Saturday, July 26, 2014

Let's Deal with Distractions---ADHD Strategies for Home & School

It's almost time to turn another calendar page. August is nearly here, and with it will come the annual back-to-school specials, no-sales-tax holidays, last-minute family vacations and other events that sadly signal the end of summer. Are you ready for all of this activity?

More importantly, is your child ready to think about the coming school year---are YOU? If your daughter loves reading and learning, you and she are probably looking forward to the first week of school. If your son very much enjoys science and math, the thought of school is most likely a pleasant and exciting one for him. However, if your child or teen is a reluctant reader or learner, the school year and its academic expectations may not be on his list of favorite things. Add to that the challenges of ADHD, and you may have a student who definitely does not like the idea of returning to school for the new term.

What's a parent to do, especially when ADHD or other issues will need to be addressed? Well, we are all about preparation---good preparation. While others may be still seeking more fun in the sun or picnics in the park, you and your child can be prepping for a great school year.

What will you need to help your child with ADHD be well-prepared for this school year? Providing you with some excellent focusing tips for ADHD would certainly be a great place to start. That's why we have created the following list of tips to help your child focus, get"in gear," as well as be ready to read and study. We hope you will find at least 1 or 2 tips here that are new and motivating for your child.

Focusing Tips for Children with ADHD

ADHD Strategies for Home

1. With your child, create a color-coded system to help organize his papers. For example, all science papers might be placed in a green folder and all reading papers put in a purple one.

2. Label files and folders using general subject headings. By using "Science" instead of "Chemistry," your child can get more than a year of use from one filing system.

3. Encourage your child to write the date at the top of each assignment to promote much easier, chronological organization at test time.

4. With your child, create checklists to ensure that assignments are always completed on time. When each project is finished, just cross it off the list! This will give your child a genuine sense of accomplishment and provide motivation to keep moving forward.

5. At the beginning of the school year, make copies of your child's important papers, including schedules and permission slips, and post them somewhere very visible in the house. These visual reminders will keep the information top of mind for your child. Remember---"Out of sight, out of mind."

6. Begin maintaining a daily routine now as the summer winds down. Create a workable yet structured schedule to give your child a time frame in which each chore or task should be completed. Developing a routine doesn't have to be limited to just homework. It can also help limit distractions when children do chores, get ready each morning or participate in other day-to-day activities.

7. Noise (or not) can make a difference. Discover if your child works better in complete silence or with some background sound(s). If normal household or neighborhood noises are too distracting, your child might need a separate workspace away from this noise or a set of noise-reducing headphones in order to work. However, if background noise helps, the kitchen table or a set of headphones streaming (wordless or instrumental) music may help your child get assignments finished.

8. Allow your child to take small breaks between assignments or tasks. Walking around for a few minutes and including a drink of water or other appropriate beverage can go a long way in helping develop a better workflow. Short breaks can also give a child something positive to anticipate, which can in turn help motivate the completion of a task. Also, breaking big assignments down into smaller chunks or tasks can make almost any project much less overwhelming and far more manageable.

9. Keep it clean and neat! Clutter in your child's workspace can be a huge distraction. So, in order to keep your child focused on her assignments, encourage the workstation to be clutter-free and organized.

ADHD Strategies for School

1. A front-row seat can be most helpful. Talk with your child's teacher and politely request a seat for your child near the front of the classroom, if possible. Should your child's teacher allow free seating, it would be a good idea to encourage sitting up front on the first day of class. Having a desk close to the teacher will make it easier to be more attentive during lessons AND minimize distractions.

2. Write down ideas and thoughts. Suggest to your child that he write down distracting thoughts instead of blurting them out. This practice will help prevent disruptions in the class or during lessons.

3. Learning styles DO matter. Work with your child’s teacher to identify strategies that work best for the type of learner your child is. Whether he learns best by watching, listening or actively doing, finding methods that are in line with your child’s learning style can help to make lessons much easier to understand and improve focus.

