Posts Tagged ‘Learning Strategies’

Five reasons why we need to curb screen time…

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017 by admin

If someone approached you to enroll your child in a social experiment, would you agree?  Probably not.  But that is exactly what we have done for the past decade since the introduction of smart phones and tablets.  With only a handful of studies on the effects of screens, many of us allow our children so much more hours of screen time than is recommended by American Academy of Pediatrics.   We aren’t even sure of the long term effects of daily tablet and smart phone use, and yet statistics show that many of the apps downloaded and 50% of the Netflix accounts are geared towards children.  What’s the big deal you might ask.  Here we go…

1.  Excessive screen time is detrimental to overall health.

Children and adults who spend too much time in front of any type of screen often exercise less.  Even if they are not overeating, lack of exercise can lead to obesity.  In fact, too much exposure to screens, especially at night, can lead to sleep problems that can lead to obesity, attention, and cognitive issues.  Two hours before bedtime, all screens (TV, phones, tablets) need to be turned off and a bedtime routine needs to be established to ensure a good night’s sleep!  Children who get a good night’s sleep are more alert, have better processing, and are less likely to gain excessive weight.

2.  Giving young children screens can lead to behavior issues.

Have you ever gone to the supermarket with your child, and to prevent a meltdown, given her your smartphone?  We all have!  But we all know that rewarding bad behavior with a screen is not going to solve anything.  In fact, you are more likely to have meltdowns from your children if they think you will give them a tablet or phone each time.  What about when you take your child for their annual shots?  Some parents like to distract or comfort children with an app or a video on their phone.  Although the child might stop crying, think about what they missed.  What the child really needed was a warm hug, not an app!

3.  Too much screen time can lead to attention issues.

Did you know that ADHD is ten times more prevalent than it was 20 years ago?  A study from Iowa State University showed that kids ages 6-12 who spent more than 2 hours in front of a screen were more likely to have attention issues in school.  In fact, Demetri Christakis, an expert on children and media consumption, feels the speed and flash of modern video games and TV is a big concern.

“I think that the concern is that the pacing of the program, whether its video games or TV is over stimulating and contributes to attention problems,” Christakis says.
4.  Apps and video games provide TOO MUCH stimulation to developing minds.
 It seems so much easier to put on a story-time app for your toddler than to actually tell her a story.  The child, however, misses out on so much when we do that.  When a mother tells her child a story, the child listens to her mother’s voice, She has to listen for changes in intonation as well as try to read the expression on the faces of the characters in the book.  If her mother is a story-time pro, she might ask the child about the characters’ feelings, or what might happen next!  All these points might seem simple, but they are training the child’s brain to read social cues, to think critically, and to be imaginative.  When a child watches a story on a tablet, the characters move as the story is told.  There is often background music and sound effects.  Also, the child can often touch part of the story to make characters and other parts of the screen move.  All this while the bright light of the tablet is inches from her face!  In this scenario, the child has no chance to use her own imagination.  If she wants to move a long with the story she simply has to push an arrow.  She doesn’t even have to wait for the app’s narrator to finish the sentence.  So many important social skills are missing, when we depend on a tablet to entertain our kids.
5.  Therapies and treatments cannot overcome the effects of video games.
After 30 years of helping children overcome learning difficulties, Shirley Pennebaker has observed the following:  Lack of sleep and over exposure to video games are detrimental to learning!  While Brainjogging can definitely help a child affected by screens and video games, the child must STOP playing video games first.  The next step would be to call Camp Academia and get the child on Brainjogging.
 Resources:
https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/behind-online-behavior/201604/what-screen-time-can-really-do-kids-brains
http://www.wsj.com/articles/banning-tablets-is-best-for-children-1477245370

 

ADHD: KNOW YOUR CHILD’S RIGHTS!

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016 by admin

adhd

As we all know, the only way to help a child with an ADHD diagnosis is to TREAT THE ISSUES! The best way for parents to be sure their child is getting the needed support and services, is to KNOW THEIR CHILD’S RIGHTS!

The US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights has received thousands of complaints of discrimination based on disability, with 10 % being students with ADHD. The most common concern is that these students are not being evaluated in a timely manner, and are NOT receiving the needed aides and services.

Here are the facts:
1.  Schools MUST evaluate a student when he/she NEEDS or is BELIEVED TO NEED special education or services.

