By Meredith Cicerchia 0 comments 12/18/2017
Learning disabilities and self-esteem

While any child can suffer from low self-esteem, students with learning disabilities are particularly at risk, especially if they are struggling with an undiagnosed condition. If the problem is related to a learning difference such as dyslexia, a child is not less intelligent than other children, he or she simply learns in a different way. Yet most school-based learning programs are developed with a neuro-typical child in mind.

This mismatch between learning style and task can cause students to doubt themselves and believe poor performance means they are not “smart”, that they are thick or stupid, or are somehow less skilled than their classmates. The stress and frustration a child experiences at school is often accompanied by feelings of shame associated with underperforming. There is also the social stigma of being “different” to deal with.

But with the right strategy training, accommodations and emotional support, many children with specific learning differences can overcome the challenges they face and achieve their full potential in the classroom.

By Meredith Cicerchia 0 comments 12/11/2017
What is the best keyboard for typing lessons

There are a number of points to consider when you’re looking for a new keyboard and because every individual has different needs, there’s no one size fits all solution. The best keyboard will depend on the size of your hands, any motor-skills difficulties or visual impairments you struggle with, how frequently you plan to use it, and your approach to typing – specifically if you hunt-and-peck or touch-type.

Keyboards come in different shapes, sizes, and layouts and you can also purchase accessories such as overlay mats and metal key-guards to enhance the typing experience. These may be particularly useful for typists who struggle to type a key without pressing neighboring letters or who have difficulty seeing the letters printed on keys. Children who are learning how to touch-type and are under the age of ten may also benefit from a child-size keyboard that allows them to reach the keys more easily.

By Meredith Cicerchia 0 comments 12/05/2017
What is mild dyslexia?

Dyslexia is one of the most common language-based learning differences. While everyone learns to read and write at different rates, children with dyslexia usually have a harder time sounding out words and sight reading than their peers. They may be inconsistent when it comes to spelling, writing a word correctly one day and incorrectly the next, and can take longer to stop reversing letters in early writing. When the dyslexia is mild, individuals can often “get by,” at school and may go on to have ordinary careers.

Nonetheless, children and adults with mild dyslexia tend to have a harder time manipulating the sounds in words, including rhyming words. Spelling ability might be below average and reading will often take them more time.

They may be reluctant to read out loud or commonly misread words if they do participate in group reading activities. Memorizing new language, particularly service words that aren’t as amenable to mnemonic devices, can be problematic, as can be remembering and reporting details.

By Meredith Cicerchia 0 comments 11/27/2017
How common is functional illiteracy?

Functional illiteracy is different from illiteracy. Adults who are functionally illiterate have some reading and writing ability, whereas a person who is illiterate has never been taught how to read or write. Thanks to government regulations that make school attendance mandatory, there are fewer illiterate people today compared to in past centuries. However, functional illiteracy is more common than you might think.

Some estimates suggest that 1 in 7 people in the United States and the United Kingdom struggles with literacy skills. Functional illiteracy is defined by the extent to which difficulties with reading and writing prevent an adult from serving as a functioning member of society.

Literacy skills are the key to graduating high school, getting a job, pursuing further education, accessing job training and advancing in your career. You also need to be able to read and write in order to use a computer, send emails and text messages to friends and family, engage on social media, and navigate the web.

By Meredith Cicerchia 0 comments 11/20/2017
When kids experience difficulty writing

Writing is a complex and cognitively demanding task that requires a child to bring together both lower and higher order skills, including manipulating abstract ideas while paying close attention to the spelling and punctuation conventions of written English.

If the physical act of putting letters on a page is problematic or a learning difficulty gets in the way of fluent language production, students may struggle to come up with legible and coherent compositions. This can lead to poor marks on quizzes and exams but can also affect learning when note-taking skills are compromised.

Because writing is central to most subjects across the school curriculum, over time poor performance on written assignments can result in negative associations with classroom learning, low self-esteem and a general lack of confidence at school. A child may believe he or she is a bad writer and begin to avoid writing activities, which in turn results in a less developed skill set.

