Tag Archives: parenting

Here’s to a Fresh Start!


appleSummer is almost over. Some are anxious to get back to school, back to the routine that they so comfortably fall into. Teachers ready to teacher, parents ready for kids to learn and yes some kids are even ready to get back to the pace of the school day. But some, teachers/parents/kids, don’t look at the school year with great expectations. There are many barriers that could kill a successful school year before it even starts.

1. Transition: Not everyone transitions smoothly into the school year. I’m not just talking about student either. Let’s start with teachers. Some teachers don’t even look at their classroom until the first day of in service. While others are up there weeks in advance preparing their rooms. It all depends on what makes them most comfortable. Parents, consider transition with your students. Some students may need to go visit the school a few times before the first day. Have a calendar on the frig counting down the days. Also, consider starting the routine of getting up earlier a few days before the BIG FIRST DAY. Then sometimes the transition issues are all with the parent. A good example of this is my sister who is sending her son to preschool for the first time. This is causing her some anxiety. The same transition strategies can be effect for adults. Put the big day on a calendar and count down, go see the classroom or school ahead of time and talk to the teachers, practice the change in routine.

2. Teachers: Get to know your students ASAP. (I mean before they even set foot in your room!) Find out who is in Special Ed, 504, RTI, GT, ELL, etc… so you can start a plan for your classroom. Talk to the teachers from last year, pull their permanent file, do some digging. Remember, when thinking about accommodations and modifications, accommodations are meant to level the playing field and modifications change the game. Accommodations do NOT change content, only make it more accessible. Modifications DO change content and MUST be aligned with IEPs. The IEP team or ARD committee make these decisions.

3. Parents: Get to know your child’s teacher. Keep up with what’s going on in class. Make sure your child is doing their homework and getting the help they need. Be friendly to the teacher. Remember they have a WHOLE class of kids. If you have an issue, start by discussing it with the teacher first.

A new school year is a time for new beginnings. Start fresh, with a fresh outlook and a fresh attitude. Good luck and have a great year!


ADHD Information for teachers and parents


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD is a medically diagnosed disability that affects both attention and hyperactivity.  The disorder can come in three forms, attention deficit only, hyperactive only or combined type.  However, since 1994 ADHD has been used as the term to describe all three forms. While a school district cannot diagnose ADHD they can provide valuable information that can lead a physician to make the correct diagnosis.

What teachers and parents need to understand about ADHD is that it affects different parts of the brain making it hard for students to focus, sit still, listen and pay attention.  It comes in degrees from mild to sever, so it may look different from student to student.  There is medication that can help with both hyperactivity and focus, but this is a discussion that the parent would need to have with the child’s doctor.

With or without medication, students with ADHD are capable of completing assignments and being productive members of a classroom.  But depending on the severity of the students ADHD and whether or not it is accompanied by another disability, the teacher may need to make some accommodations to the student’s work and or environment.

As a teacher what can I do to help my ADHD students?  First and most important be patient and try to understand that some of the behavior may be out of the students’ control.  That doesn’t mean you have to let the child get away with whatever they want, but it’s hard to punish something they can’t stop.  So instead of thinking about punishment, think in terms of prevention.  Here are some ideas for common problems.

Won’t stay in their seat:  Watch the student for a few days to get an idea of how long they typically stay in their seat. ( you can track this data using forms from The Data Dilemma) Then, get a timer.  Let them know they have to stay seated for X number of minutes (time will vary based on age) and when the timer goes off they can go sharpen their pencil, get a tissue of what ever excuse you can find to let them get out of their seat.  Then slowly increase the time.   This keeps the power in your hands.  You are deciding when and how the student gets up, but they are getting the movement they need.  For older kids who have more self-control, put them in a seat that is in a less distracting location (possibly the back row or off to one side) and tell them they can get up whenever they need as long as they stay within so many feet of their desk and do NOT disturb other students.  You can use tape to mark the “safe” area around their desk it needed.  Or even give them a tall table or podium and let them stand while they work, as long as they aren’t districting to others.

