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Welcome to our blog.   Please note that this page is open to the public, so any comments made by members will be visible to the general public also.  At this time, only members can make comments to the posts. 

  • August 25, 2022 11:40 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Strong executive function skills often make all the difference between daily family stress over academics and helping your child become more independent and successful in school.

    What is one way parents can help their kids stay better organized throughout the school year?

    Sunday sessions can be an integral part of your child’s success. When parents sit down with their children on Sunday to explore the week ahead, they position themselves as partners, which helps to create and maintain a cooperative and productive dynamic in the family.

    During these sessions, students and parents should include their commitments and tasks for the week and discuss what will be necessary to ensure everyone’s responsibilities and needs are met. The “We are all in this together” message is powerful!

    Watch this video to see Educational Connections Founder and President Ann Dolin, M.Ed., explain how Sunday Sessions work and why they’re so effective.

    How to Hold a Sunday Session:

    1. Set aside a few moments to discuss the week ahead with your child. This can happen during Sunday dinner or whatever time you decide works best for your family.
    2. Tell your child, “Let’s talk about the week ahead.” Then ask them, “Do you have any tests or big projects coming up this week?”
    3. At this time, ask your child to get out their computer and open their LMS (Schoology, Canvas, or whichever platform their teachers use for assignments).
    4. Your child can then write down all of their big tasks for the week.

    By preparing for the week ahead, your child will go to school on Monday organized and aware of what’s coming up instead of just showing up blind to the week ahead.

  • August 25, 2022 11:17 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Punishing disruptive behaviors in the classroom that stem from ADHD will do little to change behavior. Luckily, teaching executive function skills to these students can help minimize blurting out in class, talking too much, and leaving assigned seats.

    Talking too much. Leaving an assigned seat. Blurting out in class. These disruptive behaviors — commonly associated with ADHD — are often misperceived as intentional misbehavior. In reality, they are clues pointing to a child’s delayed brain maturity and executive dysfunction.

    Disciplining or punishing this disruptive behavior will do very little; to influence change, parents and educators must look deeper to solve the executive function deficits at behaviors’ core. Below are common school behaviors rooted in inhibition and impulsivity problems, and strategies for each. Keep in mind that younger students with ADHD may lack the language skills to understand instructions or to express their emotions. They may become easily frustrated and scream, cry, bite, or hit others.

    Inhibition Challenge #1: Talking Too Much or Blurting Out in Class

    • Post and regularly review a Voice Level Chart: outside voice, presentation voice, partner & group work, whisper, silent (for classwork).
    • Remind students that “work time” is “silent time.”
    • Teach students to take a quick water break and stretch if they feel tempted to talk during “silent time,” or quietly move away from a classmate who disrupts them.
    • Take a picture of the student raising her hand and waiting for help. Tape the picture to her desk as a reminder.
    • Give the student a small color-coded flip chart that indicates three levels of work status:
      • green – “I’m working fine”
      • yellow – “I need help but I can keep working”
      • red – “I need help and I can’t keep working.”
    • Teach students to write down comments or questions, especially during “silent time.”

    [Download: The Big List of ADHD School Resources from ADDitude]

    Inhibition Challenge #2: Leaving an Assigned Seat or Fidgeting

    • Seat a fidgety student at the end of the row for more mobility and allow them to stand, kneel, or sit on their knees at the desk.
    • Assign two workstations so the student can move desks for different subjects.
    • Take a snapshot of the student sitting at their desk or tape it in a visible spot. Discuss and practice the desired behavior.

    Inhibition Challenge #3: Losing Focus and Finding Distractions

    • Increase activity levels and student interactions in lessons, and give students 5-minute brain breaks between sessions.
    • Use a variety of teaching strategies — lecture, worksheet, white board work, and team collaboration or game play — within each lesson.
    • Pre-record a 10- to 12-minute lecture so students can work at their own pace with ear buds. Group students to discuss answers and complete worksheets together.

    Inhibition at School: Next Steps

  • August 20, 2022 9:54 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Young Scholars Academy has opened its Fall courses for twice-exceptional and neurodivergent students to help them thrive, socialize, and expand their learning within a strength-driven curriculum. 

    YSA fall courses include Dungeons and Dragons and Improvisation for social skills, College prep courses such as AP, Young and Thriving for middle school students high school students, and Adulting and Thriving for high school seniors getting ready for college, College Companions to support college freshman, and interest-based classes such a Climate Change Combatants. 

