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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Are You a Helicopter College Parent?

image via Flickr, J.K. Califf

image via Flickr, J.K. Califf

For many college students, going away to school represents the first real opportunity to be on their own…some relish it, some fear it!  For many parents, this is a time when they may struggle to let go and allow their child to demonstrate self mastery, to show responsibility in meeting multiple new expectations, and to dig down deep to grow, achieve and, ultimately, graduate!

The Difference Between Encouraging Dependency and Facilitating Independence

Large numbers of parents can’t negotiate the difficult transition from encouraging dependency to facilitating independence.

As a result, they become “helicopter parents,” hovering over every aspect of their college student’s life…daily “how are you doing” phone calls, repeated text reminders, wake-up calls, go to bed admonitions, daily grade checks on the college website, over the phone sobriety checks, tightly managing the bank account, and not so subtle threats about what will happen if he or she messes up!

It never ceases to amaze us how far co-dependent parents will go to protect their child from the reality of college life challenges.

One young man who recently came to us for help because he was struggling to meet expectations (i.e., submitting monthly reports, generating narratives to describe sales calls, etc.) in a job he secured with a Fortune 500 Technology Company after graduation.  As it turns out, these were demands he never really had to face at college.  “I never wrote one paper at college.  I would send the syllabus or the rubric for an assignment to my Mom who would do the whole thing and send it back to me to give to my professor!”

Co-Dependency Starts Young

Most parents sense that this degree of co-dependency is wrong but persist because the pattern is deeply ingrained.

Oftentimes, it developed years earlier in elementary or middle school.  Nagging about homework.  Making flash cards for their child to use to study for exams.  Obsessive editing of papers and essays.  Doing the homework.  Eliminating chores.  Tolerating underage drinking or drug use.  Minimizing problems.  Blaming the teachers.  Providing rewards for doing the basics.

Once this pattern is established, it can grow ugly in high school.  The child oftentimes is dependent upon a nag or a reminder to get things done, yet becomes resentful, disrespectful, and manipulative when they get one:  “Quit nagging me!  I’ll get it done!  Why don’t you trust me?”

Such interchanges can put parents back on their heels:  “Damned if they do” (having to tolerate an “attitude” brimming with anger, intensity and negativity” or “Damned if they don’t” (fear of their child failing, losing opportunities, and not experiencing success).

Co-Dependency at College

image via Flickr, Jose Kevo

image via Flickr, Jose Kevo

When college comes along, it all gets magnified.  Parents can justify their enabling behaviors because they are only “rightfully” protecting their financial investment!

As parents, the forces behind enabling/co-dependent behavior are particularly powerful…love, protection, empathy, fear, sensitivity, sacrifice, and guilt.  So powerful, in fact, that they can sabotage all the positive things parents can do to promote their child’s independence and chances for success.

Here are some of the things they can do to trip parents up:

  • — Interfere with their ability to take an honest look at their child’s strengths and weaknesses
  • — Make them feel defensive when their child fails to meet an expectation
  • — Blind them to their child’s role in his difficulties
  • — Lead them to do for their child rather than support him to do for himself
  • — Inhibit them from imposing necessary and appropriate consequences
  • — Encourage them to blame others when things do not go smoothly
  • — Act as a barrier that prevents them from allowing their child to take on ever increasing responsibilities for himself

Because co-dependency is so common (particularly in parents of children with ADD/ADHD) and it can be a critical barrier to success at college, we encourage parents to examine their enabling tendencies before and during their child’s college years.  In our new book, Accommodations for Success we have a simple survey called “First Things First” that can help parents assess their enabling tendencies.  Check it out!  Be honest and see where you stand!  “What’s you enabling quotient?”

How to Facilitate Independence

image via Flickr, MeganLynnette

image via Flickr, MeganLynnette

Sometimes, just being more aware of enabling tendencies helps parents reduce or control them.  However, when enabling tendencies interfere with a parent’s ability to develop and /or follow through with doing the right things to promote their child’s success parents may need to reach out for help.

This may be as simple as requesting a significant other to be a source of feedback when one demonstrates thinking and behavior that is enabling in nature.  Of course, inherent in this strategy is the need to be committed to being non-defensive and accepting of the feedback!

Some parents find that it is important to develop a support network or a buddy to regularly meet with to discuss some of these difficult issues.

Some find it most helpful to meet individually with knowledgeable professionals to help find a pathway to healthy thinking and behaving when it comes to promoting their child’s growth and development.

If you need some extra support with your co-dependent tendencies, give us a call at the Being Well Center…we’ve helped thousands of parents get their act together.

Step Out of the Way to Let Your Child Move Forward

Failure to get these enabling behaviors under control can be a major barrier to independence and success.

