“John” struggles with the new demands of high school

"John"“John” – A 9th grade student who struggles with less supervision and with the increased demands of high school

Situation: John is well liked by peers and teachers, and has many friends. He did fine in middle school with his parents’ close involvement; they checked his homework every night and frequently monitored his grades on “Edline.” Once he entered high school, John and his parents agreed, he’d take responsibility for his work and fly on his own. Yet, John’s new high school has larger classes than he was used to. He isn’t a behavior problem; his teachers’ only complaint is that he socializes too much. Even so, John is failing two courses and getting low grades in others, mainly because he doesn’t turn in homework. Sometimes he “forgets” to do it, and other times, may complete it and “forget” to hand it in. Without teachers explicitly asking for his work, it sits in his backpack and John gets no credit for it. John’s parents are frustrated and angry with him, thinking he’s just lazy and not trying. And John gets more and more discouraged, not knowing how to reverse this cycle.

Key Factors:

  • Larger class size
  • Teachers don’t explicitly ask for work.
  • Parents are baffled, worrying that their son is lazy and lacks motivation.
  • John is discouraged and needs to know what to do.

So what’s the problem? Does John have a learning disability or is he lazy by temperament? What will get him on the road to success in high school?

Resolution: Through the comprehensive testing of John’s skills and abilities, and having his parents and teachers complete questionnaires and behavior surveys, it was discovered that John had an Executive Dysfunction. Although above average in intelligence, John lacked the skills needed to plan, organize and monitor his behavior, skills his parents used to do.

KSA helped John and his parents by:

  • Developing a plan to teach John how to begin doing those tasks for himself.
  • Providing his parents with a list of tutors or “coaches” who could help John learn how to organize himself and his belongings, prioritize tasks and plan for assignments.
  • Accompanying John and his parents at a meeting at the school where KSA explained the test results, and also suggested helpful accommodations, including extending time on tests, providing handouts and written assignments, and frequent emails with John’s counselor to monitor John’s work completion.

Armed with these aids and tools, John learned appropriate strategies from this tutor/coach. Additionally, his grades improved and John and his parents now have a better understanding of John’s strengths and areas that need attention and improvement.