Recently parents of students in 7th through 12th grade gathered at Springer School and Center for a follow-up discussion about the challenges they face in helping their sons and daughters prioritize and follow through on their commitments. Parents described the challenges related to helping their students focus on schoolwork instead of social media, electronic games and jobs.
The evening began with parents developing a list of the activities at home that are “non-negotiable” for their student. The list ranged from attending school every day, doing homework, cell phones and laptops given to parents at bedtime, parent access to photos, text messages, emails and videos on smart phones on demand, attending religious services to a daily shower or bath! Parents wondered when they would be able to stop prompting and checking on their son or daughter with ADHD. They worried about how their student will cope with increased work demands on the high school and college level. Working Memory came up for discussion – how to help the student compensate for that weakness. How do you get an adolescent to work independently, do his homework, turn in assignments, use a planner or recognize that an assignment is not complete? It seems like the young teenager/preteen doesn’t care! What can you do?
Parents discussed the idea of using a family or individual schedule to help the student better manage her time, plan for long-term projects and include leisure time for pursuing non-school interests. The initial step is to sit down with your student, usually some time during the weekend. The schedule could be a sheet of paper with the days of the week written across the top, and times written along the left hand side. If your student gets up at 6 AM and is in bed by midnight, that might be the starting time and ending time for the schedule. Between 6 in the morning and midnight, you could have the schedule broken down into 30-minute increments. If she gets up at 6:00, by 6:30 she might be dressed and having breakfast, or already outside waiting for the bus or car pool.
The student would have set times for practices, homework, meals, free time, chores and project due dates. The schedule could be posted in the kitchen and serve as a visual reminder. In this way, the student can develop some independence, reducing the need for a parent to serve as “Nag in Chief” at home.