Emotionally Disturbed Students: A How-To Guide for Teachers and Principals

 

article how to help emotionally disturbed SED students

 

Emotionally Disturbed Students:

 

A How-To Guide for Teachers and Principals

 
 

 

workshop on severely emotionally disturbed studentsTeachers, Principals and Counselors: Are you seeing more and more seriously emotionally disturbed (S.E.D.) students than ever before? The problem may not be with your perceptions. The problem may be that in fact, you are seeing more emotionally disturbed children and youth than at any time before.

Hello from Youth Change Director, Ruth Herman Wells, M.S. I'm a veteran counselor and trainer, so let me use this educational article to explain why there may be many more students struggling with S.E.D.

SEDFirst, many settings such as schools and Job Corps, are accepting youth with increasingly serious emotional problems. Second, mainstreaming has shifted many kids from sheltered or specialized settings, into mainstream classrooms, sports teams and scouting troops. Third, and perhaps most important, there may be, in fact, more and earlier serious emotional disturbances developing in children. Or, perhaps we are just getting better at noticing and identifying these problems. No one knows for sure the answer to that last one.

In late 2000, the U.S. Surgeon General formally reported that an amazing 1 in 10 children may have a serious mental health disorder. This report noted that the typical wait for severely emotionally disturbed children to get an appointment with a mental health professional was 3 to 4 months. Some communities lack children's mental health services entirely, the report also noted. This report quotes a study that indicated that many children with severe emotional problems don't gain access to proper school services until age 10. The report emphasizes that many of these severely emotionally disturbed children will ultimately wind up incarcerated, in part,  because their problems went unnoticed, or were addressed way too late. The report advocates for more mental health resources for emotionally disturbed children, and better training in children's mental health for everyone who works with youth. Those are interesting recommendations that might have a lot of impact. Sadly, these proposals don't seem to be gaining traction.

That's where we fit in. We're Youth Change Workshops and we've been talking about students' mental health for many years. From our viewpoint, here's the bottom line: If you are not a mental health professional, but you work with kids, you need to acquire a basic mental health background in order to fully understand your changing population, and to best meet their changing needs.

Youth Change can help you move towards that goal with our monthly Behavior and Classroom Management blog articles, but these brief educational posts will not give you all the detailed information you need on the myriad of mental health issues you now see every day. Be sure to consider acquiring our Breakthrough Strategies to Teach and Counsel Troubled Youth Online Workshop, schedule us to present a live or online workshop at your site for your entire school faculty, or make plans to come to one of our live workshops. Any of these options can help make your job much easier, and could even some day help you save or salvage a young life.

troubled studentAcquiring more essential mental health basics will also help you know when to access help from mental health professionals. It will also give you the basic terms you need to convey what you see. There is no substitute for the expertise of a mental health worker, and if budget cuts have reduced this option at your site, that is serious. While a class like our Breakthrough Strategies Workshop can help non-mental health workers learn key basics, it is not a substitute for a veteran counselor or skilled social worker. With the incidence of severe childhood emotional problems apparently on the rise, it makes relying on that counselor, social worker, or psychologist more important than ever before.

If you are a mental health professional you may also want to consider doing a check-up on your skills too. We are always surprised at our Breakthrough Strategies to Teach and Counsel Troubled Youth Workshop how many mental health professionals confuse conduct disorders and thought disorders, for example. These are two basic and essential mental health concepts for anyone who helps severely emotionally disturbed children or teens. (Ironically, thought disorder is the single mental health problem that many clinicians believe may be increasing the most in frequency– especially in young children.)

We also need more organizations like the Family Resource Centers in Kentucky. Kentucky's Family Resource Centers are located in just about every school in the state. Their staff exist only to assist the student, family, teacher, counselor or anyone involved in the child's life to help that child succeed in school, community, family and life. Sadly, most of us lack a Family Resource Center worker to turn to. Your challenge becomes: how do I still provide my service to a child with serious emotional problems? Here are a few key do's and don't's as starters, but be sure to also consider developing a plan to more thoroughly upgrade your basic mental health skills if needed:

 

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severely emotionally disturbed studentHow to Help
Severely Emotionally Disturbed Students

 

Strike the Balance


Especially in this age of widespread, mandated education performance testing, teachers can feel pressured to get students to perform and produce. But tests don't "understand" that a child has a serious emotional disturbance and make allowances– but you can. Strive to balance your school or agency's mission with the severely emotionally disturbed child's special needs. Keep the goals, but don't accomplish them at any cost.
 

When I'm Not Sure What to Do


A good general guideline for anytime that you just don't know for sure how to work with a child, is to ask the child. That child is the expert on that child. If you get no useful response, a fall-back plan is to consider what would work or not work with you if you were in that situation. You can also reverse roles and have the child offer suggestions how to help you. Alternatively, ask the child for suggestions for a friend or peer. Many of the suggestions may be ones you can use with the student.
 

But I Have to Be Fair


You may worry that if you give a troubled child extra time to complete a task, for example, that the other kids will complain that it is unfair. In the work world, bosses are required to accommodate employees' special needs from providing a ramp for a wheel chair to arranging for  a sign language interpreter. The ultimate mission of most schools and youth agencies is to prepare the child for the real world. In the real world, providing some accommodation is either legally mandated, a common courtesy, or just good sense. Most schools attempt to give a bigger desk to a bigger student, and a smaller desk to a smaller youngster. Simple human courtesy and common sense should never be viewed as unfair.
 

