Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Launch of New Windows 10 App Helps Motivate All Ages to Focus and Read Better---Online or Offline

Finally, low-cost help for ALL readers with the new Reading Focus Cards app

As students return from Spring Break in the days ahead, they will be looking for new and better ways to resume the reading and study tasks required for a successful conclusion to the school year. Whether they are elementary, secondary, college or grad students, they will be looking for motivating ways to effectively manage the volume of reading and test prep to meet their academic goals throughout the remainder of the semester.

The new Reading Focus Cards app for Windows 10 PCs (U.S. Patent 8,360,779) can enable students to do just that---focus and read digital media with more success. The new app now accessible via the Windows Store, was designed by a St. Louis educator and entrepreneur in collaboration with a renowned developer of apps for challenged readers. (For Mac users, there is a Mac version of the Reading Focus Cards app, too.) In addition to these digital apps, sensory-appealing Reading Focus Card tools made in St. Louis are also available for use with physical books and documents, too. This system of reading aids from Brennan Innovators helps improve focus for many readers but can be especially helpful to students of all ages with ADHD, dyslexia and other issues that very often negatively impact the reading experience.

Brennan Innovators, LLC, a leading innovation-driven provider of reading solutions for all ages, announced that it has published its new Windows 10 Reading Focus Cards app (U.S. Patent 8,360,779) for readers of online and offline digital media. This application for use with Windows 10 PCs was made possible by combining the efforts of an innovative developer of special needs apps together with those of an experienced St. Louis educator and entrepreneur. The launch of the Reading Focus Cards app for Windows 10 more easily enables PC users to read digital text with more focus, visual comfort and improved reading skills.

Established in 2007, Brennan Innovators is a U.S. educational products and services company with a proven track-record of successful development and commercialization of teacher-designed reading tools for mainstream use as well as readers with special needs. All the company’s reading products are made in the U.S.A. Brennan Innovators also provides consultation and professional educational services for teachers, parents and other adults who serve students in grades K-12.

Speaking on the development of the app, Joan M. Brennan, founder and CEO of Brennan Innovators, LLC, said, "This infinitely-customizable app FLOATS on top and STAYS on top of underlying digital applications (Kindle PC app, etc.), enabling readers to FOCUS on digital text needing immediate attention AND BLOCK OUT surrounding text that may be distracting. The app is great for e-books and online courses read on PCs, too. The launch of this innovative overlay application continues our commitment to explore new and innovative pathways in reading technology with an emphasis on support for challenged readers of all ages/abilities and, thereby, improvement of their self-esteem. Reading success and the skills related to it are the cornerstones for success and achievement in life. We are excited to add this new Windows 10 version of the Reading Focus Cards app to our portfolio of customizable and sensory-appealing reading solutions."

Ms. Brennan, an experienced middle-school teacher, created the original Reading Focus Cards (U.S. Patent 7,565,759), physical reading aids that grew out of the students’ needs in her own classroom. Throughout 2017, she worked with Abelardo Gonzalez, a developer of apps for dyslexia (OpenDyslexic font) and other reading challenges, to create the new Windows 10 Reading Focus Cards app for PCs. First established in 2014 for the first version of the app for Macs and PCs, their collaboration has worked well to support Brennan Innovators’ mission of providing tools to enable ALL individuals to focus and read with more success. The new app is available in the Windows Store. The Mac version of the desktop app is available in the Mac App Store.

To view a VIDEO of the new Reading Focus Cards app for Windows 10 in action, please visit https://goo.gl/YftDve.

Resource Links

1. NEW Reading Focus Cards App for Windows 10 PCs (via Windows Store):

2. NEW Reading Focus Cards App for Windows 10 PCs (via Gumroad.com):
Click on drop down to version preferred.

3. VIDEO of NEW Reading Focus Cards App for Windows 10 PCs:

4. Reading Focus Cards App for Windows 7 & 8 (via Gumroad.com):
Click on drop down to version preferred.

5. Reading Focus Cards App for Macs (via Mac App Store):

6. Physical Reading Focus Cards Tools
(For Reading Actual Books & Documents)

For more information on customizable tools for ALL kinds of readers:
www.FocusandRead.com Tools for struggling readers of all ages!
www.BrennanInnovators.com Info & support for struggling readers

Image courtesy of: Brennan Innovators, LLC: www.FocusandRead.com and Pixabay: https://pixabay.com

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

BEST Websites for Dyslexia-2018

It's no surprise that the most popular article (with resources) in our blog here was actually written and published back in 2013. The article entitled BEST Websites for Dyslexia & Dysgraphia has experienced nearly 35,000 visitors to date since its publication in early October of that year (updated in late 2016).

We thought we were long overdue in providing our readers with a brand new article with the latest and best in dyslexia websites and resources. We hope that you will discover exactly what you need in the list of links below to effectively help a reader with dyslexia whom you know and support.

BEST Websites for Dyslexia-2018

The International Dyslexia Association
Home Page: https://dyslexiaida.org
FREE Fact Sheets: https://dyslexiaida.org/fact-sheets/

The Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity

DyslexiaHelp at the University of Michigan

Decoding Dyslexia
National grassroots organization of parents, teachers and other adults impacting the lives of children & adults w/ dyslexia
Home Page:http://www.decodingdyslexia.net/
Links to Individual State Branches: http://www.decodingdyslexia.net/dd-states.html

For Teachers from Decoding Dyslexia Oregon
Dyslexia resources for educators---all in 1 place.

