Best Books For Beginning Readers | Pediatric Therapy Tv

In today’s Webisode, an academic specialist introduces us to some of the best choices of books for children who are beginning to read.

To determine if your child is prepared to read, watch our previous Webisode

In this video you will learn:

  • What types of books are best to help children begin to read

Video Transcription:

Announcer: From Chicago’s leading experts in pediatrics to a worldwide
audience, this is Pediatric Therapy TV, where we provide experience and
innovation to maximize your child’s potential. Now, your host, here’s
Robyn.

Robyn: Hello. You are watching Pediatric Therapy TV, and I’m your host
Robyn, Ackerman. Today I’m sitting here with an academic specialist,
Elizabeth Galin. Elizabeth, can you tell us some great beginning reading
books?

Elizabeth: Absolutely. One of the best beginning reading books is the Bob
series. These are books that come in a package of ten, and they range from
pre-readers all the way up through second grade, working on different
sounds and they become more advanced as you move through.

My second choice is the We Both Read series, and the We Both Read series
has a page for parents to read, and then a page for the children to read.
So the child’s page has a more simple word or sentence, and the parents’
page allows you to get a more detailed story. It’s a really fun family
read.

The Flippa Word series is great as well. They work on three different word
families throughout the book, really bright pictures that allow the
children to address the different sounds. Just a really fun author for kids
of all ages is Mo Willems. He has the Piggie and Elephant series, and he
also has Pigeons on the Bus, great family reads.

Lastly is High Fly Guy for older kids. These books address some of the
needs of early readers, but they also arrange it into chapters, so older
kids feel like they’re really making some progress.

Robyn: All right, well thank you so much, Elizabeth, for bringing these,
and thank you to our viewers for watching. Remember, keep on blossoming.

Announcer: This has been Pediatric Therapy TV, where we bring peace of mind
to your family with the best in educational programming. To subscribe to
our broadcast, read our blogs, or learn more, visit our website at
learnmore.me. That’s learnmore.me.

3 Signs Your Child May Have Dyslexia | Pediatric Therapy Tv

In today’s Webisode, an Academic Specialist explains ways to determine if your child has dyslexia.

Click here to learn more about dyslexia and find out more signs and characteristics to look for.

In this video you will learn:

  • What is dyslexia
  • How do children develop dyslexia
  • What are common signs in children with dyslexia

Video Transcription:

Announcer: From Chicago’s leading experts in pediatrics to a worldwide
audience, this is Pediatric Therapy TV where we provide experience and
innovation to maximize your child’s potential. Now your host, here’s Robyn.

Robyn: Hello, and welcome to Pediatric Therapy TV. I’m your host Robyn
Ackerman. I’m sitting here today with Elizabeth Galin [SP], an academic
specialist. Elizabeth, can you tell us three signs to look out for that a
child may suffer from dyslexia?

Elizabeth: Absolutely. And to start, dyslexia is a learning disability
characterized by an inability to decode words. So kids who have dyslexia
show trouble with spelling, with reading fluently, reading with accuracy.
It’s a deficit in the phonological component of language. So the first
thing that is a sign that your child may have dyslexia is a lack of
interest in reading. Most young children really enjoy reading and look
forward to that time but dyslexic kids, it’s difficult so they might run
away and hide. They’re not interested. Second is a lack of understanding
that letters make a sound, the phonological component again. So each letter
has an associated sound and that’s a really difficult association for
dyslexic kids to make. And lastly, dyslexic kids, when they begin to read
once they get a little bit older, they often make reading errors that
really just don’t even connect to the word at all. It’s different sounds.
Dyslexic kids often have a hard time sounding out words, and they have a
hard time with even the most basic of sight words. So if you’re seeing any
of those in your child, it might be worth a look.

Robyn: All right. Thank you so much, Elizabeth, and thank you to our
viewers and remember, keep on blossoming.

Announcer: This has been Pediatric Therapy TV, where we bring peace of mind
to your family with the best in educational programming. To subscribe to
our broadcast, read our blogs, or learn more, visit our website at
learnmore.me. That’s learnmore.me.

7 Reasons to Attend NSPT’s New Bucktown Clinic Open house!

The Chicago Clinic has recently expanded to a new and improved space! We would like to celebrate and introduce ourselves by opening the doors to the community. We are so excited to share our new space with both our existing families and also hope to meet some new faces!

