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Thursday, September 3, 2015

Teens Aren't Getting Enough Sleep and Schools are Partly to Blame

From the HuffPost Healthy Living Blog

By Rebecca Klein
Education Editor, The Huffington Post

August 7, 2015

Most kids are severely sleep deprived, and early school starting times aren't helping.

Across the country, only 17.7 percent of middle and high schools start classes after 8:30 a.m., contrary to 2014 recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Instead, the average school start time for middle and high schools around the country is 8:03 a.m., according to a new analysis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The AAP recommends that schools start after 8:30 to help teens get 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep a night -- the amount the AAP says is ideal. Currently, less than a third of high school students sleep 8 hours a night, says the CDC analysis.

The analysis uses 2011-2012 information from the Department of Education to glean the start times of about 39,700 schools. Alaska has the latest average school start time at 8:33 a.m., while Louisiana has the earliest at 7:40 a.m.

Sleep-deprived teens are more likely to suffer from depression, use drugs, get low grades and be overweight.

Even though schools often face obstacles when trying to delay school start times due to traffic and scheduling concerns, some have made progress recently.

After Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts delayed school start times in 2008 from 7:55 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., the private school saw a number of benefits.

As The Huffington Post previously reported, the school's 2014 viewbook noted that students "earned higher grades; ate more breakfasts, visited the health center far less frequently; and performed better in athletics. Teachers reported that first-period discussion classes were uncharacteristically vibrant from the beginning bell."

A New Jersey bill is attempting to tackle the problem as well. Legislation currently awaiting Gov. Chris Christie's (R) signature would require the state to examine the effects of later school start times. Supporters of the New Jersey bill are hoping to explore the possible benefits to the state and its students.

"Resetting the school day would not be easy or simple, but given what we now know about the effects of sleep deprivation on the adolescent brain, to not even consider it as a possibility does our students a disservice," New Jersey Assemblywoman Mila Jasey (D) said in June.

Half of parents whose teens attend schools that start before 8:30 would support a later start time, according to a 2014 survey from the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

55 Best Back-to-School Articles for Parents

From Roots of Action
via the Federation for Children with Special Needs

By Marilyn Price-Mitchell, Ph.D.
August 31, 2015

Parents, are you ready for back-to-school? Your parenting mindset just might be the most important way to impact your children’s learning and development!

The following authors share the latest thinking and research on learning, achievement, family well-being, parent engagement, special needs children, youth sports, media, technology, discipline, homework, bullying — all the things parents think about at back-to-school time.

As your children get back to school and resettled into their routines, take some time for yourself – to reflect on your own values about education and how you can more intentionally support your children. I’ve compiled some of the best back-to-school articles for parents – from a variety of reputable bloggers – and updated the list for 2015. The list is divided by topic, with a short summary of what you will find in each one.

For “big picture” thinking about education and child development, check out my free eBook Reframing Success: Helping Children and Teens Grow from the Inside Out. It shows how grades and test scores are only one aspect of success and how we all nurture vital skills and abilities in young people.

You can also download a free guide about The Compass Advantage framework, showing how parents and schools impact eight pathways to youth success.

Read the articles that pique your interest now and bookmark others for later. And if you like particular authors, be sure to follow their articles throughout the school year by signing up for their RSS feeds or email subscriptions. I’ve also included links to their Twitter accounts and Facebook pages to make following your favorites easy.

I guarantee you’ll find some meaningful food for thought here – whether it’s back-to-school time or anytime! You’ll meet some great people who support children’s positive growth and well-being. Happy reading!

Back-to-School Basics: Learning and Achievement

1. The Coddling of the American Mind by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt in The Atlantic. Will your children become good critical thinkers? A look at the trend to protect children from feeling uncomfortable. Gregg’s Twitter; Jonathan’s Twitter

2. When Success Leads to Failure by Jessica Lahey at The Atlantic. Learn how the fear of failure destroys children’s love of learning. Twitter; Facebook

3. Education for the Greater Good by Miguel Angel Escotet, Ph.D. Lack of social ethics is one of the causes of violence. Dr. Escotet calls for a new ethical revolution in education. Twitter

4. The Developmental Psychologists’ Back-to-School Shopping List by Gabrielle Principe, Ph.D., at Psychology Today. Five ways to improve children’s learning at all ages, grounded in scientific research.

