Intervention for School Success: Overcoming the Mid-Year Slump

I’ve got to step up and live out what I coach.  While the whole Middle School “concept” is to allow our children to become independent, do the work on their own, advocate for themselves, etc.,  this concept in our home is slowly unwinding. While I want to honor the school’s desires and encourage my son’s sense of responsibility, we are halfway through the school year and I can see the slow demise of his academic interest.  Not sure if it’s coming off the much needed Christmas season or the halfway mark where it seems the school year is never ending, or just simply, the winter blahs (yes, I believe there is such a thing and I don’t even live in the North anymore!), but something is happening.  If I don’t get a hold of it, all academic progress and success are about to unravel in record speed!

Oblige me, please, as  I’m going to coach myself here for a minute… “Knowing what I know about ADHD and homework/after school life, what is happening to my son?”  

Quite simply: there’s too much information, too many places to get it and no idea where to begin or how to decipher all the work.  

So it is time for intervention.  I refuse to allow our son to dwindle away academically and tow the line of grades.  Our parenting style is such that we do not put pressure on grades. We expect effort, work ethic, attitude, responsibility and accountability –  character traits that can be taught and modeled. Grades will come with the traits.

We need a reset on homework.  And no, this doesn’t mean I’m going to be doing it with him every day.  I’ll be the first to admit, it makes the after school hours so much easier for us when our children come home and handle their work…when we are hands off, right?  Well, that’s all fine and good, until it’s not. This is the part where we cannot allow our children to fail because we as parents get lazy. Yes, I’ve said it. I’m guilty.  I’ve been riding the easy train for a while now and it’s slowly veering off course.

So, how am I going to get this train on the right path?  

Quite simply: We’re having a meeting.  In it, we will discuss what’s been working, what hasn’t been working.  This can be broken down to environment (where is the best place for him to work), tools (making sure he has what he needs at his fingertips including paper, ipad, pencils, notebooks, graph paper), timing (when is he at his best to complete his work), resources (where is he finding what he needs), distractions (what’s getting in his way?), etc.  It’s time to find out where the obstacles are. Here’s a breakdown of what I am referring to:

We will discuss the processes of homework:

  • What will he need before he even sits down?  What needs to be printed out? Where can he find the work, notes, labs, study guides, resources, etc?  Does he have the paper, the pencils, erasers, ipad, notebook, study guide, labs, etc.?

  • What part of his homework would he like to do first?  Would he like to get the subjects he enjoys out of the way, or do the “not so fun stuff” first?

Many times, people with ADHD  start right in the midst of things without having all they need to begin, so very little gets accomplished.   

We will discuss planning:

  • What are his plans when he walks in the door after school?  When will he begin? When will he end? When are the breaks?  How will he keep track of his time?

All of this will help his executive functioning skills of planning, time management and working memory.  We are striving to get our teens to think 3 steps ahead, not just be in the moment. By planning out the remainder of his evening, this allows him to think forward and figure out how he can best use his strengths.

Finally, we will discuss the nitty gritty of the homework – the actual “work” of it:

This is where it’s important for us to remember that our presence is needed.  While I’m not “doing” the homework, I am in his presence and close to him physically.  I know sitting at the same table or even close by in the same room works for my son. I could be writing my blog or responding to emails, (or cooking dinner!) but just being there with him helps.  

I also know speaking out loud helps him too…meaning if he has a question on a homework problem, sometimes hearing me read it out loud helps him understand it better than reading it to himself.  Or, when I sit close to him he tends to read his problems and answers out loud which allows him to catch the run on sentences, the misspellings of words. When he hears his written words, he understands where the errors are.  Be it in English, Science or History… read it to them or have them read it out loud to you (or to your pets!). Hearing it makes the difference!

So there you have it.  I’m off my lazy track, the intervention is complete.  All is well and we are back on the straight and narrow of accountability!

With Much GrADDitude,