Success Stories From The “Trenches”

Students who have overcome their learning disabilities and no longer require even extra help at school…and how they did it!

Attention Deficit Disorder has become a real buzz-word in the last several years. While only four to five percent of the school-age population actually have attention deficit disorders,

current articles are identifying up to 20 percent of school-age children having problems in school related to attention.

What an alarming thought for both the children and the teachers who have to manage the classroom!

“Josie” was twelve when she came to the Learning Center for an evaluation. She was obviously very bright and articulate but was failing in school because of serious attention focus problems.

Josie’s attention deficit was being treated with medication. As a result, her body was generally in control, in fact, she complained of being sleepy.

Josie’s mind, however, was anything but sleepy!

Her mind jumped from thought to thought so rapidly that she could not pay attention to one thing for more than two to five seconds. She constantly interrupted herself in the middle of a sentence with totally unrelated topics.

Josie was so aware of everything around her that she felt bombarded all of the time. Her world was very insecure and she had many, many fears. She simply could not evaluate the stimuli coming in fast enough to know what it was and that it was safe.

Josie worked at the Learning Center for approximately six months. At first, she was very disruptive to other students, wanting to know what everyone else was doing.

Within four weeks, Josie was no longer a disruption in the learning center. She was able to go straight to her work station without disturbing others. She was able to sit and complete a task. She learned to use Edu-K (Educational Kinesiology) activities to control her own attention focus and get herself ready to work both at the center and at home.

After only six weeks, Josie’s progress report reflected changes in grades from F’s to B+’s. Josie was not only proud of her grades but she was surprised and pleased with herself for being able to start and complete her homework all on her own.

There are many reasons for children to be off-task in their learning behavior. If inattention is perpetual and is affecting the child’s life and/or learning, it is out of his control.

At the Learning Center, we have found that consistent attention focus training can be very effective with children and adults in developing internal awareness and control over their attention.

Andy (not his real name) was an eighth grader who couldn’t read. Despite special education services provided by the school and private tutoring, Andy continued to struggle along. He had only a second grade sight vocabulary, and virtually no ability to sound out words.

When Andy came in for testing, he presented himself as a bright, motivated, and polite young man. He said he had always wanted to be a doctor, but now he guessed that just wasn’t possible for him.

(Why is it that there are so many young people like Andy who are having to give up their dreams because they can’t read?)

Research tells us that up to 30% of the population (or 9 students out of every class of 30 ) can’t process, or think about, the sounds inside of words. It is this process (called auditory conceptualization) that makes phonics and spelling make sense.

(This inability to process the sounds inside words is what can make teaching the currently popular phonics program so frustrating. Phonics programs will make sense only after people can process those sounds.)

An auditory conceptual judgment deficit almost always keeps a person from being an efficient reader and speller, and usually causes individuals to be “disabled readers” in spite of the best efforts of parents and teachers.

Often, these students are simply taught to recognize “survival words.” It is a tragedy to make kids settle for less than they can actually do.

It doesn’t have to be this way! Learning disabled readers, like Andy, or individuals who are just simply working too hard to read, can develop auditory judgment.

They can learn to be comfortable, independent readers.

Andy’s therapy is in progress. After working just 42 hours, Andy is reading comfortably at a fourth grade level. He is much more confident in his abilities and looking at college as a reality.

Overcoming Reading Failure and Attention Focus Challenges is Possible!

Stowell Learning Center is a diagnostic teaching center for learning and attention disorders. We know that children and adults with average or above average intellectual ability can and should become efficient learners.

Learning disabilities, Dyslexia, and attention focus problems are not diseases. They are differences in thinking or processing information that can be changed – permanently!

To teach these students successfully, instruction must combine the development of underlying thinking processes (teaching efficient ways to think about and remember information) with the remediation of basic skills.

The very same techniques that worked to help Josie and Andy and hundreds of other students make phenomenal progress, can also be applied to classrooms everywhere.

How to Win the Homework Battle

Almost every parent has experienced the homework battle at one time or another. For some it’s a daily occurrence that leaves the parent or child or both in tears.

In most cases, it doesn’t have to be this way. In this article, we will explore 3 ways to bring peace back to the family and get homework done in a reasonable amount of time.

1 – Start By Establishing Routines and Structure!

Humans are creatures of habit. If we create good habits and routines around homework, there will be much less argument and negotiation.

Designate a set time when homework will be done.

This will solve a multitude of problems. If the child knows that everyday from 3:45 – 4:45 is homework time, it will become a part of the everyday routine. If it’s “what we always do,” pretty soon, no one expects anything different.

Ideally, you want to have homework time be the same time everyday. Determine the time with your child. Does she need a snack or a little down time before she starts? How much time will that take?

