Advocating for Your Child: What You Need to Know

September 7th, 2017 by

Join Me on September 12th at 6:45 pm

A Message from Executive Director Jennifer Hasser

Dyslexia educator Jennifer Hasser

When your child struggles in school or is diagnosed with a learning disability, your role as a parent shifts. Suddenly you find yourself navigating complicated territory — struggling to become an expert in what’s wrong, and sorting through the confusing web of options to help your child. It’s overwhelming at best, but when you layer on worry and fear, it can be debilitating. Time and time again, I meet parents who are nearly paralyzed as they begin the process of getting their child the help they need.

As the captain of your child’s team, one of your most important jobs is to determine how best to work with your child’s teachers and school. The most successful parents I see are those who stay organized and manage to keep the process non-confrontational. They understand what the school can provide, and they know when they need to seek outside help.

Unfortunately, I also see parents who make costly missteps when working with teachers and administrators. Parents of children with learning issues do not have time to make mistakes.

Please join me on Tuesday, September 12th at 6:45 pm for a free workshop entitled, “Advocacy: Effectively Partnering with Your Child’s Teachers and School.” At the workshop, I will discuss five common mistakes I have seen parents make, and I will teach you how to avoid these pitfalls. Parents will leave the session with a better understanding of the IEP process and will be equipped to foster a constructive relationship with their child’s teachers and school.

This workshop is sponsored by the Georgia Branch of the International Dyslexia Association and Understood.org.  Understood is a collaboration among nonprofit organizations with the express purpose of helping parents of children with learning and attention issues. Understood provides concrete, tangible tools and information, as well as access to experts who can help parents and children on their journey. Joseph Cortes of Understood will be at the workshop and will provide participants with a free (and very helpful) IEP Organizational Binder.

Advocacy: Effectively Partnering With Your Child’s Teachers and School
Tuesday, September 12th, 6:45
Switzer Public Library (formerly Central Library)
266 Roswell St NE, Marietta, GA 30060

Session is free, but please RSVP 

Make Your Child a Stronger Reader

May 23rd, 2017 by

Want to help make your child a stronger reader and a better critical thinker?  Learn to ask the right questions.

When your child is reading (either alone or with you), engage in discussions that will stretch their imagination and inference skills. For instance, if your child is reading Harry Potter, you could ask them the following questions:

  • Would you rather be a wizard or a muggle?  Why?
  • What do you think it would feel like to see Hogwarts for the first time?  Describe what you see in your mind’s eye.
  • If you could invent potions or spells, what would you create?

Books vs. Movies

Make your child a stronger reader - book before movie.When a book is also a movie, encourage your child to read the book first.  If your child has not seen the movie, their imagination will create their own visual. Once the movie has been seen, the mind’s eye can only conjure scenes from the movie.
If your child is a reluctant reader, you can use movies as a reading incentive: “Once you’re done reading Harry Potter, we are going to have a movie marathon.” Then, ask your child questions about how the movie compared to the “movie” they had already directed in their imagination.

Ten Fun (and Educational) Road Trip Word Games

May 20th, 2017 by

Road Tripping this Summer?

10 ways to eliminate the “I’m Bored,” chorus from the backseat.

Ten Fun (and Educational) Road Trip Word Games

Whether you’re traveling cross country or logging time running errands around town, put your car time to good use this summer with these 10 fun road trip word games. Shhhh — don’t tell the kids that you are reinforcing language skills while they are having fun.

1. Graffiti

Let the kids write on the windows with dry erase markers.  Older kids can play hangman and younger children can practice their name and alphabet. Make sure to have a roll of paper towels on hand!

2. License Plate News

Call out the letters on the license plate in front of you and have your kids develop a wacky newspaper headline using the letters as the start of each word.  For instance, MEW could be “Man Eats Walrus,” and BDH could be “Boy Develops Hovercraft.”  For younger kids, simply have them think of a word for each letter.

3. Chain ‘Em Up 

No, we are not suggesting a new way to restrain your kids (hmmm…there’s a thought). Say a word and have your child repeat it slowly, emphasizing the ending sound.  Ask your child to think of another word that begins with the ending sound of the first word.  For instance, if you say “cat,” your child could say, “top.”  Take turns…forming a chain of words. Note: use the words’ ending sounds, not their ending letters (so if someone says “happy,” the next word could be “eagle,” but NOT “yellow”).

4. ABC Scrapbook Page

Ten Fun (and Educational) Road Trip Word GamesWhile traveling home from vacation, have your children write the letters A – Z down the left hand side of a piece of notebook paper.  Have them think of a word from your trip that starts with each letter.  Be creative.  For instance, a trip to Disney World might yield a list that starts like this, “Ariel, Belle, Carousel, Dad, Everybody was happy, Florida, and so on.” Your children may either write or illustrate their word if it is too difficult to spell. This idea was submitted by a parent who regularly plays this game with her kids and saves the results as a trip memento.

