Summer Interventions for a Better Report Card

With the end of the school year quickly approaching, parents are often left to wonder about what to do during the summer to ensure

Summer interventions for a better report card

that the transition to the next school year goes smoothly.  One key piece of information in determining summer plans is the content presented in your child’s final report card.  It is vital that parents take the child’s final report card seriously and utilize the information from it to develop any areas of weakness shown during the previous school year. Read more

Activities to Promote Visual Memory

Visual memory, a component of visual processing, can be broken down into two parts: long-term and short-term. Long-term visual memory refers to the ability to remember something seen in the past. Short-term visual memory refers to the ability to recall something that is seen very recently. Visual memory plays a key role in the in your child’s overall development and the skills they need to be successful in school.child building visual memory  Read on to learn about the importance of visual memory and activites you can use to boost your child’s visual memory.

A Child with Inefficient Visual Memory May Experience Difficulties with the Following Skills and Activities:

  • Identification and memory of letters and other common symbols
  • Spelling of familiar words and irregular words
  • Reading comprehension
  • Using a calculator (identifying the symbols on a calculator)
  • Remembering phone numbers

The Following Activities Will Promote Visual Memory Skills:

  • Copy patterns using various media, including beads, pegs, blocks, letters or numbers. Have your child determine what comes next, or have them recreate the pattern themselves. Read more

Benefits of a Slant Board

There are many reasons to invest in a slant board for your child, including benefits in handwriting.  A slant board typically consists of aslant board flat surface positioned at an angle with clips or anchors to hold materials (such as paper and books) in place.  They come in a variety of sizes and angles, and some are even adjustable. 

Below are several benefits of slant boards for your child for use both in and out of the classroom:

  • Promotes fine and visual motor skills- The angled position of the slant board promotes better placement of the shoulder, arm and hand.  It is therefore providing a better position to work on skills such as writing and drawing.  The position of the board also brings the paper closer to the child and makes it easier to see.
  •  Promotes an efficient marker grasp- The best hand position for handwriting and holding a writing utensil is in wrist flexion. The angled position of the slant board promotes this position, which provides better support for holding a pencil appropriately.  This position may also assist in applying just the right amount of muscle force in holding a pencil.
  •  Provides an easier to reach work surface-For children who have difficulty reaching the entire paper while flat on a desk, the slant board provides an easier distance to reach from the top to the bottom of the page, while also keeping the paper stabilized.
  • Helps with posture- Typically, writing or reading on a flat surface utilizes an inefficient posture, as seen through slumped body position, elevated shoulders, and looking down consistently. The slant board brings the line of vision higher, which encourages looking down to promote an upright posture.
  • Allows visual tracking for reading Placing a book or other reading material on a slant board may reduce eye strain. The child does not need to refocus their eyes as they scan through a page since all text remains at the same angle.

There are many slant boards on the market to choose from! It is best to choose one made of stable material and with an adjustable slant. The slant board can be used at home or at school, or anywhere that you child engages in writing, reading or drawing!

 To watch a 2 minute video on how to improve handwriting in children, click here!


8 Tips to Ease Homework Time Stress

For many families of middle and high school students, evening time becomes a stress-filled time for everyone. This is due to the fact homework stressthat tired and over-scheduled kids fight to focus to complete their homework. Fortunately, this time can become much more relaxed and productive with a few tweaks to routines and tips to help students to manage their time and work better.

