10 Tips to Help your Middle Schooler or Teen Sit Still During a Test.

Test taking in middle school can be stressful for your child and he/she may find it difficult to sit still throughout the duration of the test. There are a number of different strategies that you can teach and provide your child to help organize his/her body for improved focus during a test.

 10 Tips To Help a Child Sit Still During a Test:

1. Eat well and sleep well on the days leaving up to the test: This will ensure the body and brain are well nourished on the day of the test.bored boy taking a test

2. Work out before the test: Getting exercise and activity can help the body and mind to focus and organize for a day’s work, particularly on testing day.

3. Take deep breaths: Prior to test day, review deep breathing techniques with your child so that he/she can exercise the deep breaths during the test. Deep breaths will help calm your child and help him/her focus.

4. Drink from water bottle: Encourage your child to keep a water bottle with a straw on his/her desk during the test. Have him/her take sips from it when he/she begins to feel antsy during the exam.

5. Fidget tools: Small items such as stress balls, rubber bands or bean balloons can be manipulated with the hands while seated at the desk during the test. .

6. ChewEase pencil toppers: An alternative to a fidget tool, the chewy pencil topper can help direct your child’s extra energy during the exam and help with concentration.

7. Wall pushes: Have your child take a break from the test to do wall pushes. Similar to push ups on the floor, place hands shoulder width apart at shoulder level on the wall and keep the back straight. Do 10 wall pushes by bending elbows and bringing the nose to the wall, while keeping the back and hips in line.

8. Use a timer or a stopwatch: This will help your child time him/herself throughout the test and know how to pace him/herself during the exam period.

9. Chair push ups during the test: Place hands on either side of the chair near the hips. Push through the hands and shoulders to lift bottom up off of chair. Do 10 repetitions.

10. Sit on large exercise ball/move-n-sit cushion: Sitting on a therapy ball or move-n-sit cushion will provide your child with controlled movement and vestibular input while seated during the test. This will aide in your child’s focus without him/her needing to get up out of the desk.

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How To Improve Handwriting Skills, Part 2 | Pediatric Therapy Tv

In part 2 of How To Improve Handwriting Skills, Occupational Therapist works on specific  handwriting techniques with a student.  (Click here For Part 1)

In This Video You Will Learn:

  • What’s the best sitting position for good handwriting
  • What is a slant-board and how it can help
  • What is a helper hand

Video Transcription:

Announcer: From Chicago’s leading experts in pediatrics to a worldwide
audience, this is Pediatric Therapy TV, where we provide experience and
innovation to maximize your child’s potential. Now your host, here’s Robyn.

Robyn: Hello and welcome to Pediatric Therapy TV. I’m your host, Robyn
Ackerman. Today I am standing with occupational therapist
Deborah Michael. Deborah’s going to show us how to work with a
child on handwriting.

Deborah: You have to stay between the two red lines, right? All right,
are you ready? How’s your engine feeling now? A little slower,
right? Okay. Which pencil are you going to use?

Child: This one.

Deborah: Okay. Here goes the timer. Are you ready?

Child: What should I write?

Deborah: Well, let’s see your shirt. How about ‘Go Blackhawks’? Ready?
Okay, now you want to make sure your feet are on the floor, your
elbows are at the right height, and the chair is very important,
the chair you’re on. We already talked about that. The ball, the
chair, the blanket, go.

Make it a capital. Hit those two red lines. Let’s move this up a
little bit. Go ahead.

This is a slant board, which is easier to write on and also
easier when you’re copying from a blackboard. Here, let me get
that. I just wanted to show everybody. The slant board, when
you’re copying from the wall, it’s just easier than going all
the way down to the floor.

Child: Is ‘hawks’ capitalized?

Deborah: You have it right here. You can capitalize the whole thing.
There you go. Well, now you’re going really slowly. Let’s make
it a little bit faster because your time’s almost up. We
definitely slowed you down. Nice. Now let’s just copy this. You
can see how it’s a little bit easier with this slant board to
copy this. Just write ‘2010’ right there.

Beautiful. Just one more thing. Wait, this is your helper hand.
You need your helper hand on the paper. Go ahead. Good work. All
done. High-five. OK. Go take a break. Go run around.

