October is Dyslexia Awareness Month

October also shines a light with bringing awareness to Dyslexia.  We wanted to share resources for yourself, for your family, and for your child’s school.  Awareness creates understanding which then empowers those around us to be able to see the struggles our children experience.  We are then better equipped to help and teach them in a way they can be successful.

One terrific resource is the International Dyslexia Association:

https://dyslexiaida.org/dyslexia-basics/

 

Read here to find out common signs and symptoms of Dyslexia starting from preschool-high school:

https://www.understood.org/en/learning-attention-issues/child-learning-disabilities/dyslexia/understanding-dyslexia#item1

 

Click here to experience how a child is dealing with a learning or attention difficulty:

https://www.understood.org/en/tools/through-your-childs-eyes?gclid=CjwKCAjw3_HOBRBaEiwAvLBbomy-fC21AGAv14y2aQkw1iHZOhcYpbzgRiDfqGZ0TlM5cOekC9fOLxoC3SwQAvD_BwE

 

Of course, we feel that all children benefit from being taught as if they have Dyslexia. If you’re interested in hearing more about Orton-Gillingham or a multi-sensory approach to teaching reading, please contact us at confidentolustions7@gmail.com.  Read below for an interesting article on how all children benefit:

https://www.tes.com/news/school-news/breaking-views/why-we-should-teach-all-pupils-if-they-have-dyslexia

 

Some research on how a Dyslexic brain works:

http://www.bu.edu/research/articles/dyslexic-brain/

 

20 Things parents of children with Dyslexia would understand:

http://www.lifehack.org/285680/20-things-only-parents-children-with-dyslexia-would-understand
Dyslexia in the general education classroom:

https://www.edutopia.org/blog/dyslexia-in-general-ed-classroom-kelli-sandman-hurley?utm_content=blog&utm_campaign=dylexia-in-gen-ed-class&utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=socialflow&utm_term=link

 

Different types of Dyslexia:

https://www.understood.org/en/learning-attention-issues/child-learning-disabilities/dyslexia/different-types-of-dyslexia?utm_source=pinterest&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=understoodorg
Dyslexia and the law. Can my child receive an IEP, 504 plan, or accommodations? (Hint: Dyslexia is considered a learning disability, which is recognized in schools) :

http://www.reallygoodstuff.com/community/dyslexia-and-special-education-law/

http://www.wrightslaw.com/nltr/13/nl.1015.htm

 

An excellent book on Dyslexia:

http://dyslexia.yale.edu/book_Overcoming.html

https://www.amazon.com/Overcoming-Dyslexia-Complete-Science-Based-Problems/dp/0679781595/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1498261380&sr=8-1&keywords=overcoming+dyslexia+by+sally+shaywitz
Frequently asked questions:

https://dyslexiaida.org/frequently-asked-questions-2/

From Learning Disabilitlies Association of America:

https://ldaamerica.org/types-of-learning-disabilities/dyslexia/

Question and answer session on the benefits of having Dyslexia:

https://www.wired.com/2011/09/dyslexic-advantage/

Christina tutors students of all ages with Dyslexia and learning disabilities using Orton-Gillingham.  If interested in more details, please reach out to us at confidentsolutions7@gmail.com.
With Appreciation,

Christina and Wendy 

 

Dysleic strenght

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Social Learning

Recently, we read an article where a physician was quoted as saying kids do “what they can.”  This is very true whether we’re talking about children utilizing good social skills, reading on their grade level, or learning math facts.  It’s not a child’s “fault” that they are not understanding or implementing good social skills naturally.  However, as adults, we tend to have those expectations when it comes to social skills and then try to manage those “behaviors.”

If a child is struggling  learning to read, we teach that child unique ways to learn maybe through phonics, or blending patterns. If a child is struggling with concepts in math, we offer ways of support such as tutoring and breaking down the concepts until they understand the steps. Social skills really are the same.  In school a student will typically have to pull a card, lose a buck or sit at the quiet table. Teachers and administrators report that a child is struggling understanding and utilizing good social skills but the actual skills are not being taught or supported.

Just like special strategies can be implemented to teach a child to read, there are curriculums and specialists who can teach your child social skills. Both types of teaching express the importance of having a strong support network for your child as well as practicing the skills that are being taught.  When we are teaching a child phonics, we would then expect and set up situations where they are practicing the phonic skill. Social skills are the same in that, as children are learning how to “think” about thinking, having a support network of parents/guardians and teachers to help them practice the skills is necessary.

