Eighth Grader Gets Detention for Sharing Lunch

Sharing a burrito got a 13-year-old detention


A teenager in California got detention for sharing his burrito with a friend.

Sharing and trading lunches at school is a rite of passage for many kids, but this week an eighth-grade boy in California was sent to detention for sharing his lunch with a classmate.

According to USA Today, 13-year-old Kyle Bradford had purchased a chicken burrito from the school cafeteria. He said the burrito was too big for him to eat by himself anyway, and he was happy to share the extra instead of throwing it out. But the school has a rule against students sharing food out of fear of liability from allergies and hygiene, so Bradford got detention for the day.

Want to learn more? Check out The Daily Meal's 11 Things Parents Need to Know About School Lunch Programs (Slideshow)

"Of course if students are concerned about other students not having enough to eat we would definitely want to consider that," the school superintendent said, "but because of safety and liability we cannot allow students to actually exchange meals."

Bradford served his detention, but said he would share his lunch again.

8th Grade Homeschool Schedule

Hi everyone! I’ve had a lot of requests to see what my 8th grader’s homeschool day looks like. So today I’m sharing her schedule with you. Keep in mind, this is a flexible schedule. Some days a subject might take her longer than others. And so she may finish a little earlier, or later depending on her workload for the day. She currently has an average of 4-5 hours of school per day, plus sports in the afternoons. So far this schedule is working well for her.

Now I know I have homework listed on her schedule, and some of you are probably wondering about that. She uses this time to catch up on any work she didn’t finish during the day, as well as work on her writing assignments. We’re doing IEW Writing and we’ll usually watch the video during class on the first day, sometimes it takes two days to complete longer videos. Then she’ll get a writing assignment that will be due later in the week or the following week depending. So she uses her homework time to work on those assignments.

She will also occasionally have homework from her options program, and so she can work on it during her homework time as well.

Download a copy:

Here’s our Basic 8th Grade Schedule:

  • 8:30am – Breakfast
  • 9:00am –  Bible
  • 9:15am – Math
  • 9:30am – English
  • 10:40am – Spelling
  • 11:00am – Art/Drawing (Mon),  Writing (T-TH)
  • 12:00pm – Lunch
  • 12:45pm – Typing
  • 1:00pm – Literature
  • 1:30pm – History 
  • 2:00pm – Science
  • 2:45pm – Homework
  • 4:30pm – Swimming

Strawberry Shortcake also participates in our weekly options program and this year she gets to do cooking, problem solving/game theory, robotics, and choir. It should be a fun year for her.

If you’d like to see what specific curriculum she’s using this year, make sure to check out our 2016-2017 8th grade curriculum post!

Check out our other homeschool daily schedules here!

These are just the basic schedules that have worked for us over the years. Of course your schedule will vary based on the curriculum you’re using, and what fits the needs of your family best.

7th Grade Social Changes: What To Expect

The beginning of the teenage years is a confusing time for many adolescents—and for parents trying to understand their behavior.

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To get an idea of the 7th grader’s mindset, take a look at his backpack, if you dare. Chances are it’s a disorganized mess of papers, books, headphones, and half-eaten bags of chips.

“It’s all part of the 7th grade package,” says Susan Rakow, an assistant professor of education at Cleveland State University and a veteran 7th grade teacher.

Grade 7 is a transitional time when kids are leaving their childhood behind and looking ahead to high school. Their lives are changing, their bodies are changing, and keeping their math homework in the correct folder just isn’t a priority.

“Seventh-graders, particularly boys, face significant challenges in organization and motivation,” Rakow says. “It’s typical of adolescence. They’re asserting their uniqueness and facing new challenges.”

Actions Have Consequences

Students in 7th grade often spend time and energy convincing their parents to go away, but in reality kids at this age need clear limits, meaningful consequences, and parental support. Instead, parents sometimes take a hands-off approach in hopes that their child will become more independent.

For parents struggling with how much to hover during homework time, Rakow offers this advice: Let the first half of the first marking period go by without intervening unless she asks for help. Once you get initial feedback from the school, adjust the game plan accordingly. If her grades in math are terrible, Rakow suggests, you can say “I need to see your math homework every night before you put it in your backpack.”

If that doesn’t happen, “then have consequences,” she says. “Real ones.” For example, you could take away your child’s video games until her grades come up or restrict access to television, the computer, or her cell phone.

It’s important that parents make good on their threats of punishment. If you tell your 7th grader you’re going to ground her if you get another report saying she isn’t doing her homework, then you need to ground her.

“Our lives are so busy, we don’t follow through on consequences,” Rakow says. “The kids find out we’re full of baloney.”

Another shift that continues from 5th and 6th grades is the need for kids to gain approval from peers rather than adults. They are no longer motivated to do well in school because they want to please their teachers or their parents. They want to gain favor among their peers. Girls who have always been good at math may get the message that it’s cooler to be dumb in class than to be the student who always has the right answer.

They are searching for meaning in their lives but often find school assignments void of meaning. “They question us and say ‘Why do I have to do this?’ and we say ‘Because you’ll need to know it later when you’re in the real world,’ ” Rakow says.

Like so many parental retorts, that doesn’t cut it. “They live in an immediate, self-involved place,” she says. A 7th grader responds better to a reply such as “Because if you don’t learn it and your grade drops, you are going to be grounded every Saturday night for a month.”

The hardest part about having a 7th grader is that their behavior can be confusing. One minute you’re talking about current events and your child seems like an adult the next, he’s stomping away and throwing a temper tantrum, Rakow says. That’s why it’s so important for parents not to let discipline issues slide: “It goes from being a stage to being their behavior.”

Time for Exploration

Another issue parents face with their 7th grader is conflict over activities. Your child may want to play a sport as well as an instrument and remain active in a youth group, running her parents ragged. Or she may want to drop piano lessons in favor of soccer.

“It’s a very exploratory time of life,” Rakow says. “In many cases, the child has a lot of interests.”

