PRODUCT REVIEW: Progress Cards help Children Identify and Practice Skills

Elementary School Counselor and former circus entertainer {yes, really!}, Scott Ertl, created Progress Cards in 2002 as a way to record effective strategies for specific behaviors and issues, and to work on improving skills to improve behaviors.


Recognizing that we are all “Works In Progress,” Scott strives to empower children to do 4 things:

  1. Believe in yourself. You can truly accomplish whatever you put your mind to. Stay focused. Write down what you want to improve. Rate yourself on a scale of 0-10. Where are you now? 
  2. Seek out mentors to ask for help, encouragement, and support. Listen to them. 
  3. Stay aware of what you are working to improve. Keep practicing. Recognize and celebrate your progress along the way. 
  4. When you get off track and make mistakes (and you will make plenty!), learn from them. It’s normal to forget your goals. Just get back on track.Mistakes are the best way to figure out what you do not want. Life is not about being perfect, it’s about being real. Stay true to what you really believe. 
Parents, Teachers, and Counselors use Progress Cards to help children identify and practice specific areas to improve. Progress Cards provide practical suggestions that will help children make progress with their goals. Most cards have circles on each line to check off as children practice the skills too.

It is our choices that determine our behaviors, feelings, and thoughts. In those times when we don’t know what to do, consider using a Progress Card to overcome struggles and achieve goals!

Kelly’s Review:

At first glance, the different cards and tips that are part of the Progress Book system seemed like a great tool for my son, who has ADHD-inattentive type.
For starters, it actively engages children in their own development by having them evaluate their current behaviors, set goals, and then monitor their progress toward meeting those goals. Javi loved sitting down with his “book” and thinking deeply about his own behavior.
I was also highly impressed by how many “cards” the system offers. There are tips and check lists for a wide range of needs, including handling stress, taking tests, learning empathy, dealing with changes in the family like deaths or a new sibling, sticking to routines, and more.
Downside: 
However, we ran into a snag. Namely, each card seemed to address high-level behaviors and required the child to have a level of self-control many simply don’t possess. I understand that the point is to work toward a higher level of awareness and control — but my son isn’t there yet (and he’s a people pleaser), which means he got frustrated over “doing it wrong.”
Upside: 
I decided that Scott Ertl, the mind behind Progress Cards, would want me to modify the system — break it down into steps, if you will — rather than see it as an all-or-nothing proposition.
Rather than expect Javi to tackle an entire card, we worked on one item at a time. We focused on “Get Along Better With Siblings” because the bickering between Javi and his three-year-old sister has reached a boiling point. I let him read the card and then asked him which one he wanted to work on first.
For three days, Javi practiced playing nice, which the card describes as not bragging or cheating. Instead, Javi focused on having fun with his sister — and it was a great success. He often stepped back from the moment to look over at me and say, “I didn’t brag about finishing my puzzle faster!” (which sort of defeated the purpose, but it’s a process).
Hello, progress. We’re currently working on apologizing when he makes a bad choice rather than blaming his mistake on his sister. And the best part is she’s learning right along with him. As his behavior toward her improves, her reactions and instigations have decreased. (Thank the heavens — I was at the end of my rope!)
The bottom line: 
I think the Progress Card system can be extremely helpful — with certain concessions. You must be dedicated to consistently working on the goals — which means reinforcing the behaviors your child is trying to improve — and you may need to play around with it to get it to match your child’s abilities.
In the meantime, I hope we’ll soon be moving on to Memory Boosters. (So exciting!)
Penny’s Review:

I first tried the Progress Card for “Bullying” with my daughter, Emma, who is in 6th grade and dealing with a gym class bully. She refused to engage with the cards, saying they were for little kids. But I did use some of the tips on the Progress Card for this topic as talking points for our discussion on how to handle this bully, so it was a bit beneficial nonetheless.

I also find that the cards with tips on the front and practice on the back may be a bit overwhelming for a child with ADHD. I think Kelly’s idea to work on a portion of the practice items at a time is just the modification needed to make this system more accessible for our children’s needs. 

I chose to first work on the “Expressing Your Anger Appropriately” card with Luke. While Luke is doing much better with this skill over the last year or so since we made it a priority  to improve his frustration/anger management skills, there is always room for improvement.  The Progress Card also had many ideas I had not thought of and had not yet taught Luke in relation to handling anger.