5. Mad LibsTM

Play Mad LibsTM with a twist!  Buy a Mad LibsTM tablet, download the Mad LibsTM App, or download pages by searching the internet for “free Mad Libs printables.”  Have an adult (non-driving, please!!) call out the word-type needed, but with an added twist.  For instance, “I need a verb that starts with /p/,” or “Give me a three-syllable noun.”

6. Travelogue

Ten Fun (and Educational) Road Trip Word GamesFor older kids with internet access: have your child Google the towns you pass through and ask them to find and read aloud three interesting facts about that town.  If you are in no-man’s land, have them research your destination and tell you about some of the landmarks you will see there.

7. Story Building

Have one family member develop the first sentence of a story.  Take turns adding a sentence.  You won’t believe the plot twists that ensue!

8. Unfortunately/Fortunately

Similar to Story Building, you will create a story one sentence at a time.  However, the beginning word of each sentence must alternate between “unfortunately” and “fortunately.”

This is how your story might unfold: “Unfortunately, on the way to Grandma’s house, Mom took a wrong turn. Fortunately, the road led to an amusement park.  Unfortunately, it was closed.  Fortunately, the gate was unlocked.  Unfortunately, a guard dog blocked the entrance.”  And so on…

9.  Grocery List

Build an imaginary grocery list one item at a time in alphabetical order.  The trick is remembering each item on the list as it grows.  For example, the first person might say, “I went to the grocery store and I bought artichokes.” The next person might say, “I went to the grocery store and I bought artichokes and Band-Aids.”  Create any kind of list you want — items to take to the beach, things found in Aunt Betty’s house, etc.

10.  Audiobooks

Ten Fun (and Educational) Road Trip Word GamesDid you know listening to books can help build your children’s vocabulary and make them better readers?

Often there is more than one way to sound out a word.  If your child has heard a wide variety of words in literature, she will be better able to access her decoding skills and read more fluently because it is easier to read words you have heard before. Audiobooks also improve listening comprehension. While traveling this summer, consider listening to audio books in the car instead of listening to the radio or watching a DVD. Follow along with the written book, or sit back and enjoy the scenery.  Either way is beneficial.

Share Your Ideas

Have an idea of your own?  Email us and we’ll include it in a future blog post!

Kendore Cares: A Nonprofit Foundation With a Mission to Help All Read

January 5th, 2017 by

You know the feeling.

If you are the parent of a student with reading challenges, you’ve been there.

You’ve held your child who sobs, “I’m dumb,” while you ache with frustration that the world can’t see the brilliance you know is there.

You’ve eagerly scanned the classroom bulletin board, then stopped in your tracks when you realize that the scruffy paper with the poor handwriting belongs to your child. Your heart has broken with the realization that your child feels this spotlight of shame every day.

You’ve grinned at the “helpful” moms who offer up suggestions while inside you want to scream.

You’ve endured conferences where you’ve been told to “work with your child at home,” as if more of what’s not working will somehow make a difference (or as if some negligence on your part caused the problem in the first place).

What if it didn’t have to be this way?

Imagine a world that looks like this:

Classroom teachers are given the tools and support to effectively teach all children to read.

Every student leaves the classroom each day feeling smart, empowered, and excited about school.

Children who learn differently never struggle and typical learners are able to soar.

Families do not have to choose between help for their child and basic necessities.


This is a realistic dream, and it’s the dream of Kendore Cares.

Kendore Cares is a new nonprofit organization that brings the strategies and curriculum of Syllables Learning Center into the classroom. It’s a proven system of reaching struggling readers before they struggle and of helping all children reach their fullest potential.

The consequences are too dire to ignore!

Reading forms the foundation for learning throughout life. Yet 15 to 20 percent of all school-aged children have reading problems, many of which go undiagnosed. We know that unaddressed reading issues result in dire consequences for individuals, families, and communities:

Children who cannot read proficiently by third grade are four times more likely to drop out of school.

Two-thirds of students who cannot read proficiently by the end of fourth grade will end up in jail or on welfare.

Help us provide the solution.

Maybe this cause is personal to you – perhaps you are a parent who has agonized while your child has struggled. Maybe you’ve been able to get your child the help they need, but you realize that not all are so fortunate. Maybe you have thought time and time again, “there’s got to be a way to help my child at school in a classroom setting.” Perhaps you are not personally affected by reading struggles, but you are compelled by the stories or statistics of those who are.

Gin&Phonics InvitationWe invite you to help. Please join us on March 3rd for our inaugural event, Gin&Phonics. You will learn more about Kendore Cares, and you will be given the opportunity to make a difference. You will also experience a lively evening of fun, food, and entertainment and you will leave feeling excited about the opportunities that await all children of Georgia.

