I am currently delivering a small group program for year 8 boys. During the first session I decided to ask them to identify one thing they wanted to change or improve over the next 12 weeks. To encourage answers, I asked them to consider what their parents and teachers nagged them about most often.
Here were their answers:
- helping around the house
- doing my homework
- remembering to bring home my homework
- cleaning my room
- sitting still in class
As I looked around the room I saw one of the boys rocking furiously on his chair, another scribbling on his paper and another pocking his mate in the side. These boys had a short attention span and had limited organisational skills! They were GREAT kids, all smiling at me and interacting freely, but they struggled to follow instructions, listen and handle the pace of school.
Here are some of tips I had for them:
- get ready for school the night before
- break down large tasks into a number of smaller ones
- recognise when you are feeling overwhelmed by a task
- create an after school routine
- find someone to check your homework daily
I find that boys who lack organisational skills often genuinely struggle with their school work. They may have the intellectual capacity to do their homework but can’t if it doesn’t even come home!
I also find that many boys genuinely struggle to do simple tasks like tidy their room, which often drives their mother’s crazy. The reason they struggle so much is because it involves a number of tasks. For example, putting dirty clothes in the wash, collecting scraps, moving text books to the homework table and making a bed. We quickly say “go tidy your room” without thinking about the thinking process that has to happen to make that happen.
Try these tips:
- break down tasks in your mind before verbalising them
- ask them to do ONE small task at a time
- be patient with their speed
- create checklists and put them in a public place
- create daily routine
- realise physical activity is just as important as study
- put a time limit on homework and chores. Don’t overload them
- use external motivation eg. no gaming until homework is done
- to enhance their organisational skills – give them a daily task which involves sorting or categorising eg. dishwasher
You can find more tips for parenting teens at michellemitchell.org