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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Routines: Stimulating Student Confidence and Productivity

Helping students establish positive, daily routines can be a lesson that will serve them throughout their lives.  Instead of aimlessly floating from task to task, when students learn to create a structured schedule with intentions and goals, they can steer their way to high marks, navigate childhood stressors, and cultivate improved confidence and productivity.


Creating Routines Throughout the Day:
Establishing routines throughout the day, can help both parents and teachers maintain power and respect while providing kids the structure that they need. For this blog post, I will be focusing on a home routine, but many of these ideas and principles can be applied to the classroom. You’ll notice that I include positive intentions, affirmations, and gratitude as this can help nurture a positive attitude as well as a positive inner voice.

Getting your children into the following habits can make mornings more manageable for all family members. You can pick and choose from the following options or create your own.  The important thing to do is to start with a written checklist until the tasks become habitual:

Morning Routine:
  1. Get out of bed the first time your alarm goes off:  Research suggests that you will be less tired if you get up the first time you wake up.
  2. Make your bed: It is the first thing kids can accomplish for themselves each day.
  3. Brush your teeth: Oral hygiene is key for health, connecting with others, and feeling good.
  4. Exercise and stretch: Do a few warm-up exercises and/or stretches to wake up and energize the body.
  5. Eat a healthy breakfast: Eat a breakfast that is high in healthy fats and proteins and is low in carbohydrates and sugar. Feeding the body with foods that nurture cognitive growth and provide the needed nutrients is key.
  6. Express positive intentions: Write down or share with a family member 3 positive intentions you have for the day.  This can help kids mindfully guide their day, so that they can reach their goals and maintain a positive attitude.
  7. Express affirmations: Write down or share with a family member 3 daily affirmations.  Daily affirmations are to the mind what exercise and stretching is to the body.  Repeating affirmations helps to reprogram the unconscious mind for success as well as attract the abundance desired.  I love to provide kids with an affirmations diary, so that they have a place to record their wishes.

After School Routine:
Work with your children to define specific times for homework, chores, free time, and family time. Also make sure that distractions are limited. Sometimes the technological tools needed to complete homework also offer constant distractions from social media and messaging. Make sure these notifications are turned off during study times.
  1. Schedule homework as well as timed breaks:  Using a timer and alarms can be very motivating for some and frustrating for others. Finding the right time tracking tool is important when defining the best approach.
  2. Eat a snack: I like to make "brain food."  This is a trail mix of organic nuts, seeds, dried veggies, and unsweetened dried fruits.  Letting kids make their own medley can be a fun activity.
  3. Eat dinner: Again be mindful of limiting or omitting processed foods as well as sugary and starchy foods.
  4. Express gratitude: Write down or share with a family member three things you are grateful for. Gratitude rewires the brain and helps students experience greater happiness. This is a great thing for all family members to do when sharing a meal.
  5. Get some exercise: Exercise can be a wonderful way for kids to get a break from school work and also energize their bodies.
  6. Do chores: Allow kids to earn an allowance based on the chores that they complete.  This develops a work ethic. You will also find that they will have a greater sense of value for the things they purchase with the money that they earn.
Nighttime Routine:
  1. Prepare for school: Make sure books bags are packed and collect all other needed materials for school.
  2. Plan attire: Lay out your clothes for the morning.
  3. Record or share positive experiences: Write down or share with a family member three amazing things that happened today.
  4. Record or share ideas for growth: Write down or share with a family member two ways that you could have improved your day.
  5. Bathe before bedtime: Taking a bath or shower at night can improve sleep and make the morning routine simpler.

Ready Made Material to Help Students Get Organized and Free Sample Resources:
The Executive Functioning Cognitive Remedial Bundle offers a comprehensive approach to improving a student’s planning, time management and organization skills. This bundle of publications offers a discounted suite of downloadable planners, cognitive remedial activities/games, and mindful handouts that were designed to help learning specialists, educational therapist and parents assist students with executive functioning skills. If you would like to learn more about each of the products included in this discounted bundle, click on any of the following titles to learn more:

Get a FREE sampling of activities from one of the publications in the bundle, CLICK HERE

If you would like to watch a video on this content, select the image below:

Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn and Go Dyslexia, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to https://godyslexia.com/, www.goodsensorylearning.com, www.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  
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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

PhotoMath and ModMath: Best FREE Apps for Struggling Math Students


Serving the needs of struggling math students can be challenging, and giving them the assistive technology tools for independent learning is vital. This week, I’m excited about sharing my two favorite, free math apps that can really change the playing field for students with ADHD, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, as well as those with graphomotor, visual processing, and spatial difficulties.



Photomath:

This FREE Android App and IOS App will knock your socks off! Open up Photomath in your smartphone or tablet, take a picture of a math problem, and Photomath will quickly provide the answer. Press the red arrow, and Photomath will display each step required to solve the problem.

