Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Atlanta Super Families: Habits of Highly Successful Parents

In my years of working with different families, I can always tell which parents who come to my office will have little to no problems in handling different situations with their children and which parents will be the subject of some made for tv show on how not to parent.

Here are some traits describing successful parents:

1. They Are Long-Term Thinkers

A mother and father duo came in last year and planned out and executed a successful transition from one private school to another that took us 6 months to orchestrate. The mother prepared for this event months before and called me during the early part of the season. Her and her family arrived at exactly the scheduled time for the assessment - and not one minute too early or late.

The following week, her husband, came in to "follow up" and made good on his word that they would follow through on the plan. He also reassured me that the family would make this a new habit and boy, did he mean it.

2. They Follow Through on Their Promises 

You will never know who my favorite clients are (it's something that I can never let on due to the emotional distance that I need to keep from my clients) but sometimes they read the blogs and can identify with what I am saying:

One father that is part of the Learning Ridge family is very humble and modest. I had a scheduled home visit that day to work with his daughter who was going from 5th grade math to 7th grade math in one summer. His younger daughter was practicing piano while I was talking to him and he asked her to stop practicing while we were conversing. She initiated a few more chords and he reiterated to her that she not play when adults are talking to each other. The moment that she hit the keys the third time he walked over to her, moved her away from the piano and said, "time out now".

Knowing that children test boundaries, it was quite nice to see that this parent did not spare one second in showing his children who's the boss.

3. They Know How to Treat People Who Care For Their Child(ren)

One of the best mothers I have ever met in my entire life was Mrs. C. On the outside she looked like she was always training for a half marathon, on the inside she was one of the kindest, most thoughtful individuals in my life who knew how to be grateful.

Unlike some individuals who I've come into contact with, she knew that the key to her children's success was the collaborative efforts shared between her and the people who work with her children. She always said "thank you" for everything that we did for her and made me feel important in our efforts to help her little four year old learn everything she needed to learn to be successful in school. I enjoyed working with her because she helped me realize why I love doing what I do and who I needed to help.

4. They Realize What Is a Priority, and What Is Not

I have been in close contact with an amazing mother who I have known for years. For some reason - this mother has a business sense that is unparalleled (she paid off her mortgage in ten years).

This mother has three wonderful daughters but the youngest child is Quadriplegic and has Cerebral Palsy. Instead of giving up on her daughter and leaving her in the care of strangers, she wakes up just a little before everyone else and plans out her duty filled day for everyone in her family. She sacrifices vacation for family celebrations with her three daughters and fights each and every day to make sure that all of her daughters feel important and empowered. There was even one time where one of her daughters was having a difficult time in her first professional occupation as a nurse and she gave her life advice on how to manage stress.

She's a hero to all mothers. Surprisingly, her actions are not done for a reward or an article that will be written about her in the newspaper; she does this because one day she knows her daughters will remember all of those times where their mother had given them one of the most valuable gifts: time.

5. They Know When To Be There (and When To Vanish)

I absolutely love working with the J. Family. This mother heralds a different set of mothering skills and is successful in long-term planning/emotional regulation for her children and in making you feel at home. Her husband is one of the kindest people I have ever met and I even have told her that I felt like she wasn't a real client because she was just "too nice".

When Mrs. J. would schedule appointments, she would come visit with her boys in tow and the doggie in the van. (I can't remember the breed of the dog - but he's huge!) Mrs. J would show up with a huge coffee beverage sometime between  7:45am and 7:55am in the morning for an 8:00am appointment and I can already envision how the first few hours of my morning would look like. She would have a huge grin on her face and as each of her children would come in and would act more like they were attending a "sleepover" and not a "session with your learning expert". She would leave in her dressed up pajamas and the boys would be left in their own devices learning vocabulary two to three years above their level and math that would knock any person out of their senses.

6. Understand the Difference Between Realistic Expectations and "Miracles"

If you know anything about me or my company, you know that I like to work using realistic timelines. Everything that I encounter is based on a timeline and the processing speed of information that can be absorbed by an individual.

