In late November of last year, our Center received a surprising number of phone calls from parents of college freshmen who were about to flunk their first semester! All of the students were high achievers in high school with numerous AP credits, did well on the SAT or ACT and had scholarships they were about to lose! There was no history of having a Learning Disability. What happened?
A contributing factor could be that the people who made sure the student got up in the morning, had clean clothes, reminded them when assignments were due, and asked if they had studied for that chemistry test, did not go to college with them. These students were well prepared academically to do the work, but challenges with developing a structure for themselves, managing time and tracking assignments all contributed to their downfall. How can you prevent this from happening to your student?
Think about the various ways you cue, nudge, and gently remind your high school student of their commitments, responsibilities and deadlines. Also consider their skill level with regard to daily living. Can they prepare a simple meal, use a washing machine, change sheets on a bed and budget their money? Your student may get straight A’s at school but fail miserably in developing a structure for themselves and in taking care of daily responsibilities.
First off, simply take a week and note the type of reminders you are issuing every day.
After a week, if you find that your student is very dependent on you, have a chat with them. Get their view of how they are doing with self-direction and independence. They may think they are quite capable and ready to be on their own tomorrow! Your response will begin with I notice…. “You forgot your computer charger three days last week.” Or, “When I checked online, you had a missing assignment on the last three Fridays in a row.”
Then, with your student, help them develop a strategy to remember the charger or check assignments online (pick one target). People do better with incentives – finding the incentives that work will be the key. At our house, the ticket out on Friday night was that all assignments were caught up by Friday afternoon. After staying home with Mom and Dad for two Friday nights in a row, our student realized we were serious – no more missing work!
Remember to focus on only one skill at a time. Try not to lecture on all the other areas that need work. These skills must be trained – nagging is not a training method!
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 .