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Questioning

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    Questioning

    My soon-to-be 14 year old has made great strides this year in overcoming his executive function difficulties in daily life and I'm seeing improvement in some school areas (he got an A on this week's Latin quiz!) but...he is still failing about half of his quizzes/tests. He has two tests and a quiz to retake this week alone. Vocabulary and mapwork kill him every time and he is unable to do at least half of his word problems in math without me rewording them (or even just reading them aloud to him/emphasizing important parts). In literature he gives brief answers -- almost every question requires asking "why was this said/done" or "what did that lead to" to get him to go deeper; his brother does the same though not as extensively. Here's what I do/have tried:

    1) I write in his planner to study daily for his upcoming tests (typing it out for each day and each subject he needs to study in)
    2) Suggested reading his word problems aloud as it seems to help when I read them; he said he has done it and it doesn't help him understand them any better
    3) Showed him how to take a word problem one step at a time (he is working with 2-4 step word problems)
    4) Suggested the see, write, say approach for memorizing information for tests; he says it won't work
    5) Stopped reviewing/correcting his work face to face. I mark where corrections are needed and give it to him as afternoon homework so that he can look things up, think about them more, etc. The other way often resulted in either me or his brother (same grade) giving him the answer because discussing it wasn't working well. Not always, but enough of the time to make me think it wasn't the best way of helping him correct/retain his work.

    I asked him today what he does when his planner says to study for a test and he said he doesn't know. I asked whether he reads the information, writes it down, says it aloud...he still said he doesn't know. I asked if that meant he doesn't study at all and he said he does but he still can't tell me what he does. He's been getting far better grades in Latin the past two weeks but he said he isn't doing anything different in his studying.

    I'm starting to think that the only way through this is to sit with him for two hours each day, coaching him while he does all of his work; but with five other school-age children (each with their own challenges), a toddler, a growing family business and rollercoaster health, I don't know if I can. Another idea is to make a checklist for each subject/type of assignment so he can go through it each time. I'm not sure if this would work though as he would still have to remember/accurately record each list daily.

    Is there a way to better meet his needs without everything else suffering? I feel like I'm not helping him enough but I'm not sure how to do it without causing everything else to fall behind.
    Last edited by jen1134; 03-24-2017, 02:50 PM.
    Jennifer
    Blog: [url]www.seekingdelectare.com[/url]

    2021-2022
    DS18: Almost done!
    DS17: MP, MPOA
    DS15: MP, MPOA
    DS12: Mix of SC 5/6 & SC 7/8
    DD11: Mix of 5M and SC7/8
    DD9: SC3
    DD6: MPK

    #2
    Re: Questioning

    Hi, Jen.

    Yes, it sounds like he needs much more face-to-face teaching. I just spent the morning at Hillsdale Academy, K-12, in Michigan, and watched 5th-grade seminar-style instruction with teacher-led literature study. It was amazing to behold such thoughtful engagement among the students. Then, in the afternoon, I passed by college students on the Hillsdale College campus in similar small-group, seminar-style classes led by the college professor.

    Classical education has always been teacher led. It seems that only in homeschooling do we expect so much independent study with our older students not "as homework" but as the actual class.


    Yet your situation is not conducive to such instruction right now. You have some options, perhaps in combination:

    1. Pare down his assignments to something even more manageable, so he is achieving A's and B's.
    2. Teach from a lower level, so the content is more understandable at an independent level, so he begins achieving A's and B's.
    (It is not the A's and B's we want; rather, the higher % of comprehended material reflected by those A's and B's. Mrs. Lowe speaks of this.)
    3. See if your husband or a capable relative can teach/tutor your son, perhaps at the library 1-2 hours each evening.
    4. Hire a tutor or private teacher to teach his upper-level courses, especially if you live near a classical school where someone might want to supplement income.
    5. Enroll him in MPOA for at least one or two courses. (A local friend needed to do this. Even though she wanted to teach her middle-school son, her younger child's special needs made her own in-depth involvement impossible. MPOA provided an amazing alternative. She missed the teaching, but her son needed the engaged instruction.)


    Clearly, as you already know, the current situation is not working. Maybe you and your husband can discuss some alternative approaches?

    Comment


      #3
      Re: Questioning

      Originally posted by cherylswope View Post
      Hi, Jen.

      Yes, it sounds like he needs much more face-to-face teaching. I just spent the morning at Hillsdale Academy, K-12, in Michigan, and watched 5th-grade seminar-style instruction with teacher-led literature study. It was amazing to behold such thoughtful engagement among the students. Then, in the afternoon, I passed by college students on the Hillsdale College campus in similar small-group, seminar-style classes led by the college professor.

      Classical education has always been teacher led. It seems that only in homeschooling do we expect so much independent study with our older students not "as homework" but as the actual class.