Rakow recommends allowing your child to explore several activities if he wants to, knowing that by high school his interests will have narrowed. “If you really think they’re making a poor choice, you negotiate,” she says. For example, you may be able to convince your child to stick with piano lessons for one more year if you promise to let him drop the activity without a guilt trip if he still wants to at the end of that time.

Even as your child is busy juggling more activities and subjects than ever before, he may have little to say. You ask how school was: “Fine.” You ask what he did: “Nothing.”

“Too often, the parents give up and don’t pursue it,” Rakow says. She prefers a play-by-play approach: What did you do in first period? Second period? At lunch?

Once your child tires of this interrogation, he might just open up and give you a few more details the first time you ask “How was school?”

The 7th grader can test a parent’s patience, but the key is to not surrender. Once they learn it’s not OK to quit doing their homework, to stop working hard in school, to demand a cell phone only to never answer it when a parent calls, and to mumble one-word responses to their parents, they’ll realize it’s useless to push back.

And then, don’t be surprised if out of nowhere you get a glimpse of the fantastic teenager your child is turning into. “When a child is well-parented in middle school,” Rakow says, “I find that they rise to the occasion.”

The Amish Cook: Ultimate Tossed Salad

Everyone arrived at our small, white country schoolhouse. It was a day when everyone gathered to celebrate another successful school year. We had taken very few days off throughout the term, so school was letting out early for the year. Children played happily on the playground, and smiles were as common as the cheery yellow dandelions on the lawn. (scroll down for the Ultimate Tossed Salad!)

By 9:30, we were all seated, ready for the 20 children and 2 teachers to file in and share the program they had diligently practiced. It looked stunning with girls wearing raspberry dresses, and the boys gray shirts, all sewed by the teachers for year-end gifts.

In no time, Hosanna was begging to go sit with Julia. "You may go sit with her when they're done with the program," Daddy assured. After two congregational songs and a brief devotional by our deacon, the children stood to sing in beautiful harmony. Then, in perfect unison, they recited Max Lucado's story, "You are Special", in poem form, with most of it written by my mother.

Next, Julia and the five other little girls sang a song. To my mother heart, it was just too sweet.

I was amazed how perfectly they sang songs and recited all 21 verses of "You Are Special" in various increments. As soon as the last notes died away, Hosanna dashed up and into Julia's arms.

Next, there were the congratulations to the graduates, a word of thanks to the drivers who brought children to school, and finally, a prayer of thanks was offered for the food which had been prepared.

Nate Zehrs had graciously grilled chicken in honor of their daughter graduating eighth grade. Besides the delicious chicken, there were herbed potatoes, wedding salad, cheesecakes, pie, and hot drinks.

The children and youth had scarcely finished eating when they rushed off to play softball, a high lite for all on our annual school picnics. The best game is the dads playing against their upper-grade children. Hats off to the upper-graders, they won!

For the pre-scholars, who are too young to play ball, we had a fishing game. First, we had activities for them to get their 'fishing license.' First, we talked about the word "praise" and introduced them to the verse, "Praise ye the Lord." Soon they were saying what they're thankful for, then I'd repeated it, saying, "Yes! Thank you, Jesus, for Mom and Daddy!" (Or whatever they were thankful for.) "See how easy it is to praise God? You just say, 'Thank you, God'!" Next, we had a little discussion on how God also made our mouth to praise with songs and sang, We Praise thee O God. Last, when the children recited their little verse, they got their 'fishing pole', consisting of a stick with fish line string and a clothespin as the hook. They cast into the 'pond', a large box. Julia and one of her friends sat inside the box, fastening goodie baggies filled with snacks, balloons, and a pair of sunglasses.

By the time we were done, finger foods and drinks were being set out for all to enjoy. There's always an extensive array of homemade goodies to choose from, along with ice cream cones and drinks.

Next, Stephen Wengerd showed the children a kite he brought along for them to watch. Jesse, who loves heights, was utterly impressed. He didn't miss a beat, taking everything in with his big blue eyes. Looking at Stephen, he said, "If I had one of those things (kites) fastened to my arms, I could fly way up there!"

All too soon, the day was over. Needless to say, when we returned home, Daniel and I made plans to put everyone to bed early it had been a big day for everyone. "You mean we are going to bed already?" Julia wanted to know, "I expected it to be only mid-afternoon." Surely time flies when you're having fun!

Okay, so here you go withthe Ultimate Tossed Salad that we served at the program. It's always hit no matter what!

Young foodies add recipes to SD school cafeterias

The days of mystery meat are long gone in school cafeterias, but that doesn’t mean the menus don’t need to be updated every now and then.

Next year’s San Diego Unified School District menu will get a pick-me-up, courtesy of two students who won a recipe contest designed to promote healthy lunch offerings and make the cafeteria a more appealing place to eat.

Ocean Beach Elementary School fourth-grader Zarai Rosenzweig-Bullard won first place in the contest for students in Kindergarten through fifth-grade with her “Terrific Turkey Tacos.” Correia Middle School eighth-grader Ava Marie Bunn took first place among students in sixth-grade through high school for her “AVAcado salad.”

In addition to influencing the cafeteria menu, the young foodies also won an Amazon Kindle Fire in the district’s second annual Kid’s Create Recipe Contest.

The younger elementary students were charged with concocting a personal recipe for the district’s new Taco Tuesdays menu, which will make its debut in school cafeteria’s come fall. The contest required the students to list ingredients and provide detailed, step-by-step instructions under rules that were inspired by the state’s Common Core curriculum.

The older children were tasked with creating an entrée salad comprised of greens, fruit and whole grain pasta or whole grain rice. All recipes had to meet the school district’s nutritional guidelines.

Ava’s salad includes tortilla strips, red peppers, garbanzo and pinto beans. Zarai’s tacos are made with ground turkey, Monterey Jack and cheddar cheeses, avocado, sour cream, lettuce and tomato.

