“Start of the School Year: The Pit in the Stomach Comes Back”

From Dr. Richard Selznick’s (www.drselz.com) most recent blog….

“So with the start of the school year, here are a five guidelines to get you through:

1.      Breathe deep a lot – meditate – calm it down.  Look, homework is going to make you crazy.  Try not to bite on the hook.  For the child who has boring homework, seeing you go off is entertaining.  Don’t give it to him.

2.      Ask yourself, is the work in the kid’s zone of competence?  If it is not, if it is simply too hard for the child even with some parental  support, then send it back to the teacher with a polite note saying that the work is above the child’s head.

3.      If the answer to #2 is yes, then it’s the child’s problem.    Repeat after me the following mantra to say to your child, “You’re a big boy (or girl).  You can manage your homework.  If you choose not to, that’s your choice, but I will have to write a note to your teacher telling her what you chose.”

4.      Pecking doesn’t work.  Pecking, badgering, cajoling, nagging, yelling generally do not work.  Focus on the mantra in #3.  If the child chooses not to do the work, don’t  get caught up in it.  Put the problem where it belongs – on the child.

5.      Link “give and you get” messages.   Do you think like I do that modern kids are living pretty comfy lives?  It strikes me that the arrangement we have with our kids is pretty one-directional (in the kid’s benefit).  Start changing the direction by stating,  “This year I am tracking you each night on the calendar.  It’s either ‘yes’ or ‘no’ in terms of effort and taking care of yourself.  Good things come to people who have a lot of “yes” showing up on the calendar – we do fun things. When there is a lot of ‘no,’ it’s going to be very boring around here.  Which do you prefer?”

So, pour yourself a glass of wine, put your feet up and remember…summer’s not all that far off”

http://www.drselz.com/blog/2015/08/start-of-the-school-year-the-pit-in-the-stomach-comes-back

Summer is just around the corner….

 

     The summer schedule begins on Monday, June 9th.  About a third of my students will be new which is always exciting for me.  It’s a great time to work on skills that are lagging behind their peers, without the fatigue created by spending a day in the classroom.  We have a marvelous opportunity to make strong gains. 

     Whether you’ve planned some “academics” for your children or not, below are some ideas for summer activities. In addition, you could consider rewarding your child with an end of the week treat if they read at least 30 minutes for at least five days in the previous week (an old fashioned chore chart works for this).  Some ideas for treats are: a DQ, a new book, a special dessert, and a favorite at our house – have a picnic dinner.

     1.    Find a movie based on a book.  Watch the movie, then read/listen to the book.  Talk about the differences and similarities.

     2.    Go to the library and borrow some books and games.

     3.    Pre-read some of the books that will be part of next year’s reading.  (Get that list from the teacher before school ends.)

     4.    Do a read-out-loud book.

     5.    Make dinner together—read the recipe, measure the ingredients, learn about the chemistry of cooking.

     6.    Play board games and card games. 

     7.    Encourage your child to read to a pet or younger sibling/neighbor.

     8.    On a rainy day, have your children curl up with comic books or magazines. 

     9.    Have your child plan a dream day somewhere. Be creative: they could write about it, make a collage, research with a travel book, or just talk about their ideal day.  Make sure you share your ideas, too.  

    10.  Have a TV/technology free day. 

    11.  Once a week, “drop everything and read” for 15 minutes … everyone in the house has to participate.

    12. CREATE A READING HABIT!!!

DYSLEXIA SYMPTOMS

From Jill M. Ham, Ed.S. Educational Consultant and Dyslexia Expert from Children’s Dyslexia Center of Georgia

Jill list many of the symptoms that might indicate you want to learn more about dyslexia (reading), dysgraphia (writing), and/or dyscalculia (math).

Reading
#1 Issue: CAN read fluently due to memorizing SIGHT WORDS, but cannot decode unfamiliar words, spell correctly, or write complete sentences with punctuation.
• Reading is slow and choppy, not fluent, but reader can re-tell story
• Reading is fast and fluent, but can not recall the information read
• Struggles with attaching the correct sound to the correct letter
• Will say the individual sounds r-a-t but can not tell you the word at the end of sounding it out
• Will say the letter name instead of the sound when trying to sound out a word
• Can not remember the same words on the next page when reading a book that repeats
• Cannot decode unfamiliar words that they have not memorized
• Skips words when reading
• Omits words when reading
• Inserts words that look visually similar, for example instead of reading HOSE it would be HORSE or HOUSE
• Avoids reading and will always check to see how many pages are in the book first
• Eye Sight is Fine, but Vision Therapy May Be Recommended

