- Sorry it’s been so long since I’ve posted. As I mentioned last time, I’ve had a series of house guests, including my dad, who stayed for almost a week. It was crazy, hectic, and exhausting, but so worth it. For the future, I’ll see if I can figure out how to write posts ahead of time and maybe automate the posts.
- I titled this post ADHD Summer Series, Part 1 because that’s exactly what I’ve decided to do – a series of posts about ADHD and summer. I’ll stick one in now and then amongst the regular posts.
For a long time, I’ve been promising to tell you about one of my favorite summer memories. You could probably care less, because what do my memories have to do with you? Well, I guess it’s not the memory that will be important to you, but the principle behind it.
I think that it’s really important to build in some structure and learning during summer vacation, especially with ADD or ADHD kids. All students lose a portion of what they’ve learned during the school year over the summer, but for those with Attention Deficit Disorder, the loss can be more significant. Not because they lose more necessarily, but because they may not have retained as much to begin with.
Building in structure and a little education doesn’t have to a big deal, though, and it certainly shouldn’t resemble school in any way. You can find ways to make it fun and interesting with a little effort. Here’s what I did one summer when my kids were in elementary school:
- One of my kids had gotten a new book that spring that everyone seemed fascinated with. It was called “The Kid’s Address Book”, and it had addresses to celebrities, sports figures, toy companies, and anything else that might be of interest to a kid. The idea behind the book was to get kids involved in writing letters and expressing their opinions.
- We had purchased a new computer, and I wanted to spend some time teaching my kids to type and use the word processor.
- I don’t remember why, but we had been spending some time talking about talent, and about learning to maximize your strengths and minimize your weaknesses. It was this ongoing conversation that led to one of the best ideas I think I’ve ever had –
We went through The Kids Address Book and came up with almost 100 famous people that we wanted to write to. We put together a letter and learned to do a mail merge so that we could send it to all of the people on the list. The letter basically said this:
“Because you are a famous person, it’s obvious to everyone what you do well. You have learned to maximize your strengths and minimize your weaknesses. We think that it’s important for kids to understand that even the greatest people have weaknesses, too. Can you tell us one thing you don’t do well?”
The kids were so excited every day, waiting for the mail to arrive. We got back a lot of publicity type mail, clearly sent by someone hired to do just that. But then, we also got about 20 responses that showed that people really had read what we wrote and thought about their answer.
A children’s author sent us a little book he had made out of typing paper. The book told us how, when he was a child, his parents had one of those big station wagons with the back seat facing the other way. He was never able to ride in it without getting sick. The book was even illustrated.
One day, several months after we sent the letters out, I got a package in the mail. It was a large book about learning disabilities. ADD and learning disabilities often go hand in hand, and so in addition to my study of ADD/ADHD, I’ve also studied learning differences. I didn’t remember ordering this book, though. Then I looked more closely at the cover. In the bottom right hand corner, someone had written, “Page 53, Whoopi”. Page 53 was about dyslexia, and Whoopi Goldberg (whom we’d written to) was the featured celebrity. She had taken the time to asnwer. Is that the coolest, or what?
I know that our project made a big impression on my kids. They talk about it once in a while even now, and hopefully they remember the lesson behind it.
By the way, “The Kids Address Book is still available, although it is several years out of date.