My first grader has recently been diagnosed with ADHD and struggles with reading and writing at school. He loves math, science, and social studies and tends to excel in those subjects, but when asked to independently write sentences he doesn’t typically finish the work in the allotted amount of time. He gets the concepts and can read, but he is still pretty slow with it in comparison to his peers. For instance, got all E’s on his report card with the exception of an S+ in Art, and an S in Reading and Writing. We are very very proud and made sure he knew just how proud we are but an S is like a C and we fear that he could get behind if we don’t take action and help him along a little now. We have met with the teachers and guidance counselors and think we have a plan in place thus far.
We are against the idea of medication at this point because we believe that some of his issues could be maturity issues, and we think that since he is performing at an average level in reading and writing, he just needs a little extra help to do as well as he does in the other subjects. Also, we don’t know if he might have some other learning disability related to reading and writing and are of course having him screened for those kinds of things to rule out other issues. No judgement to parents who choose medication, it is just not something we think will work right now, especially given the ambiguity behind what is causing his inability to focus on reading and writing as well as the other subjects.
That being said, his teacher asked us to have him write one sentence at home for us each day and reward him for his writing. We will of course also be increasing his reading at home but I thought it would be cool to document the sentences that he writes because they are all going to be straight from his amazing little mind. In school they are told what to write so I thought it would be nice to share his imagination with the world, which of course is why I started kidsights to begin with. So, the weeks I have him I will share a Griffin sentence a day and also share his progress as we learn more about ADHD and any other tidbits along the way.
Today I explained to Griffin that each day he could write one sentence after school on his white board and then he would earn a gum ball (he is a gum ball fanatic, much like his stepdaddy). He of course jumped at the opportunity! I will write each sentence exactly how he writes it to show progress.
November 7, 2011
Griffin LOVES GI Joe so he chose to write his sentence about GI Joe characters today: “I like all of the strog gis.”
I was very impressed with this sentence because I think it is easy to leave off the ‘n’ in strong and he spelled ‘guys’ phonetically correct and hasn’t learned that ‘uy’ can also make the ‘i’ sound, until today when I explained it to him. I also love that he chose to write about one of his favorite things and he of course reflected his “all boy” personality by stating that he likes all of the strong GI Joe characters. Stay tuned for more sentences and chime in as you wish!
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What's in a Color?
Griffin started Kindergarten a few weeks ago and he’s been pretty excited. He asks for homework and he loves learning which makes me a very happy mommy. One thing that I don’t quite understand is this color system they are using though. While I get the fact that kids need to learn how to listen and should be held accountable for not listening, I don’t get these categories that they get placed in. It almost seems like they are being labeled. At least, I think Griffin is, and I’m less than thrilled. The way it works is that the kids can earn tokens throughout the day for their good behavior. I like that but they are also put into a color category based on their behavior throughout the day. They earn a Blue or Green if they have no incidents, Yellow (Lellow according to Griffin) if they have one incident of not listening, and Orange and Red are the really “bad” colors. If you earn a Yellow you sit in time out in the classroom and draw about what you can do to improve. If you earn an Orange or Red, you have to go to time out in another classroom or even go to the dreaded Principal.
Now, I don’t mind the colors at all but it’s the way that this tool is being used that is making us unhappy. For instance, if Griffin has one incident where he is warned and still chooses not to listen he is put into the Yellow category. I’m fine with that but I think that they should then be able to earn moving back up to a Blue or Green by improving their behavior. This then sets the tone for the rest of the day and my son comes home with a “Lellow” and thinks he has had a bad day overall. On a given day with my son if he gets through the day with only one or two incidents of not listening I do not categorize this as a bad or Lellow day. In fact, I think it’s a great day if he only slips up once or twice.
Of course, being the perfectionist that I am, I was a little freaked out that my son was getting mostly Yellows for the first few weeks of class, and I’m sure that he noticed my anxiety, but after about a week, his dad and I took a different approach. Griffin was coming home saying things like, “I had a bad day” as a result of being Yellow so I confirmed with the teacher that being in Yellow meant that he only slipped up once in a day and that the rest of the day he was on task. Once I did this, we decided to ignore the colors.
When Griffin gets in the car after school the first thing I want to hear now is all of the GOOD things that happened that day. When he tries to tell me about his “Lellow” I tell him we can talk about that later and try to help him see all of the good that came out of the day. If he got Yellow for not listening at lunch for instance, I help him remember that he listened in class and how great that is. If he got a Yellow for talking during rest time, we focus on how he listened well at lunch and during class time. What this has reminded me of is that we can’t always focus on the “Lellows” in life. We can learn from our “Lellows” and move on, but let’s not allow the categories that people place us in bring us down. I don’t allow my mistakes to define me so why should I let a color define my child?
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