    If your child is craving socialization, knowledge, and confidence this fall, check out their offerings here

  • August 10, 2022 3:08 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Traditional time-outs rely on the “crazy idea that to make children do better, we must first make them feel worse.” This can be especially harmful for children with ADHD, who often rebel against this old-school discipline strategy. Improve your child’s behavior — and his self-esteem — by introducing him to new, improved time-outs.

    But do time outs really work? Unfortunately, using a time-out as a punitive method with kids diagnosed with ADHD may turn out to be counterproductive. Two prominent researchers, Thomas Zentall, Ph.D., and Sydney Zentall, Ph.D., have commented the effects of time-outs: “In general, time-out periods appear to be aversive to hyperactive children. If isolation really has a calming effect on hyperactive children, one would expect to see reduced activity during the time-out periods. However, we noted increased rather than decreased activity levels.” This may occur due to the need for many under-aroused kids to create their own stimulation in a place (the corner) that has very low levels of stimulation. Even if a punitive time-out controls a child’s behavior in the short run, it may come at the cost of the child’s self-respect.

    How Offering Children Choices Improves Time-Outs

    Child discipline expert Jane Nelsen, Ed.D., counsels parents to tell kids that it can be helpful to have a place where they can go when they feel upset or out of control. In their designated spot, they can do things to make themselves feel better, or to put themselves in a state of mind that will allow them to face the problem in a constructive manner.

    [Free Resource: 50 Tips for Disciplining a Child with ADHD]

    Nelsen suggests that the children be the ones to decide when they need to go to a time-out area. She even recommends that parents get a timer and have children set it to the amount of time they need to get themselves together. Places to go for time-outs could be anywhere: a bedroom, a special chair, or a bench on the school playground. If children associate the words “time-out” with punishment, rename the space: Call it the thinking corner, quiet space, home base, energy place, or chill-out spot. In this space, children begin to see the area as a place for renewal, not a place for feeling bad about themselves.

    To those skeptical about the positive time-out, Nelsen insists that it can work if parents give the tactic enough time (three to six weeks), and if they adopt a positive attitude of encouragement and respect for their child. “Where did we ever get the crazy idea,” Nelsen writes, “that to make children do better, we must first make them feel worse?” A positive time-out gives kids a way to get a grip on their own behavior, and allows them to take a role in becoming capable people.

    Excerpted with permission from The Myth of the ADHD Child: 101 Ways to Improve Your Child’s Behavior and Attention Span Without Drugs, Labels, or Coercion, by Thomas Armstrong, Ph.D. ©2017 by Thomas Armstrong. TarcherPerigee, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

    How Can I Give a Smarter Time-Out?

    Because you’re changing the purpose of a time-out from passive punishment to working out problems, suggest activities that your child can do in the time-out area to help him gain control and feel better. Possibilities include:

    [Free Parent Resource: ADHD Discipline Strategies]

    • Visualizing an image that helps him cope (a special place in nature, a favorite trip, or an imaginary journey).
    • Meditating (focus attention on the inflow and outflow of breath, notice distractions that pop up, and return to focus on the breath).
    • Doing physical relaxation exercises (the yoga pose called the Cat) or imagining that you’re in a cozy elevator. As you feel it slowly descend, you feel more relaxed.
    • Thinking about, writing down, or drawing the solutions to his or her problem.

    ADHD Discipline: Next Steps

  • August 10, 2022 3:06 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    School shootings and mass tragedies are saddeningly common in the U.S. today — and kids are picking up on our fear and anger. How can troubled parents and educators reassure children?

    As caregivers, we want to show up fully for our children in these troubled times. It’s natural to want to protect them, even as we struggle to comfort ourselves. Our kids have this amazing antenna that can pick up on and absorb our stress. They notice when we’re feeling worried or a little bit off balance. And at this time when so many of us are feeling powerless and helpless by school shootings and gun violence, our kids are detecting and intensifying those emotions.

    Many of us are scared, angry, frustrated and worn out. How can we counsel our kids and relieve their school anxiety when it’s so obvious to everyone that something is terribly wrong?

    Step One: Prioritize Your Mental Health

    To reassure your child following a school shooting or other act of violence, you first need to manage yourself. You need to process your own reactions before you attempt to talk with your kids. You may feel shut down, you may feel incredulous, enraged, or devastated.

    If you are a survivor of gun violence yourself or you know someone who is, you may be overwhelmed with re-experiencing your own trauma while trying to manage your kids’ reactions. Talk about what’s going on with someone who cares, who understands, and who will offer you the support you need — whether that’s a professional or caring friend or family member. Keep your side of the street as emotionally clean as possible before you do anything.

