In other words, these are good compensations, but they do nothing tocorrect the problem. How, at home, can we accomplish the task of correction?

     •For three months, reduce the amount of written work (do most daily work orally).

     •Eliminate copying assignments for three months.

     •Perform a daily crossing-the-midline exercise called the Writing Eight Exercise for 15 minutes a day to transfer the writing process to the Automatic Brain Hemisphere. Do this for at least six months. (See the DVD Smart Kids Who Hate to Write, available at www.diannecraft.org.)

     •Teach spelling using right-brain strategies which show the student how to use his or her photographic memory to store spelling words instead of writing them or using phonics for spelling. (See the web seminar “Teaching the Right Brain Child, Part 1” at www.hslda.org/athome, or get the free newsletter describing this method of spelling at www.hslda.org/strugglinglearner)

     •Use the Right Brain Writing Method to help this teenager “see” his entire paragraph or paper before writing it. This method can be discontinued once the student is willingly writing four-page papers for you. (To receive a free paper describing this method of writing, just e-mail craft@ecentral.com, and I will gladly send it to you.)

When I followed the above steps with my bright, struggling teenagers, they did not need to work with me for the next school year, because writing and spelling were no longer a problem for them. I believe these methods will work for you too. In fact, I teach these methods to teachers at the University of Colorado in Denver, and they report the same results.

Focusing/Attention Struggles

Do you have a teenager who has to work too hard to stay focused on a task? Does his pencil become paralyzed when you leave the room for a few minutes? Does he seem lazy and unmotivated? Are you at your wits’ end about how to help him? “He’s so smart, but it takes him forever to complete his work!” You’ve tried all the focusing tricks from the books you’ve read, but you still use much of your teaching day coaxing the minimum required work out of this child. These behaviors leave you drained and with little to show for your efforts.

One of the most confusing scenarios is working with a teenager who appears to have no learning disabilities or glitches, who tests well, but who needs constant supervision to complete tasks. Here are some characteristics of teenagers who have a focusing and attention issue:

     •Needs someone to sit with him or prod him to finish work

     •Forgets previously learned information

     •Impulsive behavior

     •Easily upset and angered

     •Inconsistency in performance

     •Sullen, moody, wanting to be alone much of the time

     •Depression (more negatives than positives)

     •Often has difficulty getting to sleep at night and waking up in the morning

When it comes to evaluating such behavior, it helps to remember something: We are not just a head walking around. We are attached to a body! Let’s look at the physical clues that this child is presenting to us. Dr. Sydney Walker says that “Children act how they feel.” In his clinic, he explores the physical causes of attention/behavior issues.

The place to begin exploring the causes of your teenager’s nervous system upset is his family doctor. Here are some possibilities you can explore: