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Amazing Apps for Struggling Readers!

Being a struggling reader can affect a child's entire school experience. Everyday functioning in the content areas as well as confidence levels and enthusiasm towards school take a big hit for many students who experience reading difficulties. Part of my practice as a special education teacher and tutor who works with struggling readers is to turn reading into something that can be fun and rewarding, rather than laborious and confidence-killing. I've found that one of the biggest motivators for my struggling readers is to incorporate technology into acquiring and practicing reading skills.   I've recently experienced great success through a new federally funded program for individual's with print disabilities called Book Share. Through this program, students can download hundreds of thousands of texts for free. I have all of my eligible students signed up for this program. Then we open the downloaded books on the iPad through an app called Voice Dream. There is... read more

All About Dyslexia

  Dear readers,   Many times I have been asked about dyslexia by concerned parents, parents who see their child struggling at school or even as early as Pre -K, but don't know what to do or if they panic over nothing.   As a certified dyslexia tutor with a lot of experience, I can identify the warning signs right away. I would like you, parents, to be able to see these warning signs too, and early enough to be able to help your child before they experience difficulties and frustration.   Please watch this informative video, which also tells a personal story that will touch your hearts.  (It also endorses the Orton Gillingham Approach which I use when working with my dyslexic students). You will do yourselves and your child a huge favor, and you will become their best  advocates.   Below is the link to this video that I highly recommend watching:   http://www... read more

Children with handwriting difficulties.

Handwriting difficulty can be caused by poor fine motor skills, sensory difficulty or a learning disability such as dyslexia or dysgraphia. Here are a few suggestions for helping those children. Strengthen hand muscles • Touch the thumb of each hand to each finger in turn, index finger to pinkie, and back. • Touch the tip of each finger in progression to the palm. The thumb is the easiest. • Open and close a tight fist. • Do chair hand pushups by sitting on a chair with your palms on the chair fingers forward then pushing down lifting the body slightly. • Play with clay to strengthen the hand muscles. • Punch holes with a hand held hole-puncher. Practice hand-eye coordination • Play with Lagos, fitting the blocks together. • Color inside the lines in coloring books. • Draw a line from the entrance to the center of a paper maze • Fill-in missing sections of pictures following dotted lines and later with no lines. Form letters... read more

Dyslexia Trailer

Parents,   If you can't understand why "working harder" at reading with your child is NOT WORKING then watch this trailer and subsequent film to learn how your child may need to learn how to "work smarter" rather than "work harder."  Children with Dyslexia need a different type of reading strategy than what is taught in most schools.  Understanding and embracing Dyslexia releases the guilt students and parents feel on a regular basis.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vy5WxLf-r6g&feature=player_detailpage ; Then go to embracingdyslexia.com to see the full documentary.

Is your child or student yawning a lot?

Did you ever wonder why your student sometimes yawns all throughout your session or when doing homework?  He is not being disrespectful and I trust you are not being terribly boring!  The reason why he is  yawning (especially those with Dyslexia) is because his  brain is working so hard to process this new information you are giving him.  And, it is hard work!  The human brain requires more oxygen when being mentally taxed and yawning is the body's reaction to get more oxygen.  So, next time your student yawns through hisr session or homework time just know he is trying really hard.

Meds or No Meds -- Improved Academic Performance for ADD ADHD Students

Over the past two years, I have discovered some very effective methods for helping ADD/ADHD students improve their concentration levels and ultimately their, academic performance. When my ADD/ADHD students struggle to concentrate, my job as a tutor is to find a solution. Tutoring one-on-one gives me the opportunity to make what a student believes is difficult extremely easy. Many times, students do not understand because they are not processing the information correctly. As a special needs educator, I make learning much easier. While many classroom teachers advocate ADD/ADHD medication, I believe that medication should be used: (1) as a last resort and (2) as a temporary fix while a long term solution is being sought and (3) in conjunction with other therapy and teaching that fosters good academic skills, reduces anxiety and tension at home and at school. As an experienced teacher, I have proven methods for treating ADD/ADHD students and improving their ability to concentrate... read more

Suggestions for finding the BEST tutor for your child or student.

When interviewing a prospective tutor, parents should ask about the tutor's skills and experience, and find out if the tutor truly enjoys teaching. When the tutor feels enthusiastic about the subject, and communicates well, the student has an opportunity to learn to enjoy the subject too. I recommend for parents to observe the first lesson to see the tutor's skills in action, and watch/listen carefully to future lessons when possible, to make sure the tutor has an encouraging, supportive attitude at all times. (Tutors should welcome and respond positively to the child's questions, and NEVER make the child feel "stupid," no matter what.) It is most important to have a safe and quiet place for studying, without distractions. I like to find a quiet table at a library, and work with students there. I welcome suggestions from parents, and I am always looking for ways to improve my teaching skills.

