Reluctant Writers

5 Top Tips to Encourage Writing in Dyslexic Children

Reluctant Writers

Unfortunately writing for dyslexics doesn’t always come easily.  The ideas are all there, it’s just the ability to get them down on paper which seems daunting. With Sam being at home with me, it has become really apparent that he is definitely one of those reluctant writers (well for me anyway).

Recently I discovered these great short films by the BBC featuring KS2 & KS3 students discussing some of their difficulties and what helped them.

There are a lot of ways to aid reluctant writers, some of which Sam is already familiar with.  However, there are a few tips here that I will definitely be introducing at home to see if the will help.

5 Top Tips for Reluctant Writers

1. Ergonomic Pen/Pencil

A dyslexic child may grip the pen differently, and this can make writing hard and even painful at times.  Ergonomic pens can help to ensure that the pen is held correctly at all times.  We’ve just ordered the Stabilo EASYvergo to see if this helps.

2. Reduce handwriting required

Allow the child to use a computer if that helps, rather than insist on handwriting.  Sam isn’t that keen on typing either yet, so things like tick boxes and multiple-choice can help.  One of our favourites is to use a ‘fill in the gaps’ way of working to reduce the amount of handwriting needed.

3. Use mnemonics

Encouraging the use of mnemonics can help with spellings, reducing the worry.  For example, Big Elephants Can Always Understand Small Elephants to remember how to spell BECAUSE. Or one that I always used to get wrong was stationery/stationary.  I remember it as a cAr is stationAry and pEns are stationEry.

4.  Visual Prompts

Similar to mnemonics, children can use visual prompts to remind them of spellings.  There, Their, They’re is a perfect example.  Check out the video to see exactly how it works.

5. Examples of work

I have noticed that if Sam is presented with a sheet of work and/or instructions then he can almost immediately talk himself out of being able to do.  Whereas if he is presented with the same sheet, with an example of what is required, like a starter sentence, story mountain etc. then he is much more open to working, and understanding what is required.

Self-Confidence

Dyslexic children need a boost to their self-confidence before they can learn to overcome their difficulties. Quite often, especially in the early days of diagnosis, they have already experienced ‘failure’.  Also deep down they often don’t believe they are capable of learning.  Consequently, to restore their self-confidence they need to be provided with the chance to succeed. And praise should be given for all achievements (even if small).

I struggled with this initially as I was never quite sure what Sam should have been achieving.  Therefore I quite often didn’t praise small achievements as I was expecting too much.

If you liked this post then please click on the category below to see more posts:

Dyslexia

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lighthearted relationship advice

Day 90 - Together in Lockdown

Figures

UK Deaths: 41,662

UK Cases: 294,375

Worldwide Deaths: 429,713

Worldwide Cases: 7,795,965

This week

The weather has been atrocious this week and what a difference that makes.  Just when people are told they can meet up in groups of 6/8/10 outdoors (socially distanced and dependent what devolved nation you live in #confusing), the heavens open.  The government then panicked in case everyone decided to meet up and move indoors.  So again we were told to stay alert.  Stay home where possible, but go to shops; meet up outdoors, but stay home if you can; socially distance, but if you can’t, wear a face-covering…

Not confusing or open to interpretation at all!  Luckily the weather is picking up this weekend so that helps.

D-I-V-O-R-C-E

A leading divorce lawyer, Baroness Shackleton has said that it is very likely that lockdown will lead to a rise in divorce rates. In fact, it has been reported that divorces proceedings in China have surged in March as husbands and wives began emerging from weeks of government-mandated lockdowns.

Not so much absence makes the heart grow fonder, more too much time together makes the mind grow weary? Very, very weary LOL

lighthearted relationship advice

Life at home

I do find it really interesting that in our household my OH can disappear off into his office (he was always based from home anyway), close the door and work as he normally would without much interruption. Whereas when I work from home (currently furloughed) it is very much in the kitchen/living room open to continual interruption for countless drinks, snacks, lunch etc,  And with a puppy at home who is still not fully house trained (don’t ask) somewhere in all of that I have to remember to keep taking her out just in case she needs the toilet.