They Can Take It
 

Some teachers or youth professionals will tell you that the child can "take it." The truth is that you have no way of looking into a child and accurately gauging their resiliency. Since kids do not generally announce that they were beaten last night, or that they haven't eaten for two days, you don't know how fragile or strong a child actually is. You don't know whether or not a child can "take it." There is a risk that a harsh, embarrassing, or aggressive act could harm or undermine a child. While it is never okay to yell, demean or humiliate any child for any reason, it is especially true with children who are severely troubled.
 

These Children Are Manipulating the Adults


While some emotionally disturbed children are very adept at manipulation, many, perhaps most emotionally disturbed children do not manipulate at all. There are many types of emotional disturbances, and each has its own completely unique dynamic. Because an adult works differently with different types of students, tailoring methods to fit each child and that child's unique circumstances, does not mean the adult has been manipulated. It means that the adult has a sophisticated understanding of different types of youth, and has chosen the correct tools for each type of child.
 

Bonus Tip

One way to tell if you need to upgrade your mental health skills is to assess how well you can distinguish different types of mental health problems and apply varied interventions for each type. While non mental health workers can't diagnose, it is still important to be able to understand and identify the difficulties you are seeing. For example, if you do not know the difference between conduct disorder and thought disorder, that means you probably can not work effectively with youngsters with those issues. The best practice would to use completely different sets of tools with each of these two types of youngsters, something you can't do without a basic mental health foundation. The upshot: you may find "nothing" seems to work, and that safety issues abound.

 

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    teachermissYou have students who struggle. We have solutions for students who struggle…so your job doesn’t have to be so difficult. We have cutting-edge strategies to manage group and classroom management problems like behavior disorders, trauma, disrespect, bullying, emotional issues, withdrawal, substance abuse, tardiness, cyberbullying, delinquency, work refusal, defiance, depression, Asperger’s, ADHD and more.

     

    Schedule the Breakthrough Strategies to Teach and Counsel Troubled Workshop to come to your site. This is the one professional development inservice that produces results, results, results. Call 1.800.545.5736 now. This surprisingly affordable inservice also makes a terrific fund raiser. College credit and 10 professional development clock hours are available. Your staff will finally have the more effective, real-world tools they need to work with today’s challenging, difficult youth.

     

    Contact us now, and begin solving your worst “kid problems” today. Call 1.800.545.5736, or email.

     

    Working with Troubled Students Doesn’t Have to be So Difficult
     


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    Library of Congress ISSN: 1526-9981 | Youth Change, Your Problem-Kid Problem-Solver
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    © Copyright 2019, All Rights Reserved | Permission granted to forward magazine to others.


How to Work with Students Who Use Violence to Refuse to Work in Class

 

violent students

 

Just Say "No," Don't Throw!

How to Work with Students
Who Use Violence
to Refuse to Work in Class

 

teacher workshop scholarshipsteacher workshops

 

 

students who refuse workIn this issue, we focus on a question posed by a subscriber to the Behaviors and Classroom Management Blog. You can contact us with your question and you just might see it featured in a future issues. You can email me, Ruth Herman Wells, Director of Youth Change Professional Development Workshops or click Live Help on the bottom of any page on our website

Suzanne is a teacher who emailed me for help teaching her students who are work refusers, but unlike most students who try to do nothing in class, some of Suzanne's students are becoming violent about it. If you are used to students who are more passive about not wanting to work in school, you may find it a whole different ball game when working with students who act out while making their refusal known.

Here is what Suzanne wrote:

"At our school we have been having difficulty dealing with children who when faced with work will throw things, or act out in very dramatic ways. How do you go about helping the child while protecting the education of your other students?"

 

Students Who Refuse to Work

2 Types, 2 Sets of Strategies
 

At the risk of a bit of over-simplification, there are probably at least two major reasons why student will act-out dramatically when faced with work. You can't necessarily use the same interventions with different types of work refusers. Well, you can use the same interventions but they won't work equally well with different kinds of students. Just as you can't use a single math text book or reading technique with every student, you can't rely on a single style of intervention, consequence or talk to work with the variety of students who refuse assignments.
 

student won't work in classStudent #1
 

Here is the first type of student who refuses to work in class. If you've been a longtime subscriber to The Behavior and Classroom Management Blog, you should find yourself on familiar turf and ready to move forward. This youngster is a student who we've covered many times before in many articles in this blog, so we'll just touch on this student this time, then move on to the second reason. If you want to review some of the previous articles on work refusal, check out our huge assortment of free educational professional development articles on the topic in our Educational Articles Index.

One reason that students may engage in extreme behaviors when faced with a task, is that the student has a mental health problem called Conduct Disorder. If you have been a subscriber to the articles  in this blog, hopefully, you remember what you learned in past issues when we covered this topic.

The key points that we hope stuck with you from reading those articles are these: Children with conduct disorders (C.D.) lack a conscience so they do what they want, when they want, to who they want. C.D.s are your most misbehaved kids so there is a chance that if someone is routinely  throwing items and is utterly unremorseful, that child could be conduct disordered. A child with C.D. can engage in serious misconduct at any time, but certainly, when faced with a distasteful task, that task can easily prompt bad behavior.

violent studentsAs you may remember, you must use a completely different set of techniques with C.D.s so the way you prevent and manage misbehavior with this portion of your students is very different from how you accomplish that goal with the rest of your group. So, Suzanne, for the possible C.D.s in your classroom, use the techniques we've offered you in previous issues. Can't locate those issues? Here again are our introductory training guides on Conduct Disorder. Want more details than offered in the two introductory articles? You can purchase our Conduct Disorders and Anti-Social Youth book, ebook, audio book or online training course to get all the information you need for this portion of your students.

