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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Back to School

You would think when you live in one of the hottest places in the United States that schools wouldn't get started until after Labor Day.  Nope.  School started yesterday - it was 114 degrees.

Ahhh, well, summer in Phoenix.  Here are my lovelies on the first day of school:


Can you tell which one is going to a brick and mortar school and which one is going to an online charter school at home?

A year ago I wrote about my son's ADHD and his difficulties in school due to deficits in executive skills.  In January I wrote about how we were trying to address his issues through a 504 plan.  Those two posts basically summarized our difficult experience last year and our attempts at the beginning of the school year and the middle of the school year to find a way to deal with the problems.  It didn't work.  By the end of the year he was failing nearly every subject.  Funny thing is, based on his test scores in class, he was a B or C student.  He was failing because he couldn't turn in the homework we worked on for hours the night before.  He couldn't remember where papers were, or what he was supposed to do on assignments.  He had no organization, sense of deadlines, executive skills.  I'm sure it sounds like most boys, but for our guy it's making him think he's a failure.  If you want to understand more about what a lack of executive skills can do to a child, check out this article from WebMD.

This year we're trying a different approach.  He is starting 6th grade and we knew there was no way he would be able to handle different subjects with different teachers with different expectations and teaching styles.  By the end of the last school year, we made the difficult choice to take him out of a traditional school, opting instead for an online charter school.  It's a lot like home schooling, but with a very structured curriculum.  My husband is taking on the big task of being my son's learning coach, sitting with him every day while he goes to school.  It's a bold experiment, with the goal of getting his executive skills up to par in time to return to traditional high school.  This timeframe is not random - research shows that children with ADHD who have deficits in executive skills (also known as executive function) are usually about 3 years behind their peers in this important aspect of learning.  It poses a direct risk and obstacle to learning in a classroom environment.  In addition to the curriculum through the online charter school, we will be working on exercises and practice on learning executive skills - how to prioritize, organize, focus on a task, use notes, planners and a calendar to know what is coming and summarize what you have learned.

I hope this isn't going to be a post I have to repeat this time next year.  I do hope that by January I will be able to report some progress and a more motivated and positive kid.

cindy