Sunday, February 26, 2012

Childhood Speech, Language & Listening Problems

Several years ago, I had a young 4-go-5 student whose mother was convinced that he had a language processing problem. He wasn't picking up on his reading skills as quickly as his older sister. Being the Montessorian I am, I delved into a bunch of research, trying to figure out other ways of reaching this poor child.

One of the books I came across was Childhood Speech, Language & Listening Problems: What Every Parent Should Know by Patricia McAleer Hamaguchi. She is a speech-language pathologist with over 25 years of experience.

I loved this book. While it is directed at parents, it can also be a great resource for educators. The first chapter breaks down typical development into easy-to-read bullet points. The second covers when you need to be concerned about a child not reaching particular milestones. Both parents and educators can use these chapters as quick-reference checklists when concerned about a child. Chapters 3 and 4 detail how to go about getting an evaluation and how to understand all of the jargon involved. Granted, individual districts are going to have some of their own parameters. But reading this information is a great introduction into what to expect.

The second section of the book distinguishes between different types of speech and language problems. There is enough detail to provide an understanding of each issue, yet not so much as to overwhelm the reader. Parents would be interested in skimming these sections if they have a concern about their child, to give them a direction when seeking help. Otherwise, they can focus on the sections that have been diagnosed for their child. These can be starting points of getting information to help their child. For educators, it is yet another tool to determine when to recommend a child for an evaluation.

The final section focuses on possible causes and conditions that lead to speech and language deficiencies. This part reminds me of classes that I took in college. Nevertheless, it is good information to have.

When I read this book, I was relatively new to the world of evaluations and IEP meetings. Sure, we learned about them in school. But rarely in my experience had I ever needed to participate in them. Now it is the norm. I recommend evaluations and attend IEP meetings multiple times a year. This book gave me a good foundation for my work. It is also one that I return to on occasion as a refresher.

My edition is the second edition of the book. There is a new third edition that became available in 2010 that includes more information about toddlers and those "socially quirky" kids. It's on my list to update.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

First Year Teacher: Wit and Wisdom From Teachers Who've Been There

First-year teachers are always filled with a great zest for embarking upon their new career, as well as some trepidation about encountering the unknown. They feel like they know everything, yet realize that they know little. While many topics about the world of education are truly taught in the classroom, nothing replaces years of experience.

Randy Howe seeks to help those newbies be successful during those first 100 days in his book First Year Teacher: Wit and Wisdom From Teachers Who've Been There. To do so, he has collected a bunch of quotes from veteran teachers around the United States. These quotes make up over half of the book. The rest of it consists of introductory paragraphs of advice from him. He is a special education teacher with a history of collecting inspiring quotes and putting them into books.

I like the advice given in this book. While it is directed at more mainstream public school teachers, the book provides some good information for those even in alternative or private settings. I particularly like the advice on dealing with difficult parents and working with administration.

The beginning of the book felt a bit tedious, wading through several pages of quotes. I wanted more meat than simple one-liners from others. Give me a solid explanation of a concept and then add a few quotes to embellish it. Later chapters in the book provided this for me.

I read my copy as a free download from the Amazon Kindle store. I read it on the Kindle Cloud Reader on my laptop and then skimmed it using the Kindle app on my Droid. On the laptop, there were a few formatting issues, in which lines between paragraphs and sections were omitted. On the Droid, there were extra spaces. Other than those, it is presented in an easy-to-read format.

The audience for this book is intended to be that first-year teacher. I would recommend reading it during student teaching, or immediately after. It also would be good summer reading prior to starting that first job. But veteran teachers could benefit from a few reminders within the sections on discipline and dealing with parents.

Welcome to Books for Parents & Teachers!

As an educator and a child care provider, I am constantly seeking out new resources about children. I implement my findings in my classroom. I make suggestions to others based on what I can find. Knowledge is power!

My goal is to provide resources to anyone who takes the time to work with children on a regular basis. This includes parents, educators, babysitters and more. The more that we know, the better we can help shape the future.

The books that I will include will be a combination of those I have purchased, borrowed, perused at bookstores, as well as those sent to me for review. Please never hesitate to share your own opinions and suggestions!