Working on scissor skills on an iPad?? Realllllyyyyy

Working on scissor skills on an iPad?? REALLY?

I still remember wondering if I could address some hand and wrist skills to help my young client use scissor using the iPad and an app. 

He didn't like cutting with scissors at the best of times and I could see why.  He needed to work on a few skills before he could really use scissors in a successful way. 

Not only did we need to develop his hand skills, we needed to gain some attention to the task.  He just wasn't interested!  I didn't blame him. These tasks should be fun when you're only 4 years old. 

So I looked for an app that would offer a bit of fun to this scissor stuff and used an iPad case to angle the iPad just right for his wrist to be slightly extended while working on opening and closing his thumb and index/middle finger. 

Can you picture it? 

Next, I asked him to hold a small item with his ring and middle finger while he played his game.  The results: 

We worked on wrist extension, motoric separation of the hand (needed to use scissors and form a pencil grasp) and the open and closing action of the scissors without having them in his hand. We also worked on his ability to attend and use his dominant hand for the game while his non-dominant hand was used for holding the iPad case.  

Pretty cool, right?!?

He loved the app and played it with his older brother - now there's a therapy session without any cost and a whole lot of fun! 

So if you think an iPad is only good for one or two skills - think outside the box and you will be amazed how it can support your clients or child. 

There are more tips and tricks inside the iPads at School Program -- if you're ready to learn more.  Are you ready?  Take a look here. 



Homeschooling and Entrepreneurs

Homeschooling and Entrepreneurs

I know homeschooling and entrepreneuring (my new word) go together.  

As an entrepreneur you have the flexibility in your schedule and you may mostly work from home, so it makes the possibility of homeschooling your child a real option, 

There are many reasons to homeschool. In fact I schooled for approximately 5=6 months for 2 out of 3 of my children due to medical reasons.  

Now to be honest, I schooled at home with their teacher's support. We worked on their assignments when they were feeling up to it so I didn't have to look for resources but I did have to figure out how to help my child learn the material.

Homeschooling is a real option.  And my children did ask to be homeschooled many times when they were younger.  But it wasn't the right fit for us at that time.  I was working as an OT in the school setting and I didn't have the knowledge I have today.  

What homeschooling did teach me was:

1.Planned, yet Flexible

You have to have an incredible day schedule and flexibility to work through all the school content but you also don't require a full school day to get it done!  It takes less time but you have to dedicate time.  

2. A New Level Of Learning

Adding in my support offered them the ability to learn at the level they could without the frustration (not every single time we worked together but many times it was a positive experience as we could make it work for them and me!) And I would love to share how to tap into your child's ability to learn in my Strategy Sessions .

3. Parents rock

Parents have a big roll in supporting their child's learning and managing the emotions that might come with it.  So homeschooling offered this but you can also allow them to take a day off from the demands of school to support them and see what they need to learn.  It will pay you back many times over.  Wanna know how you can make a big difference, even if you are working on homework at night...look at my Strategy Sessions :) 

4. Get Support

Having the support of others (in  my case, the teachers) allowed me to focus on HOW my child was learning instead of WHAT my child was learning.  This was SO helpful and allowed us to keep moving forward ...and allowed my kids to return to school without a learning gap.  

Would I homeschool?  Not now. But having time with my kids and allowing them to heal was important.  They eventually didn't want to be home -- as school and friends were the priority for them! And I was REALLY happy about that :) 



Homework 101 or is that SOS???


Homework can get tense at times, I've been there! But thank goodness, over the years I mastered how to have a peaceful homework time. Well most of the time! 

And since I have learned a few things over the years, I wanted to share these with you and shift how we look at homework -- from a complete nightmare to an opportunity.  

Yes, an opportunity.

A time to figure out how your child learns and what's required of them at school -- both powerful things to know and when homework comes home you have a chance to dive in.

So let's look at those papers coming home as something powerful. 

 I actually get nervous if I don't see any homework coming home but that's another blog post.

So what are some tips to get your child (and you) ready for this homework "opportunity" 

1. Give Your Child a Break.

(I know.  Not what you were thinking for the first tip)

Allow them time away from learning to recharge. 

If you came home from work and then you were asked to sit down and work again without a break.  I think you might be a little cranky.  You would want to at least have a tea or something and maybe get into some comfortable clothes.  