New Clinic Open House

  1. It is hard to find fun for the whole family, without paying a high price in the city. The open house is a FREE event that you can bring your family and friends to!
  2. There will be endless entertaining fun for your children of all ages, including a magician, face painter, balloon maker, and games.
  3. Kids will have an opportunity to explore their creative side by making various crafts!
  4. A sensory table will provide an outlet for the children to explore their senses while engaging with other kids and having a blast. There will also be Occupational Therapists to answer any questions regarding various sensory strategies and tools.
  5. Parents will have an opportunity to speak with experts in fields such as speech therapy, physical therapy and occupational therapy, as well as counselors, academic specialists, and more.
  6. Learn more about North Shore Pediatric Therapy’s multidisciplinary approach to treatment.
  7. Check out the new state- of- the- art facility, with over 4,000 square feet of therapy rooms and equipment.

Event Details:

Date: Saturday, September 15th
Time: 11:00-2:00
Location: 1657 W. Cortland St. (corner of Cortland and Paulina; 1 block south of Armitage)
Chicago, Il 60622

For more information regarding this event please contact Lauren at 877-486-4140 or LaurenW@NSPT4Kids.com

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What do Occupational Therapists Look for During your Child’s Handwriting Sample?

Handwriting is a lifelong skill. It begins as young as 3 years of age, when children start identifying shapes, letters, and numbers.  Handwriting and letter recognition are important for communicating (e.g. sending cards and emails) and for completing age-appropriate tasks (e.g. homework assignments; writing grocery lists).child pencil grasp

Below are many of the components your child’s occupational therapist looks for during a handwriting sample in order to work towards a clear and legible final product:

  • Sizing: Are the letters all relatively the same size (e.g. all upper case the same size and all lower case the same size)?
  • Spacing: Are the letters and/or words too close together?  Or is there at least a finger or pencil width between each word?
  • Mixing of upper case and lower case:  Is there inconsistency between the use of upper case and lower case letters?  Are upper case letters used correctly (e.g. start of a sentence or for a name/title)?  Mixing of upper case and lower case letters is appropriate until 6 years of age.
  • Capitalization: Are names, titles, and beginning letters of a sentence appropriately capitalized?
  • Formation of letters Does the child form each letter in the right direction?  (e.g. ‘b’, ‘d’)  Does the child use the correct number of lines and curves? (e.g. ‘m’, ‘n’)  Letter reversals are appropriate until 7 years of age.
  • Complete sentences Are there clear and complete thoughts?  Is the correct punctuation used at the end of the sentence?
  • Floating letters: Do all of the letters sit clearly on the line?
  • Pencil grasp:  Does the child hold the pencil or marker age appropriately?  The static tripod grasp is expected around 3 ½ – 4 years of age.  This is when the pencil is held between the thumb and index finger, with the pencil resting on the middle finger and the child uses and moves his wrist/arm to make movements with the pencil.  The dynamic tripod grasp is expected around 4 ½ – 6 years of age.  This is when the pencil is held between the thumb and index finger with the pencil resting on the middle finger, and the child uses and moves his fingers to make movements with the pencil.
  • Posture in chair:  Is the child slouching or falling out of the chair?  Is the child propped or leaning?  Are his feet flat on the floor?  Is the table the appropriate size?
  • Pressure used:  Is the child’s writing legible?  Or does he press down too hard or too lightly with the pencil, causing the writing to be hard to read or his hands to fatigue more easily?

This list of handwriting aspects may give you ideas of what to look for in your child’s handwriting during activities/assignments at home.   If you notice that your child is having trouble in any of these areas, encourage him to focus on one of those aspects each time he practices writing (to break down the task).  Your child will work on these aspects of handwriting during his occupational therapy sessions, but it is also very important to provide your child with similar learning opportunities and feedback at home.

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3 Signs your Child is Ready to Read | Pediatric Therapy Tv

In today’s webisode, an academic specialist introduces us to the 3 top indications a child is ready to start reading.
Click here to read our blog titled “10 Signs of a Reading Disorder

In this video you will learn:

  • What factors determines the child’s desire to read
  • What is phonemic awareness
  • Signs in the child’s behavior indicating his readiness to read

Video Transcription:

Announcer: From Chicago’s leading experts in pediatrics to a worldwide
audience, this is Pediatric Therapy TV where we provide experience and
innovation to maximize your child’s potential. Now your host, here’s Robyn.

