Wednesday, September 10, 2014

PINK (Parents Involved iN Kids) Literacy Groups

NAPLAN results are out.  If, like me, you have a child with learning difficulties, the natural comparisons that occur between children in the classroom can lead to a crestfallen youngster at the end of the day.  "What does it mean?" was the question I was asked.  She had already had conversations with other children in her class and she knew what they scored.  So why were her 'black dots' so different?
Her initial response was one of anger.  She had assumed that her classroom teacher (who is not her literacy teacher) had marked her NAPLAN.  She felt she had put in a big effort (for her) to improve in literacy, and the person she assumed had marked her NAPLAN hadn't even been present in the classroom to SEE the effort she had been making.  Her indignation hid her hurt - she loves her classroom teacher.
In her experience (and mine) she has also made huge progress in the two terms since the NAPLAN testing was conducted (but how to convey the time lapse?).  Literacy instruction at her school has become much more focussed, she has been working with a tutor and short literacy activities are integrated into our daily routines during the week.  I KNOW she has made progress, I am within listening distance of her home tutoring lessons, I see her desire (something I have never seen before) to write, and I hear her read.  She has made so much progress!
But her results are not within the average range of the normal distribution curve.  My daughter's literacy is in the 'red flag' zone, whilst the school, on average is not.  So what happens for these kids?
From my experience in working with children with dyslexia and other learning difficulties (usually attention) my view is that it is a big ask of schools to come to grips with the nuances of each child's learning difficulties; to find the funds to hire people to do the individual remediation required (of both the original difficulty plus the resultant poor habits developed in response to an inability to perform classroom tasks); and to find people skilled in doing the work required (which at times can be very demanding).  What choices therefore do parents of children with learning difficulties have if they want to support their children in continuing to put in effort and to make gains?
The first factor parents need to consider is relationship.  Learning only occurs in the context of a fabulous relationship.  Fabulous relationships create a feeling of being supported.  Anxiety is the biggest impediment to learning - it knocks out the prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain necessary to new learning.  Fabulous relationships are the antidote to anxiety.  In a fabulous relationship the person working with the child is attuned to what is going on and is able to shift and move in response to their observations.  In a fabulous relationship, self awareness is supported, the core of the child is enticed into discussions about what is being learned, where work needs to be improved and how they think they are going.  Parents need to think about where they want their child to experience that fabulous relationship.  Solely with a tutor?  Shared between a tutor and themselves, or solely with themselves?  (My daughter's learning difficulties have been the impetus for much of my learning in recent years and the resultant decisions I have made.  Whilst I have learnt a lot technically, it is our relationship that has really blossomed.  Our relationship enervates her mental health (and learning) and mine.)
The next question pertains to financial resources.  Tutoring is not inexpensive.  Research tells us that for the 'unnatural' task of reading, in neurologically typical children at least 2 hours per week is required if learning is to  have a chance of being transferred into long term memory and automaticity.   For neurologically 'atypical' children the time required to be invested in effortful engagement in the learning of a concept is longer, i.e. we need to be spending more time with children actively and effortfully deepening their experience of what is being taught. 
In a nutshell, where do you want the fabulous relationship with your child to occur?  And do you have the resources to finance the decision you make?  And if you don't have the resources to 'pay someone else', what do you do?  Our children with learning difficulties and learning disabilities need all the support and encouragement they can get.  It's tough for them being in a 'NAPLAN red flag' zone in a school.   If you ever want to have a look at what your child is expected to achieve in literacy go to the Australian Curriculum website, scroll down, and open the links to work samples.   But don't lose heart, I believe that collectively, we, as parents, can bring much to the literacy lives of our children - and we don't have to do it alone.  Which is why I am creating the PINK (Parents Involved iN Kids) LITERACY support program.
My intention is to run 4 sessions on consecutive Sunday afternoons on:
  • A Simple (but powerful) Approach to Literacy with your children.
  • Resources that can be used as the framework in a Simple Approach.
  • How to work with those Spelling Lists from a Simple Approach perspective.
  • What you need to know from your child's school.
  • Games and activities for 10 - 20 minute relationship (and Literacy) building sessions in the home.
  • What we can do to facilitate the development of writing.
These four sessions will be run as a program and are suitable for parents who wish to support their children's literacy on their own, and those parents who wish to support their children's literacy in partnership with a skilled tutor.
Following the program I am offering the opportunity for interested parents  to work together throughout the year, supporting their children, working with resources, sharing their learning and learning from each other and myself.   These learning sessions will be held once a month on Sunday afternoons.  Scheduling of the initial four afternoon sessions is yet to be finalised.  Anyone interested is welcome to contact me on 0417 949 179 for further information and costs.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

How Parents Can Help Their Struggling Reader

Parents of struggling readers can have a hard time, particularly if they are not flush with resources to access good expertise that can offer research based information, guidance and support.  When I was working in schools it was heartbreaking to find parents accessing (and paying substantial amounts for) snake oil, particularly in some of our less resourced suburbs.  To pay for ineffective services and products when the parent is already stressed trying to understand and help, is not good.  The relationship becomes another area that needs remediating if the child is eventually to learn to read.

Having been through that experience myself, this is my list of recommendations to parents wishing to help their struggling reader.

1.  Relax and focus on connection rather than achievement.  Your relationship with your child is the factor that makes the most difference if you are going to try and bring understanding and reading skills to them.  You have probably been struggling for months or maybe years, taking another month to relax and just focus on having quality meaningful time with your child is not going to do more harm - it will help!  If you bring stress to their experience of words then you are exacerbating what they experience at school.  When tutoring I am aware that our one hour per week may be the only time the student gets to enjoy being around words.  This experience is important.  As  a parent you are in a powerful position to bring more of a good feeling to their experience of words, so work on the feeling in your relationship first, then engage in words.

2.  Look for ways to relax have fun with your child/children around words.  For years whilst my daughter was young I read to her every night.  Grimm's fairy tales mostly, I found they had a different feeling in comparison to the majority of modern day authors.  (Thankfully there are some wonderful exceptions.)  But when she got older, homework became the focus of my attention and I let go of our precious time each day in which to enter another world.  Instead I worked with her on her reading skills. She has improved, a lot, but something was missing from our relationship (and my own enjoyment).  So I reignited reading at night.  I started off with books she really loved when she was little and have moved into books from the library which I know she could read but which I read.  She now makes sure I am reading each night ... and with her growth in reading skills and development, our reading time is enriched.  I know she is following as I read, she tells me she could read what I am reading, we talk about where the story might be going, she recaps the story each night before I begin, and we talk about whether a book is 'grabbing' us or not.  We discard it if it isn't!  As per my recent blog I have also found a couple of community events around story writing and illustration.  Once upon a time my girl wouldn't have been interested in the slightest about attending, now she's quite keen.