Understanding Dyslexia from Understood.org

Dyslexic Advantage by Drs. Fernette & Brock Eide
Home Page: http://www.dyslexicadvantage.org/
Online Adult Dyslexia Checklist of Symptoms(for guidance only): http://www.dyslexicadvantage.org/dyslexia-test/

Bright Solutions for Dyslexia by Susan Barton

800+ Dyslexia Resources---ALL in 1 Place! from Brennan Innovators, LLC

Connect the Dots: Understanding Dyslexia (Launch Report-May 2017)
by Kate Griggs, Founder & CEO, Made By Dyslexia

LD Online-Dyslexia Basics

Reading Rockets

OpenDyslexic Font by Abelardo Gonzalez
Access to FREE download of font that helps dyslexic readers (for all possible devices)

BEST Websites for Dyslexia & Dysgraphia

How Well Does Your State Support Children with Dyslexia? (published 10/25/17)
by Emily Hanford, The Hechinger Report
Provides clickable map for status of dyslexia legislation in all 50 U.S. States.

Homeschooling With Dyslexia by Marianne Sunderland
Website with excellent information and resources for teachers, homeschooling families and others who care for and serve children with dyslexia.

Why Audiobooks? from mindspark
Reasons why audiobooks are a GOOD and WISE resource for dyslexic readers.

“Don’t Worry. He’ll Catch Up” Will Condemn Your Child To a Lifetime of Struggling to Read
by Judy Santilli Packhem, Medium
Children who have difficulty when young will not just “catch up” on their own or with traditional methods of teaching.

Exercise Helps the Brain by clnAdrian, Conscious Life News

Differently Wired by Mike Pickle
Dyslexic/dyspraxic blogger offers tips, techniques and related guidance for working professionals with dyslexia who wish to excel in the workplace.

For information on customizable tools for dyslexia & other reading challenges:
www.FocusandRead.com Tools for struggling readers of all ages!
www.BrennanInnovators.com Info & support for struggling readers

Image courtesy of: Brennan Innovators, LLC: www.FocusandRead.com and
Pixabay.com: https://pixabay.com/en/children-studying-book-reading-read-670663/

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

How Can I Help a Child with Convergence Insufficiency (CI)?

In recent weeks, we have been receiving more than the usual requests for information and resources about an eye condition called convergence insufficiency (CI). Because we have not published an article on this topic since 2012 with Helpful Apps & Resources for Convergence Insufficiency, we thought it was time with the New Year to provide our readers with the latest information, strategies and other resources on this subject of CI.

What IS Convergence Insufficiency? (CI)

Convergence insufficiency is a condition in which the eyes are unable to work together when looking at nearby objects. This condition causes one eye to turn outward instead of inward with the other eye creating double or blurred vision.

Convergence insufficiency is usually diagnosed in school-age children and adolescents. It can cause difficulty reading, for which parents or teachers might suspect the child has learning difficulties rather than an eye disorder.

Treatments are usually effective for convergence insufficiency.

Symptoms and Causes of Convergence Insufficiency (CI)

Not everyone with convergence insufficiency has signs and symptoms. Signs and symptoms occur while you're reading or doing other close work and might include:

-Tired, sore or uncomfortable eyes (eyestrain)
-Frequent headaches
-Difficulty reading — words seem to float on the page, loss of place or reading slowly, which might cause one to avoid reading or not complete schoolwork
-Double vision (diplopia)
-Difficulty concentrating
-Squinting, rubbing or closing one eye

The cause of convergence insufficiency is actually not known, but it involves a misalignment of the eyes when focusing on nearby objects. The misalignment involves the muscles that move the eye. Typically, one eye drifts outward when you're focusing on a word or object at close range.

If you or your child experiences the symptoms of convergence insufficiency or problems reading, consult an eye care professional for a comprehensive exam — a developmental/behavioral optometrist or an ophthalmologist.

Diagnosis of Convergence Insufficiency (CI)

Individuals with convergence insufficiency might have otherwise normal vision (20/20), so it is important to mention reading or learning concerns to your eye care provider. To diagnose convergence insufficiency, the eye doctor might:

1. Request a medical history. This might include questions about problems with focusing, blurred or double vision, headaches, and symptoms.

2. Measure the near point of convergence. This test measures the distance from the eyes to where both eyes can focus without double vision. The examiner holds a small target, such as a printed card or penlight, in front of the patient and slowly moves it closer until either double vision is experienced or the examiner sees an eye drift outward.

3. Assess positive fusional vergence (PFV). During this test, the patient is asked to read letters on an eye chart while looking through prism lenses. The examiner will note when you begin to have double vision.

4. Perform a routine or comprehensive (recommended) eye exam. If patient has any other vision problems, such as nearsightedness, the doctor might conduct tests to assess the degree of the problem.

