A glimpse inside 12 year old boy brain:
“They’re at it again. Talking about that 504 Plan, whatever that is. I heard something like extra time. My mom seems to want it. Why would I want extra time? I want less time. I just want to get it done.”
“They’re taking me to that doctor. again tomorrow. He’s the one that said I’ve got this thing – like in my brain or something – I forget what he called it. It had some letters smooshed together, like AD something.”
“School is just so boring. I mean how many of these stupid worksheets can they hand out – circle this…cross out that. Just because they put a picture on the top of the sheet does’t make it fun. They think the picture will keep kids wanting to do it. Is that all the teacher knows is worksheets. Ugh. I can’t stand it.”
“I also hear my mom say something about ‘in-class support.’ I don’t know what that means. I just know there’s this lady in the back of the room always on her laptop grading the worksheets. Then she hands them back with frowny or smiley faces on them. I get a lot of frowny faces. “
“The girls really bug me. They get smiley faces all the time. They always look so happy and I just can’t stand it. I know the teacher likes them best. She always seems bugged by me. Last week she told me they were going to have a meeting about me soon to talk about my 504 Plan. I only know one other kid who I think has this 504 thing – Noah – and he is such an idiot. He always acts so stupid. Why am I getting it too?”
“I just want to play Fortnite…when can I do that? I want to be left alone.”
Boy brain is a squishy, fluid terrain. It rarely is where you would like it to be at any given moment, especially in relation to anything academic. Rather than fight with it or punish it, you need to catch its attention.
That is, you need to manage it.
Since it is so fluid and squishy, your best bet is to provide greater structure for boy brain. Changing the odds should be your focus.
Boy brain doing homework up in its bedroom? The odds of getting anything done that way is pretty low, so change the rules and the structure. This has the effect of changing the odds and the rules.
Be sure and set the expectation. You must be eminently clear as to how you want things to go and not leave it up to boy brain to decide.
Here’s an example of a conversation that changes the odds and catches boy brain attention:
Listen, Jack, we need to talk. You’re a big boy. You’re not a little kid anymore. What that means is you need to grow up and take some responsibility for yourself. I know you love to play Fortnite and that’s fine, but here’s the deal. From now on, you can play Fortnite, but only after you’ve earned it. What we want from you is honest effort. So give us an honest hour or so on your school work – not up in your room and you may have earned the privilege of playing your game.
Copyright, 2019 www.shutdownlearner.com
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Great post, Dr. Selznick, as usual! It really helps to try to think like a kid. Why not? What have we got to lose? Thanks!
Thanks so much Bonnie.