Family Meals on the Go & ADHD
Food, Family and ADHD with Marie Fiebach - Episode 010
This week’s show is full of information and tips for parents who want to ensure that families connect during at least one meal, and who want tips for helping their students make it in a school system they don’t fit neatly into.
Marie Fiebach is the mom behind Feed Your Family Tonight (feedyourfamilytonight.com), which grew from her own experiences with the busy-ness that comes from raising four kids and a range of demands on her time. With four kids, two currently bridging the middle school to high school transition, a crazy schedule driving from dance classes, acting classes, competitive sports and more, it can be difficult to get dinner on the table regularly. But, Marie did it. And people took notice.
“I started thinking about how I did it, and I started reverse engineering. I start my meal plan with our activities in mind,” she said. “When I started taking it to the masses, friends told me I had to do a cookbook.” Although she was hesitant at first, she wrote a cookbook in six months, and that’s how Feed Your Family Tonight began. You can get your free master meal planning guide from Marie here!
“My goal is to let people have a little calm in the crazy,” Fiebach said. “I’ve been given the knowledge and talent to be able to do weeknight family dinners, and I want to share that with other people.”
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Nutrition and Attention Deficit Disorder/ Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
For a child with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), dinner can be even more important.
“When you have a kid on medications, they’re only going to eat two meals a day. They’re not going to eat lunch at school. They might pick at it,” Fiebach said. “You have breakfast and dinner. Add in being a teenager and getting up two minutes before you walk out the door, and dinner is all you have as a parent. You have to get them food any way you can.”
It’s also important to keep a youth’s routines and preferences in mind, she said.
“My son eats 80 percent of his calories between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. That’s when he’s eating, that’s when his brain is working. If we start with vegetables, by the time I go to bed and he’s still up at 11, he’s gotten his nutrition first,” Fiebach said.
Inattentive ADD and Finding Tools to Help in School
Fiebach said that it was a teacher who brought her son’s ADD to her attention.
“She said you need to get him checked. My first thought was that I didn’t want to put him on Ritalin,” Fiebach said. This was when her son was in fourth grade, and the doctor said the same things that the teachers did. “He’s a delightful boy, he’s smart. But he has inattentive ADD.”
Fiebach and her husband have had to find ways to help their son succeed – one thing that has worked the best has been to hire a tutor in the summer to help him read his books for English class ahead of time, and to help him take notes. “English is what he struggles with the most,” she said. “We have a tutor read books out loud to him and help him take notes so he has at least one exposure to the book when school starts. If he were to use an audio book, he could space out and miss things.”
Finding something to help with reading can be crucial if that’s where a student struggles, and in these notes, there is a system that I use with my students to help them keep track of plot twists and characters (Grab the system I use with my students for free here!)
When it comes to students who have ADD or ADHD, the ability to read and comprehend is often there, but when you look at standardized testing scores, those are lower, because when you shift to a question from reading and back, something gets lost in between. So, having help to dissect a story as a student goes along is a great tool.
Fiebach credits Lisa Woodruff of Organize 365 with the idea. Fiebach said she was listening to one of Woodruff’s podcasts, when she said that her son has ADD and they had hired a tutor. Fiebach said that was when her son was in junior high, so she filed the idea way for later.
The summer before her son started ninth grade, Fiebach contacted the high school and told them that they needed the list of books for the school year ahead of time. “We did that last year and it helped a lot, especially because he was reading Shakespeare,” she said.
Having a tutor come in during the summer to work with her son and his English books went well the first year, because it involved a tutor he’d been working with four days a week to stay organized during the school year, but the second summer was a bit tougher.
“We didn’t just jump right into summer. We took a two week vacation for Memorial Day,” Fiebach said. “It took a little longer, but once they started reading it worked. This year, one of the books was Fahrenheit 451, and both Fiebach’s son and the tutor disliked the book, which inspired another set of connections. “They could talk about what they disliked, why they disliked it and what could be better. That will help him to connect with the book and remember it later,” she said.
What hasn’t Worked?
For some students, the big fight can be the school planner. Although schools tend to look at planners as the end all be all for organization, they don’t work for everyone.
In addition to ADD, Fiebach’s son has dysgraphia, which makes it more difficult. “He can’t write his assignments in the planner,” she said. Instead, Fiebach says she’s looking for something else that might work – whether that’s an electronic planner, or a straight accommodation that says her son has to get all of his assignments on paper.
They tried several different things, and they know what hasn’t worked. Chances are many families feel this.
Mom working with him at home.
Different colors of post it notes.
“My natural brain works six steps ahead. His doesn’t,” Fiebach said. This means he doesn’t always remember every step, every piece that needs to be included in an assignment.
Her thought is this: “I don’t really care about high school, but I need you to be a successful adult.” For that to happen, her son has to find an organization system that works for him.
The magic of the planners is in writing things down, but schools don’t teach the purpose. To create a system that works for an individual student, it can be helpful to break things down.
Find out what a student likes about an organizational system. Find out what they don’t like. Find a way to bridge those. Bring in reinforcing behaviors and tools, even if that means taking pictures of the board. Brainstorm other solutions.
Finding a system that works can take a while, but if you find one that a student likes, using that system can become a habit.
The key to student success in a linear system is to find a way for them to thrive. That can happen in several ways, including helping to connect the activities to why it is important to them; another is to create a team that can help guide a student.
One member of that team, for Fiebach’s son, is the football coach. Coincidentally, that coach is someone that taught government classes when Fiebach was in school. Although Fiebach’s son no longer plays football, after head injuries, he has found ways to stay involved with the team.
“He’s been a great football coach for my son. He helps with the team film and helps the team get ready for games. He loves the games, but knows he can’t play anymore, so he wanted to see how he could help and work out with the team.”
Marni and Marie’s Tips for Navigating High School with ADD/ADHD
· Remember that freshman year is tough Marie says to follow them closely. Her son’s school has an app that shows us grades daily. “We noticed that one of his grades dropped, and the teacher said he would be fine. But, it didn’t. We got him a tutor, and he took that grade from an F to a solid C in four weeks,” she said.
· Don’t let your kids get too far into a hole. Marni suggests starting before kids get into a hole. Have a conversation and get kids to look at their grades, in a safe, non-judgmental environment. Set a plan in action and maybe checking those grades and adjusting the plan will become second nature. Checking grades doesn’t have to include fear-gripping paralysis.
· Watch what happens. Marie says her son is incredibly proactive, and knows that she’s watching his grades. “He explains when he doesn’t do so well. He explains that he didn’t do so well on a test, or that he did really well on this and the grades should improve,” she said.
If you’re looking for quick tips and meals to keep your family fed in the busiest of times, visit Feed Your Family Tonight (feedyourfamilytonight.com) for recipes, and opportunities to purchase Marie’s new cookbook and meal planning notebooks.
If you have any questions, feel free to reach out. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or if you are looking for academic coaching, schedule a chat
The importance of nutrition and ADHD
Helping your child advocate in the school setting
Reading strategies for students who have ADHD
How to keep track of literature notes
Marie Fiebach| Feed your Family Tonight | Guest Speaker, Cookbook Author
Marie Fiebach is a public speaker, cookbook author and blogger who helps busy families get weeknight dinner on the table so they can recapture a little calm in the crazy. In addition, she is the mom of four and mini-van chauffeur. You can follow her delicious family focused recipes at www.feedyourfamilytonight.com