4. Also consider asking your child's teacher if he may use reading tools in the classroom to help increase focus, concentration and retention of what is learned. Most teachers will be grateful for such a request. It might be a good idea to have a duplicate set of these tools for your child to use at home, too. Special note: In some states, if these same focusing tools are included in the accommodations of a student's IEP AND utilized in the classroom by the student during the academic year of that IEP, they can also be used when taking the state achievement test. Check with your school's administrators to confirm or learn more about this.

5. Sincere encouragement is always a good thing. Even though your child may try her best, at times she may feel discouraged (i.e. right before a major test, by receiving a surprising low grade, etc.) It’s important to remind your child of previous examples when she did do well, reassuring her that you know she can again succeed.

Secondly, we think that having the right resources to support you and your child in this good preparation for the school year could make all the difference in the world for both of you! To address this important need, we have collected quite a few resources to promote more focus and concentration both at home and at school. Consider taking a look at these resources now to see which ones might give you the support you need to help your student focus with more success.

Focusing Resources for Children with ADHD

1. They Do the Rest
Excellent articles and FREE downloadable tools to help parents and children get better organized and ready for school and home life(tools include school supply lists, family chore lists, parent/teacher conference question lists, etc.)
Tool List for Children:
Tool List for Teens:

2. ADD/ADHD and School from
Helping Children with ADHD Succeed at School

3. 6 tips to coach your kids with ADD/ADHD by Elaine Taylor-Klaus, special to HLN
Elaine Taylor-Klaus is the co-founder of ImpactADHD, an organization that educates and supports parents raising kids with ADD/ADHD by providing weekly coaching tips and strategies. She is also the co-author of the e-book, ADHD in Reality: Tips for Parents from Parents.

4. When ADHD Kids Fidget: Better Focus Through Multitasking by by Roland Rotz, Ph.D., Sarah D. Wright & ADDitude Magazine
ADHD children may actually concentrate, focus and stay on-task better with a little foot-tapping, gum-chewing or fidgeting.

5. Reading Focus Cards | Focus on Reading and Learning by North Carolina Assistive Technology Program (NCATP)--posted July 23, 2014
Article about customizable reading aids available for children, teens and adults of all ages


Dealing with Distractions — Strategies for Home and School from They Do the Rest

Tips to Keep Your Child Organized at Home from They Do the Rest

For more information on customizable reading tools for better focus & attention, please visit: Tools for struggling readers of all ages! Info & support for struggling readers

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Brennan Innovators, LLC at

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Four Different Kinds of Reading

Did you know that there are different kinds or types of reading? Indeed, there are actually four of them, and each has its own specific purpose or objective. It is important to know these four different kinds of reading as well as practice and perfect your ability to use them. In doing so, you'll be able to improve your overall reading success. This is especially important if you are a student who wishes to reach your full academic potential.

This week we have created for you a short list of the four different kinds of reading. We hope that you will review these and practice each in the coming week. Try to use each kind as you read the newspaper, a textbook, a novel or perhaps even a research report or term paper. Also, consider the kinds of reading required for specific types of printed materials or even digital media. At the end of the week, you should be much more conscious of and skilled at utilizing every one of the four different kinds of reading. You will also be improving your reading skill level, being much more prepared for a great academic term in the coming school year.

The Four Different Kinds of Reading

1. Skimming - moving the eyes quickly over text on a page, to get the main idea or "gist" of a selection

2. Scanning - looking for a specific item of information in a selection

3. Extensive reading - (usually for shorter selections) reading for pleasure or just to get a broad understanding of the material

4. Intensive reading - (usually for longer selections) extracting specific information, accurate, in-depth reading for details

Skimming and scanning might be used when beginning to read a newspaper. If a specific story would be located in that newspaper, then you might then use intensive reading. Extensive reading might be done with a novel, but if you were editing a novel for potential publication, you would more likely do a considerable amount of intensive reading.

These are just a few examples of the different kinds of reading and when they are used most effectively. If you are a challenged reader, you might consider trying one (or more) of the specialized tools available to help facilitate your reading. A few of these tools can be used with all four kinds of reading (even when using some tech devices, too!) We hope you will increase and perfect your use of each of these kinds of reading in the coming week---and in the future. We think you'll become a much better reader because of your dedicated efforts!