    Step Two: Listen First, Then Validate

    We need to maintain our curiosity about how our kids are doing without necessarily giving them direct advice about what they should think or do. We want to be a listener first and a responder second. It helps to offer validation for whatever they are thinking or feeling. Ultimately, the goal is to teach them some skills for self-soothing and effective coping mechanisms in life, but right now they need to know that adults in their world are taking their safety and security seriously. Engage in conversations that explore personal and environmental supports and options for them to pursue when feeling uncertain to reduce worry and foster confidence.

    [Free Download: Rate Your Coping Strategies]

    Step Three: Respond Appropriately

    Before you say anything about current events, it’s important to do two things. First, consider what you want to say and, secondly, reflect on how you want to present information to your child based on their age and developmental level. Tweens and teens are going to be much more informed and opinionated. They may have their own ideas about what’s causing gun violence or other disturbing current events. Discuss those opinions with them in an open conversation.

    Listen and ask questions; this isn’t a debate but a chance to hear their thoughts and concerns.

    On the other hand, children under the age of 10 can be frightened by headlines about school shootings or disturbing images related to the war in Ukraine. They might not seek out the news themselves but rather hear things from their peers.

    Give younger kids a one- or two-sentence summary about what’s happened so they’re informed, but not scared. Answer their questions honestly, but not extensively. They don’t need to know a lot of the details that could upset them further. If they hear what’s happened from other people or express distress about it, then inquire about their knowledge. If they don’t feel like talking, that’s fine. Just stay open and available for when they approach you to chat.

    [Self-Test: Does My Child Have Generalized Anxiety Disorder?]

    Step Four: Maintain Consistency

    Maintain as normal a routine as possible so that your child’s concerns do not fill up all their conversations or brain space. Routine is very grounding for kids, so maintain your normal everyday schedule so that they know what’s expected of them. Leave openings for conversations but don’t force them. Most kids will talk when they are ready.

    Step Five: Don’t Dismiss Their Concerns

    When comforting our kids, our knee-jerk reaction is often to reassure them. We tell them it’s going to be okay, or we dismiss their concerns, saying “Don’t worry, it’ll be fine.” Well, there’s no absolute guarantee that bad things will never happen. We cannot reassure our children or tell them that with a straight face. But what we can say is that the probability of a school shooting is low. We can explain what personal and external resources they can use reliably in stressful situations. We can help them learn to name their worry or fear by saying, “I am afraid. I am scared, and what I’m going to do about it or who I’m going to talk to.”

    Step Six: Keep a Watchful Eye

    When there’s disturbing news and you are talking to children about sensitive issues, it’s important to monitor both their immediate reactions and their overall well-being. Look for behaviors such as excessive worry, school or summer camp avoidance, sadness, crying, increased irritation, withdrawal, poor eating, changes in sleep habits or difficulty enjoying previously pleasurable activities. These are all warning signs. If you start to see them and notice a pattern, then please consult with a professional: your pediatrician, a school counselor, or even a therapist.

    Soothing Anxious Children: Next Steps

  • August 08, 2022 12:26 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Parents should perpetually assess the value added (or lost) by using resource room services. If your teen’s ADHD accommodations are yielding more distress than help, change the IEP or 504 Plan.

    Q: “What is your opinion about putting a 16-year-old boy on a 504 Plan? Helpful, or not? He has not been on a plan, but struggles mostly with executive functions and homework. He was recently diagnosed with ADHD.” — PNWMOM

    Hi PNWMOM:

    Whenever I suggest to a parent that their child would benefit from a IEP or 504 Plan for ADHD, I usually know more about the child’s diagnosis and difficulties, as well as the type of services their school offers.

    That said, my short answer to you is YES! It sounds as if your son, since he is struggling with homework and executive dysfunction, could use the support and scaffolding of a 504 Plan so he has access to the same education as his classmates.

    With a 504 Plan, your son may be eligible to receive accommodations such as reduced homework, extended test-taking time, intensive tutoring, or a study-skills class that focuses on organization and time-management skills.

    Again, I am not sure of your son’s plans after high school, but if he is thinking of attending college then having a 504 Plan in place NOW will benefit him AFTER. For example, if your son struggles with time on tests and needs that extra time to be successful, or taking a test in the resource room or library helps to minimize distractions, you are going to want to apply for those accommodations when taking standardized tests such as the PSAT, SAT, or ACT. Getting approval for these accommodations is not easy (definitely speak with your son’s guidance counselor, as you will need his or her help in this process); showing a history of accommodations will be very helpful.

