Month: February 2017

The “Don’t Give & You Get Street”

Are you out there in that land called Homework Non-Compliance Land?  Do you find yourself over-worrying while your child has a very different approach to his responsibilities like homework?

There are some tell-tale signs (all told to me recently):

  • Maybe you are finishing your child’s homework project while your child is at a sporting event.
  • You use the word “we,” a lot, as in “we have a big project to do.”
  • There are daily, (or multiple times a day) where you are logging on to the school’s website where they track grades and assignments.
  • Worse than above, you are waking in a cold sweat in the middle of the night worried about your kid’s project while once again logging on to the school’s website.
  • While you are either doing your kid’s project, he is either hanging on YouTube, texting his friends or playing his final battle of “Call of Duty” while you spend the night churning over the homework worry.
  • On a “worry scale” over homework you rank yourself a 10 (highest) while your kid is a 1. (That is, you are worrying about homework a lot, while your kid not at all.)

What’s the hidden agenda of homework?

It isn’t learning.  There is very little learning taking place with homework.  Do any of you remember any homework assignments you ever did?

Underneath homework is a societal agenda.  It’s the way we teach kids to be responsible.  It’s their job.  To meet the deadline.  To show up on time.  To manage your time.

You know, the usual stuff.

So, what happens if your kid blows off his job?

To answer that, over the next week try this exercise. Start on Sunday and go through a whole week, making a list of everything you do for your child or that your child takes for granted.   On the list  would be anything beyond food and shelter.

I will start you up:

  • Owns an iPad.
  • Access to iPad if doesn’t have own..
  • Access to internet.
  • Access to cell phone.
  • Video game playing.
  • Access to playing games on line.
  • “Play dates.”
  • Soccer, karate, basketball, gymnastics, dance, etc.
  • Lots of fun restaurants (especially the kid friendly ones that have their own iPads at the table).

Keep going.  Write it all down.

Every time you are doing something for your child or your child engages with an activity or task that really is a privilege, get it down on the list.

Where we are going with this is that most kids are on a one way street and we don’t even think about it or know it.   The street is not called the “The Give and You Get Street,” rather it is the “Don’t Give and You Get Street.”  

When kids are living on “Don’t Give and You Get Street,” we come up with all kinds of explanations.  Maybe it’s his diet.  Maybe he’s ADD.  Maybe it’s sensory.

Nope, this is a street that most modern kids reside.  ‘

Why not?  It’s a cushy gig.

Next week we will talk more about the street and how you may get your child on a different one.



8 Year Old Stress: Worksheets, Quizzes and Tests, Oh My!

“Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore.”

I try and find my weekly inspiration from my interactions as they happen from parents and kids.

This week’s comes from an eight year old third grader, Jonah, who told me he was not a big fan of school.  In fact, he was clear in stating that he “hated it.”

I pressed Jonah to tell me why.

“It’s all this testing,” Jonah started.  “It’s too much,” he said.

I asked him to clarify when his mom interjected, “Here, look what his week is like.  He’s all stressed out,” as she hands me a week’s schedule for Jonah’s class.



  • Rocket Math Multiplication Level S (a timed exercise in rapid math facts)
  • Math Chapter 8 Check My Progress Quiz
  • Vocabulary Quiz


  • Spelling Test
  • Grammar Quiz


  • Rocket Math Multiplication Level T
  • Reading Unit 3 Week 5 Test

So, let me get this straight. This eight year old got three quizzes and two tests, not to mention his performances on “Rocket Math” (timed stress exercises presented in the guise of being fun) in three days!!!

Jonah didn’t stop there regarding his negative feelings toward school.

“Also, the worksheets are really boring – they really get on my nerves.  I try and stay as focused as I can be,” Jonah explained

Jonah didn’t even have any learning problems, no signs of dyslexia and this was how he was feeling.

Takeaway Point                    

Three quizzes and two tests in a three days for an eight year old is hard to justify, not to mention the red ‘X’s’, failed grades and frowny faces at the top of a worksheet.

Wait, did I tell you he was eight?


Busting Mythologies – #Dyslexia

There is a mythology out there that is very hard to overcome.  The mythology typically originates from the school after a parent has queried the school about getting assessed for dyslexia.

A parent whose child I worked with recently, was told the following:

“Dyslexia. is a medical condition and only medical doctors (i.e., neurologists) are in a position to  diagnosis dyslexia.”