Recommended Treatment of (CI)

Eye coordination problems like convergence insufficiency generally cannot be improved with eye glasses or surgery. A program of vision therapy may be needed to improve eye coordination abilities, reduce symptoms, and alleviate discomfort when doing close work.

The American Optometric Association and the 2008 Convergence Insufficiency Treatment Trial clearly support the superiority of office-based vision therapy, supplemented by at-home vision therapy (i.e., prescribed eye exercises, etc.), for treatment of convergence insufficiency.

If convergence insufficiency is not causing symptoms, treatment is generally not needed. However, for persons with symptoms, treatment that include eye-focusing exercises can increase the eyes' convergence ability.

Treatment of CI, which can take place in the office of a trained therapist or at your home, might include:

1. Pencil Pushups: In this exercise, the patient focuses on a small letter on the side of a pencil as it is moved closer to the bridge of the nose, stopping as soon as double vision is experienced. The exercise is often done for 15 minutes a day, five or more days a week.
2. Computer-generated Vision Therapy: Eye-focusing exercises are done on a computer using software designed to improve convergence. The results can be printed to share with the eye doctor.
3. About Reading Glasses: Glasses with built-in prisms generally haven't proved effective. If the patient has another focusing or vision problem, such as not seeing well close up (farsightedness), reading glasses might be prescribed.

Recent studies indicate that office-based therapy with home reinforcement is the most effective treatment for convergence insufficiency. Home-based treatment with pencil pushups or computer programs hasn't been shown to be as effective. But home treatment costs less and is more convenient and more readily available.

Treatment for convergence insufficiency might take three months or longer. Treatment can resolve convergence insufficiency, but symptoms might recur after illness, after lack of sleep, or when you're doing a lot of reading or other close work. Discuss treatment options with your eye care professional.

In the meantime, teachers can do much to enable students to manage CI symptoms and other reading challenges in the classroom. Here is a list of practical strategies to help alleviate some of the discomfort and focusing issues of CI:

7 Classroom Modifications to Help Students with Functional Vision Problems

Provide Better Lighting

Many classrooms are poorly lit with flickering fluorescent bulbs. Even when this type of lighting is functioning properly, the glare created by the fluorescent bulbs makes it very difficult for readers with challenges. Schools often need to make the most economical choices, and fluorescent lighting is cheap. However, proper lighting is particularly important for students with vision problems. We suggest providing natural lighting or full-spectrum bulbs whenever possible. On a nice day, a child could sit near the window in the sunlight or at a table with a full-spectrum lamp, especially when doing sustained close work. In addition, to alleviate the "harshness" of fluorescent lighting in a classroom, some teachers drape softly-colored, open-weaved fabric (not flammable) under the lighting fixtures on the ceiling but at a safe distance from them.

Provide Periodic Work Breaks

Sustained near-field work that requires a student to keep both eyes pointed in the same direction (a function known as teaming), follow along the text (a function known as tracking), and focus on text or numbers for an extended amount of time (a function known as “accommodation”) is challenging for children with vision problems. These functions work effortlessly for children with healthy vision systems, but children with vision deficiencies need to put forth extra effort. Allowing students to take breaks regularly gives their eyes time to rest so they can begin working again refreshed.

Provide Oral Testing Options

For children with vision problems, reading and writing causes strain and even headaches; so sometimes these students get distracted or give up while taking a test. If you’ve ever studied with your child for an exam, certain he would ace it, only to find out later that he failed, a functional vision problem could be interfering with his test-taking performance. Bubbling in answer sheets can be a particular challenge. Allowing students to demonstrate knowledge through oral quizzes and tests when possible is often a helpful solution.

Grant More Time for Completion of Work

Often, classroom exams and assignments are either intentionally timed or students are hurried on to the next task due to schedules and general time constraints of the school day. A child with a learning-related vision problem may need more time to learn, complete assignments, and take tests. This has nothing to do with intelligence; it’s simply a matter of the way their vision system functions. Granting extra time can boost their performance.

Use Highlighters

When you were in school, did you ever use highlighter markers or pencils to underline important text? When you’re reading, do you ever slide your finger or pen along text as a guide, especially when you’re getting tired or trying to concentrate on challenging material? Allowing a child with an eye tracking deficiency to use highlighters as they read is a simple but effective classroom modification. Readers with normal healthy visual processing systems can easily move their eyes in a left to right manner across the page without skipping words or losing their place. Highlighters can make it easier for your child to stay on track.

Make Larger Text Available

Children with learning-related vision problems strain to read standard-sized text more so than their classmates with healthy vision systems. Larger print is easier to read, focus on, and follow along, smoothly and efficiently. Text on worksheets and exams can be enlarged simply by using larger font or blowing up the copy size. The school may be required to accommodate your child’s needs by ordering large-print textbooks when available. You can also buy large-print books for your child to read at home or check them out from the library.

Limit Copying From Board

Copying from the board or screen can be difficult for a student with a vision problem, even if he has 20/20 eyesight or wears eyeglasses. When a child has trouble focusing, he may see clearly while looking down at his paper, and clearly while looking up at the board. However, looking up and down, back and forth, from the board to the paper might be where the challenge comes into play. The focus mechanism in a child’s eyes might be weak, slowing down the adjustment period as he looks from one point to the other. Arrange for seating closer to the board for some relief, or preferably provide the child with printed materials from which to copy.