Robyn: Thank you Deborah, and thank you to our viewers. And remember,
keep on blossoming!

Announcer: This has been Pediatric Therapy TV, where we bring peace of
mind to your family with the best in educational programming. To
subscribe to our broadcast, read our blogs, or learn more, visit
our website at LearnMore.me. That’s LearnMore.me.

The Power of Positive Praise

One of the most valuable tools I’ve found when working with children, is positive praise. As a therapist, it’s easy to notice what’s going awry, and tempting to “correct” children when they’re not achieving a desired skill. However, kids with speech and A plus signlanguage difficulties are often well aware of what’s not going well, and might feel discouraged or shut down by too many corrections.
We want kids to feel confident with their communication skills, and eager to share their thoughts and ideas. Positive praise helps children become more aware of what they’re doing well, and more eager to continue trying. While it’s certainly not wrong to correct children (in fact it’s valuable during appropriate times), it’s important to give children plenty of positive feedback. Here are 5 principles to consider when giving your child positive praise.

Using positive praise to encourage your child’s skills:

1. Look for the positive. Search for things your child is doing well. At times this might feel challenging. Perhaps you want your child to be a better listener, and currently they’re facing the other direction while you’re talking. Nevertheless, look for any small indicators that your child is listening (e.g. “Wow! I like the way you’re not talking. You are a good listener when you’re not talking while I’m talking.”). Then offer a suggestion to improve (e.g. “Turn your body this way so I can see your eyes. Wow, you’re such a good listener when you’re looking at me.”)

2. Tell your child what’s going well. Give them verbal praise about what they are doing well. Show your child you’re excited and proud of their behavior, by letting them know. You can teach your child to be excited about their skills, by being excited for them.

3. Give specific feedback. Instead of simply saying “good job”, tell your child why they are doing a good job. By using specific and descriptive language, you will raise your child’s awareness of what they are doing well. This will increase their likelihood and motivation to repeat the same behavior again. For example, you might say “Wow, I like the way you let me go first! It’s so fun to play with you when you let other people take a turn first.”

4. Be quick to praise. Praise your child as quickly as possible so positive behaviors are immediately reinforced. For example, if your child gives a toy to their sibling, you might immediately say “You gave the bear to John. You are so good at sharing. I like the way you shared.” It may not always be possible to provide praise in the moment (for example, if your child is at school or at a friend’s house), however, you can still recount the positives at the end of the day by using specific feedback.

5. Guide your child through positive language. When giving your child constructive feedback, try to use positive language. For example, instead of saying “not quite”, tell your child “almost!”, or instead of saying “that’s not right”, tell your child “You’re so close! You’re working so hard!”. Additionally, when encouraging your child to try something challenging, avoid asking “Will you…?” or “Can you…?”, and try telling them “It’s time to …” or “You can…”. If “no” is not an option, then avoid presenting tasks as a yes/no question.

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When A Child Should Be Able To Read | Pediatric Therapy Tv

Pediatric Neuropsychologist answers what age a child should recognize words by and be able to read by.

In This Video You Will Learn:

  • What is the first stage of Reading
  • What reading milestones a child should reach by different ages
  • When a child she have developed reading comprehension

Video Transcription:

Announcer: From Chicago’s leading experts in pediatrics to a worldwide
audience, this is Pediatric Therapy TV, where we provide experience and
innovation to maximize your child’s potential. Now your host, here’s Robyn.

Robyn: Hello and welcome to Pediatric Therapy TV. I’m your host, Robyn
Ackerman. I’m standing here today with Dr. Greg Stasi, a
pediatric neuropsychologist. Dr. Stasi, what age would you say a
child should be able to read by?

Dr. Stasi: Thanks, Robyn. That’s a great question. That’s a hard answer to
give and the reason behind it is we really have to think of the
different components of reading.

The first stage of reading is phonological processing and
phonological awareness, which is being able to identify letter
sounds and the letter combination sounds. For example, B-A is
‘ba’. We’d expect that around age 5, when a child is in
preschool and kindergarten.

Actual reading, being able to combine words together, about
first grade and second grade is when that skill starts to
develop. And then comprehension, where we understand what we are
actually reading, that again is going to be consistent with
first and second grade.