San Diego Unified has long tested new meals with help from student tasters. But the contest marks the first time the district has sought out recipes from students.

‘No Contact’ a Touchy Issue at Middle School

Matthew Almodovar likes holding his girlfriend’s hand during lunch or when they’re walking to class. But at Culver City Middle School, that display of affection could land the couple in trouble.

At the only public middle school in Culver City, it is against school policy for students to hold hands, hug or kiss on campus. Perhaps more important, the “no contact” rule also prohibits students from hitting, shoving or pushing classmates.

Schools nationwide have policies to prevent violence and sexual harassment, but some go further -- such as creating a rule against touching. In March, one middle school student in Bend, Ore., was sent to detention after repeatedly defying a teacher’s warning to refrain from hugging another student. A similar situation occurred at a junior high in Euless, Texas, in 2003.

Many educators say the policy teaches students what is -- and isn’t -- appropriate behavior at school, which they say is especially important during the middle school years. What’s OK at the mall or the movies, some educators say, isn’t necessarily OK at school, where the focus should be on academics.

There are others, however, who say that although in theory the policy could be effective, it is nearly impossible to implement because enforcement is subjective and inconsistent.

The policy came out of a meeting two years ago when administrators, counselors and teachers discussed bullying, a topic that former Principal Patricia Jaffe said was “extremely important” at middle schools everywhere. Jaffe was principal at the 1,739-student school until October and is now an assistant superintendent of the Culver City Unified School District.

Whether the policy has been effective in decreasing on-campus violence is unclear. Principal Jerry Kosch says the number of suspensions related to fighting, bullying and sexual harassment has declined, but some students and parents say fights regularly break out at or near the school.

Kosch emphasized that the no-contact policy is just one of many campus programs to combat fighting, bullying and sexual harassment.

The policy is basically an unwritten rule, Kosch said. Nowhere does it appear in the school’s Student/Parent Handbook, distributed at the beginning of each academic year.

Rather, he said, the no-contact rule is a “catch phrase for administrators, teachers and security to say to the students [that is] short and to the point.”

Most infractions of the policy result in a warning but more serious behavior, such as fighting or kissing, could result in calls home or even suspension.

But enforcing the policy is difficult because teachers and students interpret it differently.

Some students said it was their understanding that all hugs, even between friends, were banned others said they believed only contact between boyfriends and girlfriends was forbidden. (Administrators say hugging between friends is permitted.)

“We can’t touch each other. We couldn’t even do this,” eighth-grader Brenda Esquivel said as she put her arm around a friend’s shoulder.

During a recent lunch, various couples on campus were holding hands most declined to talk to a reporter, fearing they would get in trouble.

If Assistant Principal Hiram Celis saw them, they’d get an earful.

“When I’m out there and see something inappropriate, I’ll let them know. I don’t think parents know they have boyfriends and girlfriends,” he said, adding that he believes holding hands could “lead to more intimate situations.”

Kosch agreed. “You let them hold hands, next thing they’re on the grass” kissing, he said. When he sees two students holding hands, he said, he usually gives them a funny look or simply says, “no contact.”

But Claudette DuBois, an eighth-grade social studies teacher, said she wouldn’t reprimand students for holding hands.

The policy “is not about public displays of affection. Kissing behind the trees will go on forever,” she said. Rather, it is designed to curb “inappropriate touching,” DuBois said.

Matthew Almodovar, the seventh-grader who likes to walk hand in hand with his girlfriend, Taylor Lankford, said they had never been scolded. Likewise, seventh-grader Stephanie Lozada also said she and her boyfriend had not gotten in trouble for walking with their hands locked.

Inconsistency in enforcing the policy could undermine it, said Paul Chung, assistant professor of pediatrics at UCLA who also works at the UCLA/Rand Center for Adolescent Health Promotion.

“When you’re trying to extinguish a behavior, the trick is to be absolutely consistent so that every time the behavior is experienced, they get knocked down. They know they’re never going to get away with it,” he said.

Michael Carr, a spokesman for the National Assn. of Secondary School Principals, said the assumption that holding hands would lead to sexual behavior was far-fetched.

“At some point, they’re going to hold hands. If they don’t do it in the building, they’ll do it at the mall or going home or at the ice-skating rink,” Carr said. “You’re not going to stop hand-holding. You’re going to have to teach them what’s appropriate so that when they’re faced with a choice, they make the appropriate choice.”

The middle school holds an assembly at the beginning of each academic year to discuss school rules, including those dealing with violence and sexual harassment. There are also grade-specific programs for example, the Rape Treatment Center at Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center runs workshops for seventh-graders.

Students’ reactions to the no-contact policy vary.

“I know why they made the rule: Guys are touchy-feely types of people,” said eighth-grader Lauren Carter. “It’s gross when you see people kissing or making out.”

Rachel Lewis, an eighth-grader, said the rule is “heard and said but not enforced.”

Sandra Hernandez, a 10th-grader at Culver City High, said she remembers seeing up to three fights a week when she was in seventh grade. A year later, after the policy was created, she said, she didn’t see as many incidents.

Still, she said she and her friends didn’t take the policy seriously.

“Kids were making fun of it,” she said.

Even today, the rule causes some laughter.

At the end of a recent lunch period, eighth-grader Erica West left the table for a minute. When she returned, she bumped into a friend, and said, “Oh, no contact, no contact.”

Make-Ahead Grab-n-Go Omelet Cups

After a year of anticipation and excitement about being a big kid and attending school, Piper is officially a Kindergartener!!

After much consideration, we decided to send him to a private Montessori school. It’s important to note that before my life revolved around writing about food and homemade cleaning and bath products, I was an elementary school teacher. I had a great love for the public school system (not always the policies, but the teachers and students–but let’s not get into the politics of education today), which meant sending Piper to public school was a non-negotiable. Fast forward five years. Suddenly being on the parental side of school made me start thinking about what would be best for my child and his personality.

