Blog: School Struggles, Learning Disabilities & Other Kid Stuff

  • Wednesday, May 7, 2014

    A parent told me today about a strategy that his  9 year child was told to employ in school.

    The child was told something like this:

    “When you come upon a word that you don’t know when you are reading, take a ‘flying leap.’   That means you should just look at the first two letters and think about what the sentence means and take a ‘flying leap’ (i.e., a wild guess.) as to what the word might be.”

  • Friday, April 18, 2014

    A mom came in the other day to talk about her struggling eight-year-old daughter, Jacqueline, a fourth grader.  Jacqueline  presented with many of the common concerns-difficulty with decoding, reading fluency, spelling and writing.

    I asked the mom, “What has been done for Jacqueline?”

  • Friday, April 11, 2014

    The Parenting Dance That We Do

    Parents often need help in learning how to communicate with their child. Children with learning disabilities or ADHD can be very frustrating and difficult to manage. Negative and irritable patterns of communication often play out in a habitual manner.

  • Friday, March 28, 2014

    Kids who are struggling feel like they are constantly running up hill while the other kids are on an easy downward slope.   

    In this day and age of Student Growth Percentiles, Common Core and PARCC testing what is the one thing that the struggling kids need above all?

    They need people to be patient with them, to ease up on all of the pressure.

    Sometimes they get burned out with it all.

    Turn down the heat this weekend.

    Take your kid out for an ice cream cone.

  • Friday, March 21, 2014

    Many times a parent (usually the mom) senses that something is amiss with her child and wants to have and  evaluation conducted in school.  If the child is getting decent grades, the response to the request is often denied. The parent may hear  a version of the following,  “Well, she’s getting good grades-what’s the problem?”

  • Friday, March 7, 2014

    Change does not come easily for any of us. Think about how deeply ingrained our personalities, habits and proclivities are. Fundamentally, we are who we are.

    Parents spent a lot of time trying to change children and I sometimes find that their efforts may be a bit too ambitious.

    Rather than go for large change, a “compound-interest mentality” may help as an alternative.

  • Friday, February 28, 2014

    When parents come in to talk about their kids and why they are struggling there are the common list of factors that are usually discussed.  Some of these include:

    • Poor phonemic awareness
    • Limited decoding skills
    • Weak fluency
    • Family predisposition toward dyslexia and/or ADHD
    • Weak attention skills
    • Weak sustained mental effort/executive functioning
    • Weak language processing skills

    The list can go on easily with at least 50 more cognitive (“in the head”) variables contributing to school struggling.

  • Friday, February 14, 2014

    I spend a good deal of my professional life assessing children in an attempt to identify their profile of strengths and weaknesses.   Once a child is assessed, I do my best to explain the data to the parents in straight-forward, non-jargon terms.

    The part of the process I like the least is the question that inevitably arises: “Well, how do we fix it?”

    The reason I don’t like this question is that I rarely know the answer.  I never think of kids needing to be fixed – they’re not car engines.

  • Sunday, February 2, 2014

    Let’s say a child knows a few notes and chords on the piano and can play a handful of very basic songs.  Would it make sense to ask him to play a challenging song that was clearly beyond his level?

    I don’t think so.  I think it would create undue frustration.

    Well, young Ethan, age 10, isn’t taking piano lessons, but his writing class approaches the teaching of writing very similarly to the above scenario.  Ethan does not really know how to write a sentence, but every day or so he is asked to write to an open-ended essay.

  • Friday, January 17, 2014

    It’s that time of year - the time when the kids with floppy rudders (mostly the boys) are starting to wear their parents down.  They are the ones not handing in homework and playing on their iPads too long while their grades are plummeting.    

    They can’t handle the day to day grind of school.

    The nightly ritual of, “What do you have for homework,” typically answered with, “Nothing, I did in school,” goes on and on.  

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