Neurologists rarely assess for dyslexia.  They would not have the time, nor are the tasks needed to be done typically done in a neurologist’s office.

A typical neurological consultation lasts between a half-hour to 45 minutes.  If it is the first visit (often this is the only visit), the first half will be taken up with a clinical interview with the parents to clarify the course of the problem and to take a detailed history.

The next 15 minutes or so has the child going through a variety of neurological function screening tasks such as tapping each finger rapidly to the thumb in succession, walking on a straight line, tracking visual field, and other fine and gross motor type of activities for the purpose of screening for any neurological irregularities.

These screenings can offer commentary on whether there are any gross neurological concerns, as well as what has been historically called “minimal neurological dysfunction.” Some neurologists may have the child write their name and copy a series of symbols using paper and pencil.

Schools have even said that parents need to get an MRI.  Really????  For a reading problem????

fMRI studies have been used in research, but do not offer the diagnostic utility needed in a dyslexia evaluation.  Not only that, but the child would be given the absolutely wrong message that there is something wrong with his/her brain.  When children are struggling with reading, spelling and writing, that is the last thing that they need.

 Essential of a Dyslexia Evaluation

The following are the essentials to include in a good dyslexia assessment. rarely do medical doctors do such testing;

  • Reading from a graded word list to determine word identification skill adequacy and levels of automatic word reading response.
  • Reading from real and nonsense words in isolation under timed conditions.
  • Reading graded level passages aloud under standard conditions to determine reading accuracy, reading fluency and oral reading competence.
  • Spelling of real and nonsense words.
  • Writing of a paragraph.
  • Screenings of phonological processing competence including phonemic awareness and measure of rapid automatic naming
  • Perceptual screenings including copying a series of increasing geometric designs.
  • Screenings of language functions.

Minimally, to do the above tests it would probably involve at least  two hours of face time with the child, not to mention the time scoring, interpreting and writing up the results.

In order to make a competent statement about the diagnosis of dyslexia the elements mentioned in the list above must be included.    The manner in which a child responds to the words and passages is the primary way that a determination of dyslexia can be made.  Spelling and writing need to be a part of the story as they are essential in terms of the ultimate clinical diagnosis.

Who Should Do the Testing?

Who then are the best professionals to do an assessment of dyslexia?

Typically psychologists, (also school psychologists) are very well versed in the assessment areas of concern.  However, you have to make certain that this domain of expertise is under their area of competence.  For example, a psychologist specializing in the treatment of eating disorders or depression may not have the experience or expertise to assess dyslexia.

Reading/Learning specialists and other special educators who do this type of testing are also worth considering, as they often have a solid experience in assessing a broad number of areas that should be considered.

Speech and Language professionals and specialists in auditory processing may also be helpful, but they are typically not as versed in the broad areas of academic functioning that are necessary in assessing.

Takeaway Point

Don’t let mythologies get in the way.

Draining the Car Battery – #ADHD

When it comes to kid issues, too often I hear simplistic answers to issues that can be very complex.

My favorite answer to almost everything is,  “My kid has ADD.”

Listen up everyone.  With determining ADD/ADHD  it’s not like a dental X-Ray, where there is objective proof of something  like a cavity or some other dental anomaly.

Even when some doctors trot out fancy (very expensive, I might add) electrode type of testing with the semblance of objectivity (“See it says here on this bar graph based on the electrode neuro- testing that we did that your child has this thing called ADD or ADHD.”), there may be many, many other reasons why kids are not functioning well with school.  I listed many of them in a recent post so I will not repeat here (see  20 REASONS KIDS DON’T PAY ATTENTION) .

Think of kids’ brains somewhat like a car battery.  There are a slew of things that can be draining the battery.

Part of what inspired this post was a 13 year old girl that I consulted with recently who has a myriad of “girl drama points” occurring in her life.  All of these drama points are draining her mental energy.

She recently underwent one of these fancy neuro-electrode types of ADHD assessments and was told, “Yep, you’ve got it.  You’ve got ADHD,” as the physician scratched his beard,  wisely.”

When I probed further and asked about her social life and how she was feeling about it, she started to cry.  When I asked if any of the professionals that “diagnosed” her asked her about her social life, she shook her head no.

From where I was sitting, her social life was greatly draining the car battery.

Takeaway Point

It’s really easy hooking electrodes up to a kid’s head.


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