Back to School Basics for Students with Learning Disabilities

While many of us are still enjoying our summer poolside, spending time with family and friends and basking in the great weather, back to school season is inevitably upon us. Returning to the classroom can be quite the adjustment for any student just back from vacation mode – particularly those students with a learning disability.

While entering another school year may be daunting at first, it’s another opportunity to refine and assess how you approach school-related issues. Transitioning a child who has a learning disability into school mode doesn’t have to be a struggle.

Establishing a Routine

The earlier your back to school routine is established, the better. Communicate your expectations clearly with your child – from getting ready in the morning to after-school activities. Sit down with your child and build a schedule that also includes specific times for homework and other studies like reading or math. Creating a structure that your child can stick to, but not feel overwhelmed by, is key.

Support and Resources

Some days will be better than others, so it’s important that your child utilize any tools available. Having a support system in place will not only smoothen the transition into the school year, but it should take some stress off of yourself and your child. Whether this support system includes teachers, coaches, tutors, or guidance counselors – everyone’s looks different because everyone has different needs.

Stay Organized

While easier said than done, staying organized (even a little bit) can help on the busiest of days. Whether this means colour coded binders for different school subjects or making a to-do list so you can approach each day head-on. Demands from both school and extracurriculars will pile up as the school season gets underway, so try to stay ahead of the game. Organization will not only help your child succeed academically, but also relieve stress.

Get Your Head in the Game

Children entering the new school year with a learning disability need you as a cheerleader to help give them that extra boost of confidence. Attitude is everything, so start them off on the right foot before school even starts. Chat with them about any concerns they may have, and even bring those concerns to their teacher so everyone is on the same page. Assuring your child that they are supported every step of the way will have them taking the new year by storm.

Enjoy the rest of the summer, and best of luck in September!

Sources:

https://upbility.net/blogs/news/back-to-school-making-it-easier-for-students-with-learning-disabilties

www.readingrockets.org/article/back-school-tips-parents-children-special-needs

www.friendshipcircle.org/blog/2017/09/24/back-to-school-tips-children-learning-disabilities/

 

Benefits of Physical Activity on the Brain

Just like any of the muscles in our body, it’s important to keep our brain on it’s toes and challenge it in new and innovative ways. So imagine – working out, but for your brain. Believe it or not, a run may benefit your brain just as much as it does your heart.

Exercise, particularly those of the aerobic type, increases our heart rate and pumps oxygen to the brain. This oxygen nourishes a healthy environment that stimulates new brain cells and connections in the brain. Physical activity is also known to improve mood as it can help reduce and manage stress hormones.

Physical activity can also help alleviate ADHD symptoms. Whether it be remembering steps to a dance routine or focusing on your breathing while practicing yoga – many types of brain functioning can be improved with regular exercise. Specifically, executive functions such as concentration, memory, and attention.

In 2015, Active Living Research conducted a study on the topic, uncovering many interesting finds. For example, physically fit children have larger hippocampal volume and basal ganglia, which are important brain structures when it comes to learning. Working memory and long term memory are also more efficient in children who are regularly active. This study concluded that children who participate in physical activity are better able to maintain focus and concentration, thereby enhancing their learning experience – both inside, and outside the classroom!

The summer is a great time to take advantage of the warm weather and take your activities outside. Go for a hike, swim, or bike ride – not only will your heart thank you, but so will your brain!

Helpful Applications for Managing Executive Functions

The formal definition of Executive Functions is as follows:

The executive functions are a set of processes that all have to do with managing oneself and one’s resources in order to achieve a goal. It is an umbrella term for the neurologically-based skills involving mental control and self-regulation.

This means that daily tasks such as completing a job, staying organized, or maintaining concentration are all considered executive functions. Individuals who have a learning disability can find these particularly challenging to manage. Thankfully, there are endless applications out there designed to help us stay organized, focused, and on track! 

These are just a few – are any of them on your favourite application list?


Trello

Both mobile and desktop friendly, Trello is the perfect app for when it comes to keeping your tasks prioritized and organized. Personalize your task board and use different labels and colours to help identify and manage. Plus, you can also collaborate and share your board with others – great for the working environment, and beyond!

Evernote

As mentioned in one of our earlier blog posts, keeping notes of ideas or tasks when they pop in your head is a great way to avoid cluttering headspace. Looking for a great note taking app? Enter, Evernote. This app allows you to keep notes, pictures, files – just about anything – all in one place, and syncs to your phone automatically. Then, whenever you need to access something, you can simply keyword search. How easy is that?

Google Drive

Google Drive is a game changer when it comes to staying organized for school or work. Keeping all your presentations, documents, photos, and more in the same location as your email is a life saver. Knowing exactly where all of your content is saves times and maximizes efficiency, keeping stress levels at bay. My favourite part of using Google Drive? I don’t have to worry about memorizing (yet another) password!

