tagline
WETA

Search LD OnLine

Get our free newsletter

advertisement

Forums
Teaching Students with LD and ADHD

Middle School Blues--Helping a Child That Is Still Behind


Author Message
Joined: Nov 15, 2004
Posts: 25
Other Topics
Posted Aug 14, 2007 at 5:31:45 PM
Subject: Middle School Blues--Helping a Child That Is Still Behind

Hi Everyone,

I'm asking for some help, suggestions, advice, and/or direction for my 14-year-old son. He attends a private school for students with dyslexia and other LDs. We just received his SAT scores for last year and they were not good. Test scores are given in grade equivalency and he scored around 5th grade in reading, comprehension, and vocobulary; 6.5 grade for mathmatics (problem solving and precedures); 5.9 grade for language and science. He was kept back a grade when in public school, so he is going to 8th grade this year.

How can I help him improve in these areas? He is a very hard person to motivate because he is extremely laid back and unruffled by things but I think even these scores got to him. I am terribly frustrated because I thought that he would be doing so much better than he is. I am also worried about his future if he stays at this level, too.

We do not have much money or resources at our disposal but I am willing to work hard to help him improve. I'm really tempted to take him out of school and try homeschooling to see if it will help but I don't know if this is the right solution.

Right now, we are busy reviewing pre-algebra that he did last year.

Any ideas, folks? Thank you so much.

Back to top Profile Email
anla
Joined Oct 01, 2003
Posts: 74

Other Topics

Hi,

Read what I am doing with reading decoding at www.learntoreadnow.blogspot,com. I have presented my paper and my method at various national and state conferences.

Email me if you need more info.

Anita learntoreadnow

Back to top Profile Email
geodob
Joined Feb 06, 2005
Posts: 265

Other Topics
Posted:Aug 15, 2007 5:16:37 AM

Hi Drae,
You write that he is extremely laid back and unruffled.
Lacks any motivation.
Where I'm not sure that home-schooling would motivate him?
As a 14 year old, I imagine that you probably give him a weekly allowance?
Perhaps you could cut this off, and tell him that he'll have find a part time job, to make his own weekly allowance?
When he's doing some sort of job that he doesn't like, and being paid very little.
It might motivate him a bit?

Back to top Profile Email
Drae
Joined Nov 15, 2004
Posts: 25

Other Topics
Posted:Aug 15, 2007 4:15:06 PM

Thank you for the replies!

I am not sure if it would motivate him, either. It is a combination of a lack of motivation and LDs. I would say that they LDs are more of a factor than the former. I am unsure of how to put everything in place for him so that he may catch up to where he needs to be on grade level.

It's a bit of a quandary--if I leave him in school, he'll still have to come home and 'extra' work to do for catch-up. Unfortunately, they do give quite a bit of homework at his school. If he stays here or goes, I still need a plan to help him do better.

Back to top Profile Email
scifinut
Joined Jul 11, 2005
Posts: 550

Other Topics
Posted:Aug 15, 2007 5:20:05 PM

You might want to read The Myth of Laziness by Mel Levine. I found it very helpful to figure out where some of my dd's output breakdowns were occurring.

Its important to help him understand his difficulties and strengths.

Motivation may come with more success. Find things outside of school that he can be successful at.

Remember that some kids who don't do well in school can become very successful in other environments. The "school" setting is not the real world.

scifinut mom to: ms 16, bp/adhd/anxiety/complex ld mr. 20, add/dyslexic I hear and I forget I see and I remember I do and I understand. -Anonymous

Back to top Profile Email
Janis
Joined Jun 12, 2003
Posts: 1442

Other Topics

I so agree with Scifinut's post! Read the Myth of Laziness. You have your child in an LD school which is wonderful! Understand that having your child in a good school does not mean they will necessarily "catch up" in test scores. Do provide outside activities where he can be successful. Build his strengths. Reward him for trying in school. Your child's value is never determined by a test score.

Back to top Profile Email
Drae
Joined Nov 15, 2004
Posts: 25

Other Topics
Posted:Aug 21, 2007 2:35:44 PM

I hope I didn't give the impression that I believe his problem lies in not trying hard enough--I don't feel this way. I know how it feels to be labled as lazy when you really are trying your hardest. I have ADD just like he does and I know just daily living can feel like swimming up Niagra.

He's just not motivated to improve when he does poorly. If he makes a D and he has done his best, then that is fine with us. However, if he gets a D and he has not done all that I KNOW (not assume) he can do, then there is trouble. I don't ask him to do things I know he cannot do (like be completely organized)--that is unfair. We have spent the past few days talking about some of the things he'd like to do and what he believes will help him. This has helped me to understand better what might be influencing being unmotivated (I can't do any better than this vs. This is really hard, so why bother?) or what might be beyond his abilities.

