9 Friendship Boosters -
Helpful Hints for Parents

*It’s okay to let your child know they have a learning difference. This is nothing to be ashamed of. Help them research their learning difference and find examples of successful people with these differences.

*Teach your child how to advocate for him or herself and to educate others about the unique gifts and struggles associated with his or her differences.

*Make sure to keep in contact with your child’s teacher. Provide resources explaining your child’s diagnosis and periodically check in to find out how your child is doing academically and SOCIALLY. 

*Role play solutions to “friend problems” at home. "What would you do if someone laughed because you read a word wrong out loud?"

*If your child has difficulty reading social cues, try joining a local “social skills” class. Psychologists are finding that these skills CAN be learned! This is also a great way for you and your child to find a support network.

* Find every opportunity to point out your child’s gifts!  Let him know that he is valuable. Help him to envision using his gifts in the future. "It's really cool how you were able to explain to me what you needed!"

*Be on the lookout for children who take special interest in your child.  Encourage play dates!

*Volunteer together as a family. Volunteerism will help your child take his eyes off of himself and learn to think of others. It will also instill a sense of worth and importance.

*Teach your child how to be a good friend and help him or her build compassion for other students who struggle.


New Year/ New Habits


LD kids can struggle with organization, procrastination and follow through on tasks.  Others have difficulty with social skills, confidence, and resilience.  As much as we would love to believe that these issues will iron themselves over time, the chances of your LD child mastering these problems on his own are dangerously low.  However, with your help, instituting a few simple habits in the life of your child can have a huge impact in addressing each of these challenges. Click here to find out how you can help institute healthy habits today!

  1. Hit the pillow:  Make sure your child has a regular sleep and wake schedule and receives an adequate amount of rest each night.  The National Sleep Foundation recommends 9-11 hours of sleep for children ages 6-13 and 8 to 10 hours for teens.  Sleep deprivation affects cognitive function and the ability to focus.  Lack of sleep can force the struggling learner to work even harder to keep up with his studies.
  2. Implement a homework routine:  Give your child 20-30 minutes to snack and unwind after school.  After this break, sit down and get to work.  Try to create a regular time and location for completing homework.  Make sure the area is organized, well-lit and without distractions. Creating this type of structure will help your child begin to internalize the importance of completing homework.  Don’t forget to check your child’s assignment pad and/or online homework log.  Train him to check off the list as he goes.
  3. Establish organizational systems:  Does your child complete his homework only to leave it home or lose it in his book bag?  Help him create an easy system for getting homework and other important papers to and from school.  Colored dividers with pockets placed in a binder can be hugely helpful. Don’t forget to label them: projects, home work to do’s, paperwork to return, papers for parents, upcoming tests, etc…
  4. Make good nutrition and exercise a priority:  Strong bodies build strong minds.  Exercise is known treatment for ADHD and helps all learners build better focus, energy and mood.  Diet is another important factor for helping your child succeed academically. The MAYO Clinic recommends that one half of every meal should be composed of fruits and vegetables.  Stay away from processed foods and make sure your child has a sufficient amount of protein at every meal, especially breakfast!
  5. Take time to enjoy your child:  Schedule some time to relax with your child daily.  Chances are, he’s struggling  with confidence and needs to know that you believe and delight in him!


Making the Holidays Happy


Christmas.  The thought of it conjures up romantic pictures of friends and family snuggling up around the Christmas tree- faces shining, hot cocoa in hands, laughter and smiles all around.  The reality of the holidays however, is not quite so romantic for those of us with children.  The laughter, trees and cocoa abound but so do exhaustion, overstimulation and social foibles. For those of us with children who struggle with learning and behavioral disabilities the stress of the holidays can be even greater.


Thankfully, with a little preparation and thoughtfulness, you can tone down holiday drama and make this season a little brighter for your struggling learner. 


Tips for Creating Happy Holidays


1.  Prepare!

Make a holiday calendar and a loose daily schedule.  Share the schedule with your children so that they will know what to expect.  Unfamiliar surroundings and happenings can be disorienting.  Having a plan can minimize behavioral challenges and emotional stress.


2.  Focus on Others

Struggling Learners can be their own worst critics.  Help your child take his eyes of himself and place them on someone else.  Make cookies for a new neighbor, visit a nursing home or collect cans for a local food bank.  Community service will refocus your child’s attention and help him feel important.


3.  Showcase Talents

Comparisons are often inevitable as we visit with distant relatives and friends.  The struggling learner is often aware that she can’t read as well as her cousin or didn’t make the honor roll like her sister.  Use the holidays as an opportunity to shine a light on her gifts.  Is she an excellent cook? Let her prepare a meal or snack for the crowd.  Is she a musician?  Let her play a piece of music for her relatives. Help her understand that academics are important but they aren’t everything.


4.  Practice

LD and BD children can often struggle to understand social cues.  Spend time role playing possible scenarios before attending events and hosting visitors.  If your child is easily overstimulated, make sure to provide space and time for unwinding (away from the crowd).


5.  Count Your Blessings

Let’s face it, life with disabilities is hard.  The everyday challenges can feel insurmountable.  Spend some time as a family writing down the things you are most thankful for in a gratitude journal.  This simple practice will help you and your children step away from stress and learn to enjoy the life you’ve been given together.


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