Piper has always been a very active, hands-on kid. He loves exploring and working with his hands–Legos are his prized possession. With these qualities in mind, we started looking at school options that would foster his love for the outdoors, working with his hands, and his great passion to explore how things work and why. Montessori education won our hearts. If you’re new to the Montessori concept, like we were a few months ago, here’s a basic definition: “Montessori is a method of education that is based on self-directed activity, hands-on learning and collaborative play. In Montessori classrooms children make creative choices in their learning, while the classroom and the teacher offer age-appropriate activities to guide the process.” (source)

We are now two weeks into the school year and we couldn’t be happier with this new season of life. Okay, I’m not a big fan of the driving to and from school daily. Besides the driving, our first two weeks as a kindergarten family have been very enjoyable. Coffee helps with the whole driving issue ).

This new season of life means I need to focus, daily, on feeding Piper (and the rest of the family) a hearty, healthy and quick breakfast, along with packing lunches.

In the past, while I prepped food in advance, making meals or ingredients was important, but if it didn’t get done I knew food could be made on the spot. Now, it’s absolutely essential to prep ahead. Leisurely making breakfast at 7:30am and staying in our jammies until 10am aren’t an option anymore. And lunch? After two days of lunch-packing, I learned the importance of packing at least some of Piper’s lunch the night before. Real food sanity savers, my friend! And with 34 weeks left in this school year, it’s key to do all we can to keep our real food sanity!

As we talked about in last week’s prep day post, eggs are a real food family’s best friend! Eggs are super versatile, healthy, packed with protein (which means the belly stays full), and can be prepped in advance. Eggs have quickly become an essential prep day food this school year since they can be served for breakfast or packed in the lunchbox. Each week I add some kind of family-friendly egg meal/ingredient to my prep day list. Usually, I keep my egg prepping very basic: hardboiled eggs, burritos, or omelet cups. Since we’ve already discussed the basics of a good ol’ hardboiled egg and how to assemble egg burritos, let’s dedicate some time to omelet cups.

Omelet cups are made by combing eggs, a bit of milk, veggies, cheese, and bacon! The ingredients are then baked in the oven for 20 minutes until the omelet cups resemble muffins.

Even if your kids won’t touch an omelet, the muffin appeal of the omelet cup is something a child just can’t resist. Something is triggered in a child’s brain when they see a muffin shape. Muffin = YUMMY! Must eat! I have absolutely zero scientific evidence for this statement, just many years of observing my own two kids.

PS: Muffins seem to have the same effect on husbands.

Before I share my omelet cup recipe and finish eating the omelet cup currently wedged between my typing hands and the computer screen (#thestruggleisreal), it’s important for me to mention the biggest advantage of making omelet cups…

Omelet cups are the ultimate make-ahead busy morning meal or lunch. Omelet cups can be frozen for up to 2-3 months (although three months gets a bit iffy with texture and taste) or stored in the fridge for 3-4 days. Just reheat the egg cups and serve. Easy peasy, healthy, and scrumptious!

Lawyer: US approves release of oldest Guantanamo prisoner

This undated photo made by the International Committee of the Red Cross and provided by lawyer David H. Remes, shows Guantanamo prisoner Saifullah Paracha. A lawyer for the oldest prisoner at the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, says authorities have approved his release after more than 16 years in custody. Attorney Shelby-Sullivan Bennis says she was notified Monday that the prison review board determined 73-year-old Saifullah Paracha is deemed to no longer pose a threat to U.S. security. The native of Pakistan has been held at Guantanamo since September 2004 for suspected links to al-Qaida but was never charged. (Provided by David H. Remes via AP)

WASHINGTON (AP) — A 73-year-old from Pakistan who is the oldest prisoner at the Guantanamo Bay detention center was notified on Monday that he has been approved for release after more than 16 years in custody at the U.S. base in Cuba, his lawyer said.

Saifullah Paracha, who has been held on suspicion of ties to al-Qaida but never charged with a crime, was cleared by the prisoner review board along with two other men, said Shelby Sullivan-Bennis, who represented him at his hearing in November.

As is customary, the notification did not provide detailed reasoning for the decision and concluded only that Paracha is “not a continuing threat” to the U.S., Sullivan-Bennis said.

It does not mean his release his imminent. But it is a crucial step before the U.S. government negotiates a repatriation agreement with Pakistan for his return. President Joe Biden’s administration has said it intends to resume efforts to close the detention center, a process that former President Donald Trump halted.

Paracha’s attorney said she thinks he will be returned home in the next several months.

“The Pakistanis want him back, and our understanding is that there are no impediments to his return,” she said.

A Pentagon spokesman had no immediate comment.

The prisoner review board also informed Uthman Abd al-Rahim Uthman, a Yemeni who has been held without charge at Guantanamo since it opened in January 2002, was also notified that he had been cleared, according to his attorney, Beth Jacob, who spoke to him by phone.

“He was happy, relieved and hopeful that this will actually lead to his release,” Jacob said.

Paracha, who lived in the U.S. and owned property in New York City, was a wealthy businessman in Pakistan. Authorities alleged he was an al-Qaida “facilitator” who helped two of the conspirators in the Sept. 11 plot with a financial transaction. He says he didn’t know they were al-Qaida and denies any involvement in terrorism.

The U.S., which captured Paracha in Thailand in 2003 and has held him at Guantanamo since September 2004, has long asserted that it can hold detainees indefinitely without charge under the international laws of war.

In November, Paracha, who suffers from a number of ailments including diabetes and a heart condition, made his eighth appearance before the review board, which was established under President Barack Obama to try to prevent the release of prisoners who authorities believed might engage in anti-U.S. hostilities upon their release from Guantanamo.

At the time, his attorney said he was more optimistic about his prospects because of Biden’s election, his ill health and developments in a legal case involving his son, Uzair.