As you may recall from the past issues, C.D.s are usually at least 11-14% of a typical mainstream classroom, so you can expect to always have at least a few to manage in every setting. So, it's well worth your time to have top-notch skills with this very difficult-to-manage population of students.

 

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students refuse workStudent #2
 

The second major explanation why a student will chronically and violently refuse work is that the youngster is overwhelmed, frustrated, tired, upset, or hoping to avoid the chore. This youngster is like a pressure cooker who can explode. Years ago, families more thoroughly and reliably taught their offspring how to behave and manage frustration, and students' conduct reflected that.

With this group of misbehaved youngsters, you will have to teach them the self-management techniques that they did not master at home. You will also need to equip them with the motivation and attitudes that would foster better conduct. Our Breakthrough Strategies to Teach and Counsel Troubled Youth Workshop and books have hundreds of strategies on self-control, accepting assignments, and anger management. We have included a few of our favorites below:
 

Your Mama 101


If you don't have a class with the title of "Your Mama 101," then maybe now is the time to start one. This class can teach youngsters all the skills they need to manage their anger and aggression.

What are some of your youngsters learning about anger control at home and in the community? At home, anger may be screamed away, or drugged away, or dishes may be thrown. None of those behaviors are acceptable at your site, yet that is all the anger management that some children know. Until you teach your students to manage their anger, many will continue to be unable to behave in a socially acceptable manner.

Even though teaching anger control perhaps should not have to be your job, you may want to make it your job. Until you do teach those skills, you may find that there are no consequences, no rules– no anything– that will work as a substitute. You wouldn't expect math skills until you taught those skills. Similarly, you can't shouldn't expect anger control skills until you teach those skills. While, in theory, you can expect or want any behaviors you wish, until you teach students how to perform those behaviors, you probably won't see those behaviors.

Here's an example of a ready-to-use intervention that helps younger students who often lack patience and act out aggressively when frustrated. Use this silly mnemonic device to gently help students use more socially acceptable ways to attempt to decline a task: "Just say 'no,' don't throw."
 

Find Work With a Temper Like That


This strategy remains a favorite at our live workshops, so we will include it here. Ask your students to name all the jobs that they can do and throw things (or lose control) whenever they want. There are none. When your students figure that out, ask them if they will ever need to work.
 

Pro-Active Skill Training


Don't wait for the book to sail through the air. Pro-actively teach all your students the self-control skills they need. For Suzanne's situation, she could teach students what to say when they don't want to do a task, they don't know how to do it, or they need help.

You may assume that most children are able to say "I don't want to do it," which is a much better way of communicating than throwing a book. Be careful about that assumption. Children are not little adults. They may not know how to properly say that they'd prefer to forgo the chore. Give them the sentences they need so they can properly communicate with you.

Be very sure to address all three of the circumstances mentioned above. We recommend that the sentence begins with "yes." For example, you could give your students sentences such as "Yes, I know you want me to read that story aloud but I don't want to do it."

We recommend the "yes" as adults often appreciate that initial gesture of willingness, and including that word may make that sentence work successfully with a wide variety of teachers, coaches, parents, etc. rather than just with you.

Many teachers post their recommended three sentences on the wall of the classroom. A sample sentence: "Yes, I will do it but I really don't want to." Be sure to cover all the skills needed to manage work in your setting, not just the three circumstances noted here. So, for example, be sure to cover managing boredom during tasks; what to do when you are upset; managing frustration during a task; what to do when you hate a task; and so on. Remember: Any area that you do not cover, will remain a problem.

 

Talk About Work Refusal


Chances are that you have never even discussed with your students how often they should decline work. That means that your students are expected to adhere to a standard that you have never quantified for them. Assist students to identify how often work refusal is permitted each day in the work world, then help them establish a standard that is fairly similar. Now, your students have a quantifiable standard, and appreciate the logic behind it.
 

studentPain Delay


When you give an assignment to a youngster, no child will ever reply: "I watched Dad beat my Mom last night. Science just doesn't seem very relevant right now. Can I postpone this task?" Few youngsters will neatly identify their pain and request an accommodation so you have to provide them a way to gain relief on days that they are particularly troubled. Without a socially appropriate way to gain relief, some troubled students will act out.

Here are some methods that can eliminate the need to act out. For older kids who you suspect may face serious problems, allow them to identify "good work days" and "bad work days."

For younger children, you can make a mock- up of a traffic light, and have red be a "bad work day," yellow would be an "okay work day," and green is a "good work day."

If you worry that distressed students may take advantage of your accommodations, don't worry. You'll become their life line, and they won't jeopardize that connection. They will work as hard as they can on days they are able. Isn't that really all you should ask of a child who lives in pain?

 

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    teachermissYou have students who struggle. We have solutions for students who struggle…so your job doesn’t have to be so difficult. We have cutting-edge strategies to manage group and classroom management problems like behavior disorders, trauma, disrespect, bullying, emotional issues, withdrawal, substance abuse, tardiness, cyberbullying, delinquency, work refusal, defiance, depression, Asperger’s, ADHD and more.