If a child has a learning-related functional vision problem, simple classroom and learning environment modifications can provide much-needed relief as he tries to cope. The first step is to obtain a professional diagnosis by scheduling a functional or comprehensive vision exam with a developmental or behavioral optometrist. Then work with the school teacher and school to ensure appropriate modifications are made available.

These classroom modifications may be temporary, because an individualized vision therapy program can improve functional vision significantly.


Convergence Insufficiency (Symptoms & Causes) - from Mayo Clinic

Convergence Insufficiency (Diagnosis & Treatment) - from Mayo Clinic

Home-Based Therapy for Convergence Insufficiency-NOT EFFECTIVE!- by Lynn Hellerstein

Dyslexia, Really? Convergence Insufficiency: the REAL Story- by Robin Pauc (Kindle Edition)

What is Convergence Insufficiency (CI)? - from Optometrists Network

Convergence Insufficiency - from COVD (College of Optometrists in Vision Development)

Doctor Locator Tool - from the COVD (College of Optometrists in Vision Development)
Locate a Doctor in your area who is experienced and knowledgeable in diagnosing and treating convergence insufficiency.

7 Classroom Modifications to Help Students with Functional Vision Problems

65+ Convergence Insufficiency Resources (Many are FREE!)

Helpful Apps & Resources for Convergence Insufficiency

For more information about tools, strategies and resources for CI and other reading challenges, please visit:
www.FocusandRead.com Tools for struggling readers of all ages!
www.BrennanInnovators.com Info & support for struggling readers

Image provided by: Brennan Innovators, LLC www.FocusandRead.com

Saturday, December 2, 2017

BEST Kids' Books About Dyslexia and ADHD

Self-esteem and confidence are two of the most important qualities parents and teachers try to instill in children. Succeeding in doing so, however, can be challenging for both the adults and the children. when we add a learning disability to the mix, self-esteem and confidence building can be daunting for all involved.

That is why we have gathered together here what we believe are currently the BEST books about dyslexia and ADHD for kids. We think you will discover at least one of the selections in the list below to help you with the task of helping a child you know build self-confidence and self-esteem. Children and teens with LD challenges will find it easy to identify with the main characters in these stories. Not only are the selections empathetic, but they each help teach about strengths and talents that can help manage and sometimes even compensate for learning challenges.

We hope a child you know will not only learn from one of these books but discover how he can overcome his learning or reading issues, building that all-important confidence and self-esteem in the process.

BEST Kids' Books About Dyslexia and ADHD

Fish in a Tree (for Ages 10+)
by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
“Everybody is smart in different ways. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its life believing it is stupid.” Ally has been smart enough to fool a lot of smart people. Every time she lands in a new school, she is able to hide her inability to read by creating clever yet disruptive distractions. She is afraid to ask for help; after all, how can you cure dumb? However, her newest teacher Mr. Daniels sees the bright, creative kid underneath the trouble maker. With his help, Ally learns not to be so hard on herself and that dyslexia is nothing to be ashamed of. As her confidence grows, Ally feels free to be herself and the world starts opening up with possibilities. She discovers that there’s a lot more to her—and to everyone—than a label, and that great minds don’t always think alike. https://www.amazon.com/Fish-Tree-Lynda-Mullaly-Hunt/dp/0142426423/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1503854188&sr=1-1

It's Called Dyslexia (for Ages 6-9)
by Jennifer Moore-Mallinos and Nuria Roca (Illustrator)
This is one of several titles in Barron’s Live and Learn series for younger children. They are books that take a child’s point of view, especially if the child suffers from some physical challenge or lack self-confidence in going about everyday activities. These attractively illustrated picture storybooks encourage kids never to be afraid of a challenge. Following each story are four pages of suggested activities that relate to the book’s theme. A final two-page section offers advice to parents. The child in this story knows the alphabet, but she sometimes has trouble putting all the letters together to read words. No matter how hard she tries, she often mixes up the letters or writes them backwards. She’s unhappy until her teacher explains that she has dyslexia, and that she can be helped to read and write correctly.

Tom's Special Talent - Dyslexia (for Ages 5-9)
by Kate Gaynor, Liam Gaynor (Editor), Eva Byrne (Illustrator)
Tom isn't sure if he has any talents at all when he sees how good his friends are at writing and reading. But a school competition soon helps him to find his own very special talent ! Children with Dyslexia or a learning difficulty often find school a daunting and sometimes terrifying daily task. In an environment where certain skills, like writing and reading, are praised and highlighted more than others, it is important for children to recognise that everyone has a 'special talent' of their own. It encourages other children to be mindful of the differences that exist between their friends and classmates and to be aware that all children, regardless of their talents, learn differently.

My Mouth Is a Volcano! (for Ages 5-8)
by Julia Cook and Carrie Hartman
All of Louis' thoughts are very important to him. In fact, his thoughts are so important to him that when he has something to say, his words begin to wiggle, and then they do the jiggle, then his tongue pushes all of his important words up against his teeth and he erupts, or interrupts others. His mouth is a volcano! My Mouth Is A Volcano takes an empathetic approach to the habit of interrupting and teaches children a witty technique to capture their rambunctious thoughts and words for expression at an appropriate time. Told from Louis’ perspective, this story provides parents, teachers, and counselors with an entertaining way to teach children the value of respecting others by listening and waiting for their turn to speak.

