Today, I worked with a child who is already, in early November, being told he will need to repeat third grade. I have worked with him before. He has ADHD. He has a wonderful teacher. He just needs more than she has the time to provide. Hopefully, I can work with him enough and teach those helping him at home how to help him.
The first time I told him he was smart, he stopped and looked at me. Puzzled, he said, "Not many people tell me that." I told him that, "I could not help it that other people were wrong. He just looked at me. I asked if that was ok with him. He seemed to think about the idea.
Back to today. He was out of school because of surgery. The school sent home many papers to do while he was recovering. He had a placement test in math he had taken and done poorly on. I noticed today also that he does not write his letters but instead draws them. When I tried to figure out what the test wanted, he tried to hurry me. I told him I had to try to understand out what the paper wanted before I could help him. He said the teacher told him he had hurried to do the paper and did not try. He told me he did try but just did not understand how to work the problems. I used the back paper of a tic tac paper to write the problems on so it was bigger and not crowded. Often children who struggle to learn need more space and one problem at a time so as not to be confused. I used the back of the paper so we could play tic tac toe when we had done a couple of problems. This is a built in reward. As we were working, I realized his brain was going fasted than mine. I told him that his brain needed to slow down and allow me to catch up with what he was doing. When he added 45 to 25, he carried the 1 to the tens column. Instead of adding 1 and 4 and 2, he added 5 and 2. When I realized what he was doing, I told him he was doing a step in his head and I did not know what he had done at first. This allowed him to slow down and not try as hard so he could tell me step by step what he was doing. Then we could find his mistake and fix it.
I played Farkle with him after we did the math and had him keep score. When he was adding the score, I told him the answer quickly when he hesitated because he needs to learn to build confidence in his addition.