Uzair Paracha was convicted in 2005 in federal court in New York of providing support to terrorism, based in part on testimony from the same witnesses held at Guantanamo whom the U.S. relied on to justify holding the father.

In March 2020, after a judge threw out those witness accounts and the government decided not to seek a new trial, Uzair Paracha was released and sent back to Pakistan.

Saifullah Paracha is one of 40 prisoners still held at Guantanamo, down from a peak of nearly 700 in 2003.

With this latest review board decision, there are now about nine men held at Guantanamo who have been cleared for release, including one who has been approved since 2010. Under Obama, the U.S. would not return men to Yemen because of the civil war there and often struggled to find third countries to accept former prisoners.

Given that history, Jacob was only cautiously optimistic about her client’s release. “I’m just hoping that in 11 years he’s not just still sitting there with his clearance still at Guantanamo,” she said.

There are 10 facing trial by military commission and two who have been convicted, including one awaiting sentencing. Proceedings in the tribunals have been on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

My daughter, Natalie, a third grader with attention deficit disorder (ADHD or ADD), has had an Individualized Education Plan and IEP accommodations since preschool, but I still feel like the new kid in class when it comes to advocating for her effectively. It’s not for lack of trying. I read books, I search for information online, I ask questions. But my advocacy remains clumsy, at best. There’s so much to know — legal rights, educational strategies, my child’s unique strengths and needs — it can feel overwhelming.

What Accommodations Work Best in an IEP for a Student with ADHD?

ADDitude’s “Back-to-School IEP Challenge” invited parents to share real-world accommodations that worked for their kids. The idea was to create the most comprehensive list of accommodations used successfully by real kids in existence.

And, the more ideas, the better. After all, what works for one child with ADD won’t necessarily work for others, as one reader confirmed: “I’m a special education staff developer and I train others on IEPs, so my son has a pretty nice one. When you said ‘real life’ accommodations, you were right on. These must be based on the child’s needs, not what they give to most of the kids. Every kid has unique needs!”

By the end of the challenge, more than 30 parents had contributed their hard-won wisdom. This treasure of parent-to-parent sharing is summarized here. Please, continue to comment, and add your accommodations-of-choice.

By working together, parents, we can attend our next IEP meetings feeling more like star students, and less like class clowns.

Pre-K and Kindergarten IEP Accommodations for Students with ADHD

Classroom Behavior: IEP Accommodation
“My son’s special ed teacher adopted a new plan this year inspired by my son’s love for LEGOS. For every day that he does not get a time out, he gets a LEGO piece. After 10 pieces have been earned, he gets to take them home. He brought his first baggie of LEGOS home last week and was so PROUD! We also have a notebook that we use on a daily basis to communicate his progress and issues. The LEGO idea has really been great!”
—posted by Frustrated Mom of 5 yr old ADHD

Excess Energy: IEP Accommodation
“Knowing that my adopted son, Aleksi, nearly 6, had some issues, I got an early start with Early Intervention and formal evaluations. Besides ADHD, Aleksi has a non-verbal learning disorder, plus anxieties, and some sensory issues.

“Among other services, Aleksi will be receiving OT. For movement, they have provided a balancing ball to sit on versus a chair, and will permit him to stand up to eat snack or write on an easel, if that suits him better than a flat desk.

“Aleksi is VERY ACTIVE. The child needs to move around. The IEP also includes scheduled ‘motor breaks’ during the day, either in a sensory room equipped with a swing, trampoline, and the like, and/or the teacher is supposed to include more motor breaks in the class for all students. He will be taken out of class as little as possible, to avoid too much disruption, but enough so that he is not so distracted and can focus better on a one-on-one basis. He has visual-spatial issues, so copying from a board will be impossible. For such tasks, an aid is supposed to be available to guide him and reiterate the lessons of the day. (Auditory processing is challenging.) “Handwriting without Tears” is the method to be used to help improve letter-writing skills.”
—posted by East Coast Mom

Grade School IEP Accommodations for Students with ADHD

Distractibility: IEP Accommodations
“When my son was in second grade, his teacher created fidget diversions and used velcro to attach them under my son’s desk. They included a piece of cloth with something sewn inside that made a crackly noise, and a squishy ball. He also had something that hung over the backrest of his chair that was just ‘bumpy’ enough to focus him. These items are all included in his IEP for this year, in third grade. Also, he had a large folding board that he could put on his desk (a three-part presentation board) when he felt distracted by the activity in class.”
—posted by ChrisRD

“I have two kids with IEPs, and a third grader who does not. (Yet!) Here are our favorite accommodations:
1. Both have extra sets of textbooks for home. (Can’t say ‘I forgot my social studies book!’)
2. Both sit up front.
3. My fifth grader still needs fidgets (rubber ball, squeezy things etc.).
4. My fifth grader gets to run “errands” for the teacher.
5. My seventh grader has math and language arts in the morning.
6. They both know they have advocates because the teachers, counselors, and mom/dad are all in sync and on their side!
—posted by Karen W. Bass

Organization: IEP Accommodation
“My son’s school uses lockers starting in fourth grade. It only took a few months for his locker to be a jumbled mess where nothing could be found (leaving him chronically unprepared for class and homework). I was able to have the school assign him an additional locker — one for school materials, one for “take home” items (jacket, backpack, lunch box, and any materials he would need to take home…”depositing” them in this locker after class). It took some time and a lot of modeling, but has ultimately been an invaluable tool in helping him with his disorganization.”
—posted by Mochabelle

Excess Energy: IEP Accommodation
“My second-grade son does not have an IEP but has a 504 Plan. The basic accommodations are:
1. A taped area around his desk where he can move freely and be counted as “in his seat.”
2. Proprioceptive input/heavy work activities to combat sensory issues.
3. Special paper and pencil grips to help with his poor handwriting.
I would say the most important is the accommodation that lets him move freely when he just can’t be still. He would be punished constantly without it.”
—posted by adhdmomma

Tests: IEP Accommodations
“My son is starting fourth grade, and has received services since he was an infant. He has ADHD, sensory processing disorder, PANDAS (a tic disorder), OCD and anxiety. He’s taking Vyvanse and Tenex and he’s doing great. His accommodations include using an Alphasmart for all extended writing tasks in the classroom and on standardized tests, and he has a ton of testing accommodations.