Writing
• Handwriting is tiny, small, large, and changes size
• Writing takes a very long time to due and very laborious
• Always struggled with writing letters in a fluid motion, many children draw their letters with circles and sticks
• Has a hard time copying notes from the classroom teacher or white board
• Phonetically Spells words (missing vowels or silent letters)
• Struggled or still struggles writing the alphabet without hesitations (hesitations occur when the writer pauses or has to stop and think which letter or how to form the letter)
• Will inverse letters when writing (writing letters from the bottom to top, instead of top down)
• Will reverse letters: d, b, p, q, z and many times write a j for g and a g for j
• Struggled or still struggles with remembering the difference between: b, d, p and sometimes m and w or n and u and we typically see the j and z reversed
• Will capitalize the B and D when writing so they do not reverse the lowercase b and d
• Will write uppercase letters mixed in with lower case letters
• Will write above and below the line without using the correct pencil grip

Working & Long Term Memory
• Executive Functioning Deficits
• Struggles with Working & Long Term Memory
• Hard time breaking task or multiple steps into parts
• Takes a long time to learn new concepts
• Learning vocabulary words and commutative information is extremely challenging
• Learns better with visual (concrete information) and hands on

Math
• Struggles with memorizing addition and subtraction facts
• Struggles with word problems in math
• Struggles with memorizing and recalling multiplication facts
• Struggles with multiple step math problems
• Very creative in arts, music, dance, drama, but has a hard time staying focused
• Does not understand the concept of time and struggles telling time
• Struggles with money and counting money
• Struggles with going backwards and forwards on the number line

Homework & Sensory
• May Exhibit Signs of ADD or ADHD
• Low Self-Esteem and Very Self Conscious
• Fidgets, rocks, moves or tries to avoid when given a reading, spelling or writing task
• Homework and studying takes HOURS and MELT DOWNS occur
• Parent is re-teaching information daily/nightly
• May teach new information and 30 minutes later the child does not remember the information presented

“The 8 Skills Students Must have for the Future”

Michael Sledd writes “The 8 Skills Students Must have for the Future”  on Edudemic.com.  The original article is from Pearson’s 2014, “The Learning Curve”.  These are the strengths of many of the children I work with. As they work so hard on some foundational skills it’s important to remind them that their area of strengths are valued.  —

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Upcoming Community Events

Parents Advocating for Student Success in EDucation (PASSED)
Monthly Lunch Gathering

Bixby’s Bagels (Mount Royal Shopping Center)
Wednesday, May 21st
11:45 ish to 1:00 ish

The movie “Journey into Dyslexia” will have two showings:

Monday, May 19th @ 6:30pm @ Cloquet Gospel Tabernacle
and
Thursday, May 22nd @ 6:30 @ Myers-Wilkins School (old Grant)

Questions call 340-7393 or email dwyers@boreal.org

Essential Reading Skills

Orton-Gillingham methods build strong, confident readers.   If your child is struggling in school, consider working with an Orton-Gillingham tutor over the summer to help them build reading confidence and a lifetime love of learning.  Don’t let them struggle for years.  Signs that a child will struggle with reading are evident in kindergarten.

The sequential part of Orton-Gillingham teaches reading skills in a direct, systematic, orderly way and including: phonemic awareness, letter recognition, concepts of print, sound/symbol relationship, word reading and spelling, syllables, fluency skills, vocabulary, and comprehension.  When a child struggles with fluency, usually one of the more fundamental building blocks, listed above, is weak.   Fluency involves the pace and accuracy of reading and prosody.  Prosody is the expression, volume, phrasing and smoothness.

Minnesota has adopted Read Well by 3rd Grade, but most of us don’t know what that means.  We read to comprehend information, but before we do that reading fluency is key and before that, other building blocks.  Today, in many of our schools children’s fluency is measured by giving them the same three grade level passages multiple times over the year and having a child read each for one minute. A recorder marks the errors a student makes and indicates the number of words the child read.  Sometimes comprehensions is tested by having the student retell the story…. but that is a different conversation.  Most research expect that a third grade child should begin the year reading grade level material at a rate of 70 or more words per minute and end the year reading 100 or more words per minute they are considered meeting their benchmark with 95% – 97% accuracy, respectively.  The numbers for the rate of reading represent the 50th percentile.  If a students falls below the midpoint they should be receiving additional intentional support in the area that they have demonstrated a weakness in that comes before fluency on the continuum of learning to read.  If your child is not meeting the midpoint by the end of third grade, fourth grade will be significantly more challenging than previous years.  I could argue that for some students meeting the middle is even too lower of a threshold.