Not alone?!

Now I’m pretty sure from all the social media posts recently that I’m not the only person who’s finding things a little more heightened at the moment.  Who else has resorted to counting how many times you empty the bin compared to how many times they put a wash on…

So if like us you are not a couple who are meant to be together 24/7, then here are some lighthearted top tips to survive lockdown!

5 Top Tips

  • Communicate with each other.  Pretty sure that us two sitting in the kitchen glued to our phones and the TV isn’t correct? (although to be fair what is there to talk about, the ‘R’ rate?!)
  • Listen to each other.  Eh, refer to the above point…
  • Don’t make ‘winning’ the goal.  Eh, refer to the previous paragraph LOL.  Yeah, I’m not so good at this one right now.
  • Don’t be afraid of conflict. Pretty sure that means argue about the smallest thing, like who empties the dishwasher?  Or as our kids call it ‘adult discussions’.
  • Cheers.  If all else fails drink Gin, drink Cider, drink Beer, drink whatever LOL. (NB: this can sometimes make things worse too)

How are you?

So how are you finding lockdown?  I know by the end of the day just seeing the OH sleeping soundly (or not so soundly), can bug me.  Just like I’m pretty sure me watching telly till all hours at night, while he tries to sleep, bugs the crap out of him too.  What are your bugbears, or are you really enjoying the time with your OH?  I’d love to hear and know I’m not alone, or what your secret is!

Fay x

If you liked this post then you may like the following categories:

The Lockdown Diaries

Wellbeing

Or follow my Pinterest board, for some motivation in lockdown, I know I need it:

Motivation Quotes | Positive Quotes | Inspiration

lighthearted relationship advice

Early Signs of Dyslexia

Don't Call Me Stupid! - Early Signs of Dyslexia

Early Signs of Dyslexia

Early Signs of Dyslexia

Don’t call me stupid!

I remember the day I told S that he was Dyslexic.  I know that some will argue we shouldn’t label, but for S, it gave him an identity, it gave him strength.  Till then he had been frustrated, unable to vocalise how he felt.  Not able to ‘keep up’, those early signs of dyslexia found him on the end of innocent but cutting comments made by peers.  Now he could tell his peers, explain why his brain worked differently, and that he was definitely not stupid.

Dyslexia in Kids

I had had my suspicions for a good year or so before he was diagnosed, so it was also really reaffirming for me to realise my gut was correct. To be fair I had no idea of what to look for, no idea of the signs, I just knew something wasn’t right.

So if you have ever wondered, or have some concerns, below are the main signs for dyslexia in school-aged children:

School Children

  • Read and write very slowly
  • Confuse the order of letters in words
    put letters the wrong way round (such as writing “b” instead of “d”)
  • Have poor or inconsistent spelling
  • Understand information when told verbally, but have difficulty with information that’s written down
  • Find it hard to carry out a sequence of directions
  • Struggle with planning and organisation

Early Signs of Dyslexia

The above signs are for school-aged children, and it is usual that children are not officially tested till the end pf Year 2/beginning of Year 3.  However, if your child is younger and you have concerns then click here to see the early sign of dyslexia in pre-school children.

Whatever age your child is, if you have any concerns then please speak to your child’s teacher about your concerns.  The earlier dyslexia is diagnosed and support is put in place, the better the outcome.

Early Signs of Dyslexia

What is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a really common learning difficulty that can cause problems with reading, writing and spelling.  But it does not affect intelligence.  It’s estimated up to 1 in every 10 people in the UK has some degree of dyslexia.  I for one definitely recognised some of those signs not only in myself but also in both the older boys too.

These five films by the BBC offer practical suggestions on how best to support older children.