    Although your son’s 504 Plan won’t travel with him to college, he can still receive certain accommodations for ADHD in college. And though each college varies in its requirements for documentation, each will want to receive past copies of 504 or IEP plans that detail the services given.

    If you are looking for more detailed information about how to begin the process or what to ask for, look no further than ADDitude magazine. The ADDitude site an abundance of resources and guides, but I would recommend getting started with this informative article:

  • August 08, 2022 12:24 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The best IEP is the one with accommodations designed for your child’s very specific symptoms. Here are some of our favorite solutions for addressing common ADHD challenges at school.

    Students with ADHD often benefit from special accommodations. When teachers and parents spend thoughtful time pinpointing problematic ADHD symptoms and work together to devise classroom accommodations, they create effective solutions to those problems.

    Following is a list of common academic challenges faced by students with ADHD, and the accommodations that can help bring success at school.

    Classroom Setup Accommodations for ADHD

    If your child: Is easily distracted by classroom activity or by activity visible through door or windows
    Try: Seating the student front and center, away from distractions

    If your child: Acts out in class to gain negative attention
    Try: Seating the student near a good role model

    If your child: Is unaware of personal space; reaches across desks to talk to or touch other students
    Try: Increasing distance between desks

    [Quiz: How Well Do You Know Special-Ed Law?]

    Assignment Accommodations for ADHD

    If your child: Is unable to complete work within given time
    Try: Allowing extra time to complete assigned work

    If your child: Does well at the beginning of an assignment but quality of work decreases toward the end
    Try: Breaking long assignments into smaller parts; shorten assignments or work periods

    If your child: Has difficulty following instructions
    Try: Pairing written instructions with oral instructions

    Distractibility Accommodations for ADHD

    If your child: Is unable to keep up during classroom discussions and/or take notes effectively
    Try: Providing peer assistance in note taking and asking the student questions to encourage participation in discussions

    If your child: Complains that lessons are “boring”
    Try: Seeking to involve student in lesson presentation

    If your child: Is easily distracted
    Try: Cuing your student to stay on task with a private signal

    If your child: Turns in work with careless mistakes
    Try: Scheduling five-minute period to check over work before turning in homework or tests

  • July 23, 2022 12:50 PM | Linda Zanieski (Administrator)

    Young Filmmakers Contest submissions, from students in grade 3 up through age 25, are due by 11:59 p.m., June 25, 2023. There are no submission fees. All winning films will premiere on September 17, 2023, and some will be selected for the One Earth Film Festival in March 2024. Questions? Please contact Lisa Files at

    Click here for complete details.

  • July 03, 2022 2:06 PM | Linda Zanieski (Administrator)

    Excerpt from the Acton Children's Business Fair web site: 

    The Acton Children's Business Fair of Chicago offers a unique opportunity for children to turn their creativity into reality.  Whether a child wants to monetize a hobby, test a business idea, or a young veteran entrepreneur who already has an existing business, this one-day marketplace is where they showcase their innovative ideas.

    We will host up to 25 booths at the 2nd annual event at the Mary Bartelme Park in the West Loop of Chicago on Sunday, July 24, 2022 from 2 PM–5 PM

    For a child to become a vendor is as easy as 1-2-3!

    1. Register to reserve a booth. Fee: $20
    2. Choose something to make 
    3. Sell handmade products at the fair

    Free Admission to the general public. Invite family and friends for a fun day, support the child vendors, and get ready to be inspired by our young entrepreneurs who launch their very own startup businesses!

    This event is sponsored by Acton Academy, RISE: An Acton Academy, the Acton School of Business, Next Great Adventure, and the generous support of our donors and volunteers.  We all believe that principled entrepreneurs are heroes and role models for the next generation.

    Click here for complete details.

  • June 17, 2022 12:08 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    If your child ever experiences challenging behaviors, chances are you’ve heard that they need to try harder, need better incentives, be better disciplined, or that you should just ignore it. 

    Mona Delahooke, PhD, clinical psychologist and author of Brain-Body Parenting: How to Stop Managing Behavior and Start Raising Joyful, Resilient Kids, is here to debunk these age-old myths.

    The latest neuroscience tells us that it’s time for a major paradigm shift.

    When you understand the nervous system and “body budget” of your neurodivergent child, you will likely see a shift in their behavior. 

    Take a listen and learn more.

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