Labels Not Limits Can Now Be Found On A Mother Seeking...
Please come visit us there!
The boxes are packed
The breakables are secured in bubble wrap
I am ready to redecorate my new space
Labels Not Limits is Moving!
I have decided to merge my two blogs (A Mother Seeking... & Labels Not Limits) into just one blog.
Labels Not Limits will now find its new home on my blog A Mother Seeking...
The change seemed logical.
And I'll be honest, I anticipate the merge will make things easier for me.
Very often a post from one of my blogs could easily appear on the other...
And even when such a fit might not be intrinsic,
I think the readers of one blog will enjoy the posts form the other
(and vice versa).
And of course, Labels Not Limits is about my passion for rethinking and reframing how labels are used in education and beyond...
Isn't this just one of the many things I seek as A Mother Seeking?
It seems that Labels Not Limits always belonged on A Mother Seeking...
So, I apologize for the delay in finding it's rightful home.
Better late than never, right?
So, if you are visiting me on Labels Not Limits, from now on please find me on a A Mother Seeking...
And subscribe to the blog and follow me on twitter through A Mother Seeking
(Although I will continue to send tweets trough Labels Not Limits for a bit longer).
Thanks for following me and specifically for following me on my move.
Never has this been more true: one generation can't successfully predict the jobs and advances that the next generation will see. Our world is changing so very rapidly.
What do we do?
Keep teaching to the current world and ignore this rapid evolution?
This seems shortsighted!
Why not focus on the more timeless skills... Focus on metacognitive skills; on the power of meditation and relaxation; on the benefits of altruism.
These strategies will be helpful in the next generation's (adult) world, no matter what new opportunities are available and jobs are prevalent.
I discuss many of these strategies and the balance of the technological and non-technological in my new Ebook, available through Smashwords. This illustration is from my Ebook, demonstrating the necessary balance I hope we can achieve in education and in the next generation.
If you have a child entering grade school this fall, file away just one number with all those back-to-school forms: 65 percent.
My Book, Reframing Labels in the Field of Special Education is now available on Smashwords.
In this E-Book, I explore the purpose behind and method for reframing how special education labels are used and viewed.
In addition, I provide strategies, both technological and traditional, for empowering and assisting students with labels.
Sending your children to school is rather a major step. Although many parents send their children to school without any previous preparations, it can turn out to be very rewarding, for both parents and children, to prepare them before entering school. Below are some useful tips on how to get your kids ready for school.
Well, this one is obvious. Kindergarten is a very significant phase of the child’s life, in terms of academics, general knowledge, and life in general. At this stage, children meet new friends within their age groups and begin to build up on their own unique identity. Focus is shifted from “me” to “us” and a sense of belonging is developed, which is important because the child would have acquired a set of skills on how to act in class and how to deal with fellow students. As for the academic aspect, they start learning the basics, such as alphabets and numbers and so on.
Discipline is an extremely critical quality that stems from the heart of the family; if the child lacks discipline at home, do not expect him/her to have discipline at school. But, do expect a lot of phone calls and complaints. Good manners allow the child to interact with students and make a lot of friends, and continuously receive positive compliments which will boost his self-confidence. Discipline in class ensures that the child pays utmost attention and gains the maximum benefit from the lesson. This will save time in the near future, while helping them with their studies and money in the far future, to avoid private tutoring or additional courses.
It is said that the child absorbs the greatest amount of information in his first five years, so pay attention to those early years. Starting to teach your child in his first few years is a very wise thing to do, from language to simple mathematics to arts. This can keep your children at the top of his class and ahead of other students as they become smarter and brighter at an earlier age. This can also help you spot your child’s strengths and weaknesses, and allows better progress of their gifts and abilities.
You may or may not be aware that the little, tiny embryo growing in his mother’s womb is greatly affected by the external surrounding environment. Other than avoiding fights with partners and the use of bad language during pregnancy or at the presence of a pregnant woman, you can play or listen to music, read novels, solve algebraic equations, plant flowers, just do anything useful, and your child will be affected by whatever they feel or hear. This is scientifically proven so do not underestimate the power of passing on knowledge and skills to your unborn child.
Written by Elizabeth James, who writes for Kumon,co.uk, a private tuition company.
I recently heard a story from a mother of a second grader that, as a Learning Specialist, I must categorize as nothing short of tragic.
This mom reports that her son was an enthusiastic writer from an incredibly early age. As soon as he could hold a crayon he would write stories. Some stories had recognizable letters and even words, others contained pictures and doodles and still others showcased his private and invented alphabet.
This particular mother supported her enthusiastic son, encouraging him to keep a journal; to write whenever he felt inclined; and to share his work with her and with others. She understood that at three years old, her son was not actually writing “real” words, nor was he truly reading what he wrote, but she used these terms (“reading” and “writing”) and encouraged this literacy work.
She loved asking her son to read his elaborate fiction and nonfiction stories aloud. She saw her son as a writer and consequently, this boy too saw himself as a writer--a talented and capable writer. In fact, he would always say, “I am going to be a writer when I grow up.” His mom would say, “great plan, but don’t forget, you are already a writer.” To which this boy would smile wide and light up, for he felt confident.
This is the great part of the story.
Fast forward to this boy now… He just finished second grade and when asked what he likes most about school by a camp counselor, writing was not on that list. When asked what he doesn’t like to do in school, writing was on the top of that list. The saddest part: This former enthusiastic writer not only says he “hates writing at school,” but also says, “I don’t like writing ever.”
Perhaps the most tragic statement, “I am not a good writer… I am a terrible writer.”
How did this once passionate writer become this entering third grader with such a strong dislike for writing and such a lack of confidence in his ability as a writer?
There are probably many variables responsible for this significant shift. But according to this boy’s mom, the way writing was taught and treated at school has caused this large and rather disturbing change.
How was writing taught in school?
It was done daily or at least frequently; always with a very specific assignment or prompt. Many students found the structure and prompts helpful and exciting; some did not. As usual, one size does not fit all.
