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Nine-Year-Old Has Trouble with Job Completion

LD and ADD/ADHD Expert Advice from Eileen S. Marzola, Ed.D.

Q: My nine-year-old daughter is repeating third grade this year. She has specific difficulty with finishing tasks. How can I help her help herself?

A: Jobs are easier to complete if they are divided into short, manageable tasks. Sit down with your daughter and make a plan for the jobs that need to be completed.

1. Together estimate about how much time is needed to complete each task.

2. Make sure your daughter has all the tools required to do the job. For example, if we're talking about homework, make sure she has a box containing all the essentials for homework: pencils, pens, erasers, white-out, different kinds of paper, rulers, scissors, colored highlighters, etc.

3. Write down each step that needs to be completed to reach the goal.

4. Write down the amount of time you've estimated.

5. After she's completed one step, write down the amount of time she actually needed and talk about how well the estimate matched up with reality.

6. Build in a reward at each step. For example, after 15 minutes of reading or other work, she can have five minutes to draw, get up and walk around, play with her pet, etc. You can also give her stickers or other tangible rewards that can later be exchanged for a larger reward (e.g., 30 minutes of television or computer time). Make sure that the reward is something she will work for.

Have a look at this website for more tips on managing student behavior.

More on: Expert Advice

For more than 20 years, Eileen Marzola has worked with children and adults with learning disabilities and attention deficit disorders, and with their parents and teachers. She has been a regular education classroom teacher, a consultant teacher/resource teacher, an educational evaluator/diagnostician, and has also taught graduate students at the university level. Marzola is an adjunct assistant professor of education at Teachers College, Columbia University, and Hunter College of the City University of New York. She also maintains a private practice in the evaluation and teaching of children with learning disabilities and attention deficit disorders.


Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.

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