Google Keep

This is another great note taking tool for desktop, Android and iOS. You can add notes, audio, lists, and more to Keep. You can assign labels, colours, and other attributes to files making organization a breeze. You can even search all your content by those attributes, as well as keywords. It’s as fun as post it notes, but digital!

SelfControl

Have you ever taken an unexpected 20 minute break to check Facebook or Twitter? Particularly while you’re supposed to be focusing on a school or work task? It happens to the best of us – and SelfControl is the perfect solution. This desktop app for MAC will blacklist whichever websites you find most distracting, blocking access for however long you choose. Avoiding distracting websites will improve time management and help you concentrate on the task at hand.  

 

 

 

Managing Your ADHD

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (commonly referred to as ADHD) is a medical neurological disorder. While individuals can experience a variety of different symptoms, ADHD primarily affects someone’s ability to organize, focus, and concentrate. This doesn’t only pose challenges when being in learning and working environments, but also day to day tasks.

Here are a few ways you can manage your ADHD symptoms, and get the most of out every day.

Stay Organized

From to-do lists to calendars and planners, staying organized is a great way to prevent yourself from feeling overwhelmed. Having a notebook and pen handy is great if you want to write down appointments, tasks, or ideas without worrying about cluttering brain space. Break down your week into days, and days into smaller tasks and benchmarks. 

Get Enough Sleep

Powering through the day on only a few hours of sleep can be rough for anyone, and particularly those with ADHD. The less time you spend sound asleep, the more exaggerated ADHD symptoms become. Although one of the symptoms of ADHD can be trouble sleeping, minimizing screen time and managing stress can help you get some shut eye, faster.

Practice Self Care

Whether reading a book, painting, or taking the dog for a walk – self-care is always a good idea. Doing something you enjoy can help relieve stress and realign focus. Furthermore, eating a well-balanced diet and practicing mindfulness or meditation are other great ways to help manage your ADHD symptoms.

Learn to say No

Those with ADHD sometimes have trouble controlling impulses, and may easily find themselves having bitten off more than they can chew. Whether it be at work or at home, trying to juggle too much can leave you exhausted and burnt out. Learning to say no, and realizing that its okay to say no, can improve your ability to stay organized and focused.

Marathon Mentality

Managing ADHD isn’t something you only have to worry about at school or work – it requires your attention 24/7. Figure out what practices work best for you based on schedule and lifestyle – and then make them a habit. Long-term success with managing ADHD symptoms may seem daunting, but take it one day at a time.

While some days will be better than others, having the ability to recognize and manage your ADHD symptoms is a powerful thing. Figuring out what works best for you and your symptoms will help you feel confident and empowered, regardless of your environment.

 

Sources:

https://psychcentral.com/blog/12-best-tips-for-coping-with-adhd/

http://caddac.ca/adhd/understanding-adhd/in-general/

https://self-reg.ca/2016/01/26/the-self-reg-view-of-adhd/

https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/your-adhd-brain-stay-organized-forget-less-get-more-done-0509174

Reading Strategies You Can Use At Home

Reading and comprehension are important skills for any child – regardless if they face a learning disability or not. From school to extracurricular activities, reading plays a huge role in children’s lives – and consequently, so does their confidence in the ability to read. Parents play a crucial role in their child’s success, as reading expands into other academic and social areas. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when it comes to helping your child overcome any reading reservations they may have.

1. Be a cheerleader

When it comes to children who struggle with reading, confidence is everything. They may be reluctant to sitting down and reading for a certain period of time because they can get easily frustrated or distracted. So be encouraging  and celebrate the small wins!

2. Choose topics of high interest

Getting your child to sit down and focus can be half the battle – and reading through a whole book may be another. Choosing materials that are based around topics your child enjoys  – like sports or animals – won’t make reading seem like a chore, and hopefully, they won’t be as reluctant.

3. One step at a time

Patience is key. Having realistic goals and timeframes for your child should minimize frustration and distraction while reading. Having a game plan or routine set in place of what and how long you’ll be reading can also minimize any anxiety. Be patient with your child, and also yourself – progress takes time, but even something as small as reading 10 minutes a day can lead to big results.

4. Keep track

Whether it be a decorated calendar or sticker count, keeping track of progress is important. Not only is it a great way to measure your child’s success, but it’s a great tool to keep them motivated and focused. Who wouldn’t like to celebrate how far they’ve come?

5. Remember to have fun

Problems with reading usually arise from issues with words and letters. Furthermore, being able to organize, interpret, and remember what those words mean present another obstacle. Use games and activities to familiarize your child with arranging and analyzing. Between games, books, and technology, switching things up will keep reading fresh and interesting.

 

Happy Reading! 

 

Sources:
http://www.readingrockets.org/article/reading-together-tips-parents-children-adhd https://www.howtolearn.com/2013/05/5-strategies-to-help-your-child-to-read/

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