Happy Reading, everyone!


Reading Skills: different kinds of reading - with exercise

Four Kinds of Reading by Bill Stiffler

Hall, Donald. "Four Kinds of Reading." Thinking in Writing. 2nd ed. Ed. Donald McQuade and Robert Atwan. New York: Knopf, 1983: 163-166. Print.

For more information on customizable reading tools for better focus & attention, please visit: Tools for struggling readers of all ages! Info & support for struggling readers

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Brennan Innovators, LLC at

Saturday, July 12, 2014

A GREAT Recipe for Storytelling or Reading to Your Child

It's been a long summer day. You're energy is definitely waning, but your young one is begging for a bedtime tale. "Read me a story, Momma---ple-e-ease!" You start to think that it might be alright, perhaps even enjoyable, to sit on the edge of your child's bed and read her a favorite story---or even a new one. You give in and gently take a book from the bookshelf nearby. You begin to read the words with expression and genuine interest. Your child takes it all in, unaware that she is learning to associate books and reading with gentleness, comfort and affection.

Reading and storytelling with your son or daughter are priceless activities in the development of your child. Mothers and fathers (and grandparents, too!) are the best candidates for these activities, as they can contribute much in the way of positive experiences for both parent and child. In fact, as you read to your child, you will be helping to create some wonderful memories your young one will not likely forget.

How does one read or tell a story to a child? Is there a BEST way to read to your son or daughter? It is always a good idea for parents to put their own personal touches to stories they read or tell their children, but a few tips might be helpful to many parents who are "newbies." We've gathered some simple tips to assist parents when reading or telling stories to their children, and we've put them in a simple, reference-list format.

Tips for Reading (or Telling Stories) to Your Child

1. If reading a book, talk briefly about the cover and title of the book with your child. If you are telling a story, give a brief "teaser" about the story that will unfold.

2. Begin to read or tell the story with expression in your voice that is appropriate for the story's mood.

3. Involve your child in the story, asking short, simple questions about the selection at important points. (Think---Who? What? When? Where? Why? How?)

4. When the book or story ends (and your child is still awake!), don't be afraid to talk for a few moments about the following Story Elements:

a. The characters---both main & supporting characters in the story or book
b. The setting---the where & when of the story
c. The problem---of the main character(s)
d. The plot---the beginning, middle & end of the story
e. If the conclusion demonstrates an important idea or helps to teach a lesson, briefly talk about this in a way that is age-appropriate for your child.
f. If time permits, consider asking your child about possible "alternate" endings for the story or book. This will encourage creative thinking and problem solving.

So, the next time your son or daughter asks you to read a book or tell a story at bedtime---or anytime, you'll certainly be ready! You'll also be helping to lay the all-important groundwork for your child to learn and love to read---for a lifetime.

Happy Reading and Storytelling---with your child!

Tell a Better Story---Storytelling Made Simple by Melissa Taylor of Imagination Soup

How to Read Aloud to a Child Edited by Kyle G., KnowItSome, Flickety, Lozoloz & 5 others

For more information on customizable reading tools for better focus & attention, please visit: Tools for struggling readers of all ages! Info & support for struggling readers

Image courtesy of:
Brennan Innovators, LLC at

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Tech Resources to Support Older Student & Adult Challenged Readers

Struggling to read affects more than merely the challenged reader. It can affect that reader's family, his community and certainly society as a whole. Our literacy rate here in the U.S., as determined in the findings from the U.S. Education Department's National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NALS-2003), is one of real concern. Currently, 1 in 4 children in America grow up without learning how to read.

We know that literacy is a learned skill. We also know that illiteracy is something passed down from parents who can neither read nor write. However, can you imagine the even more daunting challenges of an older student who is in high school AND still learning to read? No longer is it only about the reading hurdles, but the older student's self-esteem also becomes a significant issue.

According to current statistics, 2/3 of students who cannot read proficiently by the end of 4th grade will eventually be incarcerated or on welfare. In addition, more than 60% of all inmates are functionally illiterate with 70% of them unable to read above a 4th grade level. These statistics prove that there is a close relationship between illiteracy and crime.

