The Most Important Thing You Can Do This Summer: Read 10+5+5

Best Tip for Summer Reading | The Being Well Center

By mid-July, it happens. Soccer camp, popsicles by the pool, and road trips have ruled the days. But now, that first nagging thought blossoms: “Back to School is coming.” And with that comes fear of the Summer Slide.

Summer Slide happens as kids take a three-month break from reading, writing, and arithmetic. The school skills pursued so diligently over the year backslide from lack of use. All of us (kids, moms, dads, and even family pets) need a breather from the familiar tears-over-homework-at-the-kitchen-table scene, and summer can be that rejuvenating break for everyone. But is there a way to enjoy summer, avoid the dreaded Summer Slide, and head toward school success instead of catch-up?

Over our years of counseling kids and families through the Summer Slide to a successful transition into school, we’ve found one simple tip makes a huge difference: The Read 10+5+5 Summer Strategy.

Best Tip for Summer Reading | The Being Well Center

The Read 10+5+5 Summer Strategy

Reading skills need relatively little maintenance to stay fresh over summer, but neglecting the reading could have noticeable consequences at the start of the school year.

You’ll be amazed at how investing just 20 minutes a day, 3-5 times a week, in enjoying and discussing reading will have your child ready to jump right back into school.

The 10+5+5 formula is simple: 10 minutes of independent reading (or reading to younger, emerging readers), plus 5 minutes of writing about what’s been read, plus 5 minutes of discussing the reading with a grown-up.

10 Minutes Reading

Best Tip for Summer Reading | The Being Well Center

image via Flickr by EvelynGiggles

Require your children to read 10 minutes a day, 3-5 days a week or more. Make it a fun, relaxed time—pick cozy reading spots indoors or out, take a reading “field trip” to a coffee shop, or rearrange the bedroom to include a special reading chair or bean bag. Maybe your child has to finish his 10 minutes reading before video games. Maybe she can settle in to read while dinner’s being prepped. The time of day doesn’t matter, just the habit.

How to Find Books that Hold Interest

Especially for struggling readers, even 10 minutes of reading time can seem like an eternity and lead to power struggles. Fresh, interesting reading material can make all the difference. For ideas on great books specific to your child’s interests, age, and reading level, consult the expertise of your local librarian or peruse these expert guides:

What to Read When by Pam Allyn

The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease

Guys Read: Funny Business by Jon Scieszka

121 Books: A Very Subjective Guide to the Best Kid Books of All Time by Andy Ward

Summer Reading for 7-9 year olds by Tsh Oxenreider

Summer Reading for 10-12 year olds by Tsh Oxenreider

Relax it for summer: It’s summer, not school, so shoot for fun, interactive reading materials. Expand your definition of “books” to include things like magazines, graphic novels, comics, picture books, and newspapers. If it’s interesting to your child and can qualify as written material, let them explore it. The only rule here is that they have to spend 10 dedicated minutes reading.

5 Minutes Writing

 Once your child has finished 10 minutes reading, they should immediately turn to writing for 5 minutes about what they’ve read. The goal in this step is to encourage reading comprehension and enhance understanding.

If your child eagerly dives into writing about what he’s read, let him run with it.

If your child isn’t sure where to begin, you might write a question at the top of her reader’s journal page to prompt her thinking. Here are some strategy questions that stimulate responses to reading:

  • Summarizing: Leave the top of the page blank for an illustration of what has been read and the bottom half lined for a short written summary of what happened in the story.
  • Connecting: “This reminds me of…”
  • Questioning: Write down a quote from what you read and answer, “This makes me wonder/question…” or “I’m confused…”
  • Visualizing: Write down a quote from what you read and answer (or illustrate), “I get a picture in my head…”
  • Determining Importance: “This is really important…”
  • Synthesizing: “I get it! This reading makes me think about…”

Younger readers can participate in 5 Minutes Writing too—illustrating a scene from the story is as valid a response as writing words about it. They’re still thinking, summarizing, and expressing what they’ve understood. Goal accomplished!

Relax it for summer: Don’t worry about grammar, spelling, or editing in this writing step. Make the process fun by purchasing a new notebook for a Reader’s Journal. Buy a new pen or pencil. Find a dedicated spot in your house to keep the reading materials so they’re easy to locate when reading time rolls around.

5 Minutes Discussing

image via Flickr by Paul Hamilton

image via Flickr by Paul Hamilton

You may be the most critical part of your child’s summer reading experience. At some point after your children have finished their 10 Minutes Reading and 5 Minute Writing, take 5 minutes to discuss with them what they’ve read and thought about.

