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Language-Based Learning Disabilities on the Homefront

Blog Type:  Learning Disabilities Date Posted:  Wednesday, November 15, 2017 Byline:  By Angela Timpone Gowans

father and son at table with list

This is part five of the five-part series, What Is a Language-Based Learning Disability? 

After I returned from the grocery store for the third time that day because I forgot another essential ingredient for dinner, Dylan laughed and exclaimed, “Mom, I think your executive functioning is not working.” I chuckled and responded, “Yes, I think you are right. I need a better strategy. I need a list!”

My husband, Bob, and I have a saying, “Know your brain and use your strategies for success.” The motto is especially applicable for our children who have Language-Based Learning Disabilities (LBLD).

Information Is Power

After two of our sons, Tristan and Dylan had cognitive evaluations, we shared some of their test scores with them so they could learn about their cognitive strengths and weaknesses. We believe information is power, and the more one knows about themselves, the more power they have to guide their life path. dyslexia strategies checklist graphic

At our house, we use phrases like Language-Based Learning Disability, executive functioning, processing speed, social norms, dyslexia, learning differences, and expected and awkward behavior. These terms describe the different ways our brains are mapped, and they help our children understand their particular brains and the minds of others. We talk about learning differences, LBLD, and neurodiversity to promote understanding and empathy toward others and themselves.

Our mission as parents is to help our children develop into independent, confident, loving, and joyful adults. To guide them through the journey, we use practical strategies and systems to help them acquire the skills they need for a successful life. Practical strategies and systems can help not only children with LBLD but all kids.

Use Your Strategies

To help our children master tasks and skills at home, we use tactics similar to those applied in their classroom. For instance, at the beginning of the summer, I said to Dylan, “You need to go to tutoring at 1:00, but before you go you need to unload the dishwasher, fold the laundry, pick up your room, go for a bike ride, and read for 30 minutes.” My approach didn’t work for Dylan. Instead, Dylan remembered a strategy he learned at school and came to me with a written task list.dyslexia success graphic

Every day, Dylan wrote his daily tasks list, and when he completed them, he did a preferred activity like watching TV or playing a video game. Dylan’s list worked for both of us. Did Dylan need practicing? Yes, of course, every day, but by the end of the summer he independently added new items to his list and required minimal prompting to complete the tasks.

We help and encourage each of our children to use strategies to master new skills and overcome executive function weaknesses. We emphasize that practice and repetition are the keys to success. We openly talk about how some people need to work harder than others or how it might take longer to develop skills.

What success looks like varies from child to child and task to task. We shy away from making excuses for our children or allowing them to give up. We just keep using our strategies to work toward our goals.


About the Author

Angela Gowans is Landmark Parents' Association co-president with her husband, Robert. Robert and Angela live in Montpelier, VT, and Beverly Farms, MA, with their children Tristan, Landmark student Dylan, and Liam. Angela is an educational advocate, family mediator, and writer.


What Is a Language-Based Learning Disability? Five Part Series

This is part five of the five-part series, What Is a Language-Based Learning Disability?

Part One: What We Know About LBLD and Learning, by Bob Broudoflame
Part Two: Language-Based Learning Disabilities: A Primer, by Melody O'Neil
Part Three: Help Your Struggling Learner: Remediation Is a Key to Success, by Christine Ozahowski
Part Four: It's a Myth That Young Children Cannot Be Screened for Dyslexia, by Nadine Gaab, PhD
Part Five: Language-Based Learning Disabilities on the Homefront, by Angela Timpone Gowans

brilliance award winner icon's post by Bob Broudo about LBLD and Learning won a 2017 Gold InspirED School Marketers Brilliance Award in the national competition that recognizes excellence in private and independent school marketing and communications.

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Executive Function 101: Information

Blog Type:  Teaching Date Posted:  Wednesday, April 11, 2018

This is the third post in a five-part series about Executive Function. Each post includes downloadable templates to use at home and in the classroom. The first article is about managing time. The second addresses managing materials, the fourth achieving independence, and the fifth finding balance between school and extra-curricular activities.

Teaching students how to organize class content and assignments will help them manage their workload, reduce stress, and achieve academic success.

executive function information download tearoffs
Download these templates.

Managing the flow of incoming and outgoing information is at the root of why study skills are so valuable and effective. Students benefit immensely when teachers show students how to:

  • Pre-read using headings and subheadings in textbooks, write two-column notes to identify the main idea or topic, and take time to include supporting details.
  • Actively read by highlighting, using sticky notes, and jotting notes in the margins.
  • Learn to write a summary and follow a structured template for the five-step writing process. (Download the template.)
  • Predict test questions and employ a variety of test-taking strategies to teach students how to manage the large volume of information related to their academics.