Quotes from Famous Dyslexics

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I learn. Involve me and I remember.” ~ Benjamin Franklin “My teachers say I’m addled . . . my father thought I was stupid, and I almost decided I must be a dunce.” ~ Thomas Edison “He told me that his teachers reported that . . . he was mentally slow, unsociable, and adrift forever in his foolish dreams.” ~ Hans Albert Einstein (Albert Einstein’s father) “I was, on the whole, considerably discouraged by my school days. It was not pleasant to feel oneself so completely outclassed and left behind at the beginning of the race.” ~ Winston Churchill “If I wasn’t dyslexic, I probably wouldn’t have won the Games. If I had been a better reader, then that would have come easily, sports would have come easily. . . and I never would have realized that the way you get ahead in life is hard work.” ~ Bruce Jenner “It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely... read more

Strengths of Dyslexic Children

Although we often look for negative symptoms, dyslexic children will demonstrate many gifted areas. Strengths seen in young children: Curiosity Great imagination The ability to figure things out Eager to embrace new ideas A good understanding of new concepts A large vocabulary for their age group Enjoyment in solving puzzles or building activities Strengths seen in school age children: Excellent thinking skills: a strong ability to conceptualize and reason Great imagination Can think outside the box Learn best when learning is connected and has meaning; may not do well with rote memorization Continue to have a strong ability to see the big picture High level of understanding and comprehension when read to Can understand at a high level when there is interest in the topic; May over learn technical words in an area of interest Surprisingly advanced listening vocabulary Excellence in areas not dependent on reading,... read more

Dyslexia Warning Signs in Teens and Adults

Mispronunciation of names and words Difficulty remembering names of people and places May confuse names of places that sound alike Vocabulary, both spoken and written, becomes more limited relative to their peers Difficulty remembering words and coming up with the "right" word Reading individual words may become more accurate, but continues to be very tiring May get tired when reading Embarrassed by reading aloud - may avoid those situations May have difficulty with uncommon, strange or foreign words on menus (in these situations, may say "I'll have what you're having") Most reading is very slow, especially books or manuals - may have to read two to three times to understand it Often find that there's no time for a social life because studying takes so much time Often prefer books with figures, charts, and graphics or books with fewer words and lots of white on the page Very poor written expression - prefer uncomplicated... read more

Dyslexia Warning Signs in School Age Children

Dysgraphia: slow, non-automatic handwriting. Handwriting is difficult. Failure to understand that words come apart (for example "sandbox" contains two words, "sand" and "box") Difficulty identifying the individual sounds in a word (for example "cat" contains three distinct sounds) Inability to associate correct sounds with the correct letters. Difficulty reading common one syllable words (such as "hop," "cat," "sit") Complaints about how hard reading is or running and hiding when it's time to read. Difficulty with directionality; may write letters backwards (such as "d" and "b") Reading errors that show no connection to the sounds of the letters in the word: Child will say “puppy” instead of the written word “dog” in an illustrated page with a dog shown. Letter or number reversal continuing past first grade. Speech that is not fluent - may pause or hesitate... read more

Dyslexia Warning Signs in Young Children

Delayed speech Mispronounced words or persistent baby talk Constant confusion of left versus right Late establishing a dominant hand Difficulty learning to tie shoes Trouble memorizing their address, phone number, or the alphabet Can’t create words that rhyme Trouble learning common nursery rhymes, such as “Jack and Jill” Doesn't recognize rhyming patterns such as "cat, bat, rat" A close relative with dyslexia Failure to know the letters in their own name Mixing up sounds in multi-syllabic words: For example, aminal for animal, bisghetti for spaghetti, hekalopter for helicopter, etc.

Should I have my child tested for Dyslexia?

Having your child tested for dyslexia is a personal decision. Most parents have watched their child(ren) struggle over the years, knowing something isn’t quite right, but yet have no idea what could be causing the difficulties. Parents may refer to testing to get a picture of the severity and range of the problems. Testing is usually done by a psychologist or a speech therapist. It can be very time consuming and expensive, although the cost may be covered by insurance. Testing often scares both the child(ren) and the parents. It can be a traumatic experience and a little overwhelming for both. Recognize it’s only a gauge to help you see where you might want to begin remediation. Testing offers the proof necessary to receive classroom accommodations; such as longer testing period, having the test given orally rather than written, one on one assistance in the classroom, etc. Some parents feel screening is preferred to testing, because it allows them to see the areas of... read more