Robyn: Hello, and welcome to Pediatric Therapy TV. I’m your host, Robyn
Ackerman, and I’m sitting here today with Elizabeth Galin [SP], an academic
specialist. Elizabeth, can you tell us what are three signs to look for
that a child may be ready to read?

Elizabeth: Absolutely. The first sign to look for when your child is ready
to read is motivation. You’re looking for your child looking forward toward
that reading time, sitting down with you, understanding that books open and
close, they turn pages right to left, that the words and the pictures on
the storybook tell us something, tell us the story.

And as children get older, the next thing you’re looking for, the second
thing you’re looking for, is letter recognition. Children begin to
understand the letters of the alphabet, specifically letters in their name
or maybe, letters in a brand that they recognize, Thomas for Thomas the
Tank Engine or stop like a stop sign, and then they begin to associate
sounds with those letters and that’s called phonemic awareness.

The third thing that you’re looking for in a child being able to read is
print awareness. So they begin to realize that letters on the page come
together to form words. Those words form sentences. Those sentences tell us
the story that we’re listening to. And you may find a young child being
interested in imitating writing. They can’t form the letter but they make
pretend letters.

Robyn: All right. Well, thank you so much, Elizabeth. Those are some great
things to look out for, and thank you to our viewers. And remember, keep on
blossoming.

Announcer: This has been Pediatric Therapy TV, where we bring peace of mind
to your family with the best in educational programming. To subscribe to
our broadcast, read our blogs, or learn more, visit our website at
learnmore.me. That’s learnmore.me.

How to have a just right ‘Engine Level’

As I discussed in my previous blog, a child’s body is typically functioning at one of three ‘Engine Levels’.   Ideally, the goal is to be at the ‘just right’ level, in which your child can accomplish the most and focus on the task at hand. It is important to remember that each child’s ‘Engine Level’ runs differently, and is affected differently.  Therefore, different strategies work differently for each child.

Here are a few strategies which might help your child to reach a just right level:Little boy practicing a yoga position

  • Listen to calming/quiet music
  • Get a drink of cold water/drinking through a straw (e.g. water bottle)
  • Chew gum or a crunchy/chewy snack
  • Take a walk, or get a breath of fresh air
  • Excuse herself to the restroom
  • Exercise/heavy work
  • A big bear hug/joint compressions
  • Yoga breaths (e.g. inhale through nose as long as she can, exhale through mouth like blowing out birthday candles)
  • Rub a small amount of lotion or scented hand sanitizer onto hands (massaging lotion into her skin can be calming, and a nice scent can help to ‘wake-up’ or ‘calm’ her body)

Try the strategies above, and note whether or not they help your child’s mind and body to feel more organized and ready to take on the tasks expected of her.  By incorporating this ‘Engine Level’ lingo into your child’s vocabulary on a daily basis, your child will ideally be able to better understand how her body is feeling, and what she can do when she’s feeling “off” or over/under aroused.  Please reach out to your child’s therapist with any further questions as to how this program can be incorporated into your family’s routine.

Reference: Williams, Mary Sue and Shellenberger, Sherry. (1996,) “How Does Your Engine Run?:  A Leader’s Guide to The Alert Program for Self-Regulation”.  Therapy Works, Inc.

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Executive Functioning Skills- Critical for School Success

The task of being a middle or high school student has become overwhelming.  In addition to demanding academic work, students have many extra activities, sport and other obligations to balance. Even the most engaged and focused students can become overwhelmed and miss important work or commitments due to weak executive functioning skills:  the skills that allow us to manage ourselves and our time with the resources we have. These skills are critical for school success, but are often not taught in the classroom.

The following are the Executive Functioning skills:Little girl sitting on a pile of books

  1. Emotional Control– the ability to regulate emotions in order to stay productive and complete a task
  2. Initiation– the ability to start a task independently
  3. Planning/Organization– the ability to plan and organize one’s time, assignments and activities effectively
  4. Shift– the ability to move from one task to another
  5. Working memory– the ability to hold information in the mind for completing a task
  6. Inhibitions– stopping impulses at the right time in order to stay focus and accomplish the task at hand

If you find your child struggling in any of these areas, consider a specific course or tutor to teach these important tools for classroom success. North Shore Pediatric Therapy offers both one-on-one tutoring sessions and an Executive Functioning Skills for School Success workshop (9:30-11:30 a.m., August 13-17) to help your child learn these critical skills.