5. Build Your Young Child’s Future School Success NOW by Judy Willis, M.D., at Psychology Today. Help your child build skills of patterning and predicting. Twitter

6. A Link between Relatedness and Academic Achievement by Ugo Uche, LPC, at Psychology Today. The key to student success relies not just with the teacher’s attitude toward the student, but also with the student’s attitude towards the teacher. Parents help develop these attitudes! Twitter

7. Parents and Teachers: 6 Ways to Inspire the Teen Brain by Sandra Bond Chapman Ph.D., at Psychology Today. Get tips to stimulate the teen brain from findings in neuroscience. Twitter

8. Seven Ways to Encourage Reluctant Readers by Steve Reifman, M.Ed. A teacher’s strategies can turn your child from a reluctant to a willing reader. Try them out! Twitter; Facebook

9. Boys and Girls Learn Differently by Patti Ghezzi at SchoolFamily. Get insights on how to help your son or daughter at home and in the classroom. Twitter; Facebook

10. The Success Myth by Heidi Grant Halvorson, Ph.D., at Psychology Today. Rethink your ideas of what makes us succeed, then apply them to your parenting. Twitter
Family Well-Being

11. Relationships are the Key to Performance, Not Ability by Rick Ackerly at The Genius in Children. Learn why family and school relationships have the most impact in helping kids develop well-being and learning to succeed in life. Twitter

12. The Happy Teen: A Primer on the Positives in Youth Development by Stephen Gray Wallace, M.S.Ed., at Psychology Today. Read some good news about adolescent development.

13. Beginning Family Meetings by Jody McVittie, M.D., at SoundDiscipline. Back-to-school time is perfect for planning regular family meetings. Twitter; Facebook

14. 11 Ways to Raise a Child Who is Entitled and Rude by Christine Carter, Ph.D. at Positively Positive. A great list of what NOT to do with your children! Twitter; Facebook

15. The Moment I Stopped Being Perfect: The Truth About Perfect Moms by Katie Hurley at Huffington Post.Why perfectionism is not the best parenting strategy.Twitter; Facebook

16. The Seven Best Gratitude Quotes by Melanie A. Greenberg, Ph.D., at Psychology Today. How to bring gratitude into your family’s life. Twitter; Facebook

17. Positive Parenting: How to Follow Through with Limits by Ariadne Brill at Positive Parenting Connection. Excellent advice on why and how parents should set limits, particularly with young children. Twitter; Facebook

18. 4 Surprising Ways to Support a Child’s Self-Regulation and Avoid Melt Down by Lindsey Lieneck. A great article on mindful strategies that brings kids’ awareness to their bodies and help them manage their emotions. Twitter;Facebook

19. It Isn’t Easy Being a Parent by the Search Institute. Nine strategies every parent should know based on fostering developmental assets in children. Twitter; Facebook

20. Healthy Parenting after the Marriage Ends by Kevin D. Arnold, Ph.D., at Psychology Today. How to support your children’s social, emotional and intellectual health after divorce. Twitter

21. How to Teach Your Kids it’s OK to Have Less than their Friends by Jacoba Urist at TODAY Moms. As economic disparity grows, children need to understand their family’s values more than ever. Twitter

Parent-Readiness and Engagement

22. Parent Involvement: The Missing Key to Student Achievement by James Norwood, Ph.D., at Teaching in the Middle. Learn why developing a partnership with school is one of the most important things you can do to help your child.Twitter

23. 9 Tips for Parents if Your Child is Changing Schools by Meryl Ain, Ed.D., at Your Education Doctor. Must-read tips for parents to help children get comfortable in a new school. Twitter; Facebook

24. Twenty-Five Education Blogs Perfect for Parents (And Just About Anyone Else) by Jeff Dunn at Edudemic. Excellent blogs to follow to keep abreast of what’s going on in education. Twitter; Facebook

25. The Case for Dedicated Dads by Jessica Lahey at The Atlantic. Research shows that fathers play a critical role in their children’s education. Twitter

26. Developing Belief Systems About Education: It Takes a Village by Nicole Rivera, Ed.D., at Psychology Today. Children develop beliefs about education through what their parents believe.

