In 2013, we’ll be delving more deeply into how some personality types and learning styles are aligned with certain learning differences…and what parents and teachers can do help honor and embrace these differences, while helping the kids play to their learning strengths.
In this guest post, Hailey Anderson highlights some of the techniques that can be used successfully with kids with ADD and ADHD by utilizing techniques that work for kids who prefer to file knowledge kinesthetically (engage in learning more effectively while moving around or interacting with manipulatives) and extraverted learners (who learn better with discussion/interaction that are more frequently seen in afterschool programs than standard, quiet classroom environments that focus on listening/reflection).
ADD (i.e., Attention Deficit Disorder) and ADHD (i.e., Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder) is a common challenge among children and young adults. While the disorder affects people of all ages, it is especially difficult for younger age children who are still learning how to control their behavior and may not have received proper diagnosis yet.
Symptoms of ADD/ADHD include the inability to pay attention, restlessness, and hyperactivity. These symptoms can have either minor or major effects on school performance, which include classroom disruption, non-compliance with school rules, and difficulty understanding and completing a task, depending on the severity of the disorder.
The good news is that schools are getting better at providing solutions to those affected by this disorder. Two solutions include: afterschool programs; and specialized school furniture to help make students more comfortable and more likely to pay attention during class.
Afterschool Learning Programs
By providing after school learning programs for students dealing with this disorder, schools can provide those students with the extra help they need without taking time away from other students during class. The student can stay in mainstream classes with his or her friends while receiving the extra help they may need in a controlled and organized environment. With a program and goals tailored to each individual’s needs, this is a great way to help students get extra learning time without a loud or busy environment to distract them. Structure and organization is the key to keeping students who suffer from ADD/ADHD on task.
Furniture Tailored to ADD/ADHD Students
Those who suffer from the disorder feel the need to constantly move around – whether it is consistent foot tapping, rocking, or bouncing around, it has been proven that allowing students the freedom to move about in their seat results in a higher ability to pay attention to the task at hand.
Virco, a leader in the school furniture industry, supports a theory called Healthy Movement. Healthy movement supports sensory integration, which refers to the way individuals sense, interact, and understand different things in their environment. The theory behind sensory integration is that an ADHD student who can move around as they please is more likely to stay engaged.
A Solution that Benefits All Students
Virco chairs have unique features that allow the user to move around without being overly distracting to other students, too. Contrary to popular belief, sitting still does not equal undivided attention – instead, students tend to zone out. Thus, this specialized school furniture is great for all students, even those who do not suffer from the disorder.
These are just a couple ways that schools are catering to the needs of those with specific learning disorders. With the help of supportive teachers, a loving family, and outside resources, students with ADD/ADHD can be just as successful (if not more) than those who don’t have a learning disability. These solutions result in higher grades, less disruption in the classroom, and happier, healthy students.
We’re finally back from Summer hiatus! Thanks to everyone who has patiently waited for new content on Kidzmet’s blog. This summer, I completed eight books on how kids temperaments shape the ways in which they are uniquely wired to learn, based on each of Carl Jung’s cognitive processes. This article illustrates why I felt it was so important to write the Playbooks for Learning. I hope you enjoy it.
To our kids’ collective success, Jen Lilienstein Kidzmet.com Founder
As parents, we have all been there. We collectively pored over BabyCenter, eagerly anticipating news that our baby had grown to the size of a grape or an avocado. Once our wee one emerged from the womb, we started talking to “expert” friends and family members as well as devouring books and websites that would tell us what developmental stage our kids would reach in the coming days, weeks or months. As they grew, we began to debate with our spouses and friends whether co-sleeping, the No Cry Sleep Solution or Ferberizing our baby would be best. (Though we may not have realized that this was actually a temperamental debate!)
As our babies became toddlers and preschoolers, we started to understand that their personalities played a big part in which form of discipline was most effective. (Time out for the child or time out for a favorite toy? Talk to them about why their actions were wrong from a logical perspective or an emotional one?) We were, in effect, translating the same message into a “language” that resonated with our kids. Gary Chapman’s best-selling Love Languages series of books has a similar message for parents—that everyone speaks in different languages when it comes to both expressing and receiving love.
As our kids grew into little learners, however, we began to move back toward a solely “developmentally appropriate” mentality. With growing class sizes and curriculum standards at both state and national levels—not to mention worldwide benchmarks—it’s becoming even more challenging for teachers to teach to anything BUT the curriculum “middle”—or thereabouts—during the school day. Standards dictate what’s developmentally appropriate to teach and learn during each grade and our kids are required to keep pace…whether that means speeding up or slowing down their developmental pace to that of their class. This aspect of learning in-and-of-itself is a challenge for teachers, kids and parents.