3.  Learn about how literacy should be taught.  Attend Dyslexia Speld Foundation (South Perth) parent film nights and information sessions.  Look up government funded literacy resources (libraries often have flyers) and access them if you are eligible.  Learn about how you can help your child via incidental (in the moment or when they make mistakes) teaching.  Learn about the power of 'saying the sounds and reading the word'.  Learn about the power of your pointer finger!  Borrow books from the library at DSF (or buy them) or better still write your own with your child, that they have the skills and alphabet code knowledge to read.  Don't read books with words in them that have sounds and their corresponding spellings they haven't covered yet. 

4.  Don't interact with them in ways that suggest you are looking for whether they have advanced or not.  In other words, don't test them all the time.  If you know there are words in what they will read that they don't know, play with it beforehand.  If they still have difficulty provide it form them.  Have blank paper and pens on hand, to tease out the sounds of words.  Don't jump in too quickly.  Once they start to blend sounds together they want to see if they can succeed and become annoyed if we jump in too quickly because of our need to have them reading words.  This is what happens in schools.  We rush and cram them so that they look like they are reading. Lots of sight words, reading for meaning, cueing from pictures, all so it looks like children are reading.  And our testing in schools can look like children are progressing.  But they aren't really reading, they aren't using the skills of reading, and then when we test them again in High School (when words are more complex) we wonder why they have dropped behind again? They were never at level in the first place. 

5.  Hire a good remediation tutor.  Make sure they are using a well researched evidence based literacy program.  Can they articulate the deficits in your child's reading skills and how they are going to turn them around?  Have they provided you with a plan that explicitly lays out what they will be doing and when?  Are they available to guide you when you have questions?  Is it possible at all to have them and your child's teacher talking?  Based on questions you have put to the tutor and the information they have provided in remediation plans and reports are you feeling confident about what they are doing?

6.  Ask questions of your school. What literacy program are they using?  Is it one included in the DSF catalogue (which means it has some research and evidence behind it) or is it one without the research?  What is the sequence of sounds and spellings that will be taught?  Where is your child up to?   Are they using Look, Say, Cover, Write, Check?  Why?  (It is not recommended for children with reading difficulties - or most of the others.)

7.  Develop your own literacy skills.  A significant number of children with dyslexia also a parent with dyslexia.  If you don't know how to read, then learn to read, model learning to read for your child.  Not only will you go up in their esteem but you will be a powerful influence over their engagement with learning to read.

For any parent searching for information and guidance, there is an information session in my home (Spearwood) this Sunday 1.30 to 3.30 pm.  The cost is $35, if you would like to come along, give me a call on 0417 949 179.

Fun With Words

There is something about winter that must bring out the desire to go within and draw out words and drawings that give expression to our creativity.  In the last two days I have come across a couple of enticing events to engage children in literacy.

I first fell in love with Balingup 30 years ago ... the amazing smells when you walked through the door of The Tinderbox, camping by the Blackwood river, interesting country shops and cafes, fruit wine, a wonderful array of bed and breakfast establishments.  I pictured myself living there in years to come.  That didn't quite come to fruition but I still enjoy my visits to this beautiful town.  And over the years it has developed some notable events to attract people far and wide.  I came across the flyer for the Telling Tales in Balingup in my local library.  2 days of workshops for children from children's authors and illustrators, all nestled within the businesses of Balingup.  The program looks fantastic.  I am in the process of booking accommodation and intend to be there bright and early on Saturday 12 July to feast my eyes and senses on the books and workshops on offer.  Not to mention enjoying the offerings of the various locations throughout the town in which the workshops will be conducted.  I just hope my daughter is as excited as I am!

This next workshop first appeared in the Fremantle Arts Centre's courses for young people in Term II of this year.  The July holiday program is now out and it features two literacy based workshops.  The workshop on Concrete Poetry will be conducted during the holidays whilst the Creative Writing workshop will be conducted during school term.  It's great to see the definition of the 'arts' in the young people's programs extended into the realm of words and how they can be used to give expression to creativity and imagination.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Reigniting a Love of Words

How to reengage children with words when their relationship with them has been damaged?  This is a question I ponder often.  Three things seem pertinent:
  1. A consistent, safe, playful, structured, (and probably lots more) relationship with at least one other - around words.
  2. A solid structured, cumulative, explicit phonics program through which to learn.  One that makes sense, and on this last point I put linguistic phonics' programs at the top of the list.
  3. Opportunities to play with words, learn about words, not be afraid to express words, put words into sentences .... immerse in imagination through words.

The second point is evidence based, that is, research over time has demonstrated the high correlation between this type of literacy program and performance on reading, spelling and writing.  I am also aware of research into programs which aim to make a difference at children's understanding of emotions and social interactions and the pivotal influence of the relationship in which this learning is supported.  On the last point, maybe there is a bank of research on this too but at this point in time I haven't started to explore it - at this point in time it just remains an important part of my passion.

Pie Corbett on the talk4writing website talks about activities in which "... a strong link is made with home playing an invaluable role in developing a love of words and gradually building the bank of language."  As a parent (who loves books) of a child who has developed reading difficulties, watching the  impact of their contaminated relationship with the written word play out at home (no reading) and at school (difficulty reading and reluctance to write) is soul saddening - particularly when she has the most wonderful gifted imagination.  Success with a solid phonics program really helps to boost a child's motivation to reengage with words.  But before success comes effort.  In that phase I try to ignite hope - hope that a child can understand words before them and hope that they can one day express all the wonderful ideas, stories and expressions that sit with latent potency inside them.  From my days in managing community markets, I have learned the value of images to hope and creativity.  In my remediation tuition this is where IT comes in.

In the 'igniting hope' phase I am experimenting.  With one boy I have gone to the library to find larger print, diary/comic type books on this favourite sport - I thank all those wonderful authors who write for a very varied audience!  With another I use post it notes to demonstrate how she has to hold information in her head whilst she reads and what needs to be done (lots of practice) to move the post it notes from working memory to long term memory.  She gets it.  And with parents I alert them to the voice to text and text to voice features on their iphones and ipads.  Eyes light up ... hope.

