+ 10 Tips to Help Middle/High School Kids Manage Stress

by Peg Rosen

1. Help her figure out how she’s feeling.

Many teens with learning and attention issues don’t realize they’re feeling stress. Keep your questioning low-key—taking a walk or going for a drive together is a good way to get conversation flowing. Mention you’ve noticed something has been bothering her. Help her put a name on what it might be. “Is all this talk about the SATs making you feel uneasy?” Simply talking about feelings can be a relief.

2. Take homework apart.

A big term paper can seem overwhelming, especially for teens with organizational and attention issues. Breaking the project down into chunks—“this week focus on doing an outline, next week look for sources”—can make the task more manageable. Keep a calendar or checklist with steps she can check off. Each success will help her feel less overwhelmed about what’s next.

3. Help her prepare for new experiences and changes.

If your teen will be taking a new step, such starting to volunteer, do some legwork ahead of time. Encourage her to ask for a list of tasks she’ll be doing. Practice basic social skills, such as saying hello, shaking hands, and keeping eye contact. Stop by and see what the place is like, where she’ll be working and how busy it is. If the new experience seems familiar, your teen won’t feel nearly as much anxiety about trying something new.

4. Celebrate even the smallest victories.

Most teens feel some stress when facing a social event or some other challenging situation. But they eventually dive in because they remember past successes, which give them the confidence. Teens with learning and attention issues need that same motivation—but success is often harder to come by. Watch for opportunities to praise her accomplishments. It could be for something as simple as scheduling her own haircut. Knowing success may help her feel less overwhelmed and less panicked when facing bigger challenges.

5. Help her create a “can do” mantra.

Suggest phrases she can repeat when facing stressful situations. “I am not afraid to try” or “I can do this” are two good examples. These thoughts will crowd out negative talk (“I’m too stupid to do this!”) and repeating the words over and over can be soothing.

6. Make sure you have rituals and order at home.

Coming home to an organized place and rituals that stay the same can give your child security after a busy day at high school. Help her keep her school supplies and homework space in order. Keep a calendar with homework due dates, afterschool activities, and upcoming appointments. Go over them with her every few nights. Create some structure for weekends as well. Too much time without a schedule can make teens feel anxious.

7. Blow off steam!

Stress can build up like steam in a locomotive. Help your teen find ways to release that pressure. It could be jamming on the guitar out in the garage or painting in a quiet room upstairs. Exercise is also vital, whether it’s going for a run, attending a yoga class, practicing with the soccer team, or working out at the Y.

8. Find balance with afterschool activities.

For the teen who struggles in school, being good at something like volleyball can boost self-esteem. Volunteering and helping others can take their minds off their own challenges. Extracurricular activities also give structure to the afternoons and can provide stress-busting release. Too many activities, however, can create stress instead of helping with it. Help your teen decide what she wants to do with her free time and encourage her to ease in gradually.

9. Be clear and reasonable about what you expect.

You may simply want her to give her best effort. But she may think she has to get A’s. Tell her what you actually expect—that will lessen her stress. Or, for example, you might want her to “start being more responsible.” But is that abstract concept reasonable, considering her capabilities? She might need you to tell her concrete ways to show that she’s being responsible. It’s hard to cross the finish line if you don’t know where it is!

10. Consider outside help.

Find a class where your teen can learn yoga, meditation or deep breathing. Mental health experts who specialize in treating children with learning and attention issues can also help with stress management.

from Understood.org  source: https://www.understood.org/en/friends-feelings/managing-feelings/stress-anxiety/10-ways-to-help-your-middle-or-high-schooler-manage-stress?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=understoodorg#slide-10
Peg Rosen has written for numerous digital and print outlets, including ParentCenter, WebMD, Parents, Good Housekeeping, More, Fitness and Martha Stewart.

Orton-Gillingham tutoring in Columbus OH: Adrienne Edwards 614-579-6021 or email aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com

+ Dealing With Child Temper Tantrums

By Debbie Pincus MS LMHC

Why are temper tantrums so difficult for parents to handle? Besides the fact that they’re loud, annoying and embarrassing, we often feel it’s our job requirement to make our kids act the way we feel they should behave. If we can’t do that, we feel ineffective. We also don’t like the judgments that we imagine others are making of us when our kids are out of control. We don’t know what to do, but feel we must do something—after all, we are the parents.

And of course, on a deep level we want our kids to learn how to calm down and act “normally.” When they’re not able to do that because they haven’t yet figured out how to manage their own frustrations, it can sometimes cause us to have our own tantrums, which only adds more fuel to the fire. And when we feel a sense of helplessness, we often react by getting angry or giving in—and then we feel controlled by our kids’ behavior. But attempting to manage our anxiety by trying to control their responses never works. I think it’s better to focus on dealing with our own feelings of helplessness, embarrassment and frustration when our kids are having a meltdown.

Remember, you’re just trying to be the anchor in the storm that’s calming the system down. If one person in a system can stay relatively calm, that is the best way you can quiet any kind of upset or tantrum.