Two-Column Note-taking

Two-column notes are a way for students to extract the main ideas from the supporting details of a selection or lesson. Students are often asked to fold their piece of paper in half down the length of the sheet to create a useable format for note-taking. When done correctly, these notes are helpful in studying for tests and writing papers.



“In all of our classes we teach content but never without first teaching the skills necessary to access this content.” — Robin Day-Laporte, Director of the Landmark High School Study Skills Department


  • Use two-column notetaking.
  • Utilize templates.
  • Pre-read text to become familiar with the content.
  • Set up well-marked electronic and paper filing systems.
  • Clean and sort files and folders regularly.


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Tags:  active reading Anxiety and test taking education Executive Function learning main idea organization organization and structure parents students summarizing technology template two-column notes writing

6 Tips to Make Sure Your Child’s IEP Is Implemented Properly

Blog Type:  Learning Disabilities Date Posted:  Tuesday, March 20, 2018 Byline:  By Kristin Stanberry

This resource originally appeared on Reprinted courtesy of ©2018. Understood, LLC. All rights reserved.
This is one of four posts about navigating the IEP process. Read the other articles: Questions to Ask Before and During Your Child's IEP Meeting, 5 Important Things to Do After an IEP Meeting, and How to Organize Your Child's IEP Binder.

Your child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) has been set in motion. How well is it working? Is the school delivering what it promised? Try these tips to monitor the situation throughout the year.

1. Check in with the teacher.

The parent-teacher conference is a good time to take the pulse of your child’s progress. But you can also check in regularly to make sure your child’s IEP is being followed. Share any concerns based on what you’re seeing at home. If your child spends most of his time in the general education classroom, his teacher will know if he’s being pulled out of class to work with special educators as promised in his IEP.

2. Contact the team leader if the IEP isn’t being honored.

If you think the school isn’t delivering all of the services and supports in your child’s IEP, don’t sit and stew. Be proactive and contact the IEP team leader. Give that person a chance to clear up misunderstandings and correct any problems. The leader may appreciate your alert. If corrective action is required, make sure it happens. Be friendly but firm.

3. If things don’t improve, request a special IEP team meeting.

If you take the steps above but aren’t satisfied with the results, you can request a special IEP meeting. You don’t have to wait until next year’s IEP meeting to iron out any problems. Getting the entire team together may be the only way to put your child’s IEP back on track as soon as possible.

4. Know your child’s special educators and their schedules.

The IEP should state what special education services your child will receive and for how many hours per week. You can ask the IEP team leader for the names of the special educators assigned to help your child. Find out what services they’ll provide and on which days. That way you can casually ask your child, “Did you spend time with Mrs. Smith today?” Your child may tell you a little—or a lot!

5. Read the progress reports.

Your child’s IEP includes measurable annual goals. It should also explain how his progress toward goals will be measured and when this will be reported to you. Many schools send IEP progress reports to parents when report cards are issued. Find out when you can expect progress reports and mark the dates on your calendar. Carve out time to compare the IEP with how well your child is progressing.

6. Watch, listen and read between the lines.

Keep an eye on your child’s homework and classroom test scores. Is the teacher adjusting assignments as noted in the IEP? If so, is your child making progress? Ask your child if he’s getting his accommodations, whether it’s extra time on tests or assistive technology. Talk to your child in a way that suits his age and personality. Listen carefully to what he says—or doesn’t say—about school and learning. Jot down your concerns.

About the Author

Kristin Stanberry is a writer and editor specializing in parenting, education and consumer health/wellness.

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Tags:  IEP IEP meeting learning parents special education

5 Important Things to Do After an IEP Meeting

Blog Type:  Learning Disabilities Date Posted:  Tuesday, March 20, 2018 Byline:  By Kristin Stanberry

girl at computer with paper

This resource originally appeared on Reprinted courtesy of ©2018. Understood, LLC. All rights reserved.
This is one of four posts about navigating the IEP process. Read the other articles: Questions to Ask Before and During Your Child's IEP Meeting, 6 Tips to Make Sure Your Child's IEP Is Implemented Properly, and How to Organize Your Child's IEP Binder.

After an IEP meeting, you need to take care of some details. These can vary from one meeting to the next. Here are five important things to do after an IEP meeting.

1. If you have objections.

After the IEP meeting, write an email or letter to the case manager summarizing what decisions and questions came out of the meeting. Did the school agree to set up another meeting? Do you plan to request a mediation session? By putting that in writing, you make sure everyone is on the same page and get those next steps on their calendars.

