Just a thought today….

Just a thought today....

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What are we doing?

And the grade reports came out, right as we are trying to pack to leave for Thanksgiving break.  Alright, we are leaving earlier than everyone else because we are accustomed to having the entire week of Thanksgiving (Oklahoman’s take their Deer Hunting Season very seriously!).  That still is a harsh thing to arrive before the break. How do we handle any issues, concerns?  We don’t we stew on them and discuss them.  Then in my mind I grumble about the fact that less than two weeks ago I attended a parent teacher conference where it was pointed out that modifications were not being implemented.  One teacher told the group, the homework was being sent home for me to modify. No modifications yet we were fighting for hours to complete.  Then the grades arrive, mysteriously the grades that are bad of course are the home work grades.  Never mind, we have an IEP which states, homework should be graded for quality not quantity. 

The busy work aspect of homework is frustrating. How are kids learning when they are swamped with work that is designed by nature to not be a learning task?  The teachers need a way to determine if the material is being absorbed by the students.  Graded papers are important for the teachers to justify to parents the information. They need to prove to administration they are preparing students for the standardized tests, Thank You No Child Left Behind!

This method of teaching and learning is frustrating as a parent.  The teachers are forced to move towards a goal which proves nothing beyond the students can memorize.  Critical thinking?  Problem Solving?  Competitive with the world market?  NOPE! 

 

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One of those days, weeks, months…..

I sat down earlier in the week and composed a very well organized and insightful posting if I do say so myself.  Only to have it erased by the lovely laptop. The touch pad is uber sensitive and it was gone!  I groaned and shut the lid to walk away.  This is the story of my world.  I often say Murphy (of Murphy’s Law) may visit you, but he lives with me!

Now I see my daughter experiencing the same frustrations. If it could go wrong, it did.  She was yelling and slamming things as she was attempting to complete a writing assignment for school by typing it.  First, we must remember, she is twelve, is struggling with the actual construction of the report.  Next, understand that handwriting is not just difficult, it is a struggle which shuts her down completely.  The real kicker here is she has no regular keyboard training but is expected to type this report.  She does not tolerate handwritten assignments well on a good day.  She also becomes visually distracted if there is too much information on a page. This is particularly true if the information is not just standard line print.  This paper had teachers notes everywhere. Add to this frustration, she was not able to figure out some glitch on the computer and she was spiraling down fast.  I try, I really, really try not to save her from everything.  My mother referred to me one time as a helicopter mom and that stung.  I watched her and could only take so much.  I intervened. She continued to melt though.  This is a difficult process.  She was overwhelmed and could not regain the control.  Yelling, screaming, throwing things, very intense.

After about thirty minutes of the meltdown, tears on both sides, we were sitting in the hall way with a pencil and paper.  I know this is the struggle we were trying to avoid but we did make some changes.  She just needed to make changes on the printed page and identify what needed corrections.  I then sat at the computer and typed it for her.  We spent over three hours on this project.  I was pleased with the end result.  She did the work, I was the scribe.  The system was a success.  Or so I thought…

The next day I received an email from one of the teachers that my daughter was working on finishing the assignment at school!  Finishing?  I asked what needed to be finished?  Of course, that was never clarified.  This brings up one of the biggest frustrations we face, how can the school expect parents to follow through with the learning if the communication is ineffective?  We read the instructions, we followed the instructions and then find out there was more?  This is not an occasional occurrence, nor is it just from us.  We have spoken to other parents who also struggle understanding what the assignment entails.  I have emailed and asked for clarification on assignments to be told, my daughter knows what she needs to do!  Really?  FAS with ADHD?  Hello people, reality check!

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Teeter Totter

Do you ever feel like you are on a teeter totter?  I think sometimes I am on the end that is stuck up in the air with the biggest kid in the class laughing as he sits there with no intention of letting me down.

How do we as parents align our priorities for our family with the priorities that are projected by outside entities (read school, sports, etc.)? This is such a tough call for parents.  I cannot wrap my head around the rationale from some that nothing else should be important.  I agree that education is important. I do not believe all learning is achieved within the classroom,  during home work or studying.  I also believe commitment to a sport or activity is important.

I remember my childhood spent outside. I remember spending time reading books just to read. I remember being creative, getting dirty, and scraping knees, elbows as well as numerousnother injuries. Now how does this relate to the learning and commitment?  Well, I learned to solve problems. I wanted to create a fort, I did not have a ready kit. I was dragging branches or whatever found materials I decided would be the perfect solution. I learned to think, to plan and to implement that plan. I had exercise without a coach telling me to train harder. I was committed to enjoying myself, to play, to have fun. More important,  I did most of this on my own, no parents telling me what activity was next.

