Are you concerned about your child’s reading ability?

Is your child struggling with decoding basic words?

Difficulty with rhyming?

Struggling with spelling?

A resistant reader?

When you think of dyslexia do you think letter reversals and reading backwards?

Dyslexia is NOT a visual disorder.

Dyslexics see the same as non dyslexics. The difficulty lies in the processing of phonological sounds. Dyslexia is a speech and language disorder rooted in natural neurobiological variation. It is not a sign of more or less intelligence. It has nothing to do with intelligence.

Every child wants to learn to read. It is a major milestone that affects every aspect of a person’s life. Yet for up to every one in five children it is a struggle to learn to read.

Why can some kids just pick up reading with seemingly little to no effort while others struggle day in and day out?

Reading is a man made invention for the human brain. Our brains have natural neurobiological variations. Reading is not a natural human act. Therefore, not everyone’s brain processes textual information the same way. The human brain is divided into two hemispheres and decoding occurs on the left side of the brain for those without dyslexia. Brain scans have found that for those with dyslexia, reading is happening in the right hemisphere. With reading and speech interventions the dyslexic brain can be rewired to utilize the left side of the brain. Children can learn the magic of rewiring their brains to break down words phonologically to decode with fluency and learn the rules of spelling.

What are the early signs of dyslexia?

The signs of dyslexia may be apparent by age 4 or 5. Here are some of the signs:

Difficulty with rhyming. Nursery rhymes and producing rhyming patterns such as: at, cat, fat, mat

Difficulty pronouncing familiar words, multisyllabic words and may drop the middle or endings of words.

Family history of dyslexia or other learning disabilities

K/1st (6/7) Signs in early elementary grades:

Inability or difficulty with rhyming, does not recognize word families, has little to no knowledge of sound/letter correspondence

Difficulty with spelling and deconstructing words

Older children with untreated dyslexia most often avoid reading or complain about it being too hard or too boring in addition to the previously mentioned signs.

Difficulty distinguishing between left and right. Often ambidextrous.

What can you do if you suspect a reading disability?

Begin with a vision and hearing checkup. An audiologist may find other similar presenting issues such as auditory processing disorder as well.

If your child is 8 or older and has had a year or more of reading instruction and not reading fluently then there is often an underlying cause. You can write a letter requesting your child be evaluated for a learning disability at your child’s school. Other options are getting an evaluation done by an educational psychologist, neurologist or speech and language pathologist.

What works for dyslexia?

Children with dyslexia need to be taught discreet language skills using a multi sensory approach. Programs like Great Leaps, Wilson and Orton Gillingham are proven to work and utilize multiple senses when learning. You may find these programs virtually, in public schools, a speech and language pathologist or with a trained specialist. You may also learn to use and implement the program yourself.

You can learn more about Orton Gillingham here: https://www.ortonacademy.org/resources/what-is-the-orton-gillingham-approach/

I was a teacher in the school closest to the towers on 9/11. Here is what I learned from that tragedy that helps me as an educator and as a parent …

I was a teacher in the school closest to the towers on 9/11. Here is what I learned from that tragedy that helps me as an educator and as a parent …

— Read on homeschooleducationalconsultanttutor.services/2021/09/07/i-was-a-teacher-in-the-school-closest-to-the-towers-on-9-11-here-is-what-i-learned-from-that-tragedy-that-helps-me-as-an-educator-and-as-a-parent-2/

I was a teacher in the school closest to the towers on 9/11. Here is what I learned from that tragedy that helps me as an educator and as a parent …

I was a teacher in the school closest to the towers on 9/11. Here is what I learned from that tragedy that helps me as an educator and as a parent …

— Read on homeschooleducationalconsultanttutor.services/2020/08/24/i-was-a-teacher-in-the-school-closest-to-the-towers-on-9-11-here-is-what-i-learned-from-that-tragedy-that-helps-me-as-an-educator-and-as-a-parent/

How do I help my young kid not to be math phobic like me?

Math phobic?

Don’t be. It’s a learned behavior.

Math resistant?

I hear you. I was once the same way.

I had once believed I wasn’t a “math person.” That belief started early and was reinforced by an educational system that reinforced this belief. Then I went to China. I saw kids that embraced math young because the mindset is math is for everyone. Math is supposed to sometimes be difficult and struggling over an equation is part of its beauty. I needed to change my mindset. So I did. From that point on, I created a environment in both my classroom and my home that fostered and encouraged early math and math fluency.

There’s a good chance you already have the beginnings of a math ready home.

Lego’s everywhere?

Dinosaurs and dolls of every size?

Fill your house and engage your kids with math with board games, card games (games like war for teaching greater than/less than), cooking for learning time and fractions, puzzles and sewing. Games that require looking at patterns and making predictions are math brain builders.

Exposure and regular play with legos and building blocks during the toddler/preschool years develops spatial skills and visual literacy that is the foundation for algebra and higher level math. You’re already fluent in the language of space. Use words and have discussions about where something is using prepositions and other mathematical language such as: the tree is next to the house; The book is under the table; this piece has four sides and four corners.

