Thursday, September 24, 2015

ADHD and Learning Differences

  This is a personal post. I want to talk about one of the (BIG) reasons why I believe in hands-on, FUN learning for young children. My son is ADHD and a "different" learner. As a teacher/parent, I know what his "IQ" is. He is very smart. However, what happened to him as a young child/student/learner scarred him for life.
  You know those phonics worksheets? Like the ones that are to "practice" beginning sounds. They might show a picture the gate of a fence or a coffee "mug" etc. Well, one day he brought home a sheet with every. single. answer. marked wrong with a big red X and a big fat 0 on his paper!
   Knowing he knew his beginning sounds, I began to ask him why he missed all the answers. I pointed to the "gate" and said, "What is this? What does it start with?" His answer was "fence". "Fence starts with 'f' '". Then when asking about the "mug", he said it was a "cup" and that "cup" begins with "c".
   We went through the entire sheet and for each picture he named, he knew the beginning letter. Soooo....I went to talk to the teacher. I was told that she gave the directions and went over each picture before they were to do the sheet independently and that my son had NOT listened OR followed directions. AND she was RIGHT! However, THAT is a different skill from knowing the beginning sounds of words!! What was the objective of the sheet? Listening and following directions or knowing beginning sounds?
   ADHD children have trouble listening and following directions.
   This is food for thought and NOT meant to point fingers. That experience made me a different kind of teacher. Before grading papers I always made sure I was clear on what the objective was that I wanted to assess. Many times I realized it was just to keep the kids busy while I worked with my small groups (let's be honest here). I thought at the time I was having the kiddos "practice" a certain skill. Well....if a child can do a worksheet without any problem, why give them a worksheet? They already know the skill. If a child can't do the worksheet, why give them the worksheet? They don't have a clue what it's for and will learn nothing from it!
 

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