This boy found the rigid writing assignments limiting and uninspiring. When he asked, early on in the first and second grade school year if he could write about something else, he was always told that he could not. So, on Mondays, he always had to write about his weekend. Some weekends for this boy were exciting and he wanted to write about them. But often, this boy was more excited about something he was going to do that afternoon or a new fact he had learned from a science book. He wanted to write about these things, but could not.
Eventually this boy saw writing as boring and uninspiring; writing became about fulfilling an obligation, an assignment. Writing was no longer a way for this boy to express HIS feeling, exhibit freedom of HIS thoughts or feel that his voice mattered.
~ Pam Allyn’s book, Your Child's Writing Life ~
When I received an advanced copy of Pam Allyn’s book, Your Child's Writing Life, I was excited to discover her thoughts on writing. As I suspected, based on reading Allyn’s prior work, the book’s message felt simultaneously radical yet intuitive; she espouses and proves just what I believe “in my gut” about writing; just what I have learned about writing as a Learning Specialist (working with young writers, often struggling young writers) and while writing myself.
As Allyn so powerfully points out in her book, when children do not do their homework, writing or otherwise, and we seek to reward them for doing it (she cites the NY school district that pays students for completed homework), we miss the point; instead we must think about the possibility that “It might be the kind of work children are being asked to do… that is the problem.”
When the young boy I met was given writing homework, he was uninspired and would avoid the task. When finally forced to complete his homework by his mother, he would write a few sentences that were not particularly meaningful to him, hand it in the next day and would then have it returned days later with red marks indicating areas in need of improvement.
He heard and saw: Writing is boring and I am not any good at it anyway.
When this boy had to write ONLY about the teacher’s chosen topic and not the topic he was so excited about, he did not feel alive and passionate about the information. Importantly, he did not feel that his ideas were important.
Allyn believes that, “The most important thing you can do for a child is to believe she has something worth saying.” Allyn describes writing as a “small act of saying, ‘I am here.’” But did this boy feel that he was important and had something significant to say, something that would make others happy he was here? Likely no, because what he wanted to write about, what inspired him was not viewed as satisfactory writing material each and every day.
The radical part? Too often, we think children will not write when given the freedom to write about their chosen topic, in the genres they prefer and for the audience they seek to inform and entertain. It may feel like a risk allowing our students to develop as writers in the ways that Allyn discusses. It may feel safer to give rigid writing assignments and make an entire class write about the same topic in the same genre and for the same audience simultaneously. But this risk has consequences, and this boy I met illustrates this for me clearly.
This is not to say that I believe assignments with parameters are not advisable. In fact, I believe strongly in the power of structure, direct instruction and active practice sessions. I believe Allyn would advocate for these things as well.
But she too would be saddened by the change in this soon to be third grader who no longer wishes to be a writer, avoids writing whenever possible and sees himself as a poor writer.
Allyn explains, “As human beings, we are driven by the desire to hear and tell stories.” We want to facilitate this natural desire both in school and at home. If a child is forced to tell a story of little meaning or significance to him, each and every day, he will not be inspired and will not feel that he is telling his story or that others are hearing his story.
Allyn tells us that “Writing is a way to sift through daily experience… a way to name and reflect upon… moments.” But if we are not given the opportunity to write about the moments and experiences that matter to us; moments that grab our attention; moments that require further contemplation, writing loses this power.
What this mother did right in those early years of her son’s writing life is too long to list here. For parents, Allyn would advocate just such an approach. She would likely advocate for the school to do the same so that our children can become confident and passionate writers.
I highly recommend Allyn’s latest book for parents and educators.
Her ideas for creating a “writing life” for our children are inspiring and practical to implement. Especially helpful, parents and educators will find many resources and lists including a “writing ladder” to help understand the writing process for children at different ages and developmental stages, complete with suggested activities and specific books. The ladder illustrates that a child is never too young or too old for Allyn’s insight.
Also helpful, Allyn includes strategies for helping children overcome writer’s block
My favorite resource included in Allyn’s book is the “twenty great books to inspire great writing.” Connecting reading and writing is not only essential, but it is also a great strategy for inspiring writing. I know that after I read a great book I am drawn to my computer with the desire to write-- to respond in words. At these times, my writing flows faster than my fingers can keep up. For children, this reaction can be the same. By providing inspiring books, both in school and at home, we can inspire great writing.
All parents and educators would read this book and work to realize its ideals.
If this were to happen, I would anxiously await reading the next generation’s writing, for it would be filled with an almost palpable spirit, dedication and purpose best fostered in the early years of a writer’s life and reinforced at home and in school.
~ Meredith, Labels Not Limits & A Mother Seeking
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a name given to certain symptoms, mainly of behavior, in children and sometimes adults. It is considered common in adolescence and often disappears by adulthood. The symptoms in children include difficulty in paying attention and staying focused, hyperactivity and difficulty controlling behavior. There are three subtypes that are identified as:
● Predominantly hyperactive and impulsive
● Predominantly inattentive
● A combination of hyperactivity and inattention
Genetics, brain injuries, nutrition and the social environment are all considered contributing factors to ADHD. Studies show that children with genetic ADHD have very thin brain tissue and, if this is the cause, the ADHD will disappear as the child grows older and the brain tissue naturally thickens. Very few ADHD children have had brain injuries in their past. This leaves nutrition and the social environment as two main contributing factors.
There are many reasons why children who do not have the disorder might exhibit ADHD symptoms. Because of this, it can be misdiagnosed to the determent of the child. Unnecessary medication could be given to a child who needs attention not drugs. A divorce or death in the family, ear infections that effect hearing, anxiety, depression, interrupted sleep and child abuse are all good reasons for behavioral problems in children.
