Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Why The Multi Sensory Method Works

Our brains are making connections every day. The process of learning is one thing. Then, we store the information learned when we commit something to memory. Multi sensory learning is so effective because it engages the children in both the learning process and the retaining process.

Using our visual, auditory, and tactile senses when learning and memorizing gives us context and reinforcement. Furthermore, if our learning is repeated, the memory of the message can be imprinted and further learning can take place.

Many people choose to teach their young children using this method, but, our brains can benefit from repetitive, multi-sensory learning at all ages! This is especially true if there are learning disabilities or ADD tendencies present. 

Check out this blog for some great multi sensory SPELLING, WRITING, and MATH activities that have worked for us!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

When Behavior Stands In The Way Of Learning: 10 Tips For Changing Problem Behavior

Sometimes problems in school don't arise from learning difficulties, but, instead, from behavioral challenges.

Impulsivity and lack of physical or emotional control can really stand in the way of a child trying to learn. What do you do when behavior stands in the way of learning?

Here are some tips that I have found help mine when these things become an issue:

  1. Empower them to come up with solutions, systems, methods, and goals. We try to make this a joint effort. The more your child feels he or she is in control of her own life, the better!
  2. Create reasonable goals together that define what type of person and student your child wants to be. We set large goals twice a year: January and August. Sometimes they will come up with goals during the year for special things they are working on or behaviors that they feel they need to change. Goals are written in journals.
  3. Review goals regularly. Let them stand accountable for their goals. Everyone needs to stand accountable to someone sometimes. As parents, we can take this role to help our children in their efforts. In our house, each of our children takes a month. In their month, they get time with mom or dad to discuss how their life is going, problems they may be having, and how they are doing with the goals they have set.
  4. Create a system that helps your child Prevent problem behavior. Sometimes formal systems are necessary and provide the structure and visual reminders that children need. We have used check lists for after school, posters hung on the wall to remind them about keeping their rooms clean, notes hung various places, like the bathroom mirror to remind them of things they need to remember or things they are working on. We recently wrote "I am honest" on the kid's bathroom mirror to remind one of ours to say this each morning as he is brushing his teeth. These reminders help brains remember important things. We all need reminders!
  5. Identify and discuss situations or times when it is difficult for  your child to remain in control. We recently had a discussion with one of our children about his behavior in school and discovered that it was after he was finished with his work, and he often finished early, that he was having a problem controlling himself. We discussed things that he can do when he's finished and things that he cannot do. 
  6. Discuss the physical cues that might signal that he or she is about to slip into problem behavior. We call it the "red zone" in our house. Even mom slips into the red zone sometimes. It is so helpful for us to recognize the physical cues that signify we are about to lose control, because, ideally, we can stop before the problem behavior starts. After our bodies are flooded with emotion, it is nearly impossible to regain control. Discuss methods to calm down, such as, leaving the room, counting to 100, running up and down the stairs when your child is about to lose control. Let them take this break even if in the middle of an important task! Talk through it, and don't make the time to regain control a punishment. 
  7. Help them come up with methods, tips, and tricks to use when they are tempted to slip into the problem behavior. Count to 100, jump rope, go outside, jump on the trampoline, talk, sing a song, come up with a phrase they can repeat in their heads.
  8. Encourage them to change their environment. You can help them think of ideas and make this happen. If your child has a difficult time with behaving when there is too much noise during or after school, or if he gets overstimulated on the playground, discuss ways with your child and his teacher to change parts of his environment to be more conducive to good behavior. 
  9. Together, come up with a reminder they can carry with them at all times. We recently had our son wear a plastic bracelet at all times. We had written on the bracelet the steps that we discussed he do when he is about to make a choice: Stop. Think. Make A Good Choice. 
  10. After implementing a system, defining situations and discussing physical cues, practice the method, tips, and tricks that you have come up with together. Practice by role playing often enough to remind them. Role playing allows your child the chance to visually and physically "write the script" before it happens. This is extremely helpful for their brains!