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 1) (for Ages 10-14)
by Rick Riordan
“What was so great about me? A dyslexic, hyperactive boy with a D+ report card, kicked out of school for the sixth time in six years.” That’s what 12-year old Percy used to think. But that was before he discovered his true identity—as a demigod. The Lightning Thief throws a modern-day twist into ancient Greek mythology. And this popular, action-packed adventure story helps kids rethink their own abilities. Plus, there’s a movie version that could help spark the interest of reluctant readers.
Typically recommended for kids: Ages 9+

My Name Is Brain Brian (for Ages 8-12)
by Jeanne Betancourt
Brian thinks he’s dumb. It doesn’t help that kids laugh when he reads aloud and writes on the board at school. But Brian’s sixth-grade teacher notices him reversing the letters of his name. That makes her suspect he might have dyslexia—and she’s right. With more help from his school, Brian finally comes to realize that he’s a smart kid who learns differently. My Name Is Brain Brian reinforces the idea that kids can learn to work around their issues and achieve their goals.

Clementine (for Ages 6-8)
by Sara Pennypacker and Marla Frazee (Illustrator)
Life can be tricky for 8-year-olds. Just ask Clementine, who has a really bad week in this first book in the series named after her. On Monday, she gets in trouble for cutting her friend Margaret’s hair off. (Margaret got glue in it, and Clementine was just trying to help!) Every day after that gets worse, and Clementine starts to worry that her parents are going to label her “the hard one.” (Her brother would be “the easy one.”) This book never uses the term ADHD, but Clementine has many characteristics of kids with attention issues. So they are likely to relate to her challenges and creative, comic solutions.

Playing Tyler (Strange Chemistry) (for Ages 13+)
by T.L. Costa
Tyler MacCandless has adult-sized problems. A drunk driver killed his dad. His big brother’s in rehab. And his ADHD isn’t helping matters, especially at school. But just when things seem unbearable, Tyler’s given a flight simulator video game to beta test. If he does well, he might have a shot at getting into flight school. But what if the game’s not really a game? This twisty, technology-rich plot (which includes a bit of romance) will keep teens on the edge of their seats.

The Alphabet War: A Story About Dyslexia (for Ages 5-7)
by Diane Burton Rob
Adam has been having trouble with reading for a while, and in third grade he still can’t read on his own. Adam is finally diagnosed with dyslexia and his teachers put a plan in place. In The Alphabet War, kids get to see how Adam learns to match letters to sounds. It’s not easy, but he works hard. He also starts focusing on what he’s good at—and realizes he’s smart in other ways besides reading.
Typically recommended for kids: Ages 7–10

Thank You, Mr. Falker (for Ages 5-8)
by Patricia Polacco
Trisha struggles to read and she’s ashamed about it. Kids at school call her dumb and she thinks they’re right. She feels lonely and rejected. But then, in fifth grade, a very special teacher recognizes her amazing artistic talent—and her reading disability. He steps in to gently guide and support her. Slowly, Trisha begins to blossom—hence the gratitude of this touching best-seller’s title, “Thank You, Mr. Falker.” The story may be especially poignant because it’s autobiographical.

Smart but Scattered Teens: The "Executive Skills" Program for Helping Teens Reach Their Potential (for parents of teens w/ ADHD)
by Richard Guare PhD, Peg Dawson EdD & Colin Guare
If you're the parent of a "smart but scattered" teen, trying to help him or her grow into a self-sufficient, responsible adult may feel like a never-ending battle. Now you have an alternative to micromanaging, cajoling, or ineffective punishments. This positive guide provides a science-based program for promoting teens' independence by building their executive skills--the fundamental brain-based abilities needed to get organized, stay focused, and control impulses and emotions. Executive skills experts Drs. Richard Guare and Peg Dawson are joined by Colin Guare, a young adult who has successfully faced these issues himself. Learn step-by-step strategies to help your teen live up to his or her potential now and in the future--while making your relationship stronger. Helpful worksheets and forms can be downloaded and printed

More Kids' Books about ADHD and Dyslexia (from Understood)

For information on customizable tools for dyslexia & other reading challenges:
www.FocusandRead.com Tools for struggling readers of all ages!
www.BrennanInnovators.com Info & support for struggling readers

Image courtesy of: Brennan Innovators, LLC: www.FocusandRead.com and
Pixabay.com: https://pixabay.com/en/children-studying-book-reading-read-670663/

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

5 BEST Websites for Dyscalculia

Is your child or a particular student struggling with math on a daily basis? It is not unusual for children or students to be challenged with math homework once in awhile. However, if he experiences problems with numbers or has low math test scores yet does well in other subjects, he could have a math learning disability (LD) called dyscalculia.

This LD called dyscalculia is a brain-related condition that makes basic arithmetic and its concepts very hard to learn. The condition may be hereditary, but scientists have not yet discovered any genes specifically related to it.

