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Morning Struggles

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    Morning Struggles

    Hello,
    We are using Simply Classical Level B with my son, age 5, who has ADHD. Simply sitting down at the table is such a struggle for us. However, it does seem to be the only location where my son will have the best chance of paying attention. I give him plenty of time to wake up in the mornings. We get up at 7, we have breakfast, and I let him free play for 2-3 hours before beginning school. I also give him a countdown of when we are going to start, i.e. 30 minutes, 10 minutes.
    When I ask him to sit down he will cry, whine, and fuss on the floor. Sometimes I have to carry him to his seat or use the threat of a consequence to get him to sit down. Then it will take 5-10 more minutes of him fussing/crying before he will say the first prayer. We get one item down, and then sometimes it's just as hard to get him to do the next item. Once he gets going, he can usually do the activity without too much help. In general, he's is very noncompliant and says he hates school and doesn't want to learn. I also get very frustrated; I know I need to keep my attitude light and fun for him.
    I usually try to get all the activities done without too many breaks in between as momentum seems to help. In the afternoon, I'll let him pursue what he wants to learn about. He currently loves ships and large machines, and he will watch hours of You tube videos on those subjects. But I also know there are other subjects he needs to learn whether he enjoys it or not.
    Any tips would be appreciated!
    Last edited by linnea; 10-13-2015, 10:16 PM.

    #2
    Re: Morning Struggles

    I would say eliminate that 2-3 hours of play first thing in the morning. My experience around here is once the kids start doing their own thing, it's hard to reel them back in. We're up, have breakfast, get dressed, start circle time. Routine routine routine.

    My son does his most challenging subject, math, first. Then he gets a 15 minute recess. Use a timer, like the microwave or a ticking kitchen timer. My son always accused me of shorting his play time, the timer keeps us both honest.

    I also have the schedule posted without times and we move a clothes pin down the sheet so he can see what's left to be accomplished before his next break or until he's done for the day. He can visually see his accomplishment. He thought I was sneaking extra subjects in on him. Admittedly, I was. If we were having a good day I tried to milk it for all I could. The posted schedule prevents that.

    I also keep a schedule in a page protector on my desk with times listed down the side so I can see whether we're on schedule or not. I check stuff off with a wet erase marker as we go. I can quickly get us back on schedule if need be. "Sad, we won't get to the do the letter craft today because you were rolling around on the floor during math time and it took longer. We'll just skip ahead to the read aloud to get back on track". This ensures we finish at about the same time everyday, because, well, I'm pretty well done teaching by lunch time.

    We also use star reward charts. I hit up the dollar store and bought cutout paper shapes, a different shape for each kiddo. I think teachers use them for calendars. They're about hand sized. I bought a package of star stickers. Last, I bought trinkets. Goodwill is good for cheap bags of random things. Bubble gum is also popular. I bought a Whoopi cushion once, oops. What was I thinking? A Whoopi cushion for a 7 year old boy? Yeah, that school day was a loss.

    Anyway, start with say 7 boxes on your paper cutout. Give a star for desired behavior. Yay, you were dressed for school. Yay, you sat nicely through calendar time. Yay, you transitioned to the school table with no meltdown. Yay, you didn't throw your pencil in anger because math wasn't what you wanted to do. Yay, you came back to school when the timer went off and recess was over. Reward those little positive behavior actions and pretty soon he gets to go to the treasure box and select a toy or reward. I slowly increase the number of stars it takes to get a reward and slowly increase the difficulty in earning stars. Now in week 9 I rarely give stars for proper behavior during calendar and weather time, it's just a normal expectation.

    Hope that helps.
    Married to DH for 14 years. Living the rural life in the Colorado mountains

    DS11- Simply Classical 5/6
    DD9- Simply Classical 5/6 (neurotypical, but schooling with big brother to save mom's sanity)
    DD 6- Classic Core First Grade

    We've completed:
    Classic Core Jr. kindergarten, kindergarten, first grade, and second grade.
    Simply Classical levels B, C, 1, 2, 3, and 4.

