Blog: School Struggles, Learning Disabilities & Other Kid Stuff

  • Friday, July 11, 2014

    Eli’s parents are concerned. They think that their twelve-year-old child lacks social skills, as they rarely see kids coming to the house or calling on the telephone. Eli, himself, seems not to be concerned. He thinks he has lots of friends and plays with them all the time.

    Eli's version of playing with his friends all the time and his parents’ version are quite different. To his parents playing meant going outside with a group of kids and engaging in some type of physical activity. They expect Eli to play for hours on end, based on memories of their own childhood.

  • Tuesday, July 8, 2014

    When I ask parents of children who are struggling with reading what is being done to correct the problem, I frequently hear something like, “he’s getting in-class support.”  When pressed further to explain what remedial method is being used, I usually don’t get much of a response.

    Understand this, “in-class” support is fine for what it is.  But, you need to contrast “in-class” support with “direct instruction.”

  • Friday, June 27, 2014

    A father of a sweet 11-year-old girl came in to have her child evaluated this week.  By impression and observations, the girl, Katie, was on the innocent side of life.  She was still in the “Hello Kitty” phase, which was nice to see, given how fast and advanced many kids are that I meet at her age.

    Before we started the evaluation, the dad handed me a recent story that the child had to read and answer comprehension questions. In an incredulous tone, the dad said, “Here you go, Doc, let’s see what you make of this one.”

  • Saturday, June 21, 2014

    Once your child is reasonably down the road with the skills of decoding and reading fluency, the next stage emphasis is typically focused on comprehension. One of the underpinning skills of reading comprehension is the ability to apply the skill of “Hmm, let me think about it.”

    What does this skill mean?

  • Thursday, June 12, 2014

    Writing rubrics are familiar to most parents these days.  The rubrics are the criteria used to assess a range of writing skills for a child.

    Here’s a writing rubric that was handed to me recently for David, a child who I was going to assess.  On a four scale rubric, David was given a score.  As it turns out, David's score was the lowest level of functioning among four different criteria. 

    David was said to show the following in his writing:

  • Friday, June 6, 2014

    Try this experiment this weekend at your backyard family gathering.  Ask your Uncle Joe or Aunt Sue, what he or she knows about dyslexia.    I would predict that almost without exception, you will get something like, “Isn’t that when you read upside down and backward…or you reverse all those letters.”

    “No Uncle Joe, let me try and explain it better,” you may be tempted.

  • Friday, May 30, 2014

    A mom came in this week to talk about young Caroline, age 7, a second grader.    The mom had a stack of material to show me.  There was the math worksheet filled with word problems with the red 34% at the top of the page, with all kinds of ‘X’ marks throughout. 

  • Friday, May 23, 2014

    “Marlene, just doesn’t follow directions.  You know when she goes into fourth grade there’s going to be no more hand-holding. ”

    “All the kids in the class, but Benjamin, know what to do.  He really should be able to do the work.  After all, he is in 7th grade.”

    “What is it with Kyle? It’s like he’s in a different time zone.  He should be more aware of time management.”

  • Friday, May 16, 2014

    Sometimes I think of school 504 meetings somewhat like what I imagine goes on in the preparation for an NFL game.  The coaches (apart from the players) come up with a game plan.  Then the team has to  play the game and carry out the plan. 

    The plan may work beautifully.  Then again, the plan may blow up.  It may not work.

    What’s the link between the NFL pre game strategizing and a 504 planning meeting?

  • 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.”

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