But, in the same way that we all found different methods to work best when disciplining, potty training, or sleep training each of our kids, we as parents need to make sure that we partner with our kids’ teachers and schools to help our kids “translate” the curriculum they receive in school into a language that they not only understand, but resonate with so that the new learning is “chunked” in a way that makes sense and gets filed in long-term memory…not just so that they can ace their Friday quizzes.
This means keying into your child’s temperament. Is your child an extravert that likes to “think out loud,” as one of my favorite personality experts, Donna Dunning, likes to say…or is she more like Susan Cain’s Quiet introvert who prefers to reflect before responding? Neither one is better, but they approach learning differently. Similarly, does your child prefer to logically analyze situations…or does he feel uncomfortable when emotion is removed from the equation? Again, neither is better…but these types of kids just think different. Something I think most of us, as parents, believe our kids should learn how to do! We need to help our kids understand that different kids arrive at conclusions in different ways because we all naturally approach problems differently. Is your child a “slow and steady wins the race” tortoise or more of a hare that thrives on the energy of a looming deadline? Keying into this difference and the project planning ramifications of this temperamental dichotomy can help make homework and projects less of a headache for you both.
The next time you sit down with your child to help with homework, please keep this in mind.Just because certain organizational, learning or study techniques worked well for you as a child (or work well for you now) does not mean they are temperamentally appropriate for your kids. There’s a reason why 89 of the Fortune 100 companies use personality type in their businesses; why eHarmony has had more that 30 million members since conception; and why Paul Tieger’s Do What You Areis a reference text in so many high school career centers. Temperamentally appropriate learning works for babies, toddlers and preschoolers when we’re teaching them the “rules of the road.” Temperamentally appropriate living works for us as adults.
It’s time for us as parents to start playing a bigger role in our school-aged kids’ education by helping them key into their temperament-based strengths as early as possible and showing them how to translate homework and school day curriculum into temperamentally appropriate lessons that still fulfill the requirements of the teacher, but gives them a deeper understanding of why the knowledge is important…even if the teacher or class naturally “thinks differently” than they do.
I stumbled across our Monsters, Inc DVD last night and one of the key themes replayed in my mind…the realization at the end of the movie that joy/laughter creates significantly more power than fear.
I think we need to revisit this theme with respect to learning and school. So many of our policy decisions right now are based on fear of falling behind and trying to teach kids the “right” ways to do things as quickly as possible, eliminating true discovery and joyful novelty from school day learning. But we’re not just eliminating opportunities for inventive, creative self-expression during the school day by slashing recess, arts and extracurricular budgets. As parents, we’re replacing “go play outside/have a dance party/fiddle around on the piano” with soccer practice/music lessons/tutoring.
This revelation, in addition to recent self-regulation studies that have shown that kids’ executive function—or the ability to control their own emotions and behavior—has diminished since the 1940s, should set off alarm bells in our minds. Why? Because the more structured the play, the more children’s private speech declines. This means that kids aren’t getting a chance to practice the all-important skill of self-regulation/executive function. And executive function is used by adults to surmount the obstacles that we encounter countless times as we work to innovate and invent as adults. (Among a host of other incredibly important skills.) More on these studies can be found here.
If we’re going to help the next generation of kids continue to invent and innovate–not just regurgitate–we need to make sure that as parents and educators we allow opportunities for our kids to experience both structured AND unstructured learning.
Let’s change our collective mantras and our own self-talk from a fearful “what haven’t they learned yet?” to a joyful “what will they think of next?”
As I speak with principals, assistant superintendents and curriculum directors each day, one of the first questions I always ask is “what is it that separates your superstar teachers from the rest of the pack?” The answer that comes back is always the same: “They are able to connect with each of their students,” “they tailor their lesson strategies to each class,” or “their classes are consistently engaged.”
Sounds a lot like another profession I was in for a couple of decades…marketing. A marketer’s job is to take a product and make it look/sound as appealing as possible to the target audience so that they’ll listen long enough to eventually be convinced to buy it based on the messages in their packaging, advertising and brochures. The selected message and advertising vehicle for products is not the same—it needs to be tweaked, tailored and massaged based on the target demographic. Focus groups are run in which all KINDS of perspectives are heard. A/B test splits are executed. Even if the message is perfected for a certain group, it will need to be modified if it’s to effectively reach a different target.