     

    Schedule the Breakthrough Strategies to Teach and Counsel Troubled Workshop to come to your site. This is the one professional development inservice that produces results, results, results. Call 1.800.545.5736 now. This surprisingly affordable inservice also makes a terrific fund raiser. College credit and 10 professional development clock hours are available. Your staff will finally have the more effective, real-world tools they need to work with today’s challenging, difficult youth.

     

    Contact us now, and begin solving your worst “kid problems” today. Call 1.800.545.5736, or email.

     

    Working with Troubled Students Doesn’t Have to be So Difficult
     


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    Library of Congress ISSN: 1526-9981 | Youth Change, Your Problem-Kid Problem-Solver
    http://www.youthchg.com | 1.503.982.4220 | 275 N. 3rd St; Woodburn, OR 97071
    © Copyright 2019, All Rights Reserved | Permission granted to forward magazine to others.


 

Student Motivation Problems Stop Here: How to Motivate Students Who Don’t Care About School

 

how to motivate students article

 

Student Motivation Problems Stop Here:
How to Motivate Students
Who Don't Care About School

 
 

motivational workshops

 

If you’re completely fed up trying to get the student in your life to look, sound or act like a student should, you can relax. Help is here.

Finally, whether you’re a teacher or parent, you’re going to have the fun, fast, effective ways you need to motivate kids to succeed in school. Yes, even your kid. How do I know? I'm Workshop Presenter and Author Ruth Herman Wells, M.S. First, I’ve spent my whole life as a teacher educator, developing lively, unexpected, more effective methods to motivate even the most motionless youngster. Second, I don’t just talk the talk. I walk the walk. I managed to produce two successful students, one now a special ed teacher, and one a social worker— but there was a time when one of them could rival any of the most do-nothing, “I’ll do it later” offspring out there.

So, parents and teachers, check out a few of my surprising, hard-to-forget, even harder-to-ignore motivational methods for your most unmotivated students.
 

How to Motivate Students
 

Stop Talking So Much


That’s right. Pure talk is easily ignored. Kids may hear “blah blah blah.” Even if they do hear what you call “talking”– and they call “lecturing”– your message lasts just seconds or mere minutes. Switch to unexpected, impossible-to-forget methods that aren’t always just verbiage, and most definitely are not lectures that can be ignored or reduced to “blah blah blah.”
 

Use Methods That Are Attention-Grabbing and Simply Unforgettable
 

This intervention speaks for itself. It is our Poster #1 and it's ideal for older teens who are failing in school or often truant. It works well visually as a sign or poster, but even when spoken, it makes a much more effective intervention that more lecturing.

Especially when used as a poster, this method is simply insidious. It just nags and haunts every time they see it. Students can’t get it out of their mind— and isn’t that absolutely what you wanted to accomplish.

One of the most important steps to motivating apathetic kids is to get their attention and keep it. This device, which is one of my most famous motivational posters, will do that.


 

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poster motivates students

Poster #316

Detour Around Resistance with Humor
 

Absolutely nothing is more effective to beat back resistance to change than humor. Poster #316 is the perfect example of that. It is tough for a kid to stay defiant and oppositional when they’re laughing. Humor can be short and sweet, and still deliver your motivational method more effectively than even the longest lecture. Check out one of my recent creations, Poster #316, shown at right.

 

 

 

 

 

Classroom poster motivates students

Poster #128

Go Nuclear
 

For the Facebook generation, it has to be over-the-top to register and stick, so use methods that are edgy, unexpected and most importantly, so surprising that your message can’t be ignored and won’t be forgotten.

Simply posting an official looking document like my popular Poster #128, shown here, will generate upset, surprise and worry—and that may be what it takes to motivate older, tougher, really resistant adolescents.

 

 

 

 

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    teachermissYou have students who struggle. We have solutions for students who struggle…so your job doesn’t have to be so difficult. We have cutting-edge strategies to manage group and classroom management problems like behavior disorders, trauma, disrespect, bullying, emotional issues, withdrawal, substance abuse, tardiness, cyberbullying, delinquency, work refusal, defiance, depression, Asperger’s, ADHD and more.

     

    Schedule the Breakthrough Strategies to Teach and Counsel Troubled Workshop to come to your site. This is the one professional development inservice that produces results, results, results. Call 1.800.545.5736 now. This surprisingly affordable inservice also makes a terrific fund raiser. College credit and 10 professional development clock hours are available. Your staff will finally have the more effective, real-world tools they need to work with today’s challenging, difficult youth.

     

    Contact us now, and begin solving your worst “kid problems” today. Call 1.800.545.5736, or email.

     

    Working with Troubled Students Doesn’t Have to be So Difficult
     


    Behavior & Classroom Management Problem-Solver Blog Articles

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    Library of Congress ISSN: 1526-9981 | Youth Change, Your Problem-Kid Problem-Solver
    http://www.youthchg.com | 1.503.982.4220 | 275 N. 3rd St; Woodburn, OR 97071
    © Copyright 2019, All Rights Reserved | Permission granted to forward magazine to others.


How to Motivate the Most Unmotivated Students Today

 

teacher classroom management blog

 

How to Motivate
the Most Unmotivated Students Today


It's Easier & Faster Than You Think

 

Strategies Include FREE Printable Posters

 
 

Get This Poster FREE 

motivational classroom posterThere are so many unmotivated students and yet, most teacher and counselor university training programs contain few courses that offer specific, practical, real-world motivational methods to effectively build motivation.

Even though they have been offered minimal motivational strategies, teachers and counselors are still expected to successfully perform their jobs despite their lack of vital tools. Facing dozens of unmotivated, apathetic, indifferent, failing students, today's teachers and counselors can feel like a pilot without a plane or a hairdresser without scissors. It's tough to successfully do your work without proper tools.

