When I was an English teacher, I always appreciated the student who could make a funny comment. In fact, I still believe that a well-timed, on-topic one-liner actually enhances the classroom environment. On the other hand, the nonstop, over-the-top jokester was never a welcome addition to my class. This student not only distracted from the teaching environment, but also frustrated the other kids with poorly timed remarks.
There is a comedian in most every classroom. If you are the parent of this student, you have, most likely, received a note from school highlighting your child’s antics. It’s hard to discern, though, if your child is simply being silly or if his or her “clowning around” is a problematic behavior.
To investigate that behavior, first determine why your child would rather entertain the class than do the expected work. Some kids are overly social and crave additional activity. Their behavior is often an attempt to liven things up, rather than to distract from academic tasks. With appropriate encouragement, these exuberant children can be easily directed to productive pursuits.
Other students, however, clown around because they are trying to mask a problem. A child with a learning difficulty may find it easier to make a joke than focus on schoolwork, and a student with social struggles may use humor to earn the attention of neglectful peers.
Clowning has its time and place, and a good classroom comedian knows when it is appropriate to tell a joke. If, however, your son or daughter engages in excessive comedic behavior, it might be time to meet with his or her teacher and get to the core cause of the concern. With guidance, most students are able to channel their foolish performances into positive energy.
Prior to going into private practice as a psychotherapist and learning-disabilities specialist, Russell Hyken, Ph.D., Ed.S., M.A., LPC, NCC, worked for more than 15 years as an English teacher, school counselor and school administrator. Visit him online at ed-psy.com.