10 Tips to Prepare Your Child for Middle School

10 Tips to Prepare Your Child for Middle School

Transitioning to middle school can be an exciting, yet stressful and scary time for both you and your child. Be sure to put these 10 tips on your to-do list to help your student make the transition successfully.

1. Visit your child’s new school once or twice before school starts to help them navigate the grounds and building. Have them locate the hallways where their classes will be held as well as the bathrooms.

2. Review the school’s website with your child, or if they want to do this independently give them six things to find on the website. (more…)

10 Ways to Prepare Your Preschooler for Kindergarten

10 Ways to Prepare Your Preschooler for Kindergarten

Wondering what to do this summer to prepare your child for kindergarten?

Here are 10 ways to boost kindergarten readiness skills as presented in a Handwriting Without Tears webinar:

1. Let the Music Begin.  Music encourages social-emotional, sensorimotor, and cognitive development. Songs can teach body awareness, positional concepts, sorting skills, and the ability to classify by attributes and connect numbers to the quantities they represent. (Handwriting Without Tears has some great Pre-K CD’s. Check out the Get Set for School CD and Sing, Sound, and Count With Me CD.)

2.  Step Up Social-Emotional Development.  Promote listening, sharing, turn-taking, using manners, role-playing, and imitating during playtime.

3.  Promote Sensorimotor Development.  Do activities to develop fine motor coordination and hand strength. Use little tools for little hands. Breaking crayons in half and using golf-sized pencils help to promote proper grasp.

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12 Ways to Help Your Child Cross Midline

12 Ways to Help Your Child Cross Midline

Crossing midline is an important developmental skill that is typically mastered when a child is 3 or 4 years old. Crossing midline is the ability to reach across the middle of the body to the other side. It creates connections in the brain by requiring the left and right sides of the brain to “talk” to each other in order to coordinate movement and learning.

Children who have difficulty crossing midline can have difficulty with handwriting, reading, and gross and fine motor skills. (more…)

10 Fun Letter Recognition Activities

10 Fun Letter Recognition Activities

Letter recognition is the ability to visually recognize letters, differentiate one letter from another, and name the letters of the alphabet. It is a foundational precursor towards learning letter sounds, spelling, reading, and writing. In fact, early skills in letter knowledge are a strong predictor of reading success.

At Skills 4 Life, we work with many children on beginning writing skills. A child cannot be expected to independently write a letter that they don’t have a clear mental image of. Writing letters is a great way to reinforce letter recognition.

There are many fun letter activities you can do at home- it’s important to keep it FUN! Do a variety of activities to keep your child engaged and help your child learn the letters in different ways. Have your child participate in a letter recognition activity for a minimum of 10 minutes a day to help build these skills.

Before you get started, here a few tips: (more…)

Top 12 Organizing Tips for Families

Top 12 Organizing Tips for Families

The new year is a great time to assess opportunities to get organized and kick off the year in a positive and efficient way. Being organized can positively affect almost every other aspect of your and your child’s life, in addition to making daily living less stressful. Eliminating clutter makes life more manageable, creates space for pursuing goals and dreams, and allows you to spend more time with those you love. Tackle the below tips all at once, or perhaps just one every month. Either will ensure you are making strides to a more organized and efficient 2018!

Start the year strong with my top 12 organizing tips for parents and families: (more…)

Resources and Tips for Parents of Children with Dyslexia

Resources and Tips for Parents of Children with Dyslexia

October is Dyslexia Awareness Month, a topic near and dear to my heart since many of my students are dyslexic. Students with this hereditary language processing disorder may have difficulties isolating sounds, sounding out words (decoding), and accurately reading. Spelling can even be more of a challenge making writing a frustrating process. In addition, many children with dyslexia also have difficulty with handwriting, left/right discrimination, telling time, and organizing and translating their thoughts into verbal or written language.

Children with dyslexia may have low self-esteem, become overwhelmed with school, and may withdraw. As parents, supporting your dyslexic child can lead to a plethora of emotions. You may be frustrated because you don’t know how to help or are incredibly saddened to see your child struggling and falling behind in school.

Unfortunately, many school districts don’t have the necessary funding or resources to provide support for children with dyslexia. In speaking to clients and friends whose children have been diagnosed, it occurred to me that most parents need resources and support above anything else.

A few quick tips for parents: (more…)

10 Time Management Strategies for Student Success

10 Time Management Strategies for Student Success

Time management is a challenge for everyone; especially for middle and high school students. Between homework, school, after-school activities, family, friends, jobs and more, their time is truly NOT their own. And in this fast-paced culture, effective time-management skills are essential.

How can you help your student master basic time management strategies? Here are some helpful tools and tips.

1. Use an academic planner to help your student plan and stay on track. Whether they use a paper planner (I recommend Order Out of Chaos’ “Academic Planner: A Tool for Time Management” ) or electronic calendar, make sure their planner is set up as a grid system so they can see their week at a glance.  Record all their class assignments, after-school activities, work commitments, even plans with friends.  This will allow them to know what they need to do AND when they have time to PLAN to get things done. (more…)

Empower Children with “Job Talk”

Empower Children with “Job Talk”

Kids generally don’t enjoy being told what to do, especially when it comes to doing tasks.  According to executive function experts, Sarah Ward, M.S., CCC/SLP and Kristen Jacobsen, M.S., CCC/SLP, the key to increasing job performance is to change tasks from a simple behavior to a personal identity label. Doing this transfers the ownership of a task, thereby increasing a child’s sense of self. When we “own” a task, we are much more likely to both complete the task and do it well.

Empower your child with task ownership by making the task into a specific job and assigning it a “job title.” To do this, simply add “er” to the end of the word that describes the desired action, like “Toothbrusher,” “Window Washer,” “Writer,” “Packer,” “Listener,” etc. (more…)

Minimize Online Distractions With These Tools

Minimize Online Distractions With These Tools

Does your student struggle to stay focused when completing online homework assignments? Nowadays, most middle school and high school students use the internet to complete homework assignments, which can lead to a good deal of distraction and procrastination- especially with the proliferation of social networking sites.

Help your student minimize online distractions and maximize efficiency using these tools:

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