Our social skills classes are called Mindful Thinking for Social Expectations.  Our classes run six-week sessions with each session having a unique focus.  If this is your first time joining a social skills group or if your child has specific “behaviors” that you are unsure how to teach, we recommend beginning with our self-awareness, self-monitoring, and self-control classes.  We currently are teaching a session on “play” which includes how to enter and engage in play, how to read nonverbal language, and beginning to understand other people have thoughts and perspectives.  We keep our class sizes small so the students have the ability to interact and practice the social skills they are learning. This also enables us to offer more individualized instruction.

We also believe empowering parents is important. In conjunction to the student class, we have a parent group that meets at the same time.  The parents are learning information on the importance of reinforcing and practicing the skills their child is learning.

We also offer a teacher letter each week so we can connect with your child’s teacher. We feel this is an important piece so he/she can help reinforce the skills your child is learning.

This is a slow and deep process.  The focus of our classes are not about “managing” behaviors but rather teaching skills that begins to create a shift for students and parents.  Once these skills are learned, the students will be empowered to problem solve social situations that were once difficult for them.

We welcome any questions you have! If you would like to talk with us more about our classes, please reach out to us at confidentsolutions7@gmail.com.

With Appreciation,

Christina and Wendy

Nature's Heart 1 wm quote

 

Upcoming events 

 

 

Upcoming Holiday Session

We will be opening registration for our next social skills groups next week! This next session will be slightly different.  We will continue to have separate small groups, however, the focus of this session will be to begin teaching an understanding of social expectations around the holiday seasons as well as tools for coping with stress.  There will be more specific details about the sessions with the registration post.

The dates for the next session will be: November 13th, November 20th, December 4th, and December 11th.  There will be three groups meeting at a time: A sibling group  (optional), a parent group (required), and a group for your child learning specific social skills.  

Be sure to check our website next Monday with details about the classes and information on how to register.

With Appreciation,

Christina and Wendy

blue-hyd-wm

Executive Functioning Skills

Executive Functioning Skills are important in helping a student successfully navigate his or her school day.  So, what are they exactly  and how do they look within a classroom? Collectively, these skills are what helps a student regulate his/her own behavior.  Here is a breakdown of the skills: planning, organization, time management, working memory, and metacognition.   Let’s talk in detail about each one a little further.

Planning is what we use to decide what is important to focus on and what is not important to focus on.  This is what helps a student reach the completion of an assignment in school.  When a student is weak in this skill,  a teacher will frequently say that he/she is unable to complete classroom assignments independently.  He/she may possibly be working on a different task (such a drawing or writing) during math time.

Organization is shown when a student can easily locate all of his/her materials needed for an assignment.  For example, a student who is strong in this skill will be able to independently find the writing notebook, a pencil, collect a new graphic organizer, and overall be prepared for the assignment.

Time management is when a student shows they know how to judge how much time he/she needs to complete an assignment or a classroom project.  It’s typical to see a teacher help with this area during class by posting how much time the students have for an independent assignment or group work.  If a student is weak in this skill, you may see him/her struggling to pace the time to finish all parts of the assignment to completion.  When the time is up and the teacher transitions to the next subject on the classroom schedule, a child who is still working on the beginning of the last assignment would be showing a weakness in time management skills.

Working memory is how our brains hold information in our minds while performing a more difficult task.  We do have the ability here to “pull up” past learning experiences and apply them to a task or an assignment.  For example, we see this in the classroom when a student is asked to write a narrative.  While writing, the student is putting the idea down on paper while remembering to use punctuation, correct use of grammar, and spelling.  All of those tools are working together.

Metacognition is when a student has the ability to have a “bird’s eye view” of himself or herself.   When this skill is strong, a student would be able to observe how he/she is problem solving and even question himself/herself in how he/she did.

There are more executive functioning skills that we use when we face a new problem or want to achieve a goal. They are: response inhibition, emotional control, sustained attention, task initiation, flexibility, and goal directed persistence.

Response inhibition: This is basically the skill of thinking before you act.  When a student is able to “pause” and think before saying or doing something, than that student would be strong in this skill.

Emotional control:  This is when a student can manage his or her own emotions so he/she can complete a classroom task or assignment or successfully reach his/her own goal.

Sustained attention:  If a student has a strength in this skill, then he/she is able to attend to a task within the classroom even with distractions around him/her and feeling tired or bored.

Task initiation: This is when a student can successfully start an assignment without procrastination.  You may see a weakness in the classroom if, after the teacher has given directions to begin a task, a student is walking around looking for a pencil, sharpening the pencil, asking to go to the bathroom, talking to a peer, etc.

Flexibility: This skill involves a student being flexible in a change in the classroom routines, a mistake in his/her work, or any setback or change that may occur during their day.  A student who may show weaknesses in this skill would become rigid or upset if a change occurred suddenly during an assignment or in the schedule.

Goal directed persistence: This skill involves a student having the ability to follow through to finish a goal that he/she set for themselves or possibly by the teacher without  getting discouraged with a competing interest.