27. Top 10 Pinterest Boards for Parents by Cathy James at the NurtureStore. If you are looking for educational projects to do with preschool and elementary school-age children at home, Pinterest is the place to be! Twitter; Facebook

Back-to-School Anxiety

28. Back-To-School Worries by Eileen Kennedy-Moore, Ph.D., at Psychology Today. How to help children cope with starting a new school year. Twitter; Facebook

29. Ease Back-to-School Stress by Christine McLaughlin at SchoolFamily. How to help your child switch from the laid-back fun of summer to homework and routine.Twitter; Facebook

Children with Special Needs, Abilities and Personalities

30. Ten Tips for Parenting an Introverted Child by Susan Cain at The Power of Introverts. Learn how introverted children are special and how to cultivate their passions. Twitter; Facebook

31. Five Strategies for Smooth Operating for the New School Year by Cindy Goldrich, Ed.M., at PTS Coaching. Good advice on getting organized, managing time, and using low-tech strategies to support children with ADHD at back-to-school time. Twitter; Facebook

32. Five Ways to Help Your Child Transition Back to School by Chynna Laird at Special-Ism. Mom of a child with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) talks about creating a transition plan for supporting special needs children. Twitter; Facebook

33. The Need to Believe in the Ability of Disability by Scott Barry Kaufman, Ph.D. and Kevin McGrew at HuffPost Education. How our beliefs help or hinder children with disabilities. Twitter

34. The 200 Best Special Education Apps by Eric Sailers at Edudemic. Great apps for teachers and parents who work with special needs children. Twitter

35. From Perfection to Personal Bests: 7 Ways to Nurture Your Gifted Child by Signe Whitson at HuffPost Parents. How to develop a growth mindset in your high-ability child. Twitter; Facebook

Homework: A Back-to-School Reality

36. Reducing Homework Stress by Lori Lite at Stress Free Kids. Back-to-school and homework go together. Here are 10 tips to help parents, teens, and children with the daily homework routine. Twitter; Facebook

37. Who Takes Responsibility for Homework? What is the Parent’s Role? By Rick Ackerly at The Genius in Children. Helping kids understand the consequences and rewards of homework. Twitter; Facebook

38. Keep Your Middle Schooler Organized by Nancy Darling, Ph.D., at Psychology Today. How to help kids develop organizational skills and relieve the homework struggle. Twitter

Youth Sports

39. Soccer, Baseball or Karate? Top 10 Reasons to Involve Your Kids in Sports by Signe Whitson at Psychology Today. Reasons why being a sports chauffeur can pay big rewards. Twitter; Facebook

40. Emphasize the Internal Rewards by Jeffrey Rhoads at Inside Youth Sports. How to help your child experience the internal rewards of playing sports. Twitter; Facebook

41. How to Help Kids Be “Winning” Losers in Youth Sports by Patrick Cohn, Ph.D., at The Ultimate Sports Parent Blog. Learn how losing in sports develops internal skills like perseverance, determination, and the ability to adapt to adversity. Twitter; Facebook

42. Heads Up Concussion In Youth Sports by Shannon Henrici at Stress Free Kids. Learn about concussions and what you can do as a parent. Twitter; Facebook


43. Mean Girls: Why Teenage Girls Can Be So Cruel by Chris Hudson at Understanding Teenagers. Learn how gender influences adolescent behavior in friendship groups and why girls have a natural tendency toward social aggression. TwitterFacebook

44. Bully Proof Your Child by Lori Lite at Stress Free Kids. What parents can do to protect children from bullying. TwitterFacebook

45. How to Protect Kids from Cyber-Bullying by Michele Borba, Ed.D. How to keep an electronic leash on your child! Twitter

46. Bullying Runs Deep: Breaking the Code of Silence that Protects Bullies by Michelle Baker at HuffPost Education. A poignant and personal story with deep insights for parents. Twitter