    Comment


      #3
      Re: Morning Struggles

      Originally posted by linnea View Post
      Hello,
      We are using Simply Classical Level B with my son, age 5, who has ADHD. Simply sitting down at the table is such a struggle for us. However, it does seem to be the only location where my son will have the best chance of paying attention. I give him plenty of time to wake up in the mornings. We get up at 7, we have breakfast, and I let him free play for 2-3 hours before beginning school. I also give him a countdown of when we are going to start, i.e. 30 minutes, 10 minutes.
      When I ask him to sit down he will cry, whine, and fuss on the floor. Sometimes I have to carry him to his seat or use the threat of a consequence to get him to sit down. Then it will take 5-10 more minutes of him fussing/crying before he will say the first prayer. We get one item down, and then sometimes it's just as hard to get him to do the next item. Once he gets going, he can usually do the activity without too much help. In general, he's is very noncompliant and says he hates school and doesn't want to learn. I also get very frustrated; I know I need to keep my attitude light and fun for him.
      I usually try to get all the activities done without too many breaks in between as momentum seems to help. In the afternoon, I'll let him pursue what he wants to learn about. He currently loves ships and large machines, and he will watch hours of You tube videos on those subjects. But I also know there are other subjects he needs to learn whether he enjoys it or not.
      Any tips would be appreciated!

      Welcome, Linnea!

      When was your son diagnosed? And did you receive any specific recommendations for him?


      Some immediate suggestions:

      1. Consider an OT evaluation.
      You can find some "red flags" and other symptoms here, if you think this might be something to explore.

      2. Reduce screen time dramatically.
      While long-term effects on the youtube generation are still pending, cautions seem substantial enough to heed. Consider this article. Consider also the work of Dr. Jane M. Healy, researcher and author of Endangered Minds and Failure to Connect, who is cited in another article excerpted here:

      The frenetic pace of screens "with rapidly changing sound and images, may overwhelm the nervous system of some young children .... According to Healy, the fast-paced, attention-grabbing 'features' ... — eg: rapid zooms and pans, flashes of colour, quick movement in the peripheral (ie side) visual field, and sudden loud noises) deprive a child of practice in using his own brain independently (as in games, hobbies, social interaction or just 'fussing around').

      'I have talked to many parents of children diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder who found the difficulty markedly improved after they took away television viewing privileges,' she says."

      3. Ask your child's doctors or therapists about assistance with overall compliance.
      Consider any needed dietary changes or medical treatment recommended for him.

      4. Try the Premack Principle ("Grandma's Law") with schoolwork and other activities throughout the day.
      Alternate something he does not enjoy with something he prefers. Does he prefer the scissors work to pencil-and-paper? Does he prefer listening to stories more than writing? You can alternate accordingly. I love Colomama's idea of visual markers to show progress. When he finishes, he earns "x" (outside time, ice cream, a walk with the dog, a family game)

      5. Use screen time only as a reward.
      Because he is non-compliant for you most of the time, you might want to utilize screen time only as a reward for good behavior. For example, he can earn 10 minutes of a youtube video after he moves the clip on his work chart (or whatever visual system you create) forward three tasks. When the screen time is restricted to being reward-only, it can work for you in powerful ways.

      6. Do not feel guilty if he does not yet enjoy learning.
      If he has not been accustomed to behaving well, to accomplishing tasks, or to listening with enjoyment to books read to him, this will take time.

      7. Establish new patterns to include plenty of movement, fun moments, and exercise.
      Through your lessons and through a new routine, you will be breaking old patterns and replacing them with new ones. This single achievement may do more for him and for your family than anything else! SC Level B will help you, because of the emphasis on manners. As your son begins to calm down during lesson time and story time, he will learn new behaviors to replace the old ones.



      All of this is only the beginning. The good news is that you are starting early. Even though you may feel as if you have been battling this for a very long time, he is only five.

      A side note -
      Fwiw, both of my twins, boy/girl, now 20, came to us when they were babies and were diagnosed with ADHD early: bouncing off beds and each other, battling schoolwork and me. We survived.

      As I write this, they both just finished their daily cardio exercise while listening to invigorating music. My son is now at the sink scrubbing a bucket of carrots he harvested from the garden. My daughter is folding laundry and distributing it to everyone's rooms. Both of them were gone today, productive in various settings, and they are finishing their chores before dinner.

      You can do this.

      Colomama's suggestions are good ones. If you can start immediately after breakfast and continue until he is finished with the lessons, he will quickly understand that this is the daily expectation. He will not be able to play with his toys or engage in other enjoyable activities until he is all finished. You might give extra incentives for finishing each task calmly (i.e., without protests).


      Feel free to follow up here. This will be a journey. If we can help in any way, let us know.


