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Strategies to Help Your ADHD Student

January 18, 2009 · Filed Under Academic Areas, Behavior, Parents' Corner · Comment 

I just spent one of the longer hours of tutoring that I’ve had in quite a while with a new student who is pretty severely ADHD.  He’s a middle schooler who’s totally overwhelmed right now, and failing three classes.  Of course it is the end of the semester, and his parents are looking for a quick fix.  I wish I had it for them.  What I do have, however, are some practical suggestions that might help some other family keep it from getting this bad.  Let me know if you try any and how they work out for you.

  • Stay in Close Contact with the Teachers.  You’re all in the same boat and you all have the same goal.  You want the kid to succeed.  If you stay in close touch with the school personnel, you can find out about problems before they become insurmountable.  Be proactive here.  Some teachers will give a shout out if they get worried about your kid, but many are struggling to keep up themselves.  Don’t expect the school to let you know there’s trouble until it’s way too late to do anything about it.
  • Get a List of Assignments.  Your child has ADHD.  That means that he or she is simply not going to grow into academic responsibility as quickly as peers.  YOU need to help him or her get organized and stay that way.  See if your school has a homework hotline system or other means of communicating what assignments are due and when.  Use it. 
  • Buy Your Child Organizational Tools.  Get those notebooks with lots of sections.  My girls always preferred a five-subject theme book with pockets on the pages between the sections.  At least one manufacturer makes a version with plastic dividers instead of the usual lightweight cardboard.  Teach your child to keep everything of the subject: notes, papers, assignments, in the correct pocket.  Don’t tolerate loose papers anywhere.
  • Find out the policy about late work and extra credit.  You’ll need to know details about what can and cannot be turned in late.  Don’t take your student’s word for it; check with the teacher to confirm.  And find out if there are extra credit options.  Frustrated students often skip over these opportunities, thinking their grade is just fine, then discover that they need every point they can get.

It takes a lot of practice to go to school with ADHD.  Show your child that you are on his or her side.  Be proactive and see what you can do to help.  There’s time to remove these supports when grades are under control and stable.

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FREE Reading Class!

December 22, 2008 · Filed Under Readiness, Reading · Comment 

Anyone who has a young child in their home will want to check out the FREE reading class.  Nurturing Your Young Reader will help everyone who works with young chidlren to raise a reader.  There are twelve lessons and over 40 activities to use with kids that will help build the skills needed for literacy development.  And it’s all FREE!  So pop on over to the All Info About Reading Workshops and sign up for the Free Nurturing Your Young Reader class today!

You’ll Want to Check This Out….

November 10, 2008 · Filed Under Reading · Comment 

Here’s a link to a great blog that every homeschooling parent will want to check out:

Splish’s Blog. This reading-related resource is from The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, and right now (Nov. 11-16, 2008) is offering a free book give-away in honor of National Young Readers Week. Head on over there today to get in on the drawings!

And even if you miss out on this particular week’s goodies, it looks like Splish the Frog is a pretty active character. He organizes many literacy events throughout the year.

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Build Halloween Vocabulary with Word Games

October 15, 2008 · Filed Under Holidays, Reading, Writing · Comment 

Holidays are wonderful motivators for learning and one of the best is Halloween.  A lot of natural excitement surrounds the celebration, and you can tap into this by trying some descriptive writing and word games.  Here are related activity ideas for a variety of age groups.

 

Young Students (K-2)

 

Try some seasonal alliterations.  See how long of phrases or sentences your students can build, orally or in writing, that are related to Halloween.  Alliterative phrases and sentences have the same beginning sound on most or even all of the words.  Hold a contest with awards for longest, most syllables, most creative, and so forth.  Need an example to get you started?  Six spooky spirits sip sassparilla!

 

Play a memory game.  Start the group off with a simple subject-verb sentence like “The cat sat.”  Now, have players take turns adding a word or phrase and saying the entire sentence.  In our example, steps might include:

            The black cat sat.

            The skinny black cat sat.

            The skinny black cat sat on the fence.

            The witch’s skinny black cat sat on the fence.

How long will it get?

 

Middle Elementary Students (gr. 3-4)

 

Do a seasonal fill-in game.  Choose a Halloween story and underline every third to tenth word.  Make a list of the parts of speech (noun, verb, etc.) and any inflective endings (-ed, -ing, -es, etc.).  Have players choose fill in words based on the parts of speech guide without knowing the story.  Substitute their answers for the original underlined words.

 

Create some holiday riddles.  Have your students choose a common Halloween item and write four to six clues to help someone else guess it.  Arrange the clues from toughest to easiest, then have a friend try the puzzle.  Here’s an example: I am long and thin.  I am wooden.  I have a prickly end.  I belong to the witch.  I fly.  (a broom).  For an extra challenge, see if the clues can rhyme, like a poem.

 

Upper Elementary Students (gr. 5-6)

 

Finish a Halloween story.  Have each student write a seasonal story starter with at least ten sentences.  Trade with a partner, then finish the story with at least twenty more sentences.

