Does Your Child with ADHD Need Help with Homework?

Are you looking for ways to help your child or teen handle the daily struggle with homework? The struggle (theirs and yours) is real. It may look like a lack of motivation, or defiance, forgetfulness or even a learning disability but in reality, it is probably their Executive Function skills.

The Homework Help for ADHD covers seven Executive Function skills that have the biggest impact on homework and includes information on what to look for and plenty of strategies to help compensate.

Laine Dougherty - Notebook - Homework Help for ADHD - blue #1

Due to the current circumstances and requirements for social distancing, our classes and individual services will be conducted via Zoom, Google Meet or Phone.

Back to School Tips

BTS Tip 6: Back to school is usually about getting the kids ready, but what about you? Are you tolerating things that could be changed – just because it is easier to deal than to change it?
How’s your kitchen? Is it functional, organized and convenient? For example, are the things you need for breakfast and packing a lunch with snacks easily accessible? How about the things you use for dinner prep – are they handy? Then why are you working so hard? Reduce your own decision fatigue by making it work. Lowering your stress level is worth it!
31 Days of Back to School Organization on our FaceBook page. Like our page so you won’t miss them.

 

5 Benefits of a Morning Robot Brain

Science says we all use our brains in three different ways. Although the names applied to these different ways may vary, they each have a specific role to play. Let’s use the terms robot, Yoda and monkey brain.

The monkey brain is of course the “out of control” brain that often gets kids in trouble. It is the brain that doesn’t think before acting and is often full of movement and impulsivity. It can take over in an instant yet be so subtle that the brain’s owner is unaware until it is too late.

The Yoda brain on the other hand is the calm, open brain used for learning and doing the right thing. It is wise and knows what to do and can create a plan to do it.  Unfortunately, it is the last to develop and involves a number of executive function skills.

The robot brain is the brain that uses habits and routines and does things on “automatic pilot” with little or no thought involved. This is the brain we are going to talk about using in the morning.

The robot brain does not create habits on its own, especially if ADHD is involved. It takes training and practicing and often some tweaking before a set of actions can become a habit. Once there is a habit, the brain can relax and just follow through the motions without having to use up its decision-making energy.

A brain with ADHD can benefit from using the robot brain. For the ADHD brain every day is usually a new day and the morning routine often changes daily as well. If there is no habit, then each task that needs to be done has to be thought of and then acted on. That is pretty difficult for an ADHD brain and even for neurotypical brains before they have had their coffee.

Here are just 5 benefits of using the Robot brain and creating habits and routines:

  1. Routines and habits are automatic so no real “thinking” required.
  2. Saves brain energy for important decisions
  3. Creates structure where there was none
  4.  Fewer reminders required to get kids out the door – means less stress all around
  5. Develops independence and self-care habits

Your brain has a limited amount of energy and it needs time to create more if it has used up its current amount. If you haven’t heard of “decision fatigue” then you probably haven’t experienced it. It occurs when you can no longer think or make a decision because you have used up the chemicals in your brain needed to make decisions. So, for example, a big decision at work might become impossible to figure out if you have spent the morning deciding what to do first, and what to wear, and what to eat, and which bag to bring to work, and what to do for lunch, etc. You get the idea. Too many decisions on trivial stuff, still uses those brain chemicals. If all of that was a habit or routine that you did on “automatic pilot” then you would still have plenty of “decision juice” for the important stuff. Same thing happens for your children although their brains’ have a smaller capacity of chemicals = less decision-making juice.

A routine can bring much needed structure to your child’s day. How many times have you had to tell them to get their shoes, or brush their teeth? With a habit – that includes all the important stuff, they will develop the capacity to get out the door and take care of themselves in the process. That would mean much less stress for you and the family.

Creating the habit sequence is the toughest part. You will need to start slowly and with no more than three steps. It takes about 144 times of doing something for it to become a habit, so don’t give up if it doesn’t seem to be working. Slowly add what you think your child can handle but at the beginning walk them through the process each day. Yes, I said each day! Together you can create a chart, or checklist, or photo sequence of what they should look like and have before going out the door…whatever works (and keep trying until you find what works for them). You may have to add incentives and/or change things up a bit until they run smoothly. The extra effort will be worth it and you will be developing your child’s ability to independently get up and get dressed and be ready for school. Then you can look at setting up an evening routine and then of course the dreaded homework routine.