Photomath Offers:
  • Camera calculator that scans printed math problems and provides an answer.
  • Camera calculator that also scans neat, handwritten problems.
  • Step-by-step instructions on how to solve math problems.
  • Manual, smart calculator with accessible math symbols.
  • Graphs (NEW)

Photomath Supports: Integers, Fractions, Decimal numbers, Powers, Roots, Logarithms, Algebraic expressions, Equations, Inequalities, Solving Systems, Calculus, Trigonometry, and Graphs of Elementary Functions.

Why I love PhotoMath: PhotoMath is great because for those kids that missed or did not understand a lesson, they can quickly see the steps it takes to get to the answer.  It also offers a great way for students to double check their work, so that any errors in computation are not reinforced through repeated mistakes.  Finally, it presents an accessible tool for parents that may not know how to assist with homework problems. Just like a calculator, the trick is to show students how to use this tool appropriately.

ModMath:

This free math iPad app was created by two parents that have a child with dyslexia and dysgraphia.  It offers a streamlined, multisensory approach for kids with messy handwriting, those that struggle lining up problems, as well as those that get visually overwhelmed when computing problems. Each number or symbol goes into it’s own box and a touchscreen and keypad helps students set up and solve math problems without ever picking up a pencil. In addition to basic math, Mod Math handles complex algebraic equations. The bottom line is that Mod Math helps to level the computational playing field for students with ADHD and learning disabilities.

ModMath Specifics:
  • Virtual graph paper, where students can set up readable and organized math problems.
  • Pencil-free platform for doing basic math calculations to complex algebraic equations.
  • Zoom feature:  “zoom in” or “zoom out” of problems so that attention can be focused.
  • Sending and saving options: print out work to turn in at school, upload to DropBox, or send via email/text.
  • Searchable document library allows students to access their work at a later time.

ModMath Supports: Long division, Long multiplication, Fractions, Decimals, Powers, Roots, Algebraic expressions and more.

Why I Love ModMath
This is a great way for struggling math students to organize their work, stay focused, read their own work, and share their work with teachers. In addition, if students lose homework, ModMath saves work in a document library that can be reprinted or sent to a teacher.

These two apps can really save your students time and frustration.  What’s more, instructing them how to properly use these tools can enable them to become savvy, empowered, independent learners.

What Else Can I Do to Help my Struggling Math Students?
Teaching math students in a multisensory fashion can make a huge difference in learning capabilities. In addition, using fun and engaging lessons and games can transform discouraged learners and make them engaged, active participants in the classroom. Come check out all my multisensory math lessons and games https://goodsensorylearning.com/collections/math-3?page=1&sort_by=price-descending.

Videos on and Photomath and ModMath:

Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn and Go Dyslexia, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to https://godyslexia.com/, www.goodsensorylearning.com, www.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  
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Wednesday, September 6, 2017

10 Successful Strategies for Tactile Learners

Can you imagine what it would be like to navigate our surroundings without a sense of touch?  It would probably be challenging to simply get from place to place, let alone learn anything! For many learners, a hands on approach greatly enhances the learning process, and we as teachers need to know how to accommodate these students.

Virtually everyone learns through the sense of touch, but there is a vast continuum with some learners reporting the tactile modality to be somewhat distracting while others find that it serves a vital role.  In fact, over the past 20 years as a learning specialist and educational therapist, I have found that there are three distinct types of tactile learning that should be considered.
  1. Feeling objects in the environment:  Some students learn best when touching or manipulating objects. Using an abacus for math calculations, interacting with a historical diorama, or even sorting sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic rocks, for example, can assist with the encoding process.
  2. Sensing words through a writing instrument: Other learners report that feeling the letters form or typing out ideas can help them to process information. This might be, for instance, brainstorming ideas on a dry erase board, taking notes on an ipad, or organizing ideas into outline or web form.
  3. Engaging with sensory gadgets or doodling: Still others indicate that fidgeting with tactile toys, sensory tools, and drawing serves as what I like to call “hand gum.”   This movement helps some learners focus their attention and “keeps them going.”  
Each learner has their own unique learning needs that are formed by both their cognitive makeup and their past learning experiences.  

How Can Tactile Learners Be Accommodated in the Classroom?
There are a number of strategies one can use to accommodate those students that crave a tactile approach.  Be sure to ask the student which strategies are most appealing as they may have specific preferences.
  1. Trace important words while memorizing information.
  2. Take notes and write outlines.
  1. Carry a stone, clay, stress ball or sensory gadget that can be rubbed or manipulate while listening or studying.
  2. Rewrite notes or important facts.
  3. Draw or trace important diagrams, pictures, graphs, or flowcharts.
  4. Manipulate materials during hands-on activities.
  5. Draw to capture images of information that you are learning.
  6. Create dioramas and models.
  7. Organize physical materials. Tactile learners remember where they placed things.
  8. Play tactile games and activities in my popular publication Reversing Reversals Primary or use other tools such as miniLUK, Qbitz and Color Code.