The World Health Organization recognizes that a dysfunctional family life or an inadequate educational system may be at the root of the problem, not ADHD. When schooling does not recognize the way children learn, but values standards and expects every child to measure up to those standards, naturally, most children are going to fall short. There may be many reasons why a child falls short:
● They see no relevance in the system to their life
● They have no interest in the subject matter
● They feel no personal commitment from any adult to help them make an effort
● They are preoccupied with depressing and fearful situations at home
● They lack proper nutrition and physical activity
● They are enduring psychological or physical abuse
For children who have to face such concerns everyday, a helping hand is seriously required. Parents may inadvertently be the cause of some of the difficulties and may not be able to help. School and teachers are also overloaded and overworked, but they can at least identify the difference between a child who needs care and attention and a child with a psychological disorder. For such children, suspension from school is the worst possible course of action. In either case the child is suffering from something that is not his or her fault. Discipline in the form of punishment will not have a positive effect.
Give the child a chance to develop a trusting relationship with an adult. Encourage them when they exhibit positive behavior, help them through social relationships with peers and encourage them by letting them know that they will develop into happy, productive members of society.
Children should never have to choose between learning and having fun – the two should go hand-in-hand.
Educational toys should let your kid be a kid while promoting intellectuality and emotional/physical development. The top eductational toys will also stand the test of time, be reasonably priced and good quality so that they can be handed down to the next generation. Educational toys will generally either focus on teaching specific skills or help to develop your child in a particular subject. There are a range of different types of toys that you can use to make learning about difficult topics easier for your child, here are some of the most popular categories:
Games make learning more accessible as the more interested your child is the more engaged they will become. Some of the most popular board games today are educational. Scrabble teaches spelling and maths skills and is popular with both adults and children. A special children's edition is available, but unless they are really young, most kids would enjoy playing the adult version.
Another old favourite is Monopoly which will help teach maths skills whilst also working on critical thinking. While the original Monopoly set would be suitable for older children, gameplay can sometimes run into hours and it may struggle to keep the attention of a younger child. Various children's editions of Monopoly have been created over recent years which may be more suitable.
Children love to make things. Creating something from scratch will encourage them to develop their imagination, planning and hand-eye coordination as well as giving them a sense of achievement.
Building and construction toys are hugely popular and as such there are a vast range of building sets on the market to suit all age ranges. Even the youngest of children can get started with simple building blocks and stackers.
Lego has traditionally been one of the most popular choices. The blocks are colourful and attractive and the pieces are excellent quality so they fit together well. There are a range of similar products to Lego. Megabloks for example are another popular choice. Be careful about mixing and matching brands, while they should all work together the reality is that the pieces don't fit together as well as they should. This can leave you with one very frustrated child when the pieces keep popping out or their model falls to pieces. With the very cheap alternatives you should also consider safety. It is not unknown for fake Lego bricks to be sold on the internet. You should make sure that you know what you are getting and buy it from a reputable seller. This kind of toy can certainly stand the test of time as your children with keep going back to it over and over again. It's also quite common for a collection of Lego bricks to be passed down to the next generation.
Megabloks and Lego both make versions suitable for very young children which have larger , chunkier pieces that are far easier for little hands to put together and very importantly they're too big to swallow so don't pose a choking risk. Construction toys also include things like jigsaws, and kits for making things such as jewellery, robots and crystal radios, etc.
This kind of toy will encourage your child's curiosity and make them want to explore and find out how things work. At a very young age, a simple plastic magnifying glass or large magnet can keep a child entertained and exploring for hours. When they are older this could progress to a microscope that will help them discover a hidden, miniature world. The range of science toys available is quite huge but some of the most popular today are chemistry sets, telescopes and electrical circuits.
As well as helping to foster your child's thinking skills, a lot of them will also help to develop fine motor skills, putting together an electric circuit, for example, requires delicate movements and good hand-eye coordination.
Children love to copy many of the things they see adults doing such as cleaning the house, doing laundry, fixing furniture and cooking.
Boys and girls alike love to mimic their parents, especially in the kitchen. Children's toy kitchens can provide them with hours of entertainment. They can also be quite a good investement as once you have bought a basic kitchen set you can add to it by letting them use some of your safe kitchen accessories such as paper plates, plastic cups and wooden spoons.
As well as helping children to learn the names of different types of food, play shops are a great way to help teach your kids about money and improve their maths skills. Most play shops come with a range of play money and some even include pretend credit cards.
Another favourite amongst younger children, animal sets encourage pretend play. They help to develop their imagination and like all good pretend play toys, they can keep a child entertained for hours.
Thank you to Kidzmet for the opportunity to guest post!
Enjoy the article and the site!
C.S. Lewis said, "We read to know that we are not alone."
When I was provided with an advanced copy of Pam Allyn's Best Books for Boys, I thought how pleased C.S. Lewis might have been to read the book!
Boys may not always have the opportunity to learn to read and practice reading with this connection-making ideal in mind, given the way we have constructed reading in schools. But there's a great deal of hope, Allyn assures us.
Although one might assume Allyn's book is only for inquiry into the reading habits of boys, the truth is, the book has much wider appeal. The reading issues and strategies that Allyn discusses are really 'genderless'.
Allyn is on a mission, "to help all children achieve not only functional literacy but transformational literacy. The kind of literacy that will allow them to learn something new every day, connect to all people everywhere, and to invent new ideas that could change the world.—And in this process, to learn, through reading, how to be the kind of person they want to become."
This book will have great appeal to teachers, school professionals and parents of elementary and middle school age children. Allyn includes a detailed and extensive annotated list of text. This is an ongoing gift for teachers and parents!
Most exciting to me is the fact that Allyn does not advocate a one-size-fits-all-approach. Instead, she understands why individual differences as well as preferences are important to consider. This is clearly part of my core philosophy and what I advocate on my blog, Labels Not Limits. A label alone can never define a child; a label represents a spectrum and variation and for this reason individual differences must always be considered.
Allyn's book pleased me because of the focus on struggling readers. Many solid strategies were discussed including using graphic novels, emphasizing reading as not exclusively a solitary activity and expanding acceptable reading sources to include components of today's technologically savvy world. Allyn demonstrated the 'out-of-the-box-thinking' that is necessary when addressing the needs of all readers and especially those who may be behind their peers and struggling.
It was especially encouraging to learn about Allyn's firm belief that reading should be about joy! All too often we forget this. She writes, "Let's align reading more with play than work. Let's think of it more as a joy, a distinct pleasure of being human, than as a task. Let boys read, and let them read what they like."