Honestly, we could talk for days on this topic.  🙂 When a student is weak in one of these skills, it affects his/her overall school day as well as at home.  It’s important, as parents and educators, to recognize where a child’s strengths and weaknesses are in relation to these skills so we may help support and strengthen these skills.  When we allow these skills to continue to be weak without any support,  it’s common to see an increased problem in school as the child grows and attends higher grades.  For example, “organization” in first grade may look like a child leaving behind a parent letter or forgetting to unpack his book bag at school (or when he comes home from school).  Leaving the skills to continuously be weak, in high school, “organization” will look like a messy book bag with a lot of difficulty finding assignments, turning in assignments, and forgetting about assignments. If these skills are strengthened over time, we will see a child who can manage time, projects, and maintain sustained attention. Additionally, once our children understand why they have trouble turning in assignments, keeping track of materials, or finishing activities then they can begin to work to change these behaviors to new behaviors with which they are happy. This enables students, parents, and teachers to partner together to teach the whole child.

If you would like to read more about executive functioning skills, we have a few recommendations.

Here are a couple of fantastic reads:

https://www.amazon.com/Executive-Skills-Children-Adolescents-Second/dp/1606235710/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1475534746&sr=8-1&keywords=executive+skills+in+children+and+adolescents

https://www.amazon.com/Smart-but-Scattered-Revolutionary-Executive/dp/1593854455/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1475534746&sr=8-2&keywords=executive+skills+in+children+and+adolescents

https://www.amazon.com/Coaching-Students-Executive-Practical-Intervention/dp/1462503756/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1475534746&sr=8-3&keywords=executive+skills+in+children+and+adolescents

http://www.edutopia.org/blog/brain-based-teaching-strategies-judy-willis

http://adayinourshoes.com/measurable-iep-goals-address-executive-functioning-deficits/

With Appreciation,

Christina and Wendy

We Would Love to Hear From You

We are deciding which post to write next and we would love to hear your opinion! Which one would you like to read next?

  1. What You Should Never Hear at an EC Meeting
  2. Common Accommodations for Classrooms
  3. A post about Executive Functioning Skills

 

Please write your choice either in the comment section below, the comment section on Facebook, or send us an e-mail at confidentsolutions7@gmail.com.  We’ll see which one gets the most responses and will write that blog next.

With Appreciation,

Christina and Wendy

 

How You Can Help Your Child at Home

Homework, extra curricular activities, dinner, family time, baths, stories, bedtime. Once your child gets home from school it is a whirlwind. How is it possible for it all to be done? Especially if you have more than one child?  We don’t have a magic solution. Some days, at our houses, our children eat less than healthy dinners and skip bath times. Sometimes we send an email to the teacher and let them know why homework didn’t get done. Other days, we are having a glass of wine while we read Goodnight Moon for the 100th time.

However, I have found a solution that I like. I have created a schedule for my children which has helped them when they get home from school.  I write it on a white board which makes it easy to add or take away things as I need to.  I start with putting my children’s initials at the top of the white board and the rest looks something like this:

H                                   M                                     D

  1. Unpack you book-bag
  2. Put your shoes and socks away
  3. Put your lunchbox in the sink
  4. Do your homework
  5. Pack your lunch
  6. Lay out your clothes

Each child places a check next to the sentence under their initial after they finish . They have tried to say they’ve completed something when they didn’t, so I always make sure to go back through and check behind them. 🙂

When my children know what to expect, they are happier. They don’t have to guess what my expectations are and I’m consistent on what needs to happen. This structure is also teaching independence  in my children which makes them feel good. Some days,  I am able to  allow my children to choose the order they complete their chores. This enables them to have some control over their schedule which helps them gain ownership. Other days, it may be important to do them in a certain  order (mainly because of an extra curricular activity) so I add a note at the top that says, “please do them in this order”.   I also make sure I add the activities  each kid has that evening. This has helped my kids know how much time they can take on each task which is teaching time management. Here is a sample sheet that you can download and tweak for your family:

schedule

Good luck with your after school routine!  We would love to hear what works for you too! Please drop us a note at confidentsolutions7@gmailcom.

With Appreciation,

Wendy

Connections With Students

We feel that, as educators, once you take the time to make those honest connections with your students (whether they have exceptional needs or not),  your classroom will run smoother.  Teaching from your heart, truly seeing the kids individually–what are their worries, fears, wishes, dreams, struggles–is a bridge that connects the desire  for students to learn.  When your students know that you care for them and love them, we have seen children blossom, difficult behaviors grow soft (and even disappear), and classroom communities become more supportive and accepting of each other.

With Appreciation,

Christina and Wendy

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Sign Up for Social Skills Groups