Saturday, May 17, 2014

We Interrupt This Blog.



So you know how lately my blog has been terribly infrequent and sometimes a secret mommy blog instead of blog about school psychology? I recently read a review on Amazon of my blog on Kindle that was entitled “Life gets in the way” and the reader lamented that after I had a baby my blog went downhill and asked me to “please get back on topic.” Ouch. I mean, it's true, but ouch.*

Well, fair warning…I’m not gonna be prolific or on topic for a while because I have a special announcement. I’ll give you a hint: It’s 8lbs, 12oz, and she has my eyes…

Yes, I made another person!



And so through sleep deprived haze, I write to you all to share the good news and let you know that I’ll do my best to keep the blog alive. But I’m loving how life has gotten in the way of my career right now. I mean, seriously. Teeny tiny baby feet are the cutest.

Thanks to everyone for your patience and I will return to the regularly scheduled blog when I’m not disabled by fatigue. :)

*Go through the archived posts. I was a hoot B.C. (Before Children). In related news, I also think I should post a new headshot because that perky gal in my profile pic mocks me with her pre-children energy. 

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Friday, May 9, 2014

How Do I Tell My Readers I Have No Inner Monologue? I Hope I Didn’t Say That Outloud.


I once saw this horrible made-for-TV movie about a boy with Autism who was instrumental in solving a murder because he was a witness and he had a penchant for repeating things, and this is how he revealed the killer. Only instead of the classic Autistic echolalia of just repeating what is heard in one's own voice, the boy in this movie took on the ACTUAL voice of the killer and it was comical as the voice of the killer was transposed on this lip syncing boy actor. Um, that’s not really how echolalia works, guys.

I also used to work in a group home with teens on the Autism spectrum who would echo random things back, like “OJ’s going to jail!” or the old jingle to the Ross commercial.* On occasion, I would hear a child echo back a command I had given earlier, and I got to hear how I sounded through their ears. Hint: naggingly annoying.

Now that I have my own little one, I am fascinated by language development. While Toddler B doesn’t have echolalia, anyone who has a toddler knows that they are little mynah birds and will repeat ANYTHING. Be careful, parents who drop a dish and say something in colorful language in front of their toddler. Because one day, that kiddo will use that language in the correct context at preschool and you will die of embarrassment. So I’ve heard.

I get a window into how language shapes cognition and memory every night, as my girl recaps her day and I get to eavesdrop on her through the monitor. I am stunned by what she replays in her mind, her young mind not yet able to tap into Vygotsky’s inner monologue skills.** I hear myself through the voices of her teddy bears. “Oh no, Teddy, we don’t put jackets on dogs, okay?” or  “Oh, you fell? I’m so sorry, mommy will kiss it” Or “I need you to pick up your toys NOW!” If you’ve ever gotten the recap of your parenting played out with stuffed animals, you will be SHOCKED how much is getting into that little spongy brain. Just when you think that little one isn’t listening, they show proof that they remember EVERYTHING.

I see her do it during her play too. Piaget was spot on when he said that, “We can be sure that all things in a child’s life, pleasant and unpleasant, will have repercussions on her dolls.” Toddler B plays out when a kid hit her at preschool and how she reacted, shares her feelings about mommy going to work with lots of bags (school psychs, you hear me?!?), and plays “school” by making all the monkeys raise their paws to talk (tear…playing school just like her mama did when she was little. Sniff sniff).

As a parent, it is a daily reminder that what you say to your child is shaping who they are. As a school psychologist, it reminds me that the kids we work with obviously have inner speech now, so we can't be as sure as when a toddler repeats everything, but we can be reasonably sure that what we say to them can still become a part of who they are and how they think about themselves. 


*Only instead of the full jingle, this gal always left off where she got her great clothes. “Do you love it? I love it! I got it at…Do you love it? I love it! I got it at…” After 3 years of hearing this jingle, part of me wanted to fill in “ROSS!” you got it at “ROSS!” I guess I just like a sense of completion in a world of chaos. But I digress.
**I have a coworker like this too. She likes to narrate everything she does. “I’m going to put this folder here…now what was I going to do next? Ah, that’s right, go to the bathroom…” Not having private speech is cute in a toddler, not so much in a grown woman.

