Alternative Education – The ADD Child

What educational format is best for the ADD/ADHD child? As a parent, there are many choices, and increasingly popular choices, to public education. While making a decision may seem more difficult in the case of ADD/ADHD, the process is the same for the parent of any child.

A recent article in USA Today reports that home schooling has been on a steady rise for the last five years. There are now 1.5 million children being home schooled, up 74% since 1999. A desire for religious or moral instruction, formerly the number one reason to choose homeschooling, is now the second most popular reason. The first reason is safety and avoidance of peer pressure and exposure to drugs. Third is the dissatisfaction with academic instruction and fourth is interest in nontraditional approaches.

Current statistics indicate that the number of alternative educational/school choices, not including religious based schools or military schools, is somewhere around twelve thousand. That is the largest number of choices ever to exist outside the traditional public school system and the number keeps growing.

Obviously, the selection of public versus private includes many factors, among them the practical aspects of cost, location, transportation and does the alternative represent a basic ideology that the parent feels would be detrimental to the child. What follows is a look at some of the factors in choosing an educational format.

Determining the educational goal, as a parent, is an easy way to eliminate whole groupings of alternative educational choices. However, a parent might be wise to avoid automatically eliminating, for example, religiously based schools because they are simply not of the family’s religion. A school might be quite passive about religious “recruitment” of the child, as are many Catholic private schools, or they may be very active, even aggressive, in the “recruitment” of a child, as are many more fundamentally based religious schools. In one case, a parent chose such a school because of its educational quality but did not fully understand the aggressiveness of the school in converting her child to its belief system. At least not until her child started coming home every day, in tears, begging her mother to convert because she would go to hell if she didn’t. Upon further questioning, it was clear that the school had made the child responsible for the task of converting the mother. The child was nine. The mother moved the child the following week.

Next, we want to look at the child. It is imperative to look at the child from multiple perspectives, not just does he/she have ADD/ADHD. Because ADD plays out differently based on learning style, processing style and communication style, the parent should find the school that either actively teaches in a variety of styles or specializes in the styles that best enable his/her child to learn. The parent should also consider aspects such as the child’s emotional age and if the child has already found his/her passion(s) in life. If the child is brilliant in computer programming and development and could possibly be the next Bill Gates, the parent would be wise to enroll that child in a school program that specializes in dealing with technically gifted children, as long as all the other bases are covered. Personality and gender also play a role in the whole child. Finally, it is important to gravitate to schools that interweave the development of critical thinking with the development of personal responsibility.

Other things to consider:

· Does the child need structure or is he/she self-structuring?

· How well does the child function independently?

· Does the child have difficulty dealing with change?

· Does the child relate better to a male or a female teacher — or does it matter?

· What is the child’s social skill level with peers and, if this is a challenge, how does the school deal with those kinds of issues?

· What kind of participation is required of the parent, and is this level of participation possible within the framework of the entire family?

If the parents are investigating home schooling, there are some pros and cons to consider.

On the positive side, there are many educational support programs for home schooling currently available and more coming on line all the time. They vary in participation level needed by the parent. Just like shopping for a school, the parent needs to look for an education support program that will best work with the specific child and with the family. Home schooling can allow a child to learn at his/her own pace and can be creatively modified as the child goes on.

On the negative side of home schooling is the stress on the parents. Does the home schooling parent have a flexible teaching style and can that parent switch between the teaching and the parenting roles easily? The teaching parent should currently communicate well with the child and have been successful in helping the child learn new things and to develop new skill sets. As a simple measure, how has the parent done on helping the child with his/her homework to date? There may be resentment between parents caused by the time, energy, and effort required for teaching, on one hand, and by the resulting relationship with the child on the other. More effort will be required of the parents to ensure that the child gets both sufficient social interaction and is exposed to the diversity that the world has to offer, including opinions other than the parent’s own. Finally, can the parents help the child to develop the skill sets to manage well in the world when the home schooling ends?