Won’t stay on task: This is the number one concern I hear from teachers of all students, ADHD or not, “I can’t get them to focus long enough to learn.”  Obviously the first thing you need to do is make sure the student is capable of completing the work.  If the work is significantly above their level they aren’t going to stay focus.  You need to differentiate the assignment based on educational need.  (That’s a topic for another post.)  So assuming they are capable of completing the work ,here are a few ideas.  Put the student in an area that is less distracting.  This can be done by putting up a folder to block the other kids, turning the students desk around of putting up a divider between desks.  I know you don’t want to isolate a student, so start with something that can be moved once work is completed.  But don’t be afraid to move a student’s desk to a new location if it will help them learn.  What you DON’T want to do is put the student in the hall.  This takes away instructional access.  Also try listing out steps.  If the student can mark off the steps as they go it will help them stay organized and keep moving forward.  Also think about using a reward system like  picture rewards.  Have the student work to earn or remove puzzle pieces.  When all the pieces are either taken away or put together, depending on how you set it up, they earn what the picture makes, like free time or computer time.  (Make it so they don’t earn all the pieces unless the work is complete).Also the timer in this case can help; focus on not only staying in your seat but also being productive.


Loses everything: Students with ADHD sometime also struggle with executive functioning skills, like organization.  Because of this, they will lose everything you give them.   The key is to help them get organized in an age appropriate way. First graders may have homework folders that they have to bring in and put in a bucket.  Then the teacher later takes out old homework and puts in new.  So all the first grader has to do is remember to give the folder to their parent.  But high school students will be responsible for homework in several classes and every class will expect them to turn it in a different way.  So you may need to help them with a folder system.  Then if they will get in the habit of putting all homework in the folder system they’ll know where it is; of course this doesn’t guarantee they will take it home and complete it.


They’re not listening:  I hear from teachers all the time that students aren’t listening and in some cases they aren’t.  But sometimes they are listening to more than we know; it just doesn’t look like it.  I was observing a 7th grade boy with moderate ADHD in Math on day.  He was extremely off task, signing and making noises.  The teacher (who was a sub and did not know this student) was asking kids to give answers to questions that were written on the board.  While the student did not understand the concept of raising his hand and waiting to be called on (a much-needed social skill that will be discussed in a later post) he did shout out 5 answers and 3 of them were correct.  Three out of five! For a student with ADHD and a Learning Disability that isn’t bad.  My point is he didn’t appear to be listening, but apparently he was catching on to something.   Now this is not to say let your students sing and shout out answers, but understand that they may listen and fidget at the same time.  For fidgety kids try a pipe cleaner or shoelace they can twist around their finger.  Also try other fidget tools like stress balls and different textured strips of fabric.  Click FIDGET TOOLS for more ideas.  And remember, listening skills are LEARNED SKILLS.  So no matter what grade you teach you may need to review how to be an active listener.  Post rules such as eyes face front while mouth is shut and hand up mouth shut to remind students what they need to be doing.   If you start this way on day one after a few weeks you may not even need to stop teaching to correct a talkative student; simply get their attention and point to the appropriate rule.

Can’t follow class rules:  Often time’s students with ADHD get into trouble in school.  There is NOT a disability or disorder that makes you incapable of following classroom rules!!  ADHD is not an excuse to act however you want.  It is important that teachers are firm and fair.  The rules need to be set from day one and enforced.  That is why the teacher needs to keep the control.  If you know an ADHD student has trouble sitting for long periods of time give them an excuse to get up.  Then YOU gave the permission therefore they aren’t breaking a rule.  As a teacher I can tell you when it comes to ANY disability you will either figure out what the kids need and get it to them or fight it all year.  You don’t want to waste a year fighting a loosing battle.  Instead make some modifications, keep control in your hands and allow everyone in your class to learn.  ADHD is not a free pass to run around the class and never complete assignments.  But it is a disorder that may require some adjustment in assignments and environment.

