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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Teaching the 5 paragraph Essay

Learning how to write a five paragraph essay can be challenging and mastering the required steps can be both perplexing and taxing.  However, mapping the expectations behind a great essay can make the writing process both mindful and easy!

Involve Your Students in the Creative Process:
I often help my students to develop their writing by teaching them to document the metacognitive skills required and helping them to create their own graphic organizers or manuals that break down the process, sentence by sentence.  Additionally, I have found that when students participate in this creative, mindful process, they are more committed as well as likely to use and share the resources.

Prezi Is A Wonderful Online Tool that Helps Make The Process Fun and Memorable:
Students tend to be computer savvy, and many love to learn about the new technologies that make learning both memorable and enjoyable.  Prezi is an online site that allows students to create engaging presentations at no cost!  They offer some wonderful templates, or students can create their own.  It's easy to learn, and whenever help is needed, there are quick and simple videos to address questions.  In fact, I used Prezi to create a sample 5 Paragraph template that students and teachers can use.

Here is a link to my Free Five Paragraph Essay on Prezi.  Just click on the image below to view it:

I hope you find this helpful.  I would love to hear your thoughts!!

Cheers, Erica
Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to www.goodsensorylearning.comwww.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  

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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Using Empathic Listening with Children

In my last post, I discussed the skill of structuring, and how it can be used to help prevent problems in families. Today, we’ll look at another component of Filial therapy: Empathic Listening. 

What is Empathic Listening? Empathic listening is a way of capturing the feeling a person conveys as well as the content. You may be wondering how this skill differs from a typical conversation. Empathic listening emphasizes emotions and the acceptance of these feelings. For example, if your child tells you after coming home from school, “Joey was mean to me and didn’t pick me for the game,” a typical response might be to say, “That’s not nice of him! What did you do?” An example of empathic listening would be to say, “Sounds like you’re really sad that you weren’t picked, and it sounds like you’re also angry at Joey.” 

So Why Would We Use Empathic Listening? There are several reasons one would choose to employ this method. First, this technique helps to acknowledge and validate the other person’s feelings. Validation can help someone to feel heard and accepted, which opens the door for deeper conversation and the possibility of change. In addition, for children, use of this technique helps children identify how they feel, which is much harder than it seems! Recognizing and identifying one’s own emotions is a skill that takes practice, even for many adults, and using this skill helps both of those areas.

What if You Misidentify a Child's Feelings? Sometimes when I teach parents this skill, they tell me that they tried it and it made their child upset, if they (the parent) incorrectly identified the feeling. This is common and is not a problem! If you perceive that your child is upset and they correct you, that’s actually great that they are identifying their own feelings! It is best to reflect then the corrected feeling to show that you’re hearing them. For example, if Susie yells in frustration and you reflect, “You’re annoyed,” she may retort, “I’m NOT annoyed! I’m furious!” You can re-connect by using her words, “Oh, you’re furious!” I have found that with anger especially, empathic listening is the first step in helping children to de-escalate, and an accurate reflection of the emotion can lead the way to the child calming down.

In short, empathic listening helps the other person to feel heard, accepted, and honored. It also helps children to recognize their own feelings, and can even promote articulation of their emotions. Give it a try!

Emily Herber McLean, LPC is a child and family therapist at The Center for Psychological Services. To learn more about her practice, visit www.centerpsych.com.

Friday, September 12, 2014

3 Things Parents Can Learn

It's September! As parents we are busy getting kids lined up for school and activities, schedules coordinated for carpools, volunteering in the classroom room, keeping the home front running smoothly and our work life balanced. With the predictable influx of newness the fall brings, we do what ever we can to help things settle into a smooth pattern.

Adding a few simple things to your list will make it all go even more smoothly. Yes! I did say add a few things! These little gems will actually slow your life down. Dig in and take these jewels seriously. Just like you expect your kids to shift into a new pattern, you too can make a few changes and see big impact.

To slow this crazy time down:

    Listen more. You do not need to have an answer for every question your kids ask! When they ask you a question, return their question with a question. This will shift them into think mode. To often we do the thinking for our kids, hampering their learning and curiosity.  HINT: Half the questions kids ask they already know the answer to. It is empowering for them to answer their own questions. BTW, this works on husbands, too!
    Watch for opportunities to praise. We know to do this and we try, don’t we? Sometimes, instead of praising, we "nag the negatives" as a result of having too much on our minds. Here is a trick to up the ante on praise and cut back on the  nagging..."pay yourself" to do it!  When you notice yourself giving a really good bit of praise vow to "pay yourself" with a personal treat. When you notice yourself holding back on a "nagging moment", treat yourself again! Prearrange your treat so you’re sure to follow through on the reward.
    Vow to take two things OFF YOUR LIST each day Yes, off your list! (Feels better already, right?) We all know we are TO BUSY most of the time. By not changing this behavior we are role modeling the insanely busy attitude as normal for our kids. It makes us snippy, less effective and frankly less fulfilled. Is this what we want to model for our kids?