Up to 7% of elementary school students have dyscalculia. Research suggests it's as common as dyslexia -- a reading disorder -- but not as well understood. In fact, kids and parents sometimes call it “math dyslexia,” but this can be confusing because dyscalculia is a completely different condition. Your school or doctor may call it a “mathematics learning disability” or a “math disorder.”

This math LD can sometimes be associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) -- up to 60% of people who have ADHD also have a learning disorder like dyscalculia.

Dyscalculia, sometimes called math dyslexia, covers a wide range of math difficulties. The symptoms can also change as your child gets older and is expected to think about math in new ways. Here are signs of the math struggles you might see at different ages.

From the following 2 lists, if you find that your child or student demonstrates more weaknesses than he does strengths, a math learning disability or dyscalculia may be the issue:

Strengths in Mathematics

-Correctly sequences numbers, equations and formulas
-Correctly performs mental math processes
-Accurately conducts math computations
-Completes work logically and with minimal errors
-Understands math concepts
-Appropriately uses both oral and written math terms
-Consistently and correctly remembers math facts

Weaknesses in Mathematics

-Rarely sequences numbers, equations and formulas correctly
-Unable to perform mental math processes
-Usually conducts math computations inaccurately
-Makes many careless errors, often choosing the wrong operation
-Has difficulty understanding math concepts
-Rarely uses math terms appropriately---both orally and in written work
-Unable to accurately recall math facts (though many children today are not committing math facts to memory.)
-Unable to do word problems

Once you have determined the strengths vs. weaknesses ratio as stated above, consider using one or more of the following top resources to help initiate progress for your child or student with dyscalculia or other related math issues. These links can provide a bridge while waiting to access professional evaluation, services and support for a math LD.

BEST 5 Dyscalculia Resources

1. Math Worksheets-from edhelper.com
This link provides FREE math printables that include daily math activities, math puzzles and much more.

2. Dyscalculia Resource Treasure Collection from tesSpecialNeeds
This resource includes a set of activities, flash cards, strategies, revision aids and posters all developed to support pupils with dyscalculia. All resources have a clear layout and include visual support where necessary. Sassoon font is used throughout.

3. Dyscalculia Worksheets & Other Resources from HelpingWithMath.com
Here is included a list of printable math resources that have people with Dyscalculia and/or Dyslexia in mind. This is a good resource for materials to help with learning math facts.

4. Dyscalculia Primer and Resource Guide by Dr. Anna J. Wilson
Dr. Wilson is an OECD Post-Doctoral Fellow at INSERM U562, Paris, conducting cognitive neuroscience research on the remediation of dyscalculia. The purpose of this primer is to explain the cognitive neuroscience approach to dyscalculia (including the state of research in this area), to answer frequently asked questions, and to point the reader towards further resources on the subject. Further references include some of the major scientific literature in the field, as well as reading suggestions for teachers and parents.

5. 100 Best Resources for Kids Who Struggle With Math by Marianne Sunderland
This post includes 100+ resources are books, websites, games, apps, and curricula that teach math in a variety of multi-sensory ways that will provide effective tools for teaching math, especially when a child struggles with math facts and concepts.

BONUS Tip: For children or students with math and spatial challenges, consider using colored graph paper or Reading Focus Cards (low-tech and digital) to maintain placeholder columns. The following links can provide the needed supports for these materials.

Free Grid Paper Pages from Nyla's Crafty Teaching
FREE downloadable blackline grid templates that are drawn to scale both for inches and cm. Use them for placeholder support (i.e., column addition, long multiplication and division, etc.) creating symmetry worksheets, bar graphs, reflections (flips), translations (slides), rotations (turns), area and perimeter models and 100 charts. The exact sizes in this set are: .5cm x .5cm grids (for making hundreds charts & multiplication charts) 1cm x 1cm grids, 2cm x cm grids, and 1 in. x 1 in. grids.

Reading Focus Cards (low-tech & digital tools)
Use the Reading Focus Cards for placeholder support with long addition, multiplication and division, as well as with algebraic equations and other math applications. Utilizing these physical and digital tools can help increase focus on the needed math operation and improve accuracy with problem solving.


What Is Dyscalculia? What Should I Do if My Child Has It? from WebMD.com

Dyscalculia: What You’re Seeing from Understood.org

Homeschooling With Dyslexia Blog by Marianne Sunderland
Marianne Sunderland is the creator of Homeschooling With Dyslexia, a site dedicated to educating and encouraging parents to successfully homeschool their children with dyslexia and related learning disabilities.

For tools & resources to help improve reading & math skills, visit:
www.FocusandRead.com Tools for struggling readers of all ages!
www.BrennanInnovators.com Info & support for struggling readers

Image sources:
Brennan Innovators, LLC at www.focusandread.com AND
Pixabay.com at https://pixabay.com

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

FREE e-Book Resources for Kids and Teens

It is known by many that the use of e-books can offer real benefits to children who struggle to read for a variety of reasons. The ability to adjust e-page backgrounds to other colors than white, change font sizes and more can often help challenged readers with such issues as visual fatigue, convergence insufficiency and other issues. In addition, just one e-reader can contain and offer an entire family a smorgasbord of book titles to satisfy a variety of children's (and parents') reading needs---from books for emergent readers to mysteries appropriate for teen readers and others.