2.  Schools are OBLIGATED to provide services based on SPECIFIC needs, NOT GENERALIZATIONS about ADHD or any other diagnosis. (Each student should be evaluated individually without comparison to previous students or case studies.)

3.  Students who experience behavioral challenges, or seem unfocused COULD HAVE ADHD, and may need to be evaluated.

4.  Schools must allow parents to APPEAL decisions regarding identification, evaluation, or educational placement of students with any disability, including ADHD.

How can we ensure our children are given the necessary services and aides to help them succeed at school?

1.  Be an advocate for your child.  No one knows your child better than their parents (or guardians).

2.  Stay informed!  Know your rights and be knowledgeable about the latest advances and research regarding ADHD.   Being aware of different accommodations and treatments will help you to make the best decisions for your child!

3.  Maintain a good relationship with your child’s homeroom and resource teacher.  Having an open line of communication will keep you and your child’s teacher aware of any important changes in behavior.

The right combination of support from parents, teachers, and mentors is crucial in helping each child succeed!

Resources:

U.S. Department of Education Releases Guidance On Civil Rights of Students with ADHD,  July 26, 2016

Reading is FUNdamental!

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016 by admin

What was the last book your child was excited to read? What was the last book you were excited to read? We know the importance of reading, but how do we get our children to love books? As with anything, we need to make it fun!

If you were give a choice between reading Poor Richard’s Almanac and the latest New York Times bestseller, what would you choose? I’d choose the book I was more eager to read! Think about your kids for a minute. You can choose books you think they should read, or you can take them to the library or bookstore and have them choose books that they WANT to read.

One of our students with language processing issues had a tough time choosing a book to read for his weekly reading comprehension test. His mother sent a note asking for an age appropriate book from the Flat Stanley series. When her son brought home the book, he quickly lost interest after reading one or two chapters. It was a struggle to finish the book and an even bigger struggle to get him to review the main concepts.

At a trip to the book store she noticed her son looking at the Mercy Watson series of books. She asked her son, “Why don’t you bring home a book about Mercy Watson from the library?” Well that did it! He not only brought home one book about that silly little pig named Mercy, he has been bringing every book in the series, and reading on his own!! He even got a 90% on his last test!

Let’s get our kids on the path to succeed by helping them them love to read!

The Real Deal on Screens

Monday, September 19th, 2016 by admin

Is it me or is there an app and screen for every moment in our lives? My two year old doesn’t know the alphabet! There’s an app for that! Our baby won’t stop crying! There’s an app for that! But, what if the “app” cannot be found in our phone’s app store. What if the real “app” was within us all along!

Digital media, in particular tablets, seem to be taking over our children’s lives. At a young age, children are exposed to YouTube videos of nursery rhymes, “educational” apps, and endless cartoons that can be repeated with just a touch of the screen!  (Trust me, I’ve been there!)  But what we see as entertainment and convenience is really changing our child’s brain and in fact making it more difficult to parent!

Time and again, peer-review studies have shown that kids raised on a high-tech diet struggle with attention and focus.  Creators of “educational” video games claim that students no longer have the attention span for traditional learning.  However, giving students lessons on tablets is not helping the problem, it is making it worse!  These children are only motivated and focused in front of a screen.  They aren’t able to engage and stay focused in normal every-day tasks.  Dr. Kentaro Toyama, from the University of Michigan’s School of Information found in his research that technology helps education when the educational system is already doing well.  Unfortunately, it does little for mediocre systems, and even worse in dysfunctional schools.  Dr. Toyama states, that technology “can cause outright harm” in these schools.

At a young age, exposure to screens can be extremely harmful.  Through the release of a neurotransmitter called dopamine, the brain’s “motivation chemical”, babies and toddlers are conditioned to focus only when given the immediate rewards or feedback found in technology.  And while you might claim that you only allow your toddler to watch educational shows, in reality, children under 2 do not understand how the world they see on a screen relates to reality.  Young children need to interact directly with people and objects around them to fully understand how their world works.

Unfortunately our country’s education system has become highly dependent on technology.  The education technology industry is estimated to become a 60 billion dollar industry by 2018!  The convenience of giving each student a tablet, that can be updated within seconds, seems to have outweighed the risks to our children’s health.  Jane Healy, education psychologist and author of Failure to Connect:  How Computers Affect our Children’s Minds, reports that “time on the computer might interfere with development of everything from the young child’s motor skills to his or her ability to think logically and distinguish between reality and fantasy.”