Learn More About Gin&Phonics

Learn More About Kendore Cares

Back to School Tips

July 15th, 2016 by

It seems like just yesterday that we stored backpacks in coat closets and turned off our kids’ alarm clocks. Summer has flown by quickly — store shelves are now filled with shiny new school supplies and the back-to-school countdown has begun.

Anticipating the start of school can be stressful, particularly for children who have a hard time with new routines. But with a little advanced preparation now, you can make the back-to-school transition easier on your kids…and yourself!

Seven things you can do NOW to avoid back-to-school chaos

  1. Take some time to de-clutter your children’s bedrooms and closets. Less clutter means fewer distractions. This is not only helpful if your kids study in their rooms, but it also makes for easier morning routines. For younger children, hang clothing in closets (or group them in drawers) by outfit to simplify choices in the morning.
  2. Back to School TipsConsider beating the rush and buying school supplies and clothes early.  Most office supply stores already have weekly super-savers advertised in the Sunday newspaper supplement. If you are a savvy shopper, you can save money by working through the school list over time — buying the best deals each week.
  3. Designate and prepare a specific area of the house for your children to do homework. Prepare this area with supplies, good lighting and a clear workspace so that your children are excited to begin their homework routine. If your children study at the kitchen table or another multi-purpose space, find a box or bin (one for each child) for supplies and papers.
  4. Reduce the amount of television your children watch and increase the amount of reading they are doing. If your children are in middle or high school, make sure they have completed any required summer schoolwork. Help them develop a schedule for summer work if they tend to procrastinate.
  5. Plan now to complete any forms that require appointments or professional signatures (such as immunization records, notarized proof of residency, or sports forms).
  6. Re-establish bedtime and mealtime routines (especially breakfast) at least one week before school begins. You may have to do this gradually if your kids have been sleeping late!
  7. If you have an anxious child, schedule a few play-dates with classmates the week before school begins.

A little advanced preparation now will enable you to enjoy these last few weeks of summer while making a smooth back to school transition.

Make Summer Learning Fun With These Four Outdoor Activities!

June 15th, 2016 by

Summer provides an excellent opportunity to work with your kids to boost their skills and prevent the dreaded (and very real) summer slide. But mention summer learning, and most parents envision grumbling kids and workbooks at the kitchen table — enough to make them call it quits before even beginning.

We know that learning is most effective when it is enjoyable, when it engages the senses (i.e. when it’s multisensory) and when it involves new and unique experiences. So get your kids moving this summer and promote learning while they are having fun outside. They’ll never even realize they are doing their “summer work!”

Four Multisensory Outdoor Activities to Promote Summer Learning

Note: we have geared these activities toward reading/writing and phonemic awareness, but you can easily adapt them to other concepts you are reinforcing.

  1. Sandwriting

    Sandwriting makes learning funHeading to the beach or playground? Have your child practice sounds or sight words in sand. Writing in different textures makes writing a multisensory activity and helps kids retain what they learn. Plus, it’s fun!

  2. Beach Ball Toss

    Beachball Toss summer learning activityWith a permanent marker, write sounds, words, or nonsense words on a beach ball. Toss the ball to your child and have them read the words closest to their thumbs. For advanced students, cover the ball with blends, vowel teams, roots, examples of syllable types, etc.  For a beach ball that doesn’t become obsolete once your child masters the concepts you are practicing, check out the Toss & Teach Beach Ball, which features reusable pockets ideal for flash cards or cards from our card decks.

  3. Scavenger Hunt

    Send your kids on a scavenger hunt in search of the sounds they are learning (or for objects that have the sounds in the middle or end of their names). If your kids are old enough to use a camera or phone, have them photograph what they find and review their photos and sounds with you. You can make this more challenging for advanced kids by asking them to find objects with a certain number of syllables or with certain syllable types in their names.

  4. Paint the House (Yikes!)

    Multisensory outdoor learning activitiesGive the kids a bucket of water and paint brushes. Have them write sounds, words, or even a whole story on the house, driveway, deck, etc. Watch as the writing evaporates and fades away.

 

 

b d Reversals

March 31st, 2016 by

Why Do Children Experience b d Confusion?

To understand b d reversals, it helps to think about how we learn to label objects. When children are very young and beginning to acquire language, the first thing they learn is to associate names with objects. They learn that a ball is a ball, a cup is a cup, and so on. They also learn that no matter how they view an object, its name typically does not change — a cup is still a cup whether it’s on the table or upside down on the floor.

b d reversals occur because b and d look so similar but have different namesWhen we introduce letters to children, things get a bit more tricky. Thankfully, most letters look unique, making them easier to associate with their name. For instance, y, k, f, and e all look different. They can be identified even if they are viewed backward or on their side. This is not so for b and d. They are mirror images that look so similar that they are difficult to tell apart. Furthermore, if these tricky twins are flipped upside down, p and q become involved!

b d reversals occur because the letters are mirror images of each otherIt is important to note that b d confusion is NOT a phonics issue — children do not say “mom and bab” instead of “mom and dad.” They are not confusing the sounds, they are visually confusing their symbols.

