Stowell Learning Center

Good Teachers. Creative Techniques. Why Doesn’t my Kid Remember?

“After many preparations, we are ready for the marriage of Q and U!” When I read this post by a friend who is a  kindergarten teacher, I thought, “What a clever way to teach the concept that q is always followed by u.  Kids will remember that!” But some kids won’t. Why is it that [...]

My Child’s Spelling is Atrocious. What Does it Mean?

I have some avid game players in my extended family, so when we get together for the holidays, we play all kinds of games, particularly word games, of which my mom is a wizard! For a dyslexic child or adult, word games can be an absolute nightmare. I met a neurosurgeon once who shared with [...]

More Reading is NOT the Answer

Chris Botti is one of my favorite artists.  When asked the key to success as a musician, he said, “Four things – Practice, Practice, Practice, and being friends with Sting!” It is generally accepted (and generally true), that if you want to be good at something, you have to practice, practice, practice.  In his book, [...]

Not Enough Change!

I learned something this weekend.  I was in New Hampshire and while I didn’t expect a foliage change yet, many people that we ran into were apologetic for the lack of colorful fall leaves.  They sadly predicted that the leaf change this year would not be as good as expected because it is too dry.  [...]

A Teacher’s Dilemma – What Do I Do with a Non-Reader in My Classroom?

Last week, I got to spend some time with a dear friend who is a third grade teacher.  This friend was not only my college roommate, but is also a phenomenal teacher.  School had already started for her and she was telling me about a little boy in her class who was the most delayed [...]

I’m Ambidextrous! Isn’t that cool?

Have you ever tried to write your name with your non-dominant hand?  It’s pretty funny, right?  And really challenging! So when we see a person who is ambidextrous and can use both hands equally to do things, it's seems pretty amazing.  In baseball, switch-hitters (players who can bat either right-handed or left handed) are in [...]

What Happens When the Wrong Thing Works?

July is the month of summer camps and growing up, our kids were no exception.  One summer, we went to Penticton, British Columbia so that our son, Kevin, could attend a one-week ice hockey camp. We were really fortunate that an NHL professional player, Ray Ferraro, had brought his son to the camp the same [...]

Some Random Thoughts About Dad

On a rest stop on a beautiful river road bike ride yesterday, I found myself skipping rocks in the river and thinking about my dad.  I have a very special memory of my dad teaching me to skip rocks on a lake when I was probably 7 or 8 years old. Yesterday was Father’s Day, [...]

7 Common Mistakes Parents Make when their Child has Difficulty with School Part 5

When smart kids struggle in school, it’s confusing and frustrating for all involved.  In my experience both as a parent and working with thousands of parents, we suffer along with our kids and we will do anything to help them be happy and successful. But since kids don’t come with instruction manuals, we have to [...]

I Want a Different Story For My Son

A parent was sharing with me recently about her son’s struggles in school.  He dreads going to school and comes home almost daily saying, “I’m not smart enough.”  The school has offered this boy a 504 Plan, which will allow him to have accommodations in the classroom, such as fewer spelling words, taking tests in [...]

The American Dream and LD

Yesterday was President’s Day and it brings back memories from my childhood of my parents saying, “If you work hard enough, you can do anything.  You could even be president of the United States someday!” What a great message for our kids! As parents spend hours and hours and hours wading through tears, avoidance, and arguments [...]

I’m Not Lazy! I’m Coping!

My mom and I have season tickets to the Rubicon, a wonderful little professional theater in Ventura, CA.  Yesterday we saw a play that takes place towards the end of WWII.  The main character is a young man, Raleigh, who had enlisted in the army but was discharged before he could serve because he has [...]

Dyslexia –Talents, Tears, and Solutions

A friend at church was catching me up on her grown sons.  As she talked about the incredible mechanical abilities of one of her sons, who can completely take apart car and motorcycle engines and easily reconstruct them, I thought, “He must be dyslexic.” Certainly not every person with strong mechanical abilities is dyslexic, but [...]

DYSLEXIA or ADHD?

Inattention is often the first and most obvious symptom seen by teachers when children struggle in school. This drives parents to their healthcare providers with the question, “Does my child have ADHD?” The challenge behind this question is that inattention, squirming in the chair, staring into space, slow to get started on tasks, poor listening, [...]

