Contracted, Structured, and Rewarded Learning
Who is it for?
Only those children who have learning difficulties associated with an apparent “lack of effort”. Best responders will be motivated children, who hardly invest any time in their work , have a good potential, but can’t seem to get themselves to sit and study effectively. These are children with a history of fluctuating grades. A motivated family is essential.
What is it?
A predetermined period of about 1 hour per day, during which the child will sit and do his school related work. This is done during school days, not during week ends or holidays. A contract should be drawn and written in cooperation with the child. The details, such as the exact starting time, location, and the reward, are decided by the child with the parents guidance using the following guidelines. All of these should be agreed upon by parents. The location should be as free of distraction as possible. (TV, music, toys, siblings)
The location must be a chair by a table (not laying on the bed or floor). The learning period should be divided into sessions, individually designed for each child’s needs. For example, 15 minutes sessions during which the child does, #1 homework, #2 Math, #3 Reading, #4 Social studies. The extra work should include academic activity specifically customized for the child, according to his or her specific difficulties.
During the period of learning some restrictions apply: (These restrictions are meant to help overcome the cognitive dysfunctions of AD/HD.)
- No getting up from the chair for any reason. Therefore, all the learning materials should be prepared ahead of time, bathroom and eating needs must be taken care of before starting.
- Work must be done seriously and effort should be put into this activity. The 15 minute sessions should be designed to give just enough time to finish the required work (such as during an examination when time is limited).
- Medication should be avoided only if possible.
- The reward is only granted if full compliance with the contract was achieved.
- The reward stands independently, regardless of the child’s overall daily unrelated behaviors or misbehaviors.
- The reward must be immediate and appropriate, as previously agreed.
- The parent is the ultimate determining authority in regard to granting the reward, but must give an explanation to the child if the reward was denied. The explanation must be based on a paragraph of the contract with which the child didn’t comply.
When writing the contract, all the above mentioned details must be specified (to prevent future arguments), the contract is then signed and brought into the Dr.’s office. The agreement must be carried out strictly with as little deviation from the contract as possible.
Many kids, even if not carrying the diagnosis of AD/HD spend very little time doing their school related work on a daily basis. Some spend a long time, but very ineffectively, daydreaming and taking too many breaks.
The brain tissue can be compared to the muscle tissue. If exercised, it will be able to perform tasks previously impossible. If a child is independently able to “change old habits” by “exercising the brain,” it may lead to improved academic results and this may serve as a “ticket off the Ritalin” for some of the children with AD/HD.
This may also be compared to biofeedback, only more effective, it is practiced more frequently, is more affordable and more specific for the AD/HD child.
The extra time actually sitting and performing the work will serve as a helpful academic advantage.
This will also improve responsibility and organization skills. The child is responsible for his own reward and helps decide upon it.
The child will feel somewhat in control of his own responsibilities, which may decrease the amount of arguments, “nagging,” and unnecessary friction related to the homework issues.
The program, if carried out properly, may decrease the actual time necessary to complete the daily homework assignment, rather then extending it for a very long and ineffective play / fidget / distraction / TV and other activity time.
The child is more likely to cooperate if earning a “reward.” This may develop good solid established learning habits and help to understand the concept of future employment, responsibility and accountability, which relates to the values of our society.
Suggested Structured Learning Contract
This is a suggested contract that must be individually adjusted to each child’s needs and abilities. This contract should be used as a guideline:
- Learning will be started at 4:30 p.m. for a period of 60 minutes.
- The hour will be divided into 4 individual 15 minute sessions.
The first will be devoted to completing homework.
The second to math questions.
The third to English.
The fourth to Spanish.
- If homework takes longer, the Spanish session will be canceled.
- The math, reading, or Spanish sessions will include:
Math: Answering 10 questions from book as indicated by Mom.
English: Read 2 pages and write short summary of what you read.
Spanish: Learning by heart 10 new Spanish words from consecutive page in Spanish book. (The words include all new words encountered.)
- All books and materials should be prepared prior to starting the session.
- Getting up is not allowed. Urgent needs must be taken care of before session (eating, drinking, bathroom, etc.)
- No day dreaming, fidgeting or excessive movements permitted.
- The work must be done while seated by a table without any distractions (TV, radio, music.) The work table must be clean and contain only the required materials.
- If all requirements are met, including completion of work in a reasonable manner as judged by Mom, a reward of 1 token (Value $__), will be given. The Token Value can be used to buy any goods desired, subject to parental approval.
Date: ________ Child: _________________________
Date: ________ Parent: _________________________