If one wonders why yet another book on literacy needs to be written, they must only look at Allyn's final thoughts: "Boys who read widely and wisely, joyously and purposefully, are the same boys who will some day raise children wisely and well, make interesting work decisions, and step forward into the world with kindness, intention, and boldness." Clearly the impact of this book and Allyn's thinking can be extensive, making it a welcome addition to the genre.
Living with dyscalculia
“Dys–what?” I hear you thinking, as you read the title of this post. Most people are at least somewhat familiar with the learning disability dyslexia, which hinders sufferers’ ability to read and write. Dyscalculia is its cousin, and impairs mathematical comprehension and the ability to process numbers correctly.
In true twelve-step style, I’ll come out. My name is Olivia, and I have struggled with numbers and mathematics all my life, ever since I was first introduced to them in elementary school. Teachers told my mom I was lazy or perhaps a little dumb, because I was real bad at math. My problem finally got a name in High School, when I was officially diagnosed with dyscalculia.
Is being math-impaired a big deal?
Numbers and mathematics are used in all spheres of life. You come across them everywhere. In my current incarnation, I am a work-at-home mom and a blogger. We write about fertility, pregnancy signs, and everything related to having babies. It’s a lot of fun, but math creeps in even here. Yesterday, for example, I was discussing the number of posts we’d published on our blog this month with my co-blogger, who takes care of the technical aspects of the site. I used a calculator to work out the number of posts, but even then I was wrong.
“No, Olivia! Did you use a calculator?”, she said. Yes – thanks co-blogger, I did! I still managed to mess it up. Paying bills, reading amounts correctly, working out taxes... all of these are problematic for folks like me, who have dyscalculia. It’s not that I’m stupid in other areas, please understand this. Actually, I have an IQ of 145, though God only knows how I managed to get that score with all those mathematical questions that turn up on IQ tests.
Dyscalculia is a minor annoyance in my life today. I don’t need to have mathematical skills to function properly. Calculators solve most of my problems, and my husband can do taxes. This learning disability is most problematic for children at school, mainly because it is still largely unrecognized. Teachers don’t understand and are often unwilling to make special arrangements that help kids with dyscalculia thrive in the class room, even where their friends with dyslexia get additional time to complete tests, and are judged less harshly on their spelling. The proper diagnosis can certainly be a big help in this area, however.
Can dyscalculia be cured?
No, dyscalculia sticks around for life. Just like wheelchair users cannot usually be expected to run, even with all the practice in the world, dyscalculia sufferers will always be math-impaired. As a child, I was given additional math classes and parental guidance. None of it had any effect besides giving me a headache. With the right support, dyscalculia can be a little easier, however. If you are a parent who suspects that your child might suffer from a math-impairment, seeking diagnosis is the best course of action.
You can find Olivia at Trying To Conceive. Women who are hoping for a baby can use their free ovulation calendar to calculate their most fertile days – all the math is done for you, and you don’t have to hurt your head!
A guest post that hopefully helps us remember that it not our job to "fix" our children, but accept, guide and nurture them.
I don't know about you, but the message of the recently released Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother book by Amy Chua rubs me the wrong way. And this is not to say that I don't expect my kids to always do their best...but I do think that, as a society and especially as parents, we need to move in a direction that celebrates square, octagon, triangle, hexagon AND round pegs...not just shave off the corners of the aforementioned ones to fit into the round holes that someone else has deemed the “ideal” size and shape.
Why can't we see the beauty in being Butterfly Parents instead? We should be listening to our kids and allowing them to show us the types of education and methods of learning they're hungry for when they're young “caterpillars” so that we can give them what they need to transform into beautiful, unique “butterflies” as adults that everyone admires. By force feeding our kids the types of instruments we as parents want them to play or what we as parents want them to grow up to be as adults or what we as parents can brag about to our friends (re: only participating in activities where they can win first place or a gold medal), we are not encouraging them to blossom in their own unique ways.
A greater risk that “Tiger Mothers” represent to us as a society is that, by creating carbon copies of an ideal and degrading children that don't fit that mold, we are potentially losing out on some of those brilliant young minds having the freedom to think in new and different ways...and contribute to society in ways that we couldn't even imagine. And, most importantly, creating an aversion to learning in our youth, rather than an appetite for it.
The passionate people I've met in the Afterschool and out-of-school-time communities, however, has me encouraged. We've got energized instructors from coast-to-coast eager to show our kids how fun and exciting learning can be just after the school bell rings. And this “out of the ordinary” education has been shown to translate into higher test scores during the school day. But their funding is in jeopardy with all of the federal and state budget cuts. I'm fortunate enough to be attending the Afterschool for All Challenge on May 16-17, 2011 in Washington D.C...but you can also support the efforts of the Afterschool Alliance by taking action at home and in your community. I hope you'll join me in reinforcing the message to congress that afterschool programs are key to inspiring kids to learn in ways that we simply aren't able to do just by extending the school day and tacking on more language and math.
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Jen Lilienstein is the founder of Kidzmet.com, a new web site that's dedicated to helping parents expose their kids to the whole child curriculum in ways that embrace and celebrates their unique spirits. Kidzmet is also the first website to use personality, innate talents and predominant cognitive style to match enrichment teachers, tutors and coaches with the students they were “meant to teach”. The service, available in the United States from coast-to-coast, evaluates the connection strength of a teacher with an individual student in order to help parents pair their kids with mentors that instinctively understand how to help each child's seeds of potential blossom. To read more of Jen's vision for Kidzmet, click here. At home, Jen is Mom to an extroverted five year-old daughter--who has already dabbled in music, swimming, gymnastics, ballet, nature, yoga and art--and an introverted two year-old son who loves to do tangrams, work on the iPad, throw balls and admire cars.
Somebody recorded my family's Passover Seder this year. I wasn't able to attend because I was by my dad's side in the hospital.
However, my family recently listened to the recording and transcribed just what my 8 year old son Griffy said...and I was able to be a part of his thinking and the event and truly appreciate my son's gifts.
