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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Working With Careless and Dreamy Kids: Part 3

This post is the 3rd in a series...
Part 1: HERE
Part 2: HERE

Caveat: This strategy does not work at all if the child hates juggling and is just doing it to go through the motions.

ADHD kids cannot pay attention. They cannot focus. That is why the condition is named Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. What I find more insidious is the condition Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD).  The ADD kids sit quietly and their minds float from one thought to another. In a class of 40 kids, it is hard to pick them out. They give no trouble. They are not hyperactive but they cannot focus. Only when they start failing do parents and teachers notice.

The thing about ADHD and ADD is that it is a continuum. The cut off point between what constitutes a special need is rather arbitrary (in my opinion). Hence, your child may be poor enough at focusing to damage his own potential but not that poor that he/she is classified as ADD/ADHD simply because he does not fall within the cut-off boundaries.

In Dr. Pet's classes, we do not focus on results. We focus on behaviours that lead to results. Then, our results look after themselves. Our facilitators are trained to WATCH children's faces and body language. We had been wrestling with one child's poor focus for 2 years. This was the borderline ADD type, with vacant eyes and slow reflexes. I fairly pulled out my hair trying to unlock his potential.

Juggling Therapy
As a last resort, I placed him on Juggling Therapy. He started Juggling Therapy every day since early September 2015.

15 minutes EVERYDAY.

To date, he can do close to 100 rounds, and has graduated from 3 balls to 4 balls. His ability to control his attention has improved immensely. This was a boy that I had written off as dumb. When many in his class were topping their classes/levels in English, this one failed.

I teach all the students. I provide the same materials to all of them. I mark all their work the same way. Others top the class/level. This one failed. I felt like a failure too. After months of Juggling Therapy, he scored 2nd in class in Dr Pet's comprehension test. I am so amazed, I have trouble believing it. I marked his comprehension paper 3 times to be very sure.

Online References
For those who are interested to read/view...

(1) Juggling grows white matter in the brain: See HERE (for the raw research paper) and HERE (for a simpler layman report).

(2) Juggling improves academic performance: See HERE and HERE.

(3) Juggling helped an ADHD child focus and do well in school. See HERE.

Results of Juggling Therapy
Out of desperation to help kids who were borderline ADHD and ADD, I searched for unconventional interventions. We have had good results.

No... we have AMAZING results when the parents ENSURE daily and sustained practice. Some parents are indisciplined. They know what is right to do but they cannot follow through in a disciplined way. Then, not even I can help their kids. I think I am already going beyond the call of duty when I pore through research papers to troubleshoot and find solutions. I absolutely refuse to go to a student's house and personally supervise HW or therapy. I also absolutely refuse to nag/motivate parents to do what they know they should do. If you don't have the self-motivation to help your kid, I don't help you.

So, I give up and request the parents to source for one-to-one tuition where a dedicated tutor will sit next to the child and force the child to focus. However, this does not resolve the root of the child's attention deficit problem. The tutor is merely a crutch to help a handicapped child.

Personal Experience
I searched high and low. I even booked a booth at the Causeway Point library to look for more research papers on juggling. I could not find any proper neuroscience research that linked academic results to juggling. Researchers usually examine in any single paper ONE narrow focus on an issue. I suppose the effects of juggling on academic performance is a complex and multi-faceted one and it is still a very little understood phenomenon.

Desperate to understand, I got myself a trainer (JimmyJuggler). The activity was so taxing that I had to go and sleep after a 1 hour lesson.  I tire easily because of health issues. So, I am not a good gauge. The Husband, however, also found it mentally taxing. Other parents who have tried it, say the same thing.

This is my experience...
(1) The moment I lose focus, even for a millisecond, all the balls drop. My guess is that the parts of the brain that control attention grow in gray matter. This is my guess.

(2) The moment I get happy (when I am doing well) and anxious (when I drop the balls), everything veers out of control. I am guessing that Juggling rewires the brain for emotional control too.

(4) My 2 kids, with very strong focus abilities, picked up juggling very fast. The Daughter was juggling 3 balls within 15 minutes. Smelly Boy shot the balls all over the room in his enthusiasm one night and the next night, he came in juggling like a pro.

Parents can buy Dr. Pet's book on How To Motivate Children to WANT to Study, HERE.

Please also watch this space. I am not yet done with sharing strategies on 
How to Work With Dreamy Kids.

Gifted and High Potential
We are now rolling these therapies out to the GEP and Hi-Potential students to further strengthen their brains and help them cope with the heavy GEP workload.

Part 4 is HERE.


Joanne said...

Hi Petunia,
Once again, I read in awe your great effort in helping both kids and parents ! As yuo mentioned in this post, parents have to be disciplined in helping their children. Is there a key to ensuring discipline which is one of the biggest stumbling blocks ?

Also, do you have any quick advice on how to manage irresponsible and self-centered teenagers (other than good upbringing from young, I guess !). I am a desperate parent at my wits' end. Even as I consider seeking counselling, I wonder who is the right expert to turn to.

Whatever you think of my request, thank you !


Petunia Lee said...

I errrr... dun have any experience with self-centred and irresponsible teenagers I am afraid. I do have experience with self-centred and irresponsible parents who treat me like a low level service staff... and my solution is to break up with them. I don't suppose you can break up with your kids?

Heeheehee! Seriously, I really cannot help. With both my children, I made sure I set good character and habits in place before P6.

Jess said...

Hi Petunia, thank you for your timely post, which touched on children with ADD. I read up more about it and finally had an explanation to the behaviour of my two kids.

My question is: how do you make that dreamy student start juggling and to even continue with it for 15 minutes every day? It is a skill that needs to be learnt and honed patiently, and if the kid is not interested, how do you encourage him/her?

Thank you.

Petunia Lee said...

You can apply the strategies in Dr. Pet's book "Internal Drive Theory: How to Motivate Your Child to WANT to Study" to juggling.