“Ok crew! Time to line up!
Ok, we’ve got everyone except...Ainsley!
Time to stop and line up, Ainsley.
No, don’t keep jumping into that pit, it’s time to go!
C’mon Ains, line up!
Ok, you’re going to lose your stamps if you don’t line up in 3, 2, 1……
Ok, you’ve lost your stamps…”
That kiddo who, after you’ve given a five-minute warning, sang your clean up/get out of the pit/line up song, won’t stop her play and follow directions.
She’s an otherwise awesome gymnast in your class, but when she’s doing something she doesn’t want to end, her gymnast superpower emerges from the shadows.
She becomes...The Ignorer (cue superhero music... ‘dun dun dunnnnnn!’)
The Ignorer’s Origin Story
Ignorers are a challenge because, like adults, kids just flat out don’t want to stop when things are fun. They seem to suddenly lose their hearing, direction following skills and understanding of gym rules when it’s time to move onto something else. This happens a lot during pit time, and short of jumping into the pit to get her, she won’t line up until she’s ready, thankyouverymuch.
It’s difficult because now you’ve got a line of gymnasts behind you and the Ignorer still doing her thing. It might be tempting to threaten to take away her end of class stamps, but I’m not a fan of this approach. It makes the end of class messy and combative — and she’s followed all of your directions and worked hard except for this one thing. It’s just not a great way to end class, but for many coaches it’s the only bargaining chip.
The Ignorer’s Kryptonite
Here is the kryptonite that works for almost every Ignorer, and it’s your coach superpower.
You become...The Coach Super-Narrator (cue more superhero music ‘na na naaaaa!’)
Here’s what to do: as kids are leaving pit time, simply list what they’re doing. You’re not praising them (I’m pretty hardcore about not becoming a praise machine); you’re simply narrating what they’re doing.
“Ok! It’s time to get out of the pit!”
“Gemma’s getting out of the pit and lining up, Tucker’s getting out of the pit and lining up, WHOA! Adele is lining up at lightning speed…”
You are basically sending the silent message to the ignorer “yeah, I see you not listening to me. But, I’m unfazed by it. Look at all of these kids who ARE following my directions.”
Do not call out the Ignorer. Use everyone’s name BUT the ignorer’s name. Don’t call attention to her when she’s not lining up. Instead, when you dictate what everyone around the Ignorer is doing (the behavior you want to see), she will see there is another party that she’s missing and wants to be a part of.
The Ignorer will need extra attention when this transition comes. Make sure to individually connect with her when it’s almost time to leave her favorite activity. It can be a gentle whisper in her ear saying “it’s almost time to line up, and I expect you to be on time” and give her a high five to remind her that you’re on her team.
Let’s be real here and admit that she WILL BE the absolute last one out of the pit. But if she’s out, and in line, it’s a win. When she does follow your directions, praise her thoughtfully for lining up on time. The Ignorer needs to know you’re still on her team and see that she worked hard to follow your directions.
Ok, super coaches! Narrator super powers activate! ZAP! BAM! KAPOW! ;)