The future of our families, our country, and in fact our world lies in the minds of our children.  We can encourage new ideas by giving our children tools that develop their skills to think creatively and critically, and to observe the world around them.  So the next time your baby cries, instead of finding the YouTube video for Rock-a-bye Baby, maybe you can put on one of your “old-fashioned” CDs, or even sing the song yourself!

Resources:

Screens in Schools are a $60 Billion Hoax, Dr. Nicholas Kardaras, Time, August 31, 2016

Screen Addiction is Taking a Toll on Children, The New York Times, July 6, 2015

Wired Kids:  How Screen Time Affects Children’s Brains,  https://breakingmuscle.com/family-kids/wired-kids-how-screen-time-affects-childrens-brains

Here’s why we need to provide much needed support for children living in poverty!

Thursday, September 15th, 2016 by admin

Imagine living on a street filled with gangs and crime, going to school where teachers have no expectations of your potential, and then coming home to arguing, overworked parents. Unfortunately, that is reality for many children in America. Children living in poverty often have to deal with violence and malnutrition, and these factors contribute to physical changes in the brain regions involved with memory, decision making, impulse control, and judgement.

Why does this happen? Our body’s stress-response system has a direct connection to our brain development. Living in neighborhoods filled with violence and trauma causes the stress hormones, cortisol and epinephrine to be constantly released. These children’s brains are constantly in a state of flight-or-flight! Chronic stress impedes brain development and leaves the brain constantly disorganized.

The GOOD NEWS is there is a way to counter these negative effects!
1.  A strong support system at home and school gives children a sense of security. A child who comes home to loving, supportive parents can learn coping mechanisms and does not have to be in a constant state of stress.

2.  Schools can provide classes in social skills, empathy, and stress-relieving methods

3.  Cognitive behavioral therapy such as Brainjogging, can help to reduce the achievement gap in poorer communities.  Don’t underestimate the plasticity of the human brain.  When the right areas of the brain are targeted, new neural connections can be created!  Now you have a child who can learn and succeed!

 

Resources:

Newsweek August 2016, “Growing up poor is so stressful, it can affect brain development” Erika Hayasaki

http://newsweek.tumblr.com/post/149705393935/growing-up-poor-is-so-stressful-it-can-affect

Mowat-Wilson Syndrome GOOD news!!!!

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016 by admin

A new student who is 5 years old is making progress since starting Brainjogging!!! After only two weeks!!!  The parent says that they’ve definitely seen advancement!  As they were going through the letter flash exercises with him, he was very engaged and focused.  He repeated clearly the letters “f” “b” “I” and “a”!  He continues to say “up” and “out”, and his teacher stated he said “all done”!  He is watching their mouths more and you can see him trying to form his mouth correctly for certain sounds. His babbling has started sounding more like language, too!  One of the biggest surprises to his family, has been his engagement in his toys and environment, and not asking us for the television.  This is amazing progress considering Mowat-Wilson Syndrome is a genetic disorder that impairs cognitive development. Most children with Mowat-Wilson are non-verbal, however, our little superstar is making big strides with Brainjogging!!

Planes, Trains, and Autism!

Tuesday, September 13th, 2016 by admin

Traveling with children is stressful!  Traveling with a child on the autism spectrum can be terrifying!  However, with a little planning and preparation, you can have that family trip you have been too scared to plan!

free-transportation-clip-art-www-www-clipartbay-com

1. If your child gets overwhelmed by crowds, noises, and lights, DON’T have your first trip be to a big theme park! Maybe try an island vacation, or a local beach or even just a nearby city with kid-friendly activities.

2. Start reading about where you are going. If you decide to visit San Diego, get a map and some guidebooks and start planning all the places you will visit. Plan on visiting one tourist site each day and one park or playground where you don’t have to be so structured. Plan your meals too! Children in general like to know what to expect, and children with autism feel a lot more in control and calm when they know where they are going and what is expected of them.

3. Start talking about rules and routines. The airport can be a very overwhelming place even for adults! Draw a picture of the layout of your nearest airport and go through what will be expected from your child at each point. What happens when we check in our bags? What happens when we go through airport security? What do we do when we are waiting at the gate? If you map these routines out for your child, he will know what to expect and will be less likely to have a meltdown! One mom referred to the security check as the “Magic Gate”. Her son knew that when he passed the “magic gate” he would be allowed on the plane!