Your questions can be open ended or scripted. What matters is that your interest in your child, her activity, and her thoughts is sincere.   You may wait until bedtime when the house is quiet to discuss. You may bring it up while lounging at the pool. You may make a ritual of sitting with a glass of lemonade for 5 minutes of undivided attention when you get home from work. Or, you may outsource and call the grandparents for a telephone book report!

Relax it for summer: Be a listener, not a teacher. You are under no pressure to teach, guide, instruct, or assess. This is summer, the days are long and lazy, and you’re simply providing an interested, open audience to listen to your child’s thoughts. Some questions you might use to prompt the discussion:

  • What was most interesting?
  • What did it remind you of?
  • What did you wonder about as you were reading?
  • What part do you think I would enjoy reading?

Parents Can Read 10+5+5 too!

The most powerful move you can make to prevent summer slide is to model Read 10+5+5 for your kids. Why should kids have all the reading fun? Read 10+5+5 could be a great initiative to kickstart your summer reading list! Read 10+5+5 is an amazingly powerful way to connect with your kids and give yourself some well-deserved relaxation and meditation time in the process. Pick up a book and read alongside them! Pick up a pen and journal with them! Take 5 minutes to tell them what you’ve been reading and thinking.

 

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Should Your ADHD Child Help Pay for College?

Should Your Child Pay for College? | The Being Well Center

image via Flickr, jamesjoel

Someone you know taking college expenses for granted?

Over the last 10 years, as we have seen increasing numbers of new patients enter our Confidence@College program, we have been shocked by the number of kids who take parental financial support for college expenses for granted.

Tuition, room and board, meal tickets, books, new computer, dorm furnishings, toiletries, laundry, pizza, and beer . . . It all adds up to the second biggest investment parents will make in their lives.  Most college-age kids we’ve met don’t really have a clue!

Parents sure do, and the expense is one of the major sources of angst when their kid heads off to college . . . “will he make good on this huge investment?”

Lack of finances is the number one reason for falling graduation rates in the U.S.

It’s easy for kids to be sheltered from the expensive reality of college when most parents see a college education or post-high school training as a necessity in today’s world and feel it is their responsibility to make it happen.  In today’s economy, large numbers of parents actually can’t fulfill this responsibility; in fact, lack of finances is the number one reason for falling graduation rates in the U.S.  Other more fortunate families take a “do whatever it takes approach”, including:

  • Work an extra job
  • Long-term savings plan
  • 529 accounts
  • Selling assets
  • Home equity loans
  • Grant or other aid from colleges
  • Gov’t sponsored loans
  • Hunt for scholarship opportunities
  • Gift from family and grandparents

Parents are writing the college essays for their children

More often than not, these financial efforts exclude their child.  At most, the parent has to nag him/her about completing an essay for a scholarship application.  A significant number of the parents we work with have actually written part or all of college essays out of the frustration or the need to meet a deadline!

Student loan crisis could be our next big financial disaster

Some parents set the expectation that their child will sign a promissory note and commit to paying back all of the loan money if they fail to graduate.  For most of the kids we see, this large negative consequence may strike some fear initially but is seen by most as something in the distant future that they’ll deal with if they have to.

Trouble is, without some type of degree or certificate the likelihood of getting a decent paying job that will make it possible to repay this obligation is small.  It should be no surprise that the highest rate of college loan defaults is in situations where the student fails to graduate.  Escalating college costs have pushed the student loan crisis into position to become our next big national financial disaster.

Should Your Child Help Pay for College? | The Being Well Center

image via Flickr, Charlie Kaijo

Take a baby step and ask your child to contribute financially

Many parents take a baby step in the right direction when they ask their child throw something into the pot.  Maybe it is a chunk of their savings account built up from mowing lawns, babysitting, having a part-time job, or from birthday and graduation gifts.

Kids often push back and negotiations often end in them having to cover the costs of their books or their monthly entertainment.

In our experience, this is rarely coupled with the establishment of a monthly budget for expenditures and we’ve seen many kids spend their contributions for the year in one month buying pizza and drinks for everybody at midnight, buying a new Xbox, or frequently going out with new friends to party!  Then, what are parents to do?  Certainly most give an irate lecture, but it’s pretty unrealistic for them to say that they’re not going to give their child any more money for the rest of the semester.

