Archive for September, 2013


Monday, September 30th, 2013 by admin

Children with learning disabilities can also have gifted brains. This can be confusing for parents and teachers working with the child who performs brilliantly in one area of study while failing miserably in another. There is reason for hope, however, when it comes to learning for these twice-exceptional children!

We know that young brains are more receptive to learning. There are many new connections being made between neurons to store patterns and information collected from the environment. By adolescence, this sensitive period in the brain comes to an end, when learning new things becomes harder.

Angela Brandt, Penn State University, and John Hewitt at the University of Colorado studied children over time and noticed that those with higher IQs had an extended period in adolescence where they continued to learn things at a rapid pace, just like younger children. This sensitive period of absorbing information from the environment seemed to end earlier in individuals with lower IQs.

Many children with invisible disabilities have above average IQs. As parents, it is vital to keep that in mind; school can be frustrating for some, but learning new things is both important and neurologically desirable! Those brains are open to new learning and opportunities, so avoid the mistake of reducing the number of fresh experiences for your intelligent adolescent! Encourage your child to continue to learn a new language, an instrument or some new challenge during this time!

Unlocking “I Don’t Know”

Thursday, September 26th, 2013 by admin

Language Learning Disabilities (LLD) account for the largest percentage of diagnosed learning disabilities. This type of LD causes children to struggle with language, especially in conversation – the way they engage in it as well as process it. Parents can help by teaching their children the art of communicating.

Parents are naturally curious about the school day – “What did you learn at school?” “Who did you play with at recess?” “Did you have a good day?” Ask a quick question requiring a one-word answer, and that is what you’ll get. After a long day at school, a child with a language learning disability may be too mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted to answer a barrage of questions; it’s too much.

Allow for some “down time” after the school day. Encourage your child to run around outside, shoot baskets, ride a bike, or climb a tree. After a healthy snack and some physical exercise, think about switching up your questions! The National Center for Learning Disabilities suggests some of the following questions to help your child engage in a conversation about school:

• What was the best thing you did at school today?
• Tell me the names of four kids who sat closest to you at lunch
• Was there anything you wish you had at school that you didn’t have today?
• What were most kids doing at recess?
• Who has a locker near yours?
• What was the funniest thing someone said at lunch?

These questions help parents inquire about the times during which their children may experience negative social interactions (lunch, recess, and in between classes). Their answers will help provide an inside look at what they are experiencing during social snippets. Practicing this type of communication and question-answer sessions will strengthen your child’s ability to reproduce that back and forth in a more natural way during the school day. Soon the shoulder shrugs and “I don’t knows” will be a thing of the past!

The Science of Smarter Thinking!

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013 by admin

Dr. Sandra Bond Chapman, founder and leader of the Center for BrainHealth at UT Dallas, studies ways to get the most out of our brains – this applies to your children, too! She describes ways to increase the blood flow to our brain’s command center, the Frontal Lobe, which acts as the CEO of our brain. Check out these interesting strategies for improving function of your child’s BRAIN POWER:

1. Brain Power of ONE – Be Single-Minded! Think of one thing – focus on ONE THING – no distractions – for a designated period of time. Play “I Spy” with your child – focusing on that one thing, asking yes/no questions to determine the specific object. Is it bigger than a loaf of bread? Do we use it every day? Am I able to pick it up?

2. Brain Power of TWO – Determine the TWO most important things that will make the most difference to your day! Spend your time doing those! “When you’re hunting elephants, don’t get distracted chasing rabbits!” Work with your child to make a TO DO list; help him determine what is most important. Once you have determined that together, your child can break down the task into smaller parts. Provide positive feedback or a small reward for accomplishing those two items on the list.

3. Brain Power of DEEP – This is the most transformative, because it requires the MOST EFFORT. It means taking in information from all sources, and blending it with the knowledge that’s already in there – and synthesize! Work with your child as he learns new information at school. Ask, “What do you ALREADY know about this topic? What do you need to find out?” This will help draw on prior knowledge and build bridges to the next block of knowledge.

4. Brain Power of LESS – Reduce the amount of information. Big data freezes our brain. Teach your child how to do a “Brain Dump” – get all unnecessary items onto paper, into a phone, or saved on a computer document – what is taking up brain space that can be cleared before studying or homework time.

5. Brain Power of INNOVATIVE THINKING – Our brain is wired to be inspired! It dislikes the status quo or automatic pilot. Think outside the box! Make available creative materials for your child as he works on his homework. A standing table, a white board, big chart paper, markers, and crayons will help provide OPTIONS for creative ways to think about his work.

And finally, EAT & SLEEP & MOVE YOUR FEET!
If you do these POWERFUL strategies, you will have a stronger, smarter, snazzier brain!

The Key To Success is NOT IQ! It’s this…

Monday, September 9th, 2013 by admin

In education, the one thing we know how to measure best is IQ, but what if there is more to your child’s success than his/her ability to learn quickly and easily?

Dr. Angela Lee Duckworth, from the University of Pennsylvania looked at who is successful and why. Researchers looked at West Pointe Military Academy cadets, National Spelling Bee participants, rookie teachers in tough neighborhoods, and private company salespeople to explore who had the most staying power; most advancement; highest sales performance; most likelihood to still be teaching after the school year and who will be most effective with learning outcomes.

One characteristic emerged as a predictor of success – GRIT! Grit means having a passion and perseverance for those long-term goals; having stamina; sticking with your future day in, day out, for years; and working really hard to making that future a reality; living life like a marathon instead of a sprint.

We need to help our children work through problems and solutions. Every issue they have is not, in fact, “Google”able. Teaching them to stop, think, draw on their prior knowledge, and stick with something to its end is the kind of teaching that lasts a lifetime.

Dr. Duckworth built upon another idea called “Growth Mindset,” developed at Stanford University by Dr. Carol Dweck. It is the belief that the ability to learn is not fixed; it can change with effort. When kids read and learn about the brain and how it changes and grows in response to challenge, they are more likely to persevere when they fail, because they recognize that failure is NOT a permanent condition. “Growth mindset is a great idea for building grit, but we need more,” says Dr. Duckworth. “We need to take our best ideas and strongest intuitions and we need to test them and measure whether we’ve been successful. We need to fail and start again. We need to be gritty about helping our kids get grittier.”