During one period of time, I had revisited a student that I had worked with for a period of four years but needed a break from because of an irregular schedule that his family imposed on my personal time. (To be honest with you, that is the best way to not be taken seriously - if you do not have a plan in place for helping your child - do not expect them to respect you.)

When the student came back, they were in a different educational setting and this provided us with an opportunity to supply him with educational services. What first appeared as an hourly series of tutoring sessions turned out to be an all out homeschool support system that resulted in a series of A's and B's never before seen on his progress reports for high school.

I had to reason with him and his parents that through all of his hard work, patience, and persistence - these favorable grades could be accomplished on a more frequent basis. However if you expect long-term results for doing very little in a short period of time - this would be a "miracle" and not the norm.

What are your secrets to being a Highly Successful Parent? If you would like to share your comment or have questions on how to be a Highly Successful Parent, feel free to contact me at christine@learningridge.com . 




Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Atlanta: Finding the Right Professional for Dyslexia, Dysgraphia and Dyscalculia Support

At Learning Ridge,  we encounter the experiences of parents in their journey towards helping their child with different learning challenges. Sometimes we encounter parents that believe their child may have issues with reading and or math processes, other times parents come to us after years of working with their child's school in order to find out that they have exhausted their efforts for little to no return.

In many cases, parents do not discover that their is a problem until one year after the problem has occurred. Public schools and private schools alike have their own way in monitoring progress (or lack thereof) and by the time the school has identified a problem, one half year has passed. When a school actually begins discussing what measures need to be taken after discovering the issue at hand, an entire school year has passed and parents are left with little to no recourse in helping make up the lost time.

Some things to consider when you have a child that is in the primary school age is to constantly look for a team of professionals who will give you an unbiased view of what your child should know. At Learning Ridge, we assist parents in both early intervention and the prevention of severe learning challenges. For the last twelve years, I have worked tirelessly to make sure that children who may have a learning challenge to gain the skill sets and knowledge to overcome these obstacles.

If you have a child or know someone who may need support with a learning/processing disorder such as Dyslexia, Dyscalculia or Dysgraphia, or need to discuss programs such as Orton-Gillingham, feel free to contact me at: Christine@learningridge.com or you can contact me at 404-964-8533.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Orton-Gillingham and Reading: What Are The Essential Skills Your Child Needs to Know?

Most individuals can look back and retrace the first steps that their parents took in helping them learn how to read. Although I am unable to remember the first time I learned how to read, I remember being a teenager and working with my niece who was always mesmerized by my collection of notebooks, textbooks, and pens. She would sit beside me and I would write simple three letter words out for her in my notebook and have my mini-me learn how to read. It was not difficult for me to come up with a short lesson and play "take away the letter" games with her to see if she could manipulate the letters to see if she could read. I enjoyed that time and realized that reading for her (as well as the rest of the individuals in my family) was as natural as speaking, singing and dancing.

For some individuals reading does not come as naturally. Some teachers have been taught that children can simply look at the words and pictures on a page and that will essentially help the child learn how to read. It may be the case for most children but for others this simple act of image memory does not correlate with reading. 

Reading is a complex linguistic task that may need to be broken down for some children. For those who may not think of it being a natural task, it needs to be acquired through direct instruction and simplification. Without the proper training or the skill sets needed to help remediate students with Dyslexia or other processing disorders, the task will present itself as overwhelming and time that is misused.

If you think that your child is in need of Dyslexia support or may need the Orton-Gillingham Methodology of Reading Instruction, here are some skill sets that you may need to check on from your provider:

1. Language Development

Is there a particular stage in which children need to develop expressive or receptive language skills? What types of articulation errors are common in a four, five, six year old? If these questions are not easily answered by your provider, they may not have the foundation to create an outline of when these errors in language will be remedied.


Are there sounds that your child produces that make them sound less "local"? Is your child in a setting where they may pick up incorrect speech patterns or are not exposed to proper grammar? 