Sometimes parents have to step out of the way in order to allow their child/student to move forward and reach his/her full potential.

If this is hard for you, then it is important to reach out to a spouse, a co-worker, or a professional for support to meet this most difficult challenge!  Stay on guard and work to avoid allowing these tendencies to interfere with your child’s success at college.

Six Steps To Promote Self-Esteem in College Students

Self-Esteem at College | The Being Well Center

image via Flickr, CollegeDegrees360

Life has taught most of us that thinking you can accomplish a task or reach a goal is half the battle.   There is little doubt that a strong self esteem and realistic self confidence can be a key to success in many of life’s endeavors.  Success at college is no exception.

The new demands that college presents to our kids require a significant degree of self confidence to successfully meet.  Academic challenges that are far beyond anything they have experienced before, meeting and establishing relationships with all types of new people from roommates to professors, advocating for themselves, remaining resolute and acting on their values, and being honest with themselves and us about how they are really doing  are a few of the biggies that require a strong self esteem.

It’s no wonder that as parents, we often go to great lengths to boost our child’s self esteem when it comes to college.  Encouraging her to “reach” for a prestigious school that will look good on the resume even though it stretches her capabilities or our finances too far.  Outfitting our child’s wardrobe and room with only the best in an attempt to ensure that he will fit in when he  arrives on campus.  Setting up bank accounts so that she always has plenty of spending money without ever establishing a budget.  Subtly promoting permissive attitudes about indulging in drinking so he fits in socially (i.e., “we know you’re going to do it so . . .”)

During the high school years ramping up to college, we (and teachers) may cut our kids breaks through easy grading or opportunities for “extra credit” to cover up an inadequate performance.  As a result, our child never has to face failure and come to grips with her strengths and weaknesses, thereby, limiting her ability to develop coping and compensating strategies.  The lack of coping strategies is compounded by many of us excessively structuring our child’s life, providing repeated reminders and hovering over them to foster success.  Accountability and its rewards are replaced with endless pep talks . . . “You’re the greatest… you can do it if you put your mind to it!”

These kinds of parental efforts provide short-term “feel goods” at best.  They fail to recognize self esteem and self confidence don’t come from pats on the back and external circumstances but are cultivated from within . . . when our child independently works hard, faces and overcomes barriers, meets a realistic expectation, and is able to proclaim, “I did it!”

Six Simple Steps to Promote Self-Esteem in College Students

So how can we promote the development of self esteem and self confidence in our college student?  Here are six simple steps:

  1. As early as possible, help your child to truly understand himself…to know his strengths as well as his weaknesses.  This involves staying tuned into our child’s academic and social life, and communicating regularly and honestly.
  2. Based upon an understanding of who your child is, help her to set realistic expectations academically, socially, and behaviorally.  This means setting expectations that are not too high or too low, but “just right” . . . ones that stretch her, maybe even involve taking a bit of a risk, but in the end are attainable with effort and hard work.
  3. Ensure that your child has a plan to meet the realistic expectations including the structure and unique supports he needs to succeed.
  4. Don’t expect perfection from the start.  Let go and allow for “practice” that might involve stumbling and falling some.  Be there to help her get back on her feet.  Debrief what happened and what went wrong.  We all learn the most about ourselves and what it takes to succeed when we are picking ourselves back up as compared to when we are cruising along smoothly.
  5. Brainstorm compensatory strategies by asking our child what he could have done, said, or thought differently to have the performance or situation turn out more successfully.  By taking the time to help him generate his own solutions rather than lecturing or dictating what he should do, we promote the development of effective problem solving skills…a cornerstone of self esteem and self confidence.
  6. To close the loop and help our child become accountable, we need to set limits and provide effective consequences when she fails to meet realistic expectations when she has the tools (i.e., plan) to do so.  Appropriate, short-term, negative consequences promote self reflection while threats, lectures, and name calling only stir up intensity, anger, resentment, self pity and fear; all barriers to success and the development of strong self esteem and self confidence.

For more of the “How To’s” check Accommodations for Success guidebook and workbook. If you need more guidance and support, call our office and set up an appointment.  We’ll walk along with you and help make sure you’re helping your child to be an independent, self esteem grower!

Catch up on other blog posts in our series:

Self-Esteem at College | The Being Well Center

Success for the Excessively Shy College Student

Risks for the Shy College Student | The Being Well CenterTemperament: The excessively shy, “slow-to-warm-up” college student

Most of us as parents worry about our kids taking too many risks when they head off to college.  With greater opportunity and with parental supervision gone, will they drink too much, say “yes” when a joint is passed around the room, try cocaine, engage in unprotected sex with someone they barely know?

On college campuses today, the opportunity to make such risky choices is certainly there particularly for the highly approachable, the overly outgoing, the seemingly self-assured or the highly impulsive student with ADHD.