Sometimes parents ask me if there are ways to stop child temper tantrums from happening. I don’t really think there are—I think it’s natural to have tantrums. We adults have them all the time. We can lose our temper when someone cuts us off in traffic or when our kids don’t listen. Maturing is all about managing our emotions more effectively, and it’s a lifetime project. In my opinion, we can’t prevent tantrums, but we can impact how often and how long they go on by the way we respond to our children’s outbursts.

I think when our children feel that we need them to behave “our way” in order for us to feel calm, it’s a natural reaction for them to become defensive. You’ll see an attitude of, “Oh yeah? Nobody can tell me what to do.” Ultimately, they will just shout louder and create more of a scene.

We feel uneasy when we see our kids struggle, or be upset or uncomfortable, and this compounds the situation. As a result, we try to manage the anxiety that this provokes in us. When we yell or give in, we’re relieving our own distress rather than helping our children develop self control.

When Your Child Has a Tantrum in Public

When your child has a temper tantrum in front of others, there’s an extra element of embarrassment and shame that we feel as parents. I understand how that happens—it’s natural to react that way. We often think that being a good parent means having well–behaved kids all the time, so we imagine others are judging us by that standard.  But as Total Transformation creator James Lehman says, “You are not a mind reader. If you try to imagine what others are thinking, 95 percent of the time you’re going to read something negative there. That’s because whenever we’re negative, we interpret other people’s perceptions of us as negative.”

Look at it this way: the tantrum really isn’t about us, it’s about our child. While it’s easy to personalize your child’s tantrum and feel like it’s about you when it’s happening, trust me, it’s really about your child. Try asking yourself at those times, “What is most important, what others think of me, or what I think an effective parent would do right now?”

If you’re in public or with others, you can simply explain that your child is having a hard time, excuse yourself and move out of the situation. Leave the room, go to the car, or go home. Do whatever you need to do quickly and matter–of–factly. Remember, you don’t want to give the tantrum attention, either positively or negatively.

What to Do Before the Next Tantrum

Hold on to your principles: In a relaxed moment, sit down and think about how you want to behave under the worst kind of stress. This is really key, because if you’re going to go by your “emotion of the moment,” you’ll often end up losing your cool. Consider how you want to react, and hold that picture in your mind. The next time your child acts out, do your best to remain true to that image of yourself. It may take some practice, but eventually you’ll be able to do it.

Know what you can handle: Be realistic with your expectations. Know what you—and your kids—can handle. If you try to go on 15 errands instead of one, many young kids will not be able to deal with it. If your child is a little bit older, let him know what you expect; prepare him for what’s coming. You can say, “If you fall apart or start yelling for something, this is what’s going to happen.” Tell him what his consequence will be—and stick to it. If you are going to a store and your child tends to want everything in sight, provide him with a way to cope with his frustrations. For elementary school kids, I think it’s helpful to have them bring a pad of paper and a pen and make a list of things they want. They can put things they see on their Christmas or birthday list. Smaller kids might draw pictures of what they’d like. I think it’s helpful to have a little tool box, so to speak, of things for your kids to do so that they can help themselves stay calm.

Try to avoid your child’s “triggers” if you can: Try to avoid triggers that you know will set your child off. If your children are older, you can teach them to observe themselves. Do this by pointing out what you see happening. You can say, “I know when you come home from school and you’ve had a bad day, you tend to take it out on your little brother. What can you do instead of yelling at him and picking a fight?” Your child might say, “Well, I can spend some time in my room listening to music instead.” Your goal with your child here is to try some new things to avoid his triggers, and teach him how to see what sets him off in the process. Physical triggers are also very common. For younger children especially, make sure they’re getting proper rest and food and that they’re not over–extended.

Plan ahead and give yourself a pep talk: If you know certain things trigger your child’s tantrums, plan ahead. Say to yourself, “We’re going to the grocery store, and I know what typically can happen there. So I’m going to warn my child and talk about what my expectations are ahead of time. If he has a tantrum, I’m going to stick to my guns.” Help coach him on ways to handle those triggers and let him know what you’ll do if he cannot manage his frustration. With younger kids, from toddler to the age of six, you may have to just physically pick them up and move them out of the store. Prepare yourself for that eventuality.

Be a good role model: Be a good role model in terms of your own behavior. How do you feel when you’re frustrated about something? What you do with those feelings is something your child is going to learn. Decide how you will behave, no matter how your child behaves. Step away from your own emotions to figure out thoughtful responses to these difficult situations. Ask yourself this question: “How can I calm down when my child loses it?” instead of “How can I get my child to calm down?” No one can control how another person feels, period. And the more you try to manage your child’s reactions, the more he’ll probably act out.

What to Do When Your Child Goes into Tantrum Mode

Here are some rules of thumb I’ve found to be effective when you’re in the eye of the storm and your child has gone into tantrum mode.