Home schooling is a viable option. If the parents live in a big enough area, they are even likely to find local home schooling groups that do things together. The home schooled child may also attend a class here or there in order to fill out the educational experience. The parents need to make an extra effort in the area of social skills, to be wary of creating an unhealthy attachment or dependency on themselves and to guard against becoming insular in a way that limits the child in dealing with the ever-growing diversity of the world.

The key to finding a successful educational format for the child is for the parents to do their own homework! They need to determine what their educational priorities are and to diligently investigate their options in light of the whole child regardless of ADD/ADHD.

Priorities For The Young

A young person is one who has reached a point where he can take responsibility for any aspect of his life no matter how insignificant it seems. It is a state and an opportunity that one has only once in his lifetime. It is a passing phase; usually it slips away. Most people only discover that they were young. Unfortunately, young people are either engaged in unprofitable or destructive associations and activities. They end up learning things and making mistakes that have far reaching implications for the rest of their lives. I have written here few suggestions that will be profitable to the young in this regard, if they take heed.

1. Personal and Profound Relationship with God: The first and most important priority is to seek, have and maintain a relationship with God at the earliest age possible. God is our maker, he has plans for us, he knows the tomorrow of our lives; it is only with him that we can become the best. As soon as you can read this, seek a personal relationship with God. This is how to do it; realize that as a man you are a sinner, repent of your sins, accept and believe the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ on the cross for you, pray always, get a bible, read it always, obey its instructions, believe its promises and join yourself to a church or fellowship where you can get enough encouragement from other believers. This is the most important decision you can ever make in your life. If you make it, it will save you many troubles and regrets.

2. Self Discovery: The next priority is to discover yourself. Look inwards to discover your potentials – the things you can do easily, your aspirations – what you desire to become in life and your interests – things you like to do. These will help guide your decisions and actions as you grow up. Discover your personality – whether you are the quiet and shy type or you are talking and outgoing. Find out the subjects you are interested in and pass easily and those you need to work hard in order to pass. Ask your parents/teachers/elder ones what it means to be male/female; how to take care of yourself and how to conduct yourself. You may also need to read books by godly authors.

3. Education/Self-Development: This is very important. Formal education is acquired in the classroom in schools while informal education is acquired elsewhere by yourself from your experience, from your parents/elders etc. You need to seek both. Education is a sign that you are growing, it gives you an edge over others and helps you fit into and function properly in the society. When you are young that is the time to read your books and study hard to acquire educational qualifications. It is not the time to be lazy, roaming about, attending parties/picnics, watching movies/football, drinking/smoking etc at the expense of your studies and other more important life issues. It is time to read and study about self development/improvement, how to overcome your inherent weaknesses and deficiencies, how to dress better, cultivating good manners, how to cook, wash your clothes and iron them, farm, drive, keep a house neat and tidy etc. It is the time to read and memorize the Bible, learn to pray and cultivate other godly habits. It is the time to ask questions and learn from elders.

4. Purposeful/Profitable Friendships: Good friends are assets, you will need them always. They can be of great help in your times of need both now and in the future and encourage you to success. Seek to establish friendships with both your sex and the opposite sex. But such friendships must be purposeful and profitable. Since your friends will in the end determine your character, you must ensure that they are godly and at least share your values and have ambition to become something reasonable in the future. It is good to share the friendship and company of the opposite sex; this will help you to learn about them and how to relate with them. But you must guard against becoming excessively attached to only one person. You may not be able to resist the temptation to have sex and this will affect your relationship with God and your future adversely. Avoid the temptation to waste your time hanging around with boyfriends/girlfriends and sleeping with them because you may regret the consequences all your life. Such consequences include pregnancy, abortion, dropping out of school, emotional troubles, early unwanted marriages etc. it is advisable to keep just a normal and harmless contact with the opposite sex. When you have acquired the necessary educational qualification, personal development, emotional maturity and financial stability then you will be ready to get married. Choose your friends, determine beforehand the purpose of the friendship, ensure it is profitable to you and the person, grow together with them and keep the contact as you grow.

