Posts Tagged ‘School Routines’

No More Meltdowns in 5 Steps

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017 by Karishma Bakshani

courtesy of pixabay

You’re almost done with Saturday morning errands, you have just reached the supermarket, and then it happens: a meltdown! Meltdowns are not always about being defiant. Most meltdowns occur when a child feels out of control, or doesn’t understand a situation. Why are transitions so hard for some children? It’s not that they wouldn’t like to have dinner, or go to Grandma’s house. The reason is more likely that they were focused on a particular activity or expecting a certain routine, and your plan seemed to come out of nowhere. The good news is we have a few tips to help decrease meltdowns, and help you and your child feel more in control when things are about to get ugly!

1. Explain where you are going, when you are leaving and when you will return. We wouldn’t like to be taken to some mystery destination, and neither would our kids. Letting your child know what you’ve planned helps him to understand what to expect from the your outing.

2. Talk about potential disappointments and how we should react. You might remind your son about a time his favorite restaurant was closed and he got upset. “Last time you were disappointed when the pizzeria was closed, what should we do today if we our plans don’t work out?”

3. Make a game plan together. Discuss with your child ahead of time what is expected of him, what you as a parent can do to make him feel better, and what you will do as the one in charge, if the situation goes out of control. For example, I usually let my kids know why we are at Target, and what we are looking to buy. I then let them know what fun place we are supposed to go afterwards. Then I tell them, I am going to count each time you do something you are not supposed to do(being loud, not following directions). If I get to three, we will leave the cart, get in the car, and go home. On a good day, I might get to “one”, on a bad day, I might get to “three” just as we are leaving the store. Be consistent! Once your child knows you mean what you say, they’ll follow your plan too.

4. Ask your child how he feels. Sometimes the meltdown is just too much to handle right in the middle of a public area. Take your child to the car, or to a quiet place and talk it out. Let him know you understand that he is disappointed and ask him if he could explain what upset him so that you can understand better. Most children like to know that their parents are on their side. By acknowledging his feelings and trying to understand his point of view, you are showing just that! If your child is just too loud to reason with, don’t say a word or try to compete with his intensity, simply wait for him to calm down or wait for a pause so you can be the voice of reason.

5. If you know a particular place always results in tears and tantrums, you might consider not going there until your child is a little more mature. When he asks you why you haven’t taken a trip to that particular place, let him know the reason. You could say, “I don’t think we are ready for that store. It seems to upset you, and I would rather not go there.” Our children might not be aware of the consequences of their behavior. Not going to a fun place might be the necessary consequence for him to understand the importance of staying calm and using his words, rather than throwing a tantrum.

All children will throw tantrums at some point. Children with processing issues, ADHD, or Autism will have more frequent meltdowns. However with the right attitude and a lot of consistency we can survive and decrease the menacing meltdowns!

Camp Academia can help!  Call our office, 706-884-4492 to learn more.


Homework Help for Kids with Learning Disabilities

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017 by Karishma Bakshani

A child with a learning difficulty can struggle with homework after a long day of school.  This can be frustrating for both children and parents.   To help your child – and you – avoid the headaches of getting through homework, it is best to create a plan that keeps them focused, and takes away the stress of homework.

Be Consistent

Provide your child with a set time and place to do homework.  This creates a sense of control and predictability for children and for parents as well.    While every family has their own preferences and afternoon schedules, you might consider giving your child enough time for a quick snack and then have him sit down to do his homework before he gets distracted with other activities.  This method avoids all the excuses and complaints that happen later in the day as children get tired.  You and your child will also have more free time without the added stress of unfinished assignments.  Also, be sure that your child’s designated homework area has all needed supplies (sharpened-pencils, paper, calculator, water bottle, etc.) to avoid excuses for interrupting homework.

Approach the Most Difficult Assignments First

Children with learning disabilities tend to have short attention spans, particularly when it comes to challenging assignments. Have your child begin their most difficult assignments first since they will have more energy and focus to complete the task at hand.  This will also encourage them to complete their other assignments, and to not avoid future work in that difficult subject.

Plan Shifts

If you see that your child is losing focus on one particular assignment, allow them to shift over to another and then come back to the original assignment. You can also set a timer every 15 to 20 minutes so that your child can look forward to breaks to recollect their thoughts. Be sure to time breaks as well.  A long break can make completing homework even harder!!

Create a Homework Checklist

Checklists are a great way to keep your child organized and to help him remember each assignment.  They can also be a great motivator as your child checks off each completed assignment.  A child’s teacher should also be involved in the checklist and can help to let parents know what tasks are required each day.  Some parents find a weekly email to the teacher helpful in knowing what is expected of the class each week.