Get yourself to zero: The first order of business is to get yourself under control; get calm, rather than trying to get your child under control. Put the effort there. Take a walk around the house, count to 100, take your own timeout. Call a friend. Do whatever you can do to get yourself under control, but again, try not to lose your temper. Remember, you’re just trying to be the anchor in the storm that’s calming the system down. If one person in a system can stay relatively calm, that’s the best way to quiet any kind of upset or tantrum.

Remember that you’re not responsible for getting your child under control: Remember, you are not responsible for the choices your child makes. Rather, you are responsible for how you choose to handle those choices. Try not to get engaged by your kids’ angry outbursts.  If it doesn’t capture you, it won’t capture them. Stay focused on staying calm. Do not react by yelling, worrying, hovering or giving in—all typical things that we do as parents.

Try not to lose it and have your own tantrum: This will only serve to escalate your child’s anger and frustration, and make him feel more defensive.  Remember, anxiety is contagious, and so is calm.

Do not give into your child’s request: If you give in to your child’s requests when he has an outburst, it will set up a pattern where you create more tantrums. In effect, you’ve taught your child that the best way to get what he wants is to scream, yell and be out of control.

Isolate your child: I don’t mean to put your child into an isolation booth, but rather, put your younger child in his room or in some spot where he can have a timeout or cooling off period and learn how to soothe himself. Make sure you’re not continually engaging him in his tantrum.

Fake it if you have to: There’s an old saying: “Fake it till you make it.” While you ultimately want to get calm, I think it’s okay to fake it until you get there. Of course you feel terrible inside: you’re embarrassed, upset and frustrated, but try saying to yourself, “I’m not going to react to these feelings because this will not solve my problem.” So in other words, you don’t have to be truly calm at first. You will have uncomfortable feelings, but it’s what you do with those feelings that matters. (And in the end, that’s the same thing we’re trying to teach our kids.)

Remind yourself that it’s your job to teach your child: Remind yourself that you are the teacher. Your children can’t handle these strong emotions yet and it’s our job to help them learn how to do that. Remember, they are testing you—and believe it or not, they truly want you to win this particular test. On the surface, your child really wants you to give in, but on another level, he wants to see that there are strong parents in the room. Kids want to know that their parents are sturdy, strong and reliable and are people who mean what they say. They don’t want parents who are going to fall apart. They need us to stay anchored so they won’t drown.

What to Say During the Tantrum

Be clear and calm: Be clear and firm with your child. They want to see that you’re in charge and that somebody is in control. That’s going to come through your voice, expression and body language. You want to communicate that you are not losing it in any way. Keep your center and be very firm. You can say, “We are not staying here. We can come back when you can pull yourself together. We are leaving now.”

Use empathy: When your child is in the middle of a tantrum, I think it’s important to be empathetic but not give in or lose it. If it’s appropriate, you can say, “I know it’s very frustrating, I understand you wanted to get this video game today.” Empathy opens people up to being able to hear us; if we don’t start with that, it shuts things down. I don’t mean that you should spend lots of time delving into your child’s feelings, but a tone, a look or a word of empathy can go a long way when your child is frustrated.

The little question you should ask yourself: Ask yourself “What do I want to do in this situation?” Rather than “What do I want my child to do.” Just that little switch in thinking often makes a big difference. Because again, if I’m going to be working hard to get my kids under control, it’s going to be a very different outcome than if I’m working hard to get myself under control.

When Kids Don’t Learn How to Manage Their Emotions

If you give in to your child when he has tantrums—or throw one yourself in reaction to his outbursts—as he grows older and reaches adolescence, this will often turn into a chronic power struggle. Sadly, I’ve seen it many times in my practice. And temper tantrums in older children are no laughing matter. Your teenage son will become relentless ; he won’t take no for an answer. Your tween daughter will wear you down and become an expert at manipulating you. Or your child might become aggressive and fight with you all the time. What these kids learn is that they can get things by intimidating other people. They will not have learned how to regulate themselves so therefore their behaviors will be very reactive and extreme. And believe me, these power struggles do become battles.

Just look at a two–year–old throwing a tantrum and imagine what a 20–year–old will look like. You might see him punching the walls, yelling, calling you names and intimidating you, and storming out of the house. And if you react in turn, on and on it goes. But here’s a secret: it just takes one person to stop this pattern, and then the whole thing settles down. So decide not to hit the ball back next time. Don’t let your emotions get the best of you when your child acts out. That will ultimately help your child to manage his strong emotions and frustrations.

So think about building relationships for the long term, rather than changing annoying behaviors in the shorter term. A lot of times, we just want to get our kids to stop the tantrum or acting-out behavior. We think, “I can’t stand this anymore!” or “They’re fighting all the time. It’s driving me crazy!” If we simply want to get somebody to stop doing something, we can probably get them to do it, but we may hurt our relationship with them in the long term. On the other hand, if we want to work on a relationship that is going to have longevity ten or twenty years from now, we have to think of it in terms of building on it every time we respond to our kids. We need to thoughtfully respond to them so that we keep the relationship intact. And the way we can do that is by trying to influence them rather than control them. Influence comes through respecting our kids and their choices, and not getting mad at them or taking it personally when they have tantrums. In my opinion, this is the best road to building a strong relationship with our children.