What are the causes of these staggering percentages? Many educational experts believe that the country's economic situation over the past five years has played a part. Also, the current issues with immigration and the high school dropout rate are other important reasons for the poor literacy numbers. However, one significant contribution to the problems of illiteracy in the U.S. is the large number of individuals with undiagnosed learning disabilities.

There are many older and students and adults who struggle to read because of learning differences and disabilities not "caught" or noticed during their elementary school years. Even fewer may have received an appropriate diagnosis for the source of their reading or learning struggles.

With recent reports showing that low literacy directly costs the healthcare industry over $70 million every year, we as a nation must step up to address this situation that affects so many lives. This is part of the motivation for our article this week. We wanted to provide an array of technological resources more specifically for older students and adults who daily struggle to read. We hope you will share them with a challenged older student or adult reader you know.

Tech Resources to Support Older Student & Adult Challenged Readers

iPad and iPhone Apps for Low Vision from the U-M Kellogg Eye Center
A collection of apps for persons with low or impaired vision from (but not endorsed by) the University of Michigan-Kellogg Center. Direct links to the apps' download pages are also provided. Many apps are FREE here with a few others available at various price points.

Apps for Literacy Support (for iPad & Android) from the Spectronics Consultancy Team
A COMPREHENSIVE list of literacy apps with direct links to individual download pages. A few are FREE, but most are available at various price points.

Using iPads to Support Older Students Struggling with Literacy-Full day Video! by Greg O'Connor (presenter) & Spectronics
Learn about apps like Evernote (for time management, note-taking, task completion and organized retrieval of researched materials). Consider alternative note-taking formats such as those offered by ClaroPDF. Explore improvements to students’ reading comprehension and proofreading skills via text-to-speech apps such as iReadWrite. Discuss the pros and cons of speech recognition on the iPad. See writing supports like word prediction within Co:Writer and WriteOnline come to life on an iPad.

Top 10 Apps for Literacy Support by Amanda Hartmann (presenter) & Spectronics
(for iPad, iPod and iPhone only)
This webinar (just over 1 hour in length) will present the TOP 10 list of apps that may provide the different types of support for students in your classroom (mainly to read and access written text). One app is FREE, but most are available at various price points.

When High School Students Struggle with Textbook Reading from
Practical strategies for tackling textbook reading for older students


One World Literacy Foundation. "Illiteracy Statistics." One World Literacy. Accessed July 2, 2014.

WriteExpress Corporation. "Literacy Statistics." Begin to Read. Accessed July 2, 2014.

Blankenship, John. "Functional illiteracy continues to grow, but there is help." The Register-Herald. Accessed July 2, 2014.

National Center for Education Statistics. National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL). Accessed July 2, 2014. "11 Facts about Literacy in America." Accessed July 2, 2014.

For more information on customizable reading tools for dyslexia, better focus & attention, please visit: Tools for struggling readers of all ages! Info & support for struggling readers

Image courtesy of:
Brennan Innovators, LLC at

Saturday, June 28, 2014

A Parade of Patriotic Reading Activities & Games

We are fast approaching the 4th of July Weekend and with it the unofficial milestone of mid-summer, too. Wasn't it just yesterday that we were enjoying the season's first barbecue over the Memorial Day Weekend? Time marches on, as they say! Before we know it, Labor Day will be looming, and children will be returning to school. For now, though, let's enjoy the summer, right?

Yes, we can all definitely manage to have fun in the sun this 4th of July, but at the same time, keep the kids far from the summer slide with an array of enjoyable reading activities and games having a patriotic flare. This week, we have collected a group of these resources to keep kids reading, thinking and learning all weekend long---and beyond. That way, long after the holiday weekend is history, your children (or grandchildren) will be skipping around the summer slide and well on their way to gearing up for the coming school year while still having fun this July 4th.

Remember to KEEP them reading and learning ALL summer long! Have a Happy and Safe 4th of July with your family!