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10 Signs of a Reading Disorder

Many people believe that reading is a natural process that comes easily to children, especially in homes that value literacy.  This assumption can be frustrating and heartbreaking to a parent of a child with dyslexia or reading comprehension problems. Approximately 1 in 5 children have dyslexia, which is defined as trouble recognizing and decoding words, most likely due to a deficit in the phonological component of language.  Here are several things to look for in developing readers that may signal dyslexia or a reading comprehension problem:

10 signs that your child may have a reading disorder: Little girl picking behind a book

  1. An intense dislike and avoidance of reading time
  2. A lack of understanding that words can be broken down into smaller parts
  3. Difficulty associating letters with sounds
  4. Inability to sound out simple words
  5. Imprecise language
  6. A family history of reading problems
  7. Reading errors that are not connected to the sounds of the letters in the words
  8. Difficulty finding the right word or coming up with a verbal response
  9. Mispronunciation of long words
  10. Lack of fluent speech

Dyslexic children are bright and talented in many ways, and there is help for dyslexic readers.  The Orton-Gillingham method is a systematic, multi-sensory approach that helps dyslexic children break the reading code and succeed.  If you worry that your child may have a reading comprehension problem, schedule a consultation with one of our Orton-Gillingham trained academic specialists.

For more information on Dyslexia Treatment, please click here.

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Handwriting Quickies: 5 easy ways to work on your child’s grasp and letter formation for handwriting

Handwriting involves many different components, such as using an age-appropriate grasp, stabilizing the paper, and identifying and forming uppercase and lowercase letters.  Luckily, there are lots of simple strategies to boost your child’s confidence and performance.

Here are a few brief suggestions to try at home:

Child practicing handwriting skills

  • Hold a marble:  Have your child hold onto a marble with his ring finger and pinky finger against his palm.  This will help him to keep his “extra” fingers out of the way, and better promote a tripod posture on the writing utensil (pencil is held between the thumb and index finger, with the pencil resting on the middle finger).
  • Varied grasp Place the writing utensil between your child’s pointer finger and long finger to promote a variation of the tripod posture.  This is a good option if your child is older and has an incorrect grasp which cannot be corrected, or to provide a “break” for your child if he fatigues easily during handwriting activities.
  • Use a golf-sized pencil A small pencil works well for small hands (approximately 6 years and younger).  This will offer your child more control over the writing utensil, and may require less strength and endurance as it is lighter.
  • Practice letter recognition:  Have your child trace letters onto your back, or trace letters onto your child’s back.  This will help him practice recognizing the shape and formation of the letters, and also feel the letters, providing tactile input.  Similarly, you and your child can take turns drawing letters in the air (make movements extremely large and exaggerated); again, this will help your child see the lines and curves of the letters and feel them as well.  (Note:  during the summertime, sparklers are a fun way to practice forming letters/words in the air for others to guess!  Just make sure that children are monitored by adults for safety purposes)
  • I spy with my little eye Change up the game “I spy” by incorporating spelling.  For example, “I spy with my little eye, something that starts with the letter S.”  This will help your child sound out which letter the object starts with.  To make the activity harder, ask your child to spell out the entire word at the end of each round.

Handwriting and learning to recognize the alphabet can feel like daunting tasks to parents, as there are many components to think about in order to best teach your child.  However, as stated above, there are many “tricks” to provide your child with greater success and, therefore, increased confidence.  Try one of these strategies today, and watch your child blossom!

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Speech and Language Apps From Duck Duck Moose

If you have read my last few blogs, you will probably know that I love finding new apps to use in my speech therapy sessions. I am also cognizant of which apps my families could use at home to reinforce the skills I work with their children on. The descriptions below will give you a good idea of what each app entails. Items listed under “Use this app to work on” relate to speech and language skills that I found I could target with the specific app. If you have any more ideas, please be sure to leave a comment so that we can continue to learn together!

