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5 Gifts to Give Your Child For School

5 Gifts to Give Your Child For School

It’s getting close to the start of school and you can feel the emotions in the air. There is excitement, fear, uncertainty, anticipation, restlessness, and worry and that’s just from the moms! I am guessing that some students are feeling the same emotions. Yes, there is always a bit of fear of the unknown but for kids that have had a “bad experience” going back to school can be scary and demoralizing. As a parent you hope this year will be different and that your son or daughter will get a teacher that understands him/her and can actually help them develop strategies that will get their homework done in a reasonable time and teach them to learn. That’s not too much to ask, is it? Gift 1: First up is to decide whether or not to tell the new teacher all about your child’s struggles and challenges before she even meets him or her? Or do you wait a bit and then provide the teacher with the effective strategies your child developed with last year’s teacher? To tell or not to tell, that is the question. Is it better for your child to have a clean slate and to make their strengths and weaknesses known on their own terms to the new teacher or to provide the teacher with the outside testing, recommendations, and a record of their failings from the past year? Having taught for over 18 years, I just want to say that your child deserves to be recognized for who they are….right at this moment and not who they were last year. As hard as teachers...
Helping or Hurting? The Dilemma of Enabling vs. Empowering

Helping or Hurting? The Dilemma of Enabling vs. Empowering

We all want our children to grow up to be responsible, successful members of society. Isn’t that what you want for your child? So we “help” them at every turn so that they can make it to school on time, complete their homework perfectly, and get good grades. But are you really helping or are you hurting them? Let me explain. If your child or teen has ADHD/ADD then you know that they struggle with routines, focus and remembering what they need to do as well as, doing what they know they need to do. You may feel that if you don’t remind your teen then they would never get out the door in the morning or finish their homework. And you may be right. However, providing them with the information they need before they have had time to consider what comes next does not help them develop the necessary skills to become independent instead it makes them dependent. Think about these questions: Are you helping your son or daughter create a routine to get out the door (with everything they need) or are you telling them what to do each day? (Ex. get your shoes on, did you brush your teeth, do you have your homework? And on and on.) Are you empathizing and really trying to understand what they are feeling or are you just trying to solve their problem by telling them what they “should” do? Are you checking their homework and making them correct it so that the teacher doesn’t know that they are struggling with it? Are you reminding them of everything they have...
Attention 101

Attention 101

October is ADHD Awareness Month, so let’s talk about attention. Does your child take a long time to complete their homework? Have you heard things from the teacher like, “your child needs to pay more attention in class,” or “he/she is distracted and needs to focus more?”  Well, it turns out that it is not as simple as “paying more attention.” There are actually three different kinds of attention (according to the all kinds of minds website). I’ve summarized the three types below and added some strategies that might be helpful below that. (I used the pronoun, “they” rather than “he/she” to simplify.) 1. Mental Energy is really about how awake the brain is and how consistent the energy level stays. Alertness –can they concentrate when necessary? Sleep habits – do they get a good night’s sleep and wake rested? Mental effort- do they have enough energy to finish what they start Performance consistency-is their work of the same quality from day to day? 2. Processing Energy is about how well your child can put the pieces together. Can they separate important from unimportant? Do they connect new information to what they already know? How deep do they concentrate? Can they concentrate until they get through the task? Can they put the pieces together even when not interested in the topic? 3. Production Energy is about the consistency and quality of their work. Do they think ahead to what the end result should be? Do they consider different options before proceeding? Is the quality of their work consistent? Do they work fast, slow or just right? Do they learn...

Homework Hassles

I can still remember it as clearly as if it happened yesterday. My son, frustrated at my hovering over his homework, looked up and said, “Mom, you are on me like a shirt!” I was shocked! I thought I was being helpful. In retrospect, I was doing the opposite. I wasn’t allowing him to learn on his own, to develop critical thinking and problem solving skills, to become responsible and accountable to his teacher (rather than to me), or to learn self discipline. I was preventing him from learning all the skills I thought I was “teaching” him. Now don’t get me wrong, I think it is important to be supportive of your child if they are having difficulty with their homework. Helping them problem solve without giving them the answers by getting them to “think aloud” through the process they went through can get them to figure out the next steps on their own. The problems arise when we let our emotions get in the way of our relationship with our child. If your child has ADD/ADHD or executive function challenges then you face the added challenges of getting them to start their homework or to stick with it long enough to finish. This often leads to tension and frustration for both of you and ends up being worse than the homework itself. Whether your child is in elementary, middle or high school, you want them to succeed and often that means trying to support them without nagging or helping them too much. As parents we get caught up in the “getting it done” mode and not the”...