I purchased this book from their vendor set up. I am about 2/3 thru.
This is an insight behind the beginning of their mission/company
and discusses the challenges of having a distractible child,
and ways to help minimize the behaviors. And after hearing her speak,
I am not surprised that this is punctuated throughout with Melinda's humor.
Helpful insight for anyone dealing with these issues.
The Distractible Child-part I
birth - elementary age
Speaker: Melinda Boring
(degree in Education, and Masters in Speech Language Pathology)
I actually was able to talk with Melinda and her hubby, Scott prior to this session. I wanted to be sure to introduce myself because I had reviewed some items of theirs for the TOS review crew (love the Heads Up! Frames they sent). I am thankful for those because they help my son stay on the line he is reading [and not skip around] as well as help target areas I want him to focus on. For more info on them, you can read that review here. These folks are wonderful. It was clear that they truly want to help other families and it shows thru their kindness. If you ever have the opportunity to hear them speak or visit their vendor booth at a convention-do so. I also know that Melinda wrote an article for the Special Needs Planner for TOS-which is especially designed to address SN issues.
I knew the minute she started this lecture that it was going to be a fun and informative one. Melinda spent some time highlighting life at the Boring homestead (which is far from boring) and then dove into some ways to help eliminate or at the very least, minimize the distractions that cause the child to not focus or putz thru their work-making the school day drag on and on. I am considering applying some of these techniques to my lovely hubby because if he were in school today-he'd definitely be labeled as unable to sit and focus without being distracted. I noticed a few things I also do-so I guess we now know the apples did not fall far from the tree. :)
I will highlight some of the lecture for you, but it certainly isn't all of it. Her book is a great source for ideas and their website has the goodies she suggests.
Tips for the learning environment:
- Keep everything off the work area (this is for those that seem to find anything and everything grabbing their attention)
- Allow for controlled movements (I am thinking this is where the little do-dads come into play-they can select one to a couple items that they can manipulate while working. Such as a squeeze ball or wind up critter [like the frog I bought] or a stetchy man or the Wikki-Stix) something that allows for a release of their energy without them bouncing off the walls themselves.
- Avoid cluttered worksheets or reading assignments (she blocked off areas with paper that was not written on and left only open the area she wanted her son/daughter to read. Clever. It meant he read only that little area and his eyes were not overwhelmed with the other business on the page)
- Use contrast (so put the worksheet/assignment on top of a colored piece of paper [folders, larger paper that is colored] to outline or frame the worksheet. I should think at least a 1/2" border or more would suffice in getting their attention. Kinda like a frame for a picture except the frame is bright and the picture is the paper they working on).
- Have a reminder weight on them (for her daughter, they made a kitty that was filled with sand [now gravel] that weighed enough to help "hold her down". I am thinking this is a good idea for those kids that "fall out of their chairs" or get up constantly and may not even know why-esp. when they are not done working on their assignment/project. She said to have it on their lap about 20 mins. and then take it off for 20 then if need be put back on and so forth. That way they don't get too accustomed to the weight which would make it ineffective). Visit their site and take a look at their weighted kitty and turtles. I picked one up at the vendor booth and they do weigh more than I thought-so these are serious stay in your seat critters. We have a real kitty that does take over one's lap so I think we have this covered in our home. But if I see we need one-well I now know a good solution to fixing it.
Tips for Structuring Time:
- Predict time needed (this is done with a timer. If your child gets distracted by the noise of the ticking, then use a timer that is silent [which they sell])
- Give assignments one at a time
- Provide feedback in a timely manner
- check with the child frequently during tasks (this may not always be possible tho)
- Reward attention (this is the positive approach-mention how well they are working and whatnot instead of always noticing what they are not doing)
HERE IS WHERE WORKBOXES will be a HUGE blessing to you. They met just about everything she mentioned as a help. They have all the stuff they need in the box so the child won't get distracted and become "lost" looking for a pencil or a glue stick b/cuz it will be right there for them. The assignments are in small slices and they only do one box at a time-so they know how much they need to do and what it is they are to do. They can see where they are at in their day of assignments and know that when they finish the last box, they are done. These have changed the way we do school and I even have an entire blog dedicated to ideas/helps and how to use them. You can visit my What's in the Box? blog to get more insight regarding this awesome method of organizing and streamlining your schooling.
- Use auditory signals to get their attention (I do this and never even realized I was-LOL. Use a sound of a bell or whistle or clap to get them to get back on track)
- For fidgeters: using the little toys that keep their hands busy will help redirect their attention. She mentioned something that I have noticed a lot in my life-that many adults will jingle their keys (or snap the pen or the like) and that is because they are in need of fidgeting to focus (my words not hers but you get the idea). Wouldn't cha know-just the other day at the doctor's office a guy came in and was constantly jingling his pocket change/keys (I wanted so badly to go to the guy and give him a busy item like a flour balloon**). LOL Maybe I should carry around several of those goodies to give adults, so they will have a less noisy item to fuss with!
- Use novelty, props or storytelling to help promote their focus and attention (her daughter enjoyed getting her stuffed critters together to re-enact a story or lesson, which I am sure she would then remember much better than if she was staring at some words on a page).
- Allow child to draw or be busy whilst the teacher is speaking/reading (I HAVE to use this technique with my kids all the time-always. My dd draws and my son will color, play with something or build with legos/toys or literally be rolling on the floor or walking around the coffee table whilst I read/instruct. They DO retain better when they are moving/fidgeting and I stand by this recommendation whole heartedly!)
- Take a picture of say the toy area all cleaned up proper like. Then have that picture handy and say to the child that you want them to clean up and make the area look "like the picture" (this is a Waldorf method idea and is effective-esp. for visual learners).
**flour balloon is a high quality balloon filled with flour and then tied off. The child can squeeze and squash this to release their energy. I made one at home using a funnel and flour. Altho it isn't as big as theirs, it works. There are those squeeze balls that do the same job too.
And that wraps up this lecture. There are so many easy, little ways you can help your child-so don't despair. It is possible and it can help all of you have a smoother, less stressful day.
Oh, I wanted to mention that they have this hall pass timer thing I am seriously considering. It has two parts-one for the child (or husband who disappears whilst on a mission for ya) and the base. You program in the allotted time (up to 5 mins) and then it starts timing them when you turn it on. The base keeps track of the time too and supposedly, it will keep going [until the removable part is put back in] so you know just how much past the 5 mins. they are "late". This is a visual reminder that they have to move it to get the errand done to then quickly get back to "headquarters" to finish their work. Thinking of all the times I see my kids disappear to "go find something" or "check on something" during our mini breaks-which then becomes a lengthy vacation for them- I am so thinking this would help us out a lot. You may need one for your family too. :0)