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10 Easy Strategies to Boost Your Child’s Reading Comprehension

Reading is a critical skill for academic success.  Reading allows us to learn from texts and articles, gives us directions on homework assignments and class projects, and opens the world of books.  But what if your child is falling behind?  It might feel discouraging to learn that your child is struggling with reading comprehension.  Not only do you want your child to succeed, but you also want your child to enjoy reading.  There are many things parents can do to help.

10 practical strategies to improve your child’s reading comprehension:

  1. Ask “check-in” questions as your child reads.  Who is in the story so far?  What is the pig’s house made of?
  2. Encourage your child to monitor her own comprehension while she reads.  Do you understand the last sentence?  What’s happened in the story so far?
  3. Have your child reread challenging sentences.  Talk about the meaning.
  4. Encourage your child to restate challenging sentences in her own words.
  5. Help your child build the story as she reads.  Graphic organizers are great tools to use.  For example, make a “character wheel” by writing important traits about a particular character on each spoke.  Or fill in a worksheet that identifies the story’s main events, problem and solution.
  6. Have your child make predictions about the story as she is reading.  What do you think this story will be about?  What do you think will happen next?
  7. Encourage your child to write down challenging vocabulary words.  Have your child make flashcards of each word by drawing a picture of the word and writing the definition in her own words.  Practice using the new vocabulary words throughout the week.
  8. Encourage your child to summarize the story in her own words.  If this is hard, have her use her graphic organizer to recall specific events or details.
  9. Ask your child to identify the “main idea” of the story.  What is the story about?  Why do you think the author wrote it?  If you could give the story a new title, what would it be and why?
  10. Gradually encourage your child to use these strategies on her own.  As your child is more successful, take a step back.  If they have difficulty, help her decide what she can do to better understand the story.

Finally, make reading fun!  Choose material that is interesting to your child.  Keep in mind that reading is not limited to only books.  You might read a movie review from a film your child recently saw, or a recipe your child is excited to try.  Take your child to the bookstore and encourage her to choose a fun book to read before bed.  If you’re unsure what reading level is appropriate, ask your child’s teacher for the latest recommended books for your child’s age.

For more reading help, contact our Blossom Reading Center.

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How Fast Should My Child Be Reading?

Reading is fundamental to academic success. Children spend hours from preschool to third grade learning how to read. From third grade on, childrenreading speed spend hours reading to learn new subject material. As a Pediatric Speech Therapist, I’ve been asked the following question: My child is an accurate reader, but seems to read more slowly than his peers.  Should I be concerned?  For reference, Hasbrauck and Tindal (2006) published reading norms for grades 1-8. The following is a general rule for the number of accurately read words produced in a minute by a young reader by grade.

Reading Norms | Words Read per Minute by Grade:

  • By the end of Grade 1, your child should be reading approximately 53 words correctly per minute.
  • By the end of Grade 2, your child should be reading approximately 89 words correctly per minute.
  • By the end of Grade 3, your child should be reading approximately 107 words correctly per minute.
  • By the end of Grade 4, your child should be reading approximately 123 words correctly per minute. Read more

Develop Executive Functioning Skills This Summer

Does your pre-teen have difficulty staying on task? Does he become overwhelmed when presented with a long-term project? Does he have a hard time controlling his emotions and behaviors? Is it a constant struggle for him to clean up his room? If so, your child may have difficulty with executive functioning. Executive functioning skills are the executive functionsfundamental brain-based skills required to execute tasks: getting organized, planning, initiating work, staying on task, controlling impulses, and regulating emotions.  These skills provide the foundation that all children need to negotiate the academic, home, and social demands of childhood.

Summertime is a great break from busy schedules overrun by homework, projects, and extracurricular activities, but the decreased structure can cause a child with executive functioning difficulties to lose the skills they have gained during the school year. Research has shown that practice is crucial in the development of executive functioning skills; kids who practice executive skills are not only learning self-management, but also developing the connections in the brain that will support the development of executive skills in later adolescence and adulthood!  Read on for ways to keep your child’s executive functioning skills sharp over summer break.

Tips for developing executive functioning skills all summer:

  • Praise: If you know your child is particularly good at a certain skill (e.g. task initiation), communicate that to your child and encourage him to use it to complete summer tasks.  For example say, “I really like how you got started on your chores before lunch.” This will encourage the maintenance of the particular skill your child has mastered.
  • Calendars: Summer schedules can be vastly different from the rest of the year, so to prevent difficulties with handling the change in schedule, use a calendar.   Calendars are a great visual tool to help a child with time management, planning and prioritizing. It allows him to plan ahead and know what is expected and when.
  • Accountability: Whether your child is participating in sports, dance, or going to camp, have your child be responsible (or partially responsible, depending on age and capability) for his equipment or supplies.  This can help him to maintain his organizational and working memory skills.
  • Summer Cleaning: If your child has difficulty with task initiation and organization in his room, take the time over the summer to organize a different space together (garage, spare closet) so you can problem solve together how to start, what to do, and how to be efficient. This allows your child to practice this daunting task with some guidance from you.   He can then carry this skill over to improve his personal space. You may even find old bins or containers your child can use for his room!
  • Summertime Incentives: Rewards make the effort of learning a skill and the effort of performing a task worthwhile. In the summer, there are a lot of fun activities and more time to do them! Take advantage of this and use these fun activities (extra time on the computer, extra time at the pool, going to a friend’s house) as rewards for the tasks you want your child to complete.