In the sounds write lessons we have the opportunity for children to generate silly sentences. Those who have been particularly damaged by their school experience with words clam up.  I look for ways to ease their reentry.  In the free resources section of the talk4writing website, Maria Richards, the talk4writing primary expert, gives a wonderful overview of apps that can be used to ignite creativity in children.  Somewhere on the site Pie Corbett makes the statement "Fear is the enemy of creativity."  I absolutely agree, and there is no bigger impediment to writing creativity than fear of words and the written word. 

I experimented with a few of the Apps over the weekend.  In particular I zoomed in on those that would support a selection of the learning objectives I have for the children:
  • Improve their feelings towards words.
  • Reinforce their understanding that letters are simply a code for sounds of speech in words, so play with the letters, move them around, see what new words emerge.
  • Increase their vocabulary by learning new words.
  • Give expression to their imagination.
  • Practice spelling, learning more about how different combinations of letters represent different sounds and how the same combinations can represent different sounds depending on the words.

I am not an English teacher and nor do I want to be teaching about formal elements of writing.  I leave that to the experts. But I can help kids reconnect with words, have fun and learn.  I can build a bridge which children can later develop through formal classroom instruction from the experts.  In SW units we have children build silly sentences and they can also build silly stories.  I thought that if I explored poetry it might be less threatening.

Here are some of the incidental learning fun things my 10 year old daughter and I did over the weekend.  The first is a poem we put to writing using the pages app.  Together we made up the sentences and one by one my daughter dictated them into her ipad mini using the voice to text button.  I mailed it through to my word processor (and the app converted to Word format) then I tizzied it up on publisher.  Later I will print it up and paste it into a small book she has made over the years.  The poem was inspired by her meanderings whilst delivering our local paper.  She notices every little interesting thing along the way and they all end up in her pockets waiting to be carefully extracted to show and tell of her 'treasures'.  Earlier in the week I had found some of Pie Corbett's books for kids in the Kwinana library.  I am not a poet so these children's books on writing poetry served me well.  "Use powerful verbs, precise nouns and expressive adjectives."  (Poem-Maker, Word-Shaker, by Pie Corbett, 2005.)  As an added bonus, this little exercise made me look at my own language and how what I say sets the scene for my daughter's use of language and vocabulary development.  I am determined to at least become a better word shaker.

Next, we played with one  of the apps - Visual Poetry.  For $2.99 children can create their own poems, draw their own picture and the poem transitions into the picture.  Many of the girls I work with like to draw, so the combination of drawing and writing is a good one.  The poem began with an imaginative comment my daughter made about the night time antics of her teddy bears.  We quickly penned a poem into the ipad, she drew a picture of a bear and this is the end result. The next morning I realised I could take a photo, so I took one of one of the bears and the picture below is the end result of that one.  
I'm not sure it adds anything to the poem but again for a child wishing to put on paper what they see and feel, the photograph gives another avenue for expression.

There are other apps on the previously mentioned article on the talk4writing website.  I will blog them another time.  One creates stories using nouns, adjectives and verbs the child inputs.  I am going to use these with SW Extended Code Word lists.  Another creates silly sentences with an option to learn the meaning of words used.  I could use this in story creation, add the words to our sound dictionary, use Lesson 15 to explore the tricky bits in words and just show kids that people have fun with words - it doesn't always have to be serious.  

Another app allows the teacher to create their own spelling list for kids to play with and use in a version of hangman.  If I can only find the time to insert the spelling list this app will be invaluable for reinforcement of speech sounds and spelling patterns during wrap around at home sessions.

So now I am happy, a brilliant phonics program and an emerging comfort in using technology to playfully reengage children with words.  May their imaginations flourish like a village square fountain (I finally used a simile!).

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Parent Information Session

I know what it's like to be the parent of a child with reading difficulties!  My personal experience was really the start of my journey in developing my understanding and igniting my passion to make a difference to children with learning difficulties and/or dyslexia.  In the beginning though I struggled to understand anything.  I spent money on seminars and interventions that were never going to support my child learning to read - learning to read, write and spell would only come through a great teaching relationship and an evidence based intervention program.  But in the beginning I was looking for a quick fix that didn't require my time - because as a working mother, time was something I was very short of.

When my early endeavours didn't bear any fruit, I then decided that I simply had to take the plunge and tutor my daughter myself.  I attended a substantial amount of training and started working with her at home. The training involved learning lots of steps and procedures, sure, grounded in what we know about dyslexia and how to remediate it, but it didn't provide me with an overall understanding that pulled our knowledge together.  I felt panicky most of the time and in this state I really wasn't going to make a positive difference for my daughter.

And then I attended the Sounds Write training .... I had read related research by Diane McGuinness, a psychologist who conducted extensive work on understanding our language system.  Finally I found information that brought coherence to the work that needed to be done with children.  Everything fell into place - and I was properly trained in how to teach!  I have heard and read of teachers with 30 plus years of experience in attempting to make a difference with children with reading difficulties/dyslexia but who had previously had limited impact - until they too came across some form of program originating out of the D. McGuinness material.  They commented that it was only when they came across the simple understanding that linguistic phonics offers were they able to relax and feel assured that they could achieve what they set out to do.

So I breathed again, and set about working with students and my daughter.  Something that felt stressful overnight became a pleasure, fun, something to be enjoyed with children.  My relationship with my daughter changed, and it continues to grow in richness as I learn more about bringing curiosity with words and language and reading to her.  John Walker (Sounds Write Co Founder) and Mary Gladstone (Sounds Write Australia) brought amazing enthusiasm and expertise to their training sessions and follow up support.  Thank you to DSF for being the conduit - I have benefited enormously from the trainings they have offered.  Through my exploration of many, many, websites I have also made a connection with Fiona Nevola (Sound Reading System UK) and have benefited from the material she has developed and graciously allowed me to bring into Australia.  I continue to read work by Diane McGuinness and the internet now makes it possible to be networked into conversations about the day to day issues of working with children and in schools.  But of course my biggest teachers are the children I am privileged to work with.  My understanding and interest has come a long way - and now I would like to share it with other parents so that they too can hope to move on from confusion and distress.

I am running a 2 hour information session for parents on Sunday 15 June, 1.30 to 3.30 in my home in Spearwood. The cost is $35.  If anyone is interested in coming along please contact me via email on  Places are very limited so get in early.  I look forward to seeing you there and connecting with other parents compelled to make a difference to the literacy lives of their children.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Teaching Spelling is Nothing to Laugh About

I recall reading somewhere over the past few months that research is suggesting that visual recognition strategies for the learning of spelling is now thought to be interfering with the neural development actually required for accurate spelling.  I am seeing that in action.

