What's the Deal with All This School Testing?

So often parents ask us the purpose of all the testing that is going on at school. It may seem like the academic calendar is based around preparing for the tests and then preparing for the results of the tests to come in, and just anxiety all around for students and teachers. So we wanted to take a moment to talk about the different types of testing that may be going on and the purpose of each different type of testing.

Typically we have two main categories that tests fall into:

School Testing Vs. Private Testing - What's the Difference?

If you are concerned about your child's academic progress, you have a number of options to consider. We talked about the process for getting help from the school here: How Do I Get Help From the School?

So the next thing you may be wondering is:

What's the difference between special education eligibility testing done through the school and testing done through a private evaluation?

Other than the sometimes scary cost of a private evaluation.

The key thing to understand is that the goal of special education eligibility testing and private testing are very different. The goals of each are generally outlined as follows:

The #1 Reason You Should Consider a Private Learning Evaluation

As a parent it can be so difficult to know how to support your child. Do you have the school do all of their testing? What does that testing show? How do you really know whether or not your child is on track? What if test scores don't match the brilliance and/or struggle you are seeing at home?

This month we will be diving into several of these issues as we really focus on the differences between school testing and private testing and what you should be looking for. Two of the most common questions we get here at Ascend are:

Why Should I Consider a Private Evaluation if the School Will Do Testing?


What Can I Do with Private Evaluation Information?

3 Tips to Decrease Temper Tantrums

We all know the feeling... Your child is having a melt down in the check out line at the store because they want you to buy their favorite candy bar for them. A refusal to this request can lead to screaming, crying, and maybe even a full blown tantrum. This can be embarrassing, stressful, and incredibly frustrating to deal with when there are so many people around!  Many parents are probably wondering, "How can I avoid this?"

Reacting productively to a child throwing a temper tantrum can be challenging. If you are struggling to help your child learn how to process and regulate their emotions, we have 3 tips that will help! 

Why You Should Hope Your Child Loses

Every single day children are presented with learning opportunities for Executive Functioning skill development, many of which go unnoticed.  

This can be for a few different reasons.  First, the child and parents may be focusing on something else.  Many of our students struggle with learning disabilities, so the struggle to get through their spelling homework does not leave much room for EF growth. Arguably the bigger issue, however, is that we are trying to protect children from failure. 

How Long Homework Should Really Be Taking

It is not uncommon for families to come in concerned because their child's homework is taking what seems like forever to get through. Homework struggles can stem from multiple causes. It can be hard, it can be boring, or, it could be a sign of an underlying struggle for your child.

The rule we advise families to stick with is 10 minutes per grade level per night. That means if you have a second grader, he or she should be doing 20 minutes of homework each night.  If you have a 6th grader, it should be an hour. 

The Secret to a Chaos Free Morning

If you are anything like us, your mornings probably go something like this: 

"MOM! MOM! I can't find my shoes!" 

"They are under the table, where you left them yesterday." 

"Mom! I forgot.  I need you to sign these 72 papers for my class field trip today!" 

"Why aren't you dressed yet? We were supposed to leave 10 minutes ago! Stop playing and go get dressed!" (10 minutes later...still not dressed).  

When there are kids running around, it can make mornings difficult.  For a child, tasks that we think should be simple (like getting ready in the morning) are still too big. As their Executive Functioning skills are still young and developing, the multi-step sequence of getting dressed, brushing their teeth, eating breakfast and grabbing their backpack can get jumbled, confused and interrupted.  

Is My Child Struggling With Executive Functioning?

Worried that your child is struggling with skills related to Executive Functioning? Not sure what Executive Functioning is? Looking for answers to help your child succeed?  You're in the right place.  Executive Functioning is a term that has gained popularity in recent years.  It refers to the skills that we use every single day like planning, paying attention, following directions and emotional regulation. For more information about what Executive Functioning is, you can read our blog, "What is Executive Functioning?

The Facts About Phonemic Awareness That May Surprise You

This is a topic that is near and dear to our hearts because it is so very important for our beginning and impacted readers. Phonemic Awareness refers to the ability to hear, identify, and manipulate the sounds (or phonemes) in words. A phoneme is the smallest unit of sound. For example, the spoken word dog can be broken down into three separate and distinct phonemes or sounds; /d/ /o/ /g/. 

