(This is for you Tina!)
August 17, 2011
With just two weeks of summer left, the new school year is on my mind daily. It has been a wonderful summer for us. I hope that your summer has been just as lovely.
We would like to start off on the right foot this year. To bring you up to speed, we ended seventh grade on the left foot. We did not have a smooth transition with guidance counselors. We did not have an opportunity to discuss the revisions for Amanda’s 504 plan. We did have a meeting with Ms. R. and the seventh grade teachers. Though she is wonderful, it was not a positive or productive use of everyone’s time. I am hopeful that we can start new and work together to provide a happy and successful school year for Amanda, her teachers and us (her parents).
Please review the attachment and let me know when we can meet with the new team of teachers. I have also included an introduction letter to the eighth grade teachers as well as information from Sandra Rief, M.A. who is one of today's leading speakers, authors and consultants on how to reach and teach children with learning, attention, and behavioral difficulties.
I look forward to your call. Thank you.
CC: DK, principal
Our commitment as a parent is to follow through making sure that Amanda completes her homework. We will permit her schedule to allow for several hours of homework after school. I would like to discuss having the 504 Plan read as follows:
• Provide a 2nd set of textbooks/novels to be kept at home. Allow Amanda to use a class text during school. (Slightly different than current wording)
• When working on group projects, place Amanda in a group that will maximize her ability to work and minimize distractions & disorganization. Use of peer buddy, as appropriate.
• Provide study guides at least 2 days prior to tests/quizzes.
• Due to executive functioning weaknesses, establish a homework planner system in which Amanda records her homework for a given subject and the teacher initials. Parents check & initial planner each night.
• Morning check-in with teacher to make sure that Amanda is organized and has assignments ready to submit.
• Allow Amanda to use a "Homework Folder" or other system that helps to develop her executive functioning skills.
• Alert Mr/Mrs. K immediately by phone or e-mail when Amanda fails to submit homework or class work assignment on due date.
• After parents have been alerted by phone or e-mail, allow Amanda to submit missing assignment(s) without penalty while executive functioning skills are being strengthened, the next day.
• Work with Amanda to establish a plan that can be used in class to help bring her back to task when she has difficulty focusing & completing tasks. (Positive, not negative)
• Preferential seating closest to the area of instruction/instructor.
• Divide workload into manageable chunks. Remind Amanda to check for errors before submitting work to teacher.
• Extended time for classroom tests/quizzes, as needed. Small group testing, when possible.
• Standardized Tests: Test will be given in a small group in a separate room, extended time as needed, Directions read & clarified.
We do not feel that the current 504 plan is improving her academic performance. She continues to flounder throughout the years. We understand that this document will not make her bring home “good” grades. We are not interested in that. The purpose of a 504 Plan is to recognize a student’s needs and to provide the framework for accommodating those needs!
Resources from author Sandra Rief:
• The ADD/ADHD Checklist: A Practical Reference for Parents and Teachers
• How to Reach and Teach Children with ADD/ADHD: Practical Techniques, Strategies and Interventions
• The ADHD Book of Lists: A Practical Guide to Helping Children and Teens with Attention Deficit Disorders
Teacher flexibility, commitment, and willingness to work with the student on a personal level. This means putting forth the time, energy, and extra effort required to really listen to students, be supportive, and make changes and accommodations as needed.
Training & knowledge about ADD/ADHD. It is essential that teachers are aware that this problem is physiological and biological in nature.
Modifying assignments, cutting the written workload! What takes an average child 20 minutes to do, often takes an ADHD student hours to accomplish (particularly written assignments). There is no need to do EVERY worksheet, math problem, or definition. Be OPEN to making exceptions. Allow student to do a more reasonable amount (e.g. every other problem, half a page). Ease up on handwriting requirements and demands for these students. Be sensitive to the extreme physical effort it takes these children to put down in writing what appears simple to you.
Limit the amount of homework. Be flexible...cut homework down to a manageable amount. If student is not able to complete class work, do not send home in addition to homework, as it is unlikely student will be able to complete it that evening. You will need to prioritize & modify.