A child I was working with was reviewing her homework last night and was required to spell the word 'laugh'.  As usual she asked me how to spell it and as usual I asked her "what sounds can she hear".  She heard the three sounds /l/ /ar/ /f/ correctly.  She knew the word started with 'l' and then recalled that it had a 'gh' in it.  What then unfolded was what she had been taught in class.  The sounds of the word disappeared from her working memory, they were discarded as irrelevant.  Instead she added a 't' after the 'gh' and then she inserted an 'i' before the 'gh'. Why?  Because they were doing or had done 'ight' words in class.  Her neural connections said that whenever she saw a 'gh' then she must add in an 'i' before and a 't' after.  This was consistent with the word family spellings, LSCWC and flash cards that had been used with her to teach spellings.

Fiona Nevola in her work 'The Sound Reading System' says.  "It is not helpful to give the learner rhyming families (word families) to read. When they read real text (what we read every day) they do not meet word families.  Rhyming families encourage guessing and part reading of words."  This is what I saw in this girl's attempt to spell laugh.  Spelling is the flipside of reading.  They are interchangeable, therefore the strategies one uses in reading are also applied in spelling.  The child began with an accurate recall of the sounds in the word 'laugh', but she only went part of the way before abandoning the only solid entry into spelling a word (sounds) for the (detrimental) word family repetition she had been taught in class.

Teaching word families also attempts to overteach blends (establish blend neural pathways) through repetition.  Blends are a combination of sounds and should not be taught.  There are two sounds in 'ight' - /ie/ and /t/.  Children need to keep the separate sounds in their working memory if they are to read and spell them accurately.  Again I heed the words of Fiona Nevola "Teaching blends can also have another effect: many learners who are having difficulty with reading add extra letters whether they are there or not.  They may also leave sounds out and instead write what they are used to seeing together".  The 'hooks' into spelling that a solid connection with sound offers are discarded as the (taught) neural pathways associated with visual strategies kick in.  

And finally, "spelling involves recall memory:  memory without visual prompts. The more the learner writes, saying the sounds, the easier it will be for them to become an accurate and independent speller."  Time and again I have seen the truth in this.  Later on this girl was required to write the word 'smile'. Again I started with what sounds she could hear.  /s/ /m/ /ie/ /l/.  She wrote down the 's', 'm' and 'l'.  I then asked her how many ways she knew how to spell the sound /ie/.  She gave me 'i', 'ie' and 'i-e'.  I then asked her to write the word using each of the spellings and then to tell me which one was correct.  She identified the correct spelling - even though her personal mind was not so sure!  In every case with the children I work with, when I have used this approach, they have accurately identified the correct spelling - even when they weren't sure. This is because of what we know about orthographic processing.  If a child works with a spelling on at least four different occasions connecting the sound with the letters, those connections are established in long term memory. This is where they need to be if RECALL is to occur.  Recall is different to recognition. Recognition is used in reading, recall is necessary in spelling - recall draws information out of long term memory.  Long term memory offers up the correct information we need - if we have used sound strategies for establishing it there in the first place.  Teachers need to be mindful of the strategies they are using because strategies are also laid down as neural pathways - and not just the focus of those strategies.

The use of strategies such as 'Look, Say, Cover, Write, Check', Flash Cards, Word Families and Sight Word Memorization for spelling all interfere with the sound development of the neural pathways required for accurate spelling. Instead of linking a child's spelling with the sounds in words they distract a child's cognitive processes into scanning for words they have seen, rules they vaguely remember and letter clusters taught during word family spellings.  Spelling becomes a mental scanning with very little to link sounds with letters.  They create chaos instead of order, they exceed the fact of limited cognitive load and they waste the precious limited time children have to learn to spell and read whilst in primary school and the resources of the teachers who teach them.  They are a human made spelling 'crazymaker', it is tough watching their effect in our children.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Language Makes a Difference

The more I work with children and the older my daughter gets there are two things I realise more and more. One is that exposure to language and words is one of the key central pillars to how easily or not a child can engage with the demands of the educational curriculum.  The second, is that if children are securely engaged with the written word - this doesn't translate into being a brilliant reader - it just means they have a secure relationship with reading and writing, don't feel overwhelmed and have a trusting relationship with a great instructor, then they are naturally inquisitive about the meaning and use of words.

Research conducted in 1995 by Betty Hart and Todd R Risley tells us that children in low resource families are exposed to far less words than children in high resource families.  And their relationship to language is different - this translates into "discipline is different".  How parents guide behaviour with their words influences a child's relationship with language.  Both these things play out in acquisition of literacy skills in school.  And it really is a huge task to facilitate the catch up.

 I was reading some academic comments on recent research about the role mothers in particular play in laying down the foundations for literacy acquisition through their early talk, conversations, reading of books and involvement of their children whilst reading books.  As you would expect these behaviours and attitudes have a significant effect.  The challenge is to facilitate these behaviours in those families with less resources, i.e. less finances, less expertise, less information, less networks, less support.  As I was reflecting upon the 'bigger picture' of these types of early childhood relationships the thought came to me that as a whole society is in the process of elevating 'being literate' from the privilege of the noblesse, or the religious orders, to being the right of everyone.  'Being literate' enables access - access to information, access to power, access to understanding how things work (obvious and hidden), access to better paid jobs, etc. etc.  And there is a whole swag of people working in academia, in schools, in parenting support, in not for profit organisations, everywhere, all involved in the momentous task of enabling everyone to 'be literate'.  I think that is a rather noble intention.

Being illiterate and therefore being denied the level playing field that comes with it I think plays a big part in many of society's problems today.  I don't recall the exact figures but somewhere between 70 - 80% of young adults and adults in detention centres and gaols don't have levels of literacy that allow them to engage successfully with the written word demands of living in our society.  Have you ever stopped to think how frustrating and difficult this must be?  (This is one of the things the children I work with have brought to me - a deeper appreciation of difficult their life is, particularly in the classroom.)  And if, as a society, we could support more parents, and mothers in particular, to have the resources, time and support, to engage more with their children with language and vocabulary, how much would we save in money spent down the track.  I don't imagine it will be an easy task.  But at least many, many, people are trying.  Paediatricians are being supplied with books to hand out in conversations with new mothers, children are being supplied with books at every early years birthday, children in third world countries are being supplied with books, volunteer pre literacy services are being provided to new mums and their kids.  Much is being done.  