Most children under age seven make occasional b d reversals. This is not a concern and will correct itself over time. But children with learning issues, including dyslexia, can have b d confusion that persists past the age where children begin to accurately discriminate between b and d.

How to Correct b d Reversals

The most effective way to promote learning is through frequency, intensity, and duration. In other words, the best way to correct b d reversals is to spend time with b and d! Students should be taught correct mouth formation when each sound is made and they should be exposed to b d discrimination activities repeatedly over time. Kendore Learning’s dabboo hand tattoos intensely reinforce b d identification over a period of several days. To learn more b d reversal remedies and to learn a helpful b d fingerplay, watch the videos below.

 

 

What is Working Memory and Why is it Important?

February 29th, 2016 by

Working memory is the brain’s system for temporarily storing and managing the information required to carry out complex tasks such as learning, reasoning, and comprehension.

Children with poor working memory typically have difficulty remembering multi-step tasks and instructions. They also may have issues with impulse control, because their brain cannot hold the thought of both an action and its consequence at the same time.

Working memory has a profound impact on reading because sounding out words requires that a child hold each sound in working memory before putting those sounds together. For instance, a child with a working memory deficit may sound out /b/, /a/, /t/, and then go back to say the word, only to find that they have forgotten the sounds they just decoded. The child will then guess by saying “butter” or “bite.”

One of the best ways to help a struggling reader who has working memory deficits is to help reading become automatic. Teaching good decoding strategies creates automaticity, which frees up working memory space. Students with poor working memory can also benefit from brain training programs such as Cogmed.

Learn more about working memory by watching the video below:

 

Learning Disabilities Association Conference 2016: Photo Gallery

February 29th, 2016 by

We were thrilled to attend the Learning Disabilities Association Conference in Orlando, where we spent three days talking with educators about multisensory teaching tools and strategies. Our Executive Director Jennifer Hasser received rave reviews for her workshop entitled, “Reaching Students with Reading Disabilities Through Multisensory Games and Activities.”

Learning Disabilities Association Conference: Kendore Booth

Anna-Leena, Jennifer, and Catherine at the Kendore Learning exhibit booth.

Learning Disabilities Association Conference: Kendore Booth.

Talking with a teacher about multisensory games.

 

 

Playing Slap at Learning Disabilities Association Conference

Reinforcing literacy concepts using what? Yes, those are (clean) toilet bowl brushes.

Multisensory games at the Learning Disabilities Association Conference

Jennifer leads a participant through “hot lava” during her workshop, “Reaching Students with Reading Disabilities Through Multisensory Games and Activities.”

Explaining Brain Research at LDA Conference

Jennifer takes a moment to explain the brain research behind multisensory learning strategies.

Jennifer Hasser and Kendore Learning at Learning Disabilities Association Conference

The “Cupid Poop Relay” was a big hit.

Learning Disabilities Association Conference Kendore Workshop.

Jennifer got participants on their feet during her workshop. Here, she teaches a lively way to sound out words.

Learning Disabilities Association Conference: Jennifer Hasser's Workshop reviews

We’re proud of Jennifer’s rave reviews!

Learning Disabilities Association Conference: Jennifer Hasser's Workshop reviews Learning Disabilities Association Conference: Jennifer Hasser's Workshop reviews

Why We Teach Sounds Before Letters

February 3rd, 2016 by

“Letter of the Week” is NOT Good Practice

It’s very common practice in preschool and kindergarten classrooms to introduce the “letter of the week.” While this method of teaching is based on good intentions, it presents problems when children are learning to sound out words (decode) and write (encode). Learning letters limits children because some important sounds in the English language are not represented by single letters (for example, /ch/, /sh/, /ow/ and /au/).  Also, alternate spellings get confusing when one sound is pegged to one letter.

Why We Teach One Sound at a Time

There are only 44 sounds in our language and the rapid automatic retrieval of those sounds is the foundation of reading. Regardless of age, in order for a student to be a fast and accurate reader, the sounds must be mastered. If a student is not able to retrieve the sounds efficiently, their accuracy and comprehension will suffer. EVERYTHING else in reading is secondary to this crucial first skill.  Once a student shows mastery, he or she will move ahead to increasingly more complex concepts.

Watch Kendore Learning Executive Director Jennifer Hasser explain in greater detail.