As a professional development trainer for the past two decades, I how to motivate studentshave amassed hundreds of the most innovative, up-to-date motivational strategies that exist for use with unmotivated K12 students. My name is Ruth Herman Wells, M.S. and "Motivation" is practically my middle name. I've spent my professional career creating and perfecting motivational strategies that are unexpected, compelling, intense and far more effective than what you are using now.

Did you notice the poster above? You can download a printable version of it free or purchase a pre-printed 11" x 17" version of Poster #323. In this issue, you're going to get lots of free motivational resources and strategies that you will find work so much better than whatever you are doing now.
 

Marvelous Strategies
to Motivate Unmotivated Students
 

motivational classroom posterMotivational Strategy #1

Get This Poster FREE
 

Poster #323 works when conventional motivational strategies fail because it takes an indirect approach. If you offer similar information verbally and more directly, the typical teen will fight it, ignore it or debate it. You can't question a poster on the wall. Instead, the poster nags, cajoles and reminds, eating away at the student's resistance over time.

You don't have to purchase the poster to use this intervention. The phrase pictured can be used verbally if you wish. If you do prefer to buy it for $8 pre-printed, order it here. However, if you would like to download this poster for free– along with other items offered at no charge in this issue– take these 2 steps by 1-31-14:

  1. Share our website with a colleague using this link. Or, share our site by posting our link (http://www.youthchg.com) on Facebook or elsewhere. Be sure to tell us where you posted.
  2. Click here and an email form will open. Use this form to email us to request the freebies. We'll email you the link to all the no-fee resources mentioned in this blog issue.
     

Motivational Strategy #2

Get This Poster FREE
 

motivational posterHere's another effective motivational strategy that can be implemented verbally, but the visual version may have more power since it is on-going and verbiage is momentary.

This strategy teaches students that a high school diploma is worth $329,000 more lifetime income than a dropout earns. That's a powerful motivator that every K12 student should know.

To use this motivational tool with elementary students and children who have limited math skills, use piles of play money to illustrate the difference in income then ask the students which pile of money they would like to have for themselves. When students select the bigger pile, note that finishing school is the most likely route to the most money.

Get Poster #324, pictured above, as a printable poster, or order it as a medium size, pre-printed poster for $8.


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Motivational Strategy #3

Get This Poster FREE
 

dropout prevention resourcesHere's a student motivation strategy that just might be one of the most overwhelmingly persuasive and powerful strategies anywhere. You can use the facts pictured on Poster #311; you don't have to get the poster. If you would like to get the poster, you can get it as a free printable poster or as a pre-printed poster for $8. You can view this poster enlarged to better read the content.

Among the hard-to-forget facts that can stay with even your most resistant, hard-to-reach students: Dropouts earn $143 less per week than high school grads and are 4 times as likely to be unemployed. However, the total list of consequences will have more impact than a few selected hazards. The goal of this strategy is to overwhelm the unmotivated student's denial and make the consequences of dropping out hard to forget, and even harder to live through.

 

Motivational Strategy #4
 

classroom posterAt our live workshops, participants always ask for motivational methods that help students project into the future. Many teachers complain that their students feel the future is light-years away and thus, not relevant. We have hundreds of methods to powerfully demonstrate to students that the future is closer than they think, but Poster #330 offers a very graphic, concrete way to convey that to unmotivated students.

This poster shows a car mirror. The mirror has an inscription that says "The future is closer than you think."  To maximize the impact, you can print this inscription onto clear stickers and paste onto an old car mirror. Alternatively, you can create the image and inscription on your computer and display it on a screen. You can also offer the words verbally. If you prefer to buy Poster #330 it is $8, and printed on high gloss, medium weight poster paper.

 

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    teachermissYou have students who struggle. We have solutions for students who struggle…so your job doesn’t have to be so difficult. We have cutting-edge strategies to manage group and classroom management problems like behavior disorders, trauma, disrespect, bullying, emotional issues, withdrawal, substance abuse, tardiness, cyberbullying, delinquency, work refusal, defiance, depression, Asperger’s, ADHD and more.

     

    Schedule the Breakthrough Strategies to Teach and Counsel Troubled Workshop to come to your site. This is the one professional development inservice that produces results, results, results. Call 1.800.545.5736 now. This surprisingly affordable inservice also makes a terrific fund raiser. College credit and 10 professional development clock hours are available. Your staff will finally have the more effective, real-world tools they need to work with today’s challenging, difficult youth.

     

    Contact us now, and begin solving your worst “kid problems” today. Call 1.800.545.5736, or email.

     

    Working with Troubled Students Doesn’t Have to be So Difficult
     


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How to Help Children Cope with Their Emotions in the Aftermath of Violence at the Boston Marathon

 

behavior classroom management blog

 

How to Help Children Cope with Their Emotions

 

in the Aftermath of Violence

 

at the Boston Marathon

 

Includes  Free Classroom Posters

 

 

 

 

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for Seattle 


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In This Issue:

speaker Ruth Herman WellsOur thoughts go out to all of you in the Boston region as well as those of your affected by the tragedy at the marathon yesterday.

When it comes to violence, it's been another rough week for the U.S. It's the third major episode of extreme violence in 5 months. It's also the third major episode of violence that I have a personal connection to. The Boston Marathon bombing occurred yesterday, and the Newtown CT  and Oregon mall shootings happened last December.