“I drafted my requests based on our state education department’s testing accommodations manual and proposed them at my son’s IEP review. They are: double time on tests longer than 20 minutes, with a 5-minute break per 20 minutes of testing use of a visual timer set for 20-minute intervals separate location for standardized tests answers recorded in test booklets instead of answer sheets use of on-task focusing prompts use of word processors for extended writing tasks on tests test directions and questions read aloud…and there are a few more. Best of all, he feels comfortable when he takes these tests, and he is doing very well, meeting grade level standards! His accommodations help him succeed in an inclusion class and we’re hoping he will be able to mainstream to a general ed class in the next few weeks — with accommodations!”
—posted by gummie22

“My daughter and her class started preparing for the FCAT in first grade, though it did not count until third grade. (The FCAT is a Florida test that rates schools on how well they prepare students in reading and math.) I had my daughter’s IEP include accommodations for a separate testing room with a proctor (and a few other students), along with extra time so she wasn’t hurried. She scored one of the highest scores in third grade!”
—posted by chb123

“My son, who is entering fourth grade, has sensory integration dysfunction, ADHD symptoms, and high anxiety. He receives extended testing time with the option to take tests outside the normal classroom setting, and some tests are read to him. Tracking from the board is difficult, so his teachers must provide his board-work in written form. He has had an IEP since preschool, and this year we are adding the option for him to learn typing, since his motor delays make writing difficult.
—posted by vanstac

“My third-grade daughter was diagnosed with ADHD last year. Spelling is a huge struggle for her, and she always feels rushed during spelling tests. For her IEP, she takes her spelling test in a separate classroom with an FM system, so she is not rushed and can focus.”
—posted by JLHoover

“My second-grade son has ADHD with distractibility. He is not normally hyper, so his case sometimes confuses teachers. He also has dyslexia. In his IEP, they have provided him with special assistance. If they are having a math test, they will cut the paper in half and allow him to do only half and get them correct, rather than being overwhelmed at the whole page and just writing down any number and getting them all wrong. They are also reading his tests and papers to him so he will be able to keep up with learning to read.”
—posted by overitnow5

Homework: IEP Accommodation
“Homework is a stressful time for our family. My fourth-grade son takes medication during the school day. We are working with his doctor to add an afternoon dose to help during homework time, when my son is tired and distracted. He often knows the answers, but can’t focus to write them down. I write his answers down for him. I had this added to his IEP. After all, we’re trying to see if he knows the material, not if he knows how to write.”
—posted by Brando88

Other At-Home Solution
“I am just getting started. My son will be in first grade and I am waiting for a meeting date with his teacher and school psychologist to set up accommodations. I will also be requesting an IEP evaluation. I am hoping the teacher will agree to a daily behavior sheet — it’s best for me to know what’s going on, on a daily basis. My tip for living well: I have made laminated morning and bedtime routine charts that can be checked off with a dry erase marker. The morning routine is on the kitchen fridge and the bedtime routine is in the hall between the bathroom and my son’s bedroom.”
—posted by jenmouse

Middle School IEP Accommodations for Students with ADHD

Organization: IEP Accommodations
“My 8th grader has a set of books at home. He writes his assignments in his assignment book, which his teacher initials each day as being correct. I am contacted after two missing assignments and he receives a lunch detention to make up missed work. Gum is allowed during tests. He sits near the teacher, and receives physical and verbal prompts for refocusing. He uses one folder for all homework assignments. And he writes on graph paper to assist with poor handwriting.”
—posted by Sher

“My sons were so tired of forgetting to bring the right books home that they were carrying all their books around, resulting in 40-plus pound backpacks. The accommodation is that their textbooks now stay in the classroom and there are extra copies at home. That lightens the load in their backpacks and saves them the fear of forgetting.”
—posted by GinaK

“My daughter is entering sixth grade and is just receiving her first IEP. In addition to ADHD, she has dyscalculia and a perception disorder. She has a very difficult time with place values, and struggles to write numbers in an order that is easy to read. To help her with this, she will use her lined notebook paper landscape.”
—posted by ski

Working with Teachers: IEP Accommodation
“When my twins with ADHD get medication changes or stressful events, I contact their teachers and tell them to do a daily check-in sheet. The teachers check a box if all is well. If not, they write comments and let me know where we need to work. We do daily check-ins before report card time so there are no surprises. The IEP is the place to obligate teachers to fill out the form. Also, all long-term projects have to be broken into manageable tasks with weekly deadlines, rather than being a two-month project that overwhelms them. They get extra time for all tests if they need it.”
—posted by GinaK

“My sons are involved in meetings with their teachers. It surprised their teachers at first, but now they are used to it. We always start the meeting by telling my sons, ‘This is the team that wants to see you do well at school. They want to know what will help you. Can you tell them what you think will help you do your best and why you think it will help?’ The kids tell them how windows distract them, or which students distract them, or how a hand on their shoulder with gentle pressure reminds them to focus again without embarrassing them. The kids know the teachers are on their ‘team’ and the teachers understand why the accommodations are important. Also, I take my ADDitude magazines to the staff lounge for them when I’m done. I have also been known to make copies (shame, shame) and send them to the teachers with notes on them.”
—posted by GinaK

Scheduling: IEP Accommodation
“My son entered middle school this year, and I was thrilled at how the guidance office was willing to work with our family. They scheduled the classes he needs to concentrate on (and often struggles with) early in the morning when he is able to really focus, and the more active classes toward the end of the day. This last class is gym — which is great because he comes home and is ready to focus on homework.”
—posted by dianeshale