And there is still so much more to be done.  In my reflections an important question I think came to mind, "How do we support mums of younger children to be in the world, engaged with it, and inquisitive, so that they may bring richer conversations to their children?"  In the discussion threads I subscribe to some questions are being raised about the impact of more mums in the workforce, which translates into less stress free time to be and talk with their children.  Other questions are being raised about the impact of technology, children listening more and more to one sided conversations their parents are having on the mobile phone, and the reduced availability of their parents due to their time on the phone.  One of the questions asked is whether rather than seeing literacy levels of all being raised, may we not in fact see it reduce as parents across all resources levels increase their hours of work and increase their time on the mobile phone.  I guess, time will tell.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Asking for Longer Sentences is Gobbledegook!

When a child doesn't understand or been  taught explicitly that the squiggles on a page represent the speech sounds of words, and if they haven't been taught the way the alphabet code works, then this is how the material they have to read looks.  Gobbledegook with a few bits they recognise interspersed along the way.  This is how the written word looks to children with reading difficulties/dyslexia.  To work with the written word without solid instruction is confusing and threatening.

Imagine then their experience when they have to write sentences or stories?  In the past week I have seen three separate examples of comments from teachers to students with diagnosed dyslexia.  In each case the request was for longer sentences, an increased use of words and for better spelling!  This is unfair.  I understand that teachers have put in considerable effort trying to bring the curriculum to all their students but for those students who are confused and/or haven't been taught to read, write and spell by a teacher with a solid understanding of how our writing system works, how a child's brain works and how to bring the two together, then children will not be able to do what the curriculum and their teachers request - unless they are given specialist remediation.

This is also true in High School.  I hear High School teachers talk about the needs of their students being for greater vocabulary and language.  But if one looks closely the real need is for understanding of the alphabetic code and for someone to make the confusion understandable - because once someone has done this, the brain, with its innate drive for patterns and coherence, will take off.

Related to this is the cognitive ability testing that has been administered to children who have been diagnosed with dyslexia.  If a child has been assessed as having average or above cognitive ability then initially one should start with the assumption that the child is capable of achieving grades of 'C' or above.  (Of course this requires more sophisticated interpretation but it is a useful starting point.)  Assuming some key elements of your child's cognitive profile are not too aberrant from the average range, if your child is continually being assigned grades of 'D' or below, even after they have put in considerable effort, then a conversation with the teacher about how your child's disability can be accommodated in the classroom is required.  Average and above cognitive ability suggests your child has thoughts, ideas and knowledge, that they can express and which could potentially earn them a 'C' grade.  Their disability will get in the way of this - but remediation will help and processes can be put in place to separate out its impact.  Assessing their understanding and knowledge can be separated out from assessing the ability to hand write words and string them into sentences. It can be done.  Simple voice to text, and text to voice features on IPads make a great starting point.

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Reading Clinic

This week sees the start of my full time private practice - The Reading Clinic.  Offering literacy tutoring using the Sounds Write Phonics Program, Functional Literacy Assessments, Parent Support and School Support.  My aim is to do my bit in making literacy accessible to all, increasing understanding by all of literacy difficulties and what can be done.  In the weeks to come a teacher colleague and myself will be putting together information sessions for parents of children with literacy learning difficulties to help them understand their child's difficulties, what can reasonably be done in schools and what they can do to help.   We will begin our work in regional centres.  

And I know from experience that often psychologist's reports are not well understood by staff in schools.  I was confronted with questions about specialist skills required by staff to work with kids with dyslexia.  Again, we will develop information sessions for staff.  Remediation for these kids is not rocket science, it is simply good teaching.

Down the track I will be travelling to Melbourne to train up in Easy English. This is a style of written communication for people with literacy difficulties.  It involves easily accessible use of the English language and images or drawings.  From the research on the functions of the brain, using visual images or icons really helps with understanding.  When I worked in schools I advocated that teachers use stick figure drawings as well as words when teaching.  Now it is my challenge to bring this research into my report writing and presentations.  Time to get out the pencil and practice .....

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Filling In The Gaps

In a recent article Ruth Miskin (Read Write Inc.) makes the statement "Without talk there is little thought." She is commenting on the difference that lots of language early in a child's life makes to their thinking and reading life.  She begins with a description of the early lives of two children, barometric composites of many children in our school systems, and how these play out with reading acquisition.  She then goes on to describe the type of intervention required if the child less exposed to language early on is to gain ground.  Lots of work is required, language rich classrooms, conversations, explicit vocabulary development, reading every day, engagement with stories .....

Early language immersion has huge implications.  In concrete terms it translates in to how many words a child has been exposed to - differences in the millions.  Classroom teachers do not facilitate learning with 30 odd children who have all been exposed to the same number of words.  The difference in exposure to words means children in a single class vary a lot in terms of their familiarity with words that are used in classroom lessons, how easily they 'click in' to the sounds of words and who can access and work with a broad range of words.  And it further plays out in who can develop their recognition of familiar words into more meaningful recall of words from long term memory.   It affects comprehension of what they write, richness of what they write, their ability to use their working memory potential well.

Ruth Miskin goes on to list a number of very good questions for school leaders. Any parent with a child struggling with literacy would be wise to note these questions and ask them of the schools they are considering.  Pulling all of this together is not easy for schools .... or for parents.  Literacy development for many children requires intensive and extended effort.  As a parent I know I fail, often, to maintain the level of home input that is really required to 'quicken' the pace of my daughter's remediation.  I know from experience how an overemphasis on developing literacy can undermine relationships and balance within a family home.  So I do what I can and I look for ways that I can retain and enrich my daughter's relationship with words and reading even though it may not be easy for her.  I support the explicit phonics instruction of her classroom with nightly reading of books (at level - decodable).  I look for ways to extend conversation.  We talk about words.  I look for ways to keep stories alive and interesting.  And I look for ways in which I can keep her engaged with writing (journalling and creative) and the magic that brings.

For many children struggling with literacy their relationship to words is severely contaminated.  I'd like to think we can reengage them.  Success is the biggest motivator which is why I believe wholeheartedly in good solid explicit tutoring.  Children should be able to trust someone to help them learn.  And I want to keep children open to the magic and character strengthening of stories, and books, and writing.

