Whoever coined the phrase “patience is a virtue,” must’ve parented a child with ADHD.
We’re keeping learning going this summer on weekends. We keep it chill – a bit of language, math, writing practice, and physical activity.
Once T gets his checkmarks, he gets free time and other rewards the rest of the day.
Among our learning tools, we’re completing the Complete Canadian Curriculum: Grade 1 workbook, which covers math, language, science and social studies.
So let’s talk about worksheets – and completing them with a child diagnosed with ADHD.
Let’s take this example of a worksheet about ordering numbers from least to greatest – left page above.
I thought this would be a breeze, because T is good with numbers – and has done similar activities in class this year.
We start with question 1. “So T, what’s a smallest number in 5, 13 and 9?”
T’s immediate reaction is to start pointing to other questions on the page.
I ask him to focus on this question.
“What’s the smallest number?”
“Ok, great T. What’s the next number in order?”
He then points to the cat on the bottom right of the page and asks what the cat is doing.
“What’s the next smallest number?”
“This one?” T asks, pointing to another set of numbers in another question.
“No, 5, 13 and 6. 5 is the smallest. Which number is the next smallest number?”
“I want to get Moo Moo and Ladybug,” he says, getting up to get his stuffed animals.
He comes back and sits downs. I remind him what the question is.
I take a deep breath. Sensing my impatience, T brings his stuffed cow to my face. “Moo Moo wants to kiss you.”
“What’s the number?” I remind T of the task.
“I love you, Papa,” he says, reaching out to give me a hug.
I laugh out loud, as I hug and kiss him. “You are so frustrating sometimes. Just answer the question!”
“That’s great! And that means the largest number is…”
“13,” he says.
We make slow progress on the remaining questions, with several more tangents.
I’ll be able to collect my old age pension by the time we finish this worksheet, I thought.
T actually asks me at one point, “Is it going to be Christmas soon?”
Without skipping a beat, I replied, “It will be, at the rate we’re moving!”
This may seem comical – and to be honest, it was kinda funny – but these moments reinforce to me the challenges T will have as he enters a more structured environment in Grade 1.
The good news is I do think he understands these concepts, but getting him to focus his very busy mind is a work in progress.
It’s hard to tell on some days whether the ADHD medication we started him on last summer is making a difference. The hubby disagrees but I do notice a big difference when he’s not on it.
But we persevere in a few ways:
We try to remind him what he’s working for. Providing T with the incentives of earning checkmarks and a reward, such as time on the Nintendo Switch, makes a difference.
We try to break the task into smaller chunks. We try to remind him to focus on one question at a time. I can see why a busy two-page worksheet spread can set him off on a hundred tangents.
We play along with his quirks. If he wants Moo Moo and Ladybug to learn with him, so be it. His stuffed animals are on their way to PHDs!
We try to have a sense of humour. It is so laugh out loud frustrating sometimes when he’s so distracted, but we know he is not doing it on purpose. So we try to focus on the bigger picture: his incremental learning and growth.
Lastly, we go over the top with celebrating his completion, because he does get to the finish line and that’s the most important thing.
The payoffs motivate T. We see his proud look, his sense of accomplishment, and we see him understanding the connection between doing the work and the reward.
I hope his momentum keeps up, because it feels promising.
This past Saturday, T’s reward was a trip to the mall. We picked up glasses the hubby ordered and we went to look at glasses for T and I.
It was our first time at the mall in a year, not counting the times we went to get vaccinated.
Things are slowly opening up in our province. It almost felt normal until we saw the lineups outside each store, the limited store capacity and all the signage on the floors…
And the benches.
T smelled the sweet aroma of popcorn from Kernels and asked for a bag.
We told him that since he did a great job completing his learning work that morning, he could get a small bag of his flavour of choice.
The hubby and I rewarded ourselves bubble tea, the first time in I don’t even remember how long since we’ve ordered bubble tea from a store!
After we got home, we quickly changed into swim clothes for a late afternoon swim at the pool – a great way to burn off our sweet drinks.
Seeing T repeatedly jump into the water, with a huge smile and loud laughter, was my payoff for persevering through our day together.