Read more: http://www.empoweringparents.com/dealing-with-child-temper-tantrums.php#ixzz3h8TwuuOO

Orton-Gillingham tutoring in Columbus OH: Adrienne Edwards 614-579-6021 or email aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com

+ Teaching Grammar To Dyslexic Students

by Marisa Bernard, ortongillinghamonlinetutor.com

Those with Dyslexia have difficulty with decoding & encoding… They also seem to have difficulty with grammar and identifying parts of speech. Teaching grammar to those with Dyslexia should include a structured, systematic, & sequential approach, similar to the approach we use to teach them the logical connections between the sounds and symbols in the English language.

There tends to be a school of thought that when we present grammar to our students in such a detailed and methodical manner, they lose the creative side of writing. The cognitive effort spent to make certain their sentence structure is grammatically correct stifles any of the student’s efforts at being creative with their written expression. The problem with this school of thought, as I see it, is that until the student with Dyslexia is able to form a sentence with accuracy and automaticity, s/he will not be able to display the creativity in written expression that is so often innately an attribute in those with Dyslexia.

A teacher should teach grammar using the same format to teach the Orton Gillingham Basic Language curriculum. Teaching one part of speech at a time (beginning with nouns), while applying the same structured, sequential, and cumulative nature of the Orton Gillingham Approach, will allow students to master the various grammatical concepts. Students with Dyslexia tend to be cluttered cognitively; therefore, it is important to assist them with creating a “mental file cabinet” to house all of their learned materials. When teaching grammar to those with Dyslexia, it essential that you connect the new concepts with the already mastered concepts and help them to “file” them accordingly for easy retrieval. This method of teaching grammar to those with Dyslexia should be continued until all grammatical concepts have been mastered.

Teaching grammar to those with Dyslexia explicitly is important because:

  • It assists with comprehension skills
  • It improves written expression
  • It helps with cognitive organization & structure

The order of presentation of grammatical concepts I would recommend is as follows:

  1. Nouns – Person, place, thing, or idea (a magazine is a wonderful resource a student can use to begin naming nouns)… Ask student to categorize nouns. Have an assortment of noun cards mixed and have student sort & categorize the nouns.
  2. Pronouns – Pronouns take the place of nouns (PRO = for, pronouns are FOR nouns)
  3. Simple Plurals – The spelling rule of simply adding /s/ to a word
  4. Action Verbs – A word that shows action. What is the noun DOING? Create a word list using magazines or books. Use noun & verb word lists to create sentences. MAKE THIS AN ORAL TASK INITIALLY.
  5. Your student can then draw pictures that illustrate their new sentences. *NOTE: Drawing is a very laborious task for some students with fine motor deficits, so this activity may be omitted for them. Perhaps mental imagery would work better for these students.
  6. Sentences – Every sentence contains a noun and a verb that expresses a complete thought. It is important to ask your student to speak in complete sentences & assist when necessary. Make certain your student has ample practice reading two-word sentences at this point. When performing sentence analysis, your student will label the parts of speech within a sentence. When looking at functional analysis, your student will identify the purpose in a sentence. Finally, sentence diagrams are a wonderful visual aid to enhance understanding.
  7. Adjectives – Adjectives paint images in our minds that describe the nouns in sentences. When teaching adjectives, ask your student to first write down his or her thoughts in simple form with words s/he is able to spell. S/he can then go back to the sentence and add adjectives to enhance creativity.
  8. Adverbs – Words that describe or modify verbs
  9. Prepositions/Prepositional Phrases -A preposition shows the following relationships among other words in a sentence:
    — direction (to – “He walked to the store.”)
    — time (at, on, in – “He will arrive at 2 o’clock.”)
    –agent (with – “He chopped the wood with an axe.”)
    –place (between, near, across)
    –manner (by – “By going the short route, you will save time.”)
    –measure (for – “She ran for two miles.”)
  10. Miscellaneous – Interjections, Conjunctions, Articles

Once again, when teaching grammar to those with Dyslexia it important to understand they need to be taught using the following approach:

  • From PARTS to the WHOLE
  • All pathways of the brain should be accessed simultaneously.
  • Constant review of the materials is important while adding one new concept at a time. This helps the child with Dyslexia to see how the new concept fits in with the old concept to understand the big picture.

The following is a Grammar Checklist download for you to use with your students:


I hope these suggestions are helpful while teaching grammar to those with Dyslexia. They can certainly be used as a whole group instruction, as all students would benefit from a structured, systematic, & sequential approach to teaching the grammatical concepts.