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Sunday, December 1, 2013

Win Nerdy Stuff!

I wonder if the day will come when I start a new blog post without a sheepish apology for the mega-lag time between posts. Perhaps when Toddler B is in college.

ANYHOO. As some of you may know, my new book, The Everything Parents Guide to Children with Executive Functioning Disorder,  just dropped! If you want to get your hands on a copy, now is your chance to win one for freeeeeeee! Perhaps you want a copy because you are a school psychologist looking for fresh recommendations for your kiddos with executive functioning challenges. Or you might be a parent who has a kiddo who could use some strategies. Or, perhaps you might have a friend or relative you want to give the book to, in an awkward holiday moment in which you basically imply he or she needs a book to help with their child. ;) In any case, you want the book? It's easy to win. You can either:

a) Comment in this post about why you want the book
b) Comment on the Facebook page for the blog about why you neeeeeeed the book.
c) Tweet @studentsgrow about why you want the book and use hashtag #schoolpsychology

Aaaaaaand go.


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Thursday, September 19, 2013

It's Pre-order Time!

Hi friends,

You know what takes a lot of executive functioning skills? Writing a book on executive functioning. For those of you who follow my Facebook page for the blog, you probably got my random posts about how I was ironically stuck on the chapter on task completion, or couldn't get started on the chapter on task initiation.

I should back up. I guess I assumed you all have your finger on the pulse of my writing career. I wrote a book about how to support children's executive functioning skills (all the planning, organizing, and self-regulation skills kids need to reach their goals). The fine folks at the "Everything" Guides contacted me with an idea to write a book that would explain executive functioning to parents and give them practical day-to-day advice about how to support executive functioning. The book covers how to support and develop the "Top Ten Executive Functions" including:

  • Task Initiation
  • Response inhibition (controlling impulses)
  • Focus
  • Time management
  • Working memory
  • Flexibility
  • Self-regulation
  • Completing tasks
  • Organization
Just think of all the recommendations you can pull out of the chapters and put in your school psych reports! Imagine all the tips you will be able to share at team meetings! So without further ado...the world's longest titled book....I present to you:

The Everything Parent's Guide to Children with Executive Functioning Disorder: Strategies to help your Child Achieve Time Management Skills, Focus and Organizational Skills to Succeed in School and Life! 
 
 

This might be the best part of the writing process...publishing time! So check it out on Amazon.com and pre-order today!


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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Horrible Books for Children

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Sometimes, I have poignant posts about school psychology that are woven into a delightful tale from working with a student. Other times, you get my ramblings about random stuff that occurs to me and happens to be loosely related to school psychology. This is one of those posts. What can I say, I’m still adjusting to being back at school and I need some time to dust off the thoughtful reflection part of my brain.

My mom was a teacher for 30 million years and just retired. She has about 300 million books she doesn’t know what to do with. Oh wait, yes she does—send them to her granddaughter, Toddler B! We have the world’s most extensive library and the good news is that Toddler B can’t get enough of shared book reading. She is practically exhibiting Kindergarten common core standards for retelling. Brings a tear to my eye. My baby is growing up so fast. Sniffle. 

The only problem is that some of the beloved books I remember from my childhood actually suck. I usually realize it about half way through reading out loud to my girl.

Take Little Red Riding Hood, for example. I remembered it was a cute little tale of a girl who takes goodies to her grandma and outsmarts a wolf. What actually happens:

Me: So little red riding hood and her grandmother got eaten up…um…by the wolf and..erm..the hunter…[reads silently: CUTS OPEN THE WOLF AND RED RIDING HOOD AND GRANDMA COME TUMBLING OUT]

Me: the hunter…um, The End! Pass me Curious George!