What are the Other Learning Styles?
Four commonly known learning styles are: visual, auditory, tactile and kinesthetic.  But did you know that there are eight other ways that the brain processes information?  Teaching to all 12 ways of processing is best and offering multisensory instruction as well as assignments that honor all these modalities helps to prepare students for academic success.

How Can I Assess the Learning Needs of My Students?
One can determine a student’s specific learning preferences by completing the Eclectic Learning Profile.  This assessment is a part of Dr. Warren’s publication the Eclectic Teaching Approach.
Clearly, learning to meet the individual needs of students is a great approach.  However, let’s also make sure to optimize potential by providing a rich, multisensory learning environment that also accommodates the preferences and capabilities of each student.
Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn and Go Dyslexia, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to https://godyslexia.com/, www.goodsensorylearning.com, www.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  
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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

How to Identify Slow Processing Speed in your Child

This week I am thrilled to feature a blog by the Founder and President of LearningWorks for Kids, Randy Kulman, Ph.D.  
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It can be very difficult to identify slow processing speed in your child. Many kids who process information slowly initially appear to be frustrated, unmotivated, and disinterested. A child’s reaction to difficulty in processing information is often more noticeable than the slow pace at which he completes tasks. As a result, many kids with slow processing speed are misidentified as lazy and indifferent about achieving goals. However, the reality is that many of these kids just require more time to take in information, do something with that information in their brain, and then produce a result. They find themselves falling behind their peers, seeming to take forever to do schoolwork, and feeling frustrated in their ability to show what they know.

If you have a child who is not reaching his or her potential, who is clearly very knowledgeable but performs poorly in school, he or she might be displaying signs of slow processing speed. If this is the case, the first step is to pursue a comprehensive neuropsychological evaluation, which can help assess processing speed and other executive-functioning issues that undermine bright kids’ performance in school.  Once slow processing speed has been identified as a concern, there are many types of strategies, accommodations, and training techniques that can address this difficulty. While these interventions may not ignite lightning fast speed in your child’s processing, they will likely increase speed of processing and, perhaps more importantly, bring about a positive view on school performance. Understanding slow processing can radically improve a child's sense of self-esteem, willingness to put in the time needed to complete a task, and capacity to see his or her strengths and skills.

Here are a few things that we suggest to help a child with slow processing speed:

  1. Focus on understanding rather than changing your child: While we have many strategies that can improve processing speed, it is more important that a child not blame himself for going slowly. Instead, help the child understand that some things may simply take longer to do than fellow peers.
  2. Help your child to feel positively about himself: Demonstrate that difficulty in keeping up with the pace of schoolwork and other activities is not the result of a lack of ability or intelligence. Help your child to see many areas in life and work where working slowly and effectively are more important than working quickly.
  3. Use targeted remedial learning tools to improve processing speed: Once you have identified if slow processing speed is related to input of information, actual time needed to think, or output of information, remediation tools can be applied. While these targeted remedial learning tools can gradually improve slow processing speed, accommodations will still be necessary for many kids.  
  4. Find technologies that will help your child improve slow processing speed:  Twenty-first century kids are fortunate because of the increase in technologies that can improve processing speed (think about processing speed and computers). Some of the best technologies to improve processing speed include keyboards, dictation skills and apps, as well as technologies that help children to time themselves.
  5. Pay attention to the moment: Help your child to focus on work well done rather than fast completion of assignments. At the same time, teach your child strategies for improved task initiation and time management to help with work efficiency. It may also be useful to consult with the school regarding accommodations such as extended time for  assignments and tests. Other common approaches in the school setting include reduction in the amount of work that is required, elimination of the need for note taking, and provision of extended time in the classroom for quizzes and test. While all of these accommodations can be useful, it is equally important to help the child recognize the importance of sustained effort and attention.

Clearly, processing speed is an important skill for students to master, and there are many tools and strategies that can assist struggling students master this needed skill.

Randy is the Founder and President of LearningWorks for Kids  http://learningworksforkids.com/ , an educational technology company that specializes in using video games to teach executive-functioning and academic skills. For the past 25 years, Dr. Kulman has also been the Clinical Director and President of South County Child and Family Consultants, a multidisciplinary group of private practitioners that specializes in assessment and interventions for children with learning disorders and attention difficulties.

Additionally, Dr. Kulman is the author of numerous essays and book chapters on the use of digital technologies for improving executive-functioning skills in children. His current research projects include the development of a parent and teacher scale for assessing executive-functioning skills in children and a large survey study examining how children with ADHD and Autism use popular video games and apps. He is an advisor and occasional writer for ADDitude Magazine, Commonsensemedia.org, Toca Boca and also writes columns for Inside ADHD and the South County Independent.  He is the author of two books;  Train Your Brain for Success: A Teenager’s Guide to Executive Functions and Playing Smarter in a Digital World.


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