So to answer your question, kindergarten and preschool, we
really want to hit home with the letter awareness and the
combination of letters, so knowing the phonological processing
piece. Thank you.

Robyn: Thank you very much, Dr. Stasi, and thank you to our viewers.
And remember, keep on blossoming.

Announcer: This has been Pediatric Therapy TV, where we bring peace of
mind to your family with the best in educational programming. To
subscribe to our broadcast, read our blogs, or learn more, visit
our website at LearnMore.me. That’s LearnMore.me.

“I have no friends!”: How to Support Your Children Socially

“I have no friends.” I can only imagine how painful it must feel for parents to hear their children speak these words. It certainly breaks my heart when children confide these experiences in me during therapy. As a marriage and family therapist, I work with many children and teenagers who struggle with their peer relationships and, as a result, their emotional and behavioral functioning at home. Parents often ask me, “What can I do to help?” This blog is my attempt to explore this complicated and important question.

LISTEN, REFLECT, and EMPATHIZE

DO: Provide an open, nonjudgmental space in which your children can freely express their thoughts and feelings about experiences with peers. Let your children know that you are listening by periodically reflecting and checking in your sad lonely girlunderstanding with them (“So, during science class, everyone else around you found a partner and you couldn’t. Is that right?”).

DO: Empathize with your children by letting them know that you understand why they would feel a certain way even if you would feel differently.

DON’T: Minimize your children’s experiences. Well-meaning parents may try to reassure their children by saying, “That doesn’t mean no one likes you!” or “Who cares what other kids think?” But comments like these can make your children feel misunderstood and even ashamed by their feelings. Instead, simply reflect their experience (“It was really hard for you when you got picked last in gym”) and empathize (“I can see why you would feel sad.”)

DON’T: Problem solve too soon. Seeing your children upset may spark you to jump in and solve the problem. What children need first, however, is to feel heard and understood. Without this crucial step, children may feel blamed for the problem and, therefore, resistant to problem solve.

PROBLEM SOLVE AND EMPOWER

DO: Help your children consider multiple perspectives. For example, if your children think that no one likes them because no one asks them to play at recess, ask them what else it can mean. After empathizing with them (“I can see why you would think that no one likes you.”), gently challenge them (“I wonder what else it can mean. Let’s come up with a list together.”) Encourage them to take a different perspective (“If you saw someone alone on the playground, what would you think?”) You can also give examples of your own (“If I saw someone alone, I might think that he doesn’t want to play with anyone.”)

DO: Guide your children to come up with concrete solutions. Open ended questions, such as “How can you show someone that you are a good friend?” or “How can you show someone that you want to play?” are great places to start. Coming up with a list of solutions can help your children feel empowered.

DO: Practice! Practice! Practice! Use some of the items on your list of solutions by role playing specific scenarios (ex. Asking someone to play, asking someone to be partners, complimenting someone, engaging in conversation with someone, etc.)

DO: Use praise throughout problem solving. The problem solving process can be challenging, and letting your children know that you are proud of them for thinking of ways to solve their issues can encourage problem solving in the future.

DON’T: Give your children all of your answers. Lead with open ended questions, and ask them for their own solutions. While giving a few ideas is helpful, empowering your children to problem solve can be more meaningful and encouraging.

DON’T: Confuse problem solving for taking blame. Assure your children that it is not their fault for experiencing difficulties with peers and feeling upset, anxious, sad, or angry. Explain to your children that brainstorming solutions is a way to feel better and take care of ourselves, even when something is not our fault.

REACH OUT

DO: Reach out for help. Children who have difficulties with peers may experience anxiety, depression, and/or social skills issues. Joining a social group can help your children feel belonging, build self-esteem, practice assertiveness skills, and create connections with other children who have similar experiences. North Shore Pediatric Therapy’s mental health department offers counselors, social workers, and therapists who specialize in working with children who have social struggles.

DO: Talk to your children’s school for support and guidance. Teachers, principals, and school social workers may have ideas on how to help. Or they may not be aware of your children’s experiences, and keeping them informed is important, especially is there are issues with bullying.

DO: Be creative in helping your children create connections with peers. Joining after-school programs, such as martial arts, dance, art, or music, can be a great way to meet and engage with new children. This can also be a wonderful way to boost your children’s self-esteem!

