When to Consider Hiring a Tutor for a Child with ADHD

18 07 2017

With tremendous appreciation and credit given to: Janice (“Jan”) Miller, guest contributor (Check out her website, “Safety Today.”)

Tutoring sessions are beneficial for all children, but can be especially helpful for those with a learning disorder, such as dyslexia, ADHD, or a visual processing disorder. These children typically put in extra work to stay on the same academic track as their peers. Fortunately, tutors can give the additional time and attention needed for ADHD children to master subjects and establish good study habits. “A specialized tutor can present information in a way that’s easier for a child with a learning disability to understand, which can then make school less difficult and more enjoyable,” says Parents.com’s article 6 Signs Your Child Needs a Tutor by Mali Anderson. So how do you know if your child needs a tutor?

Grades and Time Management

Declining grades are often the most obvious sign that a child needs a tutor. The decline may be gradual or sudden. If you notice a change, speak with your child’s teacher, who can tell you if your child is having difficulty with certain concepts or subjects or if your child is having difficulty staying focused in class. A tutor can help your child regardless of the underlying issue.

Poor time management is another sign. An occasional delay is to be expected, but if your child consistently procrastinates and ignores repeated reminders, there could be a problem. When a child puts off projects and postpones homework, he or she may eventually fall too far behind and won’t be able to keep up as workloads increase, so it’s important to jump on this issue fast. A tutor can catch your child up to speed and help him or her learn better time management skills.

Confusion and Confidence

Being consistently confused is a worrisome sign that your child may need a tutor. According to Parents.com, if certain concepts are consistently confusing your child, he or she may not be meeting grade-level expectations. Your child may repeatedly express anxiety about tests and become defensive when you try to help. The confusion, anxiety, and frustration can stem from a lack of clarity in curriculum concepts or from the child’s inability to focus on the curriculum and thus not understanding the material. Regardless, a tutor can help your child comprehend each subject at the current level and learn better ways to understand the concepts and curriculum.

Lacking confidence is another sign that your child could use a tutor’s help, says Parents.com.
A tutor can successfully help your child become self-assured and have newfound confidence, which can correlate to better grades and more enjoyment from school. Feeling uncertain about a new concept is normal, but if your child is feeling overwhelmed and can’t keep up, the child’s impulse may be to run and hide rather than ask for help, so try to stay cued in on your child’s confidence levels.

Lastly, it is not always possible for a parent to manage a child’s homework. A tutor should be considered if a new obligation will result in your inability to assist as much, if you notice your child’s workload reaches a point where you cannot help as much, or if the material or manner in which it’s covered is something you find unfamiliar.

Finding a Tutor

Consider all possible sources of information when searching for a tutor, including educators and parents in your community. Even your child’s pediatrician can help point you in the right direction. Contact your child’s school, your state’s department of education, and national organizations, such as the Association of Educational Therapists, who can provide online referrals to educational therapists who tutor children with learning disabilities.

The school district should have a special education director who can help you. Other members of the school include speech therapists, counselors, and after-school program directors. You can also contact the local chapter of a national organization, such as Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD) or Learning Disabilities Association of America (LDA).

If you notice your child struggling, don’t wait to get help. The sooner your child receives assistance, the better. A tutor can assist your child to improve study habits, cultivate self-motivation, and keep up with upcoming assignments and tests. Learning these skills will not only ensure academic success; these life skills for making healthy decisions will extend into home life, social life, and stay with your child as he or she grows into an adult. Be sure to check out this guide for more information on how to keep your child safe and making smart decisions.

ADHD article picPhoto Credit: Body-n-Care,Pixabay

 





Taking Notes 101

5 01 2014

note.taking

Lots can go wrong with a student’s class notes. Too messy to read. Inadequate information written. Critical facts missing. Unnecessary words cluttering up the page.

Students fail tests partly because they don’t take good notes. There’s an easy solution to that problem. Explicitly teach them how to take notes. Don’t have time? Can you afford NOT to invest the time? You won’t have to devote tons of valuable time. It will be time well-spent.