For more information on how to keep your student’s attention check out this article,

“20 Ways to keep your Student’s Attention”

Now from the other side, as a parent what can I do to help my student with ADHD?  Patients and understanding are going to be key from the parent’s side as well.  Remember to be patient with your child; they may struggle, but also patient with the teachers as the work with you through the years.

Know what’s going on at school: Talk to your child’s teachers.  Let them know your child has ADHD and give them information about what you do at home.  Find out what they are doing at school.  IF they are using a timer and working on staying in your seat, then you use a timer at home and work on the same thing.  Reinforce what’s happening at school.

Be mindful of other students:  Keep in mind that your child’s teacher is also working with other students.  There may be 20 other kids in that class who also need to learn.  So if there is an idea you think is awesome, share it, but remember it may need to be modified to fit into the classroom setting.  The key is figuring out what your child needs and finding a way to integrate it into the classroom.

Don’t assume the teacher knows:  Don’t assume your child’s teacher has worked with kids who have ADHD before.  They may not have training in this area, so don’t be afraid to offer resources such as helpful websites and give them a chance to learn.

Talk about medication: While the school cannot and should make medication recommendations; it is important for them to know what meds your child is on and if they change.  If you plan on taking your child off their medication or changing meds or dosage let the school know in advance.  This may affect behavior and the school needs to be prepared.

Listen to the teachers: Sometimes when parents get frustrated with teachers or schools they want to discredit everything the school has to say.  This is a mistake.  Listen to one and other.  Just like you have valuable information about your child the school has valuable information about their educations.

For more information on ADHD including diagnosis, medication and strategies click on ADHD. 




Transition and Challenging Behavior


Many students, both with diagnosed disabilities and without, struggle with transition.  We often see this in school when students start a new year and they are adjusting to a new situation or when they go home for a long holiday break and have to adjust back into the school routine.  Sometime the anxiety and confusion caused by these times of transition can create challenging behaviors.  These behaviors may seem defiant or disrespectful and once they occur in the school setting they must be addressed.  This often leads to punishment that the student doesn’t understand or respond too.

In an effort to head off some challenging behaviors in the classroom or at home consider looking into transitional strategies to help during times when the students schedule will change.

1.  Calendar-Many parents of Autistic students keep a calendar to review with their child every day.  This calendar will have days that school will not be held as well as appointments or family events.  They review it at the same time everyday.  By making this calendar part of your daily routine, your child will get use to the pre-warning of change.  (This works for ANY child who struggles with change.)

2.  Visual Schedules- Some students require a visual schedule to be successful both at school and at home.  The student would have a schedule of their day with pictures of each activity and as they go through activities they would remove the pictures.  This is can go from home to school and can help with everyday transitions like, coming to school and going to lunch.

3.  Timers- Some students need a pre-warning before they change activities.  Especially activities they are working on independently.  A timer can be of great use.  Set the time and pre-warn the child that in 5 min* they will change activities.  This also works well at home if you want to transition from computer, TV or outside time.  (*The amount of pre-warning time may vary from kid to kid based on need.)

4.  Count down– As students go home for long breaks, like Christmas, it is important for them to remember that they will come back to school.  You can create a count down to monitor daily.  This can be done on the computer or it can be part of you calendar.  Also as something special, if your school would help, give Christmas cards to teachers to fill out.  One for every day the child will be out of school.  EX: If you are out for 14 days, then 14 different people will write a simple card. “Merry Christmas, hope you are having a great break.  See you in 14 days.”  The child will open a new card everyday and the cards will count down until the last card says “see you tomorrow”.

These are a few of the most common transitional strategies.   If you have a student or a child who struggles with transition check into strategies that can help them be more successful.  If you wait until after the transition then you may see an increase in challenging behaviors that can be hard to handle.

Check out these web sites for more ideas:

Moving right along!

Child Behavior Guide