Apr 172014

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Phoneme Tile sheets for lamination and phoneme practice

Phoneme Checklist for tracking Phonemic Awareness mastery

Sight Word Flashcards – print on 10-per-sheet perforated business card stock


Small Grid Paper for Math Problem Alignment

Medium Grid Paper for Math Problem Alignment

Large Grid Paper for Math Problem Alignment


One Page Homework Organizer

Apr 072014

Does your child have frequent meltdowns in public?

Does he cover his ears in noisy environments?

Does your child fall apart emotionally after a day full of activity or travel?

This video provides a good portrayal of the difficulties faced by a child who has a sensory integration disability. Watch it to understand how your child feels.

Do you wonder what you can do to help your child?

Solutions some parents use, depending upon the child’s tolerance level, include:

  • Ear plugs
  • Soft ear muffs
  • Allow your child to have a large blanket to form a “cocoon” for himself in a shopping cart (helps with visual over stimulation)
  • Instead of trying to run a lot of errands back-to-back, go run one errand per day (provides smaller doses of overload, which may be more tolerable for your child)

How do you help your child cope? Please post your comments below to help other parents find solutions which may work for their children.

Feb 092014

Are You Making One of These Mistakes Homeschooling Your Learning Abled Kid? Learn three common mistakes and what you can do to avoid them.

If you’re making one of these common mistakes, you can help your child (and yourself) by changing how you handle your child’s education.

Mistake #1 – Assuming your child is lazy, not trying hard enough, or purposefully dawdling

When your child throws tantrums, says he hates school, and seems outright defiant about his schoolwork, it’s really easy to feel like your child is purposefully avoiding his work.

When your child has learning disabilities, it becomes really difficult to determine if your child really can’t do the work, isn’t trying hard enough, is distracted, or otherwise not doing his best with his schoolwork.

It’s difficult to decide how or whether to discipline your child. What’s a mom to do?

What to Do Instead – Acknowledge Your Child’s Struggles with Encouragement

Virtually all children want to please their parents, particularly when they are young.

Children want to learn too. So, if your child says he doesn’t know an answer–he really DOESN’T know (at that moment). No child wants to be unable to understand or complete his schoolwork.

Since you already know your child has learning challenges, you can be sure those challenges will cause struggles that are REAL for your child.

Therefore, you have to assume your child’s behaviors are driven by his frustration, fear, a feeling of defeat, his difficulties with processing, memory, or other cognitive difficulties.

The key for avoiding this big mistake is to acknowledge your child’s struggles are real and to encourage him to do his best.  After all, persistence and hard work often bring good results in the long run.

Whenever your child gets angry, is working slowly, says he can’t do the work, etc., encourage him by saying, “I know this is hard for you.” Validate your child’s feelings and give him comfort in knowing you understand his frustrations.

Helping your child feel loved and validated, even when he’s struggling, will help your child feel more secure in putting forth his best effort. If your child knows you won’t get mad or frustrated with him when he is struggling, he’ll be more relaxed and able to think more clearly.

Over time, the relaxed, encouraging atmosphere in your homeschool will create an environment where your child is emotionally primed for learning.

Mistake #2 – Not using assistive technology or accommodations to enable your child’s learning across all subjects

Often parents worry that the use of assistive technology or accommodations will become a “crutch” for their child. Other parents don’t even think about using technology to enable their child’s learning.

Additionally, parents may not be aware of the many technologies or tools that can help a child learn in spite of disabilities.

What to Do Instead – Use Technology and Accommodations to Overcome Barriers to Learning

Whether your child struggles with reading, writing, spelling, or math, there are ways to help your child stay on track with his learning across knowledge-based subjects.

The most critical factor is for you to recognize the separation of academic skills (reading, handwriting, spelling, math facts) versus learning rooted in knowledge and understanding.

For example, a child must learn how to decode words to read.  However, an inability to read is no reason to keep your child from learning science, social studies, literature, or anything else that usually requires reading in school.

While your child would still need remedial reading instruction to learn the skill of reading, you can use audiobooks, Hi-Low Books, audio-visual learning programs, or other types of instructional resources to enable your child to learn content-based information.

Similarly, handwriting is an entirely different skill than “written expression.” There is no reason your child can’t create compositions even if he can’t write by hand yet.  Using speech-to-text software or dictation is an excellent way for a child to get his thoughts on paper while he is still learning to write by hand.

For math facts, your child can use a calculator. Often a child may have difficulty with math fact fluency, but your child may understand math reasoning well enough to work problems if he has a calculator. For spelling, your child can use a handheld speller.

The key to avoiding mistake #2 is to think outside of typical books and paper schooling.  Look for different ways for your child to learn content, different ways for your child to express himself, and different ways to help your child work around basic skill deficits.

Also, consider assistive technology as a tool for your child, just like a hearing aids or cochlear implants help hearing impaired people, or a wheelchair helps someone with a physical disability. Your child’s learning struggles are no different and assistive technology can enable your child’s learning.

Mistake #3 – Focusing on academics at the expense of your child’s special interests or talents.