Listening to the recording brought tears of joy, happiness and pride to my eyes.
"Some people don't do what they want to do in their life and they dont realize that you're wasting time and that you dont have a lot of time left and then when you realize, it's already too late but some people do that, and I think that Grandpa Bobby did." -Griffin, 8 years old
I know my father would be so proud of his grandson's sage tribute.
I am proud that Griffin is my son-- wise beyond his years. And even though he has (and we have together) faced so many challenges, when I take the time to notice his strengths, I realize just how perfect he is, imperfections and all! And perhaps without the difficulties and struggles, he would not have gained his astute perspective.
You can listen to the actual recording here:
This is a wonderful guest post that serves to remind us that differences can be empowering and labels can be advantageous when used appropriately.
In fact, one can't help but read this post and wonder if Alex's current success and clarity might not have been attainable without his learning difference.
I hope you find it inspiring as well!
If your child is diagnosed with ADHD, it can elicit strong emotions for you and your child. Some parents get defensive and argumentative, some feel guilt and shame. An ADHD diagnosis shouldn’t be a mark of shame or sign of defect. In fact many parents and children find tremendous relief in it. While parents can often be feeling exhaustion or despair due to their children’s behavioral inconsistencies, an ADHD diagnosis should not be seen as a burdensome label, but as a pathway to you and your child’s ultimate goals.
I was diagnosed with ADHD when I was 10 years old. I struggled to stay focused in class, was frequently getting into trouble. I had an intensity that I just couldn’t seem to harness and direct on my own. My parents were very concerned with my behavior and very resourceful in locating learning specialists and education consultants to try to give me access to the tools I needed to be successful. The process was very experimental and required trial and error to see what combination of available resources fit together to help both myself and my parents reach our various goals. An ADHD diagnosis means something different for each family. Some children benefit greatly from medications, others do not respond well. Some families see rapid results simply by introducing new structured activities and creative outlets to their children. Whatever combination of approaches works for your child and your family, the process of learning how your child learns itself becomes transformative.
The process was very liberating for both myself and my parents. Up until then I had always had the reputation as the trouble maker in my school and felt stifled by my daily routine. By identifying specifically which aspects of brain functioning I had trouble with and in which areas I excelled, I was able to learn how to play to my strengths and fortify my weaknesses. From the behavior of not turning in homework we were able to identify specifically that I had tremendous problems with executive functioning and organization. I wasn’t struggling to learn the material, but I was having trouble writing down assignments and planning ahead for major projects. Instead of going to see a tutor, it turned out that meeting with an organizational specialist a couple of times a month was more valuable. I also started to play musical instruments and participated in sports and physical activities of my own choosing. Figuring out creative ways to introduce information to your child and how they learn best gives tremendous insight.
My ADHD diagnosis maximized my chances of being successful and fulfilled in life. Does it mean that I have problems staying focused? Yes. I also know this, so I like to be working on two or three different projects or assignments at a time so that I can let my mind shift gears and tackle fresh details when I find myself drifting away from the task at hand. An ADHD diagnosis in the family is not indicative of parental failings or a “bad” child. It should be seen as a starting point of an exploration into your child’s potential. When I figured out how to harness my intensity and get the power to the pavement, I managed to even amaze myself.
Author Alex Shapiro is a student in college and specializes in social studies lesson plans for child development.
"It would seem as though this is the perfect moment in history to live with imperfection, to embrace variety and leave conformity on the assembly lines...This is a more polymorphous world than the one in which I grew up. There is very little worth staring at except in admiration."
- From "Perfect" by Anna Quindlen
We are at the ideal time to reframe our understanding as well as the application of labels-- Information providing, but never label imposing.
It's Easy... Just click on the link and vote...
Let's see what people believe about labels & limits!
Here's the Link, in case you prefer it this way:
make a free poll on pollsb.com
Photo c/o: Open Photo
I think there is a lot of potential in this for all students, and especially for students with disabilities who may benefit from not only the visual component but the “bait” it can provide to many academic tasks. I can see how it might be used effectively in the classroom by teachers and at home by parents.
Take a look:
Thanks for the idea Lesley Nord!
Recently, I wrote a post on my other blog, A Mother Seeking, (www.amotherseeking.com) entitled, “Stop Trying to Fix Everything.” I am reposting it here because the lesson applies far beyond my original assumption, for it is not just a lesson in approaching my father’s illness, but also a lesson in approaching the parenting of my son and, in fact, all of my children.
While we attempt to guide our children and teach them strategies both for classroom tasks and lifetime tasks, it is important to remember that our children do not require fixing. Being a different learner, or simply different, does not imply that things are wrong and require repair.
The night before I left on my most recent trip to be with my father, across the country, as he battles this terrible disease, I tossed and turned in bed, unable to find a resting place for my mind and its active thoughts spiraling far ahead of the present moment. My husband, as he more easily drifted off to sleep, advised, “Stop trying to fix everything.”
Such a simple thought, but my restless night and in fact my restless life is largely the result of my active mind, a mind seemingly programmed to fix everything. And of course, I can’t fix everything and I know this rationally; this desire leaves me fitful, awake at all the wrong hours and struggling.
This time in life is presenting me with great opportunities to “stop trying to fix everything” and instead “let go and let the universe.”
Two nights ago, after spending six straight nights sleeping at my dad’s hospital bedside on an unyielding cot, I decided (after much urging from loved ones) to take a night off. I hired a private nurse, and when he arrived and I introduced him to my father, my father quickly replied, “Hi Jeremy, nice to meet you…. You can go now, my daughter is here.” I smiled, but explained to my dad that he was in the capable hands of Jeremy, and that I would be back bright and early the next morning.
My dad looked at me, deeply, and replied, “Okay, but what if I die tonight? I want you here with me when I die. Can you be with me when I die?” Needless to say, my eyes filled with tears and my hear filled with a unique combination of sadness and utter contentment, a mixture I have never felt before. And I realized at that moment that my dad has indeed “stopped trying to fix everything.” He will continue to fight this disease, but in that moment he wasn’t asking me to save him and to fix things, but rather simply be with him when it is time to surrender.