8 Tips to Ease Homework Time Stress:

  1. Start with goals: Prior to making any changes to a homework routine that is not working, sit down with your child to identify their goals around their homework time.  Do they need to create more time?  Focus more effectively?  Remove distractions?  Get started earlier?  A meaningful plan can then be created from these goals with all family members on board.
  2. Create a dedicated space:  All too often, kids complete their homework with a host of distractions nearby: T.V., Internet, phones or other family members doing other things other than work.  Homework is best completed in a quiet space that is free of all distractions.  If the Internet is needed for research, this should be done during a specific time set aside for this purpose. Phones and televisions should be off.
  3. Create a plan: Before tackling any homework assignment, kids should set up a schedule that includes what assignments need to be completed and an estimate of how long each assignment should take to complete. These assignments should then be ordered according to their due date and difficulty level.
  4. Break down big assignments: When creating the homework plan for the evening, it is important to also take into consideration of any long term assignments that have been given. Divide these assignments into several (3-10, depending on the assignment) parts to complete over the course of the time until the assignment is due. Then, the big project is easily absorbed into the week, instead of being a shock the day before it’s due.
  5. Take regular breaks: Kids are unable to focus for longer than 45-50 minutes at a stretch. Plan 10-minute breaks into each hour of homework. The best breaks include some physical movement and/or fresh air.
  6. Keep track of paper: Students should keep assignments and notes for each class in a separate folder or section of a notebook. After completing each assignment at home, papers should go directly back into the appropriate folder.
  7. Identify circadian rhythms: Is your early bird trying to complete homework at 10:00 p.m.? Is your night owl frantically trying to finish homework the morning before school? Work with your child’s natural cycles in order to determine the best homework time for them, given other commitments. An early bird may benefit from rising an hour earlier to get work completed.  A night owl may focus best getting starting after dinner.
  8. Study Smart: Kids learn in many different ways. For example, take a look at Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence Theory in order to identify the way your child learns best. Tailor study time to their strengths. For example, interpersonal learners prefer to interact while learning, therefore, quizzing aloud and studying in groups would suit them well.
If homework time continues to be a struggle for your family, contact one of our Academic Specialists at North Shore Pediatric Therapy. Our Academic Specialists can create a homework time plan specific to your child and family’s needs.


May is Better Hearing and Speech Month

May is Better Speech and Hearing Month! Many children may have difficulties with one or more aspect of speech and/or language, andBHSM according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), early detection and intervention can often be the most effective.

Below are some helpful tips parents can use to promote speech and language skills at home:

  • Communicative temptation: create situations where a child needs to gesture, vocalize, or verbalize to have his or her needs met before giving desired object (e.g., puzzle pieces)
  • Imitation: having a child imitate you helps him or her to produce words and sounds at appropriate times (e.g., saying “hi” to animal toys as you take them out of the box)
  • Expanding: using a child’s language and expanding it to make it more complex (e.g., child says “ball,” adult can say, “that is your ball!”)
  • Build vocabulary: target and explain relevant new words (e.g., seasonal words ) to help build vocabulary Read more

Nonverbal Learning Disability

The majority of learning disabilities that a child may have are language-based.  These include deficits with the child’s reading boy readingachievement as well as written expression.  Researchers have found that there is a small percentage of children that demonstrate adequate or above average verbal functioning; however, they have significant weakness with their nonverbal reasoning. Researchers and educational specialists have characterized this specific condition as a Nonverbal Learning Disability (NVLD).  Currently, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders does not have a specific diagnosis for these children and, instead, these children are typically diagnosed with a learning disorder that is not otherwise specified.

Areas of Cognitive Weakness in Children with Nonverbal Learning Disabilities:

  • Visual-spatial awareness
  • Visual organization
  • Tactile and perceptual reasoning
  • Psychomotor functioning
  • Nonverbal problem solving skills
  • Difficulties with mathematics
  • Pragmatic (social) language
  • Social interactions

Areas of Strength in Children with Nonverbal Learning Disabilities:

  • Rote verbal memory
  • Phonemic awareness
  • Verbal reasoning
  • Reading

It is important to identify children that have speculated NVLD’s areas of strength and weakness in order to develop the most effective intervention plan.  It is often that intervention for these children is multi-faceted and can consist of:  social work support to help with socialization and interaction, speech-language therapy to help with pragmatic language functioning, academic tutoring to help with mathematics and executive functioning support and/or occupational therapy in order to help develop visual spatial functioning, tactile-perceptual reasoning and motor abilities.

Click here to learn all about Learning Disabilities 

Strategies to Boost you Child’s Memory

There are two general types of memory strategies: Internal strategies refer to ways to retrieve information more easily by thinking child memoryabout something in a different way, whereas external strategies refer to ways to compensate utilizing mechanisms outside of your brain to help you remember information. Depending upon the situation, one strategy may be more beneficial than the other.

