End the Homework Battle

At our Parent Information Meeting this week, a parent shared that her son spends 5 hours a night on what should be less than an hour of homework.

Another parent, whose son also seems to do nothing but homework after school said, “We just want him to have his life back!â€

When my son was 8, I distinctly remember him saying to me in exasperation, “You don’t know!  That’s not how my teacher says to do it!â€Â 

Even when there are no learning challenges, parents doing homework with their kids can be difficult.  There’s just too much emotion involved and kids know just what buttons to push.  Finding that balance between enough support and giving too much help is tough.

Add in dyslexia, ADHD, or other learning struggles and everything just got 100 times harder.

Students with learning challenges have to expend so much more mental effort than their peers all day long in school to do the job.  It can be mentally and physically exhausting.

Download “How to Win the Homework Battle” at the bottom of this post.

When we think about school, we think about reading, writing, math, and subject areas.  But there are whole sets of underlying learning/processing skills that support efficient, easy learning.

  • Sitting still in a chair
  • Paying attention and staying focused
  • Getting all the information when listening
  • Understanding and remembering what is read or heard
  • Coming up with logical responses
  • Organizing information on the page

These things need to be working automatically in order for the brain to be available to learn new information, but they don’t just happen because you’re old enough to go to school.  The ability to do these things automatically is the result of strong, specific underlying skills. The underlying skills are represented in the bottom three boxes of the Learning Continuum.

The Learning Continuum - Therapeutic Literacy Center

When the underlying skills are weak or inefficient, students may struggle with school and homework in spite of good intelligence.  Kids with learning challenges expend so much effort and energy trying to manage at school, that by the time they get home, they are often mentally exhausted.  They’re done!

And the homework battle begins.

The only way to really stop this cycle is to correct the problem…to identify and develop the underlying skills.  This IS possible!  For more information about how to WIN the homework battle download our free document.

Take action now before the school year ends! Come to a free parent night or schedule an individual consultation to learn more about what is causing your child to struggle and how you can help.

[tabs tab1=”Free Document” tab2=”Parent Night” tab3=”Consultation”]

[tab id=1]Download our free “How to Win the Homework Battle” document for a deeper understanding of how homework struggles and successes happen

[/tab] [tab id=2]Schedule a free Parent Night to gain valuable insights and information about your student’s education


[tab id=3]Schedule a free Consultation to speak with our Executive Director about your student’s specific needs.

[/tab] [/tabs] [testimonial name=”Carolyn Kinnon” company=”Paisley’s Mom”]Paisley LOVES TLC, and has from her very first session!  She absolutely looks forward to each and every session, even getting up early on Saturday mornings, without complaint and eager to go.  Her favorite thing about TLC is the clinicians. Paisley loves TLC “because it feels like games, even though I know it isn’t, and it helps me with my response speed.”  From a parents perspective, it’s wonderful to see that my child is happy to be participating in this therapy.  Paisley’s ability to sound out and spell words was so difficult before TLC that she would fight tooth-and-nail to avoid writing, but now she willingly writes and types her homework assignments, and is improving in her ability to spell words that she wouldn’t even attempt before.  Most importantly, she’s able to get her thoughts out on paper without the agony she used to experience while trying to express herself.  Her confidence has increased, she tries when she used to give up, and she’s having successes in learning that we feared she might never experience – Hooray! We couldn’t feel more blessed and grateful to have found TLC![/testimonial] // ]]>

Strong Executive Functioning Independent Children

Develop Your Child’s Independence

Strengthen executive function skills for better planning, organization, and self-management

Strengthen executive function skills for better planning

Kids will be kids– But we want our kids to be kids who can focus, think, plan, organize, and make good decisions. This includes having self-control, and evaluating and learning from their mistakes!

Ultimately, we want kids to be kids with the benefit of great executive function skills … or in other words, we want them to be independent!

Executive Function skills are the frontal lobe functions of the brain that develop throughout childhood and into early adulthood. Because the frontal lobe is the last to develop in our brains, major growth in executive function occurs in the teens through the mid-twenties.

We can BUILD your students’ executive function skills at school and home with consistent and intentional instruction throughout the day.