I am not saying our generation had things better.  I am not saying we had the good life. We had plenty of boredom,  which was good for us, made us self sufficient,  well many of us. Our generation has developed the technology that our kids live by, as obviously do we. I am concerned that some of the values and skills we developed are being hampered by the lack of free learning, experimenting with mud, taking risks or relaxing.

The next question is now what? I struggle finding the balance.  I know my daughter needs what we refer to as “green time”. That has nothing to do with golf! It is simple, time outside.  I have found that meltdowns during homework are more easily cured with green time. Thirty minutes of playing, gathering the kids in the neighborhood for kick the can ( yes, they really do still play this) does more than the learning strategies. I have seen such growth in social skills, problem solving and creativity.

The academic skills she needs to gain require extra effort from everyone, she struggles in the afternoons after the ADHD meds have worn off to complete the simplest of tasks regarding homework.  Then add handwriting, WHEW! I sit in the floor and exchange the notebook back and forth.  She writes one then tells me what to write.  Transcribing is easier on everyone and I know that she is actually thinking about what the assignment requires instead of how much she hates writing

I still struggle of how to help her meet her sensory needs, academic needs, social needs…..

Can someone get me down?

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Homework

Yesterday presented with one of our biggest challenges, homework! Our daughter struggles with the entire concept.  I first must say this is not because the information is too difficult. She struggles with the process of completing the work, handwriting and attention. At the end of the day, meds have worn off, frustrations from the day, the sheer amount of visual stimuli all compound with the thought that this was covered in class. She will tell you, she knows the information. Most of the time, she does! Hand her a pencil and things go from bad to worse. When she is able to verbally descibe, discuss or relate I formation, I am blown away. Modifications for this difficulty are tough. The traditional way we show knowledge is write it down.

I become frustrated when we can spend hours to complete an assignment.  The outcome is not that anything was learned.  We did create more stress and a little damage to the self esteem of both mother and child.  I see the suffering, and the panic in her face.  I see the excitement at learning fading with each struggle.

When asked for modifications we were given an option to place her in special classes.  The theory is that less students gives her more attention.  How does attention help when the teaching is still “old school” ?  I have a hard time understanding how the research currently available is completely ignored.   All the training for learning styles, no child will be left behind, etc., have made little impact in the actual classrooms.
I see this with people in all situations. If there is a physical impairment, it is assumed cognition is impaired also. If there is no obvious physical impairment, then it is just behavior, lack of discipline, or laziness.  How do  people judge this by just looking?
The focus on traditional methods of learning is often more damaging to these kids. If learning is not adapted to the needs of each individuals needs, how can we expect them to ever reach their goals? Our goals are not as important as the goals they have for themselves. We need to remember that we do not want to meet the goals that others set for us so how could we push that on people who are struggling?

My hope is that we start talking about options.  We need to consider the individual child that is needing help. Not continue to serve the interest of the schools, by allowing them to teach to tests and put the needs for kids aside.

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Expect Problems…

Expect Problems and EAT them for Breakfast!
Alfred A. Montapert

Overcoming difficulties

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Talk the talk, walk the walk

I have presented to many groups regarding how to work with individuals with a diagnosis (disability). I can tell them every step to take, what to do, what not to do.  Now to live that life?  Wow!  I found myself this morning doing exactly what would be one of the first things on my DO NOT DO list!  I rattled off a list of at least six tasks to be completed, each of course was several steps.  My daughter said “okay” as only a snarky twelve-year-old girl can.  Then I stopped in my tracks and asked questions about the middle and last steps. BAHZINGA! Nope, not gonna happen.  She had steps one, two and maybe three ready to roll but on the rest I got the look that resembles, “are you from outer space?”. 

I have a book shelf full of books on how to diagnose Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, how to get services, how frustrating it is, etc.  Not one book have I ever read discusses the daily trials.  Every day is a new day.  I guess that is where my frustration with the teachers has always been, realizing no two days are alike. Another frustration has been, how they don’t understand to give instructions in smaller chunks?  Well, I understand and I still found myself blowing that rule out of the water. 

Maybe the answer for me needs to be the same as it is for my daughter: Every day is a new day, we are getting a do over.

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