Moving forward

So with the distinct prospect that even in September school will still have to socially distance, then this means a mix of virtual/home learning and face to face at school.  I have already spoken about my struggle to home school S, even with the fantastic resources, guidance and online SEN lessons that school are giving me.  My own struggles with my mental health, as well as trying to motivate and teach an 8-year-old dyslexic who fights against everything ‘academic’, hasn’t been easy, to say the least.  I need to figure out a way to do this, I cannot let him down.

So I am making it my mission to figure out his learning style, what sparks his excitement (den building for one, cooking & baking for another!) and then work with him.  I’d love to hear what your experiences have been in the comments below, what worked for you and what didn’t!  All tips gratefully received.

Fay x

For more information on dyslexia please go to:

Made By Dyslexia

British Dyslexia Association

Or check out this fab blog post from Nessy with 10 Teaching Tips for Dyslexics

And follow my Pinterest board, for even more great activities, quotes and information:

Dyslexia | Activities | Learning Support

EARLY SIGNS OF DYSLEXIA_ LEARNING SUPPORT _ DYSLEXIA ACTIVITIES (1)

Motivation in Lockdown

Day 85 - Where Did It All Go Wrong?

Figures

UK Deaths: 40,597

UK Cases: 287,399

Worldwide Deaths: 407,353

Worldwide Cases: 7,144,072

Where did it all go wrong?

This week certain non-keyworker kids went back to school, and some businesses were allowed to open. Lockdown has relaxed across the country and is set to relax even more over the next few weeks.  Scientists are concerned that our death rate has not come down quickly enough, that the R rate is increasing again. I think that the vast majority of the UK has lost total confidence in Boris and his ability to handle this pandemic.  Especially when he can’t even ‘handle’ his own advisors.

America seems to be falling apart in front of our eyes.  Coronavirus has crippled the economy as well as the population.  Then they had to witness the shocking death of George Floyd.  Choked to death by a policeman’s knee on his neck whilst he shouted he couldn’t breathe.  All filmed for all to see over 9 soul-destroying minutes.  Protests have broken out all across America and the UK.  Something needs to change, something is changing!

Brazil has not yet hit its peak but is already opening back up for business.  They are now just behind the UK in terms of total deaths, so third in the world.  However, sadly they are expected to overtake us quickly this week.

Business as usual?

I am struggling this week, lacking any real motivation in lockdown.  Watching everything that is happening across the world just now, feeling so helpless.  Trying to homeschool three very unmotivated boys, whilst also trying not to worry about being furloughed right now.  Quite a few panic attacks this weekend, but I’m home so I can calm myself a lot easier.

Every day is the same, and I cannot help but question absolutely everything.  So, for now, I’m going to share some of my favourite quotes in the hope that if you are feeling a little like me, then these may help.

Wellbeing & Motivation in Lockdown

Carry a heart that never hates.  Carry a smile that never fades. Carry a touch that never hurts.

Remember why you started.

Little by little, day by day, what is meant for you will find its way.

Be the change you want to see.

You don’t need anyone else’s approval to be yourself.

 

How are you?

Life isn’t easy for anyone at the moment, even the kids are feeling it.  Let’s all be a little easier on others and a big bit easier on ourselves.  How are you coping at the moment?

Fay x 

If you liked this post then you may like the following categories:

The Lockdown Diaries

Wellbeing

Or follow my Pinterest board, for even more motivation in lockdown:

Motivation Quotes | Positive Quotes | Inspiration


explain race and racism to kids

Day 80 - Explaining Race & Racism To Kids

Explain race and racism to kids

Figures

UK Deaths: 39,728

UK Cases: 279,856

Worldwide Deaths: 383,994

Worldwide Cases: 6,500,866

News

This week saw the shocking death of George Floyd at the ‘hands’ of a police officer, which has prompted the #BLM movement to take action not only in the U.S but also in the UK.  The government had the audacity to say ‘Black Lives Matter’ when announcing the disproportionate rate of deaths to Asian, Caribbean and black ethnicities.  Yet they have known about this for months and only now announce #toolittletoolate #BLM

