Month: May 2010

Are You a “Curling Parent?”

Overprotective parents, or 'curling parents,' sweep away everything in their child's path.

Many of you who watched the last Winter Olympics became captivated by the curious sport of Curling. In it, players slide a stone across a sheet of ice towards a target area. Probably the oddest-looking aspect of the sport are the “Sweepers.” It’s their job to sweep ahead of the stone to reduce friction and allow the stone to travel further and stay straighter.

Danish psychologist Bent Hougaard coined the term “Curling Parents” to refer to those parents who insist on sweeping everything that may get in the way of their child, their own polished stone.  Such parents are excessive hoverers. They continually make sure that nothing is interfering with or negatively affecting their child.  They are always sweeping.

Another term that even the colleges are referring to with increased frequency are “Lawnmower Parents.” Like the Curlers, the Lawnmower Parents look to smooth down and mow over all obstacles that could be in the young person’s path. Such parents may attempt to call the college professors about their child receiving an unsatisfactory grade. Lawnmower parents have even been reported to interfere with the salary negotiations once the child becomes an adult.

Modern parenting has countered what it believes to be the sins of the previous generation’s parenting style.

Have we placed the pendulum too far on the other side? Are we accommodating, modifying, smoothing and making nice to the child’s detriment?

It would certainly seem that a bit of “dusting oneself off” (to borrow a dated term from another generation) and getting back in the game may be of great value to most kids as a life’s lesson.

Calculators ‘R Us

Martha, age 18, is about to be finished high school.  Receiving a 504 Plan in high school, Martha is eagerly anticipating attending college.  She comes in to see me for an assessment to help determine what accommodations she may continue to need.

As part of the assessment battery, Martha is asked to complete a page of math calculations.  Able to perform some of the basic algebraic problems, Martha struggles with lower level skills such as two digit multiplication (e.g., 29 X 57) and  two digit into three digit division (e.g., 451 divided by 22). 

While trying to perform these calculations, Martha looks at me blankly.  “I can’t do these without a calculator,” she tells me. 

I hear this lot from kids I evaluate.

It does appear that for many children the use of the calculator has diminished their capacity to perform certain tasks.
In a similar vein, I hear parents being told when they raise concerns about their child’s poor spelling skills, “Why bother with spelling.  They can always use spell check.”

For many children, fundamental skills are difficult to acquire.  Such skills take a great deal of practice over time to be internalized and mastered.  When a child has difficulty acquiring these skills they should provide some accommodation.  Not all will learn at the same pace and some will need much more repetition over time with sensible instruction.

Simply being told not to worry about these skills is questionable practice and one that may be doing them a disservice. 

 Finding the balance in all of the accommodations and use of technology we are providing kids is the constant challenge and one not easily answered.

There is no doubt that certain skills become lost over time when not used.  It’s astounding to me that my wife and I don’t even know our own kids cell phone numbers. 

Why bother when they’re easily stored in memory and all you have to do is push a button!


Does Your Child Have Curriculum ADHD?

A mom came in the other day to talk about her struggling eight year old daughter, Hayley, a third grader.  She presented with many of the common concerns  – difficulty with decoding, reading  fluency, spelling and writing,

“What has the school done for her,” I asked.

The mom answered, “Well, in kindergarten she got Wilson Fundations.”   “Then in first grade she got Reading Recovery,” she continued.  “The Reading Recovery Teacher went out on maternity leave in April and they gave Hayley support with Harcourt Trophies in her regular class.  Now they are talking about SRA for next year or  Read 180.  I really can’t keep up with it.  Why do they jump around so much?”

“Sounds like she may have a case of Curriculum ADHD,” I responded.  “Curriculum ADHD is characterized by  jumping from method to method without every really giving any one a chance to take hold.  There’s a lot of that going on these days.”

Response to Intervention (RTI) is the prominent new buzz term in education.  (Every 10 years there seems to be a new one.)

My question is this. If a child is not given a sufficient enough time with a particular method, how do we know if he/she is responding to the intervention? 

Could curriculum ADHD be contributing to the child’s difficulty?


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