For those of us who liked school, the opportunity to interact with our children around their learning is enjoyable. But our children who struggle may not view our “meddling” in the same way we do. A writer for the New York Times shared the experience of “helping” her 12 year old son with an essay. The essay earned a 73 percent, leaving her son in tears over his mother’s “improvements” to his work.
Writer Judith Newman shared her realization that helping her son was more about her ego than about being helpful. The same may be true for all of us who have “hijacked” our children’s projects, whether it be selling popcorn for the Boy Scouts, improving the book report or coming up with the project for the science fair. At my house, I learned this lesson when quizzing my son for a science test in 3rd grade. He was learning that there were two kinds of blood cells: red and white. I helpfully suggested that there were more types of blood cells and went on to explain. It ended with crying on all sides!
The most important support you can give is to provide a place to work that is relatively free of distraction, and to offer your quiet presence. There is evidence that, for children with challenges in maintaining focus, the presence of an adult aids their work effort. You are available to review directions and answer questions. You may ask guiding questions about what materials he needs to accomplish his homework, but let him get the materials.
You can review work, but only upon request. If your child asks you to quiz her on her spelling words, go ahead. You sit quietly at the kitchen or dining room table reading, doing paperwork or any other quiet “work.” If the child seems to be getting restless, suggest that she needs a break, and have her set a timer for a few minutes.
Model getting up, stretching, getting a drink of water and returning to your task. Later on, you can have quality time with your student by reading a book for pleasure to or with her.
Blogger Mary Ann Mulcahey, PhD, shares her expertise in assessment and diagnosis of learning disabilities and ADHD, and the social/emotional adjustment to those issues. If you have questions, please contact Mary Ann at .
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