Sunday, 31 July 2016

GCSE revision - its never too early to start !!

It's true !

As much as you hate me and your parents saying it - it really does make the biggest difference. 

No matter how much extra time or how good you think you are at cramming nothing will have more impact on your grades than how well you understand your subjects. If you KNOW something you write a much better argument or exam answer than if you have to waste time trying to REMEMBER it. 

The good news is that there are now lots of fun ways to go about this.

Youtube and the rest of the internet are FULL of really quite informative and engaging videos that help provide information in a way that helps your memory. 

That doesn't mean you don't have to practice pulling all that information back out of your head - or make a few lists of names and dates that you will have to really go over to be able to remember them. But a few different videos can help make a boring text more interesting or help give another opinion  on a book that you hadn't thought about.

Here are some of my favorites 

Lord of the Flies

or Macbeth (a bit rude so not for sensitive ears )

The summer holiday is a great time to relax but also to get ahead  - you'd be surprised how many great books are on the reading lists and how many have been turned into brilliant films (Baz Luhrmann's Romeo and Juliet will always be one of my favorite films)

Just remember that for every little bit you do now - its a bit that you will feel slightly ahead on next year. You will go to them remembering things better and understanding them more. When we understand things we are able to look for the hidden meanings or the implications - all this makes it MUCH LESS BORING 

its a win win

Summer Head-start

Summer Holidays are a great time to get ahead if you 've been falling behind in school. But equally it's been a tough year and everyone deserves a break.

Parents and students should attempt to find engaging ways to keep using your reading and writing skills over the holidays. Keeping a blog / diary or writing lots of postcards to friends and family can help stop that summer slip.

READ things they find INTERESTING ! - it doesn't have to be 'War and Peace' to count - if they express an interest then help facilitate them in reading. Even i it is too hard for them - help them with the bits they can't do but then get them to read the bits they can. Then discuss it and what they found interesting about it.

Comic Strip Template for Kids PrintableCartoon templates : writing diaries or letters may feel a lot of 'unfun' work, but a new set of colouring pencils and a printed cartoon template (they can also cut pictures out of magazines if they don't feel their drawing skills are up to the task)  - 

Colouring books - some of the beautiful new colouring books inspire both mindfullness and increase fine motor control. While it might not be as good as writing it does increase penmanship and control which will improve handwriting. 

Jigsaw Puzzels - this is a good way of practicing both visual memory, and mental rotation. It can be quite difficult to sit and focus on a puzzel for a long time but if you start with a smaller number of pieces with an interesting graphic they can build up their 'staying power'. This may have a postive impact on their ability to maintain their concentration in the classroom when they go back in September.

Equally holidays often mean long car journies - or times without electronics.
This can be a time to engage with games that can help mold our thinking. 

20 questions  - asking a family member to guess an item in 20 questions helps develop top down processing skills and encourages using logic - as well as supporting their memory.

I Spy with my little eye...........
             something beginning with ..... 
             something ending in.......
             something with 'ai' in the middle 
Aways give the phonic sound of the letter to young children rather than the name of the letter ( - i.e.  'ah' rather than 'AYYY' ). This can help fill time over a long car journey while also helping with spelling.

I went to the shops and I bought ........
this is a memory game which can be made easier or harder though limitations. It is easier to add restrictions such as 'in alphabetical order' or 'only foods' it can be made harder by removing those limitations.

Give them a go - they are a fun way to help extend your kids abilities without feeling like you are imposing work during their holidays. 

Friday, 19 July 2013

A few words from work experience student - Nico Barnfield

I am one of those people who doesn’t really revise until the last minute where I cram everything and some but not all of it sticks, but I was fortunate enough to be allowed to sit in on a consultation for someone with dyslexia while doing some work experience with the Dyslexics Research Trust (DRT) and the ideas that they were given I think would actually benefit me, someone who has no form of learning difficulty except for a bit of laziness. They were things like active note taking, active listening, memory exercises and doing little bits of revision often instead of doing a massive cramming session the week before my exams.
I will keep you posted on my progress in my exams.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Take a look at this great website 

It has very informative sections for kids, parents, students, adults, teachers and employers. I think the Literacy section is especially good.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Touch Typing

Some pupils with dyslexia and related conditions such as dyspraxia and dysgraphia find that the difficulties associated with handwriting can inhibit their ability to structure and write a piece of work. The handwriting itself can take up too much concentration and effort.
With continuing advancements and increasing use of computers in education and the workplace, teaching touch typing skills and allowing pupils to use a computer for written work at an early age is highly valuable. It can also allow more concentration to be focused on the content of the piece.

