Raising Fourth of July Kids

Jill Stowell General Information, Learning Disability

I’m a great believer in the American Dream.  I grew up in a family where anything was possible.  We didn’t have a whole lot of money, but my parents always told us kids that we could do anything we put our mind to.

As I’m writing this, we’re just coming up to Fourth of July – Independence Day.


Independent kids

Isn’t that ultimately what all parents want for their kids?  And, in fact, what kids want for themselves?  To be able to do it on their own?  To be independent?

When smart kids struggle in school, their parents find themselves tied to the kitchen table facilitating (or doing) homework for hours and hours.  They wonder if there will ever be a time when their children can do their homework on their own.

Independence and the American Dream take more than just belief – though that’s a big-time, important starting point.  Having the skills to do the job and do it on your own is also a key piece of the puzzle.

My daughter is a figure skater.  She loved skating from the first day she got on the ice at 6 years old and always wanted to make a career out of it.  She has now been all over the world skating with Disney on Ice and believe it or not, found the only university in the country where she could minor in Figure Skating Science.

She pursued her dream and I am so proud of her doing it!  But she couldn’t have done it without the skills.

When I look at our students, they have plenty of smarts and plenty of talent in various areas.  What they also have are roadblocks to learning that are getting in the way of them developing the skills they need to become the independent students that they have the potential to be.

 If our ultimate goal is for students to become comfortable, confident,

independent learners, free to pursue their dreams,

we have to look below the surface of their academic challenges.

When smart kids struggle with basic academic skills such as reading, writing, spelling, math, or comprehension, there is almost always something in the underlying learning/processing skills that is not supporting the learner well enough.

An Approach to Learning That Leads to Independence

Academic and social success depends upon a solid foundation of cognitive learning skills.  If you think about these skills like a ladder or a continuum, academics and school subjects are at the very top.  Many other skills must be in place in order to learn easily at the top of the ladder.  When the underlying skills, or skills lower on the continuum are weak, they may keep children and adults from learning and functioning as well and as independently as they should.

Brain research on neuroplasticity has proven that through targeted and intensive training, the brain can literally change and grow.  New and permanent neuropathways or connections can be made that will allow individuals to learn new skills and process information more effectively.

Addressing the weak underlying skills on the Learning Skills Continuum has a profound impact on students’ lives, increasing their confidence, academic success, options for the future, and independence.

Here’s to a safe, happy Fourth of July, and helping smart, but struggling students become independent learners!

Jill Stowell


Want to stop being tethered to the kitchen table doing homework? 

JOIN US for a FREE parent information meeting to find out how to start your child on the road to independence before the next school starts.

Go to www.learningdisability.com for dates and RSVP.

Real Life Word Problems and Other Ways to Apply Skills Over the Summer

Jill Stowell General Information, Learning Disability

I’m looking out the window at Southern California’s June gloom, so I know summer is right around the corner.

While the end of the school year and homework often comes as a relief to parents, many also become fearful that their kids will lose ground over the summer break. For the next couple of weeks, I’ll be posting some suggestions of ways families can apply skills learned in school, keeping those young brains active over the summer break.

Make a Weekly Schedule

Planners and assignment sheets are something that many students resist during the school year.  It just seems like too much effort.  But if you’re using a planner or calendar to schedule all of the fun things you want to do during the summer, it becomes a much more engaging and motivating activity.

Use a planner or calendar of appropriate size, sophistication, and media for your child’s age and skill level.

Work together to place lessons, outings, and vacations on the calendar/planner.  Schedule-in daily reading time, time designated for chores, sports practice, etc.

Talk about the calendar, asking the child, “What’s on your schedule for today?”  When you need to schedule a dentist or doctor’s appointment, or even a time to go see a movie or a baseball game, have your child check his calendar to see where he can fit it in.

As you get close to school starting again, start brainstorming how your child will use his calendar or planner during the school year.

Trip Time Table

Going on a vacation?  Involve your child in the logistics.  For example, if you’re flying somewhere, what time is your flight?   How early do you have to arrive at the airport before your flight, and therefore, what time to you need to arrive?  How long does it take to get to the airport?  What time, then, do you have to leave home?

These are things that we, as parents, just tend to take care of, but are actually real applications of time and math.

If your child struggles in school, changes CAN be made before next school year.

The Family’s Not The Problem

Jill Stowell General Information, Learning Disability

The Family’s Not The Problem.

The Problem Is The Problem And The Problem Can Be Solved.

This statement was made by a colleague, a local Marriage and Family Therapist, Judy Riggan, and I thought it was brilliant.

We both work with children and families who are dealing with learning challenges of some kind and were talking about how having one child with a learning challenge can affect the whole family.

One child needs so much help that the other siblings feel left out.  Family activities get put on hold because there’s no time left after homework, even on weekends.  Parents don’t see eye-to-eye about the problem and what should be done.  The family ends up in crisis.

But the family isn’t the problem.  The learning problem is the problem, and what we know from brain research and from working with thousands of children and adults with learning challenges over the years is that most learning challenges, including diagnosed learning disabilities and dyslexia can be permanently corrected.  Students do not have to continue to struggle in school year after year and families do not have to continue to experience the pain and tension that typically accompany that struggle.

Right now is the time to begin making the real changes that will make next school year better.

For information about how you can get the kind of help that will solve the underlying learning challenges and get your child on the road to academic success, call 909-598-2482 (Chino, CA) or 949-477-4133 (Irvine, CA) or visit www.learningdisability.com

If we are not local for you, we may be able to help you find someone who is.

My best to all as you finish the school year and head into summer!  Jill Stowell