Saturday, April 22, 2017

JATP | Gifted Prep | The Power of Great Parenting in Atlanta

Listen, watch, and observe - is what people are too busy not doing. It does not take me very long to see which parents that I meet will end up being at the top of their game with their children, and the rest of them will be swimming against a current of disappointment.

Let's start with my Private School Parents. The best ones that I have encountered are the "cool ones". They have been given the "script" of what to do, how to act, and other "insider tips" that help them stand out when they need to, and blend in when they have to. It does not concern me as to who their grandparents are or what patent they have received the year after their second child was born, these parents are more than their last "success".  They are the individuals who know never to pick a fight because it is not about winning or losing and they value the time and expertise of a respected professional.

Parents of children that are classified as "Gifted" fall into a category all their own. I'm uncertain as to what these parents end game truly is, but a parent that did everything to help their child get into the Gifted Program (and not game the system) is one that models what true parenting is. One of my favorite clients learned the hard way that her child is not reduced to a number or a label but is a valued member of society that needs to understand what is expected, and to clarify what they cannot understand. For the last four years, she has helped her child reach his fullest potential without ever asking for anything more than "please let me know if there is anything that I can do at home" from each and every loving professional that has worked with her son. (Yes, and I do mean that. His teachers have always valued his genuineness in the classroom and his "Magic" tricks!).

Sometimes parents rush to a finish line in the hopes that they will finish first in a race that they never qualified for. Being a good parent means knowing what you can do, and knowing what you need to do to help your children be the best that they can be. It's not about having all the money in the world or a job that entitles you to unlimited paid time off. A good parent is one that knows how to communicate with others and ask the right people to help them get their children where they need to be. A good parent is one that knows how to respect the opinions of others and understands the value of what accomplished, humble people have to say.

I'm happy to tell you that I have a number of wonderful parents that I have been so fortunate in working with over the years. Some parents that I have met will undoubtedly be successful in life because they have integrity and the morale fiber that one cannot measure through material worth but in the admiration of their peers and the community.

Thank you to all of those parents who I've helped through the years and I look forward to meeting more of Atlanta's Great Parents!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Orton-Gillingham and Handwriting Without Tears at Learning Ridge: What is the Difference?

A few months ago we met up with a few old friends for the holidays. We've realized that as we watch the years pass, the time that we spend with those that we care about are more precious than streaming our favorite television shows. After catching up with friends who have always known that I "work with children", they came to realize what it is that I have done for the better part of over a decade.

There were certain words that I hear from a young parent that are "trigger signs" for intervention. "He's struggling", "we are unable", "we've talked to this Dr." are all examples of what it takes for my ears to perk up in that moment. It takes less than an hour for me to do an assessment in my office to generate a report that guides the educational planning for a year, but like a physician who does a physical in the examination room, it only takes me five minutes to see what could be troubling a child.

Unbeknownst to many parents, including my sister, my in-laws and a few cousins, I disguise the act of "playing" into assessments. At the holiday get together that I was at, my husband was left behind to describe my unconventional process to the other guests and they were in complete disbelief that a child could be assessed, remediated and enriched using the art of "play". I'm not certain that I could agree with them, but it is difficult to have children (and adults) accomplish anything when they are bored. I despise cleaning and/or organizing unless I have music on or if I dance across the floor trying to sweep dust away from our walking paths. Work is not something that I can look forward to - but engaging in an activity that appears to be fun and exciting is something that I do everyday.

After a few minutes of listening to our family friend ramble on and on about what pains them with their child, I finally crossed the line of friendship and said, "let me do a few things to see what might be happening". I grabbed a few materials from my car and began my "pretend work". It seems as if I need to be in a classroom or in an office with a hint of "superiority" beside it, but it took me just a handful of tasks and I gathered all the data I needed to help our family friend with something that they had been struggling with for the past few years.

"In order for all of this to make sense to your child, and for him to move past this developmental stage - you need to work on this one thing... Once that happens, he'll take off.." My words resonated like the lyrics from an opera and it was if the biggest revelation was made for them this decade. In a sea of professionals that they had worked with, it boiled down to one thing physically, and the rest of the work was done by (and given credit to) me.

It took our family friends less than a week to make everything happen in their schedule to work with me and my organization. My promise to them was that this challenge would be taken care of and the only thing that I could guarantee is my hard work and honesty.  Nothing less than what they could ask for but I always made sure that I was deliberate and attentive in what they needed and they showed me that their son's education and well being is important.

Fast forward less than three months later, he's made more progress than I can write on one sheet of paper. His stamina when it comes to reading and utilizing the Orton-Gillingham method  has been astounding that when I keep my books on the table, mid conversation he'll start to read a book (without being prompted) and will finish the book by himself. We've come up with ingenious ways to help shape his behavior (thanks to my background in behavior modification) and to work towards a goal - by thinking big picture and then taking it one step at a time. Progress is never expected to occur overnight, but after a long and arduous walk filled with hours of conversation, stories and laughter, you've reached your destination.

I'm so proud of the little man that I've worked with for the past few months. He's not just the "family friend's son", he helps me realize that my job is never done and I'm able, without effort, to be at the top of my game all over again. Helping a child, any child, learn how to do something difficult is one of the best feelings you can have as an adult, Whether it's helping them read, write stories, draw, ride a bike - it does not matter, Once they have learned to do something with your help (and your heart), your existence is forever branded in their spirit!