Do you suspect your child might have a problem with attention?


Do you suspect your child may have a problem with inattention?

A primer of first steps.

Do you want to see an argument break out at a cocktail party? Just bring up the subject of ADHD, Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder. Toss in the topic of medication and it will be like throwing a gallon of gasoline onto the fire. Recently, concerned parents told me that their son’s second grade teacher suspected their child may have attention issues. The parents wanted to know, where do we go from here? They had heard many conflicting stories about teachers, the school district, special education, medication, etc., and had no idea where to start or what to believe.

Attention and ADHD are big subjects and this article is but a glimpse into them. Why are educators so focused on attention? (Pun intended.) Because attention is what allows the brain to take in information, organize it, attach meaning, and connect it to other things already learned. I rank attention above memory in importance, because if you can’t attend to what you are learning, memory doesn’t do you much good. If you suspect your child may have a problem with inattention, here are some suggestions

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Want your children/students to enjoy learning more, and get better grades?

Focus on effort (not grades, intelligence or ability)

The concept is not new – effort counts. However, as children, we didn’t think much of the effort factor. Getting an “A for effort” was the consolation prize for having tried but still gotten a poor grade. We didn’t want to get an “A for Effort”; we wanted the “A” grade.

Now, researchers have proven that the children who get “A’s for Effort” are going to end up smarter and more successful than their peers who are just focused on getting good grades. We now know that intelligence and ability are not the most important determinants in how well your child will ultimately do in school and life.

Dr. Carol Dweck, Professor of Psychology at Stanford University, is a pioneer in a relatively new field she terms “Mindset.” Dr. Dweck outlines two approaches, one of the ‘fixed’ mindset, and one of the ‘growth’ mindset, that yield very different results.

Students who hold a “fixed” mindset are mainly concerned with what grades they receive and how smart they look; they choose tasks they already do well and avoid difficult tasks to avoid making mistakes. In contrast, students who have a “growth” mindset seek

Continue reading Want your children/students to enjoy learning more, and get better grades?

Does your 4th or 5th grader still not know their multiplication facts?

Does your 4th or 5th grader still not know their multiplication facts?

Here is what you can do this summer…

I used to think that memorizing the times tables, or multiplication facts, was a silly and outdated notion. I figured the students could use calculators or charts, so what was the big deal? That was before I started teaching math.

As I worked with students who struggle in math, I learned that mastery of the times tables was crucial to success in math in 4th grade and beyond. And by mastery, I mean where the facts are fully automatic, that you know them almost as easily as you know your own name.

Why? It turns out that we use multiplication in almost every future math concept and procedure. Multiplication is used extensively in division, fractions, percentages, decimals, pre-algebra, algebra, geometry and beyond. Even a division problem like 8,027 divided by 23 includes 6 multiplication steps. If a student stops in the middle of a multi-step problem to consult a chart or a calculator, he often loses his place, and also can become frustrated by how long it can take to complete a problem. Also, multiplication is essential in everyday life,

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Does Working Memory Training Work?

A meta-analysis of the research shows some limited benefit, but may not generalize to cognitive performance, attention or academic skill.

Impairment in working memory is a consistent feature found in students with learning disorders and ADHD. It is thought that this constraint not only impacts academic functioning, but goal-directed activity and other executive functions as well. Finding ways to improve working memory and other cognitive functions are of natural interest, and if effective, could have widespread beneficial effect.

The latest issue of “The ADHD Report” reports on the work of researchers Monica Melby-Lervag of Norway and Charles Hulme of England, who reviewed relevant research studies on the topic of working memory training. In conducting their meta-analysis, they examined research based on the CogMed, Jungle Memory, and Cognifit training systems. They note that two of the above mentioned systems make attractive claims of benefits on their websites. Several studies have been conducted on these and similar programs, with results ranging from large effect (benefit) to no effect. The researchers established benchmarks against which the results from the studies were uniformly measured.

Melby-Lervag and Hulme found that the working memory training had a large impact on verbal working memory tests, and

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Article on Attention Deficit Disorder


The previous post needed a few corrections. Please see the updated version at:

Thank you for your patience!