The Borten Institute
Spelling homework can feel more like a MMA cage fight or WWF wrestling match for some parents of children with dyslexia or other learning disabilities.
Wanna know how to do spelling practice at home without tears?
One way parents can practice spelling at home is with an approach called Multisensory Spelling Practice, credited to Orton-Gillingham and many others. This approach allows for engaging the brain by using all 5 senses to practice spelling – see it (visual), feel it (tactile), hear it (auditory) and move with it (kinesthetic).
Here are 5 steps to multisensory spelling practice to try at home with children who have learning disabilities.
1. Look and Listen
Get your child’s attention and point to your mouth while pronouncing the word. The child should be watching how your mouth forms the word.
Have the child mimic saying the same word, minding their mouth movement, tongue placement, and lip position.
3. Unblend and Blend
Have your child unblend, or separate sounds, in the word using their fingers. For example, saying the word “cat” we hear three sounds: /c/ /a/ /t/.
When each sound is said, one finger is used to represent each sound.
/c/ (1 finger up), /a/ (2 fingers up), /t/ (3 fingers up).
Now, blend those 3 sounds into one smooth word “cat”; while taking the fingers away in one swoop.
**It is important to sync sounds with finger movement in step 3**
Have your child write the word. They could also use magnetic letters, dry erase boards, salt trays or glue letter cutouts to add variety to this step.
Finally, show your child the correct spelling and compare their spelling in step 4.
Typically 8-10 words can be completed with these steps in about 10-16 minutes depending on the needs of the child.
Multisensory spelling practice is a great way to engage the brains of learners who need alternative ways to learn phonics. It is also a great way to make spelling practice at home more engaging without the MMA cage or WWF wrestling mat!
Now that virtual learning has become a common occurrence in many households across america, many parents are still adjusting to having a job and being a homeschool teacher all at the same time. Between Zoom meetings, Schoology assignments, and Canvas lessons; things can become overwhelming pretty fast!
It is important for new and experienced homeschooling parents to remember that self care is vital! When you're well, your children are well!
Here are some self care options, to stay fresh while you homeschool children and manage online lessons.
Face to Face or Virtual?
A question that has just about tormented parents of school aged children. The questions do not stop there.
Homeschool or micro school? Learning Pod or nanny?
So, much uncertainty looms on the horizon, but the one security we do have is structure.
For school aged children structure and a set learning schedule can give some semblance of comfort and stability.
Tips for Maintaining a Daily Learning Schedule:
-allow children a opportunity to help build the schedule to solidify their buy in early on
-maintain the same bedtime AND wake up time used on a school day
-and be sure to build in breaks and recreation activities into your schedule
Check out this sample learning schedule to keep you and your children on track during prolonged periods of virtual learning.
The Borten Institute for Learning Disabilities is looking to contract part-time tutors for students with learning disabilities. Contract tutors set their own schedule and tutor in their preferred subject areas.
Contract Tutors must be:
-must be a certified special education teacher
-must be currently employed by a local school district
For more details, email us.
To become a contract tutor, apply here.
This was me in 8th grade. I was well rounded, well behaved, and even took honor classes in Reading. However, you would never know by looking at this picture, the countless hours I spent staring frustrated at math homework or the anxiety induced nausea I felt walking into math class every day.
As I matriculated through high school, my math teachers would give me passing grades on math work I was not able to do. Primarily because they saw me trying and wanted to reward my effort. But that did not help me once in college algebra. I had to take the remedial course 3 times!! I never mastered the prerequisite skills in math because I did not have to! I was given passing grades by caring teachers who thought they were doing the right thing.
Is this your child’s story? Do you feel your child is getting passing grades, on skills they do not know how to do?
One tip on how to address this is to talk to your child’s teacher. Believe it or not, teachers form a special bond with their students. They see your child’s potential, they know your child has been working hard, and they just want to help. But, sometimes “helping” to pass students does more harm than good. Have an honest and open conversation with your child’s teacher about grading them based on their true ability.
