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Parenting Questions & Answers!


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Welcome to our Questions & Answers page on School. If you have a question, You can either submit questions using the form on our Questions and Answers Home page or on our website home page. We love to hear from you! As we receive parenting questions, we will make questions and answers available on our "Questions and Answers" pages for you to read. We can all learn from each other! Click on a question below to see the full question and answer.

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Helping A Child With ADHD Complete Assignments
Difficulty Transitioning To Preschool
Angry 14-year-old Failing In School
Nine-Year-Old Acting Out In School

Helping A Child With ADHD Complete Assignments

My son is having problems completing and finishing assignments. He does have ADHD. What can I do? -Tracy, Michigan

Tracy,
There is no easy answer as different techniques work for different kids. Is your child on medication for ADHD? If so, you should be working closely with your child's physician to make sure his medication levels are appropriate and stable. Next, are you working with school personnel? You need to work closely with teachers and school counselors so you can all have a consistent approach with your son. Set up a system of school/home communication. For instance, a weekly call home from the teacher at the same time/day each week. Or, have a daily written communication form. Any behavior plans or reward systems should be implemented at school as well as home. Compare notes with school personnel as to how your child behaves at school versus at home. If he is having more difficulty completing assignments at home, he may have too many distractions. You may want to check out our article on Homework Tips for Kids and Teens.

Keep his work environment calm and free of distractions and noise. Set up a homework time that will be the same each day. You might want to set up a reward system for completing weekly or even daily assignments.

And here are some tips for helping him stay organized:

*Use a "homework folder" for your child to put all completed assignments to transfer back to his teacher.

*Check your child's list of assignments first thing when he gets home from school and check off each assignment as it's completed. We have just added homework checklists to our site. You can find them here!

*Color code books, binders, folders so your child can easily identify what to bring home for assignments. For example, math will all have blue stickers, social studies will all have red stickers, etc.

*Again, communicate with your child's teacher to find out his daily assignments. You can do this in writing, email, or via a school website. Sign off on a daily sheet that shows you have checked your child's assignments and they are complete.

*Get your child an agenda to record all his assignments. Many schools provide these automatically as part of the school based supplies. If your child doesn't have one, you can easily find one at a local office supply store such as Staples. Or, you can use our homework checklist if that helps.

Best of luck with your helping your son to stay on task! We also have some great articles with tips for parenting kids with ADHD:  Tips For Parenting ADHD and Spirited Kids and ADHD And Children: Unlocking The Secrets To Good Behavior

Difficulty Transitioning To Preschool

I am looking for a chart that can help aid my child in wanting to go to pre-school. He just started pre-school about a week ago and is having a really hard time when I drop him off. He is only 3 1/2 years old and won't even eat his breakfast due to the fact that he is so panicked about going to school. Do you have any suggestions that can possibly help me and my child adjust to me dropping him off at school every morning? -Lori, CO

Lori,
Preschool is a big transition for kids, especially if they are not in the habit of going to daycare. 3 1/2 is also young for this adjustment so first and foremost, be patient with him. Even if he has gone to daycare in the past, the demands of preschool may be overwhelming to him as there is a more intense level of structure and cooperative learning than at daycare.

First, make sure that you do not express any anxiety yourself regarding preschool. A child will definitely sense a parent's feelings of anxiety, and that will only make it harder for the child to let go of his feelings of anxiety. Express total confidence in your child's ability to handle the day. Stay upbeat even if your child is falling apart. Talk about the fun things that your child will be doing during the day, and don't show any type of hesitation.

Next, follow a morning routine and stay as consistent as you can. Try to get your child up at the same time every morning and do the same activities before school. There is comfort in routine. You might even try to use a morning checklist. We have some morning routine charts here. This way, you can help your child focus on something other than worrying about preschool. You can make the routine fun and let him mark off each task that he completes in the morning. Give him lots of praise. Make a big deal about marking off his accomplishments!

Also, when dropping him off at preschool, make it short and sweet. Give him a quick kiss goodbye and let him know that you will be back to pick him up later. And that's, that! Don't linger or watch him for too long. That will only increase his hesitation as he may sense your hesitation. If you need to check in with the the teacher, it may be best to do that after school. Let your son know ahead of time that you need a few minutes to see the teacher after school.

If you notice that he is making friends with certain children, you may want to get to know their parents and set up some play dates. The more he develops friendships, the more excited he will be to get back to school to see his new friends. Plus, it will give you a chance to get to know some other parents from school.

Finally, you can have a chart available after preschool. You can give him a little treat at the end of the day after marking his chart. You can even have the chart available in the car for a more immediate reward.

With a little time and patience, you son will come to love the routine and socialization that preschool provides!

