I read with great interest a recent advertisement letter from the director of a local disabilities group. There has been a recent influx of plastic straw banning after the now infamous video of a gentleman yanking a straw from the nose of a sea turtle. Of course, we were all disturbed because that is awful and anyone with half a heart would think so. However, the conversation quickly turned from praise to discrimination when disabilities rights organizations came out against the banning of straws.
To those of you who have tried (and some have succeeded) it seems like you need a secret handshake to get Orton-Gillingham training. After a quick search on the internet, it might appear that you need to fly to a destination that is most likely east of the Mississippi and requires at least two weeks of your time away from home. Then once you complete this two week training, you must dedicate the rest of your life to become ‘certified.’ But this is all an illusion, an illusion that really hampers the ability of very good people to get their knowledge and training to those who need it the most, the struggling kids."
Here is a handout that offers a look at some of the most common myths surrounding dyslexia. Please feel free to download it, share it, or disseminate it on your blog, website, or social media pages.
Easy ways to help your child go to the head of the class
(BPT) - The education children receive today will help them throughout their lives. School is the fundamental component of the learning process, but education doesn't stop when kids arrive back home at the end of the day.
"Education and family go hand in hand," says Ellen Marks, curriculum director of Bricks 4 Kidz, an award-winning summer camp and after-school program. "Parents who take an active role by supporting classroom learning will not only see their kids' education blossom, but their relationship with them, too."
The start of the new year is the ideal time to evaluate what you're doing right and where you could improve in regards to supporting your child's education. Marks offers these smart ideas guaranteed to help you keep this resolution in 2017 and beyond:
Connections to real life: One of the best ways to help kids understand classroom lessons is to connect the material to everyday experiences. Practice fractions while cooking. Chat about biology as birds fly by the window. Learning moments are all around, you just have to point them out.
Daily conversations: With a fun, no-pressure approach, go over what your children learned in school. If they don't want to talk right after school, wait until later. During or after dinner may allow enough transition time so you'll find they'll open up more.
Positive attitude: Kids will mirror your attitude toward your work as well as how you view their school, homework and teachers. Stay positive, respectful and model resilience during difficult times; you'll find they'll do the same.
Enriching activities: Select fun after-school activities that emphasize cognitive development while building self-esteem. For example, Bricks 4 Kidz uses relatable tools like LEGO Bricks to teach science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills. Learn more at www.bricks4kidz.com and sign up for an After School class.
The parent-teacher relationship: Sending check-in emails, attending conferences and volunteering are ways to build strong relationships with teachers. Be proactive about asking where your child excels and what areas they may need additional help.
Homework help: Good study habits are essential to excelling at school. Create a comfortable homework space with adequate supplies and few distractions. What's more, be an active partner in your child's homework and assist when needed with gentle guidance and encouragement.
Reading buddies: Reading together can instill a lifelong love of literature. Try reading the same books your child is assigned in school so you can foster a good discussion about characters and storylines. When you both finish the book, rent the film version and plan a movie night.
Active learning opportunities: Reading, writing and solving math problems are passive learning activities. At home, encourage active learning where your child builds models, creates art projects and can ask questions. It's amazing to watch their minds work and see what they create.
Health and wellness: A child must first be well before they can effectively learn. Make sure kids stay fueled with a variety of healthy foods. Next, ensure they get a good night's sleep. Full, well-rested kids are always ready and eager to learn.
I belong to a Mom group and recently a mom asked the other Moms for suggestions on creative or proven ways to come up with more money. I jumped right in because through both ways, I have paid for college and for expensive summer programs for my child. I have had some really great, albeit challenging, experiences with getting things done.