2. Review and sign the final IEP.

Review and sign the final IEP. The IEP you and your child’s IEP team discuss and develop in the meeting is a draft. The school or district will finalize the IEP after the meeting and will send you a copy to sign. Make sure you sign it and return it by the deadline they give you. (Be sure to keep a copy for yourself.) To be on the safe side, refer to Understood's checklist of things to double-check before signing an IEP.

3. Express appreciation to your allies.

Send a simple but sincere thank-you note to anyone who attended the meeting with you. Let them know specifically how they made a difference. If this person is a professional who works with your child—and there is follow-up work to do—try to make it convenient. For example, you might offer to stop by their office to pick up records or reports the school has requested.

4. Debrief your child.

If your child didn’t attend the IEP meeting, share how it went. Be sure to mention the positive things people said along with the challenges. Consider your child’s age and maturity as you explain any changes. Describe new supports and services in concrete terms. If your child joined you at the meeting, ask about how she’s feeling. Praise her for things done well. Start planting the seeds of self-advocacy.

5. Update your IEP files at home.

Organize all of the documents that result from the IEP meeting, including a copy of the new IEP. Note any important dates, such as when progress reports are sent out, on your calendar. Place the new IEP, as well as the notes and documentation you took to the meeting, in your files. This is also a good time to reorganize your filing system to make it easier to use in the future.

About the Author

Kristin Stanberry

Kristin Stanberry is a writer and editor specializing in parenting, education and consumer health/wellness.

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Tags:  IEP IEP meeting learning parents

Navigating the IEP Process: Tips for Parents

Blog Type:  Learning Disabilities Date Posted:  Tuesday, March 20, 2018

mom dad son talking curated several articles from that help parents navigate the often confusing, frustrating, and painstaking process of developing, implementing, and monitoring a child's IEP. Thank you to for sharing their content. Resources

Other Resources

Below are links to sites that explain the federal laws and regulations governing the education of students with disabilities.

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Questions to Ask Before and During Your Child’s IEP Meeting

Blog Type:  Learning Disabilities Date Posted:  Tuesday, March 20, 2018 Byline:  By Amanda Morin

men and women sitting at table meeting

This resource originally appeared on Reprinted courtesy of ©2018. Understood, LLC. All rights reserved.
This is one of four posts about navigating the IEP process. Read the other articles: 5 Important Things to Do After the IEP Meeting, 6 Tips to Make Sure Your Child's IEP Is Implemented Properly, and How to Organize Your Child's IEP Binder.

Even if it’s not your first one, IEP meetings can still be confusing at times. Asking questions can help you be more informed, prepared, and confident as a member of the IEP team. Scroll down to see questions you can ask—both before and during an IEP meeting. Keep in mind that not all of the questions will apply to your child or situation. You can also print out these questions by clicking the view or download link below. You can then keep track of answers on the printout.

Questions to Ask Before and During the IEP Meeting (View / Download)

Questions to Ask Before the IEP Meeting

  • What is the goal of this IEP meeting?
  • Can we create an agenda for this meeting?
  • May I have a copy of my child’s most recent IEP document to follow along as we talk in the meeting?
  • Could you please provide me with prior access to copies of the notes/reports that we’ll be going over?
  • Who at the meeting will be qualified to interpret the results of my child’s independent educational evaluation?

Questions to Ask During the IEP Meeting

  • How does everyone at the meeting know or work with my child?
  • Could you tell me about my child’s day so I can understand what it looks like?
  • Can you explain how what you’re seeing from my child is different from other kids in the classroom?
  • Could we walk through the current program and IEP plan piece by piece?
  • How is my child doing in making progress toward his IEP goals?
  • What changes in goals would the team recommend?
  • Is this a SMART goal?
  • How is this goal measured and my child’s progress monitored?
  • How will my child be assessed according to grade level?
  • Who will work on that with my child? How? When? Where and how often?
  • What training does the staff have in this specific intervention?
  • What does that accommodation/instructional intervention look like in the classroom?
  • What support will the classroom teacher have in putting these accommodations/interventions into place?
  • What can I do at home to support the IEP goals?
  • I’d like to see the final IEP before agreeing to any changes suggested at this meeting. When can I see a copy?
  • When will the changes to his program begin?
  • How will we let my child know about any program changes?
  • Can we make a plan for keeping in touch about how everything is going?
  • May I have a copy of the notes the teacher referenced during this meeting?
  • If I have questions about the information I’ve been given about my child’s rights, who’s the person to talk to for answers?
  • Who’s the person to contact if I want to call another meeting?

Read about important things to do after your child’s IEP meeting. Get tips on how to make sure your child’s IEP is implemented properly. And learn how an IEP binder can help you stay up to date on your child’s progress.

About the Author

Amanda Morin

Amanda Morin is a parent advocate, a former teacher and the author of The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education.

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