Angry 14-year-old Failing In School

My wife and I cannot figure out our 14-year-old daughter's anger and hate. She is failing her freshman year. She is a very intelligent young lady. She loves to be active in sports and most other extra curricular activities. We are not sure what is wrong or what to do. -Jim, Illinois

Jim,
It's unfortunate that your daughter is having some difficulties. This must be very trying for you and your wife. Unfortunately, there is not enough information to appropriately assess your situation. Is this angry behavior new for your daughter? If so, you will want to take note of any changes that have happened in her life. Has there been a move, a loss of a good friend, a death in the family, or serious illness in the family...anything that may contribute to a change in behavior? How about her peer group? Are you familiar with the kids that make up her peer group? She may have some new friends this first year of high school that are proving to be a negative influence. Make sure that you have a chance to meet her friends and their parents. When she goes out with friends, know where she will be and when she will be home. Do you suspect any drug use? If so, you'll want to get her in for an assessment with a drug treatment specialist.

Of course, school personnel can be very helpful with an assessment of your daughter. You should schedule a meeting and check in with her teachers. Find out how she is doing in class. Is she withdrawn, fooling around, or not paying attention? Or, is she making an effort in class but falling behind for other reasons? You may want to develop a plan of action with the school staff and make a point to monitor her class work more closely. Many schools have assignments and grades posted online which makes it easier for parents to access their child's information. Parents sometimes have to try a bit harder to connect with high school teachers than they did at the elementary level. Make that effort. Get to know her teachers and form a united front to help your daughter succeed.

You mentioned that she loves sports and extracurricular activities. First and foremost, she should not be permitted to be involved in extracurriculars if she cannot maintain her grades. Most high schools have academic expectations before allowing kids to participate in sports. And, you can set some rules regarding other extracurricular events, too. This consequence may be enough to help her turn around her behavior if she really enjoys the after school activities.

Finally, our website mantra is catch your kids being good. It's way too easy to get into a negative cycle as parents and only let your kids know when they are being difficult. Every time you see some positive behavior let your daughter know you appreciate her efforts. We have some "Caught You Coupons" on our website which work well. Just hand your daughter a coupon when you notice something positive. She may even be surprised if she is used to getting into negative interactions with you. Sometimes, kids will change behavior just to continue receiving positive attention.

Jim, hope this helps a bit. Best of luck with your daughter and again, if the situation doesn't change, you may want to seek the help of a family therapist. And don't forget to check our behavior management articles. You can find a list of articles in our left navigation bar under the title of "Behavior Management". There may be some tips in the article "Why Don't Consequences Work For My Teen? Here's Why.... and How To Fix It".

Best of luck with your daughter. You've done a great job trying to tackle this problem early on, before it gets out of hand!

Nine-Year-Old Acting Out In School

My nine year old son is acting out only in school. The teachers and I cannot figure out what to do to calm the misbehaving down. He insists on putting small objects in his mouth, constantly talking and not paying attention. Before this school year, his teachers would rave about how good he was and how helpful he was. He doesn't act out at home or at friends' houses. Any ideas on what we can try? -Jamie, Iowa

Jamie,
It sounds like you may need to do some detective work here. When a child suddenly begins acting out in an environment that originally wasn't a problem, there is usually a reason. Meet with your child's teacher and school counselor to discuss your concerns and develop a strategy. First, is your child is bored? How does your son do in school? Does he quickly get his work done and have too much time on his hands? Or, is he struggling with his work? He may need an evaluation for a learning disability or a gifted program. Next, look at his peer relationships. Has he had any major changes in his group of friends? Is he hanging out with kids who are a bit more trouble in class? Some kids try to gain attention and good favor in their peer group by acting out. Is he at a new school this year? If so, he may be trying to fit in through inappropriate behavior. Does he like his teacher? He may be having personality conflicts with his teacher. If you suspect this is the case, take some time to help in the classroom so you can see first hand how his teacher interacts with the kids. Does he show any signs of attention deficit disorder? His teacher and the school counselor should be aware of any need for testing.

If your son's life seems to be stable and unchanged at school, you need to look at his life outside of school. Have their been any major changes in your family that might be causing him distress? For instance, look at any moves, divorce, new siblings, or deaths in the family. He may be reacting to some stress outside of school. The school counselor can help with this process. You may want to set up a few meetings between your son and the counselor to help figure out what may be bothering him. Once you can identify his stressors, you can help him work through his issues. This should positively affect his school behavior. Again, regular meetings with a counselor would be a great option, and if he needs to be tested for academic issues, a school psychologist should be involved.

While you are doing detective work, you can always set up a behavior chart if school personnel are willing to keep track of specific behaviors for you. We have a chart titled "Classroom Rules Behavior Chart" that may be helpful. You can type in the behaviors that you would like your son to work on, and your son's teacher can mark off an appropriate face depending on his behavior. You could set up some type of incentive for him if he does a good job for the week or even for the day. Just make sure to have good communication with his teacher so you can check in every day via email or phone call about his daily progress. With some incentives and detective work, you should be able to help your son learn to control his disruptive behavior.