Reward Hard Work

Set weekly homework goals that can easily be measure with a chart or other method.  Having a simple reward system is a great external motivator and can be anything from being able to choose a weekend activity to even an ice cream cone!  Avoid, extravagant rewards.  Sometimes scheduling special “mommy-time” can be the best prize ever!

Be Encouraging

Parents feel obligated to correct every mistake on their child’s homework.  Consider this approach:  Have your child complete an assignment.  Look it over.  Praise what she did correct.  And THEN, point out areas that she might have to redo. Or, offer to explain concepts that your child obviously did not understand.  Praising before criticizing will make your child more willing to work towards the right answers.

Get Help from Brainjogging

Doing Brainjogging before starting homework can cut homework time in half.  Many parents have seen that when students do Brainjogging, and then begin their assignments, they have greater focus and are able to complete their work more efficiently.  In addition, adding vocabulary and key concepts to word lists in the Brainjogging program helps students remember and process new information quicker.  The goal is to work SMARTER not HARDER!

Transitioning to Middle School Made Easy

Wednesday, January 18th, 2017 by Karishma Bakshani

If you have a child with Dyslexia, ADHD, or even Autism, you are probably used to helping your child each step of the way.  However, as children get into middle school, they are faced with different pressures both social and academic.  How do we help our kids transition to middle school and teach them to be independent at the same time?

1.  Confirm or create a support system

  • If your child already has an IEP, the first step would be to have a meeting the Spring BEFORE she starts middle school to discuss any additional supports your child might need as they start middle school.
  • Be sure to know what supports your child already has, what works, and what doesn’t work.
  • Have some samples of your child’s work to show their strengths and weaknesses.  You can even keep track of how much assistance your child needs during homework.  This is a good indication of how much she is retaining from her classes.
  • Communicate with your child’s teacher and work together for what is best for your child.
  • Be sure to tell your child what supports will be available to ease any anxiety she might feel about going to a new school.

2.  Organize

  • Children with learning difficulties often have trouble keeping track of their schedule and homework.  If your child’s school does not provide a planner or agenda, go out and buy one appropriate for your child.  If he has messing handwriting, you might consider buy a planner with big spaces to write assignments and due dates.
  • Also, create a system for organizing school work. Assign a color for each subject. For example, science’s blue notebook will have a blue folder to keep handouts and assignments.
  • Put together a daily checklist for before going to school and before coming home.  The checklist will help your child see clearly what he needs to take to school and what he needs to complete work at home.
  • Implement a homework and extra curricular routine to keep your child on track.
  • Praise your child when he is organized and completes tasks.  He will feel encouraged to continue using the methods you have both implemented.

3.  Encourage Independence

  • Teach your child to advocate for herself.  If she is supposed to sit in the front row but has been seated in the back, she needs to be able to communicate her needs to the teacher.
  • Let your child know that you are here to help, but do not do your child’s homework.  Let her come to you for questions.
  • Listen to what your child has to say without judgement. Children are often faced with a variety of new social and academic situations.  Nagging or judging will close the lines of communication.  Listen and give advice calmly.  Let your child know that know matter what the situation, they can always come to you.  If she is able to solve a problem on her own, give praise!  The more our children can take care of themselves, the more success they will see in school and in life!







Sleep deprivation affects children differently than adults

Thursday, December 1st, 2016 by admin

If you have kids, then you know the horror of a sleep-deprived child!  We also know that we as adults need a good nights sleep to be our most productive.  However, a new study shows that sleep-deprivation affects children differently than adults.


“The process of sleep may be involved in brain “wiring” in childhood and thus affect brain maturation,” said Salome Kurth, Ph.D., first author of the study published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.   A lot of important neural connections are made when children sleep.   According to his recent study,  when adults are sleep-deprived, damage is seen in the frontal regions of the brain.  However, when children do not get needed sleep, damage occurs in the parieto-occipital (language, math, spacial relationships, vision) region, in the back of the brain.  This correlates with the fact, that in childhood, sleep is needed for development of the posterior regions of the brain.

After staying up too late, both children and adults need a period of deep sleep to recover.  This recovery phase is characterized by an increase in an electrical pattern called slow-wave activity, which can be measured with a non-invasive technique called an electroencephalogram. With a large number of electrode channels distributed across the scalp, this method also detects which brain regions show more slow-wave activity than others.