Conversations on Race and Racism

  • As early as 3-6 months of age, babies begin to notice and express preference by race (Bar-Haim, 2006).
  • Furthermore, between the ages of 3-5, children begin to apply stereotypes, categorize people by race, and express racial bias (Winkler, 2009).
  • And by just 6 years of age, children show a pro-white/anti-Black bias (Baron, 2006)

So clearly the earlier we can have the conversations with our kids the better, but how do you start that conversation…

Tips to explain race & racism to children:

1. Educate yourself first

“Parents can often feel reluctant to talk about race with children because they worry that they don’t know enough or will make a mistake,” says Dr Pragya Agarwal. “It is our responsibility to educate ourselves and to be aware of our own implicit biases that can affect our words and actions around our children. Children can pick up these implicit cues.”

Please consider following the below on Instagram to begin to understand.

2. Talk about diversity & use diverse books

As you can see from above, it is never too early to start talking about diversity, to explain race and racism to kids.  We should never tell children to be quiet or that talking about someone’s colour is awkward or embarrassing.  It should be encouraged but ensuring it is always done with respect and youthful curiosity.  A great way to aid this is to bring diverse books into children’s lives.

The below links have a wide range of books for children celebrating diversity and equality.

Or for unlimited resources then please consider following and becoming a patron of The Conscious Kid.  They are creating and compiling fantastic parenting and education resources through a critical race lens.

The Conscious Kid

3. Avoid using skin colour as an identifier, but don’t claim not to see colour

Try and not use skin colour as a way to identify someone, such as “the brown kid”, but instead focus on character.  However, we should not deny that we see colour.  Just as we can see the colour of clothes someone may be wearing, we can see skin colour.  “The problem is not about seeing colours, the problem is about hierarchies that we put among the colour, that’s the issue.” Freddie Harrel.

4. Showcase diverse role models, rituals & history

Introducing role models and stories from ALL cultures can help children take pride in their history and their own cultural heritage, as well as understanding others.  “This will help them develop a strong sense of identity and belonging, which is so crucial for their mental as well as physical health,” says Pragya.

Listen to Freddie Harrel and Dr Pragya Agarwal discuss how to talk to children about race and racism on the Woman’s Hour Parenting podcast.

What next?

It is no longer enough to just say we disagree.  We now need to stand up and show that we do!  It is vitally important that everyone feels the need to explain race and racism to kids.  We ALL need to have these conversations with our children.  Just as we talk to our children about sexuality, about puberty, about world events, race and diversity should be included too.

That is how we will teach our children that we are all equal, we all feel the same, that we need to ALL be the change!

Fay x

Have you discussed race and/or racism with your children already? Maybe they have asked you some questions you were unsure of how to answer?  I love to hear below of your experiences.

HOW TO EXPLAIN RACE AND RACISM TO KIDS

5 best bobs

Day 74 - 5 Best Bobs

Figures

UK Deaths: 37,460

UK Cases: 267,240

Worldwide Deaths: 354,762

Worldwide Cases: 5,741,807

Positive Quote _ This Too Shall Pass

Lockdown Luck?

I decided a little before the pandemic broke that I wanted to grow my hair.  I do this, I constantly change my hair; whether it’s my actual hairstyle/length, the colour, or the age-old quandary ‘fringe or no fringe’?  One thing the lockdown has allowed me to do is to get through that awkward ‘mid-stage’ without any actually seeing!  So I can move on to my favourite part (almost more than actually having the hairstyle) looking at what I’d like to do with it next…  So here are my 5 Best Bobs, for that perfect mid-length style.

5 Best Bobs | Mid Length Hairstyles

5 Best Bobs

I love a bob. I think it is one of the most flattering styles, and that there is a bob for every face shape.   Below is my choice of what I feel are the 5 best bobs out there and why.

