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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...
Executive Function Skill Building Fun – From the Archives

Executive Function Skill Building Fun – From the Archives

Summer is a great time to help your kids strengthen their learning skills. The more they use them the less they will “lose” them.  Summer learning doesn’t have to be pages and pages in a workbook but with a little creativity you can have fun and learn at the same time. Most schools now expect students to read at least one book over the summer. (Check your school’s website). Whether your child is just learning to read or reading to learn, finding books that interest them is the key. Don’t just send them to their rooms to read but show you are interested in what they are reading. Be curious and ask them about what they are reading, have them summarize, compare or simply talk about what they liked about the book (don’t just accept it was a good book). Reading increases vocabulary, critical thinking skills, problem solving skills, comprehension and increases their knowledge base. I think it is the number one skill for learning. If your child is a strong reader, then they can learn anything. The executive function skills are the other piece of the learning puzzle. These are the skills that enable your child to plan, organize, problem solve and follow through to completion. In Massachusetts, the standardized testing is undergoing some changes. Schools realized that memorizing facts did not make better learners. Many did poorly on the PARCC test where they had to use their thinking skills to problem solve.   You may also hear reference to the “common core” which refers to specific grade level skills that students are expected to achieve at each...
Working Together with ADHD

Working Together with ADHD

Working together in small groups is a common occurrence in middle and high school classrooms these days. Teachers have noticed that students learn, share and cooperate when they have a common goal or purpose. In the “work” world many projects are team or group projects so it is a skill necessary for a student’s present and future. Group work: Encourages the development of communication skills Develops alternative ideas and perspectives (and conflict resolution skills) Enhances social skills and interactions (and provides a safe environment to test ideas). Boosts critical and creative thinking skills and develops active thinkers If you have ADHD then a group’s lack of structure, unclear expectations, and multiple “leaders” can be either a distraction or a blessing. A teen’s ADHD brain loves stimulus and as long as the ground rules have been clearly understood, then the novelty of a group approach can help feed that brain. It is quick to think in novel ways, is open to other perspectives and able to make connections quickly. Of course, they can also take the group off topic and off schedule if not carefully monitored. Although some teens want to keep their ADHD and its challenges a secret, others have accepted it as part of who they are. A group can provide a smaller, yet safe environment for them to experiment with their ideas and to practice their social skills of cooperation, problem solving and conflict resolution. It can also provide peer role models for communicating, while monitoring and inhibiting their own (often impulsive) behaviors. Others in the group can help keep themselves and the teen with ADHD on...
Hey Students – It is OKAY to Get Help

Hey Students – It is OKAY to Get Help

The best kept secret these days is that going to see the teacher after school can improve your teen’s grades. Over the last several months I have asked a number of students (many of them clients whom I see because they or their parents want their grades to improve) if they go after school to get extra help. 90% of them say no. They say things like, “I can do it on my own I just have to take the time, work harder, study more,” etc. The other 10% say they have and that they found it helpful. If your teen is part of the 90%, you might want to ask your friends if their teens go after for help. Then without mentioning names of course, you can say you know of x number of other kids who do and they found it helpful maybe their grades have even gone up. I usually suggest that for a teen’s toughest subject, they go after once or twice a week for two or three weeks and then compare their grade on the most recent quiz or test to one that they had before they started going after school. Once they see that the scores have gone up (and that some of their friends are there too) they might not be so apprehensive about going. If that does not work then encourage them to at least ask the Internet wizards by searching for their topic/problem online. Sites like www.khanacademy.org, (video and audio combo makes this site my favorite) www.quizlet.com, (for flashcards and flashcard practice) and www.factmonster.com (although I don’t like the fact...
Music to My Ears

Music to My Ears

Music is everywhere. Sometimes we hear it and sometimes we don’t. You may suddenly realize you have a “tune” stuck in your head and have no idea that it was playing in the store you just left. Students can now bring their music to school and use it while they work independently. Well, I recently worked with a student who was taking a “music theory” class and learned that there is much more to music than I ever realized. He was having some difficulty with it and it’s hard to know what or how to study when you don’t really understand it. So, he taught me a few things but I could see the big concepts were hard for him to put into language I (aka a novice) could understand. That’s one of the key ways I can tell if a student really understands something….if they can explain it in language that someone else with little or no knowledge of the subject can understand. Aside from piano lessons as a child and a music appreciation class, I have little understanding of the inner workings of music – however I do love music! Here’s how I use music: To give me energy when I am running low or have run out To lift my mood To motivate As a workout As a distraction To reduce stress To get both sides of my brain working (great for learning) For time management (beat the clock and finish a task before it ends.) How do you use music? Let me know in the comments box please….I’d like it not to say “no comments”....