Category Archives: The Navigators Way- Living Well with Learning Disabilities

Living Well with Learning Disabilities

It’s a Long Haul to the Winter Holidays….

Living Well with Learning Disabilities

IMGP0921This is the time in the school year when all children, especially those with learning disabilities, can feel a bit overwhelmed. It is still along way to winter break and there are a lot of tests, papers and expectations piling up. What is a parent to do when they see their child feeling poorly about themselves and their performance at school?

The good news is there is a lot you can do to bolster flagging self-esteem and inertia. The balance you will provide through these activities will restore the energy to do other tasks that are difficult.  Here are some things to implement today:

  • Create special time. Create a time every week that both of you can look forward to.  If this can’t be done daily, weekly is fine. This is time to explore something your child is interested in. You get the benefit of watching your child delight in something fun. This will be good for you, too!
  • Practice empathy. Empathic behavior means you can walk a mile in someone’s shoes and know what they are going through. When we say to our children, “ Why do you never listen to me!” or “Go back and do it again, you will get it”. We might not understand how hard it is to listen and comprehend with their particular learning issue present. Instead, with genuine curiosity say, “What made it hard to hear what I was saying?” or “What made that information hard to understand.?” You might learn some key information about how your child learns and listens.
  • Help your child develop problem-solving skills. Not all children know how to problem solve. Did you know this is a teachable skill? Developing problem solving skills can create confidence and a sense of pro-activity that comes from knowing how to problem solve. (BONUS: See next months blog to learn how to teach this valuable skill.)
  • Ask your child to help. There is no faster way to build self-esteem than with a job well done! Invite your child to help with activities around the house where they will have an immediate result – setting the table, helping to cook, doing a favor for a family member.  Helping a younger sibling learn to tie their shoes is a great way to empower someone who is feeling a bit shaky with their own capabilities. When you help someone your own confidence gets a boost!
  • Lean into your strengths! It is important to know your weaknesses so they don’t blindside you.  It is even more important for your child to know their strengths and use them as a way to compensate for learning difficulties. Everyone has strengths and can be taught to use them. Many learning issues have a bright side. As an example, many dyslexics are quite creative. To lean into creativity, your child could take an art class or theater class and meet like-minded friends. There are many strengths inherent in learning issue profiles. What are you child’s strengths?

These are simple ideas to address low self esteem a child with learning issues might be experiencing. Get busy implementing these at your house today. Be sure and reach out if you questions. That is what The Navigators Way is all about!

This is important stuff…let’s talk!


HOT NEWS: The Navigator’s Way is a participant in a new compilation of blogs for the Learning Disability Community. Come see LDAction: Creating Possibilities





The Power of Reflection

Living Well with Learning Disabilities

Take a good look at this picture…I was trying to capture an image of a little frog in this puddle. To no avail! I must have shot the picture 10 times. Then I realized what was blocking my shot…I couldn’t move away from my own reflection despite my best attempts…What a parallel to life!IMG_20130822_080023_598

Our kids with learning disabilities are always living with their own reflection.  When people talk of being stuck, or can’t move forward, those of us in the helping professions look see what is blocking them from their desired progress. Sometimes the blocks are self created – internal blocks – and sometimes they created by our situation – external blocks.

The internal blocks are often made up from our own beliefs and habits that can cause problems because we are so used to them we don’t even know they exist. In this case my reflection was so familiar I didn’t even know it was blocking the shot! The same thing happens with beliefs and habits in everyday life.

What can you do about the familiarity with your own habits and beliefs? Becoming aware of the assumptions and default patterns you or your children subscribe to and examine them more closely is a great place to start. This can be tricky but well worth the effort. People with learning disabilities do so much better when they become aware of their habits and beliefs. Here are some examples of habits and beliefs that could be blocking progress for a person with learning issues:

  • “I have weaknesses that hold me back!” This is a belief.  Weakness demand to be understood along with what you do about them. We aim for having the child with learning issues be able to say, “That is hard for me AND this is how I would rather accomplish that task”. Do you see the beginning roots of self-advocacy? Unseating the limiting belief allows the opportunity for self-advocacy to grow.
  • Avoidance is a sneaky habit for folks with learning disabilities. Let’s be honest, it is hard to engage in tasks that are hard! Yet, being aware that the habit of avoidance can create low-level stress and feelings of lack of competency might have a person with learning disabilities choose not to avoid things. Replacing avoidance with “Doing the hard thing first” can boost feelings of competency and remove stress. Becoming aware of the avoidance habit is the challenge here. The fix is motivating and easy!