Again, thank-you for what you do because the world needs what only you can offer…

Marisa Bernard is Executive Director at Orton-Gillingham Online Tutor visit http://www.ortongillinghamonlinetutor.com/teaching-grammar-to-those-with-dyslexia/

Orton-Gillingham tutoring in Columbus OH: Adrienne Edwards 614-579-6021 or email aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com

+ Defining Dyslexia: Difference Not Deficit

From Dyslexic Advantage; by Fernette Eide
Dyslexia has traditionally been defined as a brain-based condition that causes difficulty mastering reading-related skills, such as:

  • identifying and manipulating the component sounds in words (phonological processing)
  • sounding out words (decoding), recognizing printed words by sight, and spelling words (encoding)
  • reading sentences and passages quickly and accurately (fluently), and with comprehension in line with general verbal ability, especially in time-pressured situations.

In other words, dyslexia has been seen as a disorder or disability. It has been assumed that something has gone wrong with the way dyslexic minds have developed. They’re trying, but failing, to work like “normal minds”. As a result, our goal should be to find out what’s wrong with them and fix them.

This way of thinking about dyslexia is misleading in several ways.

Differences Between Dyslexic and Non-Dyslexic Brains are Widespread and Complex

First, the differences in structure and organization that distinguish “dyslexic brains” from non-dyslexic ones don’t just involve a few brain regions that play a role in reading, but are found throughout the brain. For example, dyslexic and non-dyslexic brains differ in the relative sizes of the two brain hemispheres, in the pattern of brain folding, in the size of the white matter tracts connecting the different parts of the brain, in the organization of the cells in the cortex, and in various features of the cerebellum. In short, dyslexic brains really look like they’re built to do all sorts of things differently.

Many Ways Dyslexic and Non-Dyslexic Brains Process Information Differently

Second, reading and spelling are just a few of the tasks that dyslexic brains perform differently than non-dyslexic ones. Differences are also found in a wide range of processing functions including word sound (phonological) processing, visual attention, word retrieval, processing speed more generally, procedural learning (or mastery of “how” skills in which steps and rules are learned to the point where they can be performed automatically), and auditory-verbal working memory.

Dyslexic Advantages

Dyslexia Mind StrengthsThird, and most intriguingly, dyslexic people have been shown as a group to outperform non-dyslexics in certain cognitive functions. These include advantages in three-dimensional spatial reasoning, divergent creativity and problem-solving, and incidental learning (or learning from experience in a non-directed fashion). Dyslexic individuals have also been found to be present in significantly greater numbers than their prevalence in the general population in training programs and professions including art and design, engineering, and entrepreneurship.

Taken together, these facts suggest we should change our way of thinking about dyslexia. Here’s something we’ve found useful. Instead of asking, “What is dyslexia?” start by asking, “What can we learn about minds that have dyslexic reading and spelling challenges?”

In other words, don’t limit your thinking about “what it means to be dyslexic” to reading and spelling challenges. Instead, recognize that dyslexic minds work differently in all sorts of ways. And don’t focus only on challenges, but try to understand what dyslexic minds do well, because these strengths are the true core features of dyslexic minds. Once we understand what dyslexic minds are for, we’ll understand how to create an education for dyslexic students that fits their unique patterns of development and learning strength.

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Orton-Gillingham tutoring in Columbus OH: 614-579-7021 or email aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com

+ Helping Toddlers Expand Their Language Skills

By Rachel Cortese
from PBS Raising Kids

Early language acquisition is instinctive and for most children tends to happen quite naturally. But how we as adults respond to their attempts to communicate can have an impact—accelerating or decelerating their language development. As a speech-language pathologist who works with young children who are in the process of acquiring and developing language, I have collected many strategies and techniques that help children learn. Here are some of the basics that you can use in everyday interactions with all children—those who are acquiring language typically and those who may be having a little more trouble.

Speech comes later

As all parents know, words aren’t the only way to communicate. Young children point, make eye contact, and use body language to give us messages. Recognizing, encouraging, and positively reinforcing these precursors to language set the stage for speech production and language to come. But even before kids figure out how to point to something they want, they communicate with us in other ways. Early on, when infants cry because they’re hungry or uncomfortable, they may simply be reacting to how they feel—but when parents interpret and respond to their cries and sounds, babies begin to notice the reciprocal relationship between vocalization and getting their needs met. This encourages them to begin intentionally communicating their needs, through things like pointing and body language and making more sounds. Eventually words will become the most efficient way for them to communicate with us, but until then parents shouldn’t overlook the importance of shaping nonverbal communication, which cements the utility of communication in a child’s mind and drives him to learn to communicate in more sophisticated ways.

Language development through play

One of the most interesting things about the development of language in children is that it is closely related to play. The time period when kids begin producing their first words, usually around 12 to 13 months, is also the same time that symbolic play evolves. By symbolic play I mean something like a child holding a banana to her ear and pretending that it is a phone. Developmentally speaking, it makes sense that these two things would occur at the same time because children must first learn to think symbolically in order to use language, since language is symbolic (a word represents an object, for example). So when you join your child in imaginative play, you are actually encouraging and helping to expand her new capacity to represent things mentally and symbolically. Observing and understanding your child’s play skills can help you as a parent know what to expect next. If your child hasn’t moved past banging a spoon on the table, you shouldn’t expect her to be using speech to communicate yet because, developmentally, the intent to communicate is still emerging.

