Harriet Hope Green, MA, worked as a school teacher for 33 years. She now tutors and coaches children with AD/HD at a mental health clinic and also maintains a private practice. She regularly presents at conferences and runs workshops to share her teaching strategies. She has co-authored four books on creativity in the classroom. Harriet resides in Beverly Hills, Michigan, USA.

Here, she explains how the activities in her new book, AD/HD Homework Challenges Transformed!, actually build on AD/HD traits to turn homework time into a productive – and even fun – experience for students and parents, and how teachers can adapt these activities to use in the classroom.

Can you tell us how you got into teaching and started working specifically with kids with AD/HD?

Teaching was my chosen profession since I was a young child who “played school” in my home. I created a schoolroom in my bedroom and as I wrote on a small blackboard, I “taught” all the invisible children in my class. I kept a grade book, took attendance, and sometimes did science experiments with water and the powder from hot chocolate mix.

In elementary school, I was selected to be a kindergarten helper. I reported to the kindergarten before school, and was “permitted” to put all the chairs in their proper places. Sometimes I straightened the toy shelf, or helped create a bulletin board. The most exciting day was when I could read a story to the children (as part of my reading program). I discovered how important it was to create an environment conducive to student success.

Other experiences contributed to my career choice. I loved to be with children. Babysitting was important to me. I was paid $.35 an hour. Student teaching allowed me to observe many teaching styles. My observations contributed to my philosophy of teaching for success.

When I first started to teach, AD/HD was clearly evident in the classroom. At that time, AD/HD was seldom diagnosed, and students who had symptoms were labeled “bad” kids in the classroom. Students with AD/HD faced negative peer comments, had special conferences, heard teacher criticism, and felt parent pressure. The more I learned, the more I worked to develop creative approaches that would help all students experience success.

When I retired after 30+ years of teaching in the public schools, I was offered a contract position in a large mental health clinic. Now I receive AD/HD referrals from the clinic. I tutor children with various learning challenges. In order to address some of the organizational problems inherent in AD/HD, I started coaching. That is how I developed many of the organizational games in the book.

I am often hired to tutor when a parent says, “I just can’t take it anymore.” The activities in the book were created while I tutored students. Desperate to help the student succeed, I would try many techniques. I kept a list of those activities that succeeded, and tried them with other students. Eventually, students started asking for certain activities. Then I knew the activities were successful. I also discovered that the activities were not just for young students. Middle school students (ages 11-13) also enjoyed jumping, using the microphone, and reading in a different venue.

My motivation for writing the book came from the unhappy, stubborn, school hating students I encountered in school and in tutoring. The home environment was filled with anxiety and anger. Hopefully, by using the activities in AD/HD Homework Challenges Transformed!, the explosive, long, frustrating daily homework scene can be transformed into a productive and even fun time of day.

Could you tell us about the five ‘E’s? How does this reflect your general philosophy about education?

The five “Es” were integrated into the book when I was halfway through the writing. I worked from my list of activities, and I began wondering why the activities were successful. Each activity is a vehicle to student success. The activities allow students to succeed because the activities are ENABLING, ENRICHING, EMPOWERING, ENGAGING, and ENCOURAGING. My philosophy of education is all about succeeding and developing a healthy self-image.

How do the activities capitalize on AD/HD traits?

The activities in the book capitalize on AD/HD traits because I use the traits as the vehicles to complete the task. The child is empowered to make tents, read on the floor, discuss emotions, and pop bubble paper. AD/HD students like to move, so activities include jumping answers, and singing facts, and activities that are interesting enough to promote focus.

Do you have a favourite activity? Which is the most popular with your students?

I love any activity that works as a positive force at homework time. Any activity that “works” is a favorite. I am partial to MYSTERY BOX and MAILPERSON ON THE RUN. I love these activities because children love them. The Mystery Box gives children a sensory experience, and students cannot get enough of the items in their hands. They wait patiently for their next turn. Eventually they ask to place a mystery item in my hands. I am always amazed how reading improves when the children make mail deliveries.

How do you hope homework time will change for children with AD/HD and their parents after using this book?

My hope is that homework time will evolve into a productive, calm time without tears, threats, bribes, and anxiety. I would like parents to relax and join in the fun. Activities acknowledge the importance of homework, and offer unique ways to address the homework. Often, the anxiety level of the student mirrors that of the parent. At first, in AD/HD Homework Challenges Transformed!, the homework time is parent dependent. My hope is that the skills and processes will become student directed. I would like all the negatives that are associated with homework time to transform into positives.

How could teachers adapt the activities for use in the classroom?

Many of the activities in the book were born in my own classroom. I taught for success, and continually refined any activity that “worked.” Many of the activities in the book can be used in any classroom. All students can benefit from the success experiences offered by the book. MYSTERY BOX can be shared allowing each student a turn, and most activities in STUDY AIDS would benefit any student. The chapters relating to academic areas offer suggestions for academic success in school, and at home. Every classroom can be enabling, encouraging, empowering, engaging, and enriching.

Copyright © Jessica Kingsley Publishers 2011.

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