Make the student pay a “ticket of admission”

In reality, helping kids meet the demands of financial responsibility that come with college is a serious and complex issue that requires targeted attention and ongoing support particularly for students with ADD/ADHD.

We’ve found that one relatively simple, yet profound, step that parents can take is to set an expectation for the student to give the parents a set amount of money before the start of each college year.  Payment of some amount by the child represents the purchase price of a “ticket of admission” to the parent’s checkbook or signature on a loan.

The actual dollar amount of this down payment isn’t critical but it should be enough to stretch the student to some degree . . . something in the ballpark of $750-$1500 is about right.

For most students this means getting (and keeping) a full-time job (or two part-time jobs), saving money rather than impulsively spending it on food, entertainment, etc. and making sacrifices.  To save this amount of money and contribute it by a certain date requires some of the same life skills it takes to be successful at college.

Pay the price, feel the pride

When kids meet this expectation they feel the pride of accomplishment, feel more mature and take a more serious approach to college. 

This “skin in the game” often helps them choose the pain of self-discipline over the pain of regret when temptations arise to kick back rather than bear down.

It’s not a perfect solution but it moves things in the right direction.

Re-invest for your child’s future success

Some parents use the contribution as the starting point to establish a monthly budget for their child and develop a plan to redistribute the money back to the student in agreed amounts during the school year.

Others simply take the money, quietly invest it and then return it (with dividends) to the student when they earn a diploma . . . it can be the down payment on a car or condo/home to jump start their future!

Your Child Should Pay for College | The Being Well Center


At Confidence@College we have lots of strategies to help protect parents’ investment!  Our committed staff always has a “skin in the game” and goes the extra mile to ensure success.  Call us now to set up a Discovery Session and experience the confidence we can give you and your child.

What Happens After ADD/ADHD Medication?

What actually happens when a person starts taking ADD/ADHD medications?

At a most basic level, ADD/ADHD medications work to increase an individual’s arousal level to some greater or lesser degree. In addition to becoming more alert, he becomes more reflective, less distractible, and better able to focus and sustain his concentration for longer periods of time. He begins to tune in to the impact of his behavior and the quality of his performance.

image via Flickr, devinf

image via Flickr, devinf

As a result of these improvements in attention, the person’s overall awareness of himself improves; he begins to think – to use that little voice in his head. This, in turn, makes for improved self-control and more effective problem-solving.

How these dramatic changes in attention actually affect individuals with ADD varies considerably depending upon their underlying temperament, status of their skills and abilities, and the circumstances of their lives. For the majority of individuals, at least initially, this can be an awe inspiring experience similar to that which I went through when I first got my glasses: “Wow, there are leaves on the trees.” I was obsessed for several days with looking at people’s faces, enthralled with the features I had not noticed for years and I rejoiced that I really didn’t need to buy a new TV . . . the picture was sharp and clear!

I have had many individuals express this same type of wonderment about their new world when starting medication. Some voraciously read for hours at a time, some started obsessively cleaning the house, some marveled at their ability to think clearly, and some talked incessantly sharing ideas that had been bottled up for years.

On the other hand, for some, the honeymoon is short lived. That’s because everything that happens when someone starts paying attention for the first time is not necessarily positive. For a child, this might mean a sudden realization that he is flunking at school, is behind the 8-ball at home, and that others have been laughing at him, not with him. Similarly, with an adult, it can be devastating for her to tune into the fact that she has $40,000 in credit card debt, is 50 pounds overweight, and is in a relationship based on need, not love.

Such sudden realizations of the circumstances of life and ADD’s impact can precipitate the emergence of new problems like depression and anxiety, which require support, management and, sometimes, other medical treatments. This is one of the key reasons I believe the medications should never be used by themselves, but always in combination with other supportive therapies.


Dr. Liden is the Founder and Medical Director of The Being Well Center, located in Pittsburgh, PA.  For more of his 30-years’-expertise insights into effective treatment of ADD, download ADD/ADHD Basics 101.  Join our discussion on the 7 Keys to Successful (and Safe) Medication Treatment

No Pill, No Problem: Why I Denied My Son Had ADD/ADHD

image via Flickr, Angel Breton

image via Flickr, Angel Breton

There has been a great deal of heated public debate about the use and misuse of medication in the treatment of ADD. This debate has been clouded by intense reactions rooted in strong attitudes, beliefs, and misconceptions. As a result, many people, unnecessarily, fear the use of medication. It is my hope that an objective, comprehensive, and responsible discussion of medication will open some closed minds, dispel fears, calm anxiety, provide new perspectives, and clarify misunderstanding.

