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Monthly Archives: December 2014

Keep that Elf on the Shelf

December 24, 2014

By Sarah Vander Schaaff A few years ago, I interviewed the British Philosopher Alain de Botton for my Lunch Box Mom blog and asked him if it was ethical for me to use Santa and his “nice list” as a way to motivate my children to behave.  My kids, as many of yours, are no longer firm believers in Santa, but a variation of the question pops up in other aspects of parenting. Maybe it’s the Dean’s List, and not Santa’s list, and maybe the rewards are privileges instead of presents, but the fundamental idea of using an outside arbiter and the promise of something good in exchange for particular behavior is the same. Here is a reposting of the… Read More

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Study This: Meditation

December 20, 2014

By Sarah Vander Schaaff In her book, Sitting Still Like a Frog, therapist Eline Snel discusses a school program called Mindfulness Matters that she conducted with three hundred children and twelve teachers. The group had a thirty-minute mindfulness session once per week, and each day after held ten-minute practice sessions. This continued for the entire year. Snel writes, “Both students and teachers responded with enthusiasm and noticed positive changes, such as a calmer atmosphere in the classroom, better concentration, and more openness. The kids became kinder to themselves and others, more confident, and less judgmental.” When I bring up the topics of yoga and mediation to some of my friends, I am often met with the response, “That won’t make… Read More

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Know your Child: Complex Reasoning

December 9, 2014

How the experts define complex reasoning Complex reasoning refers to one’s ability to draw inferences and analyze information involving objects, images, space or numbers. You may hear it called abstract reasoning, non-verbal reasoning, visual reasoning, or critical thinking. In the shoes of a child with complex reasoning difficulties The child with difficulty in complex reasoning skills often has the feeling of being lost in a big city without a map. Give this child clear directions, and it’s not a problem. Ask this child to use a combination of logic and intuition to get from point A to B and it can feel downright scary, like being completely lost not knowing which way to turn. These children may shy away from unfamiliar situations, challenging problems or… Read More

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Know your Child: Visual Motor Speed

December 9, 2014

Visual Motor Speed: Visual motor speed refers to a child’s ability to efficiently integrate visual and motor skills  to complete a task. Often weaknesses in this skill are related to fine motor or gross motor coordination difficulties. This skill is part of the general cognitive domain of speed. In the shoes of a child with a visual motor speed weakness Being a child whose weakest skill is visual motor speed can feel like an engine without enough grease. You have all the key parts you need to run, except you just can’t get moving. This can be a child who understands the material, knows what he wants to say, but can’t get his writing on paper quickly enough. Or she… Read More

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Verbal Reasoning Skills: How Your Child Learns

December 9, 2014

Verbal Reasoning Skills Verbal reasoning skill uses words to draw inferences from limited information and develop an understanding of an idea by considering its components or connections to other ideas. We use verbal reasoning skills when we listen, read, speak and write. In the shoes of a child with a verbal reasoning skills weakness It can feel lonely as a child with a verbal reasoning skill weakness. In class, it may feel like everyone else understands what the teacher is saying, except you. You may be embarrassed to ask the teacher to explain it again, or you feel bad about slowing down the rest of the class. At lunch time you may not “get the joke” or follow the conversation so… Read More

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Know your Child: Spatial Perception

December 9, 2014

How the experts define spatial perception This is the mind’s ability to process material that is visual or exists in a spatial array such as maps, graphs, or symbols. It may be called spatial relations or visual-spatial perception and is part of the complex reasoning domain of cognitive skills. In the shoes of a child with a spatial perception weakness In many cases, this weakness doesn’t become a problem until the skill is needed for a very specific task, such as drawing, reading graphs or maps, or working with geometric figures. Because students typically do not rely on these skills throughout the school day, or they are very important in one math unit but far less important in the next… Read More

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Helping Kids with Flexible Thinking

December 9, 2014

What is flexible thinking Flexible thinking is the ability to shift thinking or attention in response to a switch in rules, or to new or unexpected situations. Flexible thinking is also referred to as mental flexibility, cognitive flexibility or abstraction. It is part of the cognitive domain of executive functions. It can be assessed with a cognitive test. But as with all cognitive skills, parents are likely to observe the signs. In the shoes of a child with a flexible thinking weakness Imagine driving without your GPS and you reach a “road closed” sign; you have no idea where you are or where to go next. You might get angry and consider taking the closed road regardless. You might panic about what to do… Read More

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Know Your Child: Working Memory

December 5, 2014

I like the name “working memory.” I need my memory to get work done. Working memory is an executive function, meaning the work it does is quite important, although, I admit, I don’t get a corner office when I do it. Instead, my working memory makes sure I soften the butter, add the eggs, and after a few interruptions, still remember to add those chocolate morsels. If only life were a bowl of cookie dough. In reality, the stakes are often much higher. Consider this example from an article on Understood.org: “Imagine a teacher reads a word problem in math class. Kids need to be able to keep all the numbers in their head, figure out what operation to use and create… Read More

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