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Therapy and sanity for ordinary parents of special kids.

Expert Blog: Making School Work For Your Child by Dr. Susan Breach, Neuropsychologist and Author



Many parents (myself included) work hard for many years trying to help their children be organized, more efficient, on time, to put things in their right places, manage their assignments and keep their binders or rooms neat.  These things are called “habits of mind” and they are incredibly important for success as our children get older.  Unfortunately, it often seems like an impossible task- especially once we try to pass the responsibility on to our children to “do it themselves”.  I don’t know about you, but there were times when I thought it would be easier to push water uphill!

So, to save our sanity and give our children a useful tool, I recommend the One Page Miracle used by Dr Daniel Amen, a psychiatrist and author of Change Your Brain, Change Your Life, with his patients who have ADD/ADHD.  It works like this:

  • On a sheet of paper, write “One Page Miracle” at the top, and “what do I want for my life?” underneath.
  • Down the left side, put 4 categories: Relationships; Work (or School); Money (or Goals for the Future); and Self.
  • Give the paper to the person struggling with attention and organization. They must fill in the goals themselves!  I think kids older than 10 can do it, with perhaps a little help from you.
  • Next to Relationships, they write down their goals for what kind of person they want to be, with the other important people in their lives. What do they want in terms of friendships, or getting along with parents and siblings?
  • Next to Work or School, they write their work or school goals, such as keeping their binder organized, putting completed work in the right folder in that binder; keeping the agenda book up to date; checking in with teachers when they have a question; putting dirty clothes in the hamper; straightening their room every week; making a checklist for getting ready in the morning—whatever they need to be doing to feel “on top” of expectations
  • For Money, they list where they want to get to, in terms of career, college, independence, or even grades. Older teens may have some idea of their money goals, but for younger kids there are different priorities
  • What are their goals for Self? Exercise, sleep, eating healthy foods, learning tricks to stay focused when working, reviewing the day to see what got accomplished, reading more books?  This, too, is a personal and individual entry

Once the paper is done, tape it to the mirror in the bathroom or bedroom, where your child will look at it every day.  Tell them to read it over each morning, as a way to get focused for the day.  They can also review it at night.  How did they do?  What should they keep in mind for the next day?  Where could they improve?

It’s simple, and it may seem like it couldn’t possibly work, but I’ve seen it change the way people behave because for the first time their goals and desires are right there in front of them, in bold print, to be read every day and thought about.  “Fortune favors the prepared mind” (Pasteur).  The One Page Miracle helps the person with ADD/ADHD to get a prepared mind.

As always, I welcome your thoughts, questions, comments.  Please share this post with other parents or professionals who might be interested.

For more helpful information from Dr. Susan Brefach, including information on how to order her book, “No Parent Left Behind,” visit her website at


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