I think we just need some help in sorting out what sort of stratagies will help him learn better. Here are some of the things that I found:

Accomodations with writing: At 14, his writing is 'fixed', so we are letting him move on to keyboarding and oral answers for his work. This was a big problem in school--he had a massive amount of homework and a lot of writing with it. No one mentioned or suggested these accomodations.

Reading: With reading still behind several grade levels, it is a struggle for him to comprehend the material that he has to read in school. If it doesn't involve reading practice or language arts, he can have the material read to him.

Math: Introduce a more visual program. MUS has been suggested several times, so we're going to look into that.

I know these sound very simple and straight forward but I had assumed since he was in this school that these things were either unnecessary or 'taken care of' since these people are pros. That is my mistake. His grades had been gradually coming down over the past 2 years and I should have wondered why earlier!!!! I don't why I didn't think about how increased work load, writing assignments, major projects (like history and science fairs)could majorly tilt things for him. When we talked about it, he said he felt relieved because this will 'free up more space in his brain'.

I am proud of him. He's not the most motivated person but he is very responsible, loving, even-tempered and smooth, and wildly funny (he'd make a great actor). He is also a whiz at fixing cars and all those crazy cable lines going in and out of the TV/DVDs and computers.

Thanks again for the suggestions!

Back to top Profile Email
Aly
Joined Aug 01, 2006
Posts: 74

Other Topics
Posted:Aug 22, 2007 10:21:18 AM

Hi,

In your most recent post you say"

"Accomodations with writing: At 14, his writing is 'fixed', so we are letting him move on to keyboarding and oral answers for his work. This was a big problem in school--he had a massive amount of homework and a lot of writing with it. No one mentioned or suggested these accomodations."

Okay, nothing about writing is fixed. I am a middle aged, and my handwritting is not the greatest, but it has improved. If I write slowly, I can write well, at least for a short time (not for long peices). I can print beautifully if I really try hard. Actually, the most improvement since elementary school came when I took a calligraphy class in college. I can do calligraphy! It is hard, but I can do it. No matter how old we are, there is always room for improvement, be it in small incriments, or in leaps. That does not mean your son will have time to work on his handwritting during high school, but it does mean that improvement is possible. As for writting now, if he has an assignment with pages of writing, he should be allowed to type.

Take care,

Gretchen


"Never give up, never surrender" -Galaxy Quest

“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity” -Albert Einstein

“Be not afraid of growing slowly; Be afraid only of standing still” -Chinese proverb

Back to top Profile Email
Drae
Joined Nov 15, 2004
Posts: 25

Other Topics
Posted:Aug 22, 2007 1:53:21 PM

Hi Gretchen!

You'll have to excuse me--I seem to be having a lot of difficulty conveying exactly what I mean here in these posts I am writing!

When I said 'fixed', I meant in the sense that the task of writing will not improve to the point where it becomes an easy, fluid task. It is a labor intensive, painstaking, slow and unpleasant task for him. It was suggested to me that because of his age and because of having years of writing being the same type of task that it always has been, that he move on to keyboarding or speech software.

I agree--there is always room for improvement.

Back to top Profile Email
geodob
Joined Feb 06, 2005
Posts: 265

Other Topics
Posted:Aug 23, 2007 3:21:56 AM

Hi Drae,
I think that your spending a few days talking with him and gaining some understanding, is one of the best things that you can do!
As to his homework overload, he may be able to get an accommodation for; 'reduced homework'?

Though you also mentioned earlier, that you were tempted to try home-schooling?
If you have the time to put in, this could be worth further consideration?
As it enables more 'self-paced' learning.
Their are also a lot online courses available, to support home-schooling.

Also in regard to 'fluent writing', their is a simple type of exercise that might help this?
Which is sometimes called; 'Air Writing'.
Where one simply practises writing large letters and words with a fully extended arm, in the air.

Back to top Profile Email
Aly
Joined Aug 01, 2006
Posts: 74

Other Topics
Posted:Aug 23, 2007 8:46:23 AM

Drae, thanks for the clarification. Now I understand :-)

I would try first to get the accomodations he needs at his school. There is, for example, a keyboard available that would allow him to type in essays for a test and then print them on any school printer. I have a student who uses one for all of her essays (she writes out the single word or letter answers).

As for improving his reading comprehension and vocabulary, does he read for fun in the summer? If not, he should and you and he may want discuss the books chapter by chapter to improve the comprehension. New vocabulary found in the book should be learned, discussed, and tied to mental imagry to help him remember it better. Review it once in a while. As for the math reasoning, are there any computer programs out there that do word problems? There used to be, but I have not looked for such in many years. Language is somewhat more challenging. How is your skill in English?