This is Ruth Herman Wells writing this issue. I grew up in Massachusetts, about half way between Boston and Newtown. I live 30 minutes from the site of the Oregon mall shooting.

All these connections make the recent outbreaks of large scale violence seem close and personal. Some of your students may have similar connections and similar reactions.

Unlike adults, many of your students lack sophisticated coping mechanisms to manage the fear and anxiety that big incidents of violence can generate. This issue of the blog is going to offer some fresh ideas on what you should do– and not do– to help. The accepted standard methods have changed, and are changing as we speak, so this could be an important update for you to read.

This issue will also direct you to follow-up resources that can guide you to help your children and youth who may be struggling with yet another frightening event of extreme violence. As someone who often ends up helping schools cope in the aftermath of tragedy, I am passing on some of the hard-won wisdom I have gathered in the years since 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, and most recently, Sandy Hook.

 

Children in the Aftermath of Violence:
What to Do, What Not to Do
 

Many Common Methods Now Counter-Indicated

Many neurobiologists say that they have learned more about how the brain works in the past 5 years than in all the years preceding. That is a lot of progress. The new research strongly suggests that you can help or hurt children after a violent incident far more than was previously believed. 

The go-to plan in the past has been to encourage talking, writing, drawing and reflection on the traumatic event by affected children and teens.

While obviously some discussion and acknowledgement is inevitable and necessary, in the past mental health clinicians often encouraged children to focus on the event beyond the minimum necessary.

New research now offers the concern that too much of a focus sears new painful paths into the brain. The updated goal: Strike the balance between acknowledgement and refocusing.

What does it mean to help children refocus? Limit the exposure of children and teens to the details of the tragedy especially television or video coverage. Channel their emotions into things that help them cope. Some specific use-today strategies are shown below. These intervention methods were all created or inspired by special ed teacher Chris Wells.


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Soothe the Brain

Just as exposure to vivid depictions of the violence can cause the brain to develop new problematic paths, the reverse is also true: You can help the brain develop new paths that help children cope.

The late children's TV host Mr. Rogers is reported to have said “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'”  That type of approach is perfect for today when we are less than 24 hours beyond the Boston bombing.

 

Distract the Brain

When you drive by a big car accident, you know you shouldn't look, but a lot of us do it anyway. Some of us then regret viewing something so upsetting. When there has been a terrible act of violence, like yesterday's Boston Marathon bombing, many of us are tempted to look.  For children who lack the relatively sophisticated coping mechanisms of mature adults, it's very important not to stop and look.

school poster It is really important to distract children from perseverating on what happened. For children who won't let go, you can certainly choose to find things that have some type of connection to tragedy but that aren't likely to deepen pain or anxiety. The classic intervention to use: Have students help those victimized in the attack by taking up a collection, for example.

This is the perfect time for exposing children to how others have triumphed over violence or adversity. You can use stories of marathon survivors, or it's fine to choose stories with no connection. These strategies help create strong, positive paths in the brain that can be of benefit for a lifetime, according to leading brain researchers like Dr. Dan Siegel and Dr. Rick Hanson.

We created Poster #289 (shown above) to help children who become fearful to the point that they want to withdraw from normal activities. free classroom posterThe poster says "Don't let others stop you from being who you are because of who they are."

You can download a free printable version of Poster #289 here.

Older children can discuss the saying on the poster. Methods like this help children cope without going deeper into the type of exposure that can sear fear into young brains.

Another activity: Provide your students with a background similar to that shown on Poster #289. You can download this printable poster free, then have students use computers or paper for this activity. Ask your students to write a saying or poem, or create a picture to inspire or help others to cope in the aftermath of tragedy. They can also use this background to make cards or signs that can be sent to Boston hospitals to encourage victims, or to thank doctors, police, EMTs and firefighters.
 

Teach Resiliency

Teach students that when runners fall down, they get right back up and keep going. Have your youngsters discuss how they can put on their running shoes, lace them up and keep going.
 

More Resources on
Helping Children in the Aftermath of Violence

Sadly, I have had a lot of opportunity to write down what I've learned about helping children and teens cope with terrorism, natural disasters and violence so I do have more articles for you to expand your skills.

Repeat incidents of extreme violence do take a toll on all of us, including your children and teens. If you think you see a cumulative effect, you are probably right. Unsettled times often worsen unsettled minds. That will be especially true in New England, where two horrific incidents have occurred in a short time frame. Find the additional guides here:


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    Schedule the Breakthrough Strategies to Teach and Counsel Troubled Workshop to come to your site. This is the one professional development inservice that produces results, results, results. Call 1.800.545.5736 now. This surprisingly affordable inservice also makes a terrific fund raiser. College credit and 10 professional development clock hours are available. Your staff will finally have the more effective, real-world tools they need to work with today’s challenging, difficult youth.

     

    Contact us now, and begin solving your worst “kid problems” today. Call 1.800.545.5736, or email.

     

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    © Copyright 2019, All Rights Reserved | Permission granted to forward magazine to others.


How to Teach Students to Pay Attention in School

 

teacher classroom management blog

 

How to Teach Students
to Pay Attention in School

 
 

 

Classroom management strategiesSome days, it can seem impossible to get youngsters to pay attention. Here are some great strategies to help you to teach students to more successfully pay attention.

