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The Breakthroughs in Learning Blog

Developing social skills in children

Posted by Matthew Turton on Wed, Mar 26, 2014 @ 08:48 AM

Some children are more naturally social than others.  If a child's tendency to withdraw is not by choice, but out of anxiety, that child will require more encouragement.  Otherwise, that child may have difficulty relating to peers and risk depression and low self-esteem.

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Topics: parenting, behaviour, anxiety, social skills

Why is my child socially withdrawn?

Posted by Matthew Turton on Thu, Mar 20, 2014 @ 09:41 AM

Social skills and comfort level with other people varies between individuals, including children.  It can be discouraging if very outgoing parents find they have a quiet child or a child that seems to have no social interests.  Parents may regard “quiet” or “withdrawn” behaviour as a sign that their child needs help socially, but social withdrawal needs to be regarded objectively.

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Topics: parenting, behaviour

How does attention affect learning?

Posted by Matthew Turton on Thu, Mar 06, 2014 @ 10:27 AM

If a child has a learning disability there is a good chance that she suffers an attention deficit as well.  Likewise, children with attention deficits often have learning disabilities.  There can be varying degrees of severity in each area.  Low severity in each area can have a cumulative effect and hinder school success.

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Topics: parenting, learning disabilities, behaviour, Educational Assessment

When Trying Harder Doesn't Work - Learning Disabilities and Beyond

Posted by Matthew Turton on Tue, Oct 22, 2013 @ 01:11 PM

It is difficult to be positive when a child is struggling in school.  The first assumption when a child is struggling in school normally has to do with effort: This student is not trying hard enough.  Once reaching that conclusion, parents, teachers, and school administrators may take an approach of negative reinforcement and "discipline" to get the "lazy child" to work harder.  

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Topics: parenting, learning disabilities, expectations, behaviour, homework

ADHD: Checklist for Back to School Success

Posted by Matthew Turton on Tue, Aug 13, 2013 @ 11:45 AM

The event no child wants to see in mid-summer: a parent making a back-to-school checklist! Stores feature all the usual school supplies, the season's most current clothing fashions and accessories for students, and all other back-to-school related items.
This is a typical checklist for any child returning to school, but parents of children with ADHD have a different kind of back-to-school checklist to prepare. It takes more than school supplies and stylish outfits to help students with ADHD be successful in school.
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Topics: love learning, parenting, learning disabilities, behaviour, back to school, anxiety

How to Help a Child With Anxiety - Five Steps For Parents

Posted by Matthew Turton on Tue, Aug 06, 2013 @ 01:00 PM

Experiencing anxiety is quite normal.  Anxiety helps us avoid danger and it is often the typical response to particular situations, such as important tests and public speaking.  However, when anxiety becomes a generalized reaction to many situations, no matter their actual danger, then it starts to negatively affect quality of life and achievement. 

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Topics: love learning, parenting, learning disabilities, behaviour, back to school, anxiety

Reading and Visual Discrimination

Posted by Krystal Hundt on Wed, May 22, 2013 @ 09:03 AM

This month we are talking about reading, specifically looking at eye tracking and associated dysfunctions. Last week we talked about two types of eye tracking: fusion and pursuit. This week’s topic is often confused with poor eye tracking, but is in fact, very different. Let's take this opportunity to clarify those differences.

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Topics: Reading, reading disability, behaviour

Bullies: Who are they?

Posted by Matthew Turton on Wed, Apr 03, 2013 @ 09:33 AM

This article is part of a series of blogs on Bullying.  Check out other great articles “Why is My Child Bullied” and “Bullying: What You Don’t Know” for more information.  Today I want to talk about bullies, who they are and what characteristics they have in common.  A bully can be defined as someone who uses force or coercion to abuse or intimidate others.  The bully’s inappropriate judgement and ineffective boundary skills often appear aggressive and mean.  At Breakthroughs in Learning we understand that the balance of brain skills affects lives in powerful and impactful ways.

Bullies desire to have status among their peers. This status either satisfies their need for popularity or their need for dominance. (source) I think we can probably admit that on some level we have all felt a desire for popularity or power.  The advantage many of us have is that we possess appropriate judgement and effective boundary skills.  A bully with imbalanced judgement skills may not recognise the signs that circumstances are escalating, or understand the impact of 'small' assaults on many fronts.