The tragedy is that with the right strategy training and appropriate accommodations, every child can achieve his or her full potential.

By Meredith Cicerchia 0 comments 11/16/2017
3 Methods for teaching reading to a child who is struggling

Learning how to read is one of the most important things a child will do before the age of 10. That’s because everything from vocabulary growth to performance across all major subjects at school is linked to reading ability. The Phonics Method teaches children to pair sounds with letters and blend them together to master the skill of decoding.

The Whole-word Approach teaches kids to read by sight and relies upon memorization via repeat exposure to the written form of a word paired with an image and an audio. The goal of the Language Experience Method is to teach children to read words that are meaningful to them. Vocabulary can then be combined to create stories that the child relates to. Yet while there are various approaches to reading instruction, some work better than others for children who struggle with learning difficulties. 

By Meredith Cicerchia 0 comments 11/07/2017
The most common dysgraphia symptoms in children

Dysgraphia is a language based specific learning disability or difference that primarily affects writing. It can be difficult to spot in young learners, as not every child develops literacy skills at the same rate. Nonetheless, there are some hallmark signs of trouble which usually show up when a child first learns to write.

For example, these children often have problems holding a pen or pencil and forming letters and numbers, both in print and in cursive writing. They can struggle to express themselves in writing, from organizing ideas, to spelling and using punctuation correctly. Poor handwriting is common. The spacing between words may be uneven, letter size can vary and there will be issues staying inside margins.

Students with dysgraphia can find it hard to show what they have learned when assessment is done via writing assignments. Dysgraphic children also tend to find copying exercises challenging and may avoid coloring and drawing too.

As writing by hand is necessary for everything from putting your name at the top of a page, to making notes, completing worksheets and taking tests, learning can be affected when a child doesn’t get access to the accommodations and strategy training he or she needs.

By Meredith Cicerchia 0 comments 10/31/2017
Are dyspraxia and autism related

Dyspraxia, which in the past was referred to as “Clumsy Child Syndrome,” is a motor learning difficulty that can cause issues with fine and gross motor skills, social interaction, planning skills and coordination. While it is distinct from Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) many parents notice similar symptoms, including sensory processing issues. In some cases the two conditions can co-occur.

Research studies have found that dyspraxia is more likely to be reported amongst people with autism than in control groups; however, that does not necessarily imply a causal relationship. For parents struggling to understand their child’s diagnosis, it can help to take a closer look at the similarities and differences between the two.

By Meredith Cicerchia 0 comments 10/24/2017
ADD vs ADHD in the classroom

ADHD is used as an umbrella term for two types of ADHD: Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity (ADHD) and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) without the hyperactivity. Many educators have worked with bright and motivated children who struggle to perform at school due to attention difficulties. This is not unusual given they are among the most common childhood behavioral disorders (1).

Nonetheless, teachers tend to be more familiar with the hyperactive subtype. That’s because the symptoms are easier to spot in students. Children with ADHD often struggle to control their impulses, are fidgety, and prone to outbursts. These kids may need to move about regularly, have difficulty in social interactions with peers, and experience behavioural problems that can lead to frequent disciplinary action.

By Meredith Cicerchia 0 comments 10/16/2017
How to teach typing to students

Many teachers are interested in having their students acquire keyboarding skills. That’s because typing is a useful ability for completing homework and essays, doing online research, sitting standardized exams and even taking notes in class. It’s a skill that will serve students in higher education as well as in their future careers and following a typing course can lead to improvements in reading, writing and spelling abilities – depending on the approach taken.

Certain programs can even be used to boost confidence and motivation for learners who have developed a negative attitude toward school! But while some institutions offer touch-typing as part of a computer science curriculum, it’s not always available and often parents and educators who advocate for its inclusion must take on the challenge of teaching typing themselves -- with the help of a self-study program of course.

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