For example, we were once lucky enough to get accepted to a summer program for kids with dyslexia. The caveat, it was going to cost us a minimum of $7,500. Now, good on you if you have that chunk of change lying around, but we didn't. However, I knew it was paramount to our child's success that we figure out a way to pay for it. Here is what we did:
(BPT) - Healthy living is an admirable goal no matter what time of year. The problem is that many people shoot for the stars, resolving to lose a big amount of weight or completely give up foods they adore. A better approach is to make small changes that together can make a big impact.
Acclimated all of these tips into your families life, can have a significant impact for kids with disabilities. Drinking water, staying active, and living a positive impact can make learning a lot easier. When these tips combined with proper and appropriate advocacy, can be life saving.
"People who make smart yet simple lifestyle changes will find it's easier to succeed," says Dr. Margot Savoy, a practicing family physician in Wilmington, Delaware. "It's about all the small victories that add up to winning the war. If you want to feel your best and make changes that will last, think small for big results."
Healthy habits take mere minutes a day to complete, but over time can overhaul your health and wellness. What's more, she notes that when you do these easy activities for two or three months, they become automatic.
Dr. Savoy suggests five simple steps for healthier living in 2017 that take 10 minutes or less to complete.
Stomach pains? Sore knees? Not sure if it's the cold or the flu? Being healthy means staying informed. When you need more information about your health, visit a reputable website such as familydoctor.org to learn more with a few clicks of the mouse.
Developed by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), the website features easy-to-understand information geared toward the patient. Plus, all information is reviewed by a panel of board certified family physicians, so you can trust the content is updated and accurate.
Eating well is all about balance, and while many Americans are striving to eat healthier at mealtime, it's snacks that are sabotaging their diets. When hunger pangs strike, instead of junk, reach for nutrient-rich foods instead.
One of the best ways to do this is to select one drawer in the refrigerator and dedicate it to foods for healthy snacking. Stock it with fruit, veggies, whole grain crackers and low-fat cheese and nuts. Spend 10 minutes each Sunday cutting vegetables and portioning out nuts and other snacks, and all week long you and your family can easily reach for healthier munchies.
Move and groove
You don't need a fancy gym membership to get fit. Just block off 10-minute increments each day to work out and you'll start to feel the difference. Try walking, biking or doing sets of squats, crunches and jumping jacks. Within minutes you'll raise your heart rate and work those muscles.
If you have kids, join in the fun with them and you'll be surprised just how quickly you get in a quick workout. A game of tag, for example, is a great running exercise. Plus it's a wonderful way to bond with your family. Bonus: Your kids are learning to exercise through play. Not sure how to get started? Familydoctor.org has you covered.
Everyone knows soda is unhealthy, but for other drinks it's not so obvious. Many fruit juices and sports drinks are packed with sugar and calories. Hydration is important, so drink as much water as possible to boost your health.
Staying properly hydrated is essential to healthy living, and because the body is approximately half made of water, there's no better drink than good old H2O. If that is too bland, add some healthy flavor with cut fruit, such as oranges, apples, kiwi or strawberries.
The sun gives off rays of light that are helpful and harmful. Some sun exposure is good because it helps the body create vitamin D, which absorbs calcium. Too much sun exposure, though, can lead to skin changes, a lowered immune system and cancer.
It takes just a minute to slather on sunscreen to block harmful rays even in the winter months. Focus on the face which is exposed all year long, and during warm months or while vacationing, make sure to use sunscreen on the entire body, reapplying regularly. What's more, teach children to do the same to create healthy habits that will last a lifetime.
(BPT) - Let's be honest. Sometimes you need a moment to regroup. The phone calls, emails, homework battles, even tears, all of it makes you want to not get out of bed in the morning. While you are learning how to become an expert in disabilities and special education, you need to think about some downtime, for both you and your family.