How can you find out about your limiting beliefs and habits? Ask for help from those you trust. Simply ask, “What do you see that I do that gets in my way that I may be unaware of?” As a parent, redirecting negative thoughts and actions is a great way to build healthy habits and beliefs. Start early and employ this strategy often to help build healthy self-esteem in your child.

As always, reach out if you have questions around the concept of limiting beliefs and habits. You will soon see how uncovering these will make noticeable improvements in you and your child’s life!

Come visit us at The Navigator’s Way for more inspiration on how to live well with learning disabilities!

HOT NEWS: The Navigator’s Way is a participant in a new compilation of blogs for the Learning Disability Community. Come see LDAction: Creating Possibilities

School is Starting!

Living Well with Learning Disabilities

As fall approaches and the school bell once again gets ready to ring for our children, what do you think about as parents of children with learning dZA010237763isabilities? Most of us can put a decent list together of things that we must attend too, buff up and prepare ourselves for – especially parents who have kids with learning issues. But what comes up in your mind? New concerns, old concerns, a “Here We Go Again Feeling” perhaps?

What would it be to approach the new school year with out apprehension and concern for your children? Instead, hold high their list of strengths and believe in their capacity to handle the challenges that every new school year presents.

As parents, it is best for us to believe in our children. This is how they learn to believe in themselves. Without the critical parental factor of unspoken belief and trust to use their strengths, know their weaknesses and confidently scaffold them, our kids will be hampered.

So you see parents, you have some getting ready to do for school also. The upshot of you believing in your child is improved self-confidence.

What one thing could you do today that would let your child, for sure, without a doubt, know that you believe in him? Here are some easy examples. Pick one small thing off this list to implement on a daily basis:

  • Praise a daily chore
  • Encouragement instead of critique
  • Time together doing something non-academic. At the end note a personal quality about your child that you love.
  • Ask, “What was most important your day” instead of “How was your day?” Hint: When people search for an answer they pay more attention to the conversation!

What would it take for you to do one of these things everyday with your child?  Why not start that practice today…and do it every day.  It is simple way to have a profound impact.

Let the magic of a new school year start at home!

Learning Disabilities Influence The Weather of Your Life.

Living Well with Learning Disabilities

rainI’m watching a gentle rain this morning as it lightly touches down on a pond in my back yard. The rain looks as though it would be gentle as silk strands if it were to fall on my skin. The water surface is hardly moving. In stark contrast, the rain yesterday was pounding. It was the kind of rain that leaves little bubbles on the water as a result of their impact.

Events, people and circumstances all have a part in creating the “weather” you and your family experience. Learning Disabilities can be a major weather pattern in any family’s life, let alone the individual who actually experiences the learning issue. Moreover, learning disabilities can be a rain storm that has trouble moving on if you let it get entrenched.

When our youngest son was diagnosed with LD, there was a hurricane blowing through our home. It felt like a CAT 4 storm! Siblings were furious at the extra time the child with the learning issue was absorbing, my husband was having trouble grappling with the reality and acted like an ostrich by burying himself in his work, I felt guilty and was trying to keep our family ship sailing forward at the same time…and notice, we haven’t even mentioned the child with LD who had “quit school”! This was a hurricane for sure.

So here is the deal…There are ways to stay out of a hurricane when dealing with learning issues:

  • Get smart – learn all you can about what you’re dealing with.
  • Talk with all your family members – don’t sweep anything under the rug. Share knowledge and feelings. This will avoid the building of those hurricane force winds.
  • Learn to be an Advocate.
  • Reach out for help in areas that you’re struggling. Ignoring challenges doesn’t make them easier.

Wouldn’t it be great to feel the soft silken rain instead of the downpour or worse, the hurricane? It really is up to you what weather the learning disability creates in your family. Reach out today to The Navigators Way to see what options are available to calm the storms your experiencing.

 This is important – Lets talk.



Are you Communicating or Just Talking?

Living Well with Learning Disabilities

family-1It is hot, humid and feeling very mid-summer like over most of the country. Kids are deep into the swing of lazy days, camps and hanging out. For kids with Learning Disabilities this is heaven! No heavy schedules and even less academic work. But how is your family getting along at this midpoint in the summer? Is it time to check in on the summer communication and how it is going?

