The Cornerstone: Setting Foundations for Your Middle Schooler
by Lisa Burlison
Cornerstone - “a stone representing the nominal starting place in the construction of a monumental building …” (dictionary.com)
Welcome to The Cornerstone. You, the parents and guardians, are the beginning of the foundation that supports us, the school, in helping your child to grow and learn.
We hope you find these articles interesting and beneficial as you continue to set the foundation for your child at home.
Support for Structure
Do you find that your child has trouble with focus, anxiety, stress, organization, remembering steps, etc.? We want Middle School students to be more organized and independent, and while we encourage and teach this, these supports can benefit your child at home as well.
Most students still need structure and support, with practice and positive reinforcement, of both behavior and expectations. I remember I used to say, “You should know better at this age”, and while that may be true in some cases, it chastises the child for behavior that they may not be able to control or that they lack the skills or development for. A better way might be to say – “I see this is often difficult for you, what can I do to help you be better prepared in this situation?”
There are many tips that can benefit ALL that struggle with focus, organization, and in learning to become more independent. Try one, some, or all of these and give it some time to work. And, hopefully you will see a difference in your child and in your own frustration levels. Please note that you may need to model and explain many times in order for it to become intrinsically done by your child. Changing habits can be difficult, so perseverance and consistency is key!!!
Tips to try at home:
*Follow the mantra “Everything has a home.”
*Set a weekly/monthly time to do a mini-declutter of possessions (including folders/binders, backpacks, and bedrooms).
*Group Tasks: For example: Write a list of what needs to be done at home. Set a timer or signal that is used to complete a group/list of activities instead of trying to remember everything that has to be done by memory.
*Do the Spin – Spin around before going out the door to scan that you have everything you need (slowly) and make sure you have not left anything behind.
*Break Up Tasks – Do homework in short bursts – 15 minutes at a time. After 15 minutes, get up, stretch, or get a drink of water. This can rejuvenate the brain for better focus and endurance to complete the task.
Resources: My personal life and experiences, and “The Everything Parent’s Guide to Children with Executive Function Disorder”, by Rebecca Branstetter.