Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Where to begin.

I have typed and deleted three posts since Friday, trying to sum up my feelings about the numbers released by the Oklahoma State Department of Education about the staggering number of 3rd grade students that did not pass the reading portion of the OCCT state testing last month. Almost 8,000 3rd Graders did not pass this test, 33 in our district alone, and it's a small district. Approximately 400 3rd graders in our district. I am proud to report that Bryce did pass, and passed proficiently, which is a huge relief for him and us. However, those families out there, the 7,917 families that have a child that failed this one test, I can imagine the pain and anger they are feeling right now. Anger because I guarantee at least half of these students are good students, probably A or B students, that just freaked out and had severe test anxiety because failing THIS ONE TEST could change their lives for ever. It's not right. Absolutely not right. And I'm not even talking about the kids, like Bryce, who have enough anxiety over school as it is, the sheer panic those kids went through before this test is not only wrong, but borders on emotional abuse. I am still very angry about the torture they put my kid through, and he passed, so I can imagine the rage these parents must feel right now. I've said it once, I will say it again... Shame on you Oklahoma. These children are our future. And you threw them to the wolves, all in the name of "excellence".

Now that I am off my state testing soap box, let me tell you some good news. Last week, we went to anger management therapy for the first session. Our therapist is a genius y'all. She came up with the best freakin' system ever. It's so easy, and so simple, I'm angry at myself for not thinking of this A LONG TIME AGO!!!!!  Here's how it works. 1st, go get poker chips. Yes, you read that right, poker chips. They are colored (so you know whose is whose) and not easily duplicated (as in, most of us don't just have poker chips laying around the house). Next step, decide the reward. Make it something they can cash in on every day. In my house, it's X-Box or Kindle time. We give them 1 hour a day (during the school week, 2 hours on weekends and holidays) to play X-Box, and Kindles are only for bedtime in our house. Yes, I know that "experts" say that kids shouldn't be using electronics before bedtime, but those "experts" have never been in my house at bedtime. We would try to put Bryce to bed at 7 pm, and he'd still be up at midnight. Now, we put him to bed at 8, with his Kindle for one hour, and 9 times out of 10, when we go in at 9, he's out cold. So, the "experts" can stuff it... anyway, that's we have wanted things to work anyway, but a lot of times, we were giving in to them and letting them play longer (too cold or wet outside was one popular reason). No more!  They get their allotted time, then, if they want to play longer, they have to "cash in" a token. One poker chip (or token) is worth 15 minutes of either X-Box or Kindle time. They can cash in as many or as little as they want at a time, but when they run out of tokens, that's it. The only way to get tokens is to earn them. If the boys gets dressed in the morning with little to no drama, and does as they are suppose to do, then they get 2 tokens. If they pick up when we ask them to, they get 2 tokens.  If they get in the shower and wash, dry, and dress themselves with little or no drama, they get 2 tokens. I know a lot of you are probably thinking, that's stuff they should be doing anyway, and you are right. And, Dylan does for the most part all of this anyway, but Bryce has been a struggle. And that's where this comes in, this is not really for Dylan, it is for Bryce. However, It's important that Dylan earn the same as Bryce for one main reason. It shows Bryce that neither of them are treated any differently then the other (meaning Dylan has to earn time for the electronics just like him). Now tokens earned for school will be different. For one, Dylan isn't graded yet, he get's +, -, and check marks. For another, Dylan doesn't have a behavior sheet like Bryce does. So, we haven't quite worked out how this is going to work for Dylan yet. For Bryce, he gets a daily behavior sheet. 0-10 marks. We told him that we expect him to get an 8, at least. So if he gets a 9, he gets 1 token, if he gets a 10, he gets 2.  Each subject will be determined by his ability. Like Math and Science, we expect him make at least a B. If he gets an A, he will get a token. Reading, English, and Spelling are his worse subjects so we expect him to get a C, if he gets a B that's 1 and an A gets 2. We started this on Saturday, and so far, it's going so great. They are really taking to it. They have kept the playroom clean, they are doing the things with out fighting us on it. It's going really well. I'm loving it. We have the whole summer to work with his therapist to perfect this system, especially as it applies to school, but so far, this has been the best thing we have done. It just so simple and easy, I can't believe we hadn't come up with this! We tried allowance, and jars of coins and marbles, but, it never stuck like this is. This is tangible to Bryce. He understands what each token means. Plus, we did tell them, they can save their tokens and once a month, turn them in for 25 cents each, to help show how to save money and the like, but for the most part, all they want to do is turn it in for time on the electronics. And, they've come to realize, 2 hours on the weekends is not a lot of time, so they save their tokens during the week for weekends, and are playing outside or with lego's and other imaginative things more and more. It's been great. Okay, so we are only on day 4, but still, it's working awesome. I highly recommend this system for anyone with kids with behavioral issues.

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