City Family News

Let’s start the school year off right with some advice from local Manhattan learning experts! Below are some helpful tips that will get your kids back on track for the upcoming school year.

5 Homework tips that really work
Ways to turn the nightly grind into brain-building fun

  • Help your children develop a written homework plan that includes timelines and goals, using whatever tools are the most appealing to them: computer, notebook, giant calendar page, blackboard, sticky notes on the refrigerator door, even dry-erase markers on their bedroom window. Anything will work, as long as it’s something they find fun and are eager to take part in.
  • Develop a reward system that promises more fun. Create a system that works for your family and budget. One possibility uses fun tickets as motivation. Each time your child earns a reward, give him a ticket toward a set goal: movies with mom, breakfast in bed, extra TV time or a special trip to the playground. Making the rewards something memorable rather than monetary will inspire long-term positive attitudes regarding homework.
  • Break down assignments into smaller chunks. This is especially helpful if your child suffers from attention problems. Use a stopwatch to time your child to see how long they can pay attention to a task before giving up, then encourage them to go longer during the next timed round. This will work on sustained attention and will help your kids become independent learners. Don’t be afraid to break the homework session into two to three chunks as well, and remember to time the breaks too.
  • Turn math problems into a fast-paced game. Time your children as they do a row of problems as fast as they can, then challenge them to do the next row faster. This will build the cognitive skill of processing speed; basically turning them into faster thinkers.
  • Let your children play teacher. Letting them teach you a skill or concept that they’re working on will improve their understanding of the concept and will build logic and reasoning skills. Let your kids “test” you, and let them determine a fitting reward if you pass their exams!

How To Avoid the Report Card Surprise
Making Sure your Child has a Successful School Year

When asked why parents are often surprised by their children’s report cards, 50 percent of teachers said that parents admitted they are not involved enough in their children’s school experiences. One of the two major ways to avoid a report card surprise is with effective communication. As early in the school year as possible meet your child’s teacher and find out what your child’s teacher is planning and their expectations. Ask about your child and any problem areas the teacher may see. Don’t shy away. BE INVOLVED!

The other vital tool you and your child can use is organization. You and your child should work together to create a schoolwork calendar. It should show daily and long term assignments, exams, and other major events. Make sure it is displayed in a prominent place where everyone can see it… on the refrigerator. Establish a ritual where you and your child look at the calendar together at approximately the same time each day. Discuss what needs to be done right now and look ahead to upcoming events so you can plan how to prepare for them. With these two tools…..communication and organization….you can do more than just avoid being surprised by what your child brings home on a report card. You will know how your child is doing in school at all times and by being well organized your child will have more time for fun and games!

Yoga Test Taking Techniques
Some poses to prepare your child for exam day

  • Poses for Specific Goals:
  • Poses for Energy:
  • Donkey Pose, Owl Pose, Lion Pose, Reach and Pull Poses, Cat and Cow Pose
  • Poses for Concentration:
  • Eagle Pose, Mountain Pose, Rainbow Pose, Crow Pose, Tree Pose, Half Moon Pose, Head Stand
  • Poses for Confidence:
  • Snake Pose, Lion Pose, Mountain Pose, Hero Pose, Warrior Poses
  • Poses for Relaxation:
  • Downward Dog, Bridge Pose, Butterfly Pose, Mouse Pose, Lemon squeeze Pose, Lotus Pose, Plow Pose

Identifying the underlying cause for a child’sĀ individual learning difficulties or struggles in the classroom

If a child is having difficulty in the classroom, it is important to diagnose the underlying etiology for why he/she if having difficulty in order to appropriately help that child reach their full learning potential. This can be quite a challenge. Is it an underlying language/cognitive deficit, a sensory issue that impacts learning, or difficulties with attention span? Each of these issues can negatively impact a child’s ability to learn in and out of the classroom. These are common questions and therapists and teachers work hard to identify the primary issue and develop an appropriate treatment plan tailored to the needs of each specific child.

Assessment is a critical step in determining the issues at hand. Language and learning disabilities can be assessed by a Speech and Language Pathologist. Sensory processing can be assessed by an Occupational Therapist. If a child presents with sensory and/or physical difficulties, this can negatively impact cognitive functioning and processing skills which ultimately affects their ability to learn in the classroom.

Following the assessment, an appropriate treatment plan is devised and strategies to integrate goals can be provided to parents and teachers for carryover at home and in school. For example, engaging in a sensory stimulating activity given by therapist may facilitate a better response with processing and cognitive functioning necessary for classroom participation and completion of homework. Overall, identifying the primary area of difficulty, leads to the most effective treatment plan, which leads to a successful outcome both socially and academically.

Time Management Tips for Teens

Now that we are at the start of the academic year, effective time management is critical for teens juggling homework, sports and other interests. Below is a list of tips that have helped many of my teen clients (and their families!) lessen anxiety and feel more control over their time:

  • The use of a planner is essential for keeping track of a teen’s “to do list.” Encourage checking it every day at a designated time after school so your teen can keep on track. Many schools post homework assignments on the internet, so remind them to check the teacher’s websites if they are unclear about what they need to complete.
  • I find that many of my teen clients lack a “sense of time” to effectively plan. Ask them to set a timer, for example, when they begin their homework. This is a very concrete way to show that their homework, for example, averages 90 minutes per day and that this amount of time needs to be carved out each day after school.
  • Electronics can be a huge distraction for all teens. Have an open and honest conversation about how much time your teen is spending on Facebook, video games, texting, etc. and how it might be impacting their time management. Also, turning off electronics (i.e. smartphones) at least an hour before sleep will help calm the mind and encourage a good night’s rest.

Why Won’t my Child Listen to Me?
Signs of Auditory Processing Disorder

Do you often think to yourself Why won’t my child listen to me? When you ask him to put on his pajamas, brush his teeth, and then pick out a book to read, do you find that he sits there with a blank stare? Or maybe she says okay and runs only to choose a book but doesn’t follow the other instructions? Although this type of behavior can be seen in normal healthy children, when it occurs several times during the day and in different settings, it could indicate an Auditory Processing Disorder.

A child with Auditory Processing Disorder has difficulty taking in the language around him, comprehending it, and then acting upon it in a meaningful way. This child has no trouble hearing language, but struggles to interpret it correctly. Very often, a teacher may mention that your child has difficulty listening, paying attention, and/or following directions during class. Or when given multistep directions, you may find that your child follows only one step of the command. Auditory Processing Disorder can seriously affect the child’s performance in school and significantly limit reading, comprehension, spelling, and vocabulary.

A Speech Language Pathologist can perform an evaluation to determine the presence of Auditory Processing Disorder. Once a diagnosis has been made, speech language therapy as well as close work between the child, the family, and child’s school can provide the child with the intervention and strategies necessary to combat his difficulties.

Have a Wonderful Semester!

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