Kids with ADHD crave structure…. they just do not know how to create it for themselves. They need your help. The task of getting ready for school has at least 10 steps and if those steps could be in any order then there would be 3,628,800 possible combinations! Is it any surprise they don’t know what to do?

So, help your child and yourself by creating a morning routine and let me know what positive effects it brings. Enjoy the ride!

The Busyness of Back to School – Five Steps to Calm the “Crazy”

Doing skill posterSo much to do, so little time…..I hope that is not what you are thinking as we reach the end of September. It is a busy month for sure and often the transition from summer to “school” can make the new situation seem even more challenging. Here are five things to think about to make this year more manageable, less stressful and not quite as “crazy” as last year.

  1. Each school year is a new start. Although each grade comes with its own challenges, it also comes with its own rewards. Major transitions are in first, fourth, six (or whatever grade your middle school starts at) and 9th grade. If it’s a new school, take time to tour it and find the bathrooms, locker, lunch room and office. Notice when your child is struggling – is it a lack of understanding, frustration, distraction or boredom? It’s a new start for you as well. Set yourself a goal of making this a calmer, more organized year and notice what is getting in the way. This year fix it so that tomorrow is better than today.
  2. Don’t overbook. Children need time to play and be outdoors and they can’t do that if they are overbooked and running from one activity to another. Make choices and remember homework should not be an afterthought. Don’t expect your child to have any energy left for homework if they are going all day long. They have a right to some “free” time too and need it to recharge, so make sure homework doesn’t use up all available time. Sleep 8+ hours is best. Remember your role in extra curricula activities, are you the pick up or drop off person? What does that mean for your schedule and for the family’s evening?
  3. Get organized! This is probably the most important thing you can do for yourself and your family. When the morning runs smoothly, the day goes better too. It’s important to have routines and habits that serve you and the family like a morning routine, an evening routine that includes getting ready for the next day, a regular shopping day or at least a meal plan so you know what is for dinner each night. Having a family meeting helps everyone know what is up for the week with extra curricula activities and/or appointments.
  4. Prepare for the week ahead. Everybody knows that having clean clothes makes getting dressed easier. Same goes for having a clean and organized backpack, it makes the homework go easier. Take the time to prepare what you can for the week ahead. Some ideas are laundry done, snacks and food choices, rooms picked up and backpacks organized. Use a planner whether it is digital or paper doesn’t matter but the pace of your life means you shouldn’t rely on your memory without some backup. Use the reminder app on your phone for really important things.
  5. Lastly, if your child has ADHD or Executive functioning challenges, then no amount of coaxing, rewarding, threatening or seizing of things they hold dear, is going to help them get their work done any faster or better. Imagine what it would be like if they understood what was getting in the way of their success and had some strategies that they could use to push through the homework. You have the power to make this year better for the entire family. We are now running monthly group coaching classes for middle and high school students. http://tinyurl.com/o4aaq9u

Summer Solutions to Organization

summer-beach-graphicTwo questions for you. First, what does organization mean to you? Second, what does summer mean to you? To me, those two questions go together because if you’re organized there is a better chance that you can take advantage of all the things that summer has to offer. It takes planning and keeping up with the things that we usually do on the weekend and handling them during the week in order to have your weekends free to do what makes you happy.

Do you have systems for:

  • meal planning and grocery shopping?
  • bills, paperwork and email?
  • laundry?
  • projects?
  • planning your week?

Can you find what you need when you need it or do you need to….

  • de-clutter?
  • organize?
  • simplify?

If time just seems to slip away and you feel like it is a struggle to make it through the week, then it is time to get organized!

June will be here in two days and that means that the warm weather is on its way. Although yesterday it was 47° here in the Boston area, today we are a bit more hopeful as the sun is out and the thermometer is crawling its way to 60. Will this be the summer you get organized and have more fun?

If you answered “yes” then let’s talk or send me an email and see how our Summer Solutions Program can help you make the most of this summer. laine@laineslogic.com or (781)659-0513. Hurry- time flies!

