Month: December 2009


I know.  It’s heading into those dark days.  Kids don’t want to get out of bed.  Homework’s becoming a misery.   As the weather gets colder, the household tension meter is rising.

If you can, try if you can to step back a little from all of the academic tensions and turn down the heat of the household. Your kids are probably feeling overwhelmed by the ever exciting  and growing mountain of worksheets that they can barely handle.  In short, they need support.

For many kids school is an ongoing grind. The ever present delayed gratification (do well in elementary school – so you’ll be ready for middle school – which will get you in better shape for high school – that will help you get into college – then later professional school – so one day you will have a good job)  doesn’t work so well for our Shut-Down Learner heroes and heroines. They burn out much quicker than the others who accept the delayed gratification formula.

Going into the New Year, resolve to try and do something with your kids that’s just fun. Play a couple of UNO games or a game of Trouble  (Those games don’t take long!!!) or find some arts and crafts project to do with your child. Recently, I bought a world geography coloring book and found it to be good therapy (for myself).  There are many of those on the market that are fun for adults and kids alike. Many kids would like doing something as simple as coloring with you – even older kids, believe it or not.

If you have a spouse, get him (yes, I know I am making an assumption here) off the computer and tell him to play a game with the kids too.  It doesn’t have to be a big affair like Monopoly – a five minute game works fine.

Kids need emotional fuel to tackle the drudgery they perceive about school.  Emotional fuel is particularly essentialfor those kids that don’t derive much gratification from their efforts. You don’t have to do these “fun activities” every night, but finding the time to play some games or interact over non-electronic activities puts some emotional fuel back in their tank.

Happy holidays to all and a happy and healthy New Year.



I know it’s been some time since I last posted.  A lot has been going on that has kept me from writing, not the least of which was my taking part in the “TeachME” conference in Dubai on 11/11 & 11/12/09.  “TeachME” is sponsored by the Rearden Educational company based in Lebanon.  For the conference, Reardon brought together 15 international trainers and 25 talks over the two days of the conference.

All of the trainers were responsible for presenting four different nearly two hour workshops on a variety of topics and two one hour talks.  Needless to say there was a fair amount of pressure hanging over my head over the past three months as I tried to get ready for the conference.

The workshops that I presented were:

o    The Shut Down Learner:  Understanding the Academically Discouraged Child
o    Diagnostic Indicators of the Stages of Reading Development:  Signposts to Guide Instruction
o    “We Keep Telling Him You’ve Got to Get Organized…You’ve Got to Get Organized”:  Understanding Executive Function Deficits in Practical Terms
o    “Mom, Why Won’t Anyone Play With Me?” :  The Often Unspoken Side of Learning Disabilities & Shut Down Learners

The two that I gave were:

o    Relationship:  The Key Variable in Providing Emotional Fuel to Struggling Children With Learning Disabilities
o    Shut-Down Learners:  Adult Perspectives

The participants were educators from various countries in the Middle East Region.  While they may have raised some issues that were unique to their particular country or the cultural group they were teaching, so many of the issues were the common ones we face here in the United States.

o    How do you motivate the unmotivated?
o    What is the role of parents?
o    How do we teach literacy in a world that increasingly values technology over skills such as reading, spelling and writing?
o    What are the best methods to approach struggling children?

Just like educators experience in conferences here in the U.S., the participants probably walked away from the conference not having all of their questions answered, but it was nice to see that we were all talking the same language.

To learn more about the “TeachME” 2009 conference in Dubai, as well as their upcoming conference in Beirut, go to:



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