A student with strong executive function skillsA student with strong executive function skills can:

 • Focus and sustain energy and attention

• Determine what is relevant and screen out what is not

• Use mental control to start, stop, adapt, plan & organize

• Anticipate what will be needed for a given assignment

• Manage time, materials, and space

• Evaluate & Solve problems



Are you Building or BEING their Executive Function?

Helicopter Parents

Well-meaning “helicopter” parents hover over their struggling learners and guide them every single step of the way.   They provide an amazing safety net, but they may also be keeping their kids from exactly what they want most for them – to become independent.

In their desire to help students be successful, parents and teachers may inadvertently take on the role of the student’s executive function.

“Great Teacher,” Wrong Kind of Help

Teachers who give very explicit, detailed instructions of exactly what to do on a project or assignment, or who tell students exactly how, when, and what to study for a test, are often viewed as wonderful teachers. Their students thrive with the structure, and everyone feels great, until the next teacher comes along who isn’t as detailed, and the students don’t know how to think for themselves.

What Students Need

What students really need is to build their own executive function skills so that they can think, plan, organize, and manage themselves.

Instead of telling students every step they need to take (being the executive function), shift your language to engage students in a dialogue that encourages them to think for themselves . Here’s what this might look like:

BEING the students’ executive function: “ You have a book report due in two weeks. You need to pick a book that has 80 pages, and read 10 pages every day.”

BUILDING Executive Function: “You have a book report due in two weeks. Let’s create a plan for getting the book read and the report done without stressing out at the last minute.” Then engage students’ thinking through questions such as:

  • What are the things you have to do to complete this project? (pick a book, read, write)
  • How much time do you need for each part of the project?
  • How long of a book should you choose? How many pages will you need to read everyday?

These questions are the kinds of things that we, through our executive function, ask ourselves. As students get more adept with this self-questioning process, you will be able to make your questions broader so that they are engaging more of their own executive function.

  • What questions do you need to ask yourself as you plan out this project?

Executive Function as Like a Mental Dialogue

If you think about how you make decisions, plan out your week, or tackle a problem or project, you will see that it usually involves a combination of visualizing, and talking through things in your mind. Visual and verbal inner language are two key components of working memory and executive function that can be developed in students at school and home.

Taking the time to help children and teens improve their inner dialogue and visualization skills has a big payoff in retention, comprehension and greater independence.

Developing Visualization

  • Encourage students to visualize their day to improve time concepts and management
  • Guide students in visualizing and dialoguing exactly what written instructions on assignments are asking
  • Teach students to visualize test questions and all answer choices before choosing a response
  • Before packing up for the day, have students visualize and verbalize what materials will be needed for their homework
  • Guide students in visualizing each step in a project or sequence of events
    •  Have them look up (to engage visual modality) and imagine each step on a specific spot on the wall or in the air in front of them
    • Have them point to and describe the image
    • Enhance key points in the image with such things as changing the size, adding color or humor, or connecting images in some way

Where Do We Fit In?

A primary function of the schools is to teach academic skills and content areas to students – to expand their knowledge and their ability to apply it. When students struggle, it can be very challenging for all- student, parent, and teacher, in spite of efforts to modify curriculum and accommodate learning differences.

At the Therapeutic Learning Center, we identify and develop the weak underlying learning/processing skills that provide the critical foundation for learning but are not generally taught. While there is no overnight solution, most learning and attention challenges can be dramatically improved or completely corrected.

To learn more, or to schedule a free consultation with Executive Director and Education Specialist, Maria Bagby, call 858) 481-2200.

What makes a successful learner?

When a student struggles in school, parents look to tutoring as a solution. But tutoring isn’t a real solution for those with learning challenges. It’s a temporary band-aid that covers up a deeper problem; and very often, it doesn’t even do that.

While misinformed teachers and tutors continue to believe that you just have to learn to live with learning challenges, the last 25 years of brain research says something very different.

What science tell us is this:

With the help of specific and intensive cognitive training, most learning challenges can be dramatically improved and even permanently corrected.

That’s why at Therapeutic Literacy Center, we don’t just tutor. We get to the root of the problem.

We work to ELIMINATE learning challenges.

child getting treatment for auditory processing disorder

Thanks to recent scientific breakthroughs in brain research, we have developed clinical, evidence-based programs that fix underdeveloped and weak processing skills by re-training the brain to form new neuro-pathways.