Look at the child’s needs, the typical amount of time homework takes, and the family activities. Then if at all possible, designate the same time everyday for homework. If this is not possible due to parents’ work schedules or other activities, create a weekly schedule where the homework time may vary from day-to-day, but there is a designated time each day of the week.

Stick to your designated homework schedule. Don’t let anything take priority. Do not schedule appointments or take phone calls during this time. Nothing gets priority over homework during the set homework time!

Children are often guilty of saying, “I don’t have any homework today.” This may or may not be true. Sometimes, students forget their materials, forget to write down their assignments, conveniently forget, or just find it easier to say they don’t have homework.

Whether the child has homework or not, the designated
homework time is for homework.

If the child has no homework from school, homework time should be spent studying for spelling tests or other upcoming tests, working on long-term assignments and book reports, doing free-reading, or writing in a journal. This preserves the homework time routine and helps remove the temptation of saying there’s no homework when there in fact is.

Many schools, particularly middle schools and high schools have instituted a Homework Hotline which provides parents and students with the homework assignments in case they are unsure of what was assigned for the day.

At the elementary level, having another family from your child’s class that you can call to check on what the homework assignment is when there are questions can be very helpful.

2 – Set the Stage for Success

Set up a specific space for studying. The space should be:

  • Well-lit
  • Quiet
  • Free from distractions
  • Clear of clutter
  • Stocked with all of the materials needed.

Having a clear work space with all necessary materials at hand, such as pencils, ruler, and lined paper reduces the need to get up and waste time or get distracted looking for materials.

Determine and create the space together with your child. The more your child is involved in the process, the more he “owns” it. Stocking his own desk with his materials can be fun and motivating.

3 – Avoid a Power Struggle

Getting Started with a Homework Routine

From the time children enter the first grade, they are expected to do homework. If your child is very young, setting up a homework space, time, and routine will be quite easy. If you stick with it throughout your child’s schooling, making minor adjustments each school year, the structured, standard routine will help you avoid many homework battles.

If your child is a little older, or even a teenager, creating a new way to approach homework will not be accepted as easily. However, it can and must be done if getting homework done is a battle in your home.

At a calm and neutral time, not in the midst of a homework conflict, sit
down with your child and discuss and plan the new homework routine.

As a parent, you are in charge, and complying with the homework routine is not an option, but the child should feel heard and should be involved in the process of developing the routine. Here’s an example of how you as a parent might approach the child:

“Trying to fit homework in and get it all done has been pretty hard for us as a family. We are going to make some changes that I believe will help us all.”

“Together, we are going to decide on a specific time and space that will be for homework. Nothing will get in the way – no phone calls, no video games, no appointments. We will all honor this time.”

“Once we decide on a time and space, I’m going to ask that we all try it for two weeks, exactly as we plan, with no complaining. Then, we will sit down and talk again and decide if we need to make any adjustments. This is something that we are going to do. It’s not going to be an option, because it’s my job as your parent to help you be successful. But your ideas are important and we’ll keep adjusting to make sure it’s really working for you.”

This kind of approach lets children and teens know that while this is not negotiable, they are a part of the team.

Stay calm and objective.

Now that your homework routine is established, implement
it calmly and objectively. Don’t argue or negotiate.

When your child whines or pleads that just this time, she needs to make an important call to a friend during the homework time, calmly say, “This time is for homework only. You can make your call at ____ o’clock.”

To help with interruptions from phone calls, a part of your homework routine may include turning all phones, including cell phones on silent. Instant Messenger type services on the computer should be turned off during homework time. Set-up these parameters in advance.

For younger children, or those who have trouble comprehending time or shifting activities, try using a timer. About 15 minutes before homework time is to begin, set the timer for 12 minutes and let the child know that when the timer goes off, he is to clean up whatever he is doing and immediately go to his homework space. If the child tries to argue or complain, calmly say, “I’m sorry you’re in the middle of that, but the timer went off. It’s time to move to your homework space.”

Calmly and consistently reinforcing the routine keeps you from having to get upset or be the bad guy.

Set Clear Guidelines and Reward Children for Following Them

Kids often think that watching TV, playing electronic games, chatting with friends online, or using their cell phones are their rights, their entitlement.

We need to re-frame their reality. Their job, as kids, is to get an education and become well-adjusted, productive adults. Our job as parents is to help them get there.

So here are the rules:

  • Students go to school and do their best.
  • They follow the homework routine at home.

Watching TV, playing electronic games, chatting with
friends online, using their cell phones, etc. are privileges
that are earned by following the rules, or by doing “their job.”

Teachers and parents must actively notice and praise students for doing their job. It’s a hard and time-consuming job that children have. It needs lots of recognition from everyone involved.

For the complete FREE report, Winning the Homework Battle, contact Stowell Learning Center at 909-598-2482 or e-mail [email protected].

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