Archive for the ‘School’ Category

Difficult Teenagers: How to Motivate & Understand Them

September 30th, 2011

Guest Article by Dee Mason

‘I don’t know what to do with this kid. He’s got to go!’ This was my introduction to Matthew, a difficult teenager who was driving his teachers mad. No one could cope with him and almost all of his teacher/pupil relationships had broken down. When he wasn’t chatting he was distracted. His lies were works of art. He was likeable, with blonde spiky hair and vivid blue eyes, full of intelligence and guile. He seemed more mature than the other seventeen year olds. He didn’t have an agenda; he just tried to get through every day by lying, ducking and diving, doing the minimum to stay on the course and the maximum to fuel his enjoyment of life.

My Job
My job at that time was to take on the most difficult teenagers in the college, befriend them, and help them be successful. I knew it would be a challenge, and I was up for it. I came to see that these students were Mavericks and they respond well to slightly maverick solutions!

My Room, My Rules
I had very, very few rules.
Rule One: No Sniffing
I provided tissues. “Arrrrgh….I can’t stand it!” I’d say, handing them the box. This was a) true but b) I came to understand that it was also an act of ‘mothering’ that the teens didn’t mind at all. I realized that teenagers are still very much living with one foot in their childhood. The ones that were failing just needed a little more time to move on. I brought in bags of sweets often. They loved to feel they were special and a little bit spoiled. After all, everyone else in the school was shouting at them. These small acts of mothering seemed to give them a feeling of security and helped build trust.

Rule Two: Right! Work now!
I always let my growing band of outlaws chat away about their issues for a while. We talked about boyfriends, and parent’s divorces, and peer bullying. But there was always a moment in their hour and a half session time when I would say ‘Ok, time for work! Half an hour. Go!’ Because they had been able to talk and relax they never seemed to mind. After half and hour (or longer if they were happy to continue) we broke and chatted again. It worked well, and slowly their grades crept up.

Rule Three: Working In Silence

This was really important. Kids seem to be bombarded with noise all the time. I failed to see how it could help easily distracted teenagers in this crucial period of their education. I did not allow iPods. I wanted concentration. Peace. Silence. It worked like a charm. It was such a novelty to these children to spend half an hour with their own thoughts. “I got more done in the last hour than I did in the whole of last week!” Often they came from chaotic homes where they were forced to do homework in the corner of a living room surrounded by piles of baby clothes and magazines, with TV and younger siblings all vying for their attention. I truly believe that experiencing silence and focused concentration showed them something they did not know they were capable of, thinking.

Rule Four: Organization

When a student was referred to me I would always ask them ‘What do you want to do? What is it you really want to happen?” Often it was a simple wish to be able to finish their studies and get a job, or go to University. It was a sincere wish. Kids don’t turn up to school day after day to experience failure and feel anxious. Why would they? They keep coming back because they want to succeed. We looked at their messy notes and put them in order. We got a list of targets to work towards. We made lists and ticked thing off. I stuck a long sheet of paper on my wall, showing the weeks till exam time, with a movable Monty Python-style ‘Finger Of Doom’ which crept along the line, week by week, as a visual reminder.

Why Did It Work?

It worked because it was theirs. They felt part of a gang, one that defied everyone’s expectations. The gang that had their own place in the school. They were respected by me, and respected me in turn. They trusted me, because they knew I cared. One of the greatest tensions when working with children is the extent to which you show them, and admit how much you genuinely care for them. I was never afraid to own those feelings. They knew it. And because they knew I’d go the extra mile for them, they went the extra mile for me.
And Matt, the boy they were about to exclude from college? I asked him “What’s it like being you?”, and it all tumbled out. I decided that he needed an immediate assessment for ADHD. He was off the scale. No-one had picked it up in 17 years. Listening to what children say is the very first step in helping them. Not many people really listen to children, even ones whose job it is.
We worked with it, and around it. With a huge amount of patience and a lot of laughs we made it. He got his exams and went to University. No expulsion. His last email to me said, “If I could share it with you I would”. That last smile he gave me was reward enough.

Dee Mason is a freelance writer and proud parent of two. She specializes in the arts and travel, and writes on behalf of Adams Kids in the U.K

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Back to school worry and anxiety? These 5 creative strategies can help!