5. Godly Role Models: You need people who you may look up to, learn from and whose lives you may imitate. They should be people you are comfortable with, with whom you can share your challenges, mistakes, weaknesses and failures. They should also be willing and able to help you. Your parents/guardians are your first role models. Listen to them and learn from them. Don’t be independent and don’t claim self-sufficiency. No matter what you want to become, some people have become it and you should find some around you. They will not be perfect though. God arranges role models for some naturally, others may need to make efforts to choose or determine who becomes their model. Whatever your case, ensure your model is godly, shares your values and aspirations and interests and is already progressing in them.

Conclusion: every young person is normally naive – not knowing much yet full of energy and adventurous. Consequently, they are prone to serious mistakes. However he who walks with the wise shall be wise. If you take counsel now you will be glad you did. God bless you.

Finding The College That Is Best For You And Your Education Budget

There are few times in our life that are more nerve-wracking and exciting than when we are searching for the right college that will fit both our educational priorities and our budget. While student loans are always an option that can help with paying for school, it’s in everyone’s best interest to be able to pay for college without having to go into debt… even if it’s low-interest debt.

Luckily, there are endless resources available both online and from school guidance counselors who can make your decision, and the application process, much easier. The first step is always pushing yourself to get the best information, but after that you might be surprised to find that identifying the perfect college can be a fun and simply process.

First and foremost, you need to ask yourself what your long-term career and educational goals are, even if you aren’t yet in a position to know what kind of a career you want to focus on. While it’s true that you can find out a lot about your proclivities by taking electives your first year in college, you want to make sure that you choose a school that focuses on areas of study that are interesting and exciting to you.

After you’ve identified a list of a half dozen or so colleges that you think would be right for you, it’s time to send out your applications, giving yourself plenty of time to receive acceptance letters before the next semester starts. Remember: just because you got an acceptance letter from a college or university doesn’t necessarily mean that you are required to go there!

Once you have your acceptance letters, take a long time researching the different schools and comparing the cost of education there. By comparing that cost to the average yearly salary that new graduates from these colleges obtain (this is usually data available at the recruitment offices), you should have a much better idea about which place is the best fit for you.

Importance of a Complementary Educational Agenda for DR-CAFTA

LAYING THE GROUNDWORK

In September 2000, the member states of the United Nations unanimously adopted the Millennium Declaration. That document served as the launching pad for the public declaration of eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – which include everything from goal one of halving extreme poverty to goal two of providing universal primary education; all to be accomplished before the year 2015. Progress towards the first seven goals are dependent upon the success of goal eight – which emphasizes the need for rich countries to commit to assisting with the development of “an open, rule-based trading and financial system, more generous aid to countries committed to poverty reduction, and relief for the debt problems of developing countries.”1

At first glance, the recent actions of Central American countries and the United States to liberalize trade seem to support, at least partially, successful realization of MDG Eight. However, upon closer examination, the picture blurs and the outcome seems uncertain.

Following only a year of negotiations, the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) or DR-CAFTA (as a result of its recent inclusion of the Dominican Republic), was signed by the governments of Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and the United States in 2004. The agreement, committing each country to reduce its trade barriers with the other DR-CAFTA countries, was ratified by the United States Congress on July 28, 2005.2

Rather than attempting to analyze all of the specific economic and social intricacies associated with liberalizing trade in Central America, this brief aims solely to cast light upon the overlap between countries’ efforts to implement the Millennium Development Goal Two/Education for All and their need to implement a complementary CAFTA agenda.

Specifically, this document highlights the importance of educational priorities if economic development efforts are to be successful. The premise of the argument elaborated here is that without sufficient prioritized emphasis by Central American countries, multilateral organizations and targeted donor countries on a complementary agenda that directs resources towards education infrastructure, CAFTA will never succeed in assisting these countries in reaching an ever elusive state of “economic prosperity.” In fact, it may deter them from fully accomplishing the MDGs as well.