      Cheryl

      Simply Classical: A Beautiful Education for Any Child

      Comment


        #4
        Re: Morning Struggles

        I absolutely agree with dramatically reducing screen time. Mom is a big meanie because she doesn't allow tv, movies, tablets, etc. One night a week is daddy night and they all gorge on tv. I can totally tell the next day. My kids are whiny and non compliant. They're ability to cope with stressors like siblings, schedule changes, and school is dramatically reduced.

        I like the idea of using screen time as a reward. Use my good friend the kitchen timer. Most tablets can also be set to shut off after a specific time interval or you may need to download an app. Atleast then you're not wrestling over it.

        I also try to switch between passive subjects and more active. I try not to pair writing with read aloud, for example, in a block of time. The behavior expectation is quiet and seated for both. Instead, I would pair read aloud with craft. Sit quietly and then have a period of time where he can move around.

        I also refuse to buy soda for the house. Choices are water and milk and maybe juice. I've found soda and sugar to make my kids wild. We had a few weeks of poor behavior and I couldn't figure out what the issue was. Then I started finding empty candy wrapper piles hidden in closets, under beds. Ah ha! We'd been to a parade where they tossed candy. I thought it was all happily stored in the kitchen pantry. My son had been quietly helping himself. The whole bag disappeared into the trash and behavior improved.

        I'm trying to improve our breakfast options, more substance and protein instead of cereal.
        Married to DH for 14 years. Living the rural life in the Colorado mountains

        DS11- Simply Classical 5/6
        DD9- Simply Classical 5/6 (neurotypical, but schooling with big brother to save mom's sanity)
        DD 6- Classic Core First Grade

        We've completed:
        Classic Core Jr. kindergarten, kindergarten, first grade, and second grade.
        Simply Classical levels B, C, 1, 2, 3, and 4.

        Comment


          #5
          Re: Morning Struggles

          Will echo the above advice:

          1) Breakfast, potty, maybe get dressed (sometimes not), maybe walk the dog (sometimes not), then BAM! -- school. We start at 8AM. Or we will not survive.

          2) Screens used to dominate when my kids were nonverbal and non compliant (and I was pregnant or nursing and sleep-deprived). Once I pulled the time way down, their behavior, performance and focus picked up. But we didn't do it all at once. It was a gradual process. Now they get one hour of TV per day. (Except special occasions.)

          3) Go to the Apple App Store (or the android equivalent) and download an app called Time Timer. It's a visual timer that shows your son exactly how long he has worked (or will work, depending on whether you set it to count up or down) with a graphic on a clock that looks like a pie which gets smaller as the time winds down. You can set it to track up to four (I think) different sudjects -- in sequence or separately. This might be a good place to start if you are having trouble establishing a routine. It worked great for us when we were starting out. My son could see exactly how long he had until Math was over, for example. Then we would move on to the next subject, briskly.
          Time Timer by Time Timer LLC
          https://appsto.re/us/HVD0t.i

          4) Morning Time! Cheryl can speak to this. Create a rhythm and pleasant routine to the opening of your school day. This usually entails reviewing the day, date, month, year, weather, season and what we are doing for the day. We also might sing a song or talk about our upcoming day outside of school time. It's basically an extension of the beginning portion of the Level B Daily Lesson Plan. But it's a good way to cue, "School has started. Here we go!" It gives my kids stability, uniformity, pleasure and a good start -- with no whining. ;D

          5) Cheryl suggested this as well: do your read-aloud someplace cozy away from your workspace. We do all of our hands-on assignments (coloring, crafts, academic learning) at the kitchen table. When it's time to read stories (we are doing Levels A, B & C simultaneously with my 3 children) we go to the couch and "snuggle up". The very tail end of this time is the selection from "A Child's Garden of Verses" we are currently on and then the corresponding song, as well as any songs from the other Levels we are asked to sing and learn. My kids know their very last task (before cleaning up the books and putting everything back on the dining room table) is to say their individual closing prayers. Then we eat lunch!

          This pattern did not happen overnight! Find the thread called "Evidence of Efficacy" here in the SC forum. You can see where we started and where we were within a year's time. YOU CAN DO THIS, MAMA! Just hang in there!
          Boy Wonder: 10, MP2/SC4 (Special Needs)
          Joy Bubble: 8, MP2 (Special Needs)
          Snuggly Cowboy: 6, MPK
          Sweet Lightness: 2, Reverse-Engineering Specialist

          “Have no fear of moving into the unknown. Simply step out fearlessly knowing that I am with you, therefore no harm can befall you; all is very, very well. Do this in complete faith and confidence.”
          ~Pope St John Paul II

          Comment

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