Crunch time is now, for students who have summer books to read or math worksheets to finish. Your student with LD/ADHD or executive function challenges might be waiting for the last minute to get going on summer work. Parents are worried and anxious; the student is less so. Rather than threatening the student with loss of privileges or bad grades, try another tactic.

Use the summer work as a teaching opportunity to demonstrate how planning is done. Get a calendar. Have your student count the number of days until school begins. Next have them count the number of pages they have to read, number of summaries they have to write, or number of math worksheets. Divide that number by the number of days until school starts, and there you have the beginning of the plan. Your student will know exactly how much they have to do each day to finish the work before school starts. Now you need something to get them motivated to do the work!

Scheduling is a step toward accomplishment. What time each day this week will they tackle the assignments? A motivator might be access to electronic media after the day’s academic work is completed as scheduled, or maybe going out for lunch or to a friend’s house. Psychologists call this the “Premack Principle” or Grandma’s Rule. First you work; then you play. This principle gets all of us moving to do the less attractive tasks on our agenda. Now there is a daily opportunity to do something fun after tackling the work.

Consider also having a longer-term incentive for when the final project is finished. Maybe your student would be motivated by a sleepover when the book report is complete, a pizza party with friends or going to a water park. Offer several options, and let your student choose one to celebrate wrapping up the summer work. But don’t make set plans until the work is completed – celebrations don’t happen based on a promise to finish it tomorrow!

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 mmulcahey@springer-ld.org.

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