A teacher’s job is to take a concept and make it look/sound as appealing as possible to students so that they’ll engage long enough to eventually learn it based on the messages in lesson plans, homework and breakout groups. And, just as with marketing, the selected lessons and breakout groups need to be tweaked, tailored and massaged for the class based on who’s sitting in the classroom. Even if a unit is a hit with one class, the teacher will most likely need to modify it to most effectively reach their class mix either the next year…or next period.
In fact, the teacher’s job is INFINITELY harder than the marketer’s job because, while marketers can get a pat on the back for getting just a percentage of their target audience to purchase the product…the teacher is expected to get every kid in class to “buy” the concept.
Master teachers are able to do this because they often have an innate interpersonal gift. They intuitively know how to reach very different students. They are able to convince a raucous group of teenagers why geometry is and will be important to them. They are able to contextualize history in ways that students will be able to remember so that we’re not all doomed to repeat past horrors. They work magic with student breakout groups so that students are empowered to learn from each other and admire the unique strengths of their peers. They’re able to detect when a student “learns different” and help both the student and their parent modify the ways in which homework is approached so that the child has a greater chance of success with learning.
Why’s this important? Harvard & Columbia recently released the findings of a longitudinal study of 2.5 million students over 20 years that show the dramatic impact that quality teachers can have on their students. They are more likely to attend college, earn higher salaries, live in better neighborhoods and save more for retirement. They are also less likely to become pregnant as a teenager.
But earning your stripes as a quality teacher is more meaningful than just for the students. It’s a much more enjoyable profession for the teacher when she feels she’s reaching or, better yet, inspiring her students. At long last, the education and EdTech sectors are beginning to take notice and calling this new ground swell Personalization 3.0. But, at Kidzmet, we feel that what EdWeek has dubbed Personalization 3.0 isn’t using a wide enough angle lens. While the teacher-student relationship is important, so is engaging the parents as a critical member of a child’s learning team…as is beginning to harness the power of compatible student groups. In short, we believe that ALL learning relationships matter in a student’s education. Parent-student, teacher-student, parent-teacher, and student-student.
What about you? Do you feel that content positioning is as important as content pacing in educating our youth?
In our house, we’re working with my 1st grader on quickly reading letter blends instead of sounding them out. (E.g. ing, ack, ou, tion, kn, etc.) But, flashcards are boring–not just for HER but for ME.
Being that I am all about making learning FUN for kids as inexpensively as possible, I re-purposed an old board game that she’d recently become bored with–Candy Land–and made it into a reading “trick” game.
The result? My “people smart” daughter who has less of an interest in the reading-to-herself realm asked to play four times in 36 hours. It was a real treat for me to see her have so much fun learning…and to see it translate into much more fluid bedtime reading last night.
This game can easily be aged up based on your child’s grade/skill level. Try it with Latin roots to expand vocabulary or help with spelling… Try it with math skills based on their level… Or even with language verb conjugation, historical events or the periodic table.
(Want to just mix in questions with the traditional deck? Try our Candy Land printable template to insert the questions in an easy-to-use form, then print them on Avery Clean Edge business cards.)
Here’s how to do it: 1) make a BIG index card for each color with the key skill being practiced (we used the letter blend). Cut index cards in half for 6 examples of use. In the picture, we were practicing the ACK blend, so I made small index cards that used the letters BL, SN, SH, CR, R, P.
2) Use a matching symbol on the opposite side of the card so you know which little cards go with which big cards. We used hearts, diamonds and stars of each color, which gave us 18 blends to start.
3) Have your child pick one symbol “set” of each color.
4) Play Candy Land as you would normally with the CL deck, but…
(a) when you pick a SINGLE color, you have to get the right answer to make the move. In our case, my daughter had to make the correct sound. If using it with a Latin root, the child would have to know that “rupt” means “break”; if using it as a Chemistry game, they would have to know that H=hydrogren; if using for Spanish practice, the child would have to know that “jugar” means “to play”.
(b) If you get a DOUBLE color, you have to get the blend correct to move forward. In our case, my daughter had to know that “TH” and “ING” together made the word “THING”. Using the same examples as above – if the child got a double color, the question might be what does “INTER” “RUPT” mean? If using with Chemistry, what’s something that H and O make together? If using for Spanish practice, how would you conjugate “jugar” for “we”?
5) As with traditional Candy Land, whoever gets to the end first wins.
ALTERNATE VERSION: If you’ve got several kids and want to make it a learning game for the whole family, assign each child a different symbol with different skills they’re working to learn. If your 1st grader selects a red, the question will be different than your 6th grader.