The Case for Learning Through Handwriting

Child at school

Over the past 20+ years of providing speech-language therapy to students, I have noticed that the vast majority have very poor handwriting. Most of the children whom I service also have reading problems. Could there be a connection?

In a study carried out at Indiana University, the data showed that the process of writing letters activates portions of the brain in children, that are critical to reading.

Here is one father’s creative way of teaching his 2-year old daughter how to write the alphabet.

In spite of the research findings, schools seem to be moving away from teaching traditional handwriting to using technology. Forty-three states have now adopted curriculum guidelines that teach students how to type. Knowledge is now dispensed through textbooks accessed via iPads and other electronic tablets.

He’s Learning…He’s Learning Not

One afternoon some months ago, Jay’s teacher came to me exasperated. “I can’t believe this boy got to the 5th grade, and he’s still a non-reader!”

He was such a sweet boy, but turned into this surly beast once classes began. Obstinate. Hostile. Uncooperative.

Perhaps he felt like Tom in the video below.

I knew Jay. In fact, he had been placed on my caseload for speech-language therapy, a year earlier.

Connection to Learning – Vision

When I was 8 years old, my teacher called my parents in for a conference. At that time, I was an eclectic mixture of reserved bookworm and mischievous tomboy. So my very active brain went into overdrive trying to figure out the reason for the summons. Was I in trouble? What had I done now?

The day arrived and we all sat around the teacher’s desk. “Mr. Callender, recently, Florence has been talking more often than usual,” Ms. Z. began. Then she turned to me and asked, “Why is that?”

Mumbling, I replied, “Weeellll, I was not really talking. I was just asking Mary what was written on the board, since I couldn’t see it clearly.”

“Hmmm, I see.”

Real Learning – Living inside the Box with Outside the Box Thinking

One of my college professors used to always say, “Learning brings about a change in behavior.” Although I never had the guts to say it out loud, I often thought, “What nonsense! I learn things so I know more.”

My favorite aunt often said, “Youth is wasted on the young,” and I thought, “What kind of backward thinking is that!”

One of my friend’s frequent comment on life’s is, “Hind sight is 20-20 vision.” From where I think and perceive today, I absolutely get them…my professor, my aunt and my friend.

A couple of years ago, I walked into a pre-kindergarten class. The adorable little students were blithely drawing their understanding of and response to the story they just heard. The blue cows grazed on red grass; burgundy fish swam in yellow seas; square boats and circular houses dotted the landscape; and on and on and on.

Last month, I asked a fifth grader to draw his response to a story, and his immediate reaction was, “Oh no! I can’t draw.” Meanwhile, during the story, he was doodling and sketching all over some paper lying on the desk in front of him. Somewhere between kindergarten and fifth grade, this boy’s confidence in his creativity had been killed.

Fortunately for our society, not everyone has succumbed to the ridicule and reprimands of vision-less teachers who told and continue to tell little Johnny, “Leaves are green, not purple.” Meet the couple who insisted on thinking outside the box while preparing to live inside the “box.” Share your thoughts in the comments section, below.

Share one way or one time you have lived outside the box.

How are you teaching your children to be original thinkers and live outside the box?

Nurture vs Nature…Does Heredity or Environment Affect Learning More?

someecards.com - No, really, I love that you never talk to your child about the importance of learning so that he hated school before he even met me on day one, but now it's my fault he won't work.

With over six million people in the world, have you ever wondered how each one could be an original? Unique? One-of-a-kind?

Well, according to neuroscientist, Michael Merzenich, our individual skills and abilities are very much shaped by our environments, including our contemporary culture. The uniqueness of each individual is derived from the plasticity (adaptability) of the brain.

The combined skills and abilities of each person is built up in a way that is specific to each one’s history. That’s why no two individuals are alike. As the child grows, the brain is constructed from a wealth of experience and knowledge.

So mom, when you send Susie to school tomorrow, she is taking your home environment with her. If it is positive and supportive, she has skills and abilities that will enhance her learning. If you read to her, engage in family discussions, and praise and encourage her in her small efforts, you are preparing her for a great learning experience.

Listen Up Everybody!

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The question in my previous post generated quite a few responses…here on this blog, as well as, on my Facebook page.

Everyone got the sequence in the correct order. Hearing precedes listening. Technically speaking, hearing is the first part of listening. Some folks confessed their “sin” of deliberately not listening, while others reflected on their poor listening habits and endeavored to do better. Actually, very few of us are “good” listeners. But does that make it less important? Absolutely not!

“Listen, Can you hear it?” There’s that familiar sound, next door. The teenager is fighting with her mom, again. “I heard what you said the first time, Julie. The answer is still, ‘NO!'”

Julie retorts, “You NEVER listen to me!”

The most common accusation between student/teacher, friends, spouses, and perhaps in any relationship is, “You’re not listening to me!” Sound expert, Julian Treasure, believes that listening creates understanding. He speaks about listening consciously to live fully. He laments that listening is not taught in schools, then gives us 5 way we can listen better.

I like his idea of “savoring” – that is, enjoying the rhythm and melody in mundane sounds like those in your laundry room or kitchen. Questions: We’re losing our listening, Treasure says. Do you agree? How much time do you spend listening? Enter your thoughts in the comments section below.

3 Reasons Why “Try Harder” Never Improved Learning

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When was the last time you had a heart-to-heart talk with your son about the subjects he’s failing? Did he tell you something like, “I’m doing my best. I just don’t get math.” He may have even gone on to lament, “Why can’t I learn like Sarah?”

Then when you went to his parent-teacher conference, his teacher insisted, “Johnny has the potential to do so much better. He must try harder!”