Homework: IEP Accommodations
“My 8th-grade son is very overwhelmed with the homework load. In the past, he did only the even or odd numbered problems, which helped, at times. This year, we are trying a time limit. For example, he works on math for a half-hour and what gets done gets done. The time limit helps because he can see the end, whereas before all he could think about was how long it would take to complete all his work.”
—posted by Kelly

“My son has had an IEP since fifth grade. He is now entering eighth grade and one effective part of the IEP is reduced classwork and homework, as needed. This way it does not become a crutch. For example, if math homework has similar problems, then he can do every other one. Sometimes, he forgets he has this accommodation, and ends up doing them all. That has happened over time as his attention improved. But there are some nights where he struggles and he uses that accommodation. Another important part is dictating long writing assignments, as writing is a painful process for him.”
—posted by KatieS

High School IEP Accommodations for Students with ADHD

Organization: IEP Accommodation
“My 10th grader, who has an IEP for the first time, after years of only a 504 plan, now gets daily help at school for keeping himself organized.”
—posted by SusieQ

Tests: IEP Accommodation
“My 11th-grade daughter has done a great job of weaning herself from many accommodations to a few. Her favorite, and the teachers’ too, is that of taking tests in the classroom. She starts the test with the other kids and if she is struggling or does not feel she has enough time, she writes her guided study hall teacher’s name at the top of the test. Then, she turns the test in, just like all the other kids. When she gets to guided study hall, the test is waiting for her to finish or to ask for clarification from her IEP teacher. None of the kids in the class are aware of this accommodation, and that is important when you are a teen. It also encourages my daughter to try taking tests in classrooms with distractions, and she has less anxiety, knowing she has this option if needed.”
—posted by Cheerydale

Other IEP Accommodations in High School
“My 14-year-old son has brain damage from a brain tumor, along with ADHD, a math disorder, ODD, depression, and cognitive disabilities. He has an extra set of books at home, limited math assignments, a goal of completing 75 percent of his homework, and a calm down spot when he needs it. Most tests are read to him, and he gets to do errands for teachers. He also has a separate behavior plan. I have asked for OT to be done this year and the school is going to work that in. He is medicated with Lamictal, Prozac and Ritalin LA. My 11-year-old has ADHD that is controlled with the Daytrana patch and does not need an IEP.”
—posted by WendyS

“My tenth-grade son has had an IEP for years. His transition to high school last year was not the best, but the school hired a new special education assistant principal who seems very creative and understanding of what parents are going through (she has a child with ADHD). In addition to a case manager, she is providing a male staff member of the school who is a retired engineer (which is what my son aspires to be) to have lunch with him and keep on top of him with his organization and assignments. This mentor will communicate with my husband and I, as well. I feel like my son may finalize realize how important his “job” is right now and what is will take to be successful. He will finally hear it from a mentor, not just his parents!”
—posted by crikard

More IEP Accommodations

“I am a teacher and I suggest auditory cuing to sustain attention by asking, ‘How will you remember this?’ This is used during class or one-on-one discussions of important concepts. For example, when teaching geometry shapes, ask ‘How will you remember this is is called a pentagon?’ This question requires student attention (thus can be repeated), allows processing time for memory, allows creativity of mnemonics, and gives arousal to the executive function. It can be written into the IEP as: ‘Student will be asked twice during class how he will remember facts or rules.'”
—posted by Roy

“For tests or graded classwork/homework: My son is given an opportunity, at another time or the next day, to complete answers left blank, or with ‘I don’t know,’ 𔃰,’ or ‘?’ on the answer line. (He is clearly having trouble focusing, is frustrated, zoned out, or shut down when he answers like that.) When given the opportunity to complete/change the answer, if he does not change anything, the grade stands.”
—posted by rookie

“My son was getting a huge amount of homework, and we were struggling to get it all done. I then found out it was schoolwork they were sending home. My son would say, ‘Oh, I’ll do it at home.’ It was written into his IEP that he could earn extra recess by completing his work at school. And whatever was assigned as schoolwork had to remain at school. Suddenly, homework was not the main focus of our evenings. He was getting so much more done at school too.”
—posted by lisag80123

“The main thing that helped us with our daughter’s IEP meeting was taking some charge of the proceedings by presenting an agenda of our own. I wrote a summary of our daughter’s strengths as we see them, and asked the team for their input, as well. I then listed things we wanted to see worked on, and asked for input from the team, too. I sent it to the team members ahead of time, so they could have time to look it over and come back with feedback. The meeting went great. We actually spent more time on our agenda than theirs! It also brought out some revelations and ideas that probably would never had come up, had we stuck to the ‘usual’ plan.”
—posted by mothership

“My son gets frustrated at seeing a page full of math problems, and mentally checks out or melts down. It’s helped when a teacher put a ‘red line’ (or blue, green, whatever color they choose) on the paper after the first three problems, had him set a goal to just do those three, checked them, had him take a deep breath and stretch, then put a line under 3 more, and proceeded in smaller increments through the assignment.

“We also had one teacher offer to record the class lecture portion so he could listen to it after class while doing homework. That way he didn’t have such difficulty and anxiety trying to keep up with taking notes. When he is trying to write as fast as possible, he misses a lot and doesn’t really think about what is being said. These have both helped to lower his anxiety and let him enjoy learning!”
—posted by liz

Help Your Child Adjust Socially

Finding the right niche can help your child feel happier at school.

Make school supply list shopping easy! Find your child’s exact list and in one-click purchase every item and have it delivered right to your front door.

As a parent, you want your kids to get good grades. But you also want them to be happy, to have friends, and to enjoy going to school each day.

Making friends is an important part of your child’s school experience and may even have an impact on her grades. If your child has found her niche in her classroom’s social scene, she’s more likely to do well academically, says Sheneka Williams, an assistant professor at the University of Georgia’s College of Education. “Children with that sense of belongingness are not feeling threatened,” Williams says. “They are more likely to be able to focus and feel comfortable at school.”

