“A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove . . . but the world may be different . . . because I was important in the life of a child.”

~ Forest E. Whitcraft

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

How the Right School Supplies Can Help a Student with ADHD Succeed

Attention deficit disorders (ADD and ADHD) are generally diagnosed using a checklist of symptoms. One of those symptoms is often losing materials necessary for a task - like school supplies or textbooks. While some people may think that hyperactivity is the most obvious sign that a child has ADHD, for our daughter the first sign that all was not well at school was definitely that she constantly lost or forgot things.

Kids who have attention deficit disorders don't like to forget things, and they like it even less when their disability gets them in trouble at home or school. As the adults responsible for helping them get a good education, it is up to parents and teachers to help kids with ADHD develop strategies to overcome their attention deficit, and to give them tools that will help guarantee their academic success.


Image © morguefile.com/ausbar

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Parenting a Special Needs Child

A friend of mine shared a link to an article by an Associated Content writer whose material I had never encountered until today. Hope L. Brock is obviously a woman who knows what she's talking about when she discusses, "Four Myths About Mothers of Behavior Disorder Children." Here's a brief excerpt:
Moms have a difficult job to do when it comes to raising children. It is a thankless-24 hour-7 days a week-no payment-little breaks type of job. However, if you child as a behavior disorder such as ADHD or Autism, then being a mom can be even harder. There are a lot of myths about what it is like to be a mom of these children, and until we can get some of the truths out there to erase the myths there will be a lack of understanding. There are some very strong assumptions about moms that have behavior disorder children. These can be so strong that even the moms come across as being not 'normal'.
As our kids get older, going out as a family becomes a lot easier. We still go through checklists, need to enlist the help of friends, or take two separate trips so we can better supervise the kids. In the past, even going to sleep at night was an issue. For several years my husband and I had to sleep in shift, so if our son woke up he couldn't get into mischief.

Two of our kids are diagnosed with special needs, including autism and ADHD, so behaviour has been one of the major obstacles for our family over the years. It takes a long time to conquer all the issues. It takes patience and understanding of why our kids do the things they do. Most of all, it takes faith and dogged persistence even when it feels like all the therapies and discipline plans, all the talking and explanations just aren't having any effect at all. The things Hope says about assumptions people make resonate deep inside of me, even today when we are often told how well behaved our kids are compared to their peers.

If you are the parent of a special needs child, please don't give up. It does get easier. At least some of it. Things will change, and you will see improvements. Don't let all the assumptions get you down, even if they come from the professionals who are supposed to be helping you learn to help you child.

Just give it time. Our kids are worth it.

You can read more of Hope's articles at Associated Content, where she is a Featured Contributor in both Diseases and Conditions, and Parenting.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Work at Home Moms

I know a good number of women who work at home by doing freelance writing. Whether we are supplementing income from spouses' jobs or from our own 9-5 jobs, whether we are making a full time wage from our writing, or whether we are struggling just to make ends meet, it's a job that lets us be here for our kids.

Working at home can be tough, too. Having to say no to the kids when they want to play or to watch a movie, monopolizing the computer when they want it. Early wake up times, and staying up late into the night trying to meet deadlines.

Writing is not a glamorous job, but usually it's worth it. I say usually, because every now & again someone will criticize us for working too hard. Only they'll say, "You're always online. You should take the kids to the park," or, "Why do you post so many links? You're spamming us! You spend too much time on Facebook." How frustrating! What if someone told these people they spent too much time at the office?