Creating opportunities

There are lots of ways parents can create opportunities that encourage kids to practice their communication skills. A favorite is putting things just out of reach. Try giving kids only part of a puzzle or a toy. Let them ask you for the other pieces they need. The goal here isn’t to frustrate your child, but to encourages him to ask for things, notice things, and use intentional communication.

Another fun way to get kids communicating is to pretend to be forgetful. During a routine that you and your daughter have established—for example getting dressed—you can forget to put her socks on before her shoes. If your daughter is used to socks coming before shoes, she is going to notice the change in routine and “catch” you being forgetful. You can also pause during some predicable activity, like singing a favorite song. If she likes “The Itsy Bitsy Spider,” maybe one day sing, “The itsy bitsy spider ran up the—” and then pause, encouraging her to fill in the blank. This not only encourages her to retrieve and use new vocabulary words, but also teaches her turn taking and that using language in a back and forth exchange is fun!

Strategies to expand language skills

When working with kids on language skills, your goal should always be to help them reach just the next level of complexity. If your child communicates in one or two word bursts, your goal should be to model and use three and four word sentences. But make sure to follow your child’s lead so they remain engaged and empowered to try out new words and communicate in new ways. Talking and communicating with others should be fun!

Some strategies

Here are some strategies you can use with kids from birth all the way up to five years old, depending upon their language level.

  • Imitate: If your daughter is making noises (babbling) or making another sound in play, you can do that too. Imitating children’s sounds, words, and actions shows them that they’re being heard and that you approve of what they’re doing or saying. It also encourages them to imitate you and your more complex language utterances.
  • Commenting and describing: Instead of telling kids what to do during playtime, give a play-by-play of what they’re doing. Say, “You’re putting the cow into the barn. The cow is going to sleep.” This models good vocabulary and grammar and helps kids organize their thoughts. Maybe they weren’t actually putting the cow to sleep, but by suggesting that you’ve given them a new concept to consider.
    Eliminate negative talk: Try not to say things like, “That’s not where the cow goes,” Remember we want to encourage all attempts to communicate and validate those attempts so that kids do more of it. We all respond better to more positive phrasing.
  • Contingent responses: Respond immediately to all attempts to communicate, including words and gestures. It shows kids how important communication is and gives you the opportunity to model more sophisticated language skills.
  • Balance turn taking: Give kids the space to exercise their communication skills by making sure they get a turn. Maybe your daughter will look at you because she needs help opening a box. You can say, “You need help opening the box!” Then you can wait for her to hand you the box—that’s her taking another turn. Turn taking can be hard for parents because we’re used to taking charge of situations, but it is important to give kids the opportunity to use the skills they are developing.
  • Label things: Even when kids aren’t ready to use words yet, you can prepare them by labeling things in their environment. During snack time you can label the apple juice.
    Limit “testing”: If you know that your son knows which sound a pig makes, don’t keep asking him. Testing him during playtime instead of just playing with him can be stressful. Instead you could say, “I wonder where the pig is going?” It still invites him to respond, but it doesn’t put him on the spot.
  • Labeled praise: Instead of just saying “good job,” you could say, “Good job putting all the blocks back,” because it reinforces their good behavior even more. For a child who is using some words to communicate, you could say, “Nice job saying more juice please.” This will help create positive feelings around communication and motivate them to continue to try and add new words.

Rachel (Eckenthal) Cortese, a licensed speech-language therapist at the Child Mind Institute, specializes in the evaluation and treatment of young children and adolescents with communication disorders. Source:http://www.pbs.org/parents/expert-tips-advice/2015/07/helping-toddlers-expand-language-skills/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=pbsofficial&utm_campaign=parents_experts

Orton-Gillingham tutoring in Columbus OH: Adrienne Edwards 614-579-6021 or email aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com

+ How Much Does the Way We Listen Influence What Is Said?

[FWIW:  I found this valuable. Human interaction operates on many subtle levels. We are teachers and parents who want to receive and impart information as effectively as we can.]

by Chip Richards

“It takes two to speak the truth – one to speak and another to hear.”
– Henry David Thoreau

I was leading a workshop recently, with a large group of people who were highly engaged and committed to creating a breakthrough in their work together. As the workshop grew to a climax I paused for a moment and became suddenly aware of an almost piercing silence in the room. Locking eyes with several in the crowd I could feel the intense focused attention of the group. They were open, connected and listening so intently that it created an atmosphere, a feeling in the room that seemed to pull the words from my mind and mouth and transform them into fresh possibility in the room. Much of what I was saying was a direct reflection of what I had heard them say, but the way they were listening literally drew the gold from the moment. I left feeling empowered, in service and aligned with an overall feeling of positive connection and contribution with the group.