If you decide that the school is not doing enough, dispite your best efforts, you might want to check out http://virtualschoolhouse.org which is an online branch of a local charter school here in Cleveland. It specializes in helping students with special needs. I don't work there, so I have no interest in promoting it. My cousin, however, finished her high school there when her rhemetoid (sp?) arthritis made it impossible for her to sit through a school day.


"Never give up, never surrender" -Galaxy Quest

“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity” -Albert Einstein

“Be not afraid of growing slowly; Be afraid only of standing still” -Chinese proverb

Back to top Profile Email
Aly
Joined Aug 01, 2006
Posts: 74

Other Topics
Posted:Aug 23, 2007 10:30:35 AM

Hi,

I just re-read the first paragraph of your post. I am sorry to say I missed the first bit when posting my last reply. Anyhow, I just realized your child is in a private school for kids with LD's, etc.

So, theoretically, he is getting special education in all of his subjects? If so, that would mean special education English as well. That is not a bad thing, because with time it can bring up his level there.... it worked for me :-)

I was thinking about the reading and reading comprehension issues. You may want to go to http://interventioncentral.com/ and check out their reading intervention manual (see under favorite downloads). It is in PDF format. Some of the ideas there may help. Repeated reading, for example, can improve fluency. If your son struggles with fluency, there is less brain matter working on comprehension.

Also, consider for his reading for fun books that have high interest but are written only slightly above his 5th grade reading level (say 5.5). About 90-95% of the words should be known words. The 5% that are unknown words should be worked on for vocabulary, using not just flash cards, but mental imagry and other mnemonics to help him learn the words. His reading comprehension may also be partly to blame for pulling down his math, at least when it comes to word problems. Has your son read any of the Harry Potter books? One more thing, in order for you to know how readable a book is, you can do one of two things:

1) Type a passage or two in word and run the spelling and grammer checker found in the tools drop down menu. You may first have to go into tools ---> options and click on the spelling and grammer tab. Once there that "show readability statistics" is checked in the grammer area. When you run this on the passage, it will give you the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level for the readability of the passage. Then you will know if the book is too hard for your son or not.

2)You can go to http://www.interventioncentral.org/htmdocs/tools/okapi/okapi.php
to make a custom made reading probe. You don't actually need to do the probe, but you can periodically do one to see how your son is doing on a particular reading level. You can type in your from a book passage there, change the readability formula using the drop down menu to Dale-Chall (grades 4 and up) and click "Run readability analysis" Of course, if you want to make a probe, you can, and it will also give you readability.

Can you tell I took a reading interevention class?

Does any of this or my last post help?


"Never give up, never surrender" -Galaxy Quest

“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity” -Albert Einstein

“Be not afraid of growing slowly; Be afraid only of standing still” -Chinese proverb

Back to top Profile Email
Drae
Joined Nov 15, 2004
Posts: 25

Other Topics
Posted:Aug 24, 2007 1:29:57 PM

Yes, these posts are helping me enormously! I am weaving these posts together to make a fabric here!

As for the school, well, I spoke with them. I have to say that I was disappointed in the lukewarm response to the issues he is facing. I spoke with the education coordinator (she also handles testing, placement, etc)and she basically had no answers for me. I also spoke with a few other LD educators and they let me know that from what I told them, the school could stand some improvement/updating with working with these children. We decided to withdraw him because this would have been his last year anyway.

Soooo, now I am in the middle of designing a curriculum for him. I'm testing him out with the Barton system right now.
We've also pretty much settled on MUS.
Until his reading, fluency (does anyone like or recommend Great Leaps for middle schoolers?), and comprehension improves, I'm going to hold off a little with a formal language arts program.
We will definitely go book searching/shopping. Typing program is in the works.
History, science, and social studies can be covered mainly through oral and a/v right now (anyone got good sources for this?).
We are both working with the ADD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your Life book by J. Kolberg. He is awful at sequential planning for even the most simple tasks (oh, how I understand, my son!) and could seriously use some help here. If anyone knows of any other good resources for this, please pass them on!

Back to top Profile Email
marcy
Joined Oct 01, 2006
Posts: 2

Other Topics

Great Leaps is an excellent program, and it only takes about 5-10 min. a day to complete. I think you will be very happy with that program. Read Naturally is also a good fluency program, but it will take a little more time everyday. For comprehension and written languague, the University of Kansas has published several programs that are Learning Strategies, and I have found they are GREAT for middle school students and above, especially if you can work on it everyday. For written language, they have The Sentence Writing Strategy, The Paragraph Writing Strategy, and Error Monitoring Strategy. They have some excellent strategies for comprehension. I really like Visual Imagery and Self-Questioning. You will have to participate in training in order to use their materials.

Marcy Harner

Back to top Profile Email