Or when I read The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. I remembered it as a cute little tale of a boy’s nice relationship with nature. Turns out, the kid is a greedy little taker and takes everything from the poor tree until it is a sad, sad stump and dies. Neat. Nice message.

The worst so far is the poem Waltzing Matilda. I remember it as a jaunty little poem about an Australian bushman doing…um…I don’t really know. Perhaps waltzing. But no, it is a charming tale of an Australian bushman stealing sheep and then KILLING HIMSELF AND HAUNTING PEOPLE. Well that’s a nice one for right before bed, isn’t it?*

Looks like a fun and jaunty little tale, right?
Note to self: preview all children’s books before my daughter turns into a wolf-slaying, greedy, nature-hating, sheep stealer with suicidal ideation. Or, should I just realize that I read twisted books as a kid and turned out to be a pretty darn snazzy individual? Even though I use the word “snazzy” to describe myself, I think you get my point.  I just can’t help but analyze children’s literature themes when reading to my child. It’s a sickness. I might just have to have a psychological debriefing after the sketchy ones. Or stick those guys in the garage. Haven’t decided yet.

At least I warned you this post was going nowhere. You’re welcome.

* And don’t even get me started on the pre-teaching of vocabulary I had to do to enhance comprehension in this one. Jumbuck? Billabong? Swagman? I should have given up on this poem from the start.  

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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Winnnnnnnnners!

Alright kittens, I am ready to give away The School Psychologist's Survival Guide, as promised. YOU ARE ALL WINNERS!*

Actually, I ranked your comments here and on the Facebook page for the blog and put them into a random number generator (nerd alert!) and the winner of the book is......

Ashley (Sweet Carolina Belle)

Message me for your pressie, Ashley! You are guaranteed the best school year EVAH.


*In my heart. Not actually winners of an actual prize.


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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

GAK. It's August.

The second the calendar turns to August, I feel like my summer is over.* But school psychs (and teachers) know what I am talking about...June is basically a detox month, July is the relaxing one, and August is the gearing up month. Even though I have a few weeks before we report back, August 1st starts a month of mental preparation to go back to school. There are a few rituals I have in order to psych (pun intended) myself up for going back.

Of course, back to school shopping helps ease the transition, because who doesn't love a good trip to Office Depot for pencils and nerd supplies? I went today, and I was lucky that Toddler B was over it in 10 minutes or I could have spent a bajillion dollars. Once your toddler starts running down the aisles screaming, "Chase! Chase!" it sort of ruins the zen moment of selecting the perfect ballpoint pens for writing poignant notes to parents and teachers.

Next, I make a new school year's resolution, like "I won't take more than 3 reports home per semester" or "I will start a girls' counseling group disguised as a knitting club."** Making a new school year's resolution helps me set a positive intention for the school year and helps me pick a manageable improvement goal.

So how can I help ease your transition back to school? I'm not Oprah, so I can't put a Nordstom's gift card under your chair and declare "Evvvvvvverybody gets a new back to school wardroooooooobe!" But I can offer a little book I like to call, The School Psychologist's Survival Guide.*** Evvvvveryone gets a copyyyyyyyyyy! Oh wait, I have Oprah generosity on a school psych budget. Okay, I can offer ONE lucky reader a copy of my book for back to school preparation! You can vow that this is the year you get organized and shape up your forms and report templates and all that jazz, and my book can hopefully help you with that. Or you can enjoy your last precious weeks and just put the book on your shelf for October when your back to school enthusiasm has fizzled out and you have a hojillion IEPs overdue.

So, how do you win the book? Just comment here or on the Facebook page for the blog about how you gear up for back to school, or a new school year's resolution and I will input your names into a random generator and announce the winner. Yippee!


*I know, boo-frickin-hoo, at least I get summers off. I'm pretty sure my non-school employee friends with their sad little 2 weeks off a year stopped reading this post after the first sentence.

**I actually did this a few years ago. It was super fun, but my principal had concerns. I believe her quote was, "You want to introduce sharp objects with those mean girls?" I am proud to say it was a gouge-free zone all year.

***Because that is what it is called. 


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