Posts Tagged 'tutor'

Scissor Skills: Using Two Hands Together

When you are using scissors, it’s necessary for each hand to work separately but yet together.  Take a piece of paper and try cutting a circle out of it with a pair of scissors.  See how well your two hands work together!

Ideally, the dominant hand moves the scissors to cut the paper held in the other hand. The non dominant hand holding the paper will shift the paper, making it more easily cut.  However, frequently in my population, the “dominant” hand will hold the scissors still while the other hand holding the paper does all the work.  I see a lot of this with children who are late deciding which hand to use; or tend to still be deciding which hand to use; or cut going the wrong way.   Therefore it’s important to encourage activities which require the two hands working together: stringing beads, lacing cards, tearing various weights of paper, “pie pan painting” *, buttoning, wringing outwash cloths/sponges, nuts and bolts and the list can go on!  What fun activities have you tried?

*Pie pan painting: place a piece of paper in a pan with a rim on it (pie pan or round cake pan).  Dip a marble or marbles in washable paint.  Place the marbles in the pan encouraging the child to tilt the pan in various directions, creating an abstract painting.  For kindergarten and up there is a game called TracKit which uses this concept to help teach letters, numbers, etc. using a ball bearing slider ( Its challenging but fun!!!!


Parent Teacher Alert!!!

As we rapidly approach February, it is important to think of time lines as Spring Break will be coming our way in March or April.

If you are planning on having your child evaluated, this time of year is one of the busiest for diagnostic professionals.  It may take you several weeks to get your child into see a professional.  Then add a week or two for the professional to score the tests, interpret them, and write the report.  This puts us a month since you picked up the phone and made the appointment.  If your child needs to be evaluated, please don’t wait.

If you are planning to start tutoring or therapy this summer, it is also important to contact the tutor/therapist to place your name on the summer list or to find out the earliest possible date you can do so.  Most tutor/therapists that I know have their summer schedules filled by late March or early April.

Teachers: Please, if you have concerns about a child do not wait till after Spring Break to express your concerns!  As you can see from the above paragraph, parents are probably looking at a month before they receive recommendations after the first contact with the professional.  Spring Break plus a month may mean the end of school.

Jeremiah 29:11

Puzzles, Parquetry, and Writing: Paper Modifications

  1. 1. Check the color of the paper: Blue may be helpful for those with visual perceptual weaknesses.
  2. 2. Clearly mark the writing lines:  Anytime the writing lines  change either with color, width, or boldness, explain the difference to the child. With notebook paper it may be helpful to highlight every other space so that the child writes a line of words, skips a space, writes a line of words, etc.  This will help keep the tails of letters such as p, j, g, from interfering with word legibility on the next line.
  3. Mark on the desk where the paper should be placed.Slant of paper and placement does affect quality.
  4. If “hugging the left side of the paper” is a problem, first highlight the left margin of the
    page.  Encourage him to begin at the highlighted edge.  If he continues to
    move away from the highlighted left margin, move the left side of the paper to
    the body’s midline so the child works only in the right body space.
  5. Encourage the student to move the paper up as he writes closer to the bottom of the paper. Many students move their arm off the desk as they reach the bottom of the paper
    which affects legibility.  Encourage him to move his arm across the paper as well to improve legibility.
  6. Make your own paper strips and mark off boxes for each letter to be written in.  Help the child see the outline of the words by drawing around them before writing them.

Guilt, Goals, and Summer End


If you do decide to take a break from tutoring/therapy during the summer, its important to do the following:

  1. Ask your therapist/tutor for her opinion.  Consult your doctor if there is a medical condition that requires ongoing therapy. If they agree, then together decide on activities that will help with the goals you all have decided on. Choose fun, realistic ones.
  2. Make a commitment to set aside a specific time during the summer days to continue to work on the above activities. Some children lose what they have learned unless reinforced.
  3. Have a specific date to begin therapy/tutoring again.  If you don’t, it will be easy to not start again.
  4. Make it clear to the therapist/tutor what your plans are for the school year.  Will you pick back up with him/her?  Do you expect to have your old-time slot back? What are their feelings and concerns about “taking a break”?

Communicate, prioritize, and enjoy the summer weeks!

Note: If there is a medical condition that requires continued therapy you must talk with your doctor before discontinuing even for a short time!


Guilt and Goals

Every parent and therapist has high expectations for the summer months.  Considered “free months”, we tend to forget about vacations, camps, Vacation Bible School, etc.  that fill up those “free months” very quickly.  As your summer is unfolding and you are dealing with priorities of yours, your children, and the therapist, its important to talk with your therapist/tutor to determine what the goals are for the summer months and how these goals will be achieved. Make sure the goals are realistic for your family and your child.  Have FUN activities that will encourage those goals when you go on your trips.  It might be writing daily in a journal to help with handwriting.  Reading maps or signs along the way to help improve reading skills. Don’t forget travel Bingo to help with reading! Try new iPhone APPS!   Learning always continues though it may be in different ways and not in an office!

Thoughts for the Summer: Guilt

Often summer is a time of guilt for families with children who have learning differences, even mild ones.  Some of the questions I hear as a therapist include:

 How should we juggle vacation, camps, therapy/tutoring? Should I let my child drop tutoring for the summer because he needs a break from so much school work?  If I do, will he fall further behind or lose all he learned this past year?  What about my other children?  They need a “normal” summer with activities focused on them for a change! What about me?  I have worked hard all year trying to keep things running smoothly! 

Guilt: What to do with it? Do you have suggestions?

Dysgraphia: Help! 10 Tips For Helping

1. Understanding: Understand the child’s inconsistencies in performance.  A spelling test may produce more legible writing than a paragraph that the child may have to think of and write quickly.  The paragraph which requires complex thought organization and writing of these thoughts on a page in a readable format may be more challenging than writing familar words or writing in a handwriting workbook.

Something to remember:  The brain seems to prioritize written expression (thought organization, spelling, grammar, punctuation) over motor control and spacing.  So if a child is really working on “written expression”, often the writing’s legibility will decrease as well as his ability to space between words or put letters in or on the lines.

2. Encourage organizational strategies such as outlining, webbing.  Please see or for great writing software.

3. Allow alternate ways of expression such as the use of a scribe, taping thoughts, use of a computer. 

Stay with me for the remainder of modifications! I will also include a simple screening test that will help you figure out what is going on with your child’s writing.

Handwriting Questions

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Alphabet Soup: Fun Activities to Stir Your Child's Interest in Letters by Lyn Armstrong O.T.R