For some children, making friends comes naturally from a young age. Others struggle to fit in. Even kids who usually make friends easily can hit a rough patch when they change schools, are assigned to a different class than their best friend, or get into an argument.

“Just about every child struggles socially at some time and in some way,” says Eileen Kennedy-Moore, coauthor of The Unwritten Rules of Friendship: Simple Strategies To Help Your Child Make Friends. She suggests these steps for helping a child through a difficult social time:

1. Empathize, but don’t overreact.

Your son may say he “hates Chris’ guts” one day but be back sitting next to him in the cafeteria the next. Don’t rush to try to solve your child’s problem. Just listen and give an extra hug.

2. Get the facts.

“Kids, by definition, lack perspective,” Kennedy-Moore says. “They may be teased by one person and feel everyone is picking on them.” Remind your child that disagreements are a normal part of friendships.

3. Respect your child’s personality.

“If your child doesn’t want to be the life of the party, that’s OK,” Kennedy-Moore says, adding that this revelation can be hard for a parent who is more of a social butterfly.

4. Offer guidance.

Some kids pick up on social cues easily, while others need more help. For example, your child might not be able to perceive the difference between an accidental slight and an intentional one.

5. Seek help.

“If the situation is going on and on and is causing distress, get professional help,” Kennedy-Moore says. A school counselor or pediatrician is a good place to start. Sometimes it’s hard to know whether a child is having serious problems fitting in at school as opposed to just the usual ups and downs. Kennedy-Moore offers this hint: “Do they have someone to sit with at lunch? If they’re comfortable in the cafeteria, parents can probably worry less.”

What Parents Can Do

If your child is having a hard time making friends, it’s difficult to know when to intervene and how much involvement is appropriate. Natalie Madorsky Elman, coauthor with Kennedy-Moore of The Unwritten Rules of Friendship, encourages parents to step back as much as possible when a child is having a dispute with a pal.

“Whenever you can, allow your child to resolve their conflicts on their own,” she says. “That is the preferred way.” But if your child is being picked on, bullied, or excluded, you may need to get involved by teaching your child how to handle difficult situations.

For children who are being excluded or treated badly, parents can encourage them to find other friends. “It’s important for kids to understand they should not want to stay with friends who treat them unkindly,” Elman says. “When a child says, ‘You can’t sit with us,’ the child can respond, ‘I don’t want to sit with you.’ ”

Parents often want justice for their child, a resolution that involves punishment for the kids who said mean things. But a child can learn more from the experience if she responds on her own, Elman says. “This gives the child a chance to make a choice and stand up for herself.”

When a child needs to find new friends, parents can help by initiating play dates. “Friendships are made one at a time,” Elman says. She adds that some children will need structured play dates all through elementary school, while others can direct their social lives from an earlier age.

Elman favors play dates that are short, planned, and activity-based. Going roller-skating, swimming, or to the playground gives kids something to focus on besides the interaction, which can be hard for shy children.

Boys generally favor more physical activities. Or they might like to play a game on the computer or build something. Try to pick activities ahead of time that your child and the new friend will enjoy.

If your child is nervous, role-playing in advance can help calm her nerves. Many kids are so busy with activities that they have limited time for unstructured play and need to be taught social skills more explicitly, Elman says.

As parents get more involved in helping their child socially, frustrations can surface. Often parents will invite a child over for a play date, but the other parents won’t reciprocate. “Don’t worry,” Elman says. “Your child needs practice and social skills.”

A child getting passed over for a birthday party invitation can particularly sting. “Help your child understand the myriad of reasons she might not get invited,” she says. Some parties may only accommodate a few guests, for example.

A final tip from Elman: Involve the school. Teachers know the social dynamics of the classroom and have experience handling conflicts. When there’s an altercation at school parents are often tempted to call the other child’s parents. “The best thing to do is work with the teacher and principal,” she says. “It’s so much better if the guidance counselor can deal with it.”

When Kids Need More Help

Some children aren’t just shy. They aren’t just having minor problems making friends. They can’t fit in socially, possibly because of sensitivity to noise, problems with sensory integration, or difficulty relating to the world.

“These are often the kids who just can’t crack the code,” says Dr. Perri Klass, a pediatrician who coauthored Quirky Kids: Understanding and Helping Your Child Who Doesn’t Fit In—When To Worry and When Not To Worry.

Klass chose the word “quirky” to describe such children because it is an affectionate word, she explains, “but we did not shy away from the fact that many of these kids do have a hard time.”

Parents can help their child by focusing on what he’s good at, Klass says. Whether it’s music or dance or soccer, it may be an opportunity for a child to make a friend. Another strategy is to allow your child time and opportunity to practice interacting through a social skills group. These groups, which are often run by child psychologists, help kids learn such things as how to pick up on changes in a person’s voice and expression.

Whether your child has trouble making friends or is upset about a fight with a long-term pal, it’s best to let him take the lead. Parents can help their children develop the social skills they need to build friendships, but kids have to take the next steps themselves. And even with intervention, some kids will resist friendships. “Give it time,” Klass advises. “It’s a hard thing to force.”

Social Growth, Grade by Grade

Children develop at their own pace, but educators cite these common characteristics in kids’ social development at each grade level.

Kindergarten: Loves school considers everyone a friend

1st Grade: May be choosier about friends mimics other children develops a sense of humor

2nd Grade: Shuns opposite-sex friends likes to express opinions friends influence choices

3rd Grade: Has a single best friend shares less about social life interested in pop culture

4th Grade: Thinks about which peer group to belong to mood influenced by social life

5th Grade: Craves privacy gets a crush may seek out a new circle of friends

6th Grade: Embarrassed by parents changes personality based on peers he’s with

7th Grade: May start dating or may cling to childhood

8th Grade: More mature finds a social circle craves freedom

Watch the video: 8th grader given detention for hugs speaks out (January 2022).