HomeLearning DifficultiesFamily SupportSurvival Strategies

Spinning in My Head

Page 2 of 2

By Henry Sherwin

How to Find the "Good Zone"

On a good day when I finish homework that's hard for me, I feel I can do everything. That's the "Good Zone" — when things fall into place and click one after another. Here are some things that help me get there:

  • Do homework soon after coming home. If I wait and hold off, then I never do it.
  • Set a timer. I set a timer when I practice clarinet because sometimes I lose track of time and don't know how long I've been playing. If I set a time limit, it helps me stay on track and know when I'm done.
  • Start with something I like and am good at. When I feel successful, I can go on to homework that's harder. If I start to get frustrated with the hard stuff, I just keep pushing through. If I finish it, I give myself a reward. If I can't finish it, I try to not get down but say I'll do better next time.
  • I always have a friend I can call to ask for help or just to get the assignment straight. Hopefully he'll call me for the same thing, to be more equal.
  • When I'm called on in class, I don't answer right away. I count to ten or breathe deeply before answering. Otherwise I might just blurt out, "I DON'T KNOW!" But really if I took a moment, I'd have the answer.
  • If I need more time, I ask the person to explain again more slowly, but the same way as the first time. I ask the person not to repeat a question but give me time to regroup and come up with an answer.
  • I find a place or subject I'm strong in and help others. I know how it feels to need help. My Humanities teacher told my mom she didn't know what she'd do without me in class. She said I'm good at being patient with kids who have behavior problems. When my teacher told me this, it was the first time I ever had such a big compliment in school. I felt very useful and smart. People thought I was nice! People other than my family!

What I Learned

I'm starting to get good grades in school now, but I want to get better ones. My older sister gets good grades, so sometimes I feel less bright. (I really wanted to say "dumb," but I know I'm not supposed to.)

I see that my sister can't do some of the things I can do. She quit music and is sad she can't play tennis the way I do.

We help each other, too. We tease each other about things, like how she is so afraid of dogs. My sister takes my arm when we walk by a dog because we know it won't hurt her if I'm there. Then we laugh.

Now I read all the time. My mom and I read together, too. I learned to believe with her that I could do something I thought I couldn't do — like reading. She knew how to turn reading into a game. She also knows how to make me laugh when I'm ready to turn off.

In the future I hope to go to UCLA and play tennis. Sometimes I have dreams that I'm winning the U.S. Open. I tell my mom I need just one more minute in bed in the morning, so I can win the final point. We laugh.