Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Below are some common questions and concerns about students' learning and behavior. 

My middle schooler has trouble with homework and organization. Do you have any suggestions?

posted Nov 21, 2011, 9:07 AM by Candice Schmitz   [ updated Sep 4, 2015, 9:08 AM ]

Here are some general homework/study skills tips for parents of middle schoolers:

A.    Homework should be done in a spot that is readily accessible by the parent.  Each child is different.  Some kids like the hum of a busy area like the kitchen, while others can’t stand the noise and need a quieter place. The bedroom can be distracting place to do homework unless the child is really motivated.   Some experimentation with time of day may be needed (e.g., right after school, before/after dinner).  Televisions and cell phones should be turned off and inaccessible for the duration of the homework period.

B.     Everything needed for homework should be together in one place.  For example, an old shoe box can be used to store pencils, markers, ruler, and a calculator. Store this box in the same place so that it is always available.

C.     Use a timer to encourage on-task behavior. Say, “I’m setting the timer for 15 minutes, and I want you to work as hard as you can. When the timer goes off, you can take a break.” Consider providing a fidget toy such as the Tangle Jr. to be used during break times.

D.    Some students with writing disabilities like raised line paper so that they can feel the lines on the paper.  There are also inexpensive colored reading guides (e.g., E.Z.C. readers) that help with attention and tracking lines of text. 

E.     An electronic spell-checker or accessing a resource such as the Scholastic Dictionary of Spelling (Scholastic Reference, 2006) can help students be more independent.  A spell-checker picks up phonetic variations of words (such as f-o-n-e for phone).

F.      Use a white board for practicing math problems and spelling.

G.    Books on organization include The Organized Student (Fireside, 2005) by Donna Goldberg, Organizing the Disorganized Child (HarperCollins, 2009) by Martin L. Kutscher and Marcella Moran and Homework Without Tears (Canter & Associates, 1993) by Lee Canter and Lee Hausner.

I need help parenting my middle school student. Where can I find support?

posted Nov 11, 2011, 11:43 AM by Candice Schmitz   [ updated Dec 23, 2011, 9:33 AM ]

If your child's difficulty at home is affecting his or her school performance, or seems to be school-related, contact his or her teachers or guidance counselor.  If issues are chiefly occuring in the home setting:
The Upper Room in Derry has good information, strategies, and workshops for parents (
You may also wish to contact this area's community mental health agency, the Center for Life Management ( 

Where can I find information on the special education process?

posted Nov 11, 2011, 11:41 AM by Candice Schmitz   [ updated Sep 4, 2015, 9:06 AM ]

At Woodbury you can contact your child's guidance counselor or Susanne Mathers, who is the special education coordinator for the school.  Further information about the process at Woodbury can be found here.
If you have additional questions, or are a parent of a child in another school, you can also contact the Superintendent's Office at 893-7040.
You can find information online at  the Parent Information Center: or the Special Education division of the NH Department of Education:

What should I do if I think my child is having trouble learning?

posted Oct 13, 2009, 12:54 AM by Candice Schmitz   [ updated Aug 31, 2012, 8:50 AM ]

The best place to start would be with your child's team of teachers.  They can give you some perspective on how your child is doing compared to others at their grade level, since they have experience working with a range of students.   They can provide strategies and tips for you, and, by being aware of your concerns as a parent, they can keep a closer eye on your child's learning.  If you continue to have concerns after meeting with them and implementing any interventions, you can initiate a special education referral through your child's guidance counselor or with Sue Mathers, the special education coordinator here at Woodbury.

What is ADD or ADHD?

posted Oct 13, 2009, 12:53 AM by Candice Schmitz   [ updated Sep 4, 2015, 9:33 AM ]

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) show a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development.  

As explained by the National Institute of Mental Health ADHD is one of the most common childhood brain disorders and can continue through adolescence and adulthood. Symptoms include difficulty staying focused and paying attention, difficulty controlling behavior, and hyperactivity (over-activity). These symptoms can make it difficult for a child with ADHD to succeed in school, get along with other children or adults, or finish tasks at home.

Inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity are the key problematic behaviors in ADHD.  However, it is important to realize that many conditions can coexist with ADHD (such as anxiety, depression, and learning problems), and some of these conditions have symptoms similar to ADHD.  If you suspect that your child has ADHD, it may be best to speak with his or her pediatrician and guidance counselor. 

What is autism? How is different from Asperger Syndrome?

posted Oct 13, 2009, 12:52 AM by Candice Schmitz   [ updated Sep 4, 2015, 9:23 AM ]

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is now defined by the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnosis and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) as a single disorder that includes disorders that were previously considered separate — autism, Asperger's syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified, according to the Mayo Clinic.
As explained on the Autism Speaks web site, there were five major changes made by the APA:
  1. The new classification system eliminates the previously separate subcategories on the autism spectrum, including Asperger syndrome, PDD-NOS, childhood disintegrative disorder and autistic disorder. These subcategories will be folded into the broad term autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
  2. Instead of three domains of autism symptoms (social impairment, language/communication impairment and repetitive/restricted behaviors), two categories will be used: social communication impairment and restricted interests/repetitive behaviors. Under the DSM-IV, a person qualified for an ASD diagnosis by exhibiting at least six of twelve deficits in social interaction, communication or repetitive behaviors. Under the DSM-5, diagnosis will require a person to exhibit three deficits in social communication and at least two symptoms in the category of restricted range of activities/repetitive behaviors. Within the second category, a new symptom will be included: hyper- or hypo-reactivity to sensory input or unusual interests in sensory aspects of the environment.
  1. Symptoms can currently be present, or reported in past history.
  2. In addition to the diagnosis, each person evaluated will also be described in terms of any known genetic cause (e.g. fragile X syndrome, Rett syndrome), level of language and intellectual disability and presence of medical conditions such as seizures, anxiety, depression, and/or gastrointestinal (GI) problems.
  3. The work group added a new category called Social Communication Disorder (SCD). This will allow for a diagnosis of disabilities in social communication without the presence of repetitive behavior.
All individuals who received a diagnosis on the autism spectrum prior to the publishing of the DSM-5, including those with Asperger syndrome or PDD-NOS, should not lose their ASD diagnosis.

1-6 of 6