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Friday, August 31, 2012

Back to school week ~ with The Wigglers

ADHD/Autism/Special Needs and Wigglers
Traditional school teacher or homeschool teacher, having a child or children with some extra challenges to teach can be an adventure. Here are so helpful tips possibly that might help along your journey.

From the blog: Teach 123

Drops pencil on the floor, gets a tissue, gets a drink of water, sharpens pencil, twirls pencil, fall out of seat everything BUT working on assigned work! Does this sound familiar? Do you have a student who gets distracted with everything under the sun, so he or she never completes schoolwork? Here are a few things to try:

Bumpy seat: textured seat provides plenty of texture and will even let your wiggler move from side to side without falling out of his/her seat. You can buy this at your local Wal-mart, Target, or sporting good store.

Bouncy seat: Sitting on an exercise or balance ball helps your wiggler get the wiggles out. There are different type of balls. If you have a tile floor, I recommend that you invest in the balls with sand in them so the balls don't roll away. You can buy these at your local Wal-mart, Target, or sporting good store. You might also check with your gym to see if they would give you their old exercise balls.
Fidgets: Give your wigglers something to do with their hands. There are many commercial made fidgets like the long, skinny erasers. I like to make homemade ones out of a balloon and lentils. You can also put other things such as flour or sand in the balloon. Use a funnel to put the lentils in the balloon. Don't buy cheap balloons, or they will break quickly!

From the blog: A Pinch of Everything

Allowing for movement in the classroom or home during lessons of almost any kind goes against the grain of what most of us have been taught, "Sit still and be quiet" (and other less polite versions). Historically, before the institution of schools as institutions, most learning was done by doing. Kids were taught through modeling behaviors in their play, apprenticeship and learning from helping one's family with day to day work of making a living. It is still true today that most kids need some movement throughout a lesson to fully appreciate what is being taught. As we are forced to become more efficient and teach the ever-growing population the ever growing amount of information that must be retained in an equal or lesser amount of time, we must acknowledge this fact and make a few changes.

With Reading assignments: Maybe you can "act out" the reading given.
Have your child direct the family in a play depicting the reading selection assignedor have/him or her create a puppet show for a younger sibling or neighbor kid. You might also try letting your child "illustrate" the story on a felt board while you read it to him or her (if it isn't an assignment in increasing reading fluency).
Say a spelling word and bounce a tennis ball off a wall and back to your on-the-go child. have your child bounce the ball against the same wall and then back to him/herself for each letter in the word and then back to you as he/she repeats the word. You can adjust this exercise for math facts practice, vocabulary words and their definitions, properties of the chemical elements, poetry, (trade stanzas) etc. . .

Have a basket of "fidgets" available. This is important, don't hand a fidget to kids you think need it. Simply have them available. The kids that need them will gravitate to them. Fidgets are quiet "toys" that offer up something sensory for kids to do while listening or working on something. I'm guessing the original "fidgets" were worry balls. These were two spheres just small enough that one can hold both in one hand. As they were turned and played with together in one hand by monks, they chimed softly. It was simply one tool to help in meditation. Today, these tools might be even more useful in education. The modern "fidget" originated in therapists offices (you know the little plastic man whose ears pop out when you squeeze him) and were called "stress toys". Then, use with special education began and fidgets expanded into special needs classrooms. Then, because many people started using them and enjoying their novelty, and because kids think they are cool, the fidget has expanded into the wider market.

Create your own fidget box with assorted fidget toys for ADHD or Autism

The fidget provides a place to put all that "fidgety" energy and channels the need for movement into something that is not distracting so work can still be accomplished. For example, our fidget basket has a few squeeze balls, an egg full of silly putty, a ball and cup game, and one of those alphabet sticks where a bunch of blocks are beaded together on tight elastic so the blocks can be held and rearranged into different shapes. What works one day, may not work another, so you'll want your child to have a variety from which to choose. I'm also always adding things and when something isn't getting used, it just moves to the toy bin and then eventually leaves the house.

It is critical to treat having access to the the fidget basket as a privilege. If your child or students are finding ways to be distracting with their fidgets, take the basket from them. The purpose of the fidget is to take away distraction, so if they can't use it for its purpose, they can't have it. Start fresh the next day and they will begin to get the point.

If you are a fellow homeschooling family, or if you are the classroom teacher herself, try to make sure that at least one option for work is at standing level. Have a counter where kids can choose to stand to do their work and where there is an accompanying stool to sit on if their legs get tired. For many kids just being able to shift weight from one foot to another makes a big difference. If you can allow for a "pace space" this can also be very helpful to thinkers like my husband (and Alice). There is also nothing wrong with not using a desk or counter (unless you are completing a handwriting or typing lesson about how to sit properly) if clipboards are available.

Back to School Survival Guide for Parents of a Child who Struggles

From the terrific blog School Psychologist Files

If you are a parent of a child who struggles in school, Back to School time lacks the excitement that other families might experience. While all parents have some concerns when it's time for school to start again, when a child struggles, emotions may be exceptionally strong. Back to School time for parents of children who struggle is a time of anxiety and justifiable concerns. However, often there is also that glimmer of hope, that this is going to be that year when "he suddenly gets it," or maybe "this will be the teacher that gets through to her." There are specific things a parent should do in preparation for the start of a new school year to get started in the best possible direction.

Talk to the teacher

Teachers appreciate a friendly call from parents to let them know about strengths and specific needs. Also, if done correctly it can set the stage for a positive interaction between parent and teacher that lasts all year.

Do's and Dont's about talking to the teacher:

Do keep the conversation brief. Although there may be many things you want to say, focus on the most important and let the other issues come out throughout the year as the need arises. This will help the teacher remember the most important information.

Don't call the teacher during summer break. Teachers need their break and they may not be focused during the summer. She is more likely to remember the specifics of your conversation if you wait until the teacher workdays a few days before the children return.

Do let the teacher know a specific strength of your child. Be careful not to focus only on the needs.

Do not criticize old teachers. Last year's teacher may be her best friend. It's not a good idea to talk about what other teachers did wrong. Instead let her know what worked well and maybe what didn't work well.

Do let the teacher know that you are interested in being a partner with her to help your child succeed.

Help your child get involved in an activity.

Children who struggle, as well as their parents can become very consumed in what they don't do well. The child spends the entire day doing something that is very difficult and then often comes home and hears about it from the parents. When there is another activity that he can be successful in, it provides a sense of confidence. It shifts the focus away from the perceived failure and broadens one's perspective about life. After all, we all have strengths and weaknesses. Academics, while important, are not the only thing a child can succeed in. Getting involved in an activity can also keep a child connected to school, and become more well rounded, when academics alone would not.

Do's and Don'ts about getting your child involved in an activity:

Do encourage an activity that will redirect some of his frustration. When a student struggles in reading and all of the focus is on reading, it can be overwhelming and harmful to self esteem.

Don't push your child into an activity that will require so much time, that studying will have to take a back seat. This activity is not to replace academics.

Do let your child choose the activity or at least have equal rights in this decision.

Other ideas to consider

Write a one page summary of the IEP accommodations. I saw this recommended in a forum, and could be helpful.

See if you can bring your child to veiw the room a day or so early to ease anxiety. Feel free to post a comment if you have any other ideas

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