Media and Technology

47. Parenting: Who is More Powerful: Technology or Parents? By Jim Jaylor, Ph.D., at Psychology Today. How are you flexing your parenting muscles against the strength of today’s media? TwitterFacebook

48. How Much Television is Too Much? Science Weighs In by Todd B. Kashdan, Ph.D., at Psychology Today. Science vs. common-sense parenting. Twitter

49. Will Watching Violent Video Games Affect Your Teen’s Behavior? By Dennis E. Coates, Ph.D., at How to Raise a Teenager. Get both sides of the story about violent video games. Twitter

50. The Dangers of Teen Sexting by Raychelle Cassada Lohmann, M.S., L.P.C., at Psychology Today. Learn about sexting and how to protect your teen. Twitter; Facebook


51. Is It Ever Okay to Spank a Child? by Andrea Nair at The Atlantic. Spanking is always a controversial subject. What’s your opinion? Twitter

52. What is in Your Discipline Toolbox? By Jody McVittie, M.D., at WAFCET. How to use kindness and firmness when disciplining children. Twitter; Facebook

53. Why Punishment Does Not Make Good Neurological Sense by Meredith White-McMahon, Ed.D., at Development in the Digital Age. How punishment differs from discipline. Twitter

54. Connection before Correction by Jane Nelsen, Ed.D., at Positive Discipline. How positive discipline creates respectful connections with children. Twitter; Facebook

55. The 5 C’s of Effective Discipline: Setting Rules for Children by Ben Martin, Psy.D., at PsychCentral. Important and simple discipline rules to remember.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

What Happens When the School Terminates My Child’s Special Education Services?

From The Friendship Circle Blog

By Michael Dorfman, Esq.
May 12, 2015

Being told that your child no longer qualifies for some or all the current special education services that they are receiving elicits mixed emotions from parents. Sometimes the news from the school is greeted with excitement that your child has reached a level of achievement and independence that no longer necessitates the need for these services.

The other reaction when delivered the news of termination of some or all services is fear, mortification and the belief that the decision by the school was subjective, and not based on a comprehensive evaluation process.

This article will focus on the protections built into the law and the steps parents need to follow when they believe special education services should not have been limited or terminated.


A school district shall ensure that a re-evaluation of each “child with a disability” (This phrase is how IDEA defines who is entitled to special education and related services) is conducted if the school district determines that the educational or related services needs of the child, including improved academic achievement and functional performance, warrant a re-evaluation.
20 U.S.C. § 1414 (a)(2)(A)(i) 

A child’s parent may also request a reevaluation. 20 U.S.C. § 1414 (a)(2)(A)(ii) A re-evaluation shall not occur more frequently than once a year, unless both the parent and the school district agree otherwise, and at least every 3 years, unless the parent and school district agree that a reevaluation is necessary.
20 U.S.C. § 1414 (a)(2)(B)(i)&(ii)

It is at the re-evaluation meeting where you as the parent would be informed that your child no longer qualifies for special education or certain or all related services.


The school district will provide notice to the parent that describes any evaluation procedures the school district proposes to conduct. 20 U.S.C. § 1414 (b)(1)

In conducting the evaluation the school district shall:
  • Use a variety of assessment tools and strategies to gather relevant functional, developmental, and academic information, including information provided by the parent that may assist in determining whether the child is a child with a disability; and determining the content of the child’s IEP, included information related to enabling the child to be involved in and progress in the general education curriculum. 20 U.S.C. 1414 (b)(2)(A)(i)&(ii)
  • Not use any single measure or assessment as the sole criterion for determining whether a child is a child with a disability or determining an appropriate educational program for the child 20 U.S.C. 1414 (b)(2)(B); and,
  • Use technically sound instruments that may assess the relative contribution of cognitive and behavioral factors, in addition to physical or developmental factors. 20 U.S.C. 1414 (b)(2)(C)

The school district must also ensure that the assessments and other evaluation materials used to assess the child were:
  • Selected and administered so as not to be discriminatory on a racial or cultural basis;
  • Provided and administered in the form and language most likely to yield accurate information on what the child knows and can do academically, developmentally, and functionally;
  • Used for the purposes for which the assessments are valid and reliable;
  • Administered by trained and knowledgeable personnel; and
  • Administered in accordance with any instructions provided by the producer of such assessments

The child must be assessed in all areas of suspected disability.

