The Hidden Disability – Chapter 5
Here are a few approaches that seem to help our son most.
1) He goes to a charter school with shorter hours and more individual attention. The very nature of this school also reduces the stress of being picked on by his classmates. The day is shorter and there are fewer kids to provide that kind of “input.”
2) We begin homework pretty much immediately after school. It is too hard for him to break too long from the “educational momentum” started at school. But we build in breaks either through 5-10 minute computer “game” exercises for his therapy, or shifting the homework subject. Some are more right brained while others are more left brained. I’ve discovered that he just cannot take a nap and be expected to function well for homework afterward. I don’t know why, but it’s very real.
3) We provide the main structure for him. This is the lot of parents anyway, and of course as kids get older we provide less and less as they learn to provide structure for themselves. In this case, we still handle a certain amount to help him organize his activities since he already has hurdles most children just do not have. This is always approached with the goal in mind that he must become autonomous and not always need this help. So there’s a lot of evaluation and re-evaluation as to where we let go a bit more. I mainly help him organize his schedule and order of tasks. He cannot yet recognize when he’s hitting that wall and needs to switch subjects. It helps if an adult is helping with structuring his time and activities. Homework due the next day is done first. Harder subjects also first. Items that have a few days to complete get paced over time as much as possible.
4) The more he is exposed to other students (older boys in particular) who desire good grades and have a good homework ethic, the more he also values and desires to emulate that. Especially slightly older boys.
5) We never compromise diet or sleep for homework. If that means consequences, that’s what it means. There comes a point he has to want it. I also am adamant about this from my own experience of sacrificing sleep and nutrition for grades. I literally woke up one day and could not move. Regarded as a child prodigy, I nearly lost everything I worked hard for because my immune system burned out. The human body repairs itself and grows only during sleep. And honestly, I worry for children today with the amount of stress is simply considered “normal.”
6) Life enrichment is essential to everything else, including homework success. Kids need life skills too. They need time to spend with family, time to do chores, time to learn how to cook, how to sew a button, and time to relax and play. We also try to feed his passions as a reward. When you find what that is, it’s an excellent motivator as well. We all need little successes in life for encouragement, and we all need things we can believe in and see that somehow we matter. This is no different for kids. Many cases of children helping to tutor other children reflect the success of this.
7) Lots of communication and relationship building with teachers. Makes a huge difference.
I’m sure there is more I will want to add to this, but for now I delay this no longer and put it out there. I hope by sharing our story that it somehow helps you too.