THE BEST TIPS TO INSPIRE STUDENT MINDS

 

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This past weekend I read the  Bam Radio 10 Education Ideas tweet filled with education related inspirational platitudes offering no methods, ideas, suggested teaching techniques. Sure children can be compared to snowflakes, each uniquely different, but unlike snowflakes children have minds, minds that welcome inspiration, creativity and love. And to inspire those minds teachers themselves must be inspired. Those that are open to new ideas and welcome challenges, new adventures, “novel” explorations are the ones who best inspire our children. I encourage teachers to never stop learning, creating and exploring and to share those goals with their students with more than words but with actions. Each week I hope to share a 5-10 minute warmup to help open minds to new adventures in learning.

This week I suggest reading a short poem aloud and encourage students to illustrate their thoughts through words or pictures. Join me by sharing your ideas with me and my readers. Those little “snowflakes” are ours together to help grow into a blizzard of inspiring thoughts and creative ideas and actions.

JAKE PULLMAN & THE MAGICAL TIMER

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With an organization plan set in place, and time management under control, Jake and I embark on my third and final element to success – focus time.

By now I have learned that reading is most fatiguing for Jake. And because it is slow and arduous, his attention drifts easily. While his parents are complaining of the number of hours spent on homework, I can see the number of hours lost fruitlessly staring at pages while his thoughts are somewhere else. What we need is a new plan, something I never run short of.

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Today when Jake I met I suggested we begin by reviewing the night’s reading assignment, quickly scanning the first 20 pages of Gary Paulsen’s novel Hatchet. Then while setting my stop watch, I asked Jake to read only until he felt his attention drift. After ten minutes, I saw his eyes lift from the book and follow a squirrel running through the yard.

“Stop,” I told him and slipped the book from his hands. When I saw he had read only seven pages, I knew there was room for improvement, but I was pleased, when checking, to find his comprehension was good.

“Okay, this is great,” I told him, but his raised eye brows spoke doubt of my encouragement. “No really, it’s really good. You can finish this assignment in only 20 more minutes if we break it up into two more reading segments. In between, you can have a snack, shoot some baskets, or play an active game, just no video games or texting.”

He welcomed the plan, but added, “My parents will never buy this.” They like many parents, want him sit until all his work is done.

I understood this concept. I was raised on it and have heard the same complaint from too many of my students. But if I could show the Pullmans that Jake would be done with his work at a reasonable hour following this plan, I was hopeful they’d buy into it as so many other parents have.

There’s something magical about working with a timer. It helps keep students focused and even when they drift, it’s only to check the timer, which with it’s diminishing count down, always reinforces the return to the task. With Jake it was no different. He was able to complete the reading with relative ease and maybe even some enjoyment.

As we continue to work together in the next few weeks, we’ll begin to adjust the timer upward until Jake reaches an age appropriate attention level. Because I like to encourage student decision making, in the future I ‘ll always ask Jake to decide the number of reading segments and number of minutes to set on the timer.  I’ve found the the beauty of this method is students like to challenge themselves increasing their focus time  without much if any encouragement from me. Here’s hoping Jake follows the pattern.

 

Note: All characters are fictitious and resemblance to anyone is purely coincidental. 

The Best Way to Change Parenting Guilt to Responsibility

As an educator and family coach I have met with too many teary eyed and angry parents struggling to accept their child’s challenges. This  guilt can often over power responsible action. As I tell all parents: It is not  your job to make the perfect child; it is your responsibility to help them be the best they can be and to love them unconditionally. Today I am sharing a guest post from a  wise ADHD coach offering the essential tools to conquer the help guilt and move forward responsibly.

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#4 Ways to Mold Parenting GUILT into Parenting Responsibility

By Judy A. MacNamee; ADHD Coach

The American Heritage Dictionary defines parenting as: “The rearing of a child or children, especially the care, love, and guidance given by a parent” However, Morrison, (Chas E Merrill, 1978.), adds that parenting is “the process of developing and utilizing the knowledge and skills appropriate to planning for, creating, giving birth to, rearing and/or providing care for offspring”.   I see it as a combination of both, inclusive of love and guidance coupled with knowledge and skills.

Yet, this perfectly cornered definition or any other one that you may have in your mind can be smothered often by parental guilt; guilt for not being there enough, guilt for yelling, guilt for divorce and guilt for working two jobs.  You know…that list goes on and on because if a family, albeit it one or two or more parents, have a child with behavior and/or learning difficulties, it must be someone’s fault!

If you are taking time to read this, chances are “guilt” has engulfed you within its web.  Unfortunately, the ramifications of guilt’s emotional grip don’t always end there.  It may come and go initially, but the longer it continues to return the more chronic and even obsessive it can become.  Self-blame can also rear itself in forms of enabling, misdirected blaming, anxiety and constant battles with yourself and your family.

As an ADHD Coach, I have witnessed parents’ feelings and expectations resonate within their child. The child may take on ownership of this guilt (no matter where it may stem from) and personalize their inability to meet those “perfect” expectations expressed or even internalized.

Lying and lack of motivation are often behaviors seen in teen clients as they struggle to avoid hurting mom or dad.  Children may then avoid their own feelings and struggles complicating the parenting issue even more.

Enough discussion of the deep black hole of guilt, let’s look to opportunity and what steps a parent can take to look through a healthier lens and realize that there will be no perfect child?  I am presenting four (#4) steps that you can begin today or even right now to begin down that road of change.

First, as a parent, we need to take some self-reflection and begin to rid of those limited beliefs.  Listen to “your” story.  Does it include the word “should” within the web of guilt?  Let’s change the wording from “should” to “want” or an “opportunity to have.”  Change the story you are telling yourself and reflect on that.  Pause; look at the patterns that may have developed and what is one small step you can take today, to change it.  Journaling will strengthen that, as well.

Secondly, look back at our original definition of parenting. “-process of developing and utilizing the knowledge and skills appropriate…”  Parenting IS a skilled process!  Just like your child didn’t come out of the womb with organizational skills, you didn’t evolve into adulthood with the skills needed to parent your family.  If you feel that you need more skills; think of it as a continuation education of the parenting kind, then look to invest in counseling, parenting workshops or other community groups that can provide situational skills.  You will get better and better and when you begin to see results, the family dynamics will change too.

Thirdly, focus on the process, not the result.  Parenting is not a competitive event where scores are kept to see who wins.  I know, there are those out there who do like to keep score, aren’t there?  It is a life-long process and it’s that we must keep in sight.  Try to move your focus from the goal(s) to the love, care and guidance and embrace each moment.

Lastly, don’t do it alone.  Find a friend for support.  Join a Facebook Community Support or Parenting Support Group.  You are changing possibly years of engrained habits and feelings that will take time and you will want that support from others, just as you can support them.

Parents always say the years go by so quickly.  Focus on one day at a time and realize you are the best you can be.  Take the responsibility for the love, the caring, the energy put in to the process and enjoy the ride!

Judy MacNamee is a former educator and founder of ADHD CoachConnect, in Columbus, OH and can be reached at www.adhdcoachconnect.com where you can sign up to receive her monthly newsletter. You can also follow her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AdhdCoachconnect