Practicing an Academy

December 13, 2018

It may not be the best time of the year to start one, but right after the New Year, how about you try an “Academy” with your child.

Some time ago I went to a training given by the psychologist Ray Levy who talked about the use of “Academies” to address challenging behaviors.

Linked to specific skills that need to be practiced and internalized, “Academies” help to give you a specific focus with your child.  The Academies can be academic or non-academic.  For example, you might want to practice a, “Waiting On Line Academy,” if your child is one of those types who pushes and runs around when he is supposed to be patiently waiting on line.  (I know my wife wants me to practice a “Making the Bed Academy.”)

Here’s an example of an Academy that can be practiced that bothers me a lot with kids – knowing their address.  I’ve talked about it before (What’s My Address? ), but most of the kids I work with (I would say nearly 95%) do not know their address in its entirety (yes, including the zip code, as quaint as that concept may be).

In fact, when asked to write their address, a typical reaction is a look of confusion – as many don’t know what the word “address” means and they don’t know how to get started.  I usually need to back-pedal a little and say something like, “You know – it’s where you live.”

That back pedaling doesn’t help that much in terms of their coming up with the address.   They may get some part of the address, like a number and a street name, but town and state, forget about it.

I know.  I know.  I can hear the parental chorus of, “But, he’s dyslexic.  He can’t possibly write it.”  Or, “My ADHD child will never sit long enough to learn something as boring as an address.”

I have worked with thousands of “dyslexics” and those diagnosed with ADHD and I am here to bring you the good news – yes, they can learn their address if you think it is of value for them to learn it.  It may take a bit longer than the child who does not have dyslexia or “ADHD,” but they will be able to learn it.

If you think your child should know his/her address (I certainly do) steel your nerve, roll up you sleeves and start a Learn Your Address Writing Academy. Understand that the Academy will cut into their Fortnight playing on XBox, but so be it.

Here’s a sample of what you can say to your child to get the Academy started:

“Listen, George.  We need to talk.  (Sit child down in a quiet area of the house.)  It’s come to my attention that you don’t know where you live. You don’t know your address.  I know you’re dying to play Fortnight and get on your Xbox, but this week as part of the homework period time we are going to have what I call an Address Writing Academy.  That is you are going to practice writing your address and be able to write it without my helping you.   It might take us a while for you to learn it, but that’s ok.”

“Here’s the good news.  If you practice writing your address without all of the complaining and crying that you often do around homework, then you can have free play and go off and play your video games.  But the bad news is, if you don’t give it an honest try and just whine, cry and complain, then you just haven’t earned screen time tonight. It’s your choice.”

I would predict that if you say this to your child calmly and directly, that by the end of the week, he will have mastered the skill of learning to write his address.

After he’s mastered writing his address you can go move on to a, “Putting Your Clothes Away Academy,” or a “Bed Making Academy.”

Takeaway Point

“Academies” are great vehicles for learning specific skills. Link them with a positive such as earned screen time as well as a consequence – e.g., loss of screen time – it’s all in the attitude.


Copyright, 2018 www.shutdownlearner.com
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Part II: Ryan & His “Quasi-ADHD#Dyslexia Book Baby Born
All comments (2)
  • Stanley Sterenberg
    December 14, 2018 at 7:12 pm

    This task might be even more meaningful if it were part of an Academy on what to put on an envelope when sending a letter […] Read MoreThis task might be even more meaningful if it were part of an Academy on what to put on an envelope when sending a letter -- with your own address in the upper left hand corner. The parent could have a copy of the correct address, written properly on an envelope, and the child could, after he/she/they believe they know it, could write it down, and then, together, the child and the parent could compare them together, discussing wherever the child's address might be a little off. This can NOT be an exercise in trying to embarrass the child -- rather a positive reinforcement of what was correct, and a discussion about what was a little off. After a few attempts, it's likely that any "flaws" in the address will end up being corrected. And then there could be a light, general discussion about how the main address would look if properly filled out. Read Less

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