If the medications are so important, what stands in the way of people using them?

In my experience, one of the most common reasons people hesitate to use medication in the treatment of ADD is lack of acceptance.

There is no escaping the fact that you have a problem when you take a pill for it and, frankly, nobody wants to have a problem.

In my own circumstance, I saw the signs of ADD in my older son when he was 9 months old, but the words “Attention Deficit Disorder” didn’t touch my lips until he was 9 years old!  This was a reflection of my struggle with acceptance . . . he looked perfectly normal on the outside and I didn’t want him to have a problem on the inside. I wrote off his impulsivity and distractibility as immaturity or his being “all boy.”  In turn, I constantly nagged him and tightly structured every part of his life. By the time he finally got proper treatment with medication, I had inadvertently contributed to deflating his self-esteem.

When one of the most important people in your life is repeatedly saying, “You could do better if you tried harder” and despite your best efforts, you don’t measure up, you’re left thinking you must be either “lazy” or “stupid.”

So, by allowing things to get to the “last resort” before using medication, we run the risk of contributing to the development of a vicious failure cycle. The resulting low self-esteem and poor motivation make effective treatment much more difficult.

Furthermore, without the medication as an aide, the ADD individual is at high risk for over-relying on his parents, spouse, teachers, boss, and others in his life for reminders and structuring.  This promotes an unhealthy co-dependency and enables the ADD individual to avoid taking responsibility for his behavior.

How ADD Messes Up Marriage

image via Flickr, kylesteed

image via Flickr, kylesteed

What is the impact of ADD on marriage?

The impact of ADD on marriage is often profound. Over the years, in working with couples I have found extremely common events occur over and over and over again.

ADD and the Impulse Spouse

Frequently, marital difficulties begin before the wedding: the impulsive ADD individual meets someone; he quickly gets caught up in feeling—feeling loved, feeling sexual, feeling connected; with all the intensity of feeling, thinking does not occur; before the two really know each other, they get married. Maybe in a week, or a month, or six months, but very soon, one or the other and, often, both know they have made a terrible mistake.   Years later, they are in my office trying figure out what to do now.

ADD and the Child-Spouse

For couples that chose to marry after getting to know each other, the key issues are different. Frequently, I see them when the spouse who does not have ADD has reached his limit.   When they married, he loved her but now he has had enough. He is tired of getting her out of bed with a morning phone call or two or three, tired having to walk through an obstacle course of stuff to get to the shower, tired of ordering pizza for dinner, tired of the of the impulsive spending, tired of paying late fees because the bills were lost, tired of folding the laundry at midnight . . . he wanted a partner and feeling resentful that he has a child.

ADD and the Insensitive Spouse

There are still other couples that make their way to my office when the partner without ADD feels that her spouse is just not as connected to her as she had hoped. While he is a nice guy, he seems insensitive to her emotions, oblivious to her stresses, and in his own little world from after dinner to bedtime when she needs to talk.   Her conclusion is that she either has married an insensitive jerk or he doesn’t love her anymore. My experience with these couples is that, most often, neither of these is true. Rather, she has married a good man with ADD who still loves her. His poor attention, however, interferes with his ability to read between the lines, tune into nonverbal cues, and monitor his own lack of responsiveness.


Have you had relationships struggle or fail and now suspect the roots trace back to ADD’s challenges?  Looking for a change?  Get started with Dr. Liden’s book, ADD Basics 101, currently available as a free download e-book.

Follow Up Care for ADD Medication

How often should an individual with ADD be checked once he starts medication?

image via Flickr, Kate Ter Haar

image via Flickr, Kate Ter Haar

Once the proper medication regimen has been established and the initial adjustment phase is over, my bias is that ADD individuals should participate in follow-up with a clinician at least monthly until all areas of his dysfunction are resolved or stabilized. This can be with a physician who performs brief med-checks and probes patient compliance with all parts of the treatment plan.

Alternatively, follow-up can be with a counselor, ADD coach, tutor, or other professional implementing the treatment plan and communicating to the physician about progress, persistent problems, and observed or reported medication side effects.

Regardless of the frequency of these follow-up visits, I see all of my patients for whom I am prescribing medication every three months for a more comprehensive medication review visit.

Include the Parent or Spouse

I strongly encourage both parents or the spouse to attend these visits with the ADD child or adult. At these appointments, I check height, weight, blood pressure, and heart rate and perform a targeted physical exam when there are specific health concerns. Each patient also participates in a brief reassessment of his attention using specific tests that I have developed. Sometimes we reassess attention on the current dosage of medication to document its current effectiveness. Other times, we assess attention of medication to document continuing need.