CURRENT STATE OF EDUCATION

With the need for collaboration between economic and educational efforts in mind, let us examine the current status of MDG Two implementation and broader educational reform in Central America:

Over the past fifteen years, most Central American countries have implemented at least basic forms of educational reform. As a result, more children are entering school and spending more days and years enrolled than ever before. On an aggregate level, the larger Latin American and Caribbean region has made considerable progress toward the goal of universal primary education enrollment and according to the most recent UN Millennium Development Goals report, “Net enrollment rates at the primary level rose from 86 percent in 1990 to 93 percent in 2001. The region’s pace of progress in this indicator has been faster than the developing world average (which rose from 80 percent to 83 percent between 1990 and 2001). Net enrollment rates in 23 countries of the region (12 in Latin America and 11 in the Caribbean) surpass 90 percent.” 3 The reality is that, large scale disaster or other unforeseen event aside, all six countries are on target to reach the MDG enrollment targets.

Unfortunately, progress towards the target of completing five years of primary education has been slower and few countries in the region can boast success in this arena. The lack of progress towards completion of this target is most directly related to inefficiencies in the education system and the socioeconomic conditions of poor children – both situations that result in high repetition and desertion rates and both situations that must be ameliorated if CAFTA is to succeed. Furthermore, while the number of children initially enrolling in school has increased, the poor quality of education throughout Central America is also certainly a factor in children’s failure to complete their primary education. Quality must therefore also be taken into account when considering educational infrastructure needs.

While not necessarily relevant to MDG Two but quite possibly relevant from the CAFTA perspective of needing a skilled workforce, Central America’s educational woes most definitely extend beyond the primary school environment. In response to the recent Millennium Development Goals Report 2005, an Inter-American Development Bank representative wrote “It is difficult to avoid the impression that the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean are falling behind with regard to secondary education. Although this is not included in the MDGs, it is the single most important educational indicator separating upper and lower income groups in the region.” 4
When less than one third of a country’s urban workforce has completed the twelve years of schooling that your or I take for granted, how can they hope to compete in today’s technology-dense free trade environment?

HISTORY LESSON -HAPPENING AGAIN?

Upon an examination of the Mexico of today as compared to pre-North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) times, a rise in the Mexican poverty rate over the last decade or so is apparent. Rather than being directly due to the implementation of NAFTA, it is more likely that this increase in the poverty rate is attributable to Mexico’s failure to simultaneously implement a complementary agenda; specifically, the inability of Mexico’s poorer southern States to improve their poorly trained workforce, infrastructural deficiencies and weak institutions in order to participate meaningfully in a liberalized trade environment. Rather than gain, the southern Mexican states lost even as the northern states benefited from the liberalized trade environment created by NAFTA.

Dr. Daniel Lederman, co-author of the World Bank report entitled “NAFTA is Not Enough” (and issued ten years after NAFTA was originally enacted) explained in an National Public Radio (NPR) interview in 2003 that Mexico’s financial crisis in the 1990s was bound to deepen poverty there with or without NAFTA. Dr. Lederman said:

Mexican income dropped in one year, 1995, by six percent. Wages across the board for all Mexican workers, on average, fell by 25 percent in less than a year…Still, NAFTA helped Mexico limit the damage, lifting per capita income at least 4 percentage points above where it would have been otherwise. The bottom line is, Mexico would be poorer without NAFTA today. Clearly trade alone won’t alleviate poverty. But if Mexico makes the right investments, especially in education, the next decade should be better. 5

POTENTIAL FOR ECONOMIC SUCCESS

As was the case in Mexico, it is likely that the majority of households in Central American countries stand to ultimately gain from the price changes associated with removing trade barriers for sensitive agricultural commodities and other goods. However, in order for this to happen, as Dr. Lederman suggests above, each country must now make appropriate investments in development efforts (most especially in education) in order to guarantee an equitable distribution of the benefits of these efforts in the future.

