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It’s an epic battle on the home front. You, your child, and tonight’s homework.

You know your parental duty: make sure your kid does his homework so he can progress in life. Even though you spent at least a third of your life with the ol’ chain and ball, you can’t really see any other way the work can get done. And besides, what will the teacher say?

Your child, on the other hand, not only sees homework as worthless (almost), but has had years of experience trying his hand out at work that’s too hard, too long, or doesn’t make sense.

Impasse – of the worst sort.

Unfortunately, studies show that there is no correlation between homework and academic achievement. On top of that, there aren’t even any studies that can prove doing homework builds a sense of responsibility either.

However, if you have to do homework – and most children do-then there are several methods you can teach your child to help them minimize the time they spend studying while maximizing the amount of material learned:

1) Make sure your child knows what need to be learned.

Perhaps it seems obvious, but often children –especially those with learning disabilities- don’t know exactly what material is important, and what isn’t. That means they can spend a huge chunk of their time on memorizing facts that are relatively unimportant.

Once your child knows what he needs to memorize, make sure he knows what type of material he needs to memorize: are they ideas, facts, or how to do things?

2) What will your child use to study?

Often the material that your child needs to study is scattered among different sources: a textbook, a study manual, a homework guide, and class notes may all have material your child needs to review. Have your child make a list of where the material is to be found, and check it off as they study from that source. That way, they won’t accidently forget to study a crucial bit of material.

3) Help your child decide how they will condense the material.

Often children with LD have no clue exactly how to study. They may glance at a textbook, or flip through a notebook with no real understanding of what they’re studying. Your child can choose one (or more) methods of condensing the material they’ve studied.

Making diagrams, underlining or highlighting, creating a written or taped summary, making a list of key concepts or questions, and drawing a picture of important concepts, are all methods children can use to remember what they’ve learned.

4) Have your child estimate the amount of time they will use to memorize the material.

One of the biggest things that frustrate kids when studying is imagining the amount of time they’ll have to spend studying all that stuff. Often, their estimate of how long it will take is usually wildly off. Encourage your child not only to estimate the amount of time they expect to spend memorizing the material, but the best time for them to study the material.

Also, have them specify exactly how they will memorize (versus condensing) the material. This can be anything from your standard repeating the material over and over (least effective), to making pictures, to creating a story about it using software.

5) Make sure your child self-tests.

Research shows that self-testing is one of the most effective ways to study. Your child can write his own questions, make a quiz online, or simply ask herself questions based on the material she created in Step three.

The key is to make sure she’s not just going over the material, but actually having to search for the right answer in her brain. Not only will she store the information better, but she’ll have a better idea what material she doesn’t know yet.

6) Have your child schedule on a calendar when they will do each step above.

Ideally your child should spread everything out over a few days, since cramming is probably the worst thing a child with LD -usually facing memory issues, concentration issues, and gaps in understanding- could possibly do.

However, if you and your child find yourselves facing the Big One the night before, spending 10 minutes or so making a studying plan will help keep your child focused on what needs to be done. As a bonus, when your child moans “how much more of this do I have to do?” you can just point them to the study plan.

You can get a study plan for your child here.

7) Celebrate reaching the finish line.

Every good effort deserves a reward, and studying certainly qualifies for that. Why wait for the results of the test to give your child a pat on the back for a job well done? After all, once your child has completed the whole study plan, they’ve certainly done their best to study the material – how they do on the test after that is irrelevant.

So bring on the chocolate!

Originally posted 2011-04-05 22:45:03.

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Lying is one of those things that’s as old as Adam and Eve. And whether it’s a little white lie told to spare someone’s feelings, or a biggie – everyone, at some point or another, has fallen prey to the temptation.

So when I noticed my 6 year old foster daughter lying outright, I wasn’t too upset. In our house, there’s a zero tolerance policy about lying. The kids know that as long as they tell the truth, they won’t get into any trouble (beyond the natural consequences that would normally occur from their actions).

Up until now, simple consequences and consistency have worked wonderfully with her and her sister. So I figured the same would work now: explain to her lying is not okay, and then a consequence each time she lies, no matter what. And of course, praise when she tells the truth, even though it may be have been difficult for her.

So I was really surprised to see that not only did that not work, but she was lying even more than usual! And not just lying, but lying complete with tears and protestations – a real dramatic performance. And it wasn’t only about big things – she was even lying about things that didn’t matter to anyone at all, things which she knew I would never even blink an eye about.

After watching her and thinking about it for a day or so, I finally figured out why she was lying, and why there was suddenly such a downturn in her behavior. I think you’ll find it interesting, because it shows how critical it is that we understand how our children’s learning deficits affect how they learn in school, and at home.

Here’s what I realized: N.’s sequencer is still out of whack.

To help you understand what I mean, let me explain what the sequencer does, and why that had a critical impact.

Think of the sequencer as a train that goes from one station to the other. It’s job is to help us bring information – usually auditory, from one part of the brain, to the next one in line.

All language, whether spoken or written, is sequential. Whether you’re reading one word or ten, hearing a song, or telling a story, you need to do it in the right order in order to understand or be understood.

But kids whose language development is weak, are stronger in association. Their minds work like a bumblebee on speed. Their thoughts seem to be everywhere but where they should be – sharply focused on the task at hand. That’s great for creativity, but lousy for learning consequences.

That meant that every time N. received a consequence – positive or negative- about lying, she didn’t connect it directly to her behavior.

Picture this:  I ask N. “Did you do it?” She insists, with tears and beseeching worthy of an Emmy, that “No! I NEVER did that!!” Whereupon incontrovertible evidence presents itself, showing that she told a lie.

I then gravely tell her that she told a lie, which she ruefully admits. That of course leads to a consequence, and an explanation (brief) afterwards of why it wasn’t okay. Sounds fine, right?

Well here is how N. interpreted it:

I told a lie  – I told the truth- I got punished.

Well of course this wrought havoc, since according to that reasoning she lost out either way: tell the truth, and you get punished, tell a lie, and you get punished. Of course she should have realized that she didn’t tell the truth at first, and that’s why she got punished. But she didn’t.

After a bit of thought, here’s what I did:

First, I took away the consequence, and simply reminded her that she has to tell the truth.

Second, I stopped asking her if she was telling a lie if I knew the truth already. I realized that it simply confused her or tempted her to lie. (Hint: do as I say, not as I do J).

And that was it! Problem solved! It took about two or three days until “the truth and nothing but the truth,” was being proclaimed throughout our not- so -quiet halls.

 

 

 

 

 

Originally posted 2011-10-24 17:28:02.

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