I always meet with the ADD individual to directly observe his functioning and to hear his perspective about how he is performing in each major life sphere — school, work, social involvements, home life, and daily routines and responsibilities. I also probe to be certain he is taking the medication as directed and check his perceptions regarding efficacy, side effects, or other problem areas. I then meet with his parents or spouse to discuss the same areas. As ADD individuals are notoriously inaccurate in monitoring their own performance or behavior, another person’s perspective is always helpful.

At the conclusion of these visits, I give my feedback about the progress the individual is making . . . sometimes followed by a hug or pat on the back and sometimes with a kick in the rear! Together we decide whether to keep the medication regimen the same, discontinue it, or to make changes.

Anticipate the Future and Stay in Touch

image via Flickr, in transition

image via Flickr, in transition

This visit also provides me with an opportunity to provide anticipatory guidance about problems that are likely to emerge in the near future as the expectations in the individual’s life change. When appropriate, I also share my treatment recommendations with the other professionals who are working with the individual.

As individuals continue in treatment, do well, and remain stable for a long period of time, occasionally, these visits out to occur twice a year rather than quarterly.

However, this is rare; I have learned over the years that a lot can happen in an ADD individual’s life in three months, let alone six months, that can head him in the wrong direction.

More often than not, the ADD individual is not fully aware of a change in direction or has used ineffective problem solving that complicated matters rather than solved a problem. I prefer more contact rather than less when it comes to management of ADD and so do most of my patients.


Catch up on all of the discussion topics in the Pay Attention! series.


Our current blog series is excerpted from Dr. Liden’s best-selling book, Pay Attention!: Answers to Common Questions About the Diagnosis and Treatment of Attention Deficit Disorder.

Help for someone resistant to ADD treatment

add treatment, family, the being well center

What can be done to help someone who is resistant accept treatment?

How we can best deal with a family member’s resistance to evaluation and treatment varies dependent upon the individual’s age. In younger children, we rarely see resistance. Once they see the positive impact of medication and other strategies on their school experience, social interactions, and home life, most young children are happy and, actually, excited about treatment.

add treatment, family, the being well centerThere is much more resistance pre-pubertal children and young adolescents who frequently struggle with the notion that ADD and its treatment make them different from their peers. This is a developmentally appropriate response for children this age who can react intensely to anything that sets them apart . . . a pimple on the forehead, not enough pubic hair, or having to take a pill in order to pay attention. Parents of these children can promote acceptance by being empathetic and providing educational materials that demystify ADD and its treatment. In my experience, however, it is important that parents of the resistant young adolescent take charge by setting clear limits about taking medication and participating in follow-up counseling. Typically, resistance and struggles with acceptance at this age fade relatively quickly as the child matures and begins to appreciate that we are all different in some way.

When dealing with older adolescents and young adults, addressing resistance is often more challenging. We frequently see older adolescents or young adults who have struggled for years, been accused of being lazy or stupid, or been told that they could do it if they just tried harder. After years of failure, many of these young people develop a hard exterior shell, an “I don’t give a damn” attitude to cover up a very low and damaged self-esteem, and intense resistance to help. While educational materials and frank discussions about ADD and its long-term consequences can sometimes help to overcome the resistance, it is often necessary for parents to focus on establishing firm limits and to stop enabling in order to motivate the older adolescent or young adult to comply with treatment. This may mean taking away the car, refusing to provide spending money or, in the case of the young adult, withdrawing the comfort and support of continuing to live at home.

Addressing resistance to evaluation and treatment with an adult, particularly a spouse can be tricky. Adults may have many reasons for not wanting to become involved in treatment. Some may have developed a version of that hardened, self-protective shell and, belligerently proclaim, “I’m just fine the way I am!” Many adults with ADD, as a consequence of their poor self-monitoring, truly do not see the problems that a spouse, close friend or even co-worker sees. When this is the case, it is important for significant others to provide direct feedback when problem behaviors occur and be careful to avoid enabling, co-dependent behaviors that can mask the impact of untreated ADD. Learning to detach, let go, and take care of himself are important steps for the spouse of the adult with ADD.


Our current blog series is excerpted from Dr. Liden’s best-selling book, Pay Attention!: Answers to Common Questions About the Diagnosis and Treatment of Attention Deficit Disorder.