3. Vocabulary

Some students who may have a much more advanced spoken vocabulary but do not utilize this in writing may also be challenged in various ways.

4. Spelling

If your child receives great marks on their spelling tests but are unable to apply these spelling rules a provider may need to determine what splinter skills your child is lacking.

5. Fluency

Having a student read the same passage or book five times does not correlate to fluency. If the methodology your tutor is using becomes exposure to one particular approach, it may not be what your child needs to feel challenged.

If you feel that your child is having difficulty with learning how to read or may need reading remediation such as Orton-Gillingham and you are in the Atlanta area, feel free to contact Christine at 404-964-8533 or you can email me at christine@learningridge.com . We have helped clients in the Atlanta area for over 11 years and would love to show you how we can help your child. 

Friday, January 6, 2017

JATP in Atlanta: Do You Know How To Help Your Child Become More Creative?

Happy New Year to all of those parents who are excited to have their child participate in the process otherwise known as "Atlanta Private School Admissions" or in other circles, "JATP Prep".

When parents begin this process, one thing crosses their mind: "Do we need to do anything to prepare our dear four to ten year old for this process?". Many parents ask their friends about what they need to do during this process. After countless coffees, dinners and play dates they are presented with a multitude of options that seem daunting to the blind eye but are keys to practical (and productive) parenting.

In my practice of helping parents with Admissions Preparation, we take a different approach in ensuring that students feel confident and successful with this process. Outside of our traditional cognitive development approach that relies on a European-Asian model of enhancing intellect, we take into account one important faculty need to be strengthened when children engage in metacognitive .

One area of focus that seems to be missing in many family dynamics is creativity. Parents strive to give their children the very best in their lives.  These attempts are commendable however, this provides children with an environment bereft of problem solving and self-reliance.

Recently I was able to spend time with the man who created the multi-colored single chamber clicker pen. When describing his inventions, he was able to give historical accounts about what was happening in history during the time. Each of his inventions and patents had made history and this humble man left the conversation with giving us one piece of information that made us understand why he was able to create so many innovations: he was comfortable with being left alone.

Unlike most children who grow up being shuffled from one scheduled activity to another, this man was left to analyze and observe the world around him. His keen sense of awareness enabled him to examine what was wrong or what could be improved if given the opportunity. It takes discipline, motivation, and follow through to be successful in life but happiness through accomplishment sometimes requires contentment in being alone.

The next time you sign your child up for another activity think to yourself - how can I help play a role in my child's creativity. It is a wonderful thought that you are a good parent because you are able to give your child what they want and need, but looking towards the future, how can your child apply the knowledge to become great.

If you have questions about Admissions Preparation and/or Cognitive Development, feel free to contact Christine at 404-964-8533 or christine@learningridge.com

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Do You Have A Disorganized Child? Here Are Some Tips To Help..

Students in this day and age are given more resources and devices to use than the generation before them. Growing up in the "Transitional Technology" Age, my senior Praxis Class was conducted online and when our professor asked us "what do you think about our discussions held on the internet platform", each and everyone in our group said, "it is nothing compared to our interactions face to face. That is where the real learning takes place!"

If you open your child's backpack and see their papers shuffled as if they were trying to avoid a tax audit, here are some simple tips that you can use to help them get back into shape:

1. Provide a time to complete tasks

You've seen it with some families - and I hope that I am not speaking to you, but there are times when children come home, throw their backpack on the floor and start playing with their iPad or video games and command you to bring them something to snack on.

Understand that your child has a hard day and by the time they walk into your house, they have used all of their brain power to get through the last few hours of school without wanting to fall into a frenzy. Instead of having them look like Grandpa sitting in the rocking chair after school, prepare a light snack for them and communicate what needs to be done when. If you have a timer that can be used that could work; if your child becomes a bit more sensitive to alerts like I am, have them listen to their favorite song or play outside for the duration of a television show and they will be centered.

2. Provide a place to complete tasks

All houses are different and there are some parents that subscribe to the kitchen table method of homework and others that have a desk set up in their child's bedroom because it looks great.