Did Henry Ford Have it Right?

Henry Ford said,  “If you think you can, you can.  If you think you can’t, you can’t.” There’s a lot of wisdom and truth in that statement, but there are times when gutting it out just doesn’t work. I once knew a young man in his twenties who couldn’t read or spell. His dyslexia was [...]

I Think I Can! I Think I Can! I Think I Can!

One of my favorite childhood books was The Little Engine That Could.  I loved that little blue engine!  He never ever gave up.  No matter how steep the hill was, he always went after it – he always believed he could do it. “I think I can!  I think I can!  I think I can!” [...]

What Do I Say To My Child About His Learning Difference?

  A mom walked by with a baby who was wearing a soft helmet.  Being an unusual sight, I and most other people they passed glanced a little longer than typical at the baby. Why was a baby wearing a helmet like that? The question was quickly answered by the statement printed in large colorful [...]

Don’t Let Learning Challenges De-Rail Your Dreams

Saturday was a milestone day for my family.  Our son got married to a wonderful girl on a beautiful Southern California day!  We all have hopes and dreams for our kids, and this was certainly one of ours for our son. I speak daily with parents of smart, talented, wonderful kids whose hearts are breaking [...]

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Mental Tools

Does Your Child Have the Right Tools for the Job? Weak underlying mental tools cause smart students to struggle in school. At our last parent information meeting, a homeschool mom shared that her teenage son was bright and willing, but getting increasingly frustrated and depressed over his struggles with schoolwork. She said, “I feel like [...]

ADHD

I’m Not Losing Focus On Purpose! “Today was the best parent-teacher conference we’ve ever had!” Last week I heard a parent share this in our waiting room.  Fabulous!  The parent felt like celebrating instead of crying! The child in question is a smart, delightful girl who displayed one of the most dramatic attention challenges I [...]

Auditory Processing Problems Like Listening Underwater?

It’s Pool Time! From the time I was 12, I spent virtually everyday of the summer hanging out, or lifeguarding once I was old enough, at the high school pool.  Even now, the smell of chlorine at a pool brings back fond memories. If you’re an underwater swimmer, you know that sounds are very muffled [...]

You Get an A For Effort but You Need to Try Harder!

I’m having trouble writing my blog this morning because I’m sitting at Starbucks trying to write and everyone around me is talking about the Kings’ huge win last night. I’m a big Kings fan, so it’s hard to not engage!  For those of you who are not NHL Hockey fans, the Los Angeles Kings are [...]

STOP The Band-Aid Approach

STOP the Band-Aid Approach to Dealing with Learning Challenges Dr. David Angus, author of A Short Guide to a Long Life was recently on talk radio speaking about preventing and reversing disease and pain by addressing the root cause of the problem.  What struck me, besides my interest in health, was that his message was [...]

“I Got Glasses! Now I Can Be Smart!”

Homework is traditionally a battle of wills and tears at eight-year-old Sam’s house because he is so frustrated and struggles so much with reading. The day his mom got him some (secretly) plain glass glasses, Sam was ecstatic.  He told her, “Now I can be smart!”   Two thoughts struck me when Sam’s mom shared [...]

Sometimes it Takes More Than a Tutor (Part 3)

This week we’ll finish looking at 5 big differences between tutoring and cognitive educational therapy, and how you know which is right for your child. #1 Tutoring typically focuses on supporting academic skills or school subjects and cognitive educational therapy addresses the underlying processing or thinking skills that are needed in order for a someone [...]

Sometimes it Takes More Than a Tutor (Part 2)

5 Differences Between Tutoring and Cognitive Educational Therapy Last week we started talking about 5 big differences between tutoring and cognitive educational therapy, and how you know which is right for your child. #1 Tutoring typically focuses on academic skills or school subjects and cognitive educational therapy addresses the underlying processing or thinking skills that [...]

Accommodations and Modifications to Support Dyslexic Students in the Classroom and in Homework

Last week, I promised to post some accommodations that parents and teachers can use to support dyslexic students (or other struggling readers) in the classroom and in homework. So that’s what we’re going to talk about…right after I get a chance to step on my soapbox! My Soap Box Accommodations and modifications can be a [...]