Bob with ‘Bangs’

Suits an oblong-shaped face.

Short Bob

Suits a pear-shaped face.

5 best bobs | Short Bob

Long Bob

Perfect for pear-shaped and square-shaped faces.

Graduated Bob

Suits square-shaped and round-shaped faces.

5 Best Bobs | Graduated Bob

Messy/Wavy Bob

Suits heart-shaped, square-shaped, pear-shaped and oval-shaped faces (varying lengths).

5 Best Bobs | Messy Bob

For even more inspiration why not follow my Pinterest board.

What now…

The thing I love about bobs as I said is that they suit all face shapes.  Furthermore, not only that but especially longer styles are so easily pulled back for a daytime look and then worn down for an evening look.  Also, a messy bob is a great look for a more casual look, with a sleek bob making a stunning impact anywhere.

For me, I’m just past the short bob phase, especially as I decided on day one into lockdown to cut my fringe back in and immediately hated. I’d love the stunning centre-parted lob, but with my expansive forehead and oblong face shape, it just won’t happen.  So it’s between a side-parted graduated lob or a classic bob ‘with bangs’.

What’s your favourite style?

Fay x


5 things to be thankful for

Day 71 - 5 Things To Be Thankful For

Figures

UK Deaths: 36,793

UK Cases: 259,559

Worldwide Deaths: 345,009

Worldwide Cases: 5,451,584

This Week

It is the end of Mental Health Awareness Week, and to mark the end I thought I’d do a little positive post about the 5 things I’m thankful for in lockdown, after my honest and open letter to the boys last week.

Lockdown has been relaxed this week and it seems for the most part that people are adhering to the guidelines.  Of course, there are groups of people not sticking to them, but I think there’s a couple of reasons for this.

  1. Some people still just don’t get it and won’t adhere no matter what.
  2. The relaxed guidelines weren’t quite so clear and I think quite a few people are unsure, especially about one person, meeting one other person outside of their household.
  3. Oh and then there are government ministers and advisors who can stand and tell us what to do, but when it comes to them, they can do what the hell they like!

Other countries that have relaxed lockdown have started to see rises in cases again, but no ‘second peak’ so far.  The schools opening on June 1st in the UK to certain years is probably the biggest controversy of them all.  The government are now covering their bottoms by saying they now cannot guarantee children to social-distance, but they will make the return to school ‘as safe as possible.’

5 Things I’m Thankful For

Family

Even though we are separated by garden fences, by streets, by county and by country, my family have been absolutely amazing.  Text messages, socially distanced chats in the garden, the offer of zoom calls (still haven’t worked up to that) and just constant contact from everyone checking in has made such a distance. Love you all ♥

Friends

Again similar to family, separated by streets, counties and countries, even continents, my friends have been invaluable.  Listening to me when I was at my lowest, laughing at all the hilarious memes and TikTok videos we have sent each other.  I heard someone say the other day how a simple message from someone unexpected can make such a difference.  I can totally concur as a simple LinkedIn message from a friend in India just to ‘check-in’ meant all the more as it was not expected at all. Love you guys too ♥

Daisy

She may still have accidents on the kitchen floor (any advice gratefully received) and she may bark at the slightest movement or when we eat, but boy do I love her.  When it’s been a hard day or a crap day I can always count on Daisy to run at me with utter devotion, and sometimes a little wee.  Her cuddles are just the best, and it’s kinda nice having another bitch in the house!

Daisy Duke the Dachshund

The Weather

The nice weather really does make a difference.  Can you imagine if we’d had to be in lockdown in mid-winter, I really think we’d have been looking at an even worse mental health crisis if we had?  It is not great as it is, but the ability to be able to go outside to enjoy the sun, even if it’s as little as sitting on your doorstep or opening a window wide.  I don’t think we can deny the effect that has on our mental health during this pandemic.