No matter where you live, spring travel is synonymous with the search for warm weather. While the sunshine may help keep the blues at bay, it takes more than just golden rays to make a trip unforgettable. Whether you're taking a family vacation, a couples escape or a getaway with friends, these insider tips will help you plan a successful trip:
Look for deals at well-known destinations
(learn more about how Oak Tree Travel can help you find Disney Deals, click here)
The best trips happen when you find a destination that everyone loves and you stay on budget. Start by researching areas that have something for everyone so no one feels left out. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina - with virtually endless attractions, world-class dining and 60 miles of beautiful shoreline - is one of these gems that also happens to be affordable. Countless deals can be found in any season at
Once you determine your destination, dig in to find the deal that's right for you. Some hotels and resorts offer themed packages that also provide deep discounts on museum tickets, concerts and other special events. Or you can make your own trip, allowing each member of your party to pick their favorite must-see attraction.
Try something new
It's important to enjoy some R&R, but also make time to try something new on your trip. This will take you outside your comfort zone, which can stimulate the mind in new and exciting ways. What's more, it's how you create lasting memories.
With growing interest in adventure travel, many destinations are offering exciting and fun experiences for all age groups. In Myrtle Beach, for example, you can try cable boarding at Shark Wake Park, which allows you to wake-board without a boat, or indulge your inner speed demon by racing around a track in the area's NASCAR Racing Experience.
Embrace experiential eating
Eating is one of the best ways to truly experience what makes a destination unique, so be sure to eat like a local, and maybe even fish like one, too. Eating turns into a memorable experience when you've helped catch your main dish. Sign up for a shrimping, crabbing or a deep-sea fishing excursion and enjoy an adventure plus a delectable meal.
If you'd rather avoid the open sea, you're not out of luck. Seek out restaurants that source ingredients locally. That could mean eateries that boast a farm-to-table or sea-to-table experience so you enjoy the freshest fare available.
Become a history buff
Virtually anywhere you go in the United States, you'll discover a fascinating history of how it came to be. When you make time to explore museums, walk stunning gardens and visit memorials, you'll be able tell tales back home that you would otherwise have never known.
For an insider's glimpse into history, check out National Historic Landmarks. For example, Hopsewee Plantation in the Myrtle Beach area was built an estimated 40 years before the Revolutionary War. In addition to beautiful scenery, you'll experience the heritage of the area up close.
These four steps will help you plan a vacation that your travel crew will be raving about long after you return home. Best yet, you'll have memories that will last a lifetime.
There was a post circulating around social media after the tragic shootings that occurred over the last two weeks. One video was a radio host asking why cops are the only profession who won't recognize that all cops aren't all good cops. It got me thinking about the same notion when it came to the teaching profession. Then this past week, I joined a group on Facebook that was created about a specific leveled literacy program that was just unveiled by a prominent duo in the literacy field. It was quickly apparent that the majority of people, mostly teachers, were highly misguided when it came to dyslexia. These are the exact people who road block real learning for our kids. I felt compelled to comment.
I posted responses and posed questions to the teachers and in true childlike fashion, they complained to the moderate, who publicly complained to me. Very childish, but not surprising. They offered zero in the way of research. They just kept showing how ignorant they were and that they didn't want to have to justify that the were doing their jobs well.
Here is the truth, during all my advocacy experiences, I find that reading teachers don't like to be questioned or challenged on their expertise...EVER. If they got a degree, they are an expert. Point settled. I can't recall how many stunned literacy instructions have sat fuming in a meeting, when questioned about their understanding of dyslexia, their certifications, and their ability to teach a child with something other than a textbook that cost $30.
This post is designed to answer some questions that often come up around reading. They are based on my experience and on my opinions. I know how often we hear about the "great" teachers, underpaid teachers, those who stay late and come in early, but honestly, after reading through that FB group I mentioned above, I am starting to realize that they are in the same boat as cops, no one wants to call another teacher, bad, even if they are pretty shitty at their job. Let's be real, every teacher, in every school, can't be good, it is statistically impossible.
Anyway, here is what the original intent of this post is all about...
