Part of the angst that fueled my ranty post a week or so ago was what came home in Connor’s backpack the last week of school.
First, let me back up. During our IEP meeting this year, I asked about ESY (extended school year). The principal said that ESY was ONLY for children that displayed significant regression of skills that could not be recouped in 10 weeks. Now, I’m not sure how they measure “significant regression”, but they assured me that Connor does not have that issue. And while I agree that he doesn’t have “significant” regression, I do think that a long summer break will impact his skills. But we were at an impasse, and it wasn’t an issue I was prepared to take to mediation.
Fast forward to the last week of school, and take a look at all this stuff that came home.
Now I don’t know this for a fact, but I’m pretty sure that the other students didn’t bring home this many workbooks and extra assignments to work on over the summer. It’s obvious to me that they are expecting us to set up summer school at our kitchen table, and drill this stuff into Connor all summer long to maintain his readiness for 2nd grade. And really, I get it. I get that the district has a very tight budget, and they have to cut corners everyplace they can, which means it’s probably almost impossible to “qualify” for ESY services. And yes, that sucks. And yes, it’s irritating. But I just can’t waste the energy being mad about something that I can’t change at this stage, nor am I convinced I want to change it because I’m not sure I really want Connor to be stuck in a classroom during the summer, when other kids are out having fun, because that would almost be like he was being punished for having a disability.
But, um, yeah….all those workbooks? Yeah, that’s not going to happen. We already have full-time jobs. But, BUT, there will be some effort. Like on a scale between 1 and 10, I’m shooting for a solid 3 in effort. I’m good with a 3.
About the time that the landslide of workbooks came home, I was reading a post over at A Mom’s View of ADHD, and it was a review for a task chart from The Victoria Chart Company. I thought the charts were really cute and well-done. We’ve done homemade charts before, with varying degrees of success. But I liked the looks of this chart, and how it came with customizable stickers, so I ordered one. [Note: I am not being compensated in any way for mentioning this company or their product. When I run across a product I like, that works for us, I like to mention it so others can check it out. But that doesn't mean I wouldn't do an honest product review if a company asked me to, just sayin'.]
Connor and I talked about things he’d like to work towards, and he came up with roller skates, a trip to Chuck E. Cheese (yeah, I’m screwed), a Twister board game, and a new game for his DS. The goal that we work on consistently is “keeping hands to self”. We continued that goal for summer camp and assigned the Twister game to it. By earning 5 stickers (1 for each day he has kept hands to self at summer camp), he earns the game.
As for the skates, they are the big Kahuna and worth 10 points. And what must he do to earn those points??? Read a book. Not like War and Peace or anything, just one of those early reader books.
And guess what? He earned those skates in 2 weeks. And the Twister game has been earned too. It’s all about the incentives, baby.
So now we will replace the skates with a new DS game as an incentive for reading, and see what we’ve added at the bottom? A trip to McDonald’s (he likes the skeezy playscape, shudder) for completing 5 worksheets. We didn’t really need that other goal of eating all his food, because he does that, and then some.
Yes, I’m aware that those are pretty big prizes, but the key to making a chart work is knowing what currency works for your child. There’s no way he’ll work for little, junky dollar-bin toys. And it’s summertime, so there needs to be fun activities on the hook to keep him interested.
It’s totally worth it.
Especially since I ran into his sped teacher this weekend at Walmart. When she asked how Connor was doing, I replied, “he’s doing great, he’s already read 10 books this summer and earned himself some roller skates, and we’re only 2 weeks in!!”
He might never LOVE reading, but he will always love doing fun things. This way it’s a win-win for everybody.
Except me, when I end up spending an afternoon at Chuck E. Cheese, with a million screaming kids and no open bar.