In this post, we wanted to provide some FREE e-book resources to offer families who wish to promote literacy in their homes for all ages of children. We hope you will value and perhaps even save the link to this page as a future reference for all your family's e-reading needs.

FREE e-Book Resources for Kids & Teens

Open e-Books-This program does require parents to reach out to a teacher, librarian, or other eligible person to sign up for First Book. This will then allow parents to obtain a code that will give each child access to 10 books at a time via the FREE Open e-Books app. This excellent program is available to low-income families with kids ages 4-18 and it is filled with books that are still in copyright – which means a large collection of bestsellers and contemporary titles. Worth the time to take a look!

International Children’s Digital Library (ICDL)-The non-profit ICDL Foundation’s library has evolved into the world’s largest digital collection of children’s books. Currently, its digital library collection includes 4,619 books in 59 languages. The complete ICDL collection is also available as a FREE iPad app. A limited number of titles are included in the FREE ICDL iPhone app. The ICDL also created the FREE Story Kit app that helps users create their own electronic storybooks for reading and sharing. http://en.childrenslibrary.org/

Library of Congress-The Library of Congress’ selection of digitized books includes illustrated children’s classics for readers of all ages. The Library of Congress also makes available millions of primary sources for FREE online. To assist educators in teaching with primary sources, the Library offers classroom materials to help teachers engage students with content and develop critical thinking skills.

Best Free Children's e-Books Online-This is a listing of 234 sites that legally offer FREE e-books for children to read.

Best FREE Kindle e-Books for Children-FREE classic Kindle e-book titles for kids from Goodreads.

FREE Kindle e-Books for Teens-This is a PDF document from tcea.org with clickable links to FREE e-books for teens ready to be read on a Kindle. (May also be read on other devices with the free Kindle app. Please see link below under Other e-Book Resources to Help Promote Literacy.)

epic! (30-day FREE trial-Instantly access 25,000 of the best books, learning videos, quizzes & more for kids 12 & under.

Bookshare-A FREE program supported by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs that provides FREE reading materials to anyone who has a print disability that keeps them from reading traditional print materials. An eligible Bookshare member would be someone with a visual impairment, a physical disability that impinges on reading ability, or a learning disability.

Project Gutenberg-Project Gutenberg has 50,000 free ebooks to download or read online. These are books whose copyright has expired, so while they are not “trending,” they do include many classics.

Online Books Page at University of Pennsylvania-Although a bit of a bugger to navigate, the Online Books Page at the University of Penn has an amazing collection of kids literature available! The link provided will take you to the children’s bookshelf, however you can browse by alphabetical listing or even search to discover new topics!

Books Should Be Free-Perfect for introducing a child who is not yet reading or who enjoys listening to stories to literature! Books Should Be Free offers a wide selection of FREE audio and e-books including many of the classics. They also have e-book formats for Kindle, iPad, iPhone, Nook, Sony Reader and laptops.
For Children: http://www.loyalbooks.com/genre/Children
For Teens & Young Adults: http://www.loyalbooks.com/genre/Teen_Young_adult

BookBub-FREE e-books for teens and young adults (requires submission of email address for registration)

FREE e-Books for Kids-A collection of FREE e-books for children from Amazon (for Kindle). The selections available may be FREE for a limited time. It is advisable to check daily for new FREE titles. See left sidebar on web page for various genres and topics currently available at no cost.

MeeGenius-MeeGenius makes it easy to keep your child reading by offering hundreds of e-books including classics, MeeGenius originals, and partner content from Sesame Street, Dr. Seuss, and P.D. Eastman. Starting out as an iPad/iPhone app, MeeGenius has been a favorite of many families for years! While not all e-books are available for FREE, there's a wide variety of FREE e-books.

Oxford Owl Free e-Book Library-Oxford Owl has a great variety of books for kids ages 3–11. The books marked with an ‘e’ are the FREE books. The site has some really amazing features like offering activity ideas that go with the books. With some books in the youngest (ages 3–5) and oldest (ages 9–11) age groups, there aren’t any words shown on the screen. You only hear the story. Nevertheless, this is a good site if you’re looking for access to stories (both fiction & non-fiction) for a variety of ages. https://www.oxfordowl.co.uk/home/reading-owl/find-a-book/library-page

Kids World Fun-An enjoyable array of FREE, animated books!

Children’s Books Online-This Rosetta Project site is an online library of antique illustrated children’s books. Selections are indexed by reading level: pre-reader, emergent reader, intermediate reader, advanced reader, adult reader & foreign language reader.

Classic Reader-Classic Reader is an excellent place to find FREE classic e-books. The site has a special section for young readers with more than 200 of the world’s best loved classics.

Magic Keys-This site offers FREE illustrated e-books for children of all ages. Storybooks are separated into three categories: young children, older children, and young adult. Other site offerings include online games, jigsaw puzzles, and interactive coloring pages.

Read Print-The Read Print library hosts thousands of FREE e-books and poems, many of which are suitable for children. Most of the books on Read Print are classics, such as Peter Pan and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Other e-Book Resources to Help Promote Literacy

Read Ups-A great site for older children who want to find, read, and discuss books. The site allows you to read books on the site or import books from the web or your hard drive. Read Up books can be read alone or with a group of people. The site does require a Twitter account.