These are three ways you can add time and quality to your life. And this way of “being” has you acting as a better role model for your kids. Enjoy adding these time and sanity savers to your To Do list today!

Parents, do you have questions raising your child with learning issues? You can raise confident capable kids despite learning issues. Reach out for answers to your most perplexing questions today!

Becky Scott

Saturday, September 6, 2014

A Story for the First Day of School

First day of school.

I'm at the corner waiting for the bus.

It was suppose to get here at 4:00. It's 4:20.

My anxiety is slowly building.

Not really worrying, I know the schedule never goes as planned on the first day back. But my son has now been on the bus for an hour. I know he's hungry; he'll have eaten little lunch or snack because his appetite was suppressed by the medication that he takes for ADHD. His blood sugar will be low, and he will be irritable. I know this. What I don't know is how his day went, what his fifth grade teachers were like, whether any friends were in his classes...  I trying to keep my cool, but it takes effort - a lot of effort.  I hated fifth grade.

Finally I see the bus over the hill.  Here he comes.  He looks okay, but it's hard to tell.  "I'm not going to school tomorrow," his first words.  I have learned enough in my 11 years of parenting and 20 years as a psychologist to keep my mouth shut.  I stay quiet. I wait for it...

It doesn't come.  The information that is.  Instead, what arises from the graceful mouth of my beautiful boy, first quietly, then not, is a growing tsunami of upset ostensibly about his immediate NEED for a MacBook Pro, because "EVERYONE" in the fifth grade has one." Can I have I one?", he begs and begs.  We have had this discussion many times; he knows he is not getting the computer until middle school.  But he goes on for so long and with such intensity (not just with words, but cries, and thrown objects) that now litter his bedroom floor, and a pair of broken glasses that thankfully are easily repaired, that I find myself wondering ever more intensely about his day at school.  What to do in the midst of a tantrum...let it run its course.  Do not feed it with words or reactions or even limits. Just wait. So I do.  I know the information will come. In time.

It does. It takes a couple of hours, not for him to calm down--that happened before dinner--but for his defenses to come down enough to talk to me about the day. It happens, as always, around bedtime. Sure enough the information starts to pour out: the teachers are really hard, there is going to be a lot of work and he's not sure he can handle it.  Maybe online schooling would be better he thinks. None of his friends are in his classes (maybe, maybe not I suspect). He misses a fourth grade teacher who adored him and whom he adored. He's scared, and sad, and today he felt a bit lonely. 

I remember that from fifth grade. I had to move to a new school because of redistricting.  For the first time I had five teachers, one for each subject, instead of just one for all subjects.  I had to take the school bus for the first time. I didn't know anyone in my homeroom, not that I recall anyway.  who knows, it was 35 years ago for goodness sake!  As I start to tell him these memories, or stories, whichever they may be, he grows calmer. We laugh thinking about 11 year old me and the saga that was my fifth grade year.  I left out the memories of the initial signs of puberty, crushes on guys, and drama so as not to totally scare my child.  

Now he is ready to cuddle, to be comforted.  Not before.  Now he is ready to talk about his fears and worries. Now he is ready to connect and ultimately to begin thinking about strategies he can use to cope with the challenges and stressors he sees coming his way. 

I know that the next few days will be rough, but that with time he will settle into the year, make new friends, bond with one or more of these teachers who will shape and mold,
oops(!), I mean guide, him for the next 9 months.

My job now is to quietly wait. To reassure when appropriate, to validate his experience, to acknowledge what he feels he is facing. And herein lies the wisdom - it is in doing those things, as I bide my time, that his adjustment will come. In this I trust. After all, it's happened every year so far.

If the first day of your child's school engendered any of these qualities or experiences for you, here are some questions you might ask yourself as a guide to manage your parenting in these early weeks of September:

What was life like for me when I was that age?
What challenges did I face that year?
What gifts?
How well am I listening?
How am I doing acknowledging and validating my child's experience?
Is my child’s upset making me uncomfortable, and if so, why might that be?
Did I remember to tell my child that I love him/her today? Did I show him/her that I do?

And then, and perhaps most importantly, just wait. Things will calm down. Just give it time.

Jennifer Jackson Holden, Psy.D. is managing director of the Paoli, Pennsylvania office of the Center for Psychological Services. www.centerpsych.com