Here’s a personal anecdote highlighting the power of one brief mini-lesson.

As Director of Instruction, I offered support to classroom teachers. A middle school history teacher requested my assistance. One of his 7th grade students had failed all the tests in the first quarter.

I began by observing the student during a review lesson for an upcoming history test.

The teacher explained and wrote critical information. Like robots, the students wrote. Each face seemed void of any thought. Flat expressions conveyed boredom or tiredness—or both.

The teacher explained and wrote…students wrote. The teacher explained and wrote…students wrote.

It doesn’t look like anyone is thinking.

The teacher broke the pattern and did something that confirmed my suspicions.

He simply stated a powerful point without writing it down, himself. He emphatically stated, “This point is extremely important; it WILL BE on the test…” (and he told them the information without writing it)

Not one student wrote it down! Their note taking had been mindless. A simple task of imitating the teacher. He wrote; they wrote. He didn’t write; they didn’t write (even though he told them it was an important point that would be included on the test).

I offered to teach a mini-lesson to that class about how to take class notes. Below you’ll find a document containing all the information I covered in a 20 min. lesson.

I suggested that they try only one or two of the points made (such as: write info. only after you understand the point so it can be summarized, use abbreviations, etc.).  Each student was given a copy of the document (on neon paper and laminated).

About two weeks later I asked that same class if they had tried any of the strategies. Every single student had tried some of the methods and reported improved grades on recent tests. Everyone attributed their success to their better note-taking skills. They expressed gratitude and excitement.

“What did you try?” I asked.

One by one, they told me what they tried. All without referring to the document I provided!

After that initial mini-lesson, the teacher provided reminders. During subsequent review lessons, he simply referred to the strategies before and during review lessons. He started modeling the methods by providing a list of abbreviations, by drawing simple pictures of important points, etc.

Word spread. Several senior high school students asked me to teach the same lesson to their classes. Gotta love when students get motivated and become more invested in improving their performance!

Note Taking





Understanding Attention

4 01 2014

parent.teacher.ADHD.best.conf

“He has trouble paying attention.” That’s what every teacher told us throughout our son’s school career. As if we didn’t notice.

Diagnosed at age 5 with ADHD, Chris demonstrated classic signs of ADHD: impulsivity, distractibility, disorganization…  Back then, 28 yrs. ago, most people didn’t know about ADHD.  However, I was very familiar with the disorder. My training and experience teaching students in special education provided insight.

You can just imagine how it frustrated me when educators reported the obvious about Chris. Especially in such vague terms. “He has trouble paying attention.” That didn’t tell me anything concrete or helpful.

When I became a regular classroom teacher, I vowed to do a better job reporting information to parents of kids with ADHD. They deserved to know what I observed, how much redirection was required to keep the student on task, etc.

So I developed a rubric. You may find it useful. When you click on the link below, you’ll find a chart. Start with the first column and pinpoint precisely where a student falls. Write the date in the box that best describes the student’s behavior. Do the same for all the other columns.

After several months, repeat the process to update the information.

Attention Rubric





Some Simple Strategies with Big Benefits

24 09 2013

easy

Are you settling into the new school year (a-h-h-h), or are you THRUSTING into the new school year? Back on the treadmill?

Is this your schedule?

Get the kids up, fed, and dressed. Manage to load them into the van and arrive at school on time. Whew! Rush to work and put in a whole day. Hustle out to your car. Hurry to school to pick up the kids. Have a “meaningful” conversation about their day while speeding to after-school sports practices. Drop them off. Swing by to pick up food for dinner. Dodge slow-moving shoppers in the market. Race your shopping cart through the parking lot. Shove the bags in the van. Shoot back to the field to pick up the kids. Head home.

Instruct the troops, “Wash your hands. Change. Eat your snack. Do your homework.”

Get bombarded with questions about homework while trying to make dinner.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a collection of easy-to-implement strategies? Here’s a collection of my favorite ones.