Another tip would be to reevaluate your expectations. If you feel your child is receiving grades they did not earn, make sure you understand what skill is be graded. For example, if a first-grade student takes a spelling test and writes
instead of “sat”, a teacher may give full credit for this attempt. That is because developmentally letter reversals are common up thru 2nd grade. Teachers tend to not penalize children for underdeveloped skills. Reevaluating your expectations, may help ease your concerns, about the accuracy of your child’s grades.
Are you done testing? Will the student qualify? When is the ARD meeting?
Questions you will undoubtedly get this year as you start your new journey as an Educational Diagnostician.
It is exciting, right? You made it thru practicum (with a few tears), you passed the certification exam, and you landed job?!?! Whooo hooo!
But, when the celebration ends, there is still a job to do! You have invested the last 2-3 years of your life working toward the job you just landed. Are you prepared to start? Do you feel confident walking in on day one?
Whether you are or not, here are three practical tips to help you feel prepared and confident starting on day 1.
Tip #1: Put It On Your Calendar
If it is not on your calendar it will not happen. This is one of the most impactful statements I have heard since being an educational diagnostician. It means to be diligent about putting everything you intent to accomplish in a day, week, or month on your calendar. If you do not have it on your calendar, you will not get it done. It is a discipline that will lead to you being effective, efficient, and dependable.
Tip #2: Ask for Help
“Forget the mistake, remember the lesson.” An anonymous quote that rings so true. You will be on a huge learning curve this school year. All the course work you have completed over the last few years, can not completely prepare you for the job of an educational diagnostician. There are some things you will not know, until you are in the “thick of it”. When there are things you do not know how to do…ask for help! I suggest keeping a running record of questions you have on a notepad or in email. Then ask questions in a weekly meeting with a mentor or someone who can answer them.
Additionally, a lot of your learning will come on the hills of making mistakes! Some mistakes will be little and some will be huge. But do not beat yourself up about these mistakes! Forget the feeling that comes with making a mistake (feelings of inadequacy, embarrassment or shame) and remember the lesson. Remember the right way to proceed the next time you encounter the situation!
Tip #3: Control Office Traffic
Office traffic, people in and out of your office, a common reason educational diagnosticians do not get work done in a timely manner. You arrive to work at 8:00am with intentions of completing 3 hours of report writing that day. But at 8:30am a teacher pops in unexpectedly on her conference period and speaks to you for an hour about a troubled student. After which, you stare back at your report trying to remember where you left off but an assistance principal pops in unexpectedly at 10:00am. Before you know it, 3 hours have flown by and you have only written the same sentence 3 times in your report because of the constant disruptions. Set concrete office hours and display signage on your door that will let people know when you are available and we you are not available.
More practical tips like these are available on, The Borten Institute for Learning Disabilities website, in an online course entitled “ First Day Diag”. This is a set of 5 online courses that gives practical tips on how to:
Click here to check it out now.
The job of an educational diagnostician can be exceedingly difficult but is also very rewarding. We lead the charge in ensuring children have equal and equitable opportunity to access education so they can be all they are purposed to be. I believe this is some of the best work we will ever do on this side of heaven!
Congrats again on landing the new job, and I wish you much success your first year as an educational diagnostician.
Wearing a face mask can be difficult for typically developing children, but even more so for children with Autism or other sensory processing issues.
Sensory Processing can be defined as how the nervous system receives input from the senses and turns input into an appropriate motor and behavioral responses. Being over responsive or under responsive to these processes can result in sensory processing disorder.
For example, some over responsive or under responsive behavior to sensory input maybe as follows:
Use of a face mask for extended periods of time, can be challenge for students with sensory processing issues. Here are some strategies to support wearing a face mask by Mount Sinai Seaver Autism Center:
•Parent / sibling/stuffed animal as a model for wearing
•Make it “fun”
•Practice wearing at home
•Increase the amount of time worn each day
•Include child in the process
•Design, color, putting on
•Explore different fabrics
•Choose breathable, non-itchy fabrics
•Ear attachments (minimize pressure around the ear)
•Adult sizes vs Child sizes
The Seaver Autism Center also suggested mask modifications as shown below:
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“Summer Slide” also known as “Summer Learning Loss” is the loss of academic skill, a child loses, over summer break
Summer Slide Facts:
- As much as two months of learning can be lost over the summer.