What questions do you have about helping your children with social difficulties? Please share with us.

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When You Don’t Like your Teen’s Friends

Sometimes, you just don’t like your teen’s friends. At this age, your teen is making more and more adult decisions every day and it is not entirely under your control who your child will befriend. Although it is not a parent’s job to decide at any age whether you like the friend or not, you do want to make sure your child is safe, not being hurt, and can make good decisions for himself.

Don’t Judge A Book By Its Cover

So, your daughter has a friend with blue hair and maybe even some piercings. She may be simply seeking her own mom and teen daughterindividuality. The friend may actually be harmless and have very good moral values. Sometimes, it’s the friend that looks “normal” that encourages drug use, defiance, ditching school, and other negative behaviors. Watching how your teen is acting will help you determine if you need to step in and teach about making better choices.

Changes in your Teen: Questions to Ask

1. Behavior: Has your child’s behavior changed? Is she being more defiant? More aggressive? If so, there may be a friend who is negatively influencing her.

2. Grades: Are grades consistent with what they have been in the past, or are they falling?

3. Attitude: How is your teen treating you and other adults? How is she treating her siblings?

These signs may indicate that your teen is in a friendship that may be negatively impacting her.

Watching the Friendship More Closely

When you don’t like your teen’s friends, you want to monitor their relationships more closely, while trying hard not to be a controlling parent. Offer your home as the “hang out” house where kids can come and watch a movie, have a video game tournament, etc . In your home, you will get to know this friend better and see first-hand how he acts with others.

Forbidding a Friendship

Let’s face it, many teens want nothing more than to make their parents angry. It is their job at this developmental stage to test the waters to see how far they can get. Forbidding the friendship may even increase their desire to spend more time with that person. When parents have told me they had told their son or daughter to “just stay away from that kid”, I cringed. This strategy does not solve the problem. If there is something about that friend that draws your child to her, she will find that in another friend and will keep repeating the pattern until she learns the results are negative.

There will always be people in your child’s life that will make things more difficult, whether it be a friend, coworker, boss, client, etc. Your teen needs to start to learn how to handle difficult situations rather than avoiding them.

What to Do

– Be available to talk, so your teen can see you as someone who he can look to for help when he doesn’t know what to do. Maybe he has been struggling with the friendship as well.

– Listen. Your teen may be telling you that he is also concerned about what he is doing or how he is acting with this new friend and doesn’t know what to do.

– Be specific about what you don’t like about the friend and give reasons why.

– Tell your teen what changes you’ve noticed in his behavior since he began hanging out with this friend. This may help him make a connection between his negative behavior and the new friendship.

– Help your teen find more appropriate friends by signing up for an enjoyable activity, club, sport, etc. where his peers have similar interests.

– Wait patiently. Often your teen’s best judgment will help him make the right choice for himself.

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Speech Sound Development Milestones

Below are some guidelines about your child’s speech sound development. It is important to keep in mind that all children develop differently.

Speech Intelligibility:

Intelligibility is the percentage your child is understood by both familiar (i.e., people your child interacts with daily or weekly) and unfamiliar listeners (i.e., people your child meets for the first time or does not interact with your child often). Below are guidelines as to how much a child should be understood by an unfamiliar listener:toddler talking on phone

2 years: ~50%

3 years: ~75%

4 years: ~80-90%

5 years: ~90+%

Articulation:

Articulation is a fancy word for speech sound production. We use guidelines to determine whether speech sound development is on track. The mastery of sounds differs from child to child because there is a range in which acquisition of sounds is appropriate. For example, speech sound /l/ is typically mastered between ages 6-8, but a child can produce it without error at ages 4-5. Speech therapists may work on later developing sounds at an earlier age in certain situations such as when speech intelligibility is significantly affected, or the child is mature for their age with appropriate language skills. Below are guidelines as to when speech sounds are mastered in typically developing children:

2-3 years: p, b, m, n, w, h, t, d, k, g, ng (playing), y

4-5 years: f, v, s, z, sh, ch, j

6-8 years: r, l, voiced and voiceless th (this, with), zh (measure)

*All sounds should be mastered by age 8-9 years

** Remember, these are just guidelines. For an assessment of your child’s speech skills, contact a speech therapist for further information or to set up an evaluation.