Upon completion of the administration of the assessments and other evaluation measures, the determination of whether the child still qualifies as a child with a disability, and what educational needs the child has, shall be made by a team of qualified professionals and the parent of the child.

In making a determination as to whether the child with a disability is still eligible, a child shall not be determined to be a child with a disability if the determinant factor for such determination is: lack of appropriate instruction in reading; lack of instruction in math; or limited English proficiency.

The school district shall also not be required to take into consideration whether a child has a severe discrepancy between achievement and intellectual ability in oral expression, listening comprehension, written expression, basic reading skill, reading comprehension, mathematical calculation or mathematical reasoning. 20 U.S.C. § 1414 (b)(5)&(6)

Reviewing Existing Evaluation Data

As part of any reevaluation, the IEP Team and other qualified professionals, as appropriate, shall review existing evaluation data on the child, including:
  • Evaluations and information provided by the parents of the child.
  • Current classroom-based, local, or State assessments, and classroom-based observations.
  • Observations by teachers and related services providers.

In addition to reviews and input from the child’s parents, (the Team must) identify what additional data, if any, are needed to determine whether whether the child needs special education and related services, or in the case of a re-evaluation of a child, whether the child continues to need special education and related services; and whether any additions or modifications to the special education and related services are needed to enable the child to meet the measurable annual goals set out in the individualized education program of the child and to participate, as appropriate, in the general education curriculum. 20 U.S.C. § 1414 (b)(6)(c)

Requesting An IEE

If you are in disagreement with the school district’s evaluation, you can request an Independent Educational Evaluation (“IEE”) at the school district’s expense. This is a right of the parent under IDEA. You may also find an evaluator at your own expense, because there is a lot riding on the denial of services to your child.

You are also entitled to all of your child’s test results and a complete copy of the educational records and evaluations.

Due Process

If you disagree with the reevaluation decision, due process is the last resort. There are articles on the due process procedures on the blog site that explain the process in more depth.


Request to review all of the assessments performed and all the evaluations procedures utilized by the school district in terminating or cutting back special education and/or related services. Make sure the law was followed, and that the changes were for educational purposes and not economically based.

Consult an attorney or an advocate who specializes in this area to help you review the findings to determine if they are on the level, and the process was undertaken fairly and legally.


Michael R. Dorfman is an attorney and partner at Nykanen Dorfman, PLLC in Farmington Hills, Michigan. In his special education law practice, Michael represents students and their families when there is a conflict with the school district or when an appropriate education is not being provided. View all 14 of Michael Dorfman's posts.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Individualized Education Program (IEP) Guide and Other Resources

From Autism Speaks Family Services

August 9, 2015 

After months of research, a team of lawyers at Goodwin Procter, LLP has generously put together a helpful guide to help families understand the IEP process as their loved ones head back to school: Individualized Education Program (IEP): Summary, Process and Practical Tips.

This 26-page guide contains an IEP timeline and clearly lays out the steps to take throughout the IEP process. The guide also includes lots of tips, resources, and answers to FAQs.

Click HERE to see the Goodwin Procter IEP Guide!

*A special thank you to Autism Speaks Board Member Gary Mayerson for his valuable feedback and assistance. Click HERE to read the transcript of Gary's live Q & A, "How To Compromise With Your School District Without Compromising Your Child"

Note: If you have trouble downloading the Guide, click HERE to download the new version of Adobe Reader free of charge.

New! How do you develop realistic and measurable IEP goals that can really make a difference in a child's life? The Missouri Autism Guidelines Initiative has created a video that outlines simple steps for building an effective IEP team and writing goals!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Kids Have Three Times Too Much Homework, Study Finds. What's the Cost?

From CNN

By Kelly Wallace
August 12, 2015

Story highlights: First-graders get nearly three times the homework education leaders recommend, a study concludes. The cost of excessive homework is "enormous," the study's contributing editor says.

Nothing quite stresses out students and parents about the beginning of the school year as the return to homework, which for many households means nightly battles centered around completing after-school assignments.

Now a new study may help explain some of that stress.