Instead of allowing your child to forget the gains he made in executive functioning skills at school, use the summer to make gains and have fun!  For more help with executive functioning, click below to download your free executive functioning checklist.

 

Executive Functioning Activities At Home

Many kids have difficulty mastering skills such as problem-solving, organization, sequencing, initiation, memory, attention, and breaking downgirl with homework books tasks.  These skills (and many more) fall under the category of executive functioning.  As children get older and begin middle school, these skills are expected to advance quickly.  It is usually in about 5th grade where teachers and parents start to notice their child may be having more difficulty than her peers in executive functioning skills. Academic specialists, occupational therapists, and neuropsychologists are just a few of the professionals who address challenges in these areas, but there are also a variety of activities that can be done at home that are both fun and target the development of certain executive functioning skills.

Here is a list of activities that build certain aspects of executive functioning and are fairly easy to orchestrate in the home:

  • Using Playdoh, blocks, or Tinkertoys, build a figurine and have your child build an exact replica in size and color.  This works on multiple skills, including initiation, breaking down tasks, sequencing, organization, and attention.  If you are unable to build an example, or if you have an older child who enjoys playing independently, there are often pictures of structures to build that come along with block sets or images online that can be printed.
  • Have your child go through a magazine and make a list of all the toys/items wanted. Then, have her organize the list in some sort of order (most wanted at the top, alphabetical, price, etc.).  For older kids, you could also have them write a description of the item, cut the pictures out, and type up a list with descriptions and pasted pictures, or even plan a presentation.
  • There are many board games that target executive functioning skill development.  A few of the games used in the therapeutic setting that would be easy and fun options for home use include: Rush Hour (a problem-solving and sequencing game involving getting a specific car out of a traffic jam when the other vehicles can only move in straight lines), Mastermind (trying to determine what the secret code is by process of elimination), and Connect 4 Stackers (a game of attention, organization, and planning to be the first to get four in a row, like the original, but this game involves different dimensions).
  • There are many resources that can be printed from the internet. Logic puzzles come in many different levels of difficulty and involve taking given clues, making inferences from those clues, and eventually solving some sort of problem through the use of the clues. There are often charts that accompany these puzzles and require attention, organization, sequencing and problem-solving.
  • Have your child choose a recipe from a magazine. After verifying that it is a realistic recipe that can be made in your home, have her write a grocery list containing everything needed to prepare that dish, create a list of the necessary cooking supplies, and for older children, have them look up the price of each item at the store and create an estimated budget. If possible, let them be part of the entire process, and take them with you to the grocery store. Again, with older children, you could even put them in charge of pushing the cart and finding the items in the store. For older kids, they may also act as the “head chef” and be responsible for completing most of the cooking. For younger kids, if there are safety concerns, assign specific tasks as their job in the cooking process.

One of the most important aspects of doing therapeutic activities at home is that your child is having fun. These are just a few of the many activities that can be done at home to develop executive functioning skills and are also engaging and enjoyable for school age kids.




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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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Get your Child Ready for 1st Grade

For many children going to 1st grade is a huge milestone.  More hours spent in school, higher expectations for academic, behavior,  social skills, and more peer pressure.Child in First Grade

Here are some tips to parent these kids as “right” as you can before 1st grade:

Academics

  • Prepare your child with some online fun academics, flash cards, or any workbook for 1st grade readiness;  but make it fun!  10 minutes per day is enough! You can even try KUMON math and reading to get them strong in basics for math and reading.  This will also prepare them with homework.
  • Strengthen up any weaknesses your child may have in academics. If they need a little reading help, use the following tips in this blog. If they need some number work, try flashcards, or try a tutor, but even just 10 minutes a day can make a huge difference in their self esteem about academics.
  • Get your child tested now if you detect any challenges. Don’t wait for the teacher to say something at conferences!  Go get a good neuropsychological exam and you will know what strengths and challenges your child has and have an opportunity to grow them.
  • Use a daily schedule even in first grade for time management and learning appropriate skills.

Behavior

  • Make sure your child knows how to follow rules, understands boundaries, and knows the expectations of first grade children.  This includes raising hands, taking turns, staying quiet and getting involved/participation, etc.
  • Get your child some support if behavior is an issue.  There are social groups, social workers, books, all kinds of tools to help out there!
  • Your child needs to know what YOU expect of him and what your consequences  are at home.
  • Make sure your family gets proper sleep and food daily.

Social skills/Peer Pressure

  • Make play dates for your child and help model proper 1st grade skills.
  • Join a community playgroup/social group at a local clinic, park district or religious organization.
  • If you suspect something is still off about his social skills, get him evaluated and he can practice his skills with the right support.
  • Make sure to keep your child engaged and talkative with you so you can help him through the tough and great times of 1st grade.

Good luck!

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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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