Your child may struggle with completing his school work so much that your school days are longer than you want them to be.  It may seem as though you have little time to pursue outside interests.

Additionally, you and your child may both be drained of energy when you’ve finished your lessons for the day.  You may feel like you don’t really want to go do anything else.

If your child’s world consists only of academics, which he has difficulty with, he will feel beaten down over time.

Simply put, you can’t let academic difficulties beat your child’s spirit down.

What to Do Instead -  Inspire Your Child to Pursue Unique Interests or Talents

Every child needs to feel competent at something.  He must feel that his interests and abilities matter or his spirit may be crushed over time.

Children who feel they’re not good at anything or who realize no enjoyment in their daily lives end up depressed and with very low self-esteem.

Therefore, building up your child and helping him discover his skills and talents can make the difference between a child who has hope and a child who is downtrodden.

A few of ways to insure your child is able to pursue extra-curricular activities of interest to him include setting aside one afternoon per week for non-academic work, listening to audiobooks on the way two and from activities, or cutting out non-essential academic studies.

What kinds of non-essential academics might I mean?  A couple that come to mind are a rigorous study of grammar or the study of Latin in elementary or middle school.

GASP! Did I really just suggest you not study formal grammar? I DID! Let’s face it, unless you’re an English teacher, when have you ever had to diagram a sentence in your life? I’m not suggesting you skip any grammar instruction, but rather that you stick to practical grammar instruction involving periods, commas, etc.

Similarly, a lot of homeschooling moms of Learning Abled Kids see other parents teaching their children Latin, Spanish, or some other language, and feel compelled to “keep up.” Carefully watch for that “keep up with the Jones’” syndrome creeping into your schooling.

It pays to be mindful of your child’s academic needs versus things that would be academic niceties.  When your child is struggling with the basics, focusing on the core academics and those subjects that are legally required in your state are all that is necessary while your child is still learning to master basic academic skills.

Build some fun learning into your child’s school year.  Whether it is participating in First Lego League Robotics, a sport, music lessons, the arts, drama, etc., find at least one area where your child is capable, talented, and inspired.

Having even a single capABILITY can provide a great boost to your child’s confidence and self esteem. That boost in confidence can spill over into other areas, including academics, so don’t sell your child’s interests and talents short when you’re planning out your school year.

When you wonder whether you’re doing a good job homeschooling your learning abled child, noting these common mistakes and learning how to avoid them can help both you and your child feel great about homeschooling.

Tips for Improving Your Child’s Homeschooling Outcome

If you want to receive more tips and great insights about how to homeschool your Learning Abled Kid effectively, then be sure to sign up for the Learning Abled Kids’ Tips newsletter.

It only goes out a few times per month, but contains great insights for helping your child succeed academically and in life.

Sign up now to help your Learning Abled Kid.

As always, Do your best and Happy Homeschooling!
Sandy, Your Learning Abled Kids Can-Do Cheerleader

Jan 302014

If your child has dyslexia or dysgraphia, then spelling and writing ARE going to be difficult for your child. However, there is a really quick way to improve your child’s written expression in a very short time period, but I know some mommas aren’t going to like this quick trick!

Why Your Child Struggles Mightily With Written Expression:

Reading requires recognition skills (your child sees the word and then figures it out), but writing (and spelling) require much more involved mental processes because your child has to hold a LOT of information in his head:

  • the sentence he wants to write with each word in the right order,
  • he has to figure out how to spell each word while still holding the sentence in his brain,
  • then he has to physically go through the process of recalling how to write each letter,
  • write the word, letter-by-letter,
  • write each sentence word-by-word, and
  • write the paragraph sentence-by-sentence .. while holding it all in his head.

As you can see, if a child has working memory deficits, then writing can be a very arduous and difficult task!

Words, phrases, or thoughts are lost while your child is trying to hold everything in his head long enough to write things down. That is why a child will write poorly organized sentences that sometimes don’t even make sense.

Quick Trick for Written Expression Improvement:

One way to improve your child’s written expression quickly is to completely separate handwriting from written composition. I go into depth about this concept in my upcoming book, “Help Your Child Overcome Dyslexia At Home,” which will be published this year (I’ll let you know when it is released), but I thought I’d share this tip with my readers so you all will be in the know NOW.

The trick is to let your child dictate what he wants to write to you (who becomes his scribe) OR use dictation software (speech-to-text, which can be more difficult to use with speech issues) when your child is creating a composition–an essay or a story.

By letting your bright child dictate as a way of getting thoughts on paper, it will bring out your child’s creative mind and ability to compose better essays and stories.

The only thing your child has to think of is what he wants to say. Your child can tell you or the computer what he wants to say a lot quicker and easier than he can physically write it down.

I hear the worry alarm going off in some moms’ heads:

Do not worry. Using this common accommodation will not impair your child in the long run.. Your child needs to master the phonemes, how to spell, and how to physically write before trying to integrate it all together in well-written sentences and paragraphs.