This week I noticed two workshops for children being conducted through the Fremantle Arts Centre Arts Courses.  I've enrolled my daughter in one of them - 'The Laboratory of Hairy Words' for 9 - 12 yr olds.  Its a new course, facilitated by Josephine Wilson.  Children get to play with words in the creation of a small work of fiction.  I am hoping this is fun, great fun, and that my daughter comes home full of enthusiasm for playing more with words.  

She has already mastered the skills of making her own books.  The ones below were made in the days when I operated The Paper Muse.  

We have had many an enjoyable moment using the suggestions from this little book "How to Make a Journal of Your Life" by Dan Price in filling our journals with drawings and photos and things to stick in.  Now I'm hoping her time with Josephine and other children tickles along her confidence and enjoyment in crafting her own stories and putting them to paper. 

The Laboratory of Hairy Words is a new course.  I hope it is a huge success.  If my girl comes home talking enthusiastically about what she has done then we've made inroads on two levels - more talking and conversation, and more writing.  I will keep you posted.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Sounds-Write Down Under

This past week, John Walker, UK founder of the Sounds-Write Phonics Program has been in Perth with Mary Gladstone (Sounds-Write Australia) running training groups as DSF South Perth and staff at a local school. Tutors and Teachers who were trained last year also had the opportunity to spend several hours with John and Mary, before both departed for their homes overseas and interstate.  I was very fortunate to partake of this opportunity.

Not only did I reap the rewards of John's and Mary's experience and expertise, I also benefitted from the experience and questions of my Sounds Write colleagues.  Many thanks to DSF South Perth for the opportunity to spend time with all these amazing teachers.  I picked up a few tips for working with students who have been so traumatised by their journey in trying to learn to read that they can barely participate.  I learned that our brains are hardwired for recognising faces, learning language, picking up social practices, hunting and learning to recognize predators.   All other learning builds on this primary hardwiring.

The book 'Visible Learning and the Science of How We Learn' by John Hattie and Gregory Yates was mentioned more than once - I will post more on that in future blogs.  Reference to this book reinforced what was presented in an educational psychology seminar I attended the previous evening - if we want children to be able to spell well they must have explicit instruction with a lot of repetition - at least 4 repetitions for each word if a representation of the word is to be retained in long term memory. The real work in teaching spelling is in the 'extended code' - understanding the sounds represented by more than one letter.

We talked about the reality that there are no 'rules' in spelling and that probably no teacher could cite all the 'exceptions' that are often referred to when the illusion of 'rules' is taught.  We discussed the use of good old fashioned encyclopedias when working with the extended code.  I have another list of professional books I need to purchase as well as non decodable books we can introduce whilst teaching the extended code. So much for curtailing my expenditure on books .....

Sunday, April 6, 2014

b' and 'd'

Many students have difficulty remembering the orientation of 'b' and 'd' when reading and writing.  Students on the spectrum of dyslexia in particular find it difficult 'bedding down' the correct orientation for 'b' and 'd', 'p' and 'q', 'm' and 'w'.  So the challenge is to find a strategy that enables them to quickly make the correct orientation and to practice it to the point of automaticity i.e. to build the neural pathway and to strengthen it to the degree that kids who are hard wired to see patterns and make connections, do with less effort and explicit instruction.

Various approaches are used.  At the very basic level all letters are made up of circles (whole or in part) and strokes.  Sometimes teachers use the terms 'bats' and 'balls'.  For the letter 'b' students are verbally instructed that the bat comes before the ball whilst for the letter 'd' the ball comes before the bat.  But we know from brain research that visual presentation of material always wins out so using verbal language to create the correct neural pathway may not be the most effective.

With my students I have them put their hands in front of them, palms facing them and ask them to close their
fingers.  They then have 'b' and 'd' directly in front of them.  If I link this movement to the word 'bed' then they have an easy and quick method of comparing their hands to letters in front of them to determine if the letter is a 'b' or 'd' and therefore if the sound to be spoke is a /b/ or /d/.

A couple of weeks ago a friend informed me that her son (with dyslexia) had worked out his own way of knowing how to differentiate between 'b' and 'd'.  She then showed me that when we start to make the sound /b/ our lips are tight together and in a straight line, i.e. the 'bat' is first when we say /b/.  Similarly when we start to make the sound /d/ our lips are round and open, i.e. the 'ball' comes first when we say /d/. Since then I have learned that this technique is promoted by reading therapists worldwide.  But be prepared.  Just because they have learned to use the hand or mouth technique to differentiate between /b/ and /d/, children will need to check using their technique every time they encounter the sound or letter.  Otherwise they will continue to guess - incorrectly.

Out of the mouths of babes .....

Loving Words

I was going to say one of the reasons I got involved in understanding reading and how to teach it was because I wanted to be able to influence children's relationship to the written word and the joy that can come from it.  Actually that wasn't the one big reason - THAT was watching my daughter struggle with no observable support from her classroom teacher at that time.  Back THEN I thought that getting children to read was simply about finding the right program to teach them.  What I FINALLY realised was that yes, there is overwhelming evidence that a great phonics program really does make a huge difference, but what I saw at the level of one on one tutoring was that how I was in my being and how much enthusiasm I brought to the learning experience was of equal if perhaps not more, importance.

I love books, I love to read ... and at my age I should probably be sitting around, enjoying the simple pleasure of reading, a lot.  I am happy when I am reading and playing with words.  So how do I bring this to my tutoring of young charges, who, more often than not, have been totally put off reading because they were either not taught correctly and/or just had too much difficulty with the task.  I go back to being able to influence children's relationship to words on a page, the fabulous stories they convey, the pleasure of turning a page, the texture of paper, and the feelings of pride when we construct our own stories.

I am a trained bookbinder.  I have conducted many workshops with adults and children on making their own books.  I have not yet progressed on to writing my own book, but who knows, maybe one day.  

The book, 'Homemade Books to Help Kids Cope' by Robert G. Ziegler, M.D. is a book I hold as one of my most treasured.  I love the idea of writing stories for children who need help with understanding.  I love the idea of parents writing stories for their children and I love the idea of translating these stories into little homemade books if people want to take it one step further.  If children have a negative relationship with words then my aim is to engage them through sensate rich creativity.  Using the process outlined in this book, simple bookbinding skills and kids' interest in writing stories and adding their artwork, I aim to increase the power of the learning and change their experience to one of awesome enjoyment.