May I continue to bring my dad comfort and may I try to teach my children that it is not their job “to fix everything” by modeling this difficult behavior.
By recognizing that a child need not be fixed, but supported, nurtured and encouraged, the path ahead seems instantly more friendly and approachable. Labels become naturally less limiting...
This has been a very difficult year for me for a constellation of reasons, including the issues that naturally arise from parenting a child with a label.
I noticed that as the issues I faced escalated, I became surrounded by a recurring image, a compass. Given my prior lack of connection with this navigation instrument, I have no explanation... Likely the images had always been present, but the life difficulties made me attend to the image and contemplate the potential significance.
Because of this , I wanted to create an image for my blog to somehow include the compass and my role as mom (and specifically mom to a child with a disability). I gave the photography assignment to my talented step-dad (Dr. by day, photographer by night) simply asking him if he had a compass image I might use. He asked a few clarification questions and I only revealed that the compass was an image that I felt connected well with navigating motherhood, for me. And then I waited to see what he might find in his archives or shoot just for this purpose.
I love my son passionately. There is a light that draws me to him. And even with that love and glow, the maternal pull, I am lost at times as I seek a path that will help him succeed.
I think I have done a pretty good job (although it's certainly an ongoing process) recognizing that defining success for your child must not be about what you consider paramount, but instead helping your child find his or her own definition. But this is one of many steps...
Professionally, I have helped families navigate the maze of what comes after the label (and all that can proceed it as well) and so I know just what to do, but when it comes to your own child, knowing and doing are two very different things.
As learning specialist, I rarely doubt myself; I am confident and clear and effective. As mom, I lack this same self-efficacy because, of course, it's my own child. And enveloping that child, perhaps only visible to me, are my own hopes and dreams.
So, I navigate parenting only somewhat sure of myself, seeking a compass to assure me. But of course each time I find my way, tackle an issue, even commend myself for a parenting moment well done, the next challenge arises and I seek the compass again.
All mothers feel this way at times, I imagine. A need to be told where to go and how to proceed because if they only knew, then for their child, they would most certainly do it. This need for a mothering compass can be all the more pressing as we face parenting a child with a label or a difference.
The longer I parent (I am just 8 years into the role) the more I believe that the compass may be in us and requires us to listen more carefully and objectively to the voice that guides us, the intrinsic mother that does not need to compare her child to others or define success narrowly (as we may have been more likely to do before we were mothers) it may be about occasionally quieting all the voices on the outside, including the voices of the so called "experts" like myself, in order to listen to a different internal voice.
Maybe the compass is there...
I loved this reaction by Karen Maezen Miller. I know this debate has become cliche, but I can't help adding a brief thought.
What about the idea that we are not here to raise our children to meet our expectations of success, but instead to guide them as they find their own standards?
I will never forget, many years ago, my son was struggling to learn a new skill and I was struggling to remain patient and to keep his strengths in mind, not allowing any weaknesses to overshadow them. I confessed my frustration and fears to my wise father. I even, perhaps completely in fantasy mode said that I can't possibly handle this with my two other children also demanding my time and attention. I confessed that perhaps my son should have been an only child so I could devote all of my efforts to just him, guiding and helping him. My dad quite uncharacteristically cut me off, saying "And how do you know that he is supposed to become what YOU want him to be!? What YOU want to help and guide him to become?! " I have never forgotten that!
KAREN MAEZEN MILLER'S CHEERIO ROAD | FEBRUARY 06, 2011
Comparing our kids to one another is the most juvenile thing we grown ups can do. But amid all the recent hubbub over so-called ... read more
I love this idea... Being present by remembering how little of the stressful "stuff" will actually matter tomorrow, let alone years down from the road. I stumbled upon this on "Your To Be List" and although I have heard the idea before, it is always good to hear it again and be reminded.
We know that children with labels and disabilities offer their own challenges (as well as opportunities), and there is no debating that the stress and anxiety and difficulties can be intense. It's important to think about how fleeting so many things we worry about will turn out to be.... What we were consumed by last year has likely resolved and this new challenge was not anticipated.
My favorite line, "Ten years from now, it won't have mattered that I wasn't a perfect parent.Ten years from now, it will have mattered – and mattered deeply – that I was a present parent." We all spend so much time thinking we are not doing enough for our children and that perhaps if we did more, then... But of course there are no perfect parents, so best to aim for presence and not perfection!
Ten years from now . . .Remember: If it will have mattered in ten years, it matters now.Ten years from now, it won't have mattered whether or not the sink was perfectly scrubbed.Ten years from now it will have mattered that I stopped scrubbing the sink to listen to a problem they were having in school.Ten years from now, it won't have mattered that the plates were chipped or that the cups were not a matched set.Ten years from now, it will have mattered that we sat down at the table together, said a blessing, and shared stories about what happened that day.Ten years from now, it won't have mattered that their books were scattered everywhere.Ten years from now, it will have mattered that they loved to read and did so in every corner of the house.Ten years from now, it won't have mattered if they ran off to school with wrinkled shirts or grass stains on their pants.Ten years from now, it will have mattered that they were always told, "I love you. Have a great day!" as they dashed out the door - wrinkles, grass stains, and all.Ten years from now, it won't have mattered that their beds were made haphazardly; that there were lumps under the covers and pillows left on the floor.Ten years from now, it will have mattered that I leaned over their rumpled beds, kissed them goodnight and assured them that even as they slept, they were loved.Ten years from now . . .Ten years from now it won't have mattered that the couch was threadbare.Ten years from now, it will have mattered that we sat on that couch and laughed until we cried – and that on that very same couch, I held them when they cried genuine tears of sadness.Ten years from now, it won't have mattered if there were muddy footprints tracked through the house.Ten years from now, it will have mattered that they ran with abandon, filled their lungs with fresh air, and connected with the wonder of nature.Ten years from now, it won’t have mattered if I won every argument.Ten years from now, it will have mattered that I lived my values.Ten years from now, it won't have mattered that they didn't get everything they wanted.Ten years from now, it will have mattered that their deepest needs were met.Ten years from now, it won't have mattered that I wasn't a perfect parent.Ten years from now, it will have mattered – and mattered deeply – that I was a present parent.So today and every day, may I live in the moment with my children, with my eyes to their future. And let me offer my children the gift of what will have mattered in ten years.