Our programs have helped more than 4,000 children and parents dramatically improve and even permanently correct learning challenges, including:
-Auditory Processing Disorders
-Poor reading, comprehension, and spelling
-Math and dyscalculia
-Weak critical thinking and organization skills

Is this program the right fit for your child? Enter your email below to receive a FREE assessment checklist

The truth about learning challenges:

Learning is all about processing incoming information – whether it’s a toddler picking up a cracker and finding out that it breaks in his hand or a 12th grader doing calculus. handwriting before and after Comfortable, easy learning requires strong underlying learning skills like body awareness and control, attention, memory, auditory and visual processing, language comprehension, and logic and reasoning. Learning problems are very broad. They appear different in different kids, but the one thing they all have in common is this: Something is breaking down in the student’s ability to process information.    Children who struggle in school typically have real strengths and weaknesses within their underlying learning skills. Since different types of tasks or activities are supported by different sets of learning skills, these students often show perplexing inconsistencies in their performance. Here are some students we’ve met: Sam knows all the baseball stats but can’t memorize his math facts. Keely is a smart and savvy soccer player but gets poor grades on tests. Casey is witty and clever, but can’t follow 3 directions. Michael excels in math, but reads slowly and laboriously. Sometimes, students with learning challenges appear lazy and unmotivated, when really they’re smart, hardworking, and struggling! “Thank you so much TLC for helping my son! I can’t believe how much he improved in such a short amount of time! Everything you promised you would do, you did and schoolwork and homework are no longer a struggle. Thanks again TLC!”  ~Parent of a 2nd Grader  How does the TLC approach differ from tutoring? Most schools and tutoring focus on what a student learns, including academic skills and school subjects. We focus on how a student learns. In other words, we work on repairing and building the skills every student needs to learn efficiently and independently. The bottom three rungs of the “learning ladder†are categories of skills upon which school and tutoring depend, but do not spend direct time developing. 2016_continuum_large-with-text-2-copy  Developmental Learning Skills: These are basic visual and motor skills that help children develop a sense of self, internal organization, and body and  attention awareness and control. Challenges in this area might show up as follows: -Poor posture, awkward or uncoordinated -Fatigue, low stamina -Confusion with directions, spatial orientation, letter reversals Processing Skills: These are skills such as attention, memory, auditory and visual processing (how we think about and understand things that we see or hear), processing speed, language comprehension, and phonemic awareness (the thinking process critical to reading that supports learning and using phonics). Problems in this area will show up as: -Trouble sounding out words -Difficulty memorizing spelling words or math facts -Can’t remember or understand what was read -Tired when listening, misses information -Trouble with visual organization in charts, etc. -Can do the work but can’t “get it together†to get the work done and turned in Executive Function: This is our personal manager that guides and directs our attention and behavior. It helps us reason, problem solve, organize, and make decisions. Problems in this area may appear as follows: -Poor time management or organization -Difficulty reasoning -Lack of tact -Trouble getting started, poor follow through Our 4th grade son did not like school because he detested reading. We started our son on a 10 week intensive (5 hours per week) program working at the core of the issue. After 10 weeks, his teachers said, “Whatever magic they are doing over there, we want some.” Maria and her team of motivating and trained clinicians took a 10 year old who was struggling and gave him the tools to work on it himself. Now his fluency and comprehension are way up as measured by the school and the TLC! ~Brett, 5th Grade If a 10 year old fourth grader is laboriously reading at a second grade level, something is wrong. More practice reading or someone sitting at his side helping him say the words is not going to fix this problem. It is only by developing these areas and then remediating the basic academic skills that students can become the truly independent and comfortable learners they can and should be. Don’t let learning challenges hold your child back when there are ways to FIX them. Is this program the right fit for your child? Enter your email below to receive a FREE assessment checklist

Is Your Child Masking Their Dyslexia?

Halloween masks can be great fun, but is your child wearing a “mask” all year long?

Halloween masks can be great fun

Secretly Dyslexic

Mike was funny and gregarious. He showed his smarts in class discussions, but come time to sit down and work, he would play “class clown” and entertain his neighbors instead.

Unfinished schoolwork was sent home, and added to Mike’s pile of homework. To get through the load, his mom sat with him and sped up the process, inadvertently becoming his ‘reader’. Homework was turned in correct and led Mike’s teacher to think the problem was a lack of motivation and attention.

