“He’s Not Working to His Potential!”
Kyle, an 8th grade student with ADHD, was failing most of his classes. His teachers all agreed that his most significant problem was missing assignments. His mother was completely exasperated because she knew Kyle completed many of the assignments that his teachers never received. The two of them fought every day about homework and the arguments would get very intense. Kyle also complained that he did not understand anything that was going on in class or anything he read in a textbook. Aptitude tests indicated that Kyle was very bright, confirming exactly what all of his teachers said, “He’s just not working to his potential.”
The very first thing we did for Kyle was help him clean out his bookbag and organize all of his folders and notebooks into one streamlined binder. Kyle was so excited that 16 of his folders and notebooks had been condensed down to a 1-inch binder! It made managing papers and all of his school supplies much more manageable. Kyle’s mom promised to help encourage him a few times each week to keep it in order and Kyle agreed that some reminders from mom would probably be helpful.
The fact that Kyle was not working to his potential probably meant that he was not interested in what is going on in school. While we cannot make his classes more interesting, we did help him discover ways to learn information more quickly, which can make paying attention in class and reading a textbook much easier. We taught Kyle how to read a textbook and coached him as he practiced the strategy. We also taught Kyle how to take notes and how to prepare for tests, guiding him through the process of preparing for two upcoming tests.
Finally, Kyle and his mother learned some better ways to communicate with each other. Both acknowledged the frustrations the other person felt and each apologized for past arguments. They each agreed to carve out 15 minutes once a week to talk about Kyle’s progress in school. This time was established specifically to encourage Kyle to express his concerns or problems about school knowing that his mother would now listen instead of getting upset, frustrated, or angry. Then, they could work together to figure out solutions to a problem, set a goal for an up-coming test, or plan when they needed to go the store to pick up materials for a science project.
At the end of the next quarter, Kyle and his mother reported major improvements: The Binder System made it so much easier for Kyle to keep track of his papers and his teachers reported that, out of all of his classes, only two assignments were missing from the entire card marking. Kyle’s reading speed and comprehension increased significantly after a few weeks of practice. Kyle was so encouraged with this improvement that he actually became more interested and involved in school and used his textbooks as a tool to help him stay focused in class.
While he was trying, he did say it was a bit of a challenge to be disciplined about reviewing his notes for a few minutes every day, however he was slowly developing the routine. His mother confirmed his progress and was also very grateful that their fights had dramatically decreased. “We hardly argue about homework anymore. Interestingly, we are not arguing about as many other things, either. I think we have made a lot of progress in communicating with each other in general.” The best result was that Kyle was developing confidence in himself and began to realize that he was actually a very smart person. His next report card verified all of these positive results; he went from earning D’s & F’s to earning B’s & C’s! He was confident that he would continue to improve.