Patriotic Reading Activities & Games

4th of July Activities and Games for Kids---(for K-8) from
Popular list of direct links to patriotic activities and resources specifically for July 4th

Patriotic Activities for Kids---(for K-5) from
Various patriotic activities for younger children

U.S.A. Patriotism Theme Unit---(for K-8) from
Patriotic-themed printables, worksheets and activities

Patriotic and 4th of July Worksheets and Printables---(for K-5) from
Patriotic worksheets, printables & reading comprehension activities

Best Crafts for Kids Patriotic---(for K-8-all FREE)
Collection of Android APPS for children with various patriotic offerings: crafts, songs, poems and more!

Just for Fun---and Creativity!

Fireworks Arcade---(for ALL ages-FREE) by Big Duck Games LLC
Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch
Fireworks Arcade is a fun-filled APP for all ages, and a showcase app for multi-touch and graphics. Tap or drag to create brilliant displays of light and sound. Compete or relax in one of several game modes. Paint art with firework shapes. Or just watch a generated show. How you play is up to you, so get creative.

For more information on customizable reading tools for dyslexia, better focus & attention, please visit: Tools for struggling readers of all ages! Info & support for struggling readers

Image courtesy of:
Brennan Innovators, LLC at

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Dyslexia's Strengths, Talents & Gifts

Very often, parents hear only what is negative about their children who struggle to read. At parent/teacher conferences, educators may quickly broach the topic of reading difficulties for a particular child, enumerating a list of challenges that must be addressed. Much less frequently, the discussion will mention the strengths of these children who are struggling readers, especially when these readers have dyslexia.

Did you know that many children and adults with dyslexia have specific strengths and talents? Yes, they do, and we hope to enumerate those here in our blog this week. We also hope that teachers and parents will take a long look at this list and begin recognizing these gifts and special abilities of some of the challenged readers they know and care about in their classrooms and families. If they do, those who struggle to read will improve self-esteem and realize in themselves that they have much more to offer our world than others might think.

The Strengths, Talents and Gifts of Dyslexia

Children and adults with DYSLEXIA are often:


In addition, persons with DYSLEXIA frequently possess these strengths:

-Have the ability to see the "big picture" with projects, ideas, etc.
-Possess strong, problem-solving skills
-Have excellent, critical thinking and reasoning skills
-Can think in fully-interactive, 3-dimensional environments
-Demonstrate lateral thinking
-Conceive objects from every possible angle
-Are capable of short periods of high focus
-Are acutely aware of surroundings
-Often inclined to think "outside the box"
-Can see patterns, connections and similarities that others cannot

Do any of these strengths look familiar as you think about your child or student with dyslexia? If not, please take another look. If you see several items that apply to a child you know, help him to channel that strength or further develop those talents. If you do, you will help him move in the direction of improving his self-esteem AND his chances of becoming a reader less challenged.

Sources & Resources:

10 Little-known Advantages of Dyslexia by Marianne Sunderland
This article from the Abundant Life blog lists some of the special talents and abilities of those with dyslexia. Also, a list of careers or vocations that work well for persons with dyslexia is provided.

strengths of dyslexia by Aidan Fitzpatrick
Basic list of strengths for persons with dyslexia

For more information on customizable reading tools for dyslexia, better focus & attention, please visit: Tools for struggling readers of all ages! Info & support for struggling readers

Image courtesy of:
Brennan Innovators, LLC at

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Helpful Learning Activities for Children with Down Syndrome

If you have a son or daughter with Down Syndrome, you know that your experience with parenthood is quite different from that of other parents. You also know that with each day that passes, you experience the sweet love of a child who is so special and most precious. You have found that this child has enriched your life in ways that you could never have imagined.

At the same time, did you also know that early intervention programs that integrate special education with speech and physical therapy have been shown to boost the developmental potential of children with Down syndrome? Even though the skills and abilities of children with Down syndrome may vary greatly, many grow up to live independently or in supportive, group environments. It is also very possible for them to successfully hold jobs, especially when they are provided with the appropriate training and assistance.

