ADHD · school

What is an Accommodation and Why do I Need One?

Eye exams are pretty routine throughout childhood.  If you fail an eye exam, you get glasses.  Nobody really thinks twice about it.  You might suffer a few “four eyes” comments but I think kids with glasses are adorable.  Glasses are a tool to improve vision.

Now imagine if your child has a learning disability or struggles to stay focused in class.  You would want to provide the tools to access learning along with their peers.  These are called accommodations.  According to Understood.org accommodations remove barriers to learning.  They don’t change what your child is learning but how they are learning it.

For example, if your child has trouble sitting still and focusing while the teacher is talking a stretchy band around the legs of their chair is an accommodation.  They can kick the band to get the wiggles out in an unobtrusive way and the movement will help them maintain focus.  This accommodation is a win for the entire class.  It helps the student stay focused and reduces the disruptions for both the teacher and the classroom.

Before Pickles was diagnosed with ADHD I didn’t understand accommodations.  I felt sorry for those kids who were asked to sit outside the group at carpet time in Kindergarten.  I had no idea that their special cushion was giving them the sensory feedback their body needed.  Now I know how to seek out the tools my kids need to excel.  Here are a few things that have worked for us:

  • gum (the old school bubble gum that makes them work really hard to chew)
  • noise canceling headphones for testing
  • preferential seating in the classroom
  • squeezy balls
  • a separate area for testing
  • teacher redirects

In honor of ADHD awareness month, I’m participating in a fundraiser to purchase accommodations for Eureka School District.  Please click here for more info.

 

ADHD · school

How to Get the Homework Done and Still Like your Kid (Part 2)

As I trudged downstairs this morning half asleep I almost tripped over the pile of books and binders that surrounded my daughter’s backpack.  I give her credit because while messy at least all the school supplies made it to the right staging area for this morning’s rush hour.

Last night was one of those nights.  After school (2 pickup times), I dropped my son and his friend at soccer practice.  Quickly buzzed out to the dance studio where I sat with my daughter in the homework zone for as long as possible until I had to leave and do some speed grocery shopping.  I ordered dinner from DoorDash while I waited in traffic.  Barely made it home in time to meet my son after he was dropped off.  Fed him dinner while I unpacked groceries and then ran him off to tutoring.  We didn’t get home until 7:30 and still had to shower, feed the other half of the family and finish homework.

Whew, that makes me tired just writing that paragraph.   So, let’s take a closer look at that last step HOMEWORK!  I took a look at the struggles we’ve faced with my younger son last week.  Today I want to explore the challenges we face with my oldest (5th grader).

Pickles (not her real name) has been diagnosed with ADHD.  She has always been a solid student but her diagnosis has led to trouble with Executive Function skills.  I’m going to break down this excellent video with what works for us.

YES!

  • Refuel with a healthy snack (my kids come home from school ravenous, I arrive at school pickup armed with snacks)
  • Review each task as completed (actually, I review the entire nights’ work at the end then we go through and make corrections together)
  • Every 20 minutes take a break & move (if she is churning through the homework I don’t interrupt but if she’s starting to lose focus or get frustrated it’s break time)
  • They nailed it on the project slide!  (Parenting ADHD takes special attention to long-term planning.  I make Pickles break down projects into smaller tasks and we write these into her school planner)

This Doesn’t Work for Us…

  • Confirm teacher will post assignments to the website (This is certainly something you could work through on an IEP or 504plan.  At the moment, if Pickles forgets an assignment we text our classmates for help.)
  • Start homework within 1 hour (in an ideal world YES!  Most days Pickles goes straight from school to the dance studio. One thing we have done is take the homework with us and use the downtime before class starts to get some done.)
  • Interrupt daydreams (Pickles prefers to do her homework in her room.  I’m ok with it taking a little longer so she has time to get lost in her thoughts.)

As you know I think ADDitude is a leading authority on how to parent ADHD.  This homework system is rock solid but when applied to the real world it starts to crumble a bit.  Hopefully, I gave you some workarounds to keep it all together.

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What homework hacks do you use in your household?  Please share in the comments below.

Parenting · school

How to Get the Homework Done and Still Like your Kid (Part 1)

“NOOOOOO” he screams from the top of his lungs while throwing his body to the floor.  He gets up and starts to hit me.  Not hard but just enough so that I know that he is mad.  I take the abuse while giving him several warnings.  If he doesn’t stop he will eventually end up in timeout.

What caused this massive meltdown?  Nope, I didn’t take away his screen time.  I simply said, “It’s time to do homework.”  It’s not always this extreme but some version of this meltdown plays out multiple times per week in our house.

The battle lines are drawn around homework in so many homes around the world but I know this is extreme.  My son is a sweetheart and a cuddle-bug but homework brings out the worst in him.  Why do I put up the abuse?  I know we are working on it.

I’ve discussed the issue with his counselor and we are formulating a game plan.  My son has battled anxiety and there is a strong history of ADHD in our family.  Here are some strategies we are working on:

  1. Creating an environment for studying.  There are some good ideas here.
  2. Make it fun!  He was thrilled when we practiced spelling words by letting him draw the letters in salt that was poured into a cookie sheet.  Here’s a resource for more ways to mix it up..
  3. Let go a little.  Since he’s my second child I have learned to losen the reigns a bit.  Not everything has to be perfect.  As long as most of the work is getting done perfection isn’t worth the battle.

That’s all for right now for my little guy.  BABY STEPS!  I’ve shared an idea here before on how to use visual reminders.  Next week I will share some strategies that we use for homework with my older daughter.

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What homework headaches do you face with your ADHD kiddo?  Please feel free to share in the comments below.