Simultaneously, it is of critical importance that each country provides for the needs of their most at-risk citizens. In order to guarantee that the children of these families are given the opportunity to be counted among those in school, countries must identify resources, both internally and externally, to provide incentives for families “to invest in the human capital of their children.” 6Examples of such incentives have been implemented through funding from the Inter-American Development Bank and several other organizations in Costa Rica (Superemonos), the Dominican Republic (Tarjeta de Asistencia Escolar), Honduras (PRAF), and Nicaragua (Red de Protección Social). Most immediately, these incentives (often in the form of conditional cash transfers) serve to increase food consumption, school attendance and use of preventive health care among the extremely poor. In the long run they are intended to assist with poverty and malnutrition reduction and to improve schooling completion rates. As reported by the IDB, “results are proving that it is possible to increase a family’s accumulation of human capital (measured by increased educational attainment and reduced mortality and morbidity) and, as a result, also raise potential labor market returns for the beneficiaries, as well as overall productivity. The programs have had a substantial positive long-term impact on the education, nutrition and health of its beneficiaries, especially children.” 7

In the World Bank’s expansive document analyzing CAFTA’s potential impact on Central America, entitled “DR-CAFTA – Challenges and Opportunities for Central America” the authors repeatedly reference technology and emphasize the importance of a complementary educational agenda that is tied to each country’s stage of development and innovation. For example, “for those countries farthest away from the technological frontier -such as Honduras and Nicaragua– the best technology policy is likely to be simply sound education policy… in the more advanced settings of Costa Rica and El Salvador, where adaptation and creation of new technologies is more important, issues of education quality and completion of secondary schooling are more important.” 8 In fact, without ever making specific reference to the MDGs, the authors recommend that the former countries focus on the goal of achieving universal primary education while the latter countries focus their energy on expanding and improving secondary level education. Failing to do so is choosing failure in the open market.

Ultimately, rather than seeing CAFTA as a first class ticket to a better economic end – with no strings attached, countries must acknowledge the critical importance of first implementing MDG Two – target three. This target, which says “by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling” 9 is a critically important step towards guaranteeing the emergence of a workforce that can respond to increased marketplace demand and evolving technologies. Without immediate investment in that future workforce via the education system, CAFTA will surely flounder and drag MDG Two along with it.

Furthermore, as mentioned above, educational infrastructure must be put into place now that will not only guarantee a higher quality education but will also be made accessible and desirable to Central America’s most at-risk citizens. After all, based on Mexico’s experience, the likelihood of a positive outcome for both CAFTA and MPG Two is slim. Yet the possibility of economic success does exist if we agree to truly choose “Education For All.”

CITATIONS

1) Millennium Development Goals, Goal Eight, http://www.un.org

2) At the time this brief was written (Dec 2005), the agreement still hadn’t been ratified by the Parliaments of Costa Rica, Dominican Republic and Nicaragua.

3) The Millennium Development Goals Report 2005, http://unstats.un.org/unsd/mi/pdf/MDG%20Book.pdf

4) The Millennium Development Goals in Latin America and the Caribbean: Progress, Priorities, and IDB Support for their Implementation, Inter-American Development Bank, Washington, DC, Aug 05, http://idbdocs.iadb.org/wsdocs/getdocument.aspx?docnum=591088

5) National Public Radio, All Things Considered, Interview with Daniel Lederman, Monday, December 8, 2003 http://web.lexis-nexis.com/

6) The Millennium Development Goals in Latin America and the Caribbean: Progress, Priorities, and IDB Support for their Implementation, ibid

7) The Millennium Development Goals in Latin America and the Caribbean: Progress, Priorities, and IDB Support for their Implementation, Inter-American Development Bank, Washington, DC, August 2005, p. 56

8) DR-CAFTA – Challenges and Opportunities for Central America, Chapter VII: Obtaining the Pay-off From DR-CAFTA, p199.

9) Millennium Development Goals, Goal Two, http://www.un.org