Friday, October 19, 2007

Show # 69- The Development of Reading- Nina Straitman

“We read to comprehend and to make an emotional connection to a character or to gain knowledge.” Nina Straitman

Nina Straitman is the Language Coordinator for the Centreville School, a school for children with language based learning disabilities in Wilmington, DE. Nina is also a clinical specialist in Developmental Medicine at AI duPont Hospital for Children. She has a B.A. in Anthropology and a master’s in Speech/Language Pathology, giving her wonderful insights into the development of language both from a social science and medical perspective. She has a particular interest in the development of language, reading comprehension and writing in middle school students.

I spent the afternoon recently over at Centreville, talking to Nina about reading and reading instruction, but you’ll find we ended up talking about so much more, including:

-Finding out that reading is an extension of oral language development. The levels of reading disability are higher in the deaf population than in the blind population, indicating that a large part of reading development is an auditory event, rather than just a visual event.

- Learning to read has to do with language development as much as learning how to decode and encode written text.

-Development of Syntax happens from the early development of words into early sentences – two word combinations

-Comprehension cannot be taught by having a child read independently and then answer questions independently- it must be an interactive process.

-As of July 2007, all text must be accessible. This means all new text books will have to be accessible- this means they will have to have an audio version as well.

-The last stage in language development is the ability to use specialized language, with vocabulary and expression of sophisticated thoughts that goes beyond ordinary conversational speech.

We do talk about how specialized instruction in reading differs from the usual reading instruction taught in schools, and why this makes such a difference for children with learning disabilities.

Nina also wanted to let you know about the Learning By Design website, and the SpellTalk discussion group. If you are an educator or a parent interested in keeping up on the latest in reading research, this is an excellent resource to check out.

We’ll have even more next week, so stay tuned!

As always, I’d love to hear from you- we are going to have a new blog up soon. In the meantime, please send all email to and voicemail to our new number: (206)-203-4616

Click here to listen to Reading Development - Nina Straitman

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Friday, October 12, 2007

Show #68 Conversation with Rick LaVoie

In the second part of my conversation with Rick LaVoie, we discuss ADHD, organization, seeing things from your child's perspective, how we need to set a good example for our kids, helicopter parenting and how to motivate them.

Rick Lavoie has worked in special education for over 30 years. He has three degrees in Special Education, and has produced the single best selling educational video over the past 20 years- "How Difficult Can this Be? the F.A.T. City workshop" which shows teachers and adults what it's like to be a child with learning disabilities in the classroom.

One of Rick's greatest gifts is helping us see what the world looks lke through our children's eyes. By doing that, and illustrating his ideas in such a way that they are memorable and better still, actionable, Rick's thoughts are not just more words about what you SHOULD do, they're about things you CAN do, easily, now, to make a huge difference in your life and that of your child.

Today, we talk about a wide variety of topics. the most important of which is also the topic of Rick's new book, "The Motivation Break-through- 6 secrets to Turning on the Tuned Out Child". By breaking down how motivation works, we can understand how to help our children become motivated to succeed in every aspect of their lives (and it's pretty good for the rest of us as well...)

Most importantly, the book gives you specific pointers and action steps to take, to help your child today. He even has a great chapter in the book about explaining learning disabilities to your child,and how to explain things so it is not a "negative" just a difference, that can be dealt with, just like any other challenge in life.

If there's one gift you can give yourself this year, it's reading "The Motivation Breakthrough".

I encourage everyone to go to Rick's website and to check on his upcoming speaking dates. If he is in your area, don't miss an opportunity to see him present in person.

Next week, we'll have an interview with Nina Straightman, a reading and language specialist at the Centreville School, a school for children with language-based learning disabilities.

We are looking into doing a call-in show to answer your questions- please drop me an email if you are interested at We also have a new voicemail numner (206) 203-4616- please call and leave your comments and questions and we'll answer them on the show!

Click here to download and listen to Conversation with Rick LaVoie Part II

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Friday, October 05, 2007

Show # 67: Conversation with Rick LaVoie

In this week's show, I sat down with Rick LaVoie, to discuss why LD kids need different approaches in education that "regular" kids, self-esteem, and motivation. Rick has over 30 years experience teaching and mentoring kids with learning disabilities, has been a guest lecturer at many universities; and has made national television appearances on the CBS Morning Show, Good Morning America, ABC Evening News and Disney Channel Presents.

Rick serves as a consultant on Learning Disabilities to several agencies and organizations including Public Broadcasting Service, New York Times, National Center for Learning Disabilities, Girl Scouts of America, Child Magazine and WETA in Washington DC. He is a member of the Professional Advisor Board of the Learning Disabilities Association.

Rick has delivered his message to over 500,000 parents and professionals throughout North America. He has the distinction of having delivered Keynote Addresses for all three of the major special needs advocacy organizations in the United States (Learning Disabilities Association, Council for Exceptional Children, Children with Attention Deficit Disorder).

I saw Rick speak at the Centreville School several years ago, and his talk changed the way I parent my children. Many of the regular listeners to the podcast will often hear me quote Rick, including my favorite phrases I got from him "When Elephants Fight, It's the Grass that gets Trampled" and "You need not attend every battle to which you are invited."

Rick has done us all a favor by putting some of his jewels of wisdom into two great books: It's So Much Work Being Your Friend: helping the child with learning disabilities find social success, and most recently, The Motivation Breakthrough- 6 Secrets to Turn On The Tuned-out Child. These books should be on every parent's bookshelf, since we all have times when we need help to inspire our children to do just a little more and not give up on themselves.

Rick delivers great advice in a direct, easy to understand manner, complete with examples that we all can relate to. Rick's advice has made me a better and more compassionate parent, and I hope you enjoy hearing him as much as I enjoyed talking to him. I strongly recommend his new book to every parent and educator- it's simply amazing.

Some brief news- I have recently joined the Mommycast & Friends Podcast Channel. My good friends, Paige & Gretchen from Mommycast have put together a group of the best family-friendly podcasts on the web, so parents can find the best content and the best information to make our daily lives easier and a while lot more fun, too!

Other great shows on the channel include Just One More Book! by Mark Blevis and Andrea Ross, discussing some of the greatest children books out there; Boutique Cafe; Runaway Design, TechnoGeekery- a tech show for the rest of us, delievered in plain english, and of course, Mommycast and the Mommycast Music Show. I'm really excited to join such a great group of shows, and encourage you to check them out as well!

As always, I'd love to hear what you think about the show- please email me with any feedback at

Click here to listen or download Conversation with Rick LaVoie, Part 1

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