When should you be concerned?

• If your child shows frustration including: refusing to repeat themselves, refusing to talk, and becoming emotional if they are no t understood

• Familiar and unfamiliar listeners continuously ask your child to repeat themselves or ask for clarification (i.e., what did you just say?)

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Handling Aggression In Toddlers

Kevin cries hysterically, meanwhile Tommy holds a red fire truck above his head. Nobody saw what happened, but there are clear bite marks on Kevin’s right arm. If this scene has ever unfolded in your living room, you’re not alone. Parents often express worry about their toddler’s use of aggression when interacting with peers. It can feel extremely concerning to receive news that your toddler hit or bit another child at today’s play date. Biting, kicking, pushing, and hitting are common issues in developing toddlers. Here are a few strategies to consider when navigating aggression in toddlers.

What can parents do?

The first step is figuring out why your child is demonstrating aggression. Keep a log of occurrences, and gather information:

1. Who does your child show aggression towards? Is it primarily younger children? A particular peer? Adults? The babysitter?

2. Where does aggression occur most frequently? Look for a toddler with boxing glovescommon environment (e.g. at preschool, at the park, in the playroom, etc.).

3. What triggers lead to aggression? Is it when you’ve told them “no”? Or when your child can’t verbally communicate their thoughts? During transitions during the day?

4. What is your child’s emotional state during aggressive moments? Do they seem tired? Frustrated? Sad?

Understanding why your child demonstrates aggression will help determine your course of action. For example, kids with delayed speech and language may use aggression to compensate for difficulty with verbal communication. It’s much easier to grab the truck than to say “I want the truck”. Similarly, children who have difficulty processing sensory information might feel more overwhelmed in over-stimulating environments, which may result in aggressive behaviors or poor impulse control. By keeping a log of occurrences, you can uncover patterns that may explain why your child is acting out.

Strategies to help your toddler during aggression:

The next step is to set clear guidelines, and give your child alternative ways to respond. Here are 7 strategies to consider when your child displays aggression.

1. Set clear boundaries ahead of time. Talk to your child about unacceptable behaviors in advance. Use clear and simple language (e.g. “It’s not okay to bite. Biting hurts people.”). You might even introduce these concepts through an engaging activity, such as a children’s story book (e.g. “Hands Are Not For Hitting” or “Feet Are Not For Kicking” by Elizabeth Verdick).

2. During moments of aggression, let your child know their behavior was not okay. Use a firm voice, and be specific (e.g. “No. We do not hit.”). Avoid yelling or using aggression yourself, as that might send a mixed message to your child.

3. If needed, take a time-out. If you notice your child is escalating or is having a difficult time regrouping, then provide a time-out to reorganize. Implement calming strategies, such as a calm voice or quiet space. When your child is ready, reintroduce them into the situation while guiding them through it.

4. Offer constructive ways to express emotions. If we simply tell our child not to hit, then we are not helping them solve the problem at hand. Chances are, your child was trying to send a clear message when they hit their friend (e.g. maybe they wanted a toy, or maybe they were frustrated). So instead of simply telling them what not to do, also offer them some better ideas. For example, you might model an appropriate phrase for your child to use “I want the car please.”

5. Give your child language to use. Especially if your child has speech and language difficulties, they may need help in knowing what to say or how to say it. Model simple, age-appropriate phrases to use in the moment (e.g. “stop that please” or “I want a turn”).

6. Provide safe opportunities to practice. For example, if your child frequently uses aggression with peers, then practice peer-interactions in a structure one-on-one setting with a parent present to guide and facilitate. If your child begins to display aggression, then intervene and model an appropriate way to handle the situation.

7. Praise positive behaviors. Let your child know what is going well. Give them positive praise with specific examples (e.g. “Wow, I like the way used your words! You said ‘my turn’. Good job using your words.”)

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Getting Children To Sit Quietly | Pediatric Therapy Tv

Pediatric Occupational Therapist gives our viewers the top 3 tips to help get children and students to sit quietly in class, circle time or even on the road!

In This Video You Will Learn:

  • What to do before your child sits down
  • Where to sit each child
  • How to keep your child still

Video Transcription:

Announcer: From Chicago’s leading experts in pediatrics to a worldwide audience, this is Pediatric Therapy TV, where we provide experience and innovation to maximize your child’s potential. Now your host, here’s Robyn.