Kurth and his colleagues at the University of Zurich, measured the deep sleep patterns of two groups of children.  One group had a  normal night’s sleep.  The other had been kept up past their bedtimes by reading and playing games with them.   After only getting half of a night’s worth of sleep, the children showed more slow-wave activity towards the back regions of the brain, the parieto-occipital areas. This suggests that the brain circuitry in these regions may be particularly susceptible to a lack of sleep.

In addition, the study also showed a correlation between deep sleep activity and myelin content in the brain.  Myelin is a fatty microstructure of the brain’s white matter that allows electrical information between brain cells to travel faster. It can be measured with a specific magnetic resonance imaging technique.  The higher the content of myelin in a region of the brain, the more the sleep loss effect is similar to adults.  Regions of the brain that are undergoing development, will be more affected by sleep deprivation.


How can we be sure that our child is getting enough sleep?

Creating the right bed time routine for your child can be tricky.  But if you make it simple and clear, it can be done!

  • Set up a routine from start to finish and be consistent in following each step.
  • Have your child start his bedtime routine at the same time each day.
  • If your child responds to visual cues, a chart might help!
  • Avoid video games.
  • Some children have food sensitivities that can irritate their digestive system and prevent them from getting a good night’s sleep.  Stop all snacks and meals 2 hours before bedtime if you think that might be the case.
  • Keep a journal to see what worked and what didn’t.

Children love predictability!  A bedtime routine often leads to better behavior because our kids will get needed sleep as well as know what to expect each day.






Mommy! Mommy!: Sharing “mommy time”

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016 by admin

Your daughter needs extra help with her reading homework, but at that very moment, your son has figured out how to build a car with legos. Where do you turn? Sounds like a day in the life of every mom, right!? When one child needs extra help in any area of his or her life, it is easy to forget that the other child (or children!) need your attention too! We assume they know we love them, but for most children our approval  and attention is a sign of our love.

So what do we do? Grow four more arms and another set of eyes? As helpful as that might sound, we have a better way! Why not include the other child? Are you showing your baby how to crawl? Have everyone crawl around the house to chase a ball. Maybe, your elder child needs help in math. Have a hands on math activity your youngest can do beside you while you assist the older child. Give praise to both as they complete their work.

At Camp Academia, siblings who see their brother or sister do Brainjogging want to be apart of the action! Why not teach them how to help instead of “shooing” them away.  In the picture below, the 4 year old little sister is holding her brother’s head, so he can do Brainjogging. (Brainjogging only works when you keep your head very still and only move your eyes!)


Kids can help too!


We can also make a child feel special by give her special mommy time. You can schedule a specific time for that child and have your spouse or another family member spend time with the other child or children. A special drive or a trip for ice cream can turn into a wonderful memory for a child!

How do you make time for your children? Do you give them individual time? Or do you find away to include everyone?

What’s Recess?!?

Wednesday, September 28th, 2016 by admin

What seems like a silly question, is actually a warning sign for where our children are headed. Can you imagine a day without recess? In many schools across the country recess has been shortened and even eliminated to make more time for teachers to prepare their students for the many standard exams they are required to take each year. In fact, physical education (P.E.) classes have been reduced as well. Many schools offer P.E. only once a week!

On the surface, you might agree that to improve test scores, children need to study more. However, how can children learn if they are fidgeting in their seats and are unable to focus due to lack of exercise? Giving children time to run around and play with their peers in an unstructured environment is NOT a waste of time. In fact, scheduling such activities into the school day can actually IMPROVE academic performance in our schools!

In a study at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign,  8- and 9-year-old students were recruited for an after-school exercise program.  Half the students were put on a waiting list and did not attend the program.  The other half attended the after school program where they played games and received instruction on various sports’ techniques.

At the end of the study, the students who attended the program were not only leaner and healthier, but their scores on cognitive exams showed the most improvement!  The students who did not exercise improved, but not by a lot.  The study showed that as children develop, their cognitive skills develop as well.  However, children who participate in regular physical activity are more likely to show greater cognitive development as they grow older.


How does exercise improve brain health and cognition?

The answer is surprisingly simple!  Exercise increases blood flow to the brain which helps enhance various functions.  As a result, exercise promotes the growth of new brain cells in the hippocampus which controls memory and learning.  In addition, the brain produces more BDNF (Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor) that helps protect and repair memory cells.  Exercise also boosts the production of various chemicals called neurotransmitters that help with mood.  Overall, exercise clears a foggy brain, and prepares it to learn and grow!

How can we encourage our children to get more physical activity?

1.  Sign them up for a local sports team.

2.  Swap screen time for backyard or playground time.

3.  Register for a local 5k together.

4.  Take tennis (or any sport) lessons as a family.

While preparing our children for academic success is important, if our children are not given enough time to exercise and play, we will not see their true potential as students, and as contributing members of our communities!


