Holistic Approach – Part 1 of 3

Promoting Social & Emotional Development

Holistic Approach - Promoting Social and Emotional Development

As a persistent lack of progress tends to chip away at a student’s self-esteem and confidence, remediation should be based on a holistic approach. This approach is not only concerned with academics but also with social, emotional and physical development.

To promote social and emotional growth, parents should encourage their child to participate in various hobbies and activities. This is important as such involvement would allow him to experience pleasure, a sense of belonging and the opportunity to develop new skills – a factor which is important, for a wider skill base increases one’s opportunities for social interaction.

Activities that are apt to promote social and emotional well-being are Scouting/Guiding; individual sports such as Karate; team sports such as soccer; classes in art, drama, dance, instrumental music, singing, cooking, carpentry, photography, etc… Please keep in mind that the importance of developing interests cannot be overstated!

If finances are a concern, bear in mind that some organizations have been known to discretely forego fees and provide equipment. However, qualifying for these benefits may require the intervention of a school representative or a social worker.

The next posting will present suggestions on how to help your child cultivate friendships as well as tips on how to encourage a reluctant child to participate in physical activities.

Study Skills Outline

Verify that your child is aware of the topic being studied. One would think that this would be an obvious undertaking but it is frequently not the case.

Ensure that your child is attentive to headings and sub-headings.

Have your child identify the main point of a paragraph and ask him to present the information in his own words. Provide as many prompts as necessary so that he does not become frustrated.

To help your child with memorization tasks, acquaint him with the memory aid of mnemonics. For example, the mnemonic HOMES is used to remind a student of the Great Lakes: The H is for Huron, O for Ontario, M for Michigan, E for Erie and S for Superior. Creating mnemonics with your child can be a fun challenge.

Mnemonics can be a helpful learning aid

The next three postings will address the advantages of a holistic approach. The first will focus on promoting your child’s social and emotional development.

Study Skills

Why and How to Prevent Cramming

Once an elementary school child is studying subjects with substantial content such as geography, history and/or science, he should be encouraged to bring his books home the same day the new work is presented. This way he can review the material, get assistance if needed and work on acquiring a solid grasp of the new information. This approach will prevent cramming – a behaviour which not only tends to be stressful but is also likely to result in limited long term learning.

If study habits are instilled early, grade three or four for example, a student will gradually acquire the skills that will stand him in good stead throughout his school years.

The next posting will present a study skills outline.

Homework – Part 3 of 3

Establishing Sound Homework Habits

Homework Habits

If your child’s work habits are not satisfactory – e.g. he only does the bare minimum, his work is messy and he lacks an organized approach – then encourage and aid him to do the following:

  • inform his teacher, and/or tutor (if applicable) as well as you, his parents, whenever he lacks understanding of either the subject material or homework instructions;
  • read instructions and questions with care;
  • write grammatically correct sentences;
  • work from an outline when preparing a report;
  • work neatly – this is especially important with math;
  • write clearly and if he has considerable difficulty with cursive writing, encourage the school to allow him to print;
  • help your child develop techniques that will allow him to search out information efficiently. For example, as the needs arise, teach him computer, library and dictionary skills and familiarize him with the function of the table of contents and indexes.

Since a fair number of youngsters and adults experience literacy problems, consider sharing these postings with family and friends as you never know who might appreciate discovering a work that truly enhances lives. For more information on the Program, please explore the rest of the site.

The next posting will be on study skills.

Homework – Part 2 of 3

Assignments Must Be Well-Suited to a Student’s Ability

Homework and Play

Parents, homework should reinforce the skills that were presented in the classroom. However, if its level is frequently beyond your child’s ability, reinforcement will not occur but stress and frustration will – factors which are not at all conducive to learning. Consequently, if persistent problems exist, keep notes for 3-4 days on how your child copes with the assigned work and then discuss the problems with his teacher(s). For potential solutions, refer to the earlier posting titled Modification of a Student’s Curriculum.

A regular time and place for homework should be established. This helps the student acquire a routine and prevents such arguments as whether he can work in front of the television or other inappropriate places. However, if your child happens to prefer an unconventional location and does work well there, then by all means allow him to use it.

Homework should not be overly time-consuming as relaxation and play should also be part of a child’s day.

If an occasion arises when your child cannot complete his homework, send an explanatory note to his teacher as this will prevent a possible misunderstanding from occurring.

The next entry will address ways to help your child establish good work habits.