4. If your child has any allergies or food sensitivities, be sure to take his food along. No amount of planning can stop a hungry and tired child from having a meltdown! Be prepared and be happy!

5. When your child is using his best behavior, PRAISE, PRAISE, and PRAISE him some more! WOW! You were so sweet to wait patiently while mommy checked in our bags! Praising reinforces the good behavior and you are more likely to see that good behavior again!

6. Try to keep a schedule on your vacation that is similar to your routine at home. If you do any at home therapies or your child has any favorite toys. Be sure to bring them a long within reason. Your child will appreciate the familiar activities and toys when he is away from home.

7. Pick your battles! You want your child to listen and follow directions. But parents need to realize that what they think makes perfect sense, doesn’t always make sense to our little ones. Especially when your little one has processing issues, you might have to explain your point another way, or even let it go, if your child is getting visibly upset.

8. Have fun!! If you are on vacation, and you are not having fun, something is wrong! Family vacations are for relaxing with your loved ones. Plan your day and prepare your child, but also be flexible if things don’t go exactly the way you planned. Each vacation will be better than the last! Bon voyage!

Parents of young children with ADHD should choose Behavioral Therapy over Medication

Monday, September 12th, 2016 by admin

Increasing numbers of children under the age of five are being diagnosed with ADHD, and prescribed medication.  For children ages 2-5, whose brains are still rapidly developing, medication can have a variety of side effects.  These side effects are often more severe than in older children.  Most alarming, is the fact that we have no evidence that ADHD medications do not alter the child’s brain development, since we have no long-term studies.

As such, the CDC recommends behavioral therapy as a first option for this age group. In behavior therapy, therapists help parents build skills to aid in teaching their children how to manage their own behavior.  This method has been shown to be just as effective as medication.adhd-behavior-therapy-parents-800px

 

Parents have an important role in treating their child’s  ADHD.  In behavior therapy, parents are trained by a therapist during sessions to learn strategies to encourage positive behavior, discourage negative behaviors, improve communication, and strengthen their relationship with their child.   These skills help children at school and home by improving behavior, impulse control, and self-esteem.  Although behavior therapy requires more time and effort the benefits last much longer, than just treatment with ADHD medications.

Resource:

More Young Children with ADHD Could Benefit from Behavior Therapy:  http://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2016/p0503-children-adhd.html

 

New Research supports science behind Brainjogging!

Friday, September 9th, 2016 by admin

The Journal of Neuroscience has recently published a ground-breaking study about the significance of brain training. The purpose of the study was to examine the neurophysiological changes that accompany improvements following working memory training.

In the study a group of children were split into two groups and were given tasks that tested their short-term memory. In one group the difficulty level remained at ‘easy’, while the other group’s games slowly got harder.  The team found that compared to the control group, the children’s memory significantly improved and that the memory boost crossed over to when they performed untrained memory tasks.  More importantly, the researchers discovered that when the children’s brains were scanned there was a change in the rhythmic electrical signal in different areas of the brain, including the areas responsible for visual processing. After brain training the rhythm became stronger!

What does this mean for our “Brainjoggers”?  Keep doing Brainjogging!!  The exercises in the Brainjogging program are designed to stimulate the areas of the brain that control processing and memory.  The more you do Brainjogging, the more these crucial areas of the brain get activated, and the better individuals are able to process and retain new information!

“Training Working Memory in Childhood Enhances Coupling between Frontoparietal Control Network and Task-Related Regions” – Journal of Neuroscience

http://www.jneurosci.org/content/36/34/9001.full#abstract-1

 

A Milestone in Language Processing!

Thursday, February 4th, 2016 by admin

Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 9.51.36 AM

 

Yesterday one of our students made a clear transition from Autism to Language Processing! You’re probably wondering how this could happen!? Well, in autism, individuals have little to no comprehension and do not really understand riddles, puns, or jokes. This student was taught the joke:

Why was six afraid of seven?

Answer: Because seven ate (8) nine!

When he first heard the joke, he took it literally. “I know 7, 8, 9!” But when asked, “Can seven EAT nine? “, he started to laugh!!! And now he tells everyone his new joke!

Riddles are a wonderful method for teaching this transition! Find your old joke books or search online for children’s riddles and jokes to enhance your child’s cognitive skills!