Given how difficult writing is for kids with dyslexia and dysgraphia, mastery of each individual piece of writing is the key to your child’s proficient writing by hand. Once your child has mastered all of the pieces, then the ability to write a composition by hand will improve.

Therefore, it is often helpful to teach each piece totally separately from the other pieces.

Examples of Task Separation

For example, for handwriting, use a method of copying from a book so your child can FOCUS on handwriting as the only skill he is trying to master at that moment.

When your child is working on learning the phonemes, let your child work on the isolated skill of hearing the sound and recognizing the letters that go with that sound to the point of mastery.

By separating each writing skill component from the others, you can work with your child on that individual piece until your child MASTERs that skill. What does mastery look like? Or How do you know your child has mastered the skill?

Basically, mastery is demonstrated when your child can rapidly, without hesitating, respond or use a skill correctly. For example, if you ask your child how to spell “when” and he rapidly responds w-h-e-n, then he has mastered the spelling of that word. If your child pauses, says, “Ummmm, w (pause) h (pause) e (pause) n,” then he has not mastered the spelling of “when” because he had to think about it as he was spelling the word.

(Incidentally, spelling is the biggest nemesis of all for most kids with dyslexia, which I also talk about in my upcoming book).

Does the way I’ve explained the separation of each writing-based skill make sense? It’s basically breaking all of the elements in your instruction apart so that the task of writing is not so overwhelmingly complex that your child isn’t able to simultaneously manage all of the pieces that go into writing.

Summing it Up

I said some mommas aren’t going to like the solution because I know becoming your child’s scribe can be time consuming and requires your undivided attention. Using dictation software requires a purchase and training the software to function on behalf of your child.

Sometimes these solutions can be difficult depending upon other demands on your time and budget, but I did want you to be aware of why your child struggles mightily with writing, and the quickest way to improve his written expression.

I hope this tip helps! If nothing else, give it a try when your child is trying to compose a story or an essay.  You may be surprised by how well your child can express his self in writing when someone or something else is transcribing the words onto paper!

Jan 122014

Most parents worry about required standardized testing at the end of each school year, but I think test anxiety is even stronger for parents of Learning Abled Kids.

There are steps you can take to make sure your child understands how to take a standardized test, is ready for the test, and to make sure your child is willing to put forth his best effort.

Prep Step #1: Have Your Child Practice standardized test taking skills:

If your child is in public school, they’ll probably have the students practice standardized test taking skills, but if your child is homeschooled, he may need a bit of standardized testing practice to become comfortable with the process.

There are standardized test practice resources at each grade level.  To help your child get ready, acquire the most appropriate practice resource, then have your child practice once or twice per week for 6-8 weeks prior to the scheduled testing. Ideally, have your child practice for an hour each Saturday morning until the exams. Practicing in the morning is when your child is more alert and well rested, which means the practice is likely to go better than it will as an addition to a school day.

Action Step:

Prep Step #2 Help Your Child Strengthen His Weakest Skill

If your child has learning difficulties and struggles with basic reading decoding skills, his math facts, writing skills, or has difficulty with processing speed or memory, then your child may show some improvement if you have him use a basic skills program daily.  (Doing this before bed helps your child process and retain the learning better).

For example, if your child has difficulty remembering his math facts, having him use a computer-based practice program for 20-30 minutes before bedtime will help your child with his memory and recall of the math facts.

If your child has difficulty with memory or processing speed, then using a cognitive enhancement program daily can improve those areas of cognition.  Improving these basic abilities has been shown to improve performance overall when the programs are used consistently on a daily basis.

If your child has difficulty with writing, then you will need to use a program to work directly with your child since writing skills are not easily practiced through a computer program.

Action Step – Pick a reading, writing, math or cognitive enhancement program, then have your child spend 20-30 minutes in the program just before bed most nights.

Prep Step #3  Build Your Child Up with Encouragement

Encourage your child whenever he is working hard.  Even if you don’t *think* your child works very hard, if you notice him working, encourage him.  Every child wants to please his parents and if you complement him, it will encourage him in his work.

If you have difficulty figuring out how to encourage your child, consider reading “Encouraging Words For Kids.” The book will help you become an encourager for your child in all aspects of his performance in a way that will inspire your child to do his best in all things.

Action Step: Make it a point to complement your child each week at a minimum (daily is better) and tell him how pleased you are with his hard work and effort. More people go places through hard work than through what comes easy for them, so it’s the work and effort that needs to be built up in your child.


Whatever you do, try not to express any worries or anxieties to your child about standardized testing. Point out that the testing helps you know how to teach your child better.  In the case of high schoolers, be sure to point out they can retake the SAT or ACT, if needed, and your child should try to relax and do his best.

Reducing your child’s test anxiety by being relaxed about it can help your child perform better.  Practice will make your child comfortable with standardized tests.

If you follow these three simple steps, your child will be as ready for standardized testing as possible. At a minimum, you will feel more confident that your child is prepared for the testing, and the test anxiety you reduce may very well be your own!

If you’re testing your own child, you may want to read about the pros and cons for using the ITBS versus Stanford-10 to evaluate your child.

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