      Yet your situation is not conducive to such instruction right now. You have some options, perhaps in combination:

      1. Pare down his assignments to something even more manageable, so he is achieving A's and B's.
      2. Teach from a lower level, so the content is more understandable at an independent level, so he begins achieving A's and B's.
      (It is not the A's and B's we want; rather, the higher % of comprehended material reflected by those A's and B's. Mrs. Lowe speaks of this.)
      3. See if your husband or a capable relative can teach/tutor your son, perhaps at the library 1-2 hours each evening.
      4. Hire a tutor or private teacher to teach his upper-level courses, especially if you live near a classical school where someone might want to supplement income.
      5. Enroll him in MPOA for at least one or two courses. (A local friend needed to do this. Even though she wanted to teach her middle-school son, her younger child's special needs made her own in-depth involvement impossible. MPOA provided an amazing alternative. She missed the teaching, but her son needed the engaged instruction.)


      Clearly, as you already know, the current situation is not working. Maybe you and your husband can discuss some alternative approaches?
      Thank you for these ideas Cheryl...we had enrolled him in MPOA for the upcoming FFL Summer Review but I was afraid that the expectations of the full-year MPOA courses would overwhelm him...maybe I'm wrong in that assumption? I never even thought about tutoring -- this is the first year in many where hiring a tutor/enrolling in MPOA could even be an option (Praise God!) -- so I'm not used to thinking in that vein!

      I'll definitely have to talk things over with my husband -- we were just talking this morning about how several things need to be adjusted in our home though we're not sure in what way. If I pare down his assignments or enroll him in MPOA, he will miss out on our MP co-op (just us and another family but covers most subjects) and I know that would really upset him. Sorry for the rambling. Lots to think about.
      Jennifer
      Blog: [url]www.seekingdelectare.com[/url]

      2021-2022
      DS18: Almost done!
      DS17: MP, MPOA
      DS15: MP, MPOA
      DS12: Mix of SC 5/6 & SC 7/8
      DD11: Mix of 5M and SC7/8
      DD9: SC3
      DD6: MPK

      Comment


        #4
        Re: Questioning

        An update:

        1. I discuss his Math corrections with him daily. After a few times of going over word problems, he started to become more independent with them and rarely asks for help with them now. He is also taking corrections well in math and working them out in front of me.

        2. I broke his planner into individual pages for each subject and spelled out each detail of his work for each day. Instead of "study for quiz" it says "read all Reading Notes", "write vocabulary words from this section", etc. He said that he felt much better with the detailed planner. My other son (ADHD/easily overwhelmed/anxious) said that the new format helped him to feel more at ease when doing his work because he could only see one subject at a time rather than a weekly grid.

        His quiz/test grades are still very poor, but I think a lot of it is his memory. We can talk about something and by the time he gets back to the school table area, he has forgotten it. At the same time, note-taking intimidates him and he has a hard time taking notes and listening at the same time. It's something we're making him practice a little at a time anyway.

        I think his confidence is the biggest obstacle for him. If he fails a test, he refuses to retake it. It's as if he thinks "I tried, I failed, it's done." He doesn't see the point in expending more effort on learning the material when he doesn't think it will change anything.

        I can't scale back his work without removing him from our co-op and my husband doesn't want to enroll him in MPOA when there's a strong possibility that he will fight us about attending and I haven't looked into tutoring as I frankly don't know what to look for; it's not that he doesn't understand the material. He just doesn't remember it and can't figure out how to talk/write about what he does remember.
        Jennifer
        Blog: [url]www.seekingdelectare.com[/url]

        2021-2022
        DS18: Almost done!
        DS17: MP, MPOA
        DS15: MP, MPOA
        DS12: Mix of SC 5/6 & SC 7/8
        DD11: Mix of 5M and SC7/8
        DD9: SC3
        DD6: MPK

        Comment


          #5
          Re: Questioning

          Originally posted by jen1134 View Post
          An update:

          1. I discuss his Math corrections with him daily. After a few times of going over word problems, he started to become more independent with them and rarely asks for help with them now. He is also taking corrections well in math and working them out in front of me.

          2. I broke his planner into individual pages for each subject and spelled out each detail of his work for each day. Instead of "study for quiz" it says "read all Reading Notes", "write vocabulary words from this section", etc. He said that he felt much better with the detailed planner. My other son (ADHD/easily overwhelmed/anxious) said that the new format helped him to feel more at ease when doing his work because he could only see one subject at a time rather than a weekly grid.
          Very good! Thanks for the update.

          Yes, my son with ADHD & Executive Function challenges says similar things about facing one task at a time vs. that thoroughly overwhelming, unsettling full planner. Even today, he falls prey to feeling defeated before ever beginning, if it is not clear that his assigned tasks are truly able to be accomplished. We walk him through, "Yes, you have 7 Saturday morning jobs, but let's estimate the time of each. Number one: emptying the dishwasher, 5 minutes. Number two: gathering the household trash, 5-10 minutes ... Total time: 75 minutes. You will finish all of these by 11:00 a.m." Visibly relaxing, he can then begin.

