Skylark Specialist Educational Consultancy

Do you know someone who is worried about a child who is struggling with learning?I provide advice an

Operating as usual

02/09/2021

It was so good today to be back in person and a privilege to be delivering training to staff who I greatly admire for the difference they make to the lives of the children and young people they work with.

We took a helicopter view of the different barriers to learning, what different labels mean and how the co-occurrence of difficulties is the norm and not the exception. Not looking at a child through the keyhole of a label is one of the (many) things I am passionate about.

Then Ruth Tyrrell, specialist dyslexia teacher and assessor gave a whistle stop insight into this complex world of dyslexia.

Thank you to everyone at CHILTERN WAY ACADEMY TRUST for a warm welcome today and to Mark Taylor for inviting us.

How every child can thrive by five 13/08/2021

Did you know that game of Peek a Boo CAN change the world?

Yes - it's true. Play that builds positive relationships and connections in children changes the way they are wired , forming the adults of the future. These secure attachments and the ability to connect and interact are the foundations of the adults we become.

We know that connection and positive relationships are important for us as adults in our personal and work lives. Building these life skills starts early - really early.

Molly is only 7 but she gives us a good reminder. It's only a 7 minute watch and I promise you it will give you a warm fuzzy feeling for your Friday.

How every child can thrive by five "What if I was to tell you that a game of peek-a-boo could change the world?" asks seven-year-old Molly Wright, one of the youngest-ever TED speakers. Breaking down the research-backed ways parents and caregivers can support children's healthy brain development, Wright highlights the benefits of pla...

15/07/2021

A fabulous book and a free 1-2-1 coaching session with the author Jean Gibson What an amazing offer.... but you need to hurry...

Jean's book is launched on Kindle for just 99p and the paperback follows soon. It is a clearly written yet passionate book, based on personal experience. It provides a valuable resource for anyone who has ADHD in their life.
If you are an adult, parent, care giver, family member, doctor, teacher or anyone coming into contact with someone with ADHD, this book gives you a real-life understanding of the condition, the impact, techniques, tips and resources to help cope with the condition.

Links in the comments below.

‎School of Parenting on River Radio: School of Parenting (aired on 2021-07-06) on Apple Podcasts 07/07/2021

I never imagined being on the radio but thanks to meeting Rachel Tyrrell at I was invited on to her show on Marlow's very own River Radio. Every Tuesday Rachel hosts School of Parenting with interviews and discussions on a wide variety of topics. A gin maker and tutor, she's also a natural on the radio and it was a real pleasure to see her in action and talk about what I do.
The show is on Apple Podcasts so you can listen in to us chatting here.
18 months ago this would have been way outside my comfort zone but I loved it. Isn't amazing how we continue to grow even while we age!!

‎School of Parenting on River Radio: School of Parenting (aired on 2021-07-06) on Apple Podcasts ‎Show School of Parenting on River Radio, Ep School of Parenting (aired on 2021-07-06) - Jul 6, 2021

30/06/2021

Being in school was like a crumpled piece of paper. When it was smoothed out the creases were still there like scars......

13 year old Libby Scott has written 3 books based on her own experiences of Autism with central character Tally who helps us see life through her lens.It was wonderful to hear her interview on Woman’s Hour today. We often make assumptions about labels, based on our preconceptions, own experiences or limited knowledge. Libby highlighted that she has her own unique profile that does not fit with some of the assumptions often made.

She makes the important point that each person with ASD has their own profile and it can change over time. This reinforces my passionate belief that it is key that the needs of the individual are understood at the time, by everyone around them, as well as by themselves. Their voice must be heard.

Libby also spoke about how hard school can be and has been for her. She described being at school (and I paraphrase here) like being a crumpled piece of paper and when she got home the paper was smoothed out but the creases were still visible - like scars.

I believe that it is right and reasonable for some children to have an educational provision that meets their individual needs when the existing system does not. Perhaps this means some days learning from home or in a different setting such as a forest school or farm/animal therapy placement.

Could Flexischooling be the way we can meet the needs of some of these children who have a right to education?

Do we need a more creative and ‘can do’ approach to the educational provision we provide - before it gets to the crisis point of school refusal and academic failure?

What do you think?