Robyn: Hello and welcome to Pediatric Therapy TV. I am your host, Robyn Ackerman. Today I’m standing with pediatric occupational therapist Deborah Michael. Deborah, can you give us the three top tips to getting a child to sit quietly?

Deborah: Absolutely. First of all, you need your child regulated before they sit down. They need to be ready to sit down. If they just came in from recess or from playing outside, they may need to take a few deep breaths to calm themselves down before they sit down.

Secondly, you want to space the kids out correctly. When you’re sitting in circle time, you want to put Sarah in front and little Peter to the side and left so he doesn’t put his hands in her hair. If you are in a car, you don’t want to put the two siblings that fight the most right next to each other.

And third of all, provide fidgets and movement for children that need it. Maybe they can be squishing a ball or rocking in a rocking chair rather than sitting still and having the heebie-jeebies.

Robyn: Thank you very much, Deborah. Those are great tips. And thank you, also, to our viewers. And remember, keep on blossoming.

Announcer: This has been Pediatric Therapy TV, where we bring peace of mind to your family with the best in educational programming. To subscribe to our broadcast, read our blogs, or learn more, visit our website at LearnMore.me. That’s LearnMore.me.

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Encouraging Language Development While Reading To Your Child

Reading books to your child is an excellent way to encourage language development. Exposure to books has countless benefits, such as learning new vocabulary, organizing thoughts and ideas, learning new sentence structures, building narrative language skills, developing inference and problem solving skills, fostering imagination, social emotional development, and strengthening listening comprehension. Furthermore, reading to your child is an excellent way to spend one-on-one time with your child each day. Enjoy these 10 ways to encourage language development while reading books to your child.

10 Ways to encourage language development while reading to your child:

1. Create literacy opportunities. Keep reading fun by introducing new books and experiencing reading in different settings. Visit your local library for a story hour, or check out new books at a book store. Introduce books Family Readingthat have topics meaningful to your child, such as an upcoming holiday, starting school, or a favorite TV character.

2. Make it a date. Set a regular time to read to your child. It might be right before bedtime, or during afterschool snack. Be as consistent as possible so your child can look forward to their daily one-on-one reading time with mom or dad.

3. Introduce new vocabulary. Talk about new words, and give your child examples. For example, if the word is giant, you might tell your child “Giant means big. A dinosaur is giant! Can you think of some giant things?” Try to use their new vocabulary words throughout the following week.

4. Label pictures, and describe what is happening. Label different objects and actions on each page. You might even encourage your child to find the objects or actions that you name (“Can you find the monkey? There he is!” or “Who is sleeping… That’s right! Cat is sleeping.”).

5. Ask your child questions about what’s happening in the story. By asking your child questions while reading, you can monitor their comprehension, while also practicing various wh- questions. For example: “Who has an umbrella?”, “What is mama bear doing?” or “Where is the dog?”.

6. Let your child fill in words. As your child becomes familiar with a particular book, leave out key words and let your child fill them in. This works especially well in repetitive books such as Brown Bear Brown Bear. You might say “Brown bear brown bear, what do you ___?”

7. Make predictions. This is an excellent way to build inferencing, problem solving and imagination. Brainstorm with your child what might happen in the story, or how a character might solve a particular problem.

8. Talk about emotions. Look at pictures of characters’ facial expressions, and talk about how they might be feeling. Encourage your child to reflect on why they might be feeling that way.

9. Retell the story in your own words. As your child becomes more comfortable with a particular book, encourage them to be the “reader”, by using the pictures to tell the story in their own words.

10. Make your own book. Print out pictures from a family outing or event. Help your child sequence the pictures in the correct order, and glue them in a construction paper book. Help your child create sentences to go with each picture, and then share book with family and friends.

11. Read your child’s cues. Let your child set the pace, and look for signs that indicate whether or not they are enjoying reading. Reading should be a positive experience, so avoid forcing your child to read beyond their attention span. Don’t worry if your child only wants to read part of a book before moving on. Instead, give them lots of positive praise for moments when they share or listen. Let them know how much your enjoyed your time reading with them.

Click Here To Read Part 2 of This Blog


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