Did you make plans in the beginning of the summer around expectations for helping around the house, keeping academic skills fresh and making good decisions every day? If you didn’t, now is a great time to notice what is working and what isn’t working and do a little retooling! Communication is the key to effectively checking in and making any changes necessary.

To start, call a family meeting and as the organizer, bring your Open Ended Questions. Open Ended Questions are questions that can’t be answered with a Yes or No and make the listener really think about an answer. Have several of these questions ready to gauge everyone’s satisfaction with this wonderful, carefree time of year. Here are some examples:

  • What has gone really well this summer?
  • What would you like to see more of?
  • What would you like to change about this summer?
  • What do you want to see happen before summer is over?

The next key to having this exercise reinvigorate your summer is taking the time to really listen to each family member as they share their answers. Stop what you are doing and look the person in the eye that is talking. Being truly listened to is a great gift. Give your family members the opportunity to give and receive this most important gift.

This simple meeting will deliver BIG if you give the time to ask Open Ended Questions and deeply listen to the answers. Incorporate these communication skills into your daily life and make the second half of the summer great. They will serve you and your family now and in the school year ahead!

Go Ahead, Really Communicate!

Summer Slide

Living Well with Learning Disabilities

IMGP0921It’s everywhere! Kids must think teachers and parents are out to get them! Kids with learning disabilities can sniff “school” from a mile off… and during the lazy, crazy, hazy days of summer someone trying to slide a math work sheet under their nose can spell no fun. However, keeping skills current is important.

The loss of learning that can take place over a summer neglecting skills is considerable. “We think summer is a great break from school but not a great break from learning,” Gary Huggins, the CEO of the National Summer Learning Association told The Huffington Post. So how do we, as responsible parents, nurture the learning but give our kids with learning disabilities a break from academic rigor? The good news is there are a million different ways and lots of resources to find those ways.

Some ideas to exercise your kids mind include travel, cooking, gardening, scrap booking, playing games, going to the library and on and on. Here are some concrete ideas… let’s make this summer easy!

Just yesterday I found a website with 10 arm-chair field trips. Project those on your TV (the kids will know how to connect the computer to the TV!) pop up some popcorn and enjoy time together. These “field trips” can explore geography, different cultures and planning.

Cooking and gardening can be combined to make jam. Use the quick method for jam – its easy and you will be doing math before you know it by measuring and counting. Bonus: fine motor skill activities are engaged too.  You will end with a sweet topping for ice cream and something for your toast. Win, Win, Win!

Lastly, take advantage of programs that your local library, YMCA and town newspaper already have done the footwork on to help you keep young minds active. If you make it easy for yourself, summer learning can continue in and out of the classroom making it fun for everyone!

Lesson from a Golden Eagle

Living Well with Learning Disabilities

Keeping learning alive during the summer is a HOT topic with parents …Amp that up for parents of a child with learning disabilities! Parents are intent on keeping a young persons mind active during summer break. Taking life’s experiences, extracting the lessons and reusing them many places in your child’s life, is one way to nurture an active mind.

In the summer you can dip into so many experiences. Expose your children this summer to great activities and then have them relate these experiences to other parts of their life. When you take this extra step you create an awareness around  how learning can touch all of their life. As a life skill, this goes WAY beyond the classroom while having great impact in the classroom.

Here is an example. This weekend I hiked and played in nature seeing a golden eagle for the first time. This eagle was amazing! With a five-foot wingspan and golden head he truly was magnificent. Seeing him was experience enough but to tap into what he brought me was the real learning. Here is what I learned. He took several passes by us out over a cliff. He was majestic, confident, patient and sure while being present, attentive and non-reactive. He was so steady. I want to bring more of those qualities into my life. A great conversation with my family ensued.

Now the experience from the weekend informs the Monday morning task – or the paper for the classroom.  Asking what the lessons were…going for the deeper stuff is something kids are really good at. You will be surprised!

If kids can be present enough to break down the barriers between parts of their life, and have one inform the other, they will be able to carry their “life lesson” with them, like I carry the “calm confident, majestic, patient, and attentive” that the eagle taught me. Now THAT is the kind of summer lessons that I want to have and I want my child to have! This is especially important for kids with learning issues. Some parts of their life are hard and these lessons can be of great service getting through those times.

Be sure to ask about the deeper lesson from experiences you have. You will be glad you did as you will be rewarded with an active mind.

This is important stuff…let’s talk.