September 1st, 2011

Maybe your child is heading back to school and they are worried about being in a classroom with kids they don’t know, or they are starting school for the first time, going to a new school, or just plain worried about heading back to school. Here are five creative ways to help your child head back to school with less stress and worry:

1. Use a composition notebook and encourage your child to write or draw out all their worries. Then flip the pages and ask your child to create all the thing they are excited about.

2. Create a mini school out of paper or cardboard and create students out of modeling clay or play-doh. Allow your child to play out their worries without censoring their actions.

3. Play teacher and student. Have your child play teacher and you can be the student and allow your child to teach you something. Your child will feel empowered by expressing what they think their school experience might be like.

4. For older children, ask them to create images about all the things they are nervous or worried about and add them to a worry box. Decorate the outside of the worry box of images and words that make them feel confident and empowered.

5. Create a video of what your child expects from their school year. Allow them to shoot and edit a video (or music video) of their school experiences and what they want from the school year.

Need some more support to help your child be successful? Schedule a complimentary Support Consultation by clicking here!

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3 Tips To Help Your Child Transition Back to School

August 31st, 2011

If you live in Florida then you know what time of year this is, back to school!  Even if you don’t have children or your children are grown, there is a shift that occurs as Fall arrives.  There is a bit of anticipation, a sense of something about to occur, a quickening of pace.  For many of us as fall arrives our schedule fills and we are on the go with little time to slow down and reflect.

No matter what age you are these easy tips will help make the most of your transition into Fall.  So here are some things to think about before your schedule gets too full with Fall busyness:

1.    What do I value?
What is really important to you or your family?  Take a moment and name the one thing that is the foundation of your values. Put this word or statement on a sticky note and post it somewhere important (i.e. desk, mirror, refrigerator).  Whenever you are running about feeling overwhelmed stop and think, what is my value and are my actions and choices reflecting my core value?

2.    Get back on schedule!
In the Summer there is a joyous loosening of our schedules.  Perhaps the bedtimes are later, the family visits more frequent, there is more time to spend enjoying each other’s company.  Of course that does not have to disappear when Fall arrives.  Remember that consistency and schedules give children and families boundaries that make the family function and also provide a sense of order and safety. Start preparing for back to school schedules now so there will be fewer arguments when the alarm clock rings for school.  Even for adults there is something soothing about a schedule. So if you are off schedule plan a few daily rituals (walking the dog in the morning or reading time at bed) to create order in your life.

3.    Give yourself a break!
There is so much running around that we do in our lives.  Give yourself permission to take a break, to decidedly not do something without guilt or remorse.  This may be as little of a break as choosing not to exercise today, or deciding that you want to cancel morning appointments and sleep in, or that you will sit by the pool and read when you should be doing the bills.  Take a break; revel in the fact that you chose it consciously. No need to worry, there will be things to do later, but for right now a nap seems just right.

Try these tips and see how they work for you.  You may find that giving yourself a pause or getting back on schedule helps you to clearly identify what it is you value. When you have a better idea of what is important to you and your family you might choose to spend less time running around during the transition of Fall doing all the things you think you should do, and more time doing what feels right for you.

Need some more support to help your child be successful? Schedule a complimentary Support Consultation by clicking here!

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Going to a new school? These creative tips can help your child

August 17th, 2011

Do you have a child going to a new school? Are you worried about your child starting at a new school and you want to provide them some additional support? Here are some creative ideas to help your child be successful at their new school.

Go to the school with your child and visit the classroom and meet the teacher prior to school starting. Let your child get acquainted with the building and meet the principal, office staff, and nurse. Your child is likely to feel more comfortable asking for help is her/she has met the staff prior to the start of school.

If your child is taking the bus or is doing parent pick-up find out the location and visit the site where they will be dropped off and picked up. Allow your child some time to explore the school grounds. Pack a lunch and visit the playground and allow some time to play and get acclimated. You can even bring a camera to take pictures of their new classroom, teacher, staff and playground.

After the visit you can ask your child what was the best part of the visit and what they may be worried about. Make sure you listen without trying to problem solve. At home ask your child to make some pictures about their favorite things at their new school and post the images in a place where your child can see it on a daily basis. You can also print out the pictures your child took and create a scrapbook or album with images of their new school. The day before school starts pick out a new outfit to wear and talk about what they are looking forward to and revisit the images they made and the pictures they took.

If you child is worried or anxious about meeting new people or going new places they may need additional support. We teach children creative ways to manage their worries so they can be successful and confident. Want to learn more? Click here to schedule your complimentary child support consultation.

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