By Jonathan D. Carroll, M.A.
Carroll Educational Group, Inc.
The beginning of the school year should be an exciting time in the lives of both students and families. It is a chance for everyone to learn some new and exciting lessons about life and other important areas. However, in the case of many students and families, this is far from the truth. Students that struggle with academics or do not have the love of learning are not looking forward to going back to school and will not enjoy the opportunity to be a successful student.
OK, so what does the above statement mean? I have found that some students do not truly understand what it takes to be successful in school. For some younger learners, school was easier in the earlier grades and as it becomes more challenging, he or she is not able to adapt to the increased expectations and responsibilities associated with higher learning. That is a major cause of student failure.
However, there is hope. Like the famous saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.” That is why it is important to teach students at a young age study skills and how to be successful in school. The more prevention skills we teach young students, the better these young learners will be in the classroom.
What are prevention skills? For students, these would include things like outlining, note taking, note cards, study strategies, time management, organizational skills, and other areas of school functioning. Students are expected to know these things, or at least pick these up along the way.
But, in the case of some students, it is not the case. In my work with ADD/ADHD students, I have found that a majority have difficulty with these skills. It does not mean the individual cannot pick up these skills, it means that it has to be introduced and reinforced to the young learner. Subtle skills are not easy concepts for ADD/ADHD people to pick up or understand, so the young learner needs extra help. Medication has helped ADD/ADHD individuals manage certain aspects of their lives, but that does not mean that the student will immediately have a skill set in place due to the medication. Students with ADD/ADHD must have study skills and strategies taught and reinforced on a regular basis. While this will benefit most young learners, it will take ADD/ADHD students a long way to future academic success. Keep in mind that this is not only a strong recommendation for ADD/ADHD students, but for all students.
Not only does this apply to students, but adults as well. Many gifted and wonderful adults struggle in professional life due to deficits in everyday skills. Like students, adults can also benefit from prevention skills. This would include organization, life functioning, time management, and budgeting of both time and finances. Indeed, many of these are similar to younger students, but these can apply to adults as well.
The most enjoyable thing about my work with individuals is seeing the development and utilization of new prevention skills. For example, one of my clients was struggling with organization and time management. We set up a calendar and organization system that allowed the individual to apply her strength as a visual person. Just by working together to create two small changes, the results were amazing. This particular young woman improved academic performance as well as keeping her life in a more organized manner. This was a result of taking two new prevention skills and applying these to a regular routine.