Enjoy exploring the following apps:

Parents with a child holding an iPad

Draw and Tell HD – $1.99

Description: This is by far the coolest drawing app I’ve seen for children of all ages! Children can choose between making their own picture or coloring one of 18 pictures stored within the app. If your child opts to create their own drawing, they start off by selecting the paper they want to use, with all sorts of colors and patterns to choose from. Once they get to the main drawing page, they can either draw (using colored pencils, crayons, paints, and patterned markers) or put fun stickers on the page. There are TONS to choose from. For example, pick the cute yellow puffer fish or the purple garbage truck. Then put a fancy black top hat on the puffer fish and feed him a delicious cupcake!

Other fun features include stencils, a record button, and an undo button.

Use this app to work on:

  • Answering and asking wh- and yes/no questions
  • Formulating sentences
  • Story construction – Have your child make up a story about their picture, including important story elements such as characters, setting, events and problems/solutions.
  • Articulation
  • Improving vocabulary –both receptive and expressive
    • I.e., Letters, numbers, food, animals, clothing/accessories, transportation
  • Following directions with spatial or sequential concepts

Peek a Zoo – $0.99

Description: This is a great interactive app for the little ones, between 2 and 5 years old. In this app, children are asked a question (the question is read out loud and is written on the screen), and the child is asked to identify the animal that answers the question. For example, “Which animal is sleeping?” This app incorporates vocabulary such as animals, emotions, actions, descriptive adjectives, and clothing.

Use this app to work on:

  • Improving receptive vocabulary
  • Answering who questions
  • Identifying colors
  • Producing animal sounds

Musical Me! – $0.99

Description:  This is a wonderful musical app. It teaches children all about rhythm, pitch, notes and creating music. In the first activity, there are 2 animals and a monster that dance and move when touched. In the next activity, the child is asked to tap out the rhythm to different songs by touching the birds as they fly by. There are 3 different levels within this particular activity. The next activity is a memory task. The child hears a pattern and sees 3-5 planets, depending on the level (again, there are 3 levels). When a note is played, the corresponding planet gets a bit bigger. After the pattern is played, the child has to touch the planets corresponding to the notes in the right order. As we continue onto the next activity, the child gets to create his/her own music by moving the notes up and down on the scale. After he/she makes a song, they can choose to play it back to them. Animals move around on the page and do silly things when they’re touched! The last activity has a variety of instruments to choose from and when touched, they make their sound. You can tap them to play along with the song!Use this app to work on:

  • Following directions and auditory processing
  • Recall of information
  • I will most likely use this app as reinforcement or as break activity as it does not relate directly to speech and language.

Word Wagon HD – $1.99

Description: This app has 4 different levels: letters, phonics, spelling I, and spelling II. The words that are targeted in this app come from the following categories: animals, around the house, numbers, colors, food, vehicles, and Mozz and Coco. It should be noted that some of these words are Dolch sight words. You can choose which category of words to work on or click “all” to get a random assortment!

As reinforcement, children earn stars and stickers. The stars form different constellations that turn into animals! The stickers can be moved around and make sounds when you touch them.

Level Breakdowns:

Letters: Children have to match uppercase letters to form a word which reinforces learning letter names.

Phonics: Once the child matches the letters, they hear the sounds each letter makes.

Spelling: Children spell words up to 4 letters.

Spelling II: Children spell words up to 6 letters.

Use this app to work on:

  • Letter recognition – uppercase only
  • Spelling – 3 to 6 letter words
  • Phonemic awareness skills – while this app does not target rhyming, manipulation of phonemes (i.e. sounds) or other reading readiness skills, you can take the phonics level a step further and work on these!

Old MacDonald HD – $1.99

Description:  This app takes a children’s song and nursery rhyme to a whole new level!! It is a very interactive and engaging book. I think it’s called a book because you have to “turn the page” to get to the next animal or vehicle. The song is always playing in the background. There is only one word per page, which labels the target object (i.e. “dog”). There are 12 pages in the book. Animals and sounds included are: chicken, dog, cat, pigeon, cow, sheep, duck, frog, bear, and pig. Vehicles included are: a tractor and a bulldozer. The best part of this book is that the objects on the pages are all animated. They all do different things when touched. For example, when you click the barn doors, the doors open and ducks come out!     

In the settings, you can choose from different languages or instruments to play while the app is being used. The child can even record himself/herself!

Use this app to work on:

  • Producing animal sounds
  • Labeling animal names
  • Action vocabulary
  • Singing and joint attention 

Be sure to check out other apps by Duck Duck Moose!! Don’t forget to leave comments if you find other useful ways to use the apps! Thanks for reading!

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