For many children with Down Syndrome, education begins in mainstream schools. However, some parents choose special schools or schools that have programs tailored for their children. As the parent of a child with Down syndrome, you can be proactive to ensure that your child gets the support and education he needs---AND to which he is legally entitled.

The Need for Gross Motor & Sensory Activities

For all children, the development of gross motor activities is very important. However, these activities are even more critical for children with Down Syndrome. Children with this diagnosis are usually born with very low muscle tone, which means they will need to work considerably harder to develop their muscles. Because of this, children with Down Syndrome may often experience sensory issues as well. As a parent, you can help promote the development of better muscle tone through the use of specific gross motor activities. You can also positively impact the sensory processing issues with appropriate activities as well.

Help for Visual & Auditory Challenges

Children with Down Syndrome often lag behind their peers at every age regarding visual acuity. In addition, focus is usually quite poor, as they tend to under-accommodate by quite a large amount, whatever the distance of the target. This means that close work, especially in school, must be more difficult for these children because much of what they attempt to read or work is out-of-focus. Once again, parents can help with some of these struggles with the right activities, tools and guidance.

Orofacial development as well as craniofacial development associated with Down's syndrome can often contribute to inner, middle and outer ear problems. These issues might manifest themselves in the following ways: the adenoids may be large and/or the nasopharynx may be small; swallowing may be impaired and/or the Eustachian tube itself is very narrow and more horizontal than usual.

Children and adults with Down Syndrome may often have difficulty processing speech (especially with peripheral noise) and in locating the source of a sound. A mild hearing loss will make these tasks even more difficult. Persons with Down Syndrome do not usually complain of a hearing difficulty. Therefore, it is very important for hearing loss and middle ear disease to be detected with proper testing and evaluation so that remedial action is not delayed. At the same time, it is possible to help promote better auditory development by introducing some appropriate activities here, particularly with children.

This week's article is dedicated to the children (and their committed parents!) who are challenged daily with the learning struggles of Down Syndrome. We have gathered here many resources and activities to help with the unique needs of children with Down Syndrome. We hope they will benefit a special child you love---AND you!

Helpful Learning Activities for Children with Down Syndrome

12 of Our Best Gross Motor Activities from the We Can Do All Things blog
A good list of gross motor activities for Down Syndrome with links.

Let's Talk Learning. by Megan Landmeier, My Stubborn Miss blog
Article (and blog) written by the mother of child with Down Syndrome. She presents gross and fine motor activities together with matching, counting and even foreign language!

12 Booster Activities for Kids With Down Syndrome by Vicki Vila & Parents Magazine
Learning activities to help your child with cognitive and educational development.

PT & OT for Children with Down Syndrome by Stephanie Seguin, Chasing Hazel blog
Physical and occupational activities to do with children who have Down Syndrome. )

Your Child Has Down Syndrome by Els Rengenhart &
Children with Down Syndrome often suffer from sensory processing disorder as well. The activities here may be helpful for poor muscle tone and sensory issues.

Internet: Working With Children With Down Syndrome by Judith Maginnis Kuster & The ASHA Leader
Language and phonology activities as well as feeding and swallowing resources and information for parents of children with Down Syndrome.

Playing to Their Strengths: Teaching Children with Down Syndrome by Vicki Vila & the Thoroughly Modern Messy blog
Article (and blog) written by the mother of a child with Down Syndrome.

Other Resources and Sources for Information about Down Syndrome

Parenting a Child with Down Syndrome from WebMD
Reliable information about the signs and symptoms of a child with Down Syndrome.

Activities for Down Syndrome (Pinterest Board) via
A large collection of activities and resources for families of children with Down Syndrome.

Eye and Vision Problems in Children with Down's Syndrome by J. Margaret Woodhouse &
General information about vision issues of children with Down Syndrome (from the UK).

Hearing Impairment & Down's Syndrome by Susan Snashall &
General information about hearing issues of children with Down Syndrome (from the UK).

For more information on customizable reading tools for better focus & improved attention, please visit: Tools for struggling readers of all ages! Info & support for struggling readers

Image courtesy of:
Our Journey at and
Brennan Innovators, LLC at