Teach your children to recognize and create patterns. Start out with two and three step patterns. You can begin with physical games like clap, stomp, clap, stomp…what comes next and add a third then fourth step. Use art to teach geometry.

If you have the prerequisite of LEGO’s and toys on the floor then you’re ready.

Activities and discussion points:

Compare animal sizes-put them in order from tallest to smallest and other variations. Count animals and dolls. Learn to count on. Have three dolls to the size add more counting on…make up word problems: I have five dinosaurs and gave you two. How many am I left with?

How do you like to engage your young child in math?

The First Step: A Blog for Kids & Created by Kids

The First Step: A Blog for Kids & Created by Kids

— Read on homeschooleducationalconsultanttutor.services/2021/01/18/the-first-step-a-blog-for-kids-created-by-kids/

A Few things I learned about Homeschooling While Sick with Covid

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

At the end of January, my family became sick with Covid-19. All of us were symptomatic with various versions of extreme fatigue, high fevers, GI issues, nausea, chest pain and coughing. It has been about five weeks at this point and my daughter and husband are fully recovered, my son and I are still have days with lingering fatigue, headaches and intermittent fevers mixed in among very good days. Needless to say, it was challenging to do any “learning” when getting out of bed for a few minutes felt like a major accomplishment so I needed to prioritize and did so instinctively. Following my intuition on what to do, what to keep up with and what to drop, we managed to find a daily rhythm. Granted the daily rhythm involved a lot of naps but in-between it was a lot of cuddling and read alouds in bed, reading through entire series and rereading favorites, listening to audible for hours on end, and creating art (mostly drawing) from bed. It was a time of respecting what our bodies and minds were capable of at that time (not easy to do).

I had a fantasy when I had first gotten sick, that as soon as I had a little more energy, I was going to start painting and creating art in bed and was trying to channel Frida Kahlo (didn’t exactly pan out for myself but did so for my son). This went on for at least two weeks where I’d wake up with a great art plan that quickly turned into a nap, followed by another nap, cooking a meal, and bedtime. The art managed to slip away. Then, my son started to get his energy back and began to draw while listening to audible for hours a day until he was once again exhausted. He inspired me to scale back on the fantasy that was wearing me out and be ok with keeping a sketch bad in bed and on the couch to just draw whatever came to mind without there needing to be a “finished product.” I learned to not put so much pressure on myself that it’s ok to spend time in bed not doing much or just doing what feels good when you’re sick and even sometimes when you’re not.

I learned that good books are still my best friends and my kid’s as well. When you’re sick, and feeling alone, it’s a good book that can talk to you and keep you company while distracting you just the right amount. I think I’m going to continue with the long stretches of just laying in bed reading well after the sun comes up at least a day or two a week.

My son’s drawings really flourished and he developed a confidence in his drawing as he drew so much more in a day than he had drawn in combined time over months previously. Being home, sick, under a foot or two of snow helped to reestablish a time of creativity and a time to just think. I’m so thankful that we are recovering and realize how lucky we are.

Finally, I also learned, I NEVER want COVID again 🙂

Do you love Amanda Gorman?

“I can hear change humming
In its loudest, proudest song.
I don’t fear change coming,
And so I sing along.”

Amanda Gorman

“I’m the daughter of Black writers. We’re descended from freedom fighters who broke through chains and change the world. They call me”

Of course you do! How can you not love strength, courage, political activism for equality and lyrical brilliance?

Amanda Gorman is America’s youth poet laureate who recently stole the show at Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’ Presidential inauguration. She is the embodiment of progress and hope.

Gorman is an inspiration on multiple levels ranging from the political to the personal. She is able to use her powerful voice as a call to unite and create political change. She’s brought back poetry and has helped the genre to once again rise to the level of a vehicle for social and political change. The NYT put together several great lessons on this for your kids that you can find here. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/20/learning/lesson-of-the-day-amanda-gorman-and-the-hill-we-climb.amp.html

Amanda Gorman

“While democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be permanently defeated. In this truth, in this faith, we trust.”

Want to rewatch Amanda’s powerful poem at the inauguration? Who doesn’t? You can watch her here. https://www.ted.com/talks/amanda_gorman_the_hill_we_climb/up-next

Amanda Gorman is not just brilliant but incredibly perseverant. At 5, Gorman was diagnosed with an auditory processing disorder and a speech impediment. She learned to use that as as a strength. She found and honed her voice to craft her very personal poem, “The Hill We Climb.”Her poem is an inspiration for all of us to unite, be resilient and continue to have hope.