Daunting Challenges for the Shy College Student

However, for those students who are temperamentally at the opposite end of the approach-withdrawal continuum, college can present challenges that are just as daunting.

Just think about the number of new things and people they have to face and find some way to “warm up to”: a roommate with different routines and customs, a different bed, sharing a shower and toilet with others, using a laundromat, different foods prepared in different ways, an arrogant professor, a large lecture hall, too much information to learn no matter how hard you study, classes scattered across a large campus, dealing with others who are drunk or high, a schedule that changes every day the lack of solitude, different kids in every class, and meeting new people who are different geographically, ethnically, racially, religiously and in their sexual orientation are but a few of the more common “new things” that all students encounter on campuses all across the country.

For some “slow-to-warm-up” individuals, it’s just a matter of time before they finally settle in and adjust . . . maybe after a few days or a couple of weeks. During this time their stomachs might flip a few more times, their mouths might be a bit drier, or their palms a bit sweatier.

Parents of these individuals can rest assured that they’ll also be taking a giant step backward from some of the other more scary new things that they will encounter on campus . . . at least initially.

When Shyness turns to Anxiety

However, for more extreme “slow-to-warm-up” individuals, the sudden newness on multiple fronts at college can be overwhelming and downright devastating.

Shyness can progress to social anxiety and extreme isolation.  Novel courses, new concepts, new ways of doing the familiar, unusual and confusing directions, one new thing after another, all can precipitate panic.  The thought of going to a professor, teaching assistant or someone down the hall who has the same class to ask for help is simply out of the question!  Unfortunately, since one day’s work builds on the previous day, it’s easy for them to quickly get behind the 8-ball with nowhere to turn.

Many respond by withdrawing even further . . . shutting it down and going to bed well before their roommate.  Out of sight out of mind.  Sleeping in and missing class.  Hanging out in their room eating junk food while obsessively playing video games or watching TV.  Lying to themselves (and you) about how it’s really going.

Helping Shy Students Toward Success

There’s actually lots that can be done to help the “slow-to-warm-up” student adjust to and succeed at college.

However, they first must recognize and accept this part of their nature.

We can’t change a student’s basic temperament, but we can help them identify where it places them at risk and then brainstorm ways to mange, cope and work around this potential barrier.

The first step is to take the appropriate Confidence@College screener to see if there are aspects of your child’s temperament that place him/her at risk for college failure.  If so, contact us so we can help start moving things along a path to success.

Attention Deficit Disorder in the Laundromat

image via Flickr, David Goehring

image via Flickr, David Goehring

While the experience I’m about to share occurred 15 years ago, but I remember it like it was yesterday. Its message is as valid today as it was when I was blessed to have had my Laundromat experience.

As Divine Order would have it, I found myself in a laundromat two weeks ago. My plans were to run inside, quickly place my clothing in the washing machine, run to the grocery store, return to the laundromat, place my clothing in the dryer, swing by the hardware store, return to laundromat, and scurry home with my clean clothes in basket.

This, however, was not my destiny.

Rather, I spend two hours at the laundromat that night listening to a story — an all too-true story that I want to share. I hope that it will illustrate the painful truth of my reflections, the serious impact ADD has on the quality of life, and the tremendous need that we must all work to meet.

This is the story of the woman who proctors the events that occur in this laundromat. She watches the people. She cleans the washers. She wipes the tables. She sweeps the floor. And she talks…

 

She works at the laundromat part-time.

She’s been divorced twice.

Her 10-year-old son has a hard time in school.

He struggled for a long time–was held back a grade and was recently placed in the LD classroom.

He has a problem controlling his behavior.

She says she has a real hard time with him.

She says he is always getting in trouble.

He recently started a fire in the boy’s bathroom at school.

He’s been diagnosed as having ADD.

She’s on welfare.

She uses the medical assistance card for health care.

She has other children.

Her son’s father is an alcoholic— she’s certain he has ADD, too.

Her mom left home when she was very young.

Her dad was abusive.

She says that she doesn’t feel that she experienced a lot of love when she was growing up.

She says she’s depressed.

She sees a psychiatrist weekly.

She says she’s been diagnosed as being depressed as a result of a chemical imbalance.

She takes a new drug for her chemical imbalance.

She says that she really doesn’t believe her depression is because of a chemical imbalance.

She thinks she’s depressed because her life is a disaster.

She says her work at the laundromat is the only thing that keeps her going — gets her out and doing something.

But she worries about how bad things get at home when she’s not there.

She has no consistent childcare for her children.

She has seen many counselors.

She says her current psychiatrist wonders why her son does the things he does.

Over the years, she’s been given many different reasons for her son’s behavior: he just wants her attention, he’s emotionally disturbed, he’s reacting to her depression.