Luke resisted at first, feeling it was work like homework. I insisted he try it though. He read through the list of Ways to Calm Down at School & Home and Ways to Calm Down at School. I asked him to pick a favorite new idea from each category that he can use throughout the next week. 


From the School & Home category, he chose “write a letter to them [the person who made you angry]” — I found this choice fascinating for him since he has such a hard time with writing (full-blown disability with an IEP for it kind of hard time). This provides a non-confrontational way to tell someone how you feel though. Super choice! Even if the letter is never delivered to the “offender,” writing it provides catharsis. From the At Home category, he chose “play with a pet.” As soon as he selected it, he called the dog over and began to pet her. He was instantly calm both physically and in the tone of his voice. What a great idea. 

My only gripe with Progress Cards, and it’s really an insignificant one, is that I wish the file were set up to print the cards front to back. If I were to purchase them, I’d purchase the teacher/counselor set that has four cards to a page to use less paper and to be able to print them front to back. This is really a picky personal preference though. 

Next on our list to work with is the “How Are You Feeling?” card. I have realized that Luke and many other ADHD kiddos struggle with defining their feelings and appropriate reactions. 

Scott has kindly offered for all {a mom’s view of ADHD} readers to download two FREE Progress Cards: Friendship and Sportsmanship. As well, take advantage of the FREE Progress Book on his website, to help your child recognize their current strengths, create goals for improvement, and stay accountable to reach those goals.  

You can download individual Progress Cards for 79¢-99¢ (depending on quantity) or the Complete Set for $34.99. But one lucky {a mom’s view of ADHD} reader will get a complete set for FREE. Scott has provided a full set of Progress Cards (60 cards) to me to give away. Here’s how to enter the Giveaway:
  1. Jump over to the Progress Cards Facebook page and click the “Like” button to become a fan and  follow announcements and tips from Scott. 
  2. Visit Scott’s Progress Cards website and choose your favorite topic from the complete list of cards offered. Come back here and leave a comment stating the topic you think would be most useful for your family. Be sure to leave your email address with your comment so we can contact you to give you downloading instructions if you are the winner. 
  3. A winner will be randomly chosen at noon (Eastern) on Friday, February 11, 2011.

COVER3D_400sq_bestsellAward-Winning Blogger. Freelance Writer. Author. Warrior Mom.
A self-described “veteran” parent of a son with ADHD, Penny Williams is the author of the Amazon best-seller about her parenthood in the trenches, Boy Without Instructions: Surviving the Learning Curve of Parenting a Child with ADHD. She is also the creator of the award-winning website, {a mom’s view of ADHD}, a frequent contributor on parenting a child with ADHD for ADDitude Magazine and other parenting and special needs publications, and co-founder of the annual Happy Mama Conference & Retreat, a weekend away for moms of kids with neurobehavioral disorders. Look for her second book, What to Expect When You’re Not Expecting ADHD, in late 2014. Follow Penny at http://BoyWithoutInstructions.com.

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behavior modification, parenting/FAMILY, product reviews, treatment ·

About the author

COVER3D_400sq_bestsellAward-Winning Blogger. Freelance Writer. Author. Warrior Mom. A self-described “veteran” parent of a son with ADHD, Penny Williams is the author of the Amazon best-seller about her parenthood in the trenches, Boy Without Instructions: Surviving the Learning Curve of Parenting a Child with ADHD. She is also the creator of the award-winning website, {a mom's view of ADHD}, a frequent contributor on parenting a child with ADHD for ADDitude Magazine and other parenting and special needs publications, and co-founder of the annual Happy Mama Conference & Retreat, a weekend away for moms of kids with neurobehavioral disorders. Look for her second book, What to Expect When You’re Not Expecting ADHD, in late 2014. Follow Penny at http://BoyWithoutInstructions.com.

One Comment

  1. Jobi Roark says:

    I think that the homework routine. Would be a great topic to start with! 🙂

    Reply

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The "ADHD Mommas" are not medical or mental health professionals, nor an ADHD coach. Any opinions shared here are just that, opinions. I, and the other "ADHD Mommas," are sharing our experiences with our own ADHD children. Please do not re-post or publish any content or photos without a link back to {a mom's view of ADHD}. Have the courtesy to give credit where credit is due. Copyright protected. All rights reserved.

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