1. What is Leveled Literacy?
According to Fountas and Pinnell, "small group, supplementary literacy intervention designed for students who find reading and writing difficult. These students are the lowest achievers in literacy at their grade level and are not receiving another literacy intervention." Here is where the issues begin.
Let's say you are the parent of a struggling reader. He or she just can't seem to "get it" when it comes to reading. First, lets back up and remember, Reading is not a skill we are born with, it must be taught and taught in the way in which our individual brain learns. Ok, so now that we remember it is a skill that must be learned and won't come automatically to ever child, lets get back to your struggling reader. Undoubtedly the school has asked you to increase at home practices, they have led you down a path that ends at the garden of blame, a pretty garden, filled with beautiful flowers the teacher has cultivated, but when you try to touch them, they try to bite off your finger. Why? Because this isn't the garden for kids with dyslexia, it is for struggling readers, who will benefit from small group literacy. Run as fast as you can from that garden and refuse to go back.
2. What is Whole Language and Guided Reading?
See the description above, our friends over at Fountas and Pinnell also call leveled literacy, guided reading, a wolf by any other name...Your student with dyslexia will never benefit from this type of intervention. They need a "language-based, multi sensory, structured, sequential, cumulative, cognitive, and flexible", provided by an Orton Gillingham certified instructor, or a certified Wilson Language or Barton Reading teacher.
3. Our schools reading teacher is certified?
This is what I like to refer to as, "a truth wrapped in a lie". They are right, the teacher has obtained a degree in reading, which is different than a certification in one of the methods I mentioned above. Furthermore, a teacher may have gone and take a weekend course, but that, according to the experts in these methods doesn't make them anywhere near qualified to teach.
4. The Reading Specialist says my child just needs more time?
More time for what? To develop a skill that they weren't born with. No what they mean is, "We need more time to push this crappy program and hopefully your child will eventually turn into a behavior problem and we can focus on that instead." The waiting game is an incredibly stupid idea, and if you've waited, now feel guilty, I am sorry, but I am not going to sugar coat this in the hopes it lessens those feelings. You feel guilty, suck it up, move on, and demand the right program to make up for all that lost time.
5. Dyslexia is a blanket term.
This is seriously the stupidest thing I have every heard. Dyslexia is blanket term to those who either 1. Don't know the real definition, 2. Are flat out liars who are trying to pull the wool over parents eyes, or 3. Both.
Here is the International Dyslexia Association definition:
"Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurobiological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge.”
Here is the real deal:
If a school puts the word, DYSLEXIA, in your child's IEP and then whips out the F&P leveled literacy books, when you end up at due process or court (learn about a new court case that could change the way we handle litigation) the school is going to have "sum splainin' to do." They are on the hook for a lot more...money. That is the bottom line, your kid with dyslexia is a cash black hole.
They don't want to have to spend big money on your kid or worse have other parents find out that they spent big money on your son or daughter, because other parents will want it to. So they make up some cockamamie reasoning behind using all these other programs, which for all intents and purposes are whole language, redesigned.
What can I do?
Books put out by groups like Fountas and Pinnell are shiny and pretty. They offer teachers the flavor of kool aid they like to drink. The kind that makes the world rose colored and doesn't hold them accountable to the 1 in 5 students in their class with dyslexia. Maybe there is some child, somewhere who has benefited from whole language, but it is never going to be a child with dyslexia.
I recently got an email with this question?
I have a child that is in middle school. The teachers this year don't know anything about dyslexia. The accommodations that worked for the last two years were not implemented in the IEP (Individual Education Plan). Instead the teachers are not giving extra time, any pull out assistance, or modifications to vocabulary tests. These are all accommodations that my child has benefited from in the past.
Also, my child doesn't want to be different from the other students including taking tests differently, getting reduced work, etc. Do you have any suggestions?
There are two things at play in this questions:
First, are schools required to keep using accommodations or are accommodations the job of the student. Second, at what point is the school, "off the hook" because a student won't self advocate for him or herself?