5 Things To Keep in Mind As A Parent:
  1. Be consistent.
  2. Talk about consequences.
  3. Think about implementing some type of rewards system.
  4. Communicate openly about their day. Gather as much detail and emotion as you can to piece together what your child experiences throughout the day.
  5. Spend more positive time with them.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Fun Methods For Memorizing Math Facts

Need a new idea on ways to get your child to memorize his or her math facts? Want a way to help your child have more exposure to math? Play with them!

Math Bingo
Make Bingo cards by printing out this Bingo Template Page and filling in with numbers or math facts! Call out the math fact or number and have them fill out the card!

Race The Clock
We have started this, and G loves it! We started with a stack of 5. He was required to give answers to the 5 flashcards in 15 seconds. When he was able to do this, we added 5 more in 30 seconds. He uses the timer on my smart phone and does it himself. He loves a good competition, so, we haven't had any incentives yet except to get more cards. However, a little incentive might go a long way! Maybe each level would allow them into a "Math Facts Club", or they could earn computer time on a math website of their choice! 

Math Speed
Remember playing the speed card game as a kid? Why not use flash cards to battle it out in this high "speed" game of numbers?

Here's how you play:
  1. Place 2 cards in the center in front of the players. 
  2. On both sides of the 2 cards, place a pile of  5 cards each. 
  3. You should now have 4 piles of cards in the center, two piles in the very center with one card in each of them and a pile on each side of these two with 5 cards in each pile.
  4. Now, divide the remainder of the cards between the two players. 
  5. Each player draws five cards from his deck of cards and places them in his hand.
  6. To begin the game, turn over the two cards in the very center. 
  7. Each player then tries to play their cards from their hand onto the two cards in the center by either going up numerically or down. For example, if I had a 1+1 in my hand and one of the cards in the center is a 1+2, I can play on that card because the sum of my card is 2 and the sum of the card in the center is 3. I would play on that card because it would be in numerical order. 
  8. Keep laying down cards until someone runs out of cards and thereby wins!
  9. It is called speed, so, you don't take turns, you are laying down cards as quickly as you can!
Math War
Check out this card game called Math War that uses math facts! It's played just like you played war as a child, except you have to solve the math fact to find out who has the highest number!

The cards cost less than $5, but, I'm sure you could create your own by using flashcards. Mine like the cards because they are something different from the flash cards they learn on.

Go Fishing For Math
Go Fish with flash cards is a lot of fun! Use a set of flash cards that are blank on the back. You will probably need two or three stacks. Play just like Go Fish!

Read more on why memorizing is so important for children with ADD!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Is ADHD And ADD Misunderstood?

The diagnosis of ADD in children is at its all time high, up from 7% to 11% in 2011. Some experts believe that 3 - 5% of children have a "disorder" called ADD. However, more than 11% of all school age students have been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD. Are we sure that we understand this "disease"? Dr. Bruce Perry, a lead neuroscientist, has recently stepped forward to say that he believes ADHD is sorely misunderstood.

One way in which this "disorder" is misunderstood, according to Perry, is that it does not actually qualify for a disorder, but instead, is a group of symptoms. These symptoms, he says, are exhibited by every human being at some point(s) in their lives, so, should, therefore, be considered a description. 

Perry goes on to say that not only is the percentage of diagnosis's rising each year, but, the number of children being medicated is also increasing. He explains that we do not know the effects of medication yet. Furthermore, medicating a child who does not really need to be medicated is like treating a heart patient with painkillers. The cause of the problem is not found or addressed.

Some children have more of the ADD or ADHD "symptoms" than others. There are many evidences that many of the classic symptoms of ADD or ADHD are neurologically based. The National Institute of Mental Health describes ADD and ADHD as genetic, and may be, in part, caused by thinner brain tissue in the area of the brain associated with attention. Dr. Peg Dawson and Richard Guare, authors of Smart but Scattered, describe ADD as a weakness in the executive functions of the brain.  