The study, published Wednesday in The American Journal of Family Therapy, found students in the early elementary school years are getting significantly more homework than is recommended by education leaders, in some cases nearly three times as much homework as is recommended.

The standard, endorsed by the National Education Association and the National Parent-Teacher Association, is the so-called "10-minute rule" -- 10 minutes per grade level per night. That translates into 10 minutes of homework in the first grade, 20 minutes in the second grade, all the way up to 120 minutes for senior year of high school. The NEA and the National PTA do not endorse homework for kindergarten.


In the study involving questionnaires filled out by more than 1,100 English and Spanish speaking parents of children in kindergarten through grade 12, researchers found children in the first grade had up to three times the homework load recommended by the NEA and the National PTA.

Parents reported first-graders were spending 28 minutes on homework each night versus the recommended 10 minutes. For second-graders, the homework time was nearly 29 minutes, as opposed to the 20 minutes recommended.

And kindergartners, their parents said, spent 25 minutes a night on after-school assignments, according to the study carried out by researchers from Brown University, Brandeis University, Rhode Island College, Dean College, the Children's National Medial Center and the New England Center for Pediatric Psychology.

"It is absolutely shocking to me to find out that particularly kindergarten students (who) are not supposed to have any homework at all ... are getting as much homework as a third-grader is supposed to get," said Stephanie Donaldson-Pressman, the contributing editor of the study and clinical director of the New England Center for Pediatric Psychology.

"Anybody who's tried to keep a 5-year-old at a table doing homework for 25 minutes after school knows what that's like. I mean children don't want to be doing, they want to be out playing, they want to be interacting and that's what they should be doing. That's what's really important."


Donaldson-Pressman, co-author of "The Learning Habit: A Groundbreaking Approach to Homework and Parenting that Helps Our Children Succeed in School and Life," says the National Education Association (and the National PTA) made their recommendations after a number of studies were done on the effects of homework and the effects on families of having too much homework.

"The cost is enormous," she said. "The data shows that homework over this level is not only NOT beneficial to children's grades or GPA, but there's really a plethora of evidence that it's detrimental to their attitude about school, their grades, self-confidence, social skills and their quality of life."

In fact, a study last year showed that the impact of excessive homework on high schoolers included high stress levels, a lack of balance in children's lives and physical health problems such as ulcers, migraines, sleep deprivation and weight loss.

The correlation between homework and student performance is less clear cut.

Previous research, including a 2006 analysis of homework studies, found a link between time spent on homework and achievement but also found it was much stronger in secondary school versus elementary school. Another study, this one in 2012, found no relationship between time spent on homework and grades but did find a positive link between homework and performance on standardized tests.

The Stress on Families

The current study also examined the stress homework places on families and found that as the parent's confidence in their ability to help their child with homework went down, the stress in the household went up.

Fights and conflicts over homework were 200% more likely in families where parents did not have at least a college degree, according to the study.

Parents who have a college degree felt more confident, not necessarily in helping their child with their homework, but in communicating with the school to make sure the level is appropriate, said Donaldson-Pressman.

"Undereducated parents really believe that their children are supposed to be able to do (the homework), therefore, their children must be doing something else during school" instead of focusing on their studies, she said. "So the parents argue with the kids, the kids feel defeated and dumb and angry, very angry, and the parents are fighting with each other. It's absolutely a recipe for disaster."

She added, "All of our results indicate that homework as it is now being assigned discriminates against children whose parents don't have a college degree, against parents who have English as a second language, against, essentially, parents who are poor."

What Can Parents Do?

Many parents might feel stressed just reading about homework, but there are specific things they can do to make the entire homework experience less anxiety-producing for everyone in the household, parenting experts say.

Jessica Lahey is author of the just-released book "The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed."

Lahey recommends that if parents are concerned about how much time their children are spending on homework, they first look at how and where their child is doing their homework to see whether that's a contribution to how long it takes.

For instance, are the children being distracted by smartphones, music or other household activities?

If a parent has done that and determined the child is still spending too much time on homework, contact with the teacher makes sense, said Lahey, who is also a columnist for The N.Y. Times and a contributor to The Atlantic and Vermont Public Radio.