          If you searched for a tutor, you would want one specializing in ADHD, Executive Function, Study Skills Strategies, or some combination of these. He is bright enough to understand, but lacks the necessary tools to attack his studies to enable information to pass from (very) short-term memory to more enduring long-term memory. Increasing these skills will be the best way to increase those test scores and, more importantly, his confidence and actual learning.

          For specifics to add to your own arsenal, see Late, Lost, and Unprepared: A Parent's Guide to Helping Children with Executive Functioning, and possibly, Help Your Kids with Study Skills. I'm assuming you know about the Smart but Scattered series.


          Here is a good research-based article on Memory, including information on moving from a momentary acquaintance to solid, long-term memory. This is what you will want to target for him.



          Take notes and keep posting, if you can. The strategies proven useful for your son will help others here.

          Thanks-
          Cheryl

          Comment


            #6
            Re: Questioning

            Originally posted by cherylswope View Post
            Very good! Thanks for the update.

            Yes, my son with ADHD & Executive Function challenges says similar things about facing one task at a time vs. that thoroughly overwhelming, unsettling full planner. Even today, he falls prey to feeling defeated before ever beginning, if it is not clear that his assigned tasks are truly able to be accomplished. We walk him through, "Yes, you have 7 Saturday morning jobs, but let's estimate the time of each. Number one: emptying the dishwasher, 5 minutes. Number two: gathering the household trash, 5-10 minutes ... Total time: 75 minutes. You will finish all of these by 11:00 a.m." Visibly relaxing, he can then begin.

            If you searched for a tutor, you would want one specializing in ADHD, Executive Function, Study Skills Strategies, or some combination of these. He is bright enough to understand, but lacks the necessary tools to attack his studies to enable information to pass from (very) short-term memory to more enduring long-term memory. Increasing these skills will be the best way to increase those test scores and, more importantly, his confidence and actual learning.

            For specifics to add to your own arsenal, see Late, Lost, and Unprepared: A Parent's Guide to Helping Children with Executive Functioning, and possibly, Help Your Kids with Study Skills. I'm assuming you know about the Smart but Scattered series.


            Here is a good research-based article on Memory, including information on moving from a momentary acquaintance to solid, long-term memory. This is what you will want to target for him.



            Take notes and keep posting, if you can. The strategies proven useful for your son will help others here.

            Thanks-
            Cheryl

            First I must say a huge thank you for these resources. I read the memory PDF which was so helpful and I'm checking out Smart but Scattered from the library this afternoon. My husband also let me use the last of his Barnes & Noble credits to get Late, Lost and Unprepared in e-book form. I read/highlighted over the weekend and it was amazingly good!

            One of the biggest mental shifts for me, from reading this book, was that I no longer need to feel like an imposter when I speak about the struggles we face here. Everyone has been so gracious and helpful in this space, but I've always felt like I was an imposter compared to the struggles that you all face with overt special needs. Late, Lost and Unprepared finally helped me see that this is truly a special need even though it's presence is not as obvious to the rest of the world as a language disorder or Autism. The authors actually said that:
            Dr. Russell Barkley, an international expert on AD/HD, recommends that parents of children with AD/HD think about their children as having a true disability. Since your child’s weaknesses are essentially invisible, we’re not always as charitable about dealing with his ongoing problems as we might be if he had a physical handicap. Maintaining a “disability perspective” means that we keep in mind that the child has a weakness that is no less real for being less overt
            Executive dysfunction sometimes occurs without any other disorder. Executive dysfunction alone can be viewed as a performance disability that can be just as problematic as AD/HD or learning disabilities.

            I finally felt like I had permission to say "this is real".

            My next step is to figure out how to begin the recommended interventions with my children. While one is more severe than the others, five out of seven of them have these difficulties to varying degrees with their ADD. I also need to get the Smart but Scattered book for adults who have these issues. My husband has moderate to severe ADD and I recognized myself in some of the things they described in the book. Years of chronic stress have worsened those tendencies. My memory is not good and my ability to connect what I know to what I do is severely limited. I can write out a behavior/consequence plan, see it daily and, 9 times out of 10, forget to implement what it says.

            We are definitely the parents the book describes: those who panic when told that their children need "adult-provided structure and support" because they struggle with the same issues themselves.

            Thank you again for these resources!
            Jennifer
            Blog: [url]www.seekingdelectare.com[/url]

            2021-2022
            DS18: Almost done!
            DS17: MP, MPOA
            DS15: MP, MPOA
            DS12: Mix of SC 5/6 & SC 7/8
            DD11: Mix of 5M and SC7/8
            DD9: SC3
            DD6: MPK

            Comment

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