Some experts believe that one reason that we are diagnosing so many children with ADD is because the way in which children are taught in public schools is counter to many children's natural method of learning effectively.  

I have, personally, seen symptoms. We are on a road to find causes, and solutions, but, have not had a diagnosis, nor have we tried medication. I would not want to discredit the cases in which a diagnosis and help from medication is necessary. I have seen and read success stories with medication. As a parent, it is definitely something worth researching.

Just something to think about! What are your thoughts? Share or comment!


Monday, March 31, 2014

Great Learning Games!

Games are a great way to help children learn and for us to reinforce concepts! This seems especially true for mine who need something to hold their attention long enough to get that repetition and practice in for the day!

Check out this post on Daily Adventures In Learning for a list of games that are fun and great for learning!

Besides games that teach concepts such as reading or math, there are a multitude of games that help children learn to think! One that comes to mind is Chess, but there are many others. Learning to think and strategize is, in my opinion, just as important as learning specific subjects and something that children don't get as much exposure to in many public schools. Something to think about!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Our After School Schedule

I came to the realization years ago that children do better with schedules. I have come to find out that children with ADD do really better with schedules. In fact, mommies of children with ADD do better with schedules! When we are good about sticking with it, our schedules really help them remember and me not nag! 

My two boys who need the schedules the most, do the best when there is some accountability or goal. I recently sat down with E to come up with a solution for him getting distracted and me constantly nagging. Here's about how it went:

Me: E, I've noticed that you don't really like it when I remind you about what you need to do after school. Is that true?
E: Yes. You don't have to tell me, mom. I already know.
Me: I know that you know what you are supposed to do, and I bet that's frustrating to hear me reminding you about what to do, but, sometimes our brains need reminders. Everyone needs reminders sometimes. 
I need reminders, that's why I keep a grocery list on my phone, see. (show my grocery list) 
Even doctors need reminders, dad needs reminders, etc.   
Me: I've been your reminder. Do you like me being your reminder or should we try to think of something else that works?
E:  Something else.
Me: I agree. well, sometimes doctors use checklists to help them remember what they are supposed to do. Do you want to have a checklist instead of me as your reminder?
E: Yeah.
Me: Okay, do you want to check it off as you do it or move a clip, or what?
E: I want to check it off!
Me: Great, let's go make it together and let's be thinking about a goal we can set. Maybe you can try to check off everything on your checklist with only one reminder!
E: I can do it with none!
Me: Even better! Let's start small, though, and see if you can complete it with one reminder for a week, then, next week, you can try for the ultimate goal: No reminders! Do you think you can do it?
E: Yeah!

We made the checklist and he made a goal that we will include on the list that he is going to try to do it with only 1 reminder the first week. He tallies the number of times I have to remind him.  Wish us luck! And here's a site with a simple free after school schedule checklist!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

7 Ways To Get Your Reluctant Reader To Read

1. READ TO THEM: Studies show that kids who are read to develop language skills, positive associations with books, and have a stronger foundation for success in school. Besides all of that, it is just plain fun and it builds relationships as you are doing something fun together! You can even replace family movie nights with Book nights! Have a book party and celebrate that  you finished a book together! In my opinion, there is nothing more enjoyable than curling up with your little one and enjoying a good book together! Check this blog out for recommended books to read with your child!

2.  HAVE THEM READ OUT LOUD: This is a good way to get to know your child's reading level. For children who struggle with reading or who have ADD or learning disabilities, it is a good way to slow them down. Also, if done correctly, it can be a way to help them learn new words and gain more confidence in their reading abilities! We struggled at first to get G interested in reading out loud, but, once we set the expectations, it has really been a good experience for both of us! Read more about the benefits of reading out loud with your child.

3. FIND BOOKS THAT THEY ARE INTERESTED IN: This can be a challenge if nothing seems to work for your child. Is there a subject he or she is interested in? Are the words in some books too small? Are there words that are too challenging? Keeping up with other kids his/her age can be misleading. The key is to help them develop a love for reading! We are working up to chapter books very slowly and are still reading picture books. We also make a weekly trip to the library and bring home enough books to have lots of choices! Here are some tried and true learning book suggestions!

