Sabado, Nobyembre 15, 2008

How to help your child at school

Your child will often find it hard to listen, remember and think of the consequences of his actions. His behaviour and performance will tend to be erratic - he may be able to do something one day but not the next.
The best things to help him at school are:

routine, regularity and repetition

praise, little and often

working with someone on similar academic and maturity levels.

The best place for him to sit is at the front of the class, either with positive role models or facing a wall. This helps to cut down on distractions.

If your child needs to take medication at school, discuss and arrange for this to be given quietly and sensitively - not in the presence of other children. For example, it could be given in the school office or by the school nurse if available.

Children often complain they are embarrassed to be seen taking medication in school and appearing in any way different from their peers, so it's important to get this right. And keep in regular contact with the school concerning medication issues.

Listed below are some of the most common problems your child will have at school, with some practical tips - some of which will need discussion with your child's teacher.
In the classroom

Talking too much

This tends to decrease as your child gets older. Tips to tackle include asking the teacher to:

use a timer, for example if he's taking turns in a group

remind the whole class before they speak that they should give one sentence only

remind the whole class to put their hand up if they want to talk.
Interrupting the teacher

This tends to be worse in primary school. As with talking too much, it tails off as your child gets older.

If your child is on stimulant medication, he's more likely to start interrupting when his medication wears off. In which case, the teacher should check (sensitively) whether he's taken medication.

Tips to tackle include:

teach your child what to do if he's forgotten instructions, eg raise his hand and wait for the teacher to answer him, or quietly ask another child.

ask the teacher to remind the whole class about the rules for interrupting rules. If your child persists, the teacher should talk to him on his own, not in front of class.

suggest a reward system that's visible to your child, eg having a book of cards with four coloured faces. The first face is a smile, the next is neutral, the next is unhappy, and the final one (red) looks cross. If your child makes it to the end of the session without reaching the red face, he gets a star. If he reaches the red face, he knows the consequences.

agree a secret signal system with his teacher that isn't obvious to the rest of the class, eg the teacher nods or rubs an ear when he needs to remind your child to get back on track.


Tips to tackle include asking the teacher to:

make eye contact when giving instructions

break instructions into manageable chunks (timed, if possible) and praise your child when done, then move on to the next chunk

get your child to repeat instructions back, to make sure he knows what he's expected to do

repeat herself if your child is fidgeting

give written as well as oral instructions, eg review instructions on the board, list what your child needs to do to complete the assignment, use visual aids and checklists

teach your child to make lists of what he has to do, then prioritise tasks within the list

ask questions to keep your child's attention.

At home

Homework issues

This tends to be either your child forgets it completely, or doesn't finish it. Tips to tackle include:

ask the school for a home-school diary so you know what the homework is

help your child plan the assignment and break it into small chunks

have a homework routine - let him have a break after school, then a set time for homework, then another break

let your child do it in bursts - don't force him to focus for too long

give him a quiet place to do his homework, with good light and no distractions such as music or TV

give him encouragement and take an interest in his work

if he tried hard but still didn't finish, don't push it too hard - remember his performance is variable so he may find it easier tomorrow.
Learning difficulties

Your child may have general problems with his work, or he may have specific problems - in which case the teacher, SENCO or a therapist can give you advice on how to help.

Tips to tackle include:

make sure he has a quiet study area

get the teacher's permission for him to leave the classroom with a helper for a walk break

teach your child to use planners, charts or diaries

use visual cues

give step-by-step instructions

check that your child can have extra time on tests - he may need it

computer programs can help with specific problems.

Peer difficulties

Particularly if he's impulsive, your child may overreact to teasing or let himself be egged on to doing something silly. The following tips may help.
A playtime diary: how did it go, were there any problems, what did you do, how did others react, what could you have done differently?

At junior school teach him to count to 10 before he reacts, or walk away and talk to a teacher.

'Circle time' provides a useful opportunity for children to discuss and understand each others points of view, problems and difficulties. It is especially helpful for children with ADHD or autism. Circle time consists of regular meetings of about 40 minutes. Children sit in a circle and discuss issues, led by a teacher. Each circle time is split into different phases: meeting, warm-up, opening-up, cheering-up and calming down.

At secondary school, try role-playing.