"It is absolutely appropriate for you early on when the kid's little and later on when the kid gets older for the kid to talk to the teacher ... Rather than being defensive about it, what you can do is say, 'Look this is supposed to take 30 minutes, but it's taking me an hour. Can you help me figure out why?' " she said.

"If you come at it from a 'Can you help me solve this problem, can we partner together to talk about why this might be so?' that's going to do much better for you and for your kid in the long run..

Biggest Mistakes Parents Make?

One of the biggest mistakes parents make when it comes to homework, said Lahey, is dictating the terms of homework. Instead, parents should hand the details over to the children concerning how, when and where the homework gets done.

"Some kids like to do their work immediately when they get home from school. Some don't. Some kids crazily enough like to do it really, really early in the morning," she said. "But it never really occurs to us to ask, 'What would your perfect homework day look like?' and at the very least that will make your child feel heard and then give them some control back over the order in which they do things, over where they do it, over how they do it."


Finally, Lahey recommends parents set really clear expectations at the beginning of the school year about the homework getting done and ending up in the teacher's hands. But that's really as far as parents should go, she says. She highly discourages parents from correcting their kids' homework -- and even doing it themselves.

Homework is meant to help children and the teacher know which skills are missing and what needs improvement. Secondly, and something that is crucial to the success of our children later in life, is the importance of letting our kids learn how to make mistakes, letting them fail and find the motivation for their own success.

"In order to be invested in our own learning or anything we're doing, we need to feel like we have some control over the details of it. We need to have some autonomy and control over the details of it. We need to feel competent," said Lahey. "And if parents are fixing homework for us, the kid never really gets to feel competent because the parent's the one fixing it and they really need to feel invested and connected to the material."

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

ADHD and College: Advice for Parents

From the Child Mind Institute

By Mary Rooney, Ph.D.
August 11, 2015

As a parent you have undoubtedly done a great deal to help your child with ADHD stay organized, stay on time, and stay on task. You've also been an advocate for your child and made sure he had access to academic services, classroom accommodations, and psychological treatment. So, when it's time to send your child off to college, it shouldn't surprise you that your job isn't over yet.

While college students are primarily responsible for managing their own ADHD, parents remain important members of their support team.

Here are some tips to keep you and your child on track:

1.) Plan to be involved. As your child becomes increasingly responsible for managing her own ADHD, it will be important for you to have a plan for the ways in which you will continue to provide support. This plan should be developed collaboratively, with your child. Ask how involved she would like you to be. How does she think you can be most helpful?

Respect her opinions, consider her point of view, and adjust your expectations accordingly. Your plan should also outline how she is going to keep you in the loop about her academic progress and mental health.

2.) Have access to academic records. Some students with ADHD don't recognize that their grades are slipping before it's too late. Others realize they are struggling, but feel as though they can't do anything about it. As a parent you can help by monitoring your child's grades throughout the semester, and by talking to him as soon as you notice signs of trouble.

Colleges typically post grades online shortly after exams or assignments are completed. Students automatically have access to this information, but parents do not. Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), academic records are only available to parents if the student provides written consent for disclosure, or parents provide evidence that the student is a dependent on their most recent tax return.

To learn about college-specific procedures for gaining access to student records, search for "FERPA" on the college's website, or call the college registrar's office.

3.) Help your child get support services. Helping your child identify and access academic support services on campus is one of the most helpful things you can do as a parent. College students with ADHD qualify for academic accommodations under federal law, but they don't get them automatically. It is the student's responsibility to inform the college of her ADHD diagnosis and submit documentation (requirements vary by school).

Together with your child, contact the campus disability support services office. Have your child make a list of available services and determine which services or accommodations she would benefit from. Make sure she also gathers the necessary documentation. A step-by-step guide to obtaining college accommodations is available on NAMI's website.

4.) Talk about alcohol. Underage drinking is common on the majority of college campuses. Unfortunately, alcohol use appears to lead to more negative consequences for students with ADHD than for students without the disorder. Consequences can range from relationship problems and academic difficulties to risky sexual behavior and physical injury.