 

Make a Halloween dictionary.  Generate at least fifty words related to the season.  Alphabetize them and write definitions.  Illustrate at least twenty of the entries.

 

Middle and High School (gr. 7-12)

 

Make a Halloween crossword puzzle.  Think of at least 25 Halloween words.  Come up with a unique clue for each one.  Use graph paper to place the words into interlocking positions.  Number each box containing the first letter of a word.  Number the clues to match the box number where the word begins.  Trace the boxes onto blank graph paper and write the numbers and clues.

 

Write a description for Halloween.  You can use a Halloween scene as a prompt or have students create from scratch.  Challenge them to write a descriptive essay with at least five paragraphs.  Remind them to appeal to all five senses, helping the reader see, hear, touch, taste and smell the scene.

 

Halloween can be controversial.  Have your students write a persuasive essay politely expressing their opinion about the holiday and its practices.  Insist that statements of opinion be supported by factual reasons, and that personal opinions be clearly identified as such.

 

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Use Secret Codes to Build Reading Skill

July 13, 2008 · Filed Under Reading, Writing · Comment 

T-f-d-s-f-u  d-p-e-f-t!  Many will remember the fun of using secret codes to send messages.  Children as young as second grade (or whenever reading and writing skills are beginning to develop) can enjoy and benefit from this activity.  Codes provide opportunities to learn spelling concepts, practice phonics skills and use logic and reasoning.  The simplest codes are created using substitution: “a” becomes “b”, “b” becomes “c” and so on, as in the phrase above.  Another simple code can be created by substituting numbers or symbols for letters.  Check your computer’s word processor for fonts of symbol sets…these will print various symbols instead of letters as you type!

Your young child who is learning to read and spell will practice these skills by matching coded symbols, letters, or numbers with a key that you provide.  Your older or more able child will be challenged by trying to decode the message without a key.  He or she will have to use knowledge of the English language (what letters often go together?  What suffixes or prefixes might be on the words?) and will learn about letter frequency.  Did you know that “e” is the most common letter of the alphabet?  “S,” “R,” “M,” “D,” “T,” and “N” are other very common letters to try.  You can add a little zing to messages by writing them in code, and help your child practice many school skills at the same time!

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Play Higgety-Pig to Build Vocabulary

July 8, 2008 · Filed Under Vocabulary · Comment 

Here’s a fun game to play in the car or when you need to wait somewhere with your children.  You don’t need any materials at all; just your imagination!  You’ll probably need to start out in the lead on this one, but as your kids get the hang of it, they will jump right in with their own riddles.

Higgety-Pig is a rhyming game.  Think up a pair of words that are complete rhymes (that is, all of their syllables rhyme).  For younger or less experienced players, use singles (hig-pigs) or doubles (higged-piggeds).  More experienced players will enjoy bigger rhymes (higgedy-piggedies or higgedy-hig-piggedy-pigs!).  The rhymes are named for the number of syllables in each word.  Therefore, a ‘dog log’ would be called a hig-pig since each word has a single syllable, and a ’scary berry’ would be a higged-pigged since each word has two syllables.

Once you have your rhyming pair, think up a phrase or sentence that gives a clue about each word.  I’ve put a list at the end of this post to get you started, but a quick example for the ’scary berry’ would be “I have a higged-pigged, and it is a frightening summer fruit that grows on a bush.”  Players know they are looking for rhymes with two-syllable words because of the ‘higged-pigged” part of the clue, and the rest of it defines the words with synonyms or definitions.

As you play, you as an adult will naturally include words that are new to your children because you KNOW more words in the first place.  They will get a first-hand look at new words and hear their meanings.  Without even noticing it, they will be broadening their own vocabularies.  Sweet, huh?  Give it a try!

Hig-Pigs:

bright light (a brilliant beam)

dog log (a woodsy perch for a canine)

trash crash (a wreck with two garbage trucks)

Higged-Piggeds

paper caper (a heist stealing dollar bills)

thinner dinner ( a more svelte (or slim) meal)

critter sitter (a person who provides pet care when you’re away)

Higgedy-Piggedies

sinister minister (an evil preacher)

resident president (US leader in the White House)

merrier terrier (happier Boston dog)

crueler Jeweler (meaner necklace maker)

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Celebrate July 7

July 7, 2008 · Filed Under Holidays, Math, Reading, Writing · Comment 

Guess what?  It’s Chocolate Day!  Here is a wealth of ideas to try for fun and learning on this delicious holiday:

Research the History of Chocolate

Send the kids onto the internet, through the encyclopedia or over to the library to uncover exactly how and when this great treat was discovered.  Here’s a hint: check history records for the native Central and South Americas, and information about the Spanish explorers of the 1600s and 1700s.

Cook Together

Cook up some chocolate delight today.  Recipes abound!  Think of brownies, fudge, and cookies.  See if you can invent a new chocolate sensation together.  Cooking with children builds bonds, increases reading comprehension, develops the ability to follow written and oral directions, enhances science and math skills, and so much more.

