It’s been awhile since I’ve updated this blog. I am currently adding more posts about communication, learning, and play at Koning Speech and Language. Come over and check it out! There are archives to all these posts, as well. For archives, click www.koningspeechandlanguage.com/kids-communicate/
While I agree with some of this, I do think there are times when you need to separate the child from the situation, calm yourself down, then rejoin your child to discuss the behavior. Children can quickly escalate our internal dysregulation, so it is important to recognize what is happening inside of you. Using words to describe your internal state can help model for your child: “I’m feeling frustrated. I need a moment alone to calm down.”
Think of reading as a means to an end. It is just a way to absorb information. We want children to develop a love for reading by realizing there are imaginative worlds, far-off galaxies, crazy characters, and intriguing plotlines contained within those two hard covers. Reading is also our access to information. Without it, we cannot read our emails, read about the latest scientific discovery, or keep updated on the news in our town. But when your child comes off the starting line as a resistant, reluctant, or troubled reader, it can be like pulling teeth to improve this vital skill. For those children struggling with dyslexia and reading comprehension, it’s no wonder that reading is such a chore. It just isn’t fun! Reading is hard work from the start, so our job as parents and educators is to bring some fun back into the equation, teach in a relaxed and effective way, and show our children why working hard is the means to a wonderful end.
Here are some quick tips to encourage your reluctant reader at home:
1. Books on tape. Some kids need the auditory input to stay engaged. Use a book on tape and let them follow along with the story.
2. Keep reading aloud. Even if your child can read on their own, they still need time every day to just listen as you read. Pick a high-interest book with a great storyline and read it together. “Harry Potter”, Laura Ingalls Wilder books, “Ender’s Game”, “Ivy and Bean”… all of these stories can capture the imagination.
3. Switch off reading. You do a page, I’ll do a page. No pressure, you get a break while I read. I help you with a word if you are struggling too much.
4. Comic books, magazines, recipes, instructions on how to fix something… These all count as reading and may serve as a catalyst for encouraging your reluctant reader. I worked with a student who narrated out the instructions to his Star Wars Lego kit. He then read the instructions to his brother.
Mini-articles online about Minecraft (http://www.minecraftinfo.com/Articles.htm).
Pen pal letters to a cousin.
It doesn’t have to be Shakespeare, and we are encouraging reading for enjoyment.
5. Lastly, use music. Use the words to a favorite song, look up lyrics online, or create a rap about something your child enjoys doing. Music can bridge the phonological processing and fluency difficulties a child may have.
Need a winter day activity for your kiddo? Read on!
Straws are a fun and affordable way to develop fine motor skills such as cutting and stringing. Straws also can be used for fun tabletop games or for arts and crafts.
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One of the hardest (and most rewarding) things for a parent is watching your child brave new situations alone.
Without you by their side, it can be challenging for them to learn to advocate for themselves. Some children come more naturally to these skills, but many have to learn them slowly and systematically through experience. It can be the difference, however, of sitting and staring blankly at a test with no solution in sight, or raising a hand and asking a teacher to clarify a question.
Self-advocacy can mean that your child writes an assignment down completely and then checks in with the teacher at the end of class to make sure all the assignments are copied correctly. It can help them take control of any struggles they may face, accept their learning challenges, and find ways to navigate their school experience.
Below is a quick list of ways to work on self-advocacy with your child. As I discuss self-advocacy with my students, I always follow up with the benefits of looking out for yourself. That being better organized and on-top of our assignments and tests is a win-win situation. By taking control of our needs and becoming more efficient with our time, we condense the time we have to spend on homework and other tasks, opening up more time for free time and play.
- Work with your child’s teacher. Sure, all our teachers are busy, but they want what’s best for your child. If your child needs a more structured system, work with them on ways to achieve it.
- Role play. I can’t say enough about rehearsing possible situations that may arise in the comfort of your own home, while your child is relaxed. Make it a priority to discuss with them different ways we can ask for help when confused or upset.
- Practice. Self-advocacy at school can be practiced early on, when you are present. Have a question in pre-k or kindergarten about what snack to bring? Encourage your child to ask their teacher for help, with you behind them. Let them be their own advocate.