FREE Kindle Reading App- You can install this very useful yet FREE app on most devices (iPad, Mac, PC, Android, etc.) so that the device "becomes" a Kindle in function. We have the Kindle app installed on our PCs here in the office and use it daily. The number of FREE e-books that can be found for your Kindle on Amazon.com (in the daily deals section) is almost endless!


How to Find Free e-Books for Kids — Copyrighted Titles Included!

For more tools & resources to help improve reading & spelling skills, visit:
www.FocusandRead.com Tools for struggling readers of all ages!
www.BrennanInnovators.com Info & support for struggling readers

Image sources:
Brennan Innovators, LLC at www.focusandread.com AND
Pixabay.com at https://pixabay.com

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

11 Homework Tips to Help Kids with ADHD (and Others, too!)

For many children, homework is not a favorite word or activity. In fact, it is often the one word that causes more conflict than most during the school year for both students and their parents. When the issue of ADHD is also introduced into the mix, homework can become the catalyst for much angst in a home. So, what are parents to do? Should they immediately talk with their child's teacher to seek assistance? Should punishment be a method of making the child complete the homework assigned? Would some other approach be advisable?

It is always a good idea to discuss concerns about your child her teachers, but the idea of using punishment rarely solves any problem long-term. In fact, it can often create more problems than it solves. Punishment related to homework also does little to build a good parent/child relationship. Positive incentives for behavior modification are nearly always a good idea, especially when those incentives are chosen by the child and approved by the parent. Ownership of the issue is more readily accepted and then addressed by the child.

There are other strategies that can assist parents with problems related to on-time homework completion. We thought at the beginning of this new school year a list of such strategies might be helpful to many, especially to those parents of children with ADHD who struggle to focus and follow through with tasks in a timely manner---both inside and outside of the classroom. We hope you will discover at least one or two in this list of tips or strategies to help you and your child create a peaceful AND productive environment for homework at your house!

Helpful Homework Strategies for Kids with ADHD (and Others)

1. Consistency is important. Arrange for your child to study and complete class assignments in the same room or location each day. A desk or table where minimal distractions can occur is advised (a corner of a room with the student facing that corner is a good option).

2. Set aside a specific amount of time for homework each weekday. A good rule of thumb to keep in mind is that for each grade level, 10 minutes of homework is reasonable (i.e., for a student in grade 4, approximately 40 minutes of homework would be appropriate.) If your child finishes early, he or she can then read, write a thank you note to relatives or play an educational game online or offline.

3. Use a timer for the period set aside for homework. This will be one way to help your child focus more effectively since the timer will give the child a good sense of how much time tasks might take to complete.

4. Help your child develop a good and positive mindset for the homework tasks. If the child is tired or stressed (especially during periods in the late afternoon after school dismissal), allow some time for her to relax, have a snack to help replenish energy levels, play outside or indoors or listen to soothing music to help decompress BEFORE tackling the homework assignments.

5. If needed, step in to slow down the rate at which your child is attempting to complete the homework. Ask him questions like, "Will your teacher be able to read your work?" or "Do you think you are doing your best work there?" Notice that these questions are phrased not to reflect YOUR opinion but that of others. Asking such questions will help your child develop better reading and study habits going forward.

6. Encourage your child to review her work, both for content accuracy (expression of ideas/answers, spelling, etc.) and handwriting clarity (penmanship, etc.) This will no doubt not only improve the quality of that homework but also raise your child's sense of pride in work well done.

7. Help your child break down assignments into chunks or a series of smaller tasks (in a list format with perhaps only 2 revealed at a time.) This approach can be invaluable for large and long-term assignments. For such projects, remember to establish a timeline that is reviewed every few days to confirm progress and timeliness of completing smaller goals of the assignment. This will help to affirm your child and establish accountability for her.

8. Provide assistance and resources for your child when answers are not forthcoming or there appears to be a struggle of some kind. Depending on what you observe, this could mean a trip to your local public library for reference materials, etc., a computer session with your child locating needed resources for an assignment or other activity with your child to help explain an important concept. In some cases, you may need to advocate for your child. This may become an opportunity to seek out more specific accommodations or other resources from your child's teacher, a reading specialist or even a medical professional for an evaluation of the learning challenges you observe.

9. Remind your child of his strengths and de-emphasize (but don't forget) weaknesses. This will him help approach the homework tasks with more confidence and help boost self-esteem, too.

10.Use color coding in as many ways as possible to help with the reading, study and organization of assignments. Ask your child to write down every assignment in one place. For older, high school students who have phones, request that they record their assignments in the phone or send themselves a text message with the assignment complete with due date.

11.Provide your child with a 2-pocket folder for his completed work. This folder can be used for this folder for any school papers you need to sign as well.


8 Tips to Help Grade-Schoolers with Learning and Attention Issues Slow Down on Homework-by Kate Kelly, Understood.org

10 Homework Tips for ADHD Children-by Eileen Bailey, HealthCentral.com

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

Image courtesy of:
Brennan Innovators, LLC at www.focusandread.com