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 and pre-order today!

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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Horrible Books for Children


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


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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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

My blog is not dead.

Hello kittens! My blog is still alive. Sort of.

Anyone here have a toddler? I am currently watching mine through my video monitor, talking about her day in a Faulkner-esque stream of consciousness and pushing her baby doll around in her stroller instead of sleeping. I figure as long as she's no longer screaming, "MAMA!!!! HUG!!!!!" over and over again, she'll be fine.

I can hardly blame Toddler B for my lack of writing. I can blame only myself. It is true that the second I pull out my laptop, no matter how engaged she is in something, there are requests for videos of The Count or Elmo, banging on the keyboard, and it turns out it's a bit hard to ignore a small person crawling all over you to get a better view of the screen. And I DIE when she laughs maniacally like The Count after every number. ONE! AH HA HA. TWO! AH HA HA. Plus, I'd much rather be playing dress up or teaching her phonological awareness and concepts of print skills* than looking at a computer screen, so I barely dust off the old girl.

Actually, the real reason I've been MIA is because mama is writing another book! I am on Chapter 19 of 20 and in an ironic twist, I am procrastinating writing the chapter on task completion even though I am so close. A girl gets tired after 18 chapters, what can I say?

So stay tuned for your regularly scheduled blog in a few weeks. And very soon, get ready for a book on executive functioning that will rock your nerdy world! NERDS....UNITE!!!

*I know you're wondering it. Yes, Toddler B has fantastic concepts of print. Also, the other day I'm pretty sure she was using textual evidence to support inferences within a non-fiction text.

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Saturday, May 4, 2013

Car Seat Wars.

They (the royal “they”) say to write about what you know. Lately, I have been learning a lot about behavior modification. I will write about that. No, I haven’t learned about behavior mod through a great professional development or fabulous new book for school psychologists. I have been engaging in battles with a tiny tyrant I made myself.

Look how happy this toddler is in her car seat. This is not Toddler B.

The car seat is basically a toddler’s Battle of Little Bighorn, alá Custer’s Last Stand. It has become the battleground for all age-appropriate fights for independence with Toddler B. And even though I have extensive training in behavior modification, it turns out it is really hard to apply to your own kid. I have tried the following strategies, in order from my highest level of patience to my lowest form of parenting. I think teachers and school psychs may be able to relate, if they have ever engaged in a battle of wills with a child before…

1) Preparing for the Transition and Providing Anticipatory Guidance

It goes a little something like this:

Mama B: Toddler B? Want to go to the zoo? Won’t that be FUN? Wouldn’t you like that?
Toddler B: Zoo! Choo choo! giraffe! Carousel! Up and down!
MB: Yes, let’s go! We will have to get in the car seat to go.
TB: Car seat!
MB: Whhheeeeeeeee! Car seat! How fun! Mama’s gonna click you in! Click, click, click! Then off to the zoo. Ready?
**puts TB in car seat. TB arches back and screams NOOOOOOOO!**
 MB: Honey, we have to go in the car seat to go to the zoo. Don’t you want to go to the zoo?
MB: Really? You don’t want to go see the giraffes?
TB: NO!!!!!!
MB: Hm.

2) Trying to Make it A Game: The Countdown
MB: Let’s play a game! Mama’s gonna count to five and then let’s see if you can have your buns in your seat by five! Ready? 1…2….
TB: *smiling*
MB: 3…4….
MB: 5! Wheeeee! Buns down!
TB: All done car!

3) Bribing. Incentives.
MB: Well, mama has a treat in her bag if you want to sit down.
TB: Treat!
MB: If you sit down mama will give you the treat.

4) Providing a Clear Expectation and Rationale
MB: Sit down please.
TB: No sit.
MB: I need you to sit down so we can go to the zoo. It’s for safety. We can’t drive to the zoo if you’re not in your seat because if we get in an accident, you’ll get an owie.
MB: If you don’t sit down, we can’t go to the zoo.

5) Providing a Consequence
MB: Okay, fine we are not going to the zoo then.
MB: You need to sit down then.
TB: No.
**takes TB out of car**
TB: Waaaaaaaaaaa! ZOO!
MB: Okay, well if you want to go, you have to get in your car seat. That’s the rule. 
TB: Car seat.
MB: Okay, here we go!
**Tiny Tyrant screams and arches back so as to make it impossible to get her buckled in**

6) Getting Angry
MB: OMG. How are you so strong? You are only 19 lbs! I need to go to the gym…You need to GET. IN. YOUR. SEAT.
TB: Nooooooooo!
MB: Mama is getting angry. Look at mama’s face. I need you to get in your seat!

7) Hand Over Hand Assistance
MB: You had your chance, now mama is going to put you in.
**Wrestles tiny freakishly strong toddler into seat**
TB: Waaaaaaaaa!

Now you can imagine how much worse it is when we aren’t going some place as fun as the zoo. Most days, thankfully, we only get to step 2 (fun game) or 3 (incentives). Some days, we get to 6 (Mama losing it) and 7 (hand over hand assistance)—doesn’t that make it sound like loving guidance? It’s more like trying to wrangle a tiny screaming alligator. But I usually only get to step 7 when someone is waiting for my parking spot and probably judging my parenting. Sigh.

The experience of the Car Seat Wars does make me appreciate the nuance and challenges of trying to change a behavior.  As a school psychologist, when I give behavior modification advice to parents and teachers, I always ask what have they tried already and empathize with the struggle to keep it together while you are teaching a new skill to a kiddo. I acknowledge there are times when the best strategies don’t work. But most times, with consistency, they end up working. The frequency, intensity and duration of the Car Seat Wars are all reducing with my mental behavior support plan for Toddler B. And you can bet that whenever she sits those buns down, we throw a positive reinforcement party. It’s working.

In related news, I am starting a new self-defense program called Toddler-Kwon-Do in which you will learn the strategies of back arching, stiffening your arms and legs, and/or melting into a puddle on the floor. Very effective passive resistance strategies. 

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