She doesn’t know what to think.

She makes sure every day, as her kids go off to school, to say “I love you very much” so that they’ll know no matter what, they’re loved.

She laughs and says she really thinks she has ADD, too.

She doesn’t know what to do about it.

Her son was recently in the psychiatric ward of a local hospital for six weeks.

She says he isn’t much different since coming home from the hospital.

The hospital bill was $38,000.

She didn’t have to pay for any of it.

She says that our tax money paid for all of it.

She’s grateful for that.

She doesn’t know how other people ever get any help.

She thinks that people on welfare get the best medical care in the country.

She says she has a friend who works in the welfare office; he can’t afford to get help for his daughter who has the same problems.

She says her son has been on Ritalin for a while.

When he was in the hospital there was in increase in his dose.

She doesn’t understand why.

She doesn’t really know what ADD is.

She doesn’t know what’s going to happen to her son.

She says she’s frightened for him.

Weekly, he sees a psychiatrist whom she says she met one time for 10 minutes.

She doesn’t know what the psychiatrist talks with him about.

He used to see a different psychiatrist.

She didn’t know what they talked about either.

She says she feels that she’s learned a lot about life from her experiences.

She’s at a loss for how to turn her life around.

Meanwhile, she says she’ll continue to do her best with what’s been offered.

 

At 8 o’clock, the laundromat closed, but I am sure her story goes on and on. Don’t trick yourself into thinking that this is just the story of a welfare mother in a laundromat.

If you have an open ear and an accepting attitude, I have learned that you can hear a similar story from your neighbor, your cousin, your hairdresser, you minister, your grocer, and even from your doctor.


What is your life story with ADD/ADHD?  We’re listening…

Pick the best college for an ADD student

Are there particular colleges that are best for the ADD student?

While some colleges specialize in programming for students with learning disabilities and ADD, it is my experience that these schools are appropriate for some students with ADD but may not be best pick for others.

Similarly, some assume that a small private college is better for the ADD student than a large university.

Again, I have found that a small college may be ideal for some ADD students but a mistake for others.

image via Flickr, COD Newsroom

image via Flickr, COD Newsroom

My advice to families as they begin to identify the appropriate college choices for their child with ADD is to survey all that a school has to offer considering the fields of study, course availability, typical class size, campus size, student housing options, social climate, student diversity, distance from home, cost, availability of financial aid, and quality of support services.

Each individual with ADD is different. Each has a unique profile of strengths and weaknesses, temperamental traits, learning abilities, styles, and experiences, ability to function independently, and career interests.

In selecting the right college for the ADD student, we must carefully consider how our child’s unique characteristics match up with unique features of the school.


Looking for keys to making college a success for your student?  Call the Being Well Center today and enroll in Confidence@College!

Keys to Success at College for Students with ADD

image via Flickr, CollegeDegrees360

image via Flickr, CollegeDegrees360

Can individuals with ADD be successful in college?

Absolutely, many individuals with ADD are very successful in college.

For others, however, ADD significantly compromises the students’ ability to experience the same success. Not only do the expectations for academic performance, independent functioning, and social decision-making dramatically increase in college, this jump occurs far from home away from the support, structure, and monitoring of mom, dad, and the invested high school teacher.

At home, family routines and parents often structure and set limits for sleeping, eating, money management, and social activities.

When a student moves onto the college campus, he must organize his own time, establish and follow his own daily routine, be fully responsible for his basic daily needs, and negotiate the complex college social life involving roommates, parties, drinking, and sex.

Similarly, before college, parents advocate for their ADD child; away from home, the role of advocate transfers to the student. While the ADD child lives at home, most often, parents keep track of medication, call for prescriptions, and remember missed doses. These responsibilities are transferred to the ADD student the day he sets foot on campus.

All of these transferred responsibilities are tremendously challenging for the impulsive and distractible student with poor monitoring and a short attention span. These new roles and responsibilities can be insurmountable for the ADD student who also struggles with a basic awareness and acceptance of his differences.

image via Flickr, CollegeDegrees360

image via Flickr, CollegeDegrees360

While it can be extremely challenging, college provides the ADD individual with the opportunity to grow in ways he never can if he is living at home.

In my experience, the keys to success for the ADD student in college requires:

  • good self awareness acceptance of ADD
  • treatment compliance
  • a willingness to seek and use support services
  • a commitment to maintaining a healthy daily routine
  • a willingness to work harder than many other students
  • adequate academic skills
  • good study skills and work habits
  • the ability to function independently
  • efficient social skills, good problem-solving
  • and the motivation to succeed

Wow!


How are you or a college student in your life doing with the success checklist items?  Never be afraid to seek help–college success IS possible with the right tools!