What is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is considered a learning disability. It’s actually a language processing disorder that makes reading, writing, spelling and occasionally speech, difficult. The dyslexic brain is built and wired differently than the average brain. It’s been shown that the right hemisphere of a dyslexic brain can be up to 25% larger. Yep. Dyslexics are actually GIFTED! That’s why so many creative people and inventors are dyslexic. Although some skills, like reading and writing, are more difficult, dyslexic folks seem to be gifted in a lot of creative areas. Dyslexia is an inherited condition. If you have dyslexic parents, you have a 50% chance of being dyslexic. If you are dyslexic, your children have a 50% chance of being dyslexic too. Dyslexia affects people differently. Some children demonstrate speech delays at a very young age, while others are successful in school until about third grade. Although poor reading, writing and spelling are usually indicators, there are many other... read more

My guidelines

Give positive feedback, use encouraging vocabulary Find success, and reinforce effort, in even minor accomplishment ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ A tutor provides expertise, experience, and encouragement. They do not provide "answers," but rather assist in problem solving, in getting answers. The challenge is to focus on assignments within the context they are assigned. Tutors should not be expected to diagnose learning disabilities. Diagnosis should take place outside of the tutoring process by a professional academic counselor. If a larger problem becomes apparent, referral is the best strategy. Tutoring strategies: Seek out training to be a more effective tutor: This includes subject matter as well as the tutoring procedures Clearly establish expectations for your learner What are the expectations of the learner? of the teacher? and of those close to the learner (classmates,... read more

Tutoring for Special Education Students

Parents of students living with learning difficulties qualify for various academic accommodations. These include things that classroom teachers can incorporate into daily lesson plans, like extra time to complete homework and ability to take tests in a quiet location, to things that state education laws delegate to specially trained teachers, aides, and nurses, such as care for students with feeding tubes. This article summarizes the kinds of learning differences that most tutors can handle and when parents should seek a qualified Special Education tutor. What most tutors can handle Many tutors are current or former teachers, college professors, or substitute teachers. State teacher licensing laws require teaching candidates to receive Special Education instruction and experience before granted a teaching license. They also have practical experience helping students who are living with a variety of learning differences. Licensed teachers have experience accommodating... read more

Special Education Resources for Parents

Massachusetts Specific Resources: · http://www.doe.mass.edu/sped/ · http://www.doe.mass.edu/sped/iep/proguide.pdf · http://www.doe.mass.edu/sped/prb/pnps.pdf · http://www.masspac.org/ · http://www.mcpap.com/pdf/NavigatingTheSpecialEducationSystemInMassachusetts.pdf Individuals with Disabilities Education Act: · http://idea.ed.gov/ · http://nichcy.org/laws/idea · http://www.help4adhd.org/education/rights/idea General Learning Disabilities Information: · http://www.ncld.org/ · http://www.ldonline.org/ · http://www.ldanatl.org/ · http://nichcy.org/disability/specific/ld · http://www.cldinternational.org/ · http://www.cec.sped.org/am/template.cfm?section=Home ADHD/ADD: · http://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/default.htm · http://www.add.org/ · http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd/index.shtml · http://www.chadd.org/ Dyslexia: · www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov · www... read more

"Dyslexia"

I shared my WyzAnt profile with a friend the other day. She asked me why I included the term dyslexia in quotes. "Its not like you don't think it exists," she went on, "you've been working with dyslexic kids for so many years now! Isn't that a little bit dismissive?" I answered her as best I could, "Of course, I don't mean it dismissively, but the term "dyslexia" is over-used." I continued to ramble, "Some people describe themselves as dyslexic without having a formal diagnosis. For many people, the label "dyslexia" helps lessen feelings of insecurity they may have." Without going too much deeper, we moved on to a different conversation. In my mind, I have recently been going over that discussion, and I feel it is worth sharing my thinking in a little more depth. "Dyslexia" is a term that means many things to many people, even within a clinical setting. Reading is a complex cognitive process, one... read more

The Measurement of Success

Sharing success stories can be a little bit heady – I’m not one to toot my own horn, but I am so very proud of my students and their accomplishments, it’s hard not to share! The following excerpt is taken from a student’s letter to the International Dyslexia Association in response to their “Honor A Teacher” campaign. Through mail and email, members, friends and supporters of IDA were invited to submit information about a special teacher, and “Unsung Hero” who has made significant contribution to their life or their child’s life. In my student’s letter to IDA she stated, “Kim is very patient, explains a lot, and never misses a day. She is kind, nice and friendly with a very warm personality. At first I was very nervous because I didn’t know the place or the people, but I was very comfortable with Kim. Kim is a very good teacher. I am thankful to have her versus any other teacher. I understand things the first time she explains them, my reading is much better now and I... read more

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