My friend published an article that speaks to these people who would try to tell us how to live and how to care for our children. I'd like to share an excerpt with you here:
And it doesn't help when thoughtless people say stupid things like 'take a break from the computer', 'remember to make time for your kids', 'enjoy these times now because they don't last' or some other such saccharine platitude. Easy for them to say. They aren't the ones trying to juggle a schedule and lifestyle that would make a saint tremble. Wouldn't you just love to take a break more often? Wouldn't you just love to say 'money be damned, today I shall play'? Unfortunately those same little dears that we moms are advised to 'make more time for' need shoes, food, dental care, transportation, school supplies, medicine, the list goes on. And short of prostitution or dealing drugs, it's difficult to make enough money to survive without spending a good deal of time and energy doing so.
~ "WAHM Guilt Issues: Why Can't You Play with Us, Mommy?" by Marilisa Kinney Sachteleben
I encourage you to read the rest of Marilisa's article and to look at her other work too. Aside from ranting about people who don't seem to understand what it means to write for a living or to work from home, Marilisa also has a background in education. She has written some very informative pieces that would be helpful for both parents and teachers.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Take Advantage of School Holidays to Get Kids Moving

Physical activity helps kids maintain a healthy body weight and build healthy muscles, joints and bones. But did you know exercise also helps kids improve their academics? Exercise helps kids sleep at night, reduce stress, and feel better about themselves. It also prepares them for learning activities.

Experts say kids need a minimum of 60 to 90 minutes per day of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA.) Most kids aren't getting that exercise, and it affects both their health and their school performance.

What About Physical Education in School?

According to Get Kids in Action, a web site aimed at improving kids' fitness and health, "Only 10% of schools offer daily physical education classes, and many of those don't meet the time requirements of weekly exercise."

Requirements for gym classes vary from one jurisdiction to another. Where I live in Quebec, schools are required to provide two hours a week of phys. ed. classes. My son gets that in two one-hour blocks, which I appreciate. But it's obvious that he won't get enough activity if we rely on gym classes alone.

Adapting Healthier Habits Over the Summer Vacation

Take advantage of the upcoming summer holidays to gradually increase the amount of time your kids are active each day. Canada's Physical Activity Guide suggests a plan that allows a sedentary person to increase MVPA in small increments, raising them each month over the space of five months. To make the most out of this method use the summer holidays, when kids will want to be moving outside, as an easier starting point.


Photo: © morguefile.com/click

Finger Foods: Easy Meal Ideas Kids Will Love!

Kids love to eat with their hands. They love small foods they can pick up and pop right into their mouths - and even picky eaters are more interested if they get to make those foods themselves!

Here are three finger food ideas that your kids can help to prepare. For special occasions, fancy up your recipe. They make great appetizers for a kids' party and are sure to be popular at your next potluck!


Photo: © Jennifer Bastian, Wikimedia Commons

Teaching Kids to Say No

Some kids don't know how to take no for an answer.
"Julie" comes to visit your Janie, and Julie wants to borrow a special bracelet Janie got as a gift from her grandparents. No, my Mom said I'm not allowed to let anyone borrow that bracelet, Janie tells her.
I'll give it right back after school tomorrow. Your Mom will never know, Julie retorts, trying to change Janie's mind.
But I'm not even allowed to wear it to school.
If you're my friend, you'll let me.

We've all heard an exchange like the one above, and as parents and educators many of us will cringe just from thinking about it. The friendship card gets played a lot with kids around the age of seven or eight, especially with girls. And later on, it's not uncommon for boys to use a similar tactic with their girlfriends in order to convince the girl to do something she isn't comfortable with. Friends should respect each other, and that goes double when it comes to the romantic relationships that develop in adolescence and early adulthood. Respect means that when a friend says no, they shouldn't be made to feel guilty about it and they shouldn't have to repeat themselves.

Kids need to be told no
As parents and educators, it's important for us to say no to kids when the stakes are low. They need to get used to being refused sometimes. If they always get what they want, they won't know how to accept a refusal gracefully. We can offer alternatives or compromises, and we should be open to a certain amount of negotiation, as long as it's teaching kids to work together to find a solution that works for everyone. But every once in a while, the answer really is "no," and kids need to learn that when it's said it should be respected.


Photo © morguefile.com/phaewilk