Mike was actually quite seriously dyslexic.

Raquel’s doctor thought ADHD was the reason that as a third grader, she was still reading at first grade level. Unfortunately, medication couldn’t solve the reading problem, because Raquel was dyslexic. She couldn’t pay attention when the class was reading, spelling, or writing. She not only had difficulty processing the sound in words (phonics made no sense to her), but when she looked at a page, she felt disoriented and “seasick”, as the words seemed to swim around on the page.

Alex was a senior in high school in Advanced Placement classes. He masked his struggles with English by doing math homework for girls, in exchange for their writing his papers. He was later diagnosed with mild dyslexia.



Dyslexic students are often misunderstood. At school, they may be perceived as bright, verbal students who don’t always put in their best effort on assignments. Some are so animated and charming, that only their parents know how much they are struggling, and how much effort and time it takes for them to read and write.

Sometimes a student’s reading problem can be hard to identify because other skills are so strong. For Jordan, letters and words may be hard to look at, and sounds might not make sense, but he uses his powers of deduction from pictures, his own knowledge, and what he’s memorized from group readings or lectures to figure out what the page might say, and answer the questions.

This is a taxing process, and oftentimes his mind will drift away. (After all, what he can create in his mind is far more entertaining than a jumble of words and letters that don’t really make sense.) Hence, Jordan, like so many others, is wrongly pegged as ADD.

Common Characteristics of Dyslexia

It is hard to pay attention when confused or when information doesn’t make sense, as is so often the case for dyslexic students. However, attention challenges experienced by dyslexic learners, which are so evident in relation to schoolwork and homework, are not generally pervasive, as in the case with true ADD/ADHD.

While every dyslexic student is different, common characteristics include:

  • Good intelligence
  • Good comprehension
  • Strong ability to visualize pictures/real things (versus letters and words)
  • Creative thinker
  • Weak ability to retain an accurate image of words (sight words for reading and spelling)
  • Weak phonemic awareness (ability to think about the sounds in words)
  • Extremely poor decoding skills (sounding out words)
  • Visual disorientation when looking at a page (i.e. letters look 3D, wiggle, pulsate, or move around on the page)
  • Family history of dyslexia
  • Strong talents in other areas such as math, arts, mechanical, or athletic abilities

Don’t be Fooled – Like everyone else, these kids are survivors. At a conscious, or sub-conscious level, we do what we have to do to cope with the cards we’re dealt. And smart kids, coping with dyslexia and other learning challenges, can fool the important people in their lives. Here’s what these students might say…

I can fool you into thinking:

  • I don’t qualify for special services/help at school
  • I’m lazy
  • I just need to try harder
  • I’m not really that smart
  • School’s not my thing
  • I don’t care
  • I’m a bad kid
  • I have ADHD
  • I’m just a class clown
  • I’m just shy

 The truth is:

  • I’m working harder than all my friends to do the same work, but it takes me twice as long, and it’s only half as good.
  • I’m already trying so hard, I think I’ll burst if one more person tells me to try harder
  • I’m smarter than a lot of the kids in my class, but for some reason, some parts of school aren’t working for me
  • School’s NOT my thing – but not for the reason you think. I’d like it if I could be successful and my efforts paid off.
  • I do care! I hate struggling, but if I act like I don’t care, maybe people will notice my attitude more than my F’s.
  • I’d rather be known as the bad kid than the dumb one.
  • I can pay attention to things I understand, but when I just don’t get it, my mind drifts away.
  • If I can make people laugh, they forget how “lame” I am with schoolwork.
  • If I’m super quiet and ‘shy’, maybe no one will know that I’m missing half ofwhat your saying and feeling really lost.

There’s No Need to Hide…or Seek.  TLC offers a Solution!

It is commonly believed that Dyslexia cannot be corrected – that you just have to cope with it. This is simply not true. While there is no overnight solution, most learning and attention challenges can be dramatically improved or completely corrected.

At our center, we identify and develop the weak underlying learning / processing skills that provide the critical foundation for learning but are not generally taught. ADD meds will not solve dyslexic challenges, but retraining the auditory and visual systems to accurately process sounds and letters on a page WILL get the brain ready to learn, retain, and comfortably use reading & spelling skills.


To learn more, call 858) 481-2200 to schedule a FREE consultation with Executive Director Maria Bagby.