- Summer learning loss is so common that teachers have to spend the first six weeks of a new school year reteaching old material.
- Summer slide accounts for as much as 85% of the reading achievement gap between low income children and mid to high income children.
Impact of COVID-19 on Summer Slide
Summer Slide is a significant issue this year for many reasons. One being that children have been out of school for several weeks due to COVID-19. These school closures, in addition to time out for summer, compounds the amount of academic skills children can lose. Additionally, children with learning disabilities who have not had access to accommodations and modifications for several weeks, may present with more significant loss in learning, as compared with peers who are non disabled.
Summer Slide Tips:
Please be sure to check out our future blog posts and follow us on social media for upcoming tips on how to overcome summer slide!!
Nikita Borten, M.ED
This picture was striking to me. Mainly because of the enormity of truth that emanates from the oversized letters on the wall.
Fear Is A Liar…let that sink in for a minute.
Are you struggling with any fears, or dare I say struggling with lies, as it pertains to raising a child with a learning disability?
In a recent survey I conducted of parents raising children with learning disabilities, several fears emerged in the analysis of the responses.
The most common fears that emerged can be categorized as follows:
1. My child with a learning disability will not make academic progress.
The truth is, some children with learning disabilities demonstrate academic growth in many ways. What do you consider to be progress? Your answer to this question can alleviate a lot of fear. Grades, progress reports, and state exams are NOT the only measures of academic success. Communicate with your child’s teachers and get a clear picture of what academic success looks like for your child.
2. My child with a learning disability will not be independent as an adult.
The truth is, according to the most recent U.S Census Bureau, 2.7% of adults 18-24 years old have a learning disability. 41% of these adults go on to complete some type of postsecondary education such as: two-year colleges, vocational schools, or 4-year universities. Of this same age group, 92% report that they are gainfully employed earning low to mid yearly incomes. Thus, the likelihood that your child will be self sufficient as an adult, based solely on the numbers, is good! Consider that your determination, together with the school’s commitment, increases the probability exponentially!
3. My child with a learning disability will not have friends.
The truth is, social skills and building peer relationships, can be incredibly challenging for children with learning disabilities. It is important to allow the child to build relationships at a pace appropriate for them. Keep in mind, that a big part of making friends, is a child’s view of self. Social skills training offered thru schools, private agencies, and informally at home can be immensely helpful. The important thing to remember, although it may take time, is your child can have “friends”. Encourage your child to interact with others (as appropriate) and teach them to have a healthy self-perception.
Fear is a liar. So, don’t believe the hype, don’t fall for the okie doke, and don’t take the wooden nickel. Know the truth and the truth will set you free!
Nikita Borten, M.ED
2020, the year of unpredictability. From a scary deadly virus, to abrupt school closures, to violence in the streets.
It is all very overwhelming for us as adults, but even more so for children. No one would have ever predicted that a taped killing of a man by a police officer, would be played over and over for the world to see.
It is unsettling. That is why it is so important to communicate with children about the violence and unrest they are seeing today.
Below are a few tips about how to talk to children about riots.
1) Be Honest
Images of protest and riots are everywhere and easily available for all to see. Be honest with children about images they are seeing in media. Explain the difference between peaceful protesting and rioting.
2) Be Fair
Explain the why’s, fairly. Inform children that some people are upset about how SOME police officers treat people. But also explain that not all police officers are bad. Protesting and riots are not the only way to ask for change. Talk to your children about other ways to ask for change (voting, email elected officials, signed petitions etc.)
3) Be Cautious
Monitor the amount of exposure children have to the unrest shown in TV and social media. Unfiltered language and media messaging could influence children in way that maybe different from your personal values. Additionally, overexposure can lead to fear and high anxiety in children.
Nikita Borten, M.ED