Well done Women’s Hour’s Chloe, Libby Scott and her mum Kym. Link in Comments - 15 mins into programme.

24/05/2021

We know that girls are brilliantly clever at masking Autism Spectrum Disorder and ADHD and yes, we are getting better at noticing but it is so sad to hear of women who have struggled for so many years. It was lovely to hear Holly Smale on Women's Hour today talking about, and celebrating her diagnosis of Autism at age 39. It is fabulous that she can now be her authentic self but sad to hear how misunderstood she has been for so long and how she suffered.
That's why I do what I do and am passionate about unpicking why a child is struggling in school - not just academically. It's not about labels but all about a child being understood for who they are. If others understand what a child needs so that they can be their authentic self, they can thrive. They don't need to suffer and feel they are 'different' or 'broken' like Holly did.

Catch up with the interview in the comments and call me if you know a child who is misunderstood. A discovery call is free.

21/05/2021

When things are difficult emotions can run high.
Our triggers can be more sensitive.
Knowing how to manage our own emotions is an important step to take in order to support those we love in how to handle theirs. Difficulty with emotional regulation is often present where there are difficulties with learning.
Learning to change a reaction to a conscious response, takes some mastery.
Here's a masterclass that may help.
Thursday 20th May.
Booking link in the comments.

There’s a Name for the Blah You’re Feeling: It’s Called Languishing 27/04/2021

Have you been feeling a bit Blah?
I have.
Do we stop and give our children the chance and the words to say how they are feeling?
There seems to have been quite a lot around recently about naming our emotions. Having the words to say how we are feeling, to ourselves and to others, is important and something I believe children should be encouraged to do, safe in the knowledge they cannot be wrong.
I know I am guilty of the default "I'm fine". I am going to try not to do that but instead press pause before answering honestly. Some days I may be "fine" and others I may be "languishing".

How are you feeling today?

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/19/well/mind/covid-mental-health-languishing.html

There’s a Name for the Blah You’re Feeling: It’s Called Languishing The neglected middle child of mental health can dull your motivation and focus — and it may be the dominant emotion of 2021.

15/03/2021

What a privilege to join Positively Empowered Kids this evening to celebrate Neurodiversity Week. Thank you for inviting me Positively Empowered Kids

I believe that understanding an individual's unique profile is the best way we can support them and celebrate their unique wonderfulness.
In this 30 minute video I look behind the labels and explain why the individual's profile is what really matters.
Every skylark sings its own unique song as it soars.
https://fb.watch/4fuuVfCaNz/

13/03/2021

I am delighted to be joining this week of events being held by Positively Empowered Kids to raise awareness, support and inform.

We are all wired differently and that often means there are super powers waiting to be released so Yes! Neurodiversity is something to celebrate.

Anxiety 25/02/2021

Anxiety is a feeling we experience.
Anxiety is a normal emotion.
Anxiety affects us in different ways.
Anxiety affects the way we think, feel and behave.

We often don’t know why we are feeling anxious.

Asking some questions can help....
? Why this feeling?
? Why now?
? What has triggered this feeling?

It’s like peeling an onion.

Whatever the anxiety there are strategies that can help.
What works for you when you are feeling anxious?

In this short video (about 3 mins) Jackie Meek and I explore anxiety.
Do you want to help a child who is anxious about learning?

Anxiety Anxiety in adults and children can have many causes.

Worry 14/02/2021

Stop worrying!
Easier said than done.

It's OK to worry but it helps to identify and understand your feelings of worry. Worries can be thought traps and identifying your worry is the first step on stopping it from being destructive.

Common thought traps are:
🔎 Thinking the worst
🔎 Predicting the future
🔎 Shoulds and oughts
🔎 If.. and then thinking
🔎 Only remembering the bad bits

This is the first of a series of 4 videos that Jackie Meek from Future Path Life Coaching and I have put together. Jackie helps worried mums and I help unpick worries about a child's path through education.
The other topics are Anxiety, Overwhelm and Connection.
To find out more follow the links to our websites in the comments.

Worry Do you know a worried mum or a parent who is worried about their child's learning?Jackie Meek and Kate king explore worry and how they can help.

01/02/2021

“Sorry, I didn’t quite get that. Can you say it again please?”

Can you think of an instance when you needed something repeating or you needed to listen or read something