These are a few tips that parents have shared with me regarding helping older children and teens with ADD/ADHD cope with writing and math in a classroom environment or at home with homework and ends our series of posts regarding children with AD/HD . I hope you have enjoyed this series as much as I have. Our children with AD/HD are beautiful, and will succeed in having lives that are as wonderful and gifted as they are. These strategies are ones parents found of use as they walked this journey, and are meant to support and encourage.
Children with AD/HD may have the following challenges with writing: organization, poor memory (ie, cannot access long term memory for correct spelling, grammar, punctuation, capitalization along with trying to remember what they are writing about and what should come next), laborious handwriting (many prefer printing as cursive requires more memory than printing), unsophisticated ideas in writing, and written language problems such as very brief sentences for grade level.
Ways to improve this may include: writing one to two sentences daily, and then working on how to construct a paragraph in separate parts. Only after these two steps can one hope to work on lengthening assignments to one brief paragraph and then trying to increase the sophistication of ideas and words used. Polishing grammar and spelling is the very last step. You can write with your student. Teach sequencing in writing (first, second, next, last, then, finally, before, after, etc).
Common math difficulties include weak math computation, and the inability to have basic math facts automated which hinders quickly retrieving information so problems cannot be completed quickly. However, students may learn math concepts as easily as other students. Algebra is often very, very challenging for a teenager with ADD/ADHD, as well as word problems,and long division .
Ways to improve this include: putting a sample math problem on the board and numbering the steps and leaving it up throughout the math class, providing visual cueing for common math facts, providing copies of important math facts, using graph paper for place value instruction and to keep columns aligned, developing mnemonics for long division, and using math games.
Working memory tends to be weaker and impacts speed regulation and retention of information in the classroom.
Strategies for Improving Memory – includes using mnemonics, using color to highlight facts, using a multisensory approach, using visual aids on blackboard or on wall that will remain there throughout teaching.
I would add to all of these that memory and academic skills improve with movement. Teaching through movement can be an important step that is often not as addressed in traditional teaching environments.
Specific to a Waldorf Environment: Waldorf Education does so many things “right” in regards to children with these sorts of learning challenges and works to develop the whole child. Work in the physical body and with the arts improves the academic outlook immensely!
One thing I feel that is improving in Waldorf Schools, and certainly in the homeschool environment can be followed up on when one deems it necessary, is that need to identify challenges head-on and get help. Many of these past posts (this is the fifth one in this series)have identified professionals who can help – from anthroposophic doctors to neuropsychologists to executive functioning coaches to any number of holistic supports. But the intervention is important. I was reading through Fenner and Rivers’ “Waldorf Education: A Family Guide” and there was an article in there entitled, “To Tutor or Not To Tutor: When Your Child Needs Help” by Anne Jurika that could be very helpful reading for Waldorf families dealing with this question. Her point on page 127: “Sometimes children have a slower pace of development and do catch up with their peers by around Third Grade. However, much of the time, in my observation, those who experience difficulty in the First Grade are still experiencing it in the upper grades, where it has become a problem on many levels – academic, social, and emotional….While it is important not to overreact, it is important also to investigate the problem as soon as possible with the class teacher through close observation and evaluation, with advice from knowledgeable people.”
Please share with me the ideas that have helped your children directly with academic challenges. I would love to hear what worked for your child and promoted success over the rougher spots.