Now your kids aren't gonna think this way, in fact, they might forget they need to change their clothes to play in the mud ('s always the good clothes)  but the thought is still the same.  

Allow time when they get in the doors to diffuse from the demands of their day.  To play and enjoy the outdoors before it gets dark.  To talk to a friend or get a snack.  They need downtime particularly when school is hard and they are working hard to get their work done. 

2. Select a Time

Between all the after school activities figure out what time will work the best.  Set that time with your child and explain why that time fits the best.  It might work well if they work at the island while you make supper -- if the subject requires little support from you.  Or it might be best after supper and before they go to their dance or hockey game.  Discuss the time and then make it happen.

3. Break Down the Steps

Let's say your child has to work on homework because they didn't get it done in class (sound familiar?)

Well, this could mean... 

a. they didn't understand what to do so they didn't do it

b. they understood it but couldn't focus to get it done.  

c. they got some work done with the help of a friend but didn't get the remainder done within the time perhaps because they didn't truly understand it (and it just looks like they know what they are doing when they don't) 

So this is why you want to break down the steps for them - which means - you show them each step to complete all or part of what they are required to do.  And they watch.  Then you ask if they can work on part of what you just did.  If they can't.  You show them again and ask them what is difficult for them.  This time talk through what you are doing.  You might even use different colours or you may type while they tell you what they think (scribe). 

You are now helping them learn and you are figuring out what they need to learn.  This is the powerful part.  

You might be saying ....but I'm doing their homework for them?!?  I said this too...until I figured out what I was really doing.  You are helping them learn and complete something they couldn't do at school and maybe others didn't even realize they couldn't do it (because they are smart kids and will figure out how to survive the world of school) 

Help your child learn.  Forget the homework mentality... don't worry what others say.  Help your child figure out what they need to learn and where they are getting stuck.  This is what you want to talk to the teacher about  -- not that there is too much homework.  And if there's too much homework let them know what you are doing to support your child and what you are able to get done (or not) There is no homework jail (I'm pretty sure!!) 

4. Don't Show Them Everything

Let's say your child has an assignment to do.  So of course you want to help them finish it.  Show them just one part of what they need to do.  Don't pull out all the parts of the task and all  the books and alllllll the stuff... your child may just SHUT DOWN because step one is hard enough without adding 10 more.  

One step at a time.  And break down how to do that one them...and figure out what they need. 

5. Focus on Your Child's Emotional Needs when Learning. 

If they are frustrated - it's a sign something is not working.  Yes, we all get frustrated when working on something new but if we have the right steps and support learning will not lead to emotional melt downs.  If your child is exhausted from the day because they have been in a 'fight and flight' state all day...then as parents we need to watch for this as well.  You child's emotional health is important and has an impact on their physical health.  Nothing is more important than your child's health.  They may need YOU.  Be ready to step back from the homework and offer you and some hugs.  It might be the best homework assignment yet. 


Why leaving your child's learning up to someone else is risky business

Why learning your child's learning up to someone else is Risky business

You know the feeling when you get an email from someone that shocks you.  

You wonder how could this happen?  What were they thinking?  Why didn't they tell me? 

You get the picture.  YOU are taken by surprise.  It happens.  

But what if the surprise had to do with your child's learning?  

Let's say the message was one of the following...

A teacher saying your child is fine and they don't need accommodations (strategies to help them learn) or the opposite, your child needs support and they will be moved to another classroom away from their peers. 

An assessment is completed by a tutor and your child is two grade levels below their peers with reading and writing.  

An OT states they are focusing on printing skills in grade 7 when your child has to complete full writing assignments in class. 

What do you do with this information?  

Do you take the assessments and suggestions and hope that others are making the best call?  

Do you get fired up and start sending letters to school staff about not offering resource support? 

OR....Do you decide to figure out where your child is at and what they need  -- so you can use the assessments to help your child move forward or question the results of others based on your observations and what you know?  

Yes, you can do this.  

You know your child.  

And in fact, you know them very well and you are the most consistent person in their life!

So when you leave your child's learning in the hands of others without knowing what your child really needs to help them leaves you and your child in the hands of others.

And when this happens, you step out of the position of empowering your child and helping them see their learning abilities.  Yes, you can help them see their learning abilities.  

When you know what your child needs and where they are at in terms of their learning, you can offer insights into assessment findings and recommendations that are may be right on target or really off course. 