No Need To Debate
What I would like to add to this important topic is the fact that the latest research says we must do away with the word “versus” in the infamous nature versus nurture debate. This debate has raged for years, and we had it all wrong. There is nothing to debate. Change the word “versus” to “interacts with” and we are no longer debating, but acknowledging the tremendous interplay between variables.
What appeals to me so much about losing the “versus” is that this speaks to the dynamic interaction and connection between nature and nurture– that is, the child’s innate tendencies and her environment. There is a dynamic and reciprocal relationship between the two. It is a lovely and accurate view because it lacks the fatalistic tone of “versus” where one is either completely a product of genes or completely a product of surroundings. If we are just formed by nature, then how to explain two children living in equally difficult circumstances, and becoming two very different people, one able to function and succeed with ease and one who struggles? It just can’t be environment alone! Important factors such as resiliency are part of this equation of human unraveling. And if we are simply genetics, then we may be defeated before we even begin…. Why take the time with this child when he is only able to achieve to a certain pre-determined point based on his DNA? Why not just throw up our arms? Because of course we are more than just our genes!
Think of two children with Dyslexia. Dyslexia has a strong familial component, and so there is a genetic link. But one child may attend a school where she is given the proper interventions, and she may live in a home where such interventions are reinforced. She will likely become a a fluent reader with the potential to succeed academically and beyond. She will always have Dyslexia (that’s in her genes) but she will have the proper strategies to work with it (that’s the environment). Another child with Dyslexia may not receive the appropriate services, at least not as early as recommended, and may battle issues related to reading, academics and self-confidence as a result. She may not succeed in school as she might have with the proper intervention. She may try constantly to “fit in” because she has not been taught to work with her own Dyslexia in an effective manner. Life will certainly be more challenging for this second child.
And that is why nature is just the beginning, just as labels are only a beginning. We are not simply the labels that may be placed on us in order to help define us. You may carry the label of Dyslexia with you, but what does this tell you or tell others? Well, it certainly tells us something because Dyslexia has a clear definition. However, we must always recognize that behind any label, there is great variation, a spectrum in fact. Not all people with Dyslexia see letters in reverse, for example, a widely held misconception. Similarly, two children may carry the same label of Dyslexia, but because they present their Dyslexia differently (a bit of nature and a bit of nurture too probably) and live in different environments (nurture), they will respond differently to the same intervention. In fact, they may require very different interventions. So, a label is a starting point only. We must recognize that all labels are a generalized understanding of a disability or disorder, but that those with such a label are individuals with a unique interplay of nature and nurture at work. As a result, we must look at individuals with disabilities, such as Dyslexia, as unique individuals who happen to share a label (some characteristics) with other individuals.
We are all a product of nature and nurture and the unique interplay between them. And as we have found in so many other areas of education (phonics versus whole language became balanced literacy, for example), a balanced and individualized approach is ideal. We can all use a little more balance in our life and a little less "versus" anyway!
I had a really interesting dinner conversation the other night. A friend asked me what ratio I would put on the old nature/nurture argument. Everyone chipped in their opinions, and it led to a very lively discussion. Even though the topic was the content of my masters thesis, I hadn’t thought about how I would rate each side’s importance in a child’s life. I quite quickly said 40%/60% nature to nurture. Even though how a child is born—whether shy or outgoing, aggressive or calm, introverted or extroverted, learning disabled, neurologically, physically or mentally challenged, gay or straight, etc., etc.—has all to do with how a person perceives the world. But how the world perceives him or her has all to do with how confident that person becomes. Someone born with musical talent for instance, will have way more of a struggle in life reaching his potential if his personal world devalues artistic achievement than one with support and encouragement. A child with ADHD will have a far easier time in life if her environment understands her innate tendencies and gives her appropriate structure in which to understand herself. One’s self-confidence is paramount in determining whether or not that person reaches potential. It is for this reason that I weigh in on the side of nurture.
Mobilized loves studies, especially ones that validate our skills and make us feel better about our shortcomings.
This makes me laugh, but it is so true! Probably best to not "fight" it too much, although certainly balance non-technological activities with the technology. That being said, technology can be used for educational purposes. Lately, I have been impressed with the many apps available in the educational world. Some of them are truly great! And they often give you the extra 5 minutes you need to blowdry your hair or call the cable company. Win-win!
This should not be so hard! Sadly, it is!
I am thinking of giving my kids a go at it tonight too. I predict they may be no better at it then me. But this initial try makes me think that this is worthy of doing repeatedly and getting better at (for both me and the kids).
Meditation can certainly impact learning, so this may be a great place to begin.
I hope you've checked out the Uncommon Schools Facebook page if you've found the "Teach Like a Champion" techniques helpful. I'm a big believer in collaboration, so I'm more than happy to network with good folks doing good work. In an email conversation I was having with one of their staff I was posed this:
Inclusion is a very "hot" issue and one of my favorites to discuss.
Too often, inclusion is discussed in terms of only the benefits for students with disabilities. We can’t forget that inclusion can ALSO benefit regular education students. This is true for a variety of reasons including the fact that students without disabilities ALSO have strengths and weaknesses and these are often well addressed in an inclusion classroom. In addition, regular education students must learn to work with others who are different from themselves, and this mission extends beyond traditional definitions of diversity, in my opinion, and includes all kinds of learning styles and abilities. Inclusive classrooms better replicate the world where all kinds of learners and thinkers must work together.
I also deeply believe that successful inclusion is one of the ways that, as a society, we will move towards a better understanding that labels are not limits.
One last thought:
It can never be emphasized enough– Successful inclusion is not simply placing regular and special education students together in one classroom. This is indeed a disaster waiting to happen. Successful inclusion must be approached thoughtfully and methodically and be based upon the plentiful research.