This educational article is written by Ruth Herman Wells, Director of Youth Change and veteran motivational workshop speaker and trainer. I've spent decades learning everything I can about how to help challenged students to succeed in school. I'm confident that these innovative classroom management strategies will work as well for you as they do for me. Starting tomorrow, you can have more of your students paying attention– and maintaining their focus longer.
 

Strategies That Teach Students

How to Pay Attention in School

 

How to Pay Attention
Strategy

 

pay attention1. Teach Visual Tracking

Few schools or counseling centers actually teach youngsters how to pay attention, but kids won't magically learn these skills on their own– even if you consequence or sanction them. Among the first skills to teach: visual tracking. Here is a sample strategy, but multiple repetitions using an array of methods will be needed. See the follow-up resources below for additional techniques: Use a magnet and metal to illustrate how students' eyes should be "stuck" on the teacher.

 

How to Pay Attention
Strategy

 

teach students to pay attention2. Do the Unexpected

Read this one carefully or you will definitely miss something that is worth a lot. The technique is to hide something.

Remember when you were young, you wondered "Does the teacher really read my term paper?" so you wrote the word "PEANUT BUTTER" in the middle of the paper to see if she was paying attention enough to even notice. You can use a similar technique with students: Bury the announcement of a reward or goodie deep into a handout or the paperwork for a task.

 

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How to Pay Attention
Strategy

 

 

strategies for paying attention 3. Teach Distraction Control Skills

Among the skills that schools and agencies expect from students, but neglect to teach: managing distractions. Here is one sample strategy, but be prepared to use a variety of methods and many repetitions before the concepts are sufficiently implanted.

Teach students that distractions are "attention-grabbers," then show them how to avoid, modify, ignore, or request help to manage them. You can use a TV, iPod, radio, fan or other noise-generating items to demonstrate avoiding, modifying, ignoring, and getting help with distractions. Don't limit yourself to just audible distractions. Include other types– such as visual distractions– by simply having someone walk through the room, or you can place an unusual or interesting object where students will notice.

 

How to Pay Attention
Strategy

 

distracted student4. Teach Maintaining Focus

It's not just students who have ADHD who have trouble focusing. This is yet another necessary and expected skill that is typically not taught. Again, you will need a variety of interventions, but here is one dynamic technique to start with.

The idea of sustaining a focus is tough to communicate, especially to younger students, and to kids with challenges. If a child can't conceptualize the target behavior, there is little chance they can do it, so it's important to successfully convey a picture of the desired behavior. To give a picture, play a game called "Focus on This." Ask students to focus on an item, such as the clock on the wall. Challenge them to stay focused for 1 minute, then 2 minutes, and so forth. Don't limit yourself to the visual aspects of focusing. Repeat the game but this time, choose an activity that requires listening, and use sound bites or music excerpts for the focus. A fun follow-up is to see who can maintain their focus the longest despite distractions that you create. This follow-up method teaches students how to maintain focus despite distractions. If you offer a reward to the student who focuses longest, you will have a lot of fun while thoroughly "cementing in" the concepts.

 

How to Pay Attention
Strategy

 

pay attentionWant More Strategies to
Teach Students to Pay Attention
?

We can help you locate the resources you need. You can call us at 1.503.982.4220 or email us. You can also reach us through Live Help. You can also find hundreds of additional strategies in our Problem Student Problem-Solver Store.

 

teacher store

 

 

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    Schedule the Breakthrough Strategies to Teach and Counsel Troubled Workshop to come to your site. This is the one professional development inservice that produces results, results, results. Call 1.800.545.5736 now. This surprisingly affordable inservice also makes a terrific fund raiser. College credit and 10 professional development clock hours are available. Your staff will finally have the more effective, real-world tools they need to work with today’s challenging, difficult youth.

     

    Contact us now, and begin solving your worst “kid problems” today. Call 1.800.545.5736, or email.

     

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    © Copyright 2019, All Rights Reserved | Permission granted to forward magazine to others.


How to Help Student Work Refusers Stop Avoiding Class Assignments

 

article on work refusers

 

Wonderful Ways to Help
Wanderers and Work Avoiders:
Stop Students' Work Refusal and Wandering

 
 

 

help with work refusersHello from Ruth Herman Wells, M.S. I'm the one penning this article for our Behavior and Classroom Management Problem-Solver Blog. We get lots of calls and questions from teachers, counselors, principals, juvenile court staff and social workers. We try to answer them all, and to post the best questions and answers in this blog.

Other than violent teens, no subject generates more queries than student work refusers. No population other than violent teens, seems to be more frustrating to youth professionals than work refusers. Lucky for you, work refusers are a real specialty for us in our books and workshops, so you're in good hands.

Leticia, who is a middle school teacher, is the source of this blog article's  topic. Here is her question:

How do you get kids to stay in their seats and complete their work? These are the ones that need to get paper, or sharpen their pencil, or get a book, or any other excuse to get out of their seat so they don't have to do their work!


Here are some suggestions for Leticia and anyone else who has wandering, work avoidant, or unprepared students.

Leticia, as you well know, kids are not born "instant students." Any behavior that you want a child to do, you have to first teach that behavior to the child. Just like you have to teach math skills before students can do math, you have to teach those basic school skills before you can reasonably expect the students to have those skills.

