We recently met with the guidance counselor at Abbie’s middle school. There were several concerns that we had, as she has transitioned from elementary to middle, and we felt it was important to get in there once her teachers had been able to get to know and observe her, but as early in the year as we could, before she slipped too far behind.
Most concerning, when her progress report came home two weeks ago, was that her social studies grade was lower than her math grade. Like me, math is a subject that takes more focus for her to get (read: she struggles hard in math).
I also noticed that she wasn’t turning in certain class work, in all classes, and I couldn’t figure out why.
While we were meeting with the counselor, she was also emailing Abbie’s teachers and asking them some questions related to our concerns. All of their responses were the same: Abbie is very smart, but has to be frequently redirected. My sense is that she is bored.
But what about the whole “not turning in the classwork” stuff?
Turns out she was doing it, but not remembering to turn it in. This is a girl who can draw anything from memory. Can recall conversations, in great detail, from when she was 2 (and I know she remembers them herself, because my OWN memory recall sucks so bad, I’m not the one feeding her that info).
She was also misplacing it, apparently from lack of organization. Again, this is the girl who has indexed all of the topics and pages for all 13 chapter books she has written, has charted the hexidecimal numbers for her illustrations, and has the most organized bedside shelf you could imagine.
So I’ve finally opened my copy of “Smart but Scattered: The Revolutionary “Executive Skills” Approach to Helping Kids Reach Their Potential“, a book I purchased several months ago and then promptly set on my bedside table to collect dust.
Believe me, this is not our first encounter with one of our children struggling to finish an everyday task. (And I’m not talking “non-compliant, just doesn’t want to do it” not completing. I’m talking “goes in happily to straighten the bookshelf and ends up reading 4 books instead” not completing.) All four have to be reminded to stay on task, stay focused and control impulses, and I have concerns.
It’s one thing to have to be reminded to stay focused in the home, where it is safe and there aren’t necessarily long-term implications. It is another thing when grades are bottoming out, or it becomes a social or safety issue.
I’ve read the intro and first chapter in depth, and I’ve charted her strengths and weaknesses in executive skills. Executive skills “refer to the brain-based skills that are required for humans to execute, or perform tasks”. Weak executive skills can have a far-reaching affect on a child’s life, especially as the child grows.
Now that I’ve identified those weaknesses, I am focusing in on the chapters that help with those areas.
One of the things that I value about this book, is that it helps map out a plan and build a foundation for the parent and the child to build upon as they work through the weakness. It’s not a passive book – you don’t just read it. You do it; there are activities, tips and pointers all along the way.
I’ll revisit the book and write more of my thoughts on it, once we’ve had time to work through it, but I’m excited to have found such a rich resource for empowering our children and helping them strengthen those areas that, might otherwise, have held them back.
Have you read “Smart but Scattered”? What did you think? What has worked for you in helping to empower your smart but scattered child?