Sunday, October 25, 2009

Breaking things down

As the demands of the school curriculum increase with age, so does the homework. For children with written output problems this is enormously stressful. It is enormously stressful for parents also. Trying to keep the child focused and in the chair is the first challenge.

I am continually working on finding strategies to make homework less onerous. One thing is to break everything down into clear stages. Thus:

Type the first question on the computer screen. Allow the child to answer that single question.

Then move to the next one.

Don't try to copy out worksheets onto the screen and have the child fill them up. The sight of words overwhelms these children. Think of it like covering information with an A4 sheet in the book.

Another thing which exasperates these children is the concept of the length of time homework will take because of writing impediments. Therefore explain they need only consider the question they are on.

Continually find ways to break down large tasks. The work or task must feel manageable of the child's interest will fail and they will absolutely downtool.

Another challenge is their tendency to do the reverse and zoom through everything, half doing it, just to be finished. They produce inferior work that does not reflect their capabilities.

Negotiate with the teacher around the work. See if you can get agreement on quality over volume.

When they really begin to openly despair. Scribe for them. Or offer to scribe some questions (scribe can also be typing).

The critical thing is to ensure your child has understood the concept especially if it's maths. They do not necessarily need to do 20 questions to prove they've understood it.

With social science seek audio and audio visual materials to enhance learning such as documentaries or recorded books or photography.

I am going to try to find some mind map templates to upload here.

I heartily recommend inspiration software for brainstorming. It's very child friendly. There are also some new open source options.

Another school year

As the stress of the school year is now is full swing it's time to share some reflections on the latest modifications.

We are now using a computer inclass for as much writing as possible. This relieves some stress and aides output. It is not a panacea because it doesn't overcome the issue of things like worksheets and sometimes my child can become frustrated with the computer.

It has allievated much stress though and I'd heartily recommend parents to embrace technology at their earliest opportunity.

The computer we are currently using is a Dell Inspiron 12 inch. The battery power is good, but the keyboard is irritating for larger, or normal sized adult hands. It works fine for a child, it works fine for us at the moment.

Personally I prefer Mac and think that some of the software on mac is excellent. I also think if children are going to work in an interface the best aesthetic experience enhances it and mac is superior in this way.

Battery life is something mac needs to improve.