4. PRAISE OR REWARD, NEVER PUNISH: In our home, we have a "computer bucks" system. For every minute they read outside of homework, they earn 1 computer buck. This has kept my reluctant readers busy reading, as they are motivated by time on the computer! Find what works for you and do it! Keep it positive, never punish. You want to associate reading with positive feelings!

5. KEEP YOUR HOME STOCKED WITH BOOKS: With four children, we own quite a few books. They get them for Christmas and birthdays and I buy them when I can. Libraries will sometimes have book sales. Garage sales are good places to buy inexpensive books. In addition, the library is a great resource. We bring home mountains of books from the library. We try to keep up with them, but, if something happens and we lose a book or have to pay a fine, I gladly pay and consider it my "membership dues".

6. MODEL READING: If your children see you reading, whether it be the newspaper, how to books, or a best selling novel, they will understand that reading is a part of life. Plus, it's really fun for you!

7. TRY USING ELECTRONIC BOOKS: If yours have a fascination with electronics like mine, use the computer, tablet, or smart phone, to find free books! Check out this article on a site that allows you to download free children's books!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Reading Aloud

G has been reading every night during the school year since he was in kindergarten.  What he hasn't been doing consistently is reading out loud.  What I didn't know until recently is that kids who struggle with reading or with ADD will sometimes skip over words they do not know just to get the assignment complete or to race through the text.  Struggling readers also, many times, need to be shown what "good readers" know instinctively. For example, a good reader might know that if they didn't understand the last sentence read, they need to go back and reread for comprehension. No wonder he hasn't liked reading!

We have taken a different approach this year by having him read aloud to me.

It has taken some discipline on my part meaning another thirty minutes to squeeze into my already busy afternoon,  but It has really been worth it.

I have learned so much about his reading and what he's interested in and what he's not!

It also gives me a chance to find out what he's comprehending and allows us some good one on one time every day.

Do you have a child who struggle with or doesn't enjoy reading?  Give it a try,  You might learn more than you expect! Need some ideas, read these 7 ways to get your reluctant reader to read!

Why Memorizing is so Important For Children With ADD

As a kid, I had the hardest time memorizing information. One of the reasons was that it felt so useless. When was I going to use this information and why couldn't I just look it up the next time I needed it? I can see my attitude as a child in my own children. 

One of the characteristics of ADD is a weak working memory. Working memory is your ability to store short term information AND process the information at the same time. If a child has a difficult time with working memory, learning becomes difficult. 

For example, if you are asked to solve a math problem, you must be able to hold the numbers in your head long enough to manipulate them in order to arrive at the solution. The same principle applies to all areas of learning. It can also be why your child has a difficult time following through when you ask him to do something that requires multiple steps. 

If you suspect a working memory problem, getting your child tested might be the next step you want to take to diagnose the type of working memory problem. the National Center for Learning Disabilities recommends two tests: 
  • The Automated Working Memory Assessment (AWMA), a PC-based assessment published by Pearson
  • The Wide Range Assessment of Memory and Learning (WRAML-2), published by PRO-ED
Is there something you can do about weak working memory?  According to the American Psychological Association, we have been unsure as to how much we can improve overall working memory.  However, recent studies are finding that with practice, people can get better at specific working memory tasks.

For example, memorizing a set of numbers every day will improve your ability to do just that: memorize numbers. In addition, if you practiced your math facts day in and day out, you will eventually be more capable of recalling the answers in a very automated way. This may free up your brain enough to be able to focus on, say a math word problem better, or real life problems in life that require knowledge of these facts. In this way, improving working memory is very task specific, but the benefits have a far reaching effect. 

So, I finally realize what all the hype around memorizing was about as a kid! For G, we are working on working memory by memorizing math facts, phonemes, spelling rules, scriptures, poems, and quotes. As these tasks become more automated, hopefully his brain will be "freed up" enough to really experience more and more success with learning.