Regardless of where you decide to have your child spend the next thirteen years building their foundation for the future, make sure that it is clean and organized for them to begin their work. Yes, my parents had a desk for me when I was younger but to be honest with you, the drawers had yearbooks from the previous year and handwritten letters from my grandfather and other members of my family.

I personally like using the kitchen table because it signaled to us that we were renting out the space from mom until she made us our delicious family dinners:)

3. Establish a routine

I know that most parents over schedule their children. It's great to have some sort of routine so that your child knows what to expect and when.

We shared a nice home cooked meal with my husband's family and (unfortunately) my husband was reminded of the one "go-to" meal that his mom made on Wednesdays. Wednesdays was a hard day for her so she fed the family meat and potatoes and what he said was his most unfavorite day was something that she said was a necessity. "I spend three hours making a great roasted meal on Sundays for the family and know that on Wednesdays - I don't have much time. So that was it. I know that you do that do with your omelette dinners on Wednesdays!".

Yes, a routine a great and make it easy and something that your children will enjoy.

4. Create a chart to show progress (or regression)

Simple charting of what they need to do helps children visualize what it is that they are doing and how to respond to you when they do not.

The truth of the matter is, there is a certain amount of anxiety that disorganized children feel and if you are to take that anxiety and have them see that the task is easier to overcome once you see it, they will understand what needs to be done and learn how to be accountable.

5. Leave necessary materials where needed

When you are at home and the phone rings and you need to jot down notes and cannot find a pen or a paper to write that information down? Think of how your child feels when they begin to do their homework and/or project and every 30 seconds they need to march upstairs or downstairs to grab their supplies.

Ask yourself, "what does my child need every time they begin a project" and have it accessible. They'll need a few pencils, a sharpener, highlighters, sticky notes, a few pens, a digital device to download course materials and all of their books right in front of them. Make it easy for them to be successful and don't get in their way!

6. Minimize materials

If you know me personally, I am motivated by beauty in writing craftmanship. I have access to a certain amount of pens/pencils and rotate them out on a bi-monthly basis so that I can enjoy everything that I have.

I've seen some parents attack this differently (and there is no one solution - there is the one that you have that works for you). One of my favorite clients had a closet of office supplies that he kept for his children (very basic) and some other parents have it stored in the garage or basement. In my industry I've noticed that children love ergonomic materials that they have never seen before and for some reason, this motivates them to write longer and with more purpose.

7. Provide an organizer

There are different types of organizers that are used in the United States however, I feel that they are not necessarily organizers but storage systems. (There is a difference between the two).

As I've become immune to "pouches", I subscribe to a system that has room for me to see my belongings so that I do not accidentally poke myself with a sharpened pencil reaching for a pair of scissors.

Here's an example of what you could have your child use:

http://www.dickblick.com/products/cocoon-innovations-grid-it-organizer/

8. Have a checklist

Checklists - some people hate them, without them I would still be working on my term papers from middle school.

Keep it fun and simple for your child and if you've had a great week, have them create a checklist for you on the weekends.

Example:

- Decompression Time
- Snack
- Homework
- Break
- Homework
- Family Time

Nothing more, nothing less and the more you plan - the less you stress:)


9. Label materials

This is important so that your child knows what is their property and what is not. I have to laugh because when working with children, they cannot seem to identify their coats, jackets, books, materials from their classmates because it all looks alike. One piece of advice that I have for children and their parents is to label everything. When their teacher hands them a piece of paper they need to write their name and the date on it, otherwise it becomes useless.

10. Act as a model

Great parents do not just tell their child how to live, they act as the role model. My mother (one of the wisest individuals I know) learned from her mother to put things back in it's place and have a place for everything. (Okay mom, what about your shoes?)

Children will take you seriously if you can walk the same walk. If they are having problems, they need to be encouraged to do better and have the confidence that they can do it.



If you have any questions about how to help your child become more organized or if you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact Christine at 404-964-8533 or you can email me at christine@learningridge.com .