But here's the might need to  learn a new skill as a parent.  You might have to stop and learn what it is your child needs.   But you know what -- it will pay off -- and it will pay off big. 

You don't have to figure everything out yourself but you do need to start learning! 

So where do you start? 

You get the support you need by investing in one of the Strategy Sessions available.  The Strategy Sessions will allow you to get the support you need - so you can see what your child needs!

Start empowering you and your child!  Don't leave learning up to others...without you having insights into what they are working on. Stop the risky business and start planning!

You can do this.



Epic strategies to help your child "learn their way'


You want your child to learn.  You want your child to be successful.  

But in our desire to want this we sometimes miss what they need the most, to figure out how they learn.  I know you might be saying, "I can't do that" I'm just a mom or just a dad. 


You and your child CAN figure out what fits their learning!

And.. you want to do this as it allows you both to move forward in a powerful way.


So what can you start to do to help you support your child's way of learning? 

First of you have to...


To start with you have select one skill (and even parts of a skill) to help you find out what your child knows and where they might be getting stuck. 

I'm gonna talk about letters as this is a skill that we can all relate to and all kids have to focus on this skill early in their learning.

Part of my Learn Their Way Checklist for Letters and Printing

Letters. You have to know them by name.  You have to know the sound they make and you have to be able to form or print them.  That's a lot of skills for just 'LETTERS'.

To help you walk through what it's like to focus on one skill and figure out how to look at different skills take a look at my sample checklist for letters and printing from my Learn Their Way Program. (psst you can also get a copy of this page and the other 2 pages in my free parent resource area)

Now that you have a skill selected --  the next step is to: 


I know you watch your child BUT you need to really watch your child. The word I use as an Occupational Therapist is observe.  

You have to 'see' where your child stops or where they have confusion.  Don't worry about figuring out why this is happening just yet.  

You are just observing. 

Finally, you want to


You are now going to write down what you see. 

Let's go back to letters again.  Let's say your are observing your child and you start to figure out that they are great at knowing letters in their name but as soon as you ask for other letters they don't know them.  You are coming across some information that is very powerful.  Write it down. 

Or you might start to notice that your child knows more big letters (ABCD) than little letters (abcd) you are not only gathering insight but you are on your way to figuring out where your child needs your support (and support from others)  

Your child may be able to print all the letters that are in front of them but not able to recall them without a picture in front of them.  Write it down. 

These are very important pieces of information that you can share with others so they can help you better AND it helps you and your child gain insights (the powerful stuff) 

(If you want the additional pages to write down what you observe for letters and printing you can get that in my free resource page

If you want someone to help you gain insights into what you are seeing and steps to put strategies in place for your child, you need to sign up for my upcoming My Learn Their Way Program

The program will help guide and support you and offer more in depth strategies to help you make the progress you want to see.  



Older kids need support too

older kids need support too!

Your child is heading to high school or maybe even university.  

You know they need support with their school work ...but it's a different type of support.

Your child may need some strategies that allow them to organize their schedules, read books at a quicker rate, and write with a minimal amount of errors (I only say this as my writing tends to have a few errors in it as well. We are all human.)

Your child may need to figure out how they learn even though they have managed to get through elementary and high school, they still need to understand their way of learning so they can move forward with confidence. 

You can label these skills as executive functioning, advanced writing or reading comprehensions skills ...they are a lot of labels out there but the real fact is your child has some skills that need support and strategies put in place so they can get their tasks done, whether that's school, work or life.

I have worked with a number of older students and these are some things they needed support with and your child might too:

5 ways older students may need support and strategies for school:

1. Communicating with teachers about their accommodations - how and when to do this.

2. Figuring out how to learning in a way that fits them and their needs (all needs...including social needs) 

3. Figure out what to focus on when it comes to excelling at school? (also known as their strengths)  And what does that mean for their course load and the courses they select? 

4. Knowing they (your child) are not alone when it comes to their learning.  Find someone your child can talk to or listen to their story so they feel they have the abilities to succeed in school. 

5. Managing their time and recalling what they need to work on and hand in (ummm ...we all need this to some extent as well!) 

So if you think your child is too old for support or strategies -- they are not!! As I mentioned above some the these skills, we can all work on the only difference is they need these skills now so they can select the right path for their future...which so very important! 

You got this!