Try the following strategies with your child to encourage retrieving and storing memories:

Internal Strategies:

  1. Repetition: repeat information aloud or in your head
  2. Visualization: create a mental image of what you are trying to remember
  3. Association: link information to prior life experiences
  4. Chunking/Grouping: link similar items together by category. For example, link items on a grocery list by departments located in the store
  5. Acronyms: create a word or phrase comprised of the first letter of all the letters to be remembered. For example, “ROYGBIV” represents the order of the colors in a rainbow

External Strategies:

  1. Daily planner/Calendars
  2. Organization: keep important objects (e.g. backpacks, school supplies, technology) in the same location
  3. Stick with a schedule: encourage memory by completing routine activities in the same order every day
  4. Alarm clocks
  5. Voice memos
  6. Highlighters/colored pens

Phonics versus Phonemic Awareness ~ What’s the Difference?

Phonics involves seeing letters individually and connecting each one to a specific sound. Letters are broken down into consonants and Child Alphabetvowels. Vowels are broken down into long and short sounds and words are taught by beginning and ending sounds. The order in which letters are taught is in conjunction with typical child development.

What is Phonemic Awareness?

Phonemic Awareness involves the understanding that spoken words are made up of individual sounds; these are known as phonemes. A child who is phonemically aware is able to isolate sounds, manipulate sounds, blend and segment sounds orally and in written words. Essentially, it is the ability to hear the different sounds in speech. Students may not recognize the written letter that accompanies the sounds, but he or she will recognize it in speech. Therefore, phonological awareness comes before phonetic skills.

The following is a simple separation of these two important pre-reading skills:

Phonemic Awareness

  • Main focus is on sounds, or phonemes
  • Deals with spoken language
  • Primarily auditory
  • Students work with manipulating the sounds within words

Phonics

  • Main focus is on graphemes/letters and corresponding sounds
  • Deals with written language, or print
  • Both visual and auditory
  • Students work with reading and writing letters based on their sounds and spelling patterns

Phonics and Phonemic Awareness are similar; however, they serve two distinctive purposes. Proficient use of both skills is the first step in the journey of becoming literate. Despite the many studies and educational debates on teaching these reading skills and others, one thing has remained certain. The more a child is read to the better his or her reading skills will be.

How Sign Language, Singing and Reading Help Toddlers Learn to Communicate

Parents often ask if things like singing, sign language and reading will be effective in helping their child learn to communicate. The short sign language answer is, yes, yes and yes! Sign language, singing and reading to a child are all excellent ways to encourage a toddler’s expressive language. This blog will describe why and how each of these activities will benefit toddlers as they develop speech and language.

How sign language can encourage spoken language:

Language is a symbolic system, requiring the exchange of “symbols” that have meaning. For example, the word “ball” is a symbol for a round object that bounces. When children have an expressive language delay, sign language is a very effective (and well-researched) way to reinforce that symbolic system in the temporary absence of words.

Here are a few important things to consider when using basic signs with your child:

  • Pair the sign with the spoken word to ensure your child makes a connection between the two.
  • Keep in mind that communication goes far beyond spoken words; it also includes gestures (e.g. pointing, waving), facial expressions, eye-gaze and tone of voice.
  • reinforce and encourage other methods of intentional communication, while we do want children (if they are able) to eventually use speech, it’s equally important to encourage other ways that they can communicate.

How singing can encourage spoken language:

Children learn language primarily through hearing and imitating. Singing is a fun and engaging way for children to hear and imitate Read more

5 Activities to Help Your Preschooler Become a Reader

Learning to read is an intricate process that begins during infancy and continues through the first few years of elementary school. Partpreschool reading of this process includes awareness that words are made of up of sounds; and that those sounds correspond to letters.

Here are some suggestions to encourage literacy development in your preschooler:

  1. Point out environmental print, which refers to text on familiar labels, logos and signs. Some examples include stop signs, food labels and store names.
  2. Use ABC puzzles, books, magazines and environmental print to identify letters. You can cut out pictures from magazines that have sounds that begin with each letter and put them together into a book with your child. In addition, ask your child to find letters in his/her name on pieces of environmental print. Read more