A Garden

I am so lucky to have a beautiful garden.  Whilst, funnily enough, the roof over my head has felt too big, too expansive due to my ever-growing feeling of agoraphobia (I find myself limiting my movement in the house to specific rooms), the garden has been my savour.  It is so hard to explain how despite wanting to be contained whilst at home, I find my garden just the most comforting area.  It’s all about, as I said, containment.  The garden is containing me from the outside, an outside that has changed, that I no longer know.  The longer I stay in, the harder it is to go out, and the more outside has changed.  Having the garden has been a life-saver.

Tomorrow is the last bank holiday for a few months and the weather should be nice, so let’s see what it brings.

How is everyone coping in the lockdown, what is the thing you are most thankful for right now?

Fay x


OPEN LETTER TO MY BOYS

Day 64 - Letter To My Boys

A Letter To My Boys

AN OPEN LETTER TO MY BOYS _ MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS

Figures

UK Deaths: 34,636

UK Cases: 243,303

Worldwide Deaths: 314,683

Worldwide Cases: 4,771,676

This week

So lockdown restrictions were relaxed slightly in England and the ‘message’ changed to ‘Stay Alert’ rather than ‘Stay at Home’.  Scotland and Wales have stuck with the original message, at least someone is being sensible.  We can now go out and exercise as much as we want, with one other personal from another household (social distancing of course) and travel as far as we want to do it, as long as it doesn’t include an overnight stay.  Oh, and schools are to open to certain years groups on June 1st.

This, of course, caused confusion and delight in equal measure (for some).  We have seen anti lockdown protests in London, the massive uproar over schools opening and people still flouting the guidelines because they don’t fully understand what the government have decided are the new rules…

Time to Think

As I’ve talked about previously lockdown has given us all a huge amount of time to think.  This week I’ve found particularly difficult, I think because of the relaxation of the lockdown and still quite high levels of death in the UK.  I’ve noticed especially with ‘The Monkey’ a much more militant view towards schoolwork and why it needs to be done.  My boys are questioning much more and I want to discuss that with them, to listen to their concerns and not just say the old ‘just get on with it!’.  So I thought I’d write a letter to my boys.

Letter to my boys…

Dear H, F and S,

I know that things are a little strange at the moment.  I know that as the weeks go on, it gets harder and you have more questions.  We are going through something unprecedented, something that your kids and grandkids may well read about in their history lessons.  Maybe that will help when you next sit down to do a history lesson,  remember that real people lived through what you are learning about, real people just like you and me.

This week has been our most difficult yet hasn’t it.  With all the uncertainty around changes to the lockdown, with knowing that you still can’t really see your friends, that none of you will be returning to school before summer. No wonder you are questioning and pushing against why you have to do the schoolwork.

You are so brave, you see me crumble quite often and you rally round.  Part of me tries to stay strong infront of you, but another feels that you should see the reality of mental health issues, so we can discuss openly.  When you see me struggling the most, you give hugs and get on with your work quietly, without question.  When you do question the work we discuss and talk about why you should still do.  However we also decide sometimes that it maybe isn’t the most important thing that day.  That family time movies, or chatting with friends online is more important.  That watching the news headlines and talking about the changes worldwide is just as good for your education and development.

More than all I want for us to come out of lockdown, happy and ready to take on the world again.  I don’t want to risk anyone’s lives unnecessarily, so for now we stay home.  Missing a few lessons here or there seems less of a regret to me than the regret if one of us gets ill and we haven’t spent as much time together as we could.  It’s all about balance, and everyone’s balancing act is different.

I hope I haven’t let you down and taught you with honesty that humility, health and kindness are all you should wish for in life as everything else is a bonus.  You all make me so proud and it might not be easy at times, but spending time with you is the best thing I can ask for in such strange times.

Mum x

How are you?

How are you all dealing with lockdown?  I think everyone is learning things about themselves, about others…  Are you enjoying, or are you hating every minute?  How are your children holding up, it’s not easy for them either!

Fay x