detention!

Then, when we’ve come to some agreement, some consensus, with our student, he/she can go home. Or I say to the parents, “The detention could take 15 minutes or it could take 50 minutes. But we have to get to some sort of goal before your child can go.” Now, I don’t say they have to stay until it’s figured out, because then the kid will be with me for a week and a half.

Don’t have the kid come in detention and do homework, or sit there with their head down. That is just a waste of their time and yours! If the consequence for the child’s behavior is doing time, it’s not going to do anything for the kid. Instead use the detention to teach skills, then you will start to see a change in the child’s behavior.