Thursday, August 22, 2013

Creating Routines to Help My Son Succeed

Jameson started back to school this week.  While many parents can't wait for their kids to get out of their hair and head off to head off to school, I dread it.  A lot.  I love the lazy, unstructured schedule that summer allows.  Once school starts back, the super-strict and structured schedule starts once again.  Why such a difference between summer and the school year?  Jameson has ADHD.

 Jameson has always been a very active child, but we didn't know anything different.  Chelsea's childhood was anything but "typical," so we were like first-time parents with Jameson.  We just thought that all kids constantly ran around in circles, never slept, and talked/whistled/hummed/sang every waking second of every day.  It wasn't until he started school that we figured out that there may be problems.

 After some lengthy conversations with a few of his teachers, we decided to have him "officially" tested. We completed our forms and the teacher completed her forms. We gave them to his pediatrician and waited.  About three days later, we got a call from his pediatrician's nurse saying he did have ADHD.

 Jameson was able to sit still and be quiet during church, and any other places where that was required.  He was easily able to stay focused enough to put together huge Lego sets, and sit quietly and read several chapters in a book.  But we found that if we let him go play for a while once he got home, it would take ten times longer to get him to settle down enough to finish his homework.
So we came up with an after-school routine for him:
  • Once home, he goes from the car straight to the kitchen table, where we do his homework.

  • One of us always sits at the table with him while he's working.  He isn't allowed to leave the kitchen table (except to go to the bathroom) until his written homework is completed.  This has changed a little bit over the recent years. These days, by the time he gets home, he's usually hungry. Now we allow time for a snack break, while still sitting at the kitchen table.

  • If he completes his written homework quickly and without too much drama, he can do his required reading wherever he wants; whether curled up on the couch, on his bed, or outside in the sun.

    One of our biggest stressors during the night time routine has always been getting clothes picked out for the next day and pajamas picked out to wear after shower time.  We would send Jameson into his room to get his clothes, only for him to come out 30 minutes later holding a toy instead of his clothes.  We solved this problem by moving all his clothes into the laundry room.  We have a small chest of drawers that holds his socks, underwear and pajamas, and a hanging rack for all his other clothes.  It takes up a huge amount of space in our tiny laundry room, but has stopped all the distractions while looking for clothes.
    Until now, these methods have worked, but I can tell that the older he gets and the more involved the homework gets, he has a much harder time staying focused.  It's taking a little longer to get the work done and we are having to redirect his attention back to his homework twice as often as before. Depending on how he does in the classroom this year, we may consider other options.

    Jameson started the 5th grade this year. This is his last year at the elementary school and I think he is enjoying the fact he will be "the big fish in a little pond."  He's not nervous at all, but definitely isn't looking forward to it.  He's a night owl and loves to stay up late and sleep in.  In years past, it's only taken him a couple of days to get into a new routine, but I'm afraid this year is going to be tough! 
    He's never been a big sleeper.  He stopped napping at 1-year-old, and normally only slept around six hours at night.  However, this summer things have definitely changed.  It is not unusual for him to sleep 10-12 hours straight.  He's even been taking occasional naps, here-and-there.  Who is this child?  I don't know if this is puberty taking over, but I am really nervous how this will affect our "normal" school routine this year.

     The main thing we are doing to try to enforce earlier bedtimes is to make him turn off the computer/iPad earlier in the evening. If we left it up to him, he would stay on the iPad all night long.  We are trying to find a good balance between letting him have enough down time with the computer/iPad, that will still leave him enough time to wind down and get to sleep earlier.  We are already having a struggle in this area, so we may have to try several different things until we find something that works for all of us.
    We don't know what this new school year will hold for Jameson, but we know we will do whatever it takes to help make this a successful and enjoyable year for him!

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