Homework – Part 1 of 3

Parental Supervision

Parental Supervision of Homework

Although parental supervision benefits all children, it is especially recommended for children with learning difficulties. Through supervision parents can ensure their child understands the homework assignments, provide guidance to help him work in an organized and neat manner and detect if the level and/or quantity of work correspond to his abilities.

However, excessive supervision should be guarded against so that independent work skills develop. To promote these skills, have your child work independently on materials he can handle with ease. Start with a few minutes and gradually increase the time as well as the difficulty of the work.

Although it is unlikely that a teenager will accept as much supervision as a younger child, it is still advisable to check his homework. In fact, the poorer the work, the more frequent the checks.

If your child’s homework habits are poor, don’t hesitate to discuss them with his teacher(s).

The next posting will address the need for homework to be well-suited to a student’s ability.

Promotion

Having a student repeat a year is often not an effective intervention as exposure to essentially the same program under the same conditions tends not to address his needs. In addition, repeating a year carries the likelihood of negative social and emotional consequences.

Therefore, it is recommended that a student be promoted even though he has not achieved the class standard. However, this approach should be in conjunction with remediation such as tutoring and special accommodations. To review the guidelines on these areas, refer to the earlier posting titled Tips on Choosing a Tutor and Modification of a Student’s Curriculum.

Though this approach does not imply that the student will attain the class standard within the next year, it will foster academic growth and this growth coupled with naturally occurring neurological development will best allow him to further his potential.

The next three entries will be on homework. The first will address parental supervision.

Modification of a Student’s Curriculum

When a student experiences persistent difficulties, in addition to tutoring, the need of having his classroom program modified should be discussed with his teacher.

Accommodating a Student with Learning Difficulties

If deemed advisable, the modifications could take the form of a reduction in the level of difficulty and/or quantity of work. For example:

  • re spelling: an overly demanding program could become manageable by providing the student with a simplified word list or by requiring him to learn only a few words from the class list;
  • re geography, history and science: the most pertinent information in these courses could be highlighted for study;
  • re written assignments: not only should the student receive assistance with the outlines but these assignments should also be reduced in length.

Another issue that should be discussed with the teacher is the ranking of the subjects which are difficult for your child. The objective here is to determine which subject should be addressed first during a homework or tutoring session. For instance, if the child is experiencing persistent reading problems, reading should be ranked # 1 as it is the basis of learning.

Despite the somewhat limiting effect of a modification approach, it is recommended because such adjustments can prevent the overwhelming and disheartening effects of persistent failure while still allowing for the acquisition of a reasonable academic basis. In other words, it is the successful experiences – not the stressful ones – that foster learning. It should also be kept in mind that naturally occurring neurological development in conjunction with effective tutoring could with time reduce the need for this form of accommodation.

The next posting will address Promotion.

Reading Remediation – Not a Quick Fix

Even when remediation results in substantial and rapid progress, it is important for parents to understand that if regression is to be prevented, it is highly likely that remedial sessions will need to continue for quite a few months or even a couple of years. However, as the child’s skills develop, the frequency of the sessions will gradually be reduced from once or twice a week to once or twice a month.

Reading Remediation Takes Time - Even with rapid progress, remedial sessions should continue for at least a few months to prevent regression.
The next posting will address the modification of a struggling student’s curriculum.

Techniques that Promote Comprehension

Finger Pointing and Reading Aloud

Finger Pointing

The neurological condition of Learning Disabilities tends to cause jumpy eye movements. This results in an occasional word being snatched from a nearby line and incorporated into the one being read. As comprehension in the early stages of remediation is often poor, these displaced words tend to go unnoticed.

To overcome this problem, instruct the student to slide his index finger under the words as he reads them. The rationale here is that physical guidance encourages a smooth eye tracking motion and thereby can significantly decrease the unintended relocation of words. Finger pointing has an additional benefit as it aids in directing the reader’s attention to the task on hand.

Reading Aloud

During the early stages of remediation, the tendency not to notice misread words increases during silent reading. To correct this, have the student read aloud as this enables the brain to receive information from the ears as well as the eyes. It is this increase in sensory input that helps the brain detect that something is askew.

For instance, when the sounds the ears hear do not match the letters the eyes see, the reader is alerted that something is not quite right and this encourages him to reread the sentence. Therefore, until skills become well established, reading aloud even if it is only in a whisper is highly recommended.

The next posting will address the need for ongoing remediation.