I start with a Sounds Write lesson in which children sort words of the same sound into different spellings.  We know from our research that solid spelling skills required repeated exposure (and for many children, lots of repeated exposure!).  We also know that the more senses we engage the more meaning is made of what is being learned and the more rich and solid the neural pathways that are constructed.  In Sounds Write the sorting process is taught and can be followed up with worksheets.  I have taken it one step further.

Here I have taken the story writing template outlined in the book mentioned above and invite children to write a 'decodable' story using as many words with the target sound as possible.  All other words may only be constructed from sounds they have covered.  Any frequent words with irregular spellings will also need to have been covered in the Sounds Write Sequence and Scope.  Its a challenge but not as difficult as it may seem.  And if children are really motivated I invite them to add their own artwork or for those especially keen I am happy to bind up a simple book which they take away.  As these stories and books are constructed I will post them on my blog.

Here is one I constructed with daughter last year - only we haven't got around to adding the artwork!
Published decodable books can be expensive to buy and come along with professional artwork.  We all need resources to support our work using good phonics' programs.  Older children can be put off with some of the 'younger looking' resources available to them.  In addition to being more multisensory and then more potentially powerful, perhaps writing one's own story and illustrations is also more grown up.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Taking the 'S' out of Viper

Whilst looking at this card in the latest local card collection craze my daughter stated that the name of the character was 'Visper'.  This didn't quite sound right so I asked her to look at the word more carefully and tell me again what the name was.  "Oh," she said, "It's Viper."  I asked her why she said 'Visper' the first time around.  She said she didn't know.  And what about you?  Any hunches?

For many children in early primary school they are taught the sounds of letters through pairing with pictures, and in the case of the /S/ sound it is often paired with a picture of a snake.  In my daughter's case her brain has wired into it that the picture of a snake always implies the presence of an /S/ sound. This pairing has been learned to automaticity, which simply means that whenever she sees a picture of a snake in a pose similar to that used on the picture cards of her early primary school, it means an /S/ sound should be around somewhere - even if it isn't represented in a written word.  In her case neural pathways about the pairing of sounds and pictures have been instilled.  What hasn't been learnt to automaticity is that the eyes need to look for representations of sounds via letters in written words if they are to be read accurately.  In an attempt to make the learning of letters interesting and what some might term multisensory, teachers innocently embellish their teaching practices with things like pictures and stories and movement which often distracts the neurological wiring children really need - which is the pairing of sounds with letter representations.

This situation can also be seen with children who have learnt 'l' or 'r' blends to automaticity .  This is where a consonant is paired with an 'l' or an 'r' for example and children are taught to learn through repetition words that begin with 'fl' and 'br'. What I can then encounter in tutoring sessions and in the classroom are students who, when they come across words beginning with an 'f' or a 'b', automatically add in the 'l' or 'r' blend.  For example, a child may be presented with the word 'bend' but through the repetitive learning of 'bl' blends they then automatically read the word as 'blend' even though no 'l' is present in the word.

There are a sizeable number of literacy programs available to schools and parents. And unlike some other countries, in Australia anyone can create their own program and market it to the general public and our educational facilities.  There is also a long history around what is regarded as the 'best' approach to teaching children how to read.  In the middle of all this we continue to have significant numbers of children failing to learn to read, or worse still, learning to hate reading.

For me, the Sounds Write Phonics Program is impressive.  It pares reading back to the three skills of blending, segmenting and phoneme manipulation.  Sounds come first - in every teaching interaction. Superfluous buffering of teaching through the use of pictures, blends, onset & rime, stories, are extracted, allowing the teaching methods to directly create the neural pathways needed for reading.  The alphabetic code (how the alphabet is used to represent sounds in words) is sequentially, cumulatively and explicitly taught.   Dynamic lessons coupled with 'safe' relationship support learning.  For a taste of the Sounds Write program I highly recommend that teachers and parents purchase the Sounds Write Phonics Program App from itunes.  At $2.99 for the Initial Code this is a great way to start.  And for those of you interested in the science behind the practice I highly recommend the blog 12 Jan 2014 post Linguistic phonics: a practical example by John Walker (Founder and Creator of the Sounds Write Phonics Program) to be found in his blog The Literacy Blog.  

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Insight Inside Children

I was listening to the 22 November 2013 BlogRadioTalk of Elsie Spittle and Linda Pransky when Linda talked about a young girl she was coaching in the 3 principles.  At one point Elsie commented on the level of wisdom in that young soul and in a flash I could 'see' what she was talking about.  Wisdom or Insight is not something that is given to us. Sure we learn a lot from being in physical form and experiencing life (if we pay attention) but the realisations that come, even from our reflections, are insights from deep within ourselves. They are information that we already know.
I do not have the same insights as another person.  I frame my insights with the use of my attention and focus. What I am curious about provides the temenos for the insights that come to me.  If I ponder and reflect upon the 3 principles then I will have insights about them, if I ponder and reflect upon the complexity of living in today's world then I will have insights about that.  Insights will always come to us, but whether we recognise them is another matter and will depend upon our own consciousness about the fact of wisdom or insight from within.
Young people, if engaged with in such a way that they feel secure and safe, will have their own insights about the three psychological principles operating in all of us and about how they are using those principles to create their lives.  As therapists and parents we are never in control of what they may 'hear' or 'realise' from within, we can only listen to our wisdom about how best to quiet their minds, create feelings of security, provide information and pose questions.  But what is realized from within them is totally out of our control.  But insights and realizations they will have - and they will come from the understanding or connection they have to understanding that already exists within them.
Doesn't that blow your mind away?  If we can help our children to understand the nature of the principles that operate within them, to be mindful of their state of mind and the feelings that come with it, to recognise the quiet and loud voices of wisdom and insight, and to reinforce their relationship with and trust in that wisdom, then their lives will be beyond what we have come to realise in our own and they will be okay always.  They already have everything they need inside them.
Elsie and Linda talk about the need for the adults in children's lives to not look for what is wrong in our children, but rather to look for the fact that they have wisdom. Cultivate that awareness and bring it to your children.  This amazing gift will allow them to reap all the richness that resides in their inner being, that gift will be like allowing our children to open their own treasure chests (and not just the ones flashing across movie screens).  Bring to their attention when you see them in their wisdom and doing things right. Talk to them about what this feels like versus the feelings that come with being in other forms of thought.  In time the feeling of being in wisdom will be something they consciously seek and nurture every day and they will notice sooner rather than later when they are in thought that leads them astray.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

When Insight Seems Small ... but is Huge!