Providing more time on assessments. These students (often very intelligent children) frequently know the information, but can't get it down, particularly on tests. Be flexible in permitting students with these needs to have extra time to take tests, or/and allow them to be assessed verbally.
Teacher sensitivity about embarrassing or humiliating students in front of peers. Self-esteem is fragile; students with ADD/ADHD typically perceive themselves as failures. Avoid ridicule. Avoid projecting failure. Preservation of self-esteem is the primary factor in truly helping these children succeed in life.
Assistance with organization. Students with ADD/ADHD have major problems with organization and study skills. They need help and additional intervention to make sure assignments are recorded correctly, their work space and materials are organized, notebooks and desks are cleared of unnecessary collections of junk from time to time, and specific study skill strategies are used.
Value students' differences and help bring out their strengths. Provide many opportunities for children to demonstrate to their peers what they do well. Recognize diversity of learning styles and individual approaches in you classroom.
Belief in the student---not giving up when plans A,B, and C don't work. There are always plans D, E, F,...Success will require going back to the drawing board frequently. These children are worth the extra time and effort! Example - Plan A is for Amanda to bring her calculator to class. Plan B is for parents to send an extra calculator to be kept in the classroom for Amanda to use, if/when plan A fails.
We did this at the beginning of sixth grade. We needed to do it at the beginning of seventh grade. Amanda started strong. She made the honor roll. She was like a completely different child. No one can explain why. Only God knows. The teachers developed this "false" if you want to call it, image of her and her capabilities. Then she fell back in to the "same old" Amanda. What does it all mean? Again, only God knows.
We would like to introduce ourselves and give you a picture of our home life. We want you to get to know us, because we are going to get to know you quite well.
CK, BA in Marine Science from Kutztown University
Fifteen years in the Molecular Biology Department
TK, BS in Art Education from Kutztown University
Preschool Teacher - A church of LIVING HOPE
The day begins with medication, Concerta 18mg. We try to offer Amanda healthy food choices. Our family does not eat fast food because:
1. It is costly.
2. It is not healthy.
Amanda's diet has improved over the last two years. She eats fish, chicken, steak and pork. She has an occasional vegetable but prefers fruit. She loves carbs. We have experimented with her diet by taking her off of all gluten and wheat products. No change in behavior was exhibited.
Adequate rest is very important to our family. The children are upstairs at 8:30 pm, when our schedule permits. They are given 30 minutes to wind down. But lights go out at 9 pm.
1. Wake at 6:15 am
2. Rise at 6:30 am
5. Exit at 7:30 am
Amanda has a dry erase board with the following tasks that must be completed and checked off:
As you can see we are very structured.
We limit television during the week.
We do not have Wii or Playstation but they do have Nintendo DS and IPods. The children are not permitted to use them on a school night.
We have visited medication on numerous occasions and continue to experiment with drug types and dosage.
1. Third grade - Adderall 10 mg
2. Fourth grade - Adderall 10 mg, 15 mg and 20 mg
3. Fifth grade - Adderall 10 mg and Concerta 18 mg
4. Sixth grade - Concerta 18 mg
5. Seventh grade – Concerta 18 mg
Amanda is under the care of our pediatric group. They are consulted on a regular basis.
Amanda has been observed by two psychologists outside of school. She was evaluated in second and fifth grade by the school psychologist. She was also evaluated by the school psychiatrist in fifth grade.
For a brief time, we hired a tutor.
Currently Amanda said she does not love nor hate school. She knows she is there to learn and hopes to have fun while doing it.
We have set the bar very low for Amanda. We ask that she try her hardest and do her best. When Amanda brings home a 72%, it is equivalent to an A in our home. We celebrate all grades. We encourage her no matter what the paper says. We could not love her any more or any less if she was a straight A student.
Amanda's self-esteem is low. Her best friend received straight A’s EVERY marking period last year .In June, Amanda was completing math homework and we visibly saw the information click. She was beaming. It almost brought tears to our eyes to see what a little encouragement could do for her self-esteem.
We are afraid that with the No Child Left Behind, that Amanda will fall between the cracks and just be pushed on to be the next teacher's burden. We have been told time and time again that it just gets harder and that the teachers will do less for our child.