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

What is Missing in STEM Education?

Here's the deal: I walk into a classroom and it is decorated with the latest in technology, curriculum, and gadgets that would make one believe that someone in your child's class is about to become the next Elon or Bill Gates. Your child comes home with passwords from websites and information on applications written by people who have spent less than 8 hours with a child that has the same learning disposition and/or attention span as your child. Rubrics are passed around to tell you what to do to complete an assignment in each of their STEM classes but there is one thing that is missing in the fundamental success of each and every teacher preparation program and student evaluation rubric: How to give proper (and adequate) feedback.

Today children are left to their own (personal devices) to learn and the expectation is that we can teach children through an app or a workbook. We've replaced education with a series of discrete trials that have been used on monkeys and testing groups and wonder why children are failing. What surprises me the most is the mere fact that many students in this country have succumbed to a phenomena also known as "learned helplessness" and expect that when they cannot do something or if their parents are unable to do something that will allow them to feel confident - they do not bother trying.

The fact is really simple, in more ways that can be counted, students need to learn how to take feedback and criticism as a way to build character and their own sense of self-determination. Never before have I seen students fearful of failing when they never learned how to ask a question or became intimidated to look through the answers to a test where they could have received more credit if they had only informed the teacher that the answer they presented was correct.

Parents in this day and age have learned to argue with teachers and not look at themselves on how to become role models in what they want their children to be. They have tossed the book aside on how to raise a human being and have replaced it with "How to Overnurture Your Child" .

I would love to see the day where parents teach their children life lessons on how to work hard and to look at your mistakes as opportunities of learning and understanding instead of grades. Or when a child comes home to complain about problems they are having at school - parents can step in and share what their family stance is on how to treat other people instead of attending some class on "how we all need to parent children in the 21st century".

When I spent some time with my father-in-law, I rummaged through some old school records that he had kept from when my husband was in elementary school. Somehow, I came across a letter that might have been written in response to a teacher that perhaps, thought my husband was unfocused (that's surprising - what most professionals call "unfocused" I call, "it's called being a bored boy?"). The letter (albeit written in a different language) was a beautifully written letter that gave my husband some life lessons on being a good student. It put into perspective that even though your parents are not there with you everyday, it is important to communicate what it is that you want your children to be, otherwise they will have to walk that journey alone.

STEM Education comes with it a whole set of standards that are great - but it is important that children learn to take into account the importance of receiving feedback, whether good or bad - to reach a final product that they would be happy to call their own.

If you would like more information about Learning Ridge STEM Programs or if you would like to have our STEM workshops at your facility, community center, club house, feel free to contact Christine at 404-964-8533 or you can email me at christine@learningridge.com .

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The Case for Handwriting and Fine Motor Skills: Why Are They Important?

At the end of the 20th century, this country had made advancements in technology that would signal a change in all of our lives. What took the manpower of dozens or hundreds of people are now replaced with one app, one click, one touch, or sometimes, one swipe. We've replaced many manual processes in favor of fast, easy to program technologies but one thing that has suffered immensely is the work that is done by hand.

Less than 48 hours ago I was fortunate enough to watch a classical symphony in Stuttgart, Germany. This experience was exciting as it allowed me to see one of the last living performing art forms take over my soul. As I was transported to a time when one could feel Mendelssohn pour  his heart into his music or when Tchaikovsky elevated music through his prose and compositions of various symphonies, it reminded me of the fact that some processes can be replicated and copied but a true artist or craftsman - will never be.

Fine motor skills such as those learned from handwriting, playing music or drawing, is one of the corner stones of development. When children move from one stage of learning to another, they acquire learning experientially and these skills are then moved and stored from short term memory banks to long term memory cartridges. Children who have difficulty in accessing information may not have these processes in tact and direct learning might be more impactful.

If you would like more information on Handwriting and how it can help your child learn in a more fluid meaningful way, please contact Christine at Learning Ridge by calling 404-964-8533 or email christine@learningridge.com .