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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The little darlings » » Working with the tough kids on the block!!! (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

owenwildboy
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Owen Wilder
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I am fairly new to this forum and therefore don't know if this has been discussed before. If it has please point me in the right direction.

I am about to start working as an Educational Youth Worker with kids aging from 7-14 who are on the margins of society. Some of these kids, understandably will find it hard to open up and put their trust in me.

As a teacher/youth worker I have found magic to be a great way to break down barriers, but this new job could be a lot harder.

Could anyone give or suggest tricks and stories that are good for making strong first impressions and breaking down barriers?

Thanks

Owen (the wild boy)
Scott F. Guinn
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I have found that just doing my regular stuff works great. I have worked extensively with abused kids and those in psychiatric or penal detainment centers. A few things to be careful about:

Let them have "their space." Make sure to ASK before touching their hand to give them something, etc.

Don't do anything with scissors, etc.

Don't do anything that requires a lot of memory or reading on their part. Some of them can't read.

Don't "preach" to them and don't treat them as if you are afraid to get to know them. Just be yourself, andlet them know by your attitude that you care about them and would like to be their friend, but don't expect to be right away. Some of them will warm to you immediately, but others will take months or even years.

I'm sure you'll do fine. The fact that you are concerned enough to even ask about this tells me your heart is in the right place.
"Love God, laugh more, spend more time with the ones you love, play with children, do good to those in need, and eat more ice cream. There is more to life than magic tricks." - Scott F. Guinn
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owenwildboy
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Owen Wilder
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That's really helpful advice.


Thanks
Quentin
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Children, especially younger children will talk and confide in a puppet much quicker than with an adult.
Peter Marucci
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They are certainly going to want to know "how you did it", so be prepared to show, explain, and teach a couple of simple, basic tricks:
Paper clips on bill, jumping rubber band, etc.
cheers,
Peter Marucci
showtimecol@aol.com
owenwildboy
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Owen Wilder
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Again, more helpful stuff.

Thanks

Owen Smile Smile Smile
Warren Peace
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Dear Owen,

We work in very similar arenas, I have worked for the last 10 years in a school for students with behavioral problems. I also have used magic to break down barriers with great success with "at-risk" children. Here are a few tips I have learned over the years:

1. Wait for neutral times to approach the child. When they are not angry or upset.

2. Start out with quick visual magic, and save the "in your hands" stuff for after you have built some trust between yourself and the child.

3. Use the magic as a reward for good behavior...i.e. I'll do a magic trick for you after you have completed all of your work, or I will teach you a cool trick(as suggested by Peter) if you can maintain good behavior all day today. (it is often tempting to show some magic to the child who is sitting in front of the principal's office and bored silly, but we don't want to encourage children to get sent to the office on the off chance there may be a magic show in store...)

4. Be careful when showing a trick to a small group, it tends to send them into a tizzy and can be very disruptive if done in a classroom or cafeteria. Tell them in advance that they have to keep as quiet as possible or you won't be able to show them anything else later.

I hope that this helps in some small way...please email me if you would like to discuss any more ideas, strategies, etc for working with my favorite children.

P.S. I have also taught behavior management to several school districts so if you need any ideas email away!
Ken
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Hi owenwildboy

I think the most important thing is to be yourself. If you genuinely care about them and are willing to stick around even when things are tough you will eventually gain their respect. One of the common negative factors for young people at risk is to do with the break down of relationships with significant people in their lives. Continuity and consistency is very important as is being non judgmental.

I think magic that is introduced in a natural way will be both interesting for the young people and helpful to you in breaking the ice. I don’t think that it should be in any way associated with punishment or reward as this could put young people off magic for life.

Best wishes
Ken
Phil Lawson
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Young children are great to preform for. Just two points,

1. Angles are a problem with children kneeling down or even letting them sit down and rest on a chair.

2. Make sure you gain their respect, then when you ask them to do something they behave in a mature fashion.
owenwildboy
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Owen Wilder
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Really helpful advice.
Thanks everyone
Michael Peterson
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I worked in Group homes with at risk juvenile offenders for several years. I would always start out by bringing out a deck of cards & asking them if they knew any card tricks, most of them did from spending time in juvenile hall.

I would let them do whatever tricks they knew & then ask if they would like to see some of mine, usually I got great reactions from them. If they wer'e interested, I would offer to show them how to do a trick & tell them that if they got it down good, I would show them another.

Some of them took a real interest in learning more, I would tell them I would show them more if homework & housework was taken care of & we could spend some uninterupted time together.


It makes me happy when I see these kids sometimes & they tell me they are still doing the tricks I showed them. My other favorite is when they ask me to Pleeeeeeease show them some magic.

Working with these kids was a great experience, they taught me alot.



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owenwildboy
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Owen Wilder
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I like that kind of approach.

Thanks

Owen
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