4 Signs of Visual Motor Difficulty

Visual motor skills, also called visual motor integration, refers to the skills that combine visual skills, visual perception skills, and motor skills. These are skills that use our eyes and hands in a coordinated way. For example, if I was looking at a picture of a square and wanted to replicate the shape onto a new sheet of paper, having strong visual motor skills will allow me to do this task easily and correctly. Poor visual motor skills will make this task more challenging. Essentially, we want our brain, eyes, and hands all to work together in an efficient way! This skill set is the foundation to a child’s day to day activities; cutting, coloring, writing, playing at recess, zipping their coat, or tying their shoes.

Better Reading Goals for Your Child's IEP

After you have fought long and hard for your child's IEP - you want to make sure that the goals your child's intervention team are working on actually make sense. It's easy to fall into the trap thinking that once your child's IEP is in place everything will be taken care of, but unfortunately, more often than not - it just isn't the case. In case you missed it - we talked about 3 Reasons Your Child Isn't Understanding What She Reads. This is an important concept because ideally the IEP would be set up in such a way that each of these core components necessary to comprehend would be addressed within the IEP.

5 Things to Keep in Mind as You Support Comprehension for Your Teenager

All things change right...from having your little one on your lap to having a moody teenager that believes nothing you do is good or right. Well just as they change - the strategies we use to help them must also change. Unfortunately for many readers, especially struggling readers - the struggle to fly under the radar and just keep up in the classroom, came at the cost of actually developing strategies and supports that would help them really understand their reading.

5 Things to Keep In Mind as You Read to Your Little Ones

Bed time stories can be such a treasured part of the family routine for young children. The ability to listen to stories and imagine and learn new words is truly magical. However, sometimes as parents, we may find ourselves going through the motions and missing out on some of the deeper level connections and meaning we could begin modeling for our children.

Here are a few strategies and things you can be thinking about as you are reading with your child. Keep in mind, you don't have to be presenting ALL of the strategies EVERY time you read. Pick and choose so it doesn't feel like it has become a school lesson :)

3 Reasons Your Child Isn't Understanding What She Reads

We know that comprehending what we read is the sole purpose of learning HOW to read. But surprisingly schools have placed a heavy emphasis on how quickly children read instead of how effectively they are comprehending the material they are reading. While your child may awe you with their oral language abilities (their ability to tell you about complex things going on in the world) you might be surprised to find that your child's reading comprehension skills are breaking down. 

Typically when we see reading comprehension skills breaking down it is because we have a breakdown occurring in one of these three areas:

A Fun Way to Support Phonological Awareness at Home

Research is very clear that Phonological Awareness is a foundational strategy for students to obtain the necessary literacy skills to read and spell effectively and efficiently. However, teaching older students phonological awareness skills can be difficult because many of the resources out there are geared towards younger students and the images, worksheets, and resources can be insulting to older students.

So, as a parent, what can you do to support your dyslexic student in learning the necessary phonological awareness skills to be successful? This answer may surprise you.

The Best Strategy When Spelling Words Aren't Sticking...

As a parent, it can be incredibly frustrating to watch your child struggle through the weekly spelling word lists. Depending on what type of list is coming home this can be pure torture.

Hopefully your child is receiving a patterned list that follows one concrete pattern like "Magic E" in which you might get a list including words such as take, home, sale, date, note, etc. or words that follow more complex patterns like night, sight, sleigh, neighbor in which "igh" says I and "eigh" says A. In the best scenario, this pattern of words has been systematically designed and well-thought out. These types of lists are the best in order to use strategies that actually work to help your child begin to generalize the spelling rules of the English language.

5 Signs the Homework Battle is Actually Something More

If you are fighting over homework every night - it's time to figure out what is going on. Often well meaning parents and teachers attribute a student's difficulty finishing or completing work to laziness, but the reality is that is just rarely ever the case. It's important that parents don't lose out on a more positive relationship with their child and get to the bottom of the homework struggle as quickly as possible. Often this struggle is caused by an unidentified learning disability - by identifying the core cause of the difficulties and outlining a plan you could change the future for your child.