Saturday, August 31, 2019

Back-to-School Interview With Educational Specialist of 35 Years on Learning Issues

National Parent & Teacher Choice Award
The National Parenting Product Awards


The ABCs of Learning Issues is a critically acclaimed resource    for parents, educators, and service providers. This book describes how to identify, recognize, and rectify learning issues

“The ABCs of Learning Issues provides parents with a valuable tool that increases their understanding of learning issues, offers a framework in which to identify and incorporate effective strategies when helping their children, and assists them in learning how to work directly with their school in a cooperative and collaborative manner.

“As an educational diagnostician for more than three decades, I work with families to help them to fully understand the results and interpretations of formal evaluations.  I also help children to develop their academic skill set preparing them for their next educational crossroad. With an in-depth background in learning disabilities, I provide a wide array of academic recommendations and interventions to parents and professionals.”
--Dana Stahl, M. Ed.

In the United States, as many as 1 in 5 children experience learning issues. Learning, attention, and anxiety issues adversely affect students from reaching their social-emotional and academic potential. The ABCs of Learning Issues, explores 24 learning issues providing clinical and educator’s definitions, behaviors parents may observe at home, effective strategies for both the home and school, and a list of professionals that can help students feel successful.

The ABCs of Learning Issues: A Practical Guide for Parents, by Dana Stahl., M.Ed. (Palmiche Press, Trade Paper, $39.99, 172 pages, ISBN: 978-0-9968461-0-7), is an educational consultant and learning specialist of 35 years. Her practice focuses on educational advice, advocacy, and school placements. Dana helps parents to further their understanding of various learning issues that parents observe at home, and educators observe at school.

Here is an interview with Stahl, a client for the public relations firm that I work for:

1.      Dana, what inspired your writing of The ABCs of Learning Issues: A Practical Guide for parents? I wrote this book to help parents understand the behaviors that their children with identified learning issues may experience in school and at home. Every industry has a specific language. The language of learning issues that educators use is specific to the world of teachers, educational administrators, child psychologists and psychiatrists, social workers, speech and language pathologists, pediatric neurologists, and occupational and physical therapists.  Without understanding the precise terminology common to these professionals and to this industry, parents are at a disadvantage in grasping key components of specific clinical definitions, effective teaching strategies, and techniques they can incorporate at home to help them accept and support their children who experience learning issues.

2.      How would a parent know if his or her child has a learning or behavioral issue? For first- time parents, it is difficult for them to understand if their child has a learning or behavioral issue. Most parents however, have friends and family to which they can observe how their children are doing comparative to their peers. Pediatricians, teachers, and daycare providers can also help parents to view their children with a more observant lens. The ABCs of Learning Issues, will help parents further their understanding of various learning issues and behaviors they observe at home and hear about from their children’s teachers. The information presented empowers parents to identify, recognize, and deal with specific learning issues that are described in formal evaluations on standardized tests, and within school environments.

3.      What should a parent do to properly diagnose and assess a child’s abilities or shortcomings? Parents can develop a more efficient relationship with their child’s teacher by securing a home-school partnership. This partnership can be developed by reinforcing what is being presented in school, and in knowing what is going on in class. Continued contact with your child’s teacher regarding parental observations in homework, test preparation, social interactions with peers, or difficulty in attention, learning or academic anxiety all help to foster a close home-school relationship. The ABCs of Learning Issues provides parents with a valuable tool that increases their understanding of learning issues, offers a framework in which to identify and incorporate effective strategies, and assists them in learning how to work directly with their school in a cooperative and collaborative manner.

4.      What challenges do most parents experience when dealing with academically challenged students? There are numerous challenges parents face when dealing with academically challenged students. They span the gamete from repositioning their academic expectations of their children’s school experience, production and performance to learning to negotiate and navigate their way through the legal and educational side of being parent advocates. This requires maintaining an open line of communication with the schools, learning the language special education, the process by which children are formally evaluated and diagnosed, as well as what are their children’s rights once they receive a diagnosis. Terms such as a 504 Plans or IEP’s (Individual Education Plan) may be foreign, as well as push-in and pull-out services. But understanding how to be an effective parent advocate is invaluable.

5.      How do teachers need to help parents to rectify or address social behavior problems? Teachers can help parents to rectify or address social behavior problems by providing them with some concrete strategies. These strategies are most effective when they are implemented and coordinated at home and at school. Consistency is crucial for children, and while they understand that every action has a reaction, the response from the adults in their world needs to be anticipated and reliable. Home-school communication is imperative to partnering together to help children. Parent-Teacher conferences, and or Child Study Team meetings are the perfect venue to address social behavior problems, create a plan that includes intervention (including professionals that can help), monitoring progress (behavior charts, written observations), and revisiting stated concerns in follow up meetings.

6.      Is there agreement amongst educators, therapists, doctors, and parents on how to treat specific learning issues – or is there disagreement, confusion, and a misunderstanding of things?  Fortunately, children with disabilities are guaranteed specific interventions and accommodations under the Individual and Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This Act provides assistance for all children with disabilities. Part B includes provisions related to formal grants that assist states in providing a free appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment for children with disabilities ages three through 21. There are 14 stated disabilities that schools on a federal level are required to abide by. Once children are identified with a specific disability, schools work as a team with service providers and parents help these children succeed to their full social-emotional and academic potential. In this venue, professionals agree upon the implementation of IDEA and FAPE.


7.      What are some of the more common learning issues and how can steps be taken early on to combat them? Early intervention is the key to steps being taken to combat common learning issues. Learning, attention, and anxiety issues exhibited by students are what educators experience in their classrooms and parents observe from their children in their homes. Some common learning issues include areas of reading writing and math. Others include areas of academic anxiety or attention issues. And some, center on executive functioning, processing, and memory. But, whatever the issues are, early intervention is essential in taking steps to identify, recognize, and rectify specific learning issues. Once learning issues are brought to the parents or school’s attention, the Child Study Team (CST) meets to formally discuss their observations and put a plan in place.

8.      What steps can be taken to improve a child’s reading rate? Reading rate is the speed at which a person reads a written text during a specific unit of time. It is generally calculated by the number of words read per minute, but is influenced by a number of factors, such as a reader’s purpose, level of expertise, and the relative difficulty of the text. Effective teaching strategies that can be taken to improve a child’s reading rate include:
·         Partner with your child to read books and plays. Select characters and increase reading rate and expression with short passages.
·         Select reading material that is easy. Focus on developing automaticity, appropriate phrasing, and intonation.
·         Expand your child’s vocabulary and increase their reading rate by fostering familiarity with the text.

9.      What can be done to address students who struggle with academic anxiety? Anxiety may be a normal part of life, and it can also be maladaptive if excessive feelings of fear, worry, or nervousness interfere with everyday life. Anxiety levels are linked to interval pressure that students may place on themselves, as well as how they perceive their family members’ and teachers’ expectations. For students who exhibit academic anxiety with regard to performance, steps can be taken to help them feel less anxious. Create learning environments that encourage students to independently negotiate and navigate their work. Teach students to ‘smash the task,’ or break it down into manageable components. Students develop a sense of ownership in accomplishing small segments of assignments, which lowers their anxiety and allows for successful completion.

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Brian Feinblum’s insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are his alone and not that of his employer or anyone else. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2019. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s Independent.  This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by as a "best resource.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America.

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