A few days later I was in a similar conversation with an individual who was having a bad day. The same need for a breakthrough was required and he knew it, but he was also stressed and distracted by other things. His eyes kept diverting to the pings coming through on his phone and with each new text message his attention drifted further from the point of our discussion. He continued to nod and “uh-huh”, but I could tell he was only half present (at best). Even though I was quite passionate about the topic being discussed, with his attention darting this way and that I actually started losing track of the core purpose of our conversation. I noticed myself begin to censor and pull back from sharing anything too personal and eventually looked for an early exit.

How could this be? Two days earlier I feel like Shakespeare in front of an entire group, and now here I am with a single person and I’m like a drowning comedy act waiting for my set to end. In this way I begin to realize that how we listen not only determines what we hear… it also powerfully impacts what is said!

Our thoughts move much faster than our words

Prior to around 3200BC (when writing was first known to be used by Sumarians and Egyptians), listening and then repeating back what was said was the primary way we shared and communicated knowledge. With no way for us to replay or press “command S” and save the essence or message someone was speaking, we had no choice but to bring our full presence to the moment and to listen closely!

In modern times, the average human speaks at a rate of 100-200 words per minute. Interestingly, we can hear at a rate of 400-600 words per minute… and we actually think 1-3000 words per minute. The difference between talking and listening speeds shows us we are physiologically more set up to listen than to talk, and the fact that our thoughts move 3-5 times faster than our words suggests that there’s a huge space for our mind to wander if we aren’t fully engaged with what is being said.

The way we listen impacts what we hear

Have you ever noticed how you listen to different people in your life? The other night my wife and I were speaking to our 15 year old son, complimenting him on an aspect of his being. We were speaking purely from our heart, but the way he was hearing us was coming through a filter of, “Yeah, but you don’t count because you’re my parents and you love me, so of course you see the best in me.” I so wanted my compliment to find a way in and land square in his heart, but I could tell that in the moment it was sort of bouncing off, based on how he was choosing to listen.

Hearing is a physiological function which we don’t have a technical way of turning on or off, but somehow we do have a way of ‘selecting’ what and who we listen to and what we hear in what they say. We have a different way of listening to a life teacher or a coach than someone who is trying to sell something to us over the phone. Both may have something valuable to offer us (or not!) but the way we tune in and what we choose to hear is different based on what we expect to hear from the person who is speaking.

The way we listen impacts what is said

Interestingly and less obviously, the way we listen also impacts what is said. If you go to your boss with three important things to talk about and you try the first one and realise they are not open to hearing about it, then you try the second topic and they totally shut it down, what are the chances that you will risk to share the third piece of what you wanted to talk about – even if (or especially if) it is the most important item to you? If you really don’t feel listened to, at some stage you will likely pull back and begin to censor what you are saying. I’ve had entire meetings planned where as soon as I get into the room I realize that there is “no listening” for the topic and so rather than put it out there to be squashed, I simply hold onto it for another day, another person or group to share it with.

A research study in the US revealed that on average, physicians interrupt 69% of patient interviews within 18 seconds of the patient beginning to speak. As a result, in 77% of the interviews, the patient’s true reason for visiting is never even elicited. Because of the way the doctor is choosing to listen (or not listen in this case) the patients are literally not able/empowered to speak their full truth of what is going on for them.

We all have automatic ways of listening depending on the speaker and situation and the powerful thing to realize is that the way we listen not only influences what we hear, but it also impacts the person speaking and influences what and how they choose to say what needs to be said.

Listening completely

I saw [a symbol] in an acupuncturist office one day. It is the Chinese written character for “To Listen” and it is made of several other characters, the ear being only one of them.

Imagine what we would start to hear and what we would evoke in the speaking of those who were sharing with us if we truly engaged with our heart, with eyes, with our undivided attention – with all of us – when we listened to another.

Imagine if, instead of listening for right or wrong, good or bad or where we can interrupt the conversation in order to make our own point, we listened intently to understand the other, to find alignment and shared values, to hear what truth, deep commitment or inspired thought is beneath their words which is truly trying to come out.

Listen to your listening

As you enter different conversations in your day today, take some time to tune into how you are showing up as a listener. Are you present or mentally checked out? What are you paying attention to? Become aware of how your listening impacts the person speaking and see what happens when you bring yourself fully to the space and listen for “the gold” in what they are saying.

BY CHIP RICHARDS    http://upliftconnect.com/sacred-power-listening/  

Orton-Gillingham tutoring in Columbus OH: 614-579-6021 or email aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com

+ From IDA: “Dr. Dave’s” Assistive Tech Advice

By: David Winters

Shh! We don’t want anyone to hear us. Why don’t you come a bit closer into my AT Lab so I can let you in on a big secret about assistive technology (AT)? Can you hear me? Ok, here it is— assistive technology is all around us! I wouldn’t be surprised at all if you’ve used AT yourself today.

You don’t think so? Well, did you turn on the closed-captioning on your TV while you watched your favorite program or movie? Or did you spend time listening to a book while exercising? Maybe you got a text version of a phone message emailed to you or used a calculator to figure out how much to tip your server at lunch. Many kinds of AT are available to us throughout the day.

