With Lockdown still in effect in lots of places, I wanted to share some of the experiences I had with my son and his inability to self-manage when it came to working on school projects by himself.
My youngest has a lot of potential but also tends to be lazy or easily distracted by video games. Lockdown seems to have "changed the game" and he feels like he can get away without putting the effort in.
There's no easy answer but this is our journey.
Bedtime and Rising
Unfortunately, while the cat is away, the mice will play. Kids simply can't be left to their own devices and assumed to be doing work. This is especially true of kids on the spectrum who may have executive functioning issues.
Seriousness and Consequences
One-on-One Tutors are Awesome
We had engaged a tutor for him prior to lockdown but now we weren't sure what to do with the situation. Fortunately our tutor was willing to continue working with him one-on-one via zoom. He sent the tutor his exam papers and assignments and they worked to improve his efforts.
I've always believed that having a couple of hours of direct one-on-one contact with a tutor per week is far more effective than having 1/20th of the teacher's time for 30 hours per week.
In lockdown, this proved to be a game changer as the tutor ensured that he was paying full attention all the time. There was no going to sleep, no turning off the video and no tuning out during tutorial time. It was 100% attention.
Unless you're in a position to directly teach your child, engaging a tutor is probably the best thing that you can do to lift their academic results.
I could write whole posts just on the subject of gaming addiction. It's a terrible thing and it's incredibly common on the spectrum. As parents, there's a few things that you need to know.
- There's no shortage of free games: You might think that your kids don't have a console or don't have the money to buy games but the fact is that if they have a phone, a tablet or a laptop, they have games. Modern gaming works by providing the game for free but charging for the things that you need to do well in it.
- Games are designed to be addictive: There's a lot of work that goes into the psychology of addiction to ensure that modern games are very addictive. The people putting these things together are experts, so it's no surprise that kids get addicted. It's nothing to be ashamed of either. Gaming addiction is planned.
- Modern Games don't end: In the old days, you'd play a game until it ended and then there would be a chance to escape its addictive pull. Modern games don't end however. There are endless "mods" and extras packs being released. Often these are free and quite often they're released within the community itself, meaning that anyone can become a game developer. The games simply never end, they just get replaced by the next addiction when it comes along.
One of the other problems that we faced with our son was in the area of work submission. Online submission systems don't check the quality of work, they just check that boxes have been ticked or that they contain some text.
Kids often find a way around this by typing any old answer into the box.
If your child's teachers raise issues with work submission, talk to your child first and ask them what they submitted. If they claim that they submitted good work, ask to see it. Often this is enough to bring out the truth.
If you find that you can't trust your child to submit good quality work, ask them to provide you with the work for submission so that you can look it over first. You don't have to correct it or try to make it perfect... in fact, resisting the urge to "fix" small issues will help them to learn. Your aim is to find out whether they're submitting real work or simply ticking the boxes to make it look like work has been submitted.
It's not Perfect
There's no perfect solution to these problems. Lockdown means that kids don't have to face up to teachers directly and that disappointment and discipline is harder to convey via video conferencing.
As a parent, it's your duty to stay on top of this. You need your kids to develop independence and to learn to self-manage but you also need to check in regularly to ensure that they're still following the plan.