 

Three Tips to Tame Time

Tame your time
Tame your time

It is back to school and back to juggling multiple activities and schedules. How is your stress level?  Since we can’t stretch time, and we really can’t “manage” it either, we have to learn to “manage” our choices and ourselves. Here are three tips to help you take back control.

How is your relationship with time?  Do you manage it or does it manage you?  We all know what it is like to be running non stop throughout the day only to discover that we have accomplished little by days end.  Often it is one little unplanned “glitch” that sends us spinning out of control.  To manage ourselves is to make choices and influence the course of our day to include what matters most so that each day is satisfying and rewarding.  Here are some things to consider:

1. Are you realistic about the amount of time a task takes? Estimate how much time you think a task (not a project which is more than one step) will take and then use a timer to check your guess.  This is a great strategy for kids to use with their homework too.  Simplify household tasks and/or get the family involved to reduce the amount of time needed.  Get creative to trim time.

2. Do you schedule more tasks than can be accomplished in the allotted time? After you have a realistic idea of how long each task takes, simple math will tell you whether or not you can fit those three tasks into the hour you have allotted.  The idea is not to fill up each available minute but to focus on the things that are meaningful to you – make sure you add those in before the less important tasks.

3. Do you plan for the entire task, including preparation, completion and clean up, as well as, allowing for travel time or interruptions? Whether you use a “to do” list or a planner your list of tasks often runs together without separation.  Instead of listing the big task, try listing the next action step and include a space for preparation time and clean up.  For example, if you have a report to complete, gathering the information might be the next action step rather than “write report,” which involves multiple steps and makes estimating an accurate amount of time to allow, nearly impossible. For students, they often see “science project” as a single step activity. Help them break it down and plan out when to work on the pieces of the project and you’ll have fewer last minute dashes to the office supply store for poster board.  Also, don’t forget to add in travel time and leave several blocks of 15 minutes free throughout the day to handle the unexpected or to give you time to catch your breath when tasks take longer than expected.

With practice you will develop a more realistic idea of the time needed to accomplish the things you need to do.   To truly feel in control of time you need to start with what’s most important to you and be sure to put that in first.

Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you. Carl Sandburg US biographer & poet (1878 – 1967)

NEW! Learning Logistics classes start September 27th at the Hingham Community Center for 4-6th graders. Call to register (781) 749-9786. This 8 week interactive program teaches students the skills they need to “manage” their time, stay organized and study effectively. Sign up today!

Organization and blogging – how you can help

For those of you that are reading this from the link I provided in your email, I would like to explain the differences between the HOPE newsletter that you subscribed to and the new Laine’s Logic Blog. As you have noticed, you are not notified each time a new blog is posted so you either have to remember to check the site weekly or you can subscribe to an RSS feed which will let you know each time I post something new. Directions for that are at the bottom of this post.

 

So, let’s begin. What is a blog anyways? Well according to Wikipedia, the word blog is short for web log. It can be a journal, diary, or commentary that is created and put on the Internet. It may contain text, video and/or graphics related to any topic. This one is related to organizing your life and helping you work smarter and not harder.

 

The fun part of blogging is that the discussion can be ongoing. Writers of blogs (bloggers) can provide information, comments or simply their opinion. Readers can then comment and ask questions and have them answered directly in the comment section or addressed in the next “post” (blog entry). This is the social side of blogging and it assures that the blog continues in the direction of its readers due to the interaction between writer and reader.

 

That’s my vision for this blog. Helping you solve organizational and time management problems that matter to you so you can save time and put more fun in your life. If you have an idea, topic or concern you would like to see addressed in this blog please send it to me by using the comment link at the bottom of this article. (It is in blue and may say no comments or a number and the word comments.) When you click on it a response box will show up. Fill it in and hit submit and it will go directly to me. I will then post it or save it for a future blog. As always, thanks for reading and thanks for your input.

 

Directions for automatic notification:

The easiest way to check for new content is to go to http://www.laineslogic.com/blog each week or you can subscribe to an RSS feed by following the link at the bottom of the blog page. If you use igoogle for your homepage you can add a link that will notify you of new content by using google reader. It is listed on the Google tool bar under “more.” It is easy to “add subscription” and paste the URL( http://www.laineslogic.com/blog ) into the box and then add the Google reader link to your homepage. Then each time you open igoogle you will see the blog listed – just click and it is ready to read.