Assistive technology can be anything that helps us do something that we normally would find difficult or even impossible. While we often think of AT as being sophisticated, expensive, and involving computers, AT includes low-tech solutions such as pencil grips, raised-line paper, and sticky notes. Low-tech AT usually is inexpensive, fairly simple, focuses on a single task, and does not involve electricity (no batteries or cords). Mid-tech AT (e.g., calculators, spell-checkers, and audio book players)costs more, is more complex, usually focuses on one type of task, and involves electricity (i.e., batteries or cords). High-tech AT (e.g., computers, tablets, and smartphones) usually is the most expensive, more complex, often helps with a variety of tasks, and needs electricity.

AT can play an important role in a person’s education. In fact, IDEA (2004) requires that IEP teams consider AT for EVERY student who is eligible for special education services (IDEA, 2004, Sec. 300.324(a)(2)(v)). While this requirement does not mean that every student will receive AT, the team must at least consider the need for both AT devices and services.

Unfortunately, some schools appear not to have understood this IDEA message, especially regarding students with learning disabilities such as dyslexia. A few semesters ago, one of my university students working as a paraeducator asked a teacher about appropriate AT for students with learning disabilities. The teacher’s response was that students with learning disabilities don’t need AT because only students with severe and profound disabilities benefit from AT. In my experience, students with learning disabilities are excellent candidates for AT. It can revolutionize their lives.

This leads us to Dr. Dave’s AT Lab Principle #1: Be sure to ask about AT devices and services at IEP meetings. While we don’t normally expect low-tech AT to be included in a student’s IEP, mid- and high-tech AT devices and services should be part of the written IEP. Keep in mind that the IEP may refer to use of a general type of device (i.e., a tablet) rather than a specific device (i.e., an iPad). Participating in trial use of one or more devices or services might be more appropriate than specifying a particular device or service in the IEP. In addition, a low- or mid-tech AT solution might be as or more helpful than an expensive, complicated high-tech one.

What if you encounter resistance to even talking about AT? The best approach may be to ask why AT would not be appropriate for this particular student, and to explain that AT can help people who have problems with reading, spelling, writing, taking notes, staying organized, and numerous other tasks. You might even share with the IEP team some AT examples and resources that you think might be particularly helpful for your student, including Examiner articles (Dr. Cheesman’s App Chat or Dr. Dave’s AT Lab columns) or the special technology issue of Perspectives (Fall 2013).

Deciding which AT to use for a specific task with a particular student can be challenging, which leads us to Dr. Dave’s AT Lab Principle #2: When considering AT, one “size” does not fit all. To be most effective, AT needs to be tailored to both the person using it and the tasks at hand. Selecting the most appropriate AT involves many factors (e.g., the device’s cost, portability, functionality, usability, and available training and other support). Other factors include the user’s physical, cognitive, and emotional strengths, challenges, and preferences. Sometimes a person’s support network and cultural perspectives may play a role in determining appropriate AT. When any of these factors are missing or ignored, the result may be a decision to avoid using AT and to continue an unnecessary struggle.

Involving the person who will be using the AT in the decision process can be especially important to AT success. Besides learning of the person’s preferences, this involvement provides a sense of ownership and self-determination in the process that can lead to a greater willingness to try something new. When suggesting AT to some of my university students, I often share two or three options for them to try. I have found greater success with this approach than telling them to use an AT device or app that I like or think would work well for them.

Low-, mid-, and high-tech AT options are available for many tasks. I recommend trying low-tech options first. The cost is usually minimal, and the AT user does not need to worry about replacing batteries or finding a place to plug in a device or keeping it charged. If the low-tech option does not meet the user’s need, then try a mid- or high-tech option.

Speaking of cost, remember that cost considerations for high-tech devices need to include repair, maintenance, insurance, future upgrades, and replacement. Some high-tech devices, such as computers, require a significant initial investment for the hardware and then ongoing investment in software and apps. However, because many of these high-tech devices help the user accomplish multiple tasks, the cost might be reasonable.

So, yes, AT is all around us, and we don’t have to have a disability to take advantage of it. In future visits to my AT Lab, we’ll cover specific areas and tasks in which AT can make a positive impact, such as reading, spelling, and writing. I’ll talk to you in a few months when you visit my AT Lab again.

David C. Winters, Ph.D., Fellow/AOGPE, is an associate professor in the Department of Special Education at Eastern Michigan University. He has been a classroom teacher, tutor, diagnostician, administrator, and tutor/teacher trainer for over 30 years and is a member of the International Dyslexia Association Orton Oaks. He currently teaches courses introducing preservice teachers to special education as well as instructional and assistive technology, writing,and assessment in special education for preservice special educators and speech language pathologists.

This, and more, at www.eida.org.  The “columns” referred to are David Winters’s columns in the IDA magazine The Examiner.

Orton-Gillingham tutoring in Columbus OH: Adrienne Edwards, 614-579-6021 or email aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com.