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Topics: parenting, behaviour, bullying

Bullying: What You Don't Know

Posted by Matthew Turton on Thu, Mar 21, 2013 @ 09:19 AM

 There is no shortage of opinions and suggestions when it comes to the subject of bullying. The media is flooded with stories of victims and perpetrators and what should have or could have been done. Listen in to a conversation and you will hear things like “That boy should have just fought back” or “If I was that kid’s parent they’d never bully another kid again” and “It’s just kids being kids. Same thing happened back when I was young.” Unfortunately bullying has changed. Sure there’s still someone stealing lunch money, pointing and calling names, swirlies in the toilet and a kid getting a little roughed up in the corner of the school yard, but it’s gone well beyond that.

The Top 5 Ways People Excuse Bullying

  • It'll toughen them up
  • It's just kids being kids
  • Kids got bullied when I was young too, we all survived
  • It'll prepare them for the real world
And my favourite
  • There's nothing you can really do about it
I can feel my blood pressure shooting through the roof...

According to Stop A Bully 27% of bullying is now cyber bullying. One of the reasons cyber bullying is so powerful is that it is often anonymous, allowing people to hide while they attack others. This leaves the victim not only hurt, but not even knowing who is attacking them. The anonymity can be haunting. Perhaps even worse, cyber bullying doesn’t end when you leave the school yard. It follows you home, on your cell phone or computer. The rules have changed.

According to The National Crime Prevention Council, “Although bullying was once considered a rite of passage, parents, educators and community leaders now see bullying as a devastating form of abuse that can have long-term effects on youthful victims, robbing them of self-esteem, isolating them from their peers, causing them to drop out of school and even prompting health problems and suicide.” In the U.S. each month 282,000 students report being attacked at school. Every 30 minutes a teenager attempts suicide due to bullying. (source) This is not something that can be ignored.

Think bullying is just boys being boys? Recently, in my home town, a girl knocked down another girl and stomped on her face. (read about it here)

Bullying isn’t something we can just shrug off or say it makes us stronger. It has lasting implications for victims as individuals and society as a whole. According to Bullying Canada bullying can make “children feel lonely, isolated and unsafe, can make them sick and it can have long-term physical and psychological consequences." The Social Outcast, a study on bullying done in 2005, reports that bullying can lead to "depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and susceptibility to illness." Bullying isn’t just a one-time thing, either. With 41% of reported incidents going on for months, and 11% for years.

What’s being done about it? Not enough according to the World Health Organization that ranks Canada 26th and 27th in the categories of bullying and victimization, out of 35 developed countries. (source)

This month our focus is on the many sides of bullying, not just the ones that instantly come to mind but things that are not obvious. Last week we talked about some of the characteristics of the victims of bullies and that victims may sometimes unknowingly attract the bully. Next week we will talk about bullies and some of the less discussed, driving forces behind their behaviours. When specific brainskills are under developed, children's behaviour is impacted and may lead to them becoming a bully or a victim. But working on ones brainskills can change things. Both bullies and victims can strengthen and develop the areas that will change their situation, and Breakthroughs may be able to help. It is my privilege to work everyday with children on both sides of the problem. How about you? Don't be a bystander. Get involved today. 

*graph data from Stop A Bully

As a child who struggled to overcome learning disabilities himself. Matthew always knew he wanted to help other children know they weren’t stupid. Having now logged over 15,000 hours working with children and adults with learning disabilities he shares his experience of what it’s like on both sides of learning disabilities. Being Vice President of Breakthroughs, a husband and father of a two year old son, Matthew’s not quite sure what free time is, but when he finds it he enjoys playing soccer and photography.


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Topics: parenting, behaviour, bullying

Bully vs Bullied

Posted by Krystal Hundt on Tue, Mar 12, 2013 @ 09:00 AM

What thoughts or images come to mind when the subject of bullying is raised?

Perhaps... it's that girl on the bus that always has her head down avoiding eye contact. It's the boy that pulls vanishing acts and is out the door before the bell stops ringing. It's the child that eats their lunch by the locker or in the hall because they don't want to risk spending time in the cafeteria. Statistics indicate that we have all seen or experienced a similar scenario.

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Topics: parenting, behaviour, bullying

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