Talk to your child about the risks of alcohol use and encourage him not to drink. This is a serious topic that warrants a serious conversation. Refrain from sharing alcohol-related stories about your own college days unless they convey a clear message about a lesson that was learned the hard way.

5.) Talk about money. The inattention and impulsivity that are part of ADHD can interfere with money management. Make sure you and your child have a clear plan in place for how money will be handled. If impulsive spending is a concern, help your child by keeping the bulk of her spending money in a savings account. On a monthly basis, transfer a predetermined amount into her personal checking account.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Love and Merit

From The New York Times

By David Brooks
April 24, 2015 

David Brooks
There are two great defining features of child-rearing today. First, children are now praised to an unprecedented degree. As Dorothy Parker once joked, American children aren’t raised; they are incited. They are given food, shelter and applause. That’s a thousand times more true today. Children are incessantly told how special they are.

The second defining feature is that children are honed to an unprecedented degree. The meritocracy is more competitive than ever before. Parents are more anxious about their kids getting into good colleges and onto good career paths. Parents spend much more time than in past generations investing in their children’s skills and résumés and driving them to practices and rehearsals.

These two great trends — greater praise and greater honing — combine in intense ways. Children are bathed in love, but it is often directional love. Parents shower their kids with affection, but it is meritocratic affection. It is intermingled with the desire to help their children achieve worldly success.

Very frequently it is manipulative. Parents unconsciously shape their smiles and frowns to steer their children toward behavior they think will lead to achievement. Parents glow with extra fervor when their child studies hard, practices hard, wins first place, gets into a prestigious college.

This sort of love is merit based. It is not simply: I love you. It is, I love you when you stay on my balance beam. I shower you with praise and care when you’re on my beam.

The wolf of conditional love is lurking in these homes. The parents don’t perceive this; they feel they love their children in all circumstances. But the children often perceive things differently.

Children in such families come to feel that childhood is a performance — on the athletic field, in school and beyond. They come to feel that love is not something that they deserve because of who they intrinsically are but is something they have to earn.

These children begin to assume that this merit-tangled love is the natural order of the universe. The tiny glances of approval and disapproval are built into the fabric of communication so deep that they flow under the level of awareness. But they generate enormous internal pressure, the assumption that it is necessary to behave in a certain way to be worthy of love — to be self-worthy.

The shadowy presence of conditional love produces a fear, the fear that there is no utterly safe love; there is no completely secure place where young people can be utterly honest and themselves.

On the one hand, many of the parents in these families are extremely close to their children. They communicate constantly. But the whole situation is fraught. These parents unconsciously regard their children as an arts project and insist their children go to colleges and have jobs that will give the parents status and pleasure — that will validate their effectiveness as dads and moms.

Meanwhile, children who are uncertain of their parents’ love develop a voracious hunger for it. This conditional love is like an acid that dissolves children’s internal criteria to make their own decisions about their own colleges, majors and careers.

At key decision-points, they unconsciously imagine how their parents will react. They guide their lives by these imagined reactions and respond with hair-trigger sensitivity to any possibility of coldness or distancing.

These children tell their parents those things that will elicit praise and hide the parts of their lives that won’t. Studies by Avi Assor, Guy Roth and Edward L. Deci suggest that children who receive conditional love often do better in the short run. They can be model students. But they suffer in the long run.

They come to resent their parents. They are so influenced by fear that they become risk averse. They lose a sense of agency. They feel driven by internalized pressures more than by real freedom of choice. They feel less worthy as adults.

Parents two generations ago were much more likely to say that they expected their children to be more obedient than parents today. But this desire for obedience hasn’t gone away; it’s just gone underground. Parents are less likely to demand obedience with explicit rules and lectures. But they are more likely to use love as a tool to exercise control.

The culture of the meritocracy is incredibly powerful. Parents desperately want happiness for their children and naturally want to steer them toward success in every way they can. But the pressures of the meritocracy can sometimes put this love on a false basis. The meritocracy is based on earned success. It is based on talent and achievement.

But parental love is supposed to be oblivious to achievement. It’s meant to be an unconditional support — a gift that cannot be bought and cannot be earned. It sits outside the logic of the meritocracy, the closest humans come to grace.