- Encourage your child to be specific. Requesting additional time on a test to work through problems is more specific and focused (and an easier thing for a teacher to allow) than just saying “I don’t know” or leaving answers blank. I’ve met many children who get test anxiety and draw a blank, leaving answers empty and throwing in the towel. Many children don’t do well with timed assignments, and most teachers are willing to work with them for a solution. After all, they’d often rather test knowledge than speed (exceptions might be fluency tests and state-mandated testing). But it’s helpful for a teacher to know specifically how to help, with extra time for assignments, more clarification for long division, or a book on tape so a child can listen and read. Your child can practice with their teacher on how to answer parts of questions, skip questions and come back, and maintain a rhythm through testing.After all, a child who self-advocates becomes a college student or young adult who can independently navigate the complexities of adult life. Just this morning I worked on my own self-advocacy (and self-control) skills calling Comcast for the 4th time in two weeks about incorrect billing charges! 😉
Self-advocacy means independence and confidence, and allows your child to feel in control of their academic success. It’s that peace of mind that is essential, as self-confidence can make all the difference in school achievement.
Avoiding the Container Shuffle!
Guest post by: Nicole M Sergent, MPT
As a new parent, I was there. Giddy excitement over the news of a baby on the way followed by showering love from family and friends in the form of gift, and gifts, and more gifts. At the time I was touched (and am still forever grateful for their generosity) but shortly after the baby came I quickly fell into a routine many new moms do. As a physical therapist, I like to call it, “the container shuffle.”
“The container shuffle” goes something like this. Sleep (crib), eat (highchair), play (exercsaucer), calm down (bouncer seat), sleep (crib), eat (highchair), play (positioning seat), calm down (swing) etc. As a mother, I related to the thoughts many of my patients’ parents have. Everyone buys us all this stuff…and baby likes them and is happy…so why not use them? As a therapist, I’d like…
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This past weekend I joined a group of moms from Southern California to run a 205-mile relay from San Francisco to Napa, California. The promise of wine-tasting and 48 hours of family-free time was enough to get me to agree to something so crazy. Our team name was R.I.O.T. Moms, with the acronym for “Running Is Our Therapy” a fitting description for how exercise and outdoor time can rejuvenate even the weariest of parents.
The past couple of months have reaffirmed my own parenting journey. My husband and I sold our house in the Pacific Northwest, closed up shop on our jobs, and headed south with kids and dog in tow to relocate to the San Francisco Bay Area. The promise of good weather and time to focus on family was all we needed to make the jump to a new adventure. Throughout this transition, which included my oldest starting kindergarten, my kids have been relying on each other and my husband and I in new ways. Amidst the uncertainty they often look to mom and dad for stability, and that trust can be both reassuring and draining. I’ve been practicing some meditation techniques, channeling my inner calm, so when the chaos threatens to take over – one child is crying, another is telling a loud story, the dog is barking, the dinner on the stove boiling over – I can take a deep breath and keep my core calm and regulated.
Children feed off our nerves. A child who easily becomes dysregulated is looking for outside sources of strength to bump up against. Sometimes, this is figurative – needing a calm presence to reflect back to them the way to cope with a situation. And sometimes they actually ARE bumping into things – crashing into you, into their sibling, hitting walls, or tripping over their own feet – to seek some sort of barrier or boundary to the chaos coursing through them. How we react – kneeling down, modeling deep breaths and quiet words, giving hugs and pressure squeezes when needed, reflecting their emotions with words and simple phrases – can mean continued shouting and tears, or a de-escalation of the situation.
Running a relay takes you on beautiful trails through the woods, winding streets coursing through quaint little towns, and hot, gravely highways with semi-trucks roaring past. I have a hard time on those highways, thinking I have little shoulder to run on, my footing irregular and my temperature rising. The sound from the trucks can be overwhelming, moving me to frustrated tears if I let it. A dysregulated child feels the same. Senses on overload, fear of the unknown driving action, uncertainty of how to proceed. For many of our children, being unable to get the train pieces to fit together, or an incessantly itchy tag bothering their neck, is all that is needed to get on that chaotic highway.
I worked on my meditation techniques during those miles. The face of calm on the inside. Ironic, since I probably looked a hot mess on the outside. Breathing, keeping my blood pressure at a steady state. Visualizing my end goal and the steps to get there. Using my thoughts and words to channel chaotic emotions. These all mirror many of the strategies we use with children to help them regulate their bodies. Self-soothing strategies are lifelong lessons we can teach, to deal with frustration, chaos, and situations outside of our control. Check out more links below to strategies you can use at home…
And a big “thank you” to my fellow RIOT Moms, who persevered with me! 205 miles ain’t got nothing on us!