Here are some touch typing websites which may be of use for Primary age children:

Primary age 
- BBC Schools Dance Mat
- Typing games, lessons and tests

At secondary and university level, this may give significant improvement in exam grades.

Help with Handwriting

Dyslexics sometimes have problems with handwriting.
When learning to read, children first have to link the shape of the word on the page with the sound it makes. Then, when it comes to writing, they have to recreate that shape back onto paper. For children with dyslexia, decoding these patterns and making these links can often be very difficult. As a result, they frequently fail to develop the automatic flow of writing which will help them to express themselves clearly and easily in writing.

It is recommended that children learn the continuous cursive style.
Typically, when first learning to write, children ‘print’ their letters. They then move on to ‘joined up’ writing at a later stage. For children with dyslexia, learning two styles of handwriting can add an extra layer of difficulty and cause confusion. It is, therefore, much more helpful if a young child can learn to use a single system of handwriting right from the start.
The most widely recommended handwriting style is called continuous cursive. Its most important feature is that each letter is formed without taking the pencil off the paper – and consequently, each word is formed in one, flowing movement.
The key advantages to this system are:

  • By making each letter in one movement, children’s hands develop a ‘physical memory’ of it, making it easier to produce the correct shape;
  • Because letters and words flow from left to right, children are less likely to reverse letters which are typically difficult (like b/d or p/q); these visual prompts may also help -  
  • There is a clearer distinction between capital letters and lower case;
  • The continuous flow of writing can improve speed and spelling. 

Pre-writing exercises can help improve mobility. Give these a try:
Fingers opening and closing – both hands x 10 
Fingers opening and closing – alternate hands x 10
Finger opposition – i.e.: thumb touching fingers in sequence. One hand at a time then both together
Drumming rhythms on table top
Sitting to rock from side to side, weight bearing through arms to lift bottom up. Stretch arms up to side, behind head behind back, rotate shoulders backwards and forwards and shake arms.
Sit up straight, clasp hands together, push up to ceiling, behind head and palms out.
Clasp hands together and push palms together.

Practising continuous cursive handwriting.

If you wish to practise handwriting with your child, it is advisable to use a recommended teaching resource. This will show you exactly how to form the letters and how best to practise them. See the National Handwriting Association.
It is also worth paying attention to a few basics, such as:

Paper: It is a good idea to use lined paper. At the earliest stages, you can use double lines to show the correct size of ascenders and descenders. Lines should be well spaced to start with – eg 10mm apart – gradually reducing to single lines about 5mm apart.
Posture: Make sure that the chair and desk are at the correct height. Your child’s back should be straight and feet resting on the floor. A right-handed child should have their book slanted to the left. For a left-handed child the book should be slanted to the right.
Implements: It is best to use a standard HB pencil, well sharpened. With the youngest ages, you might use a chunky triangular pencil to aid the grip. As children get older and more confident, they can move on to a fountain pen or a special handwriting pen. You should avoid using ballpoint pens for handwriting exercises.

Changing the background colour on your PC

Why not try it out for yourself by following these simple steps:
1. Select the 'Start' button which is located at the bottom left-hand side of the screen.
2. When the menu appears select 'Settings' then 'Control Panel and click the 'Display Properties' icon.
3. The next stage is to select the 'Appearance' tab and then the 'Advanced' button as indicated by the red outlines.

4. You should now be in 'Advanced Appearance.
5. Click the in area where you can see the words 'Window Text'. This activates the 'Window Text' item.
6. Just to the right hand side of the 'Window Text' item you will see an option to choose a different 'Colour'.
7. Select the drop down menu and choose a colour that best suits your needs. Finally, select 'Okay' then 'Apply' and 'Okay' when the previous display box appears until you return to the 'Control Panel'. Select 'File' and 'Close' to return to the desktop.


It is also possible to use a dedicated program that will manage the colour settings of our desktop and applications through one easy-to-use window.
ReadAble saves multiple profiles allowing different colour settings for different activities and/or users.
ReadAble changes all Windows colours including the Window background colour, default text colour, the menu background and text colour and the toolbars. It can also override web page background and font colours.