Interesting study on the power of a good nap... I imagine it's good for mom and child! :)
Want to Memorize Something? Take a Nap [Neurology]
TOP STORIES IN ENTERTAINMENT | JANUARY 24, 2011
German researchers have published a study claiming that quick naps can help the brain process and retain information.
Shared via Pulse, a great news reader for iPad, iPhone and Android.
This is an interesting conversation on the nature "versus" nurture argument. The "versus" part is really what we have come to know is a faulty perspective.
I found this on Connective Parenting and responded there....
"I had a really interesting dinner conversation the other night. A friend asked me what ratio I would put on the old nature/nurture argument. Everyone chipped in their opinions, and it led to a very lively discussion. Even though the topic was the content of my masters thesis, I hadn’t thought about how I would rate each side’s importance in a child’s life. I quite quickly said 40%/60% nature to nurture. Even though how a child is born—whether shy or outgoing, aggressive or calm, introverted or extroverted, learning disabled, neurologically, physically or mentally challenged, gay or straight, etc., etc.—has all to do with how a person perceives the world. But how the world perceives him or her has all to do with how confident that person becomes. Someone born with musical talent for instance, will have way more of a struggle in life reaching his potential if his personal world devalues artistic achievement than one with support and encouragement. A child with ADHD will have a far easier time in life if her environment understands her innate tendencies and gives her appropriate structure in which to understand herself. One’s self-confidence is paramount in determining whether or not that person reaches potential. It is for this reason that I weigh in on the side of nurture."
As a learning specialist, when I read this poem, written so very long ago, I can’t help but smile at its relevance today. Professionally, I work with families that have children with learning differences. And I am also a mom to 3 kids, one with a disability. I love this poem because it reminds us that our children have their own intelligence from within, and my job professionally, and as a parent, is to, in part, recognize and foster this intelligence and allow it to blossom and show.
We too often forget this with all the pressures (high stakes testing, memorization, competition, etc) in education today.
“There are two kinds of intelligence: one acquired,
as a child in school memorizes facts and concepts
from books and from what the teacher says,
collecting information from the traditional sciences
as well as from the new sciences.
With such intelligence you rise in the world.
You get ranked ahead or behind others
in regard to your competence in retaining
information. You stroll with this intelligence
in and out of fields of knowledge, getting always more
marks on your preserving tablets.
There is another kind of tablet, one
already completed and preserved inside you.
A spring overflowing its springbox. A freshness
in the center of the chest. This other intelligence
does not turn yellow or stagnate. It’s fluid,
and it doesn’t move from outside to inside
through conduits of plumbing-learning.
This second knowing is a fountainhead
from within you, moving out.”
From the translations of Rumi by Coleman Barks
Are you or your child a visual learner? Do you have to see information to understand it? Do you remember things better when you've written them down? Visual learners need to see ideas to process information and solve problems. Graphic organizers can be very helpful to visual learners. Graphic organizers are visual models of ideas presented in students' textbooks, classroom lectures, or video such as films and documentaries. They provide a visual map that shows ideas and their relationships to each other. Some students with language processing deficits or who have a visual learning style can benefit from using graphic organizers.
A five-week "working memory" training program shows promise in treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children. The research, which appears in the November/December 2010 issue of the Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, was conducted by Christine Hanson and Synthia Puffenberger, graduate students in psychology at Ohio State, and Steven Beck, co-author of the study and an associate professor of Psychology at the college.
Checking my e-mail before bed the other night, I found a note from an online friend. She is a reader I’ve never met, a fellow mom and blogger with whom I’ve corresponded a bit over the last year. I read her posts, she reads mine, and in the process we’ve come to know one another as well as two simpatico strangers can.
A perfectly written sentiment on letting go and acceptance of our children as is rather than as we had envisioned or hoped.
Although difficult to select just one favorite excerpt, this may be it:
And slowly, I eased up on myself. I began to think that being a “good” mom isn’t necessarily about preserving an ideal that doesn’t exist anyway, but rather about being realistic about what our children actually need from us in any given moment. Sometimes what they need most of all is for us to let go of our image of the way things ought to be, so that we can love life as it is, love our children for who they are, and love ourselves simply for doing the best we can.
Losing weight, saving money, and getting a better job are usually among the top New Year's resolutions for many of us. As the parent of a child with learning disabilities, here are a few more you may want to add to that list. Find more great New Year's resolutions in the All About Parenting Blog Carnival hosted on the Parenting Teens site on January 1st.
Eight-year old Sarita’s mother would buy 12-15 water bottles before each academic year. Her child would lose a bottle each month. She can hardly sit in class without distracting others around her and getting punished for the same. She would blurt out answers aloud and talk out of turn in class.
Meredith Resnick provides consulting services in person (in the NYC area) and by phone and e-mail (across the country). (More on Services)
Services Include Web Site Creation: The creation and maintenance of personal web sites/blogs for children (with and without labels) that are designed to accentuate the positive and build self-esteem (More on Web Site Creation)
Diagnoses of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), like those of food allergies, have risen dramatically in children over the last few generations. And again like food allergies, the cause is unclear. However, aÂ team of researchers in England recently identified a genetic link for the disorder .Â The study, published inÂ The Lancet, found that children with ADHD were more likely to have small segments of their DNA duplicated or missing than other children that don’t have the disorder.
Peyden Childress loves to climb trees, but it was when he thought about jumping out of them that his parents really became scared.
If we can measure it, we may be able to alter and shape society's view on it!
This may become the equivalent of blood sugar readings for the diabetic.
The importance of building self-esteem. And some ways to do it...
This is part of the thinking behind my new project: The creation of blogs/web sites for children with disabilities in order to help boost their confidence.
See Charlie's Blog for an example
Contact Meredith Resnick for further information: E-Mail
Reframing Labels in Special Education is my new Ebook detailing why this reframing movement is necessary and how we can begin, right now
Labels Not Limits is a blog about my passion for seeing beyond labels in the field of Special Education... It is a blog inspired and informed by my professional work as well as my role as mom to three wonderful children, one with a few labels of his own! Thanks for visiting my blog! Meredith