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I have two Master of Education degrees, one in curriculum and Instruction/Elementary, and another in Counseling. My 12 year old has ADD and we are home-schooling, so I've read a ton on this issue and tried a lot of different things. ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, while ADD doesn't include the hyperactivity. Both are determined by a combination of teacher and parents observation checklists, and a list of behaviors from the DSM-IV of which 6 or more must exist. There is no medical or blood test for ADHD, although some people suspect either genetic, neurotransmitter imbalance and/or environmental factors to be the cause, while others suspect that diet and other lifestyle factors are the cause, while other dispute the existence of ADHD at all, or attribute its symptoms to too much tv or video games or high speed lifestyles. People with ADHD ADD appear to have difficulty focusing, especially on schoolwork or other 'boring' activities, while they can sit for hours watching TV, playing video games or doing something of their own choosing, often a kinesthetic activity. At least categories exist - ADD inattentive; ADHD with Hyperactivity, in which inability to sit still accompanies the inability to focus. Both fall under the catchall term ADHD, although many do not struggle with physical hyperactivity. Some people believe that those with ADHD are smarter, think more globally etc. Ways to help students include breaking tasks into segments, taking breaks, offering rewards, using verbal and audible ques, being direct and clear with instructions, allowing them to use manipulatives and hands on materials and intertwining concepts to accommodate the global thinking.
In my studies for my Bachelor of Science degree in Human Development and Family Studies I took a cultural anthropology class, and minored in psychology. Plus in my 2 Master of Education degrees in Curriculum & Instruction and Counseling, I studied a lot of related courses including history, education, mulicultural counseling, and all types of psychology courses. As a home-school mom I am always studying cultures, history and the social sciences.
I studied Autism Spectrum Disorders as part of my Master of Education/Counseling degree. I have studied it independently as I suspected my son may be on the spectrum. I have many friends whose children have Aspergers and I am familiar with how to interact with them and how they perceive things differently.
I have two Master of Education degrees, one in curriculum and Instruction/Elementary, and another in Counseling. Elementary students have the dual task of achieving skills and obtaining knowledge. Both of these differ in students depending not only on ability, but also on maturity, learning style, and developmental levels. There is no one way to teach, or learn, and no one level that is appropriate for each age, however there are national or even international norms based on grade & age, by which our scope and sequence of each grade's curriculum and standardized tests are based. The goals of skill development include learning, mastering, and maintaining skills including understanding mathematical concepts, acquiring phonics, sight words, reading comprehension, and spelling skills, then applying them to other reading and writing skills and understanding elements of literature such as plot, setting, characterization, author's purpose, etc, and writing in different forms such as persuasive, descriptive, etc., and the acquisition of knowledge provides the perfect opportunity to practice these skills. Often the skills are still being developed through 'remedial' instruction; yet the knowledge is building up, especially starting in the 4th grade. The balance between hammering the skills and enjoying the learning is part of the art of teaching. Inquisitive minds want to know, and the last thing a good teacher wants to do is limit the learning to ensure the acquisition of a skill through repetitive and boring activities. The best way to accomplish both skill development or remediation and knowledge acquisition is to incorporate the use of the skills along with the new information being learned. I do this with my own son. Even though a spelling workbook would save me a lot of time and give me more instant information about his spelling ability, I try to use the words from his own reading and writing and my ability to sort out his spelling mistakes into categories of phonetic patterns, and use them to address his spelling instruction. This is just one example. Elementary years and even secondary are crucial for both laying the foundation of skills needed for future learning, and also instilling the habits for learning and the love for learning. Each student is unique. They require and deserve an individualized approach of support which is synchronized with their specific strengths and needs.
I have taught Kindergarten and First grade, as well as preschool. I know how to help children learn handwriting. There are different styles or fonts, but the one used in my school district is a modern script that makes it easier to transition from print to cursive. Among methods, copywork is a time tested approach. Boys often find handwriting tedious and need activities that strengthen the hand muscles. Handwriting is largely a developmental process, however, our schools demand it often from preschoolers. I can help kids write well.
I have a teacher's certification in pre-K to 6th grade and ESL, plus two master of education degrees. I have taught as a substitute and long-term substitute in all grades and subjects, particularly kindergarten and first with reading groups and phonics instruction. I have been homeschooling my own son since 3rd grade. We relearned all the phonics and spelling rules from the Wise Guide to Spelling, the best program, based on Spaulding's research.
Students often develop a hesitancy or "fear" of writing, like some do with math. This is sometimes due to the fact that writing is a very subjective and personal thing, while the assignments don't always allow for individualized style and expression. I believe this occurs because children are not given ample time to develop their own writing creativity and style before they are required to perform under strict guidelines and to produce specific forms of writing, such as persuasive, descriptive, compare and contrast, etc. I have a curriculum which I use that focuses on the mechanics of writing, teaches grammar, and can be used with any written material. It takes the guesswork out of writing. While it is not designed as a creative writing program, it enhances creative writing because once its tools are learned, the writing process is easier. The student is given specific things to do at each step. This can be used with his or her own school books or leisure reading materials.