Math Difficulties: Pre-teach the upcoming chapter. Often parents and tutors devote time to re-teaching concepts and skills a child hasn’t mastered. That’s like playing a catch-up game … a game the child can’t win. Instead, go to the chapter the teacher will be teaching next and introduce the concepts. When your child encounters them in school, s/he will be more confident. Maybe even confident enough to volunteer answers. The lesson will be a review. Your child will be more engaged. The teacher will begin to view your child as successful.

Reading Comprehension Difficulties: Reciprocal Questioning is a strategy that elevates a child’s attention to content while reading. Usually after a child reads a story, the adult asks questions. This is the reverse of what’s done during a typical review. In this case, the child thinks of questions s/he will ask you about the story. While reading the story, the child can write down questions or dictate them to you (stopping as s/he thinks of each question). After the story or a passage is read, the child asks you each question. Its fun to answer some of the incorrectly so the child can correct you (and provide the correct answer).

Homework Completion: Have the child predict how long it will take to complete each assignment. Often students can’t even begin their homework because the assignments loom so large in their minds. The task seems just too monumental to tackle. Why begin? Predicting how long each will take makes the job seem bearable. This seems like a simple strategy. But this approach works even with teens who have a learning disability. Optional: It’s fun to have the child use a timer to see how close s/he came to each prediction.

Behavior Management: A fresh perspective of the child can drastically improve behavior. It’s very motivating to a child when a respected adult believes in them. I once taught a second grader, Billy, who had ADHD. He struggled to pay attention, seemed hopelessly disorganized, interrupted often in class, and got in trouble regularly during recess. Each day numerous students told on the student for an assortment of offenses. Occasionally, his classmates compassionately asked for prayer for him (in our Christian school). Billy’s difficulties were no secret to anyone.

One day, out of desperation, I asked my students, “Has anyone else noticed Billy has improved his behavior?”

Billy’s eyes widened as big as saucers. He wondered how he’d miss such an accomplishment. My students responded with a deafening silence.

My inquiry wasn’t based on evidence of any improvement. I simply wanted to change the students’ expectations of Billy.

“No one? Well, if anyone does notice his improvement please tell me.”

Soon after, students began to report improved behavior. Why? Billy had renewed hope. His classmates began to watch for Billy’s good behavior (instead of studying him for any misbehavior).

Here’s the basis for the strategy:

Use the power to influence through the artful application of positive suggestion.  You can influence (but not control) what your students believe about themselves, you, the topic, learning, etc.  In fact, you already influence them in those areas.  You simply may have underestimated the power of that influence.  You could say, ‘This upcoming chapter is the hardest in the book, so everyone bear down!’ Or, you could say, ‘This upcoming chapter is my favorite, so get ready for a great experience.’  As an authority figure, the teacher carries the potential for vast influence.  It is common to have had a teacher tell us that we were ‘bad’ in math or spelling or writing.  Naturally, that subject became nearly impossible to master.  Such a bias can be carried with a student for the rest of their learning life.

From Brain-Based Learning Revised Edition  –  The New Science of Teaching and Training  by Eric Jensen

“Rosenthal and Jacobson (1968) established that positive expectations tend to yield positive results and negative expectations yield negative results. 

They call this the Pygmalion effect or the self-fulfilling prophecy.”

From The Owner’s Manual for the Brain – Everyday Applications from Mind-Brain Research by Pierce J. Howard, Ph. D.





It’s never too late.

24 01 2013

EEstudyskills
The winter months are often difficult for teachers, parents, and students. Flu season interrupts learning. It’s hard to believe this school year is almost half over. The countdown to the end of the year starts in the back of educators’ minds. It’s not too late to help struggling students improve skills needed for all learning.

Every teacher embraces the responsibility of teaching students the basics…skills which are necessary for successful learning. Good learning habits contribute to positive academic performance. Deliberate instruction of study skills is the key.

Those study skills can be taught by parents.
Here’s a document which summarizes what most teachers know and do. As a parent, you may find you do many of the things as well to help your child perform well in school.
Teaching skills for all learning

Here’s a PowerPoint presentation which clarifies how to explicitly teach nonacademic skills that are the foundation for all learning.
Teaching young children basic skills