During 2013 I did my best to manage part time employment with mothering, maintaining a large and older home, and caring for our family pets.  It was a big ask.  Cleaning the family home became an irregular activity, the pets were provided with the bare essentials and my parenting seemed to swing wildly from taking the time to be present to often rushing from one thing to another.  There were many many periods in which nothing came together in a satisfactory way. And to top it all off my year ended with the feeling that I just didn't earn enough money to keep it all afloat.
But it's interesting how our minds can get carried away by frenetic trains of thought.  In the midst of all that activity I decided that I needed full time work to bring in the money and would just have to pay for a cleaner, after school care, and every other support I needed. This decision didn't make much sense really, my mind was already filled with too much to do, adding more things to manage and keep afloat - all in the name of having more money available - didn't feel right.  Something deep inside me knew this, and I was walking around with one of those inner niggles going on but didn't pay attention to it.  I half heartedly applied for a couple of additional jobs, and then one day I was told of a job going and that the organisation was 'desperate' for someone to fill the position.  The word 'desperate' stuck in my mind (wisdom signalling!).  'Desperate' wasn't my problem or responsibility, it was someone else's - so what was mine?
Finally I stopped blindly moving forward and instead took out my journal, writing what I thought was really my problem and what I could do about it.  The feeling inside me was that rather than extend myself further I needed to slow down more, simplify and nurture my home, including all its inhabitants.  I started sewing, ideas for two blogs came to me and it felt right to stay with my part time work and extend myself through two new blogs rather than seek more paid employment.
I decided to look for sewing ideas in my local library and came across the book 'Down to Earth' by Rhonda Hetzel.  Immediately, I clicked with the information contained inside.  The first chapter begins with questions about defining what is important to each of us and about how we can align our lives more simply with that calling.  My path has now turned, no more continuation with the frenetic thinking about doing more, instead, I am slowing down and simplifying.
And then I listened to the 22 November 2013 BlogTalkRadio with Elsie Spittle and Linda Pransky.  Both these women talked of how much they enjoyed being in service, but had recently experienced the quiet niggle (wisdom) about the need to do less.  They followed the insights that came out of that space and have now realised so much more - for themselves and others.  And just this morning I was talking with my (senior) mother about how overwhelmed she is feeling coping with the complexities that come with technology in her home.  She seems to have more to respond to, sign ups these days seem to come with automatic upgrades (at a cost) unless the company is notified and websites seem to be very difficult to navigate.  In talking with my mother it was clear that much of what she had subscribed to was now no longer necessary - she had enough information in her areas of interest and probably could live without the internet. What I could see clearly whilst she was talking (this is insight) is that we all can get involved with something which, untethered, can lead us into overwhelm and imbalance.
Oh, how grateful I am for the unassuming and often overlooked activity of wisdom in all of us. Neither myself, nor all the women mentioned above needed to keep a conscious and calculated check on their activity, they just needed to heed the quiet murmurings of wisdom, it is always there.  Activity out of intellect will feel one way whilst action out of insight feels another.  One potentially imbalances, whilst the other always balances and harmonises.  Sometimes the murmurings of wisdom out of insight can seem small .... a niggle in the background, but if we stop and listen and follow, its unfolding can be huge!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Insight Always Comes

The beginning of a new year and the beginning of a new direction with this blog.  Children ... are we raising and educating them in a manner that will provide them with the mindsets and self awareness that will sustain them well into middle age and beyond?  I remember my own childhood - and how different the world is now compared to then.  From experience I know that this will be the case for my own child.  But unlike yesteryear, today's children are not so healthily supported by the environments and contexts in which they live.  Children of yesteryear had cleaner air, cleaner food, more nutritious food, cleaner seas and water, more structure and therefore more psychological security in their homes and communal life.  Parenting in that context could be less conscious than what is required today if we are to truly support our children to grow into sustainable human beings.
As a parent today I am surrounded by endless information on how I should raise my child, some of it contradictory.  How do I make good parenting decisions and how do I model for my child how to make good life decisions. The answer lies in knowing myself.  Knowing that within each and every one of us is wisdom, an innate capacity, when our mind is slowed and if we choose to attend, to know from within in which direction to move.  I need to model for my child and use language with my child that points her attention to the fact that within her, if she chooses to listen, is the most powerful source of direction, wisdom, intelligence, she will ever come across.  The fact is that, if one quietens their mind, information will come about the direction in which they turn their attention.
Insight comes all the time - if we quiet our mind, if we let go of the type of thinking we were raised to use, and listen.  Insight is not the same as intellect.  It is almost a still seeing or a still voice, some of you may call it intuition.  Whatever the name you give it, it has a certain quality or timbre and comes with a calm feeling.  For a brilliant discussion about the presence of insight even in moments of anxiety go to the 10 January 2014 BlogTalkRadio Fireside Chats with Elsie Spittle and Linda Pransky.  As a parent you want to develop your own relationship with this 'home' within yourself and develop the art of observing the quality of your mind so that you may consciously drop old patterns of thought and live more from insight.  It is this same observation of one's own state of mind that can then be transferred to observations of and interactions with, your child.
For example, yesterday I had the opportunity to observe my child in an environment outside my home and not my responsibility.  Her behaviours changed considerably.  Instead of seeing my normally present and centred child I was witnessing one that was demanding and unbounded.  I spent most of my time trying to unobtrusively bring her behaviour back into the bounds of some degree of normality (for her) but this felt like trying to contain spilt paint moving quickly in all directions.  Later that evening, when I had a quiet moment to myself I reflected upon her behaviour and what might have been going on for her. What I realised is that she was in a pattern of thought she draws upon when in that situation - but it was not thought from innate wisdom .... insight.  She (her mind) was stuck.
In the past this situation would have been enough for me to drop into my old patterns of thought.  But with a deeper feeling for intellect/insecurity versus insight, I had the wisdom to know I simply had to let things be until she was with me again.  Then I could observe where her mind was at, do what I could to quieten it down and then use language that would start to build a knowledge base (awareness) for her about being in insight versus being in insecurity.  Her understanding would come from her experience of her feelings and the language I use to differentiate and highlight insight.
Insights always comes. In the year ahead I intend to blog regularly about the insights coming to me during my day, both at home and work - about the importance of modelling and teaching about the fact of wisdom and insight within each of us, and about the contexts and information that support the sustainability of our children, or not.  I hope you will join me for this journey, any questions would be most welcome.