Make a Candy Survey

Check in with family and friends to find out what their favorite chocolate candy is.  Keep records of their responses, then present the data in a graph.  Older students can also analyze the information: does age, gender or profession make any difference on candy preferences?  You have the makings of a science fair project for next year!

Try Some Chocolate Science

Get a few chocolate bars, some baking chips, and you’re all set for some science fun.  Place a chocolate bar on two supports, like a bridge.  How many pennies or other weights can it hold before it cracks?  What happens if the chocolate is warm and soft?  What if it’s been in the freezer?  Try putting chocolate in various shapes out in the sun.  Time how long it takes it to melt.  Use the chocolate chips to practice making arrays to demonstrate addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.  Got yummy leftovers?  Eat ‘em up!

Write About Chocolate

Individually or as a family, write a story with chocolate as the main character.  This can be oral or written, just make sure it’s full of imagination!  Try these variations: Write a story starter (a few sentences) on a page and post it on the ‘fridge.  Family members take turns adding to the story all day long.  Try sitting in a circle or around a table and each adding a sentence to the story.  Let everyone write or dictate their own story and get a non-biased judge to evaluate your writing contest.

Happy Chocolate Day!

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Write On!

July 5, 2008 · Filed Under Parents' Corner, Tutors' Corner, Writing · Comment 

Keep those kids writing!  Next to reading every day, this has to be one of the most important things you can do to help your child succeed in school.  Written expression skills form the basis for many large projects in school, and if your child can write comfortably, he or she will have the tools to get the grades you desire.

Practice makes perfect with writing.  Encourage your child to write each and every day.  Write letters, write stories, write opinions.  Request permission for outings or get-togethers in writing.  Hold “Five-Sentence-Days” at your house (have everyone drop what they are doing and write five sentences about the topic you throw out).  Write directions and sequences of events. 

The more writing you have the kids do, the better.  Writing fluency and the ability to put pen to paper productively will improve with practice.  Timed free writing, where you require writers to keep a pencil moving for one to twenty minutes without stopping, can be a fun way to write, as well.  See who can get the most words on paper in the given time can add a fun twist for competitive spirits.

No matter which activities you choose, get those pencils moving!

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Study Skills Start in Preschool

July 4, 2008 · Filed Under Parents' Corner, Readiness, Study Skills, Tutors' Corner · Comment 

As a tutor, I often work with high schoolers who are behind in their studies.  They come to me with concerns about grades in their classes, test anxieties, and difficulty learning the material that they are expected to master.   It’s hard to help them.  Most of the time, I feel we just barely keep their head above water and have a goal of trying to prevent them from dropping out before they get that all-important high school diploma.  I wish I could’ve seen them years ago.

If I had known these kids in preschool, and had some influence with their families, I would’ve had a message for them.  When your child is two, three and four years old, you are building the foundations for the skills that kids need for successful high school learning. 

Perhaps the most important gift you can give your young child is a love of and appreciation for learning.  This attitude can only be fostered by example.  You have to show, every day, that learning is a huge part of your life and your child’s life.  Make it a priority to answer questions, to teach skills the kids are interested in, and to let them see you using learning skills whenever you can.  Read and read to them.  Fill your home with learning materials, like books, references, newspapers, magazines, and learning toys.  No matter what you thought of school, make it a point to stay positive with your child.

Encourage reading and math and science and writing-not with formal “lessons” or “practice,” but through play and life experiences.  Take your child to parks, museums, historical sites, and stores.  Look things up at the library and on the internet.  When your child expresses interest, help him or her to accomplish the goal.  There’s no need to sit around a table using flashcards to help your child learn.  He or she will gain so much more by DOING things.  Try experiments, put on a play, build a carnival in the back yard, design an obstacle course, or write a story.  Hands-on is the best way to learn.

The preschool years are also the time to train memories and build language skills, which relate directly to study skills in high school and beyond.  Encourage your young child to retell stories, to relate events in sequence, to describe and to converse.  Play memory games that require recall of increasingly larger chunks of information.  Play word games and number games. 

The long and the short of it is that the preschool years are formative, not just for character and physical development, but also for later learning.  Give your child every chance to succeed-lay the foundations for school success!

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Reading Corner for July 3, 2008

July 3, 2008 · Filed Under Parents' Corner, Reading, Teachers' Corner, Tutors' Corner · Comment 

Keep your young child motivated to read more books this summer!  Teachers know that the more practice a child has with books, the better he or she is likely to read.  Here’s a quick idea to keep the kids excited about reading.

Use construction paper or other colorful paper and make a lot of circles to cut out.  4″ works nicely, but you can make them any size you like.  Make one larger circle and decorate as an insect head.  Hang the head on the wall or bulletin board.  Now, each time your child reads a book (or you read a book together), put the title onto one of the small circles and line it up behind the head to make a caterpillar-like critter.  The more reading that gets done, the longer the creature grows.  Children will be fascinated, and you may end up with a ‘pillar that goes clear around the room! 

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