I’m happy to talk with any family about reading, if I can’t help you, I can often direct you to someone that can.  Please feel free to call me at 218-340-7393.

 

 

 

What Are the Warning Signs of Dysgraphia?

From the National Center for Learning Disabilities

Just having bad handwriting doesn’t mean a person has dysgraphia. Since dysgraphia is a processing disorder, difficulties can change throughout a lifetime. However since writing is a developmental process—children learn the motor skills needed to write, while learning the thinking skills needed to communicate on paper—difficulties can also overlap.

Dysgraphia: Warning Signs By Age

Young Children

Trouble With:

  • Tight, awkward pencil grip and body position
  • Avoiding writing or drawing tasks
  • Trouble forming letter shapes
  • Inconsistent spacing between letters or words
  • Poor understanding of uppercase and lowercase letters
  • Inability to write or draw in a line or within margins
  • Tiring quickly while writing

School-Age Children

Trouble With:

  • Illegible handwriting
  • Mixture of cursive and print writing
  • Saying words out loud while writing
  • Concentrating so hard on writing that comprehension of what’s written is missed
  • Trouble thinking of words to write
  • Omitting or not finishing words in sentences

Teenagers and Adults

Trouble With:

  • Trouble organizing thoughts on paper
  • Trouble keeping track of thoughts already written down
  • Difficulty with syntax structure and grammar
  • Large gap between written ideas and understanding demonstrated through speech

Dyslexia: More Than a Score

By Dr. Richard Selznick  (http://www.drselz.com/blog)

Saturday, June 8, 2013

***Note:  (This blog was published some time ago, but due to a problem with the website it needed to be reposted.  It has been revised.)

I had the good fortune to recently take part on a panel during a symposium on dyslexia sponsored by the grassroots parenting group, Decoding Dyslexia: NJ.  Dr. Sally Shaywitz, the author of “Overcoming Dyslexia” was the keynote speaker.  While talking about assessing dyslexia, Dr. Shaywitz said something that really struck me.  She noted, “Dyslexia is not a score.”

That statement is right on the money.

Scores are certainly involved in the assessment of dyslexia.   Tests such as the Woodcock Reading Mastery Test, the Tests of Word Reading Efficiency and the Comprehensive Tests of Phonological Processing, among other standardized measures yield reliable and valid standard scores, grade equivalents and percentiles.  These scores can be helpful markers.  However, the scores often don’t tell the whole story.

Here’s one example:

Jacob, a fifth grader, is in the 80th%ile of verbal intelligence and his nonverbal score is in the 65% percentile, meaning Jacob’s a pretty bright kid.  Jacob’s word identification standard score on the Woodcock was a 94 placing him solidly in the average range, with similar word attack and passage comprehensions scores.  Effectively, both of the scores (Word Identification and Word Attack), placed Jacob just below the 50th percentile, but solidly in the average range.

Jacob’s scores would not have gotten the school too excited.  Yet, here’s what I told the mom.

“There’s a lot of evidence in Jacob’s assessment that suggests that he is dyslexic.  Even though his scores are fundamentally average, he was observed to be very inefficient in the way that he read.  For example, while Jacob read words like “institute,” and “mechanic” correctly, he did so with a great deal of effort.  It was hard for Jacob to figure out the words.  For those who are not dyslexic, word reading is smooth and effortless.  Those words would be a piece of cake for non-dyslexic fifth graders.  They were not for Jacob.”

“Even more to the point, was the way that Jacob read passages out loud.  Listening to Jacob read was almost painful.  Every time he came upon a large word that was not all that common (such as, hysterical, pedestrian, departure) he hesitated a number of seconds and either stumbled on the right word or substituted a nonsense word.  An example was substituting the word “ostrich” for “orchestra.”  The substitution completely changed the meaning.

“Finally, the two other areas of concern involved the way that Jacob wrote, as well as his spelling.  While Jacob could memorize for the spelling test, his spelling and his open ended-writing were very weak.  The amount of effort that Jacob put into writing a small informal paragraph was considerable.  There also wasn’t one sentence that was complete.”

“Even though Jacob is unlikely to be classified in special education, I think he has a learning disability that matches the definition of dyslexia as it is known clinically (see  International Dyslexia Association website:  www.ida.org ).  The scores simply do not tell the story.”

“Dyslexia is not a score.”

Takeaway Point:

You need to look under the hood to see what’s going on with the engine.  With dyslexia, you can’t just look at the scores and make a conclusion.