You can access a free lesson plan from PBS here: https://www.pbs.org/newshour/extra/lessons-plans/lesson-plan-discuss-22-year-old-amanda-gormans-inaugural-poem-the-miracle-morning/?fbclid=IwAR3v6sB_tMh0SadeWEU7gZljA9CBXLNVWM-PZhPeX7xcJDE6JjR1syFN-AA

Amanda wants you to use your voice as a political choice. You can hear her Ted Talk here: https://www.ted.com/talks/amanda_gorman_using_your_voice_is_a_political_choice/transcript?language=en

The First Step: A Blog for Kids & Created by Kids

You can find The First Step Blog here: https://candicenarvaez.wordpress.com/2021/03/17/how-to-zig-zag-on-a-skateboard-by-aria/

Like most kids, my nine year old loves stories. He loves to tell stories to his friends when he’s building a home in Minecraft or while building a fort. Like many nine year olds, he has a constant dialogue going. He loves listening to stories read by adults, other kids, on audible or other devices. He loves reading independently and he will beg to stay up late just to read. Yet, none of this translated into a desire to write. Not only was there little desire, there was flat out resistance and refusal to even consider writing down his stories.

For a long time, my son seemed to think crayons were for throwing. As I wrote about in a previous post, creating a blog changed his relationship with writing. It changed all of the kid’s that I work with feelings about writing. Having a blog, a voice in the world is empowering, especially during a time when staying connected can be a Herculean task.

I ran the idea of creating a blog “by kids and for kids” with my son and a few kids I’m working with and they ran with it. Then, I told them that if they wanted something on the blog they would also have to write out all of the instructions and magically there was agreement. The kids were excited.

The kids worked like anyone starting a blog. They needed to generate ideas and content, they needed to start thinking about such as, “Does the photo or pics match the text? Can you give that step with a clearer voice?” and the kids learned to think about formatting and editing. These kids who aren’t yet two digits were actively joining the world as writers, creators and collaborators.

As only kids can, the kid’s ideas for the blog came quickly and there was an endless list. Learning to focus on a single idea and focus in on the language needed to teach another kid something is enormous. The kids never complained about the many times, I asked them to break something down into smaller, more specific steps for a how-to lesson. When I had asked the kids to work on the same type of writing without the purpose the blog provides I would be met with groans and whines. The kids chose their topics for their target audience in a way adults never could. There are posts on how to zig zag on a skateboard, perfecting your cartwheel and how to do the coffee grinder. These 9 and 10 year olds really know the interests and hearts of their fellow kids since adults no longer hold that all access pass.

Collaboration happened quickly and naturally. The kids wanted to discuss what they were doing with their friends and they welcomed feedback. Soon, the kids began to ask me questions about what was most popular on the blog to help them gauge what direction to go in and to think about their audience. They were thinking like writers, creators and entrepreneurs. Walks in the woods became opportunities to find new places to blog about and to connect what they were doing in their everyday lives to the world around them. They decided, independent of me, to start a comic book making club and a running club! We started looking at other kid reporters in places like Time for Kids and getting inspired by other kid scientists, artists and explorers. They have started to generate ideas about fundraising for a cause that they believe in. They want to use the blog as a vehicle to help that cause. I’m excited to see the kids engaged with creating and writing. I’m excited to see how this project continues to evolve and how the kids evolve along with it. I will keep you posted on how this goes and any fundraising for charity that decide to go with.

I hope you enjoy the kid’s blog but more importantly, I hope your kids do.

My kid hates to write!

Sound familiar?

A little too familiar?

I’ve been there as well, on the battleground with pencil in hand, trying to convince my then seven year old that writing can be freeing and fun. I’d tell my kid things like,writing is important because you want to be able to express yourself and have your ideas written down and he would look at me like all he was hearing was blah, blah, blah.

This is how my kid heard me when I talked about the importance of writing

Nothing I said or did provided much to convince my son of the joys of writing or to the fact that it is a necessary life skill.

There are two types of kids: those who love to write and those who would rather endure water torture than to sit down and write a few sentences. For the parents of kids who love to write, we see you. We know you are awesome but please leave for the sake of parental morale and come back for the next topic. For the rest of you, I feel you. I spent years handing my son crayons that he mistakenly confused as Nerf bullets and would throw them around the room.

Learning his letters with Handwriting Without Tears manipulatives

I did a few things to ensure my son was able to write when he was developmentally ready. I made sure he knew the basic mechanics of writing. I used Handwriting Without Tears to teach my kid to quickly be able to write letters and words and eventually moving onto sentences. I love HWT and recommend the program however, there are many great workbooks out there if this program isn ‘t for you. I also had him spend ten minutes a day on spelling and word study from a word study book so that when he wanted to begin writing he would have the basics in place. Next, I needed to give him a reason to write.

What’s your kid’s motivation to write? We aren’t donkeys but a shiny carrot really does work for kicking writing into gear. My kid loves to dance and nature. I built a blog for him and a few of the kids I’m working with to have a reason to write. They’re making “how to”videos and “all about” videos on things that are important to them like doing the coffee grinder, skateboarding and their pet hamsters. The kids are writing ‘how to’ and “all about” pieces in order to make the website accessible to all kids and they’re excited about it. They want to write because they have a purpose and an audience. Once my son and the kids had their website going, my son started writing all the time because he now LOVES to write. He’s currently working on a comic book.

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