“How Exercise Can Boost Young Brains”, The New York Times

“Seven Surprising Benefits of Exercise”, Time

It’s Playtime!!

Friday, September 16th, 2016 by admin

TAG!  You’re it!!!  What looks like a simple game for children is boosting your child’s cognitive and social development in so many ways!  Studies have shown that children who are given more time to play and exercise have better brain health and cognitive skills.



Exercise in general helps to boost brain health in the following ways:

1.  Regular aerobic exercise appears to boost the size of the hippocampus which is involved in verbal memory and learning according to a study done at the University of British Columbia.

2.  Exercise reduces insulin resistance, inflammation, and stimulates the release of growth factors.  Together, these results affect growth of new blood vessels in the brain, and even the creation and survival of new neurons (brain cells)!

3.  Individuals who exercise experience improved sleep and mood, and reduced stress.  Sleep deprivation and stress are key contributors to cognitive issues.

Children who are given time for unstructured, child-driven play see a variety of benefits.  Unstructured play gives children a chance to make sense of the world around them through pretend play and games both by themselves or with their peers.  Playing with other children also helps kids learn valuable lessons in sharing, team work, and problem solving.  What seems like “child’s play” is really laying the foundation for our children to be able to cope with unexpected situations that arise in our everyday lives!


So let’s make a promise!  Repeat after me:

1.  I will not schedule every minute of my children’s day.

2.  I will give my children space to solve their own problems and resolve their own conflicts.

3.  I will play with my children, especially when asked, whenever possible.  When given the choice between watching cat videos, and actually pretending to be a cat with my child, I will choose the latter!

You are all amazing parents out there!  Let’s encourage the best in our kids and in each other!



Harvard Health Blog:  Regular exercise changes the brain to improve memory, thinking skills

PediatricsJanuary 2007, VOLUME 119 / ISSUE 1:  The Importance of Play in Promoting Healthy Child Development and Maintaining Strong Parent-Child Bonds, Kenneth R. Ginsburg

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.


More Young Children with ADHD Could Benefit from Behavior Therapy:



Friday, December 18th, 2015 by admin





The most common ADHD medications:

• Boost alertness
• Increase focus and attention

BEWARE OF THE SIDE EFFECTS! ALERT WHEN? FOCUS WHERE? Medications do not dictate with priority! “Stimulants in ADHD medications that boost alertness have a detrimental effect on sleep.” Katherine Kidwell, University of Nebraska

Before turning to medication, try other solutions:

• Journal sleep habits for two weeks to determine if poor sleep habit may be causing ADHD-like behavior in your child.
• Take a look at CURRENT routines and schedules
o Consider whether the lack of structure is the culprit
o REMEMBER, children feel secure with scheduling
• Try a more structured environment.
o Clear schedules
o Definite snack and dinner times
o Clear instructions for children to follow
o Clear homework location and expectation
o Clear bedtime routine including quieting down time with activities such as audio books, reading, or coloring.

After your child is prescribed medication:
• Journal sleep habits for two weeks
• Be sure to follow up with your child’s pediatrician and inform him of any noticeable changes, both good and bad!

Sleep is extremely important at any age. A good night’s sleep allows the body to rest and repair itself and the brain to retain all the information learned during the day and prepare for new information the next day!

“Common ADHD Medications Do Indeed Disturb Children’s Sleep” – by Aimee Cunningham NPR November 24, 2015

Time Change Advantage!

Monday, November 11th, 2013 by admin

Now that the time change has gone into effect, it’s a perfect opportunity to be reminded about the importance of good sleep. Children require 10-12 hours of sleep each night, and if your child uses a nightlight this research may be of even more interest to you.

A recent study out of Ohio State University found that the color of the nightlight affected the mood of hamsters. The little critters who were exposed to blue or white light at night exhibited more depressive-like symptoms and depression-related changes in the brain than those exposed to red light.

The findings suggest that exposing the brain to brighter light in the sleeping hours could result in negative effects on health. You may even consider changing the bathroom nightlight to a red bulb. “Light at night may result in parts of the brain regulating mood receiving signals during time of the day when they shouldn’t,” Tracy Bedrosian, a co-author of the study, suggested. “This may be why light at night seems to be linked to depression in some people.”

Now that the kids are a bit more willing to go to bed as it turns darker earlier, it is important that parents look after their brain health, even during sleep. Camp Academia has experienced much success with children who have sleep issues. Brainjogging each and every day can improve academic, athletic and emotional health and well-being! 5-7 minutes twice a day is all it takes to improve a child’s brain effectiveness!