Coach Your Child to Academic Success

Three real-world scenarios teach parents how to foster independent thinking skills in children with ADHD and learning disabilities.

Goal Tending, Part 2

Johnny: The Forgetful Student

Instead of fixing Johnny’s problem by driving him back to school, his dad should help Johnny make a plan to remember to bring home his vocabulary list. Dad could suggest that Johnny use a sign on his notebook to remind himself about his list, for example, and have Johnny rehearse putting the list in his homework folder and the folder in his backpack when the bell goes off.

Dad should involve Johnny in developing the plan by asking questions like, “What do you think would help you remember to put the list in your folder?” or “On the occasions when you do remember, how do you do it?”

Once the plan is in place, Johnny’s dad should make it clear to Johnny that he will no longer drive him back to school when he forgets his list. Johnny and his dad might agree upon a system that rewards him when he remembers to bring home his vocabulary list—and subjects him to consequences when he forgets.

Mary: The Inattentive Student

Mary’s mom needs to give her daughter a pep talk about the importance of being able to do one’s work without the help of a monitor. Mary must see that doing her work on her own is an important goal. Mary’s mom may need to push her beyond her comfort zone so she can learn how to manage her own inattention. Mom should ask what assignments Mary feels she is ready to tackle on her own, and for which assignments she feels she still needs someone nearby.

Mary should be encouraged to experiment and figure out what helps her keep her mind on her work. Is the kitchen table really the best place to tackle homework assignments? Would it be better to work in total silence, or have some background noise? What types of thoughts could Mary focus on to keep her mind on her work? Maybe Mary’s mom could offer to stop by at certain times to see how things are going. Self-knowledge and self-management will serve Mary well as she goes on to middle school, where the workload will be even greater.

Eric: The Disorganized Student

Eric’s mom should help Eric hone his planning and self-management skills. On Sunday evenings, she should partner with him to look at the week ahead and lay out a plan. She can ask him all the questions that she used to ask herself when she made his schedule for him.

At first, Eric’s mom should guide the planning step-by-step. Then he might try his hand at making the week’s schedule, using the list of questions that he and his mom come up with. The skills Eric learns from this process will be invaluable.

This article comes from the December 2006/January 2007 issue of ADDitude.

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TAGS: ADHD Coaching, Organization Tips for ADHD Kids, Homework and Test Help

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