This time next week, we'll be hearing all about how the first day of school went. As that day fast approaches, Steve and I are trying to figure out our work schedules. We'd like to try to find a balance this year that lets us both be actively involved in Jonas's school routines and activities. We got a taste of it at the end of last year, but the luxury of summer break saw us drift away from routines that will work with the school schedule. Ideally, we'd like to both do a few morning drop-offs and afternoon pick-ups every week. It's important that overseeing Jonas's school life be a partnership between us. It's more rewarding for us that way, more beneficial to Jonas, and it also helps spread out the frustration.
The school + ADHD combo isn't easy. There are a number a challenges that require a great deal of attention on a daily basis. We made a great deal of progress after Jonas' diagnosis in November. Changing schools was a difficult but important step for him. His current school is smaller and more intimate, and they've made key accommodations for him, including creating an Individual Education Plan (IEP) that seemed to work very well for the final third of Grade Two. We're thrilled that he'll have the same teacher this year. She's been wonderful with him and we've all developed a good relationship with her, as well the other teachers he interacts with. We're confident that the lines of communication with the school are strong, and that goes a long way to easing my anxiety over the year ahead.
On the home front, managing homework is the biggie. While we've found ways to make his reading, speech and fine motor skills practice fun, but he hates doing traditional reading, writing and math homework. Even when we try to make it fun, he doesn't buy-in. In fact, he often has a fit and, frankly, it can be traumatic. Over the past couple of years it's become something that we all dread. So much so that we completely avoided it over the summer. He didn't journal, he didn't send thank you cards for his birthday presents and he didn't write letters to follow-up his summer visits. (Yes, I know we've only made it harder for ourselves and no, I don't expect a Mom of the Year Award this year either.)
We're gearing up for a way to get back into a homework routine in a new healthy way. We need to find a way to make it fun, or at least make it tolerable, so we can get through it without all the tears and frustration. I'm soliciting new ideas and suggestions, stocking up on supplies, and this weekend we're going to create a new homework space that will hopefully help us to create a new vibe. A bigger, less cluttered desk with an exercise ball for a chair. Funky pencils, erasers, ruler, scissors and notebooks. A new CD player and instrumental music. A new stress ball. A big calender to match his school agenda. A funky clock. These are all things I hope will help. If you can think of any more, please let me know!
I still have a lot to learn about parenting, and about coping with ADHD, but one thing I have learned is that patience, creativity and communication are three of the most important skills we have to call upon to meet it all head-on.