Schools have elaborate curriculum guidelines for teaching math, but usually no guide at all for teaching the foundation school skills so that students can take advantage of math instruction, and other academic offerings. So, before you can teach math or any other topic, you will need to train your kids to be students. Ideally, in the early elementary school grades, students would learn to be prepared for class. That would eliminate all your problems with students getting up to sharpen pencils or locate paper. Since many elementary schools don't thoroughly provide this preparation, here are some suggestions to provide this training to students of all ages.
 

work refusersWonderful Ways to Get Work Refusers
to Finish Their Work

 

 

First, as we have been discussing, students will seldom perform skills that haven't been taught. Second, students may need "wiggle time" if they get tired of sitting still at their desks. Third, students may want to do anything besides their work, so getting up to do something can look pretty attractive. Let's tackle each of these areas. I will only be able to give you a peek into each area, but I will make suggestions to locate the additional interventions you will need.

 

1. CLASS PREPARATION SKILLS

Teach students how to prepare for class– and motivate them to use these new skills. To teach students how critical preparation is, have them name all the jobs they may wish to do, then identify the consequences of being ill-prepared. For example, what happens if the surgeon forgets her scalpel or the trucker neglected to buy gas. Have students look for other humorous or compelling examples then discuss: "Where are job preparation skills offered to you for free besides school?" Answer: Nowhere.

Once more motivated to learn how to arrive prepared for class, have students identify exactly what they must do to be prepared for your class. Include responses like "sharpen my pencil" and "locate paper." List the help work refusersresponses in a column on the board, then ask the students to identify the best and worst times to perform these tasks. So, "sharpening a pencil during class" might rate as a "worst time," but "before the class starts" might rate as "best." A fun follow-up is to have a poster contest with students competing to best illustrate the concept of "Arrive Prepared or Be Impaired." Put the posters on the wall to serve as an on-going reminder.

This handful of interventions is just the start. Youngsters seldom change long term behavior based on just a few interventions, so be sure to plan to use more of the hundreds of additional strategies that we have. For example, our Turn On the Turned-Off Student book has a wonderful handout called "Rate How Well You Can Learn When You Miss Class." This powerful device is part of an interactive experiment that vividly convinces students that they miss a lot very quickly, even if they only left to sharpen a pencil.
 

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2. WIGGLE TIME

Look around at your next staff meeting. Few staff members sit as still as statues. Children make lousy statues. If you require students to "sit still," some will do almost anything to be able to get up and move about, even if just for a minute. Remember how you felt crammed into that airline seat for hours? Students can feel the same way. Especially if you have 90 minute long periods, build in wiggle time. Plus, at the start of the year, have your students establish a "Wiggle Rule." For example, the rule may be that it's not okay to be out of your seat, but it is okay to quietly tap your foot or a pen.

Here's the guideline to offer students: If the wiggling behavior would be okay in the work world, then it is okay in the classroom. You are preparing students for the work world, where sitting still is seldom required. You can even use "Wiggle Time" as an incentive. For example, if class time is not wasted on pencil sharpening and locating paper, then we can enjoy some of the time saved by stopping instruction a few minutes early.

 

3. ANYTHING BUT WORK

You know the feeling. It's been 6 months since you balanced your checkbook, and your taxes are now months overdue. All of us have things we like to do, and things we just rather never do. Some of your students would rather get a root canal than do class work just like you might prefer a root canal to finishing your taxes. A powerful dose of motivation could motivate students who don't finish their workhelp. For example, ask your students to review your local employment classified ads, searching for jobs that reference motivation and follow-through. They will find many ads seeking employees who are "highly motivated," but no ads seeking the "poorly motivated." Discuss that few jobs permit on-going work avoidance, then ask your class members if they will ever need to work.

Poster #7, shown at left, gives you a visual idea of these interventions that can really help work refusers and students who spend their day wandering instead of learning or working. Poster #007 is just $8.

Here are a couple of follow-up activities. Ask your students to name all the jobs that they can do and refuse or delay tasks whenever they want. (There are no jobs like that.)

Here is an additional follow-up intervention for older students only. Discuss the tongue-in-cheek classified ad shown on Poster #7, and relate it back to work acceptance and completion. This ad is quite edgy so tone it down as needed or remake it, however, this edgy version does tend to get noticed by students. Even so, you need to be very thoughtful about which groups of students you use this with. Be sure to restrict the use of this device to older youth who would do well with this hard-edged approach, and who also need exposure to a powerful intervention to understand that work avoidance and poor preparation won't be tolerated in the world of adult employment.

If you prefer to write the text shown on Poster #7, here is one example that can give you a place to start:

Work Avoiders Needed for High Paying Jobs. Must be highly unmotivated and able to avoid completing assignments. Should be able to arrive late and unprepared. Candidates who can leave in the middle of a task are especially encouraged to apply. Late and incomplete applications only please.

 

free teacher resources

 

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    Schedule the Breakthrough Strategies to Teach and Counsel Troubled Workshop to come to your site. This is the one professional development inservice that produces results, results, results. Call 1.800.545.5736 now. This surprisingly affordable inservice also makes a terrific fund raiser. College credit and 10 professional development clock hours are available. Your staff will finally have the more effective, real-world tools they need to work with today’s challenging, difficult youth.

     

    Contact us now, and begin solving your worst “kid problems” today. Call 1.800.545.5736, or email.

     

    Working with Troubled Students Doesn’t Have to be So Difficult
     


    Behavior & Classroom Management Problem-Solver Blog Articles

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    Library of Congress ISSN: 1526-9981 | Youth Change, Your Problem-Kid Problem-Solver
    http://www.youthchg.com | 1.503.982.4220 | 275 N. 3rd St; Woodburn, OR 97071
    © Copyright 2019, All Rights Reserved | Permission granted to forward magazine to others.