I know that most kids are going back to school during this time period, so I wanted to be sure you got the info in time to do you some good.
The advantage of being an older Mom is that this isn’t your first rodeo. This month, we are making our 3rd trip through Jr High (actually Middle School, same thing). Son #1 sailed through with flying colors, but son #2 had that ADHD business happening and it was pretty rough going. Since son #3 is practically a carbon copy of #2, I have a chance to do things a little differently this time around and hopefully get through with a little less stress (on both of us), and I hope a better outcome.
|Image courtesy of [PhotoStock] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net|
The opening chapter really rang a bell with me. They start out by talking about brain development. Turns out that part of the problem is that these kids may not have developed mature enough brains to have the thought processes required for proper organization. That made a big change in my attitude right there. You can get mad at a kid you think is lazy or isn’t trying hard enough, but not at a kid who simply isn’t capable of what you’re asking.
Once you take the anger and frustration out of the equation, it’s much easier to focus on the strategies that will help your son or daughter be more successful. One place to start is right at the beginning, while you are buying your back to school supplies. One of the biggest pitfalls of the Jr/Sr High life is the “black hole” backpack. You want to look for a backpack with just a few pockets, and a simple notebook set-up that will minimize any confusion. I chose a Trapper Keeper notebook with front & back pockets and dividers for each subject. I labelled the front & back pockets very clearly as “PAPERS TO GO HOME” and “PAPERS TO TURN IN” so there is only ONE place to keep papers that need to travel back & forth. Simplicity is the key - it makes it so confusing for these kids if they have multiple places to look for their things.
The planner is also a critical key. You have to get them into the habit of writing down their assignments for every class, every day. Our rule is that if he leaves it at school, he has to go to bed early - a fate worse than death in his book. He also has to write something for every class - even if it is “No Homework”. Otherwise, he has to use the “phone a friend” option to call one of his friends from that class and get them to confirm the homework assignment. That stops the “I don’t have any homework today” excuse right in it’s tracks. And besides, it’s majorly embarrassing, Mom! That makes it a great deterrent.
Setting up the study space is the next step. Structure is so critical for these kids. Set up a specific time and place for studying and set it up in a way that works for your particular kid. A visual learner may need to have everything out where he can see it, while a different type of kid can only focus on one assignment at a time and can’t have anything lying around she might play with. Use a timer and schedule frequent breaks (also timed). Don’t forget the importance of praise and encouragement. Focus on progress, not perfection.
One thing our school does is ZAP parties. ZAP stands for Zeroes Aren’t Permitted. They have parties every two weeks that can only be attended by the kids who have no missing work. Kids who do have missing assignments get to spend the party in study hall playing catch up. That is a huge incentive for these kids. Even if your school doesn’t have something like that, nothing is stopping you from making your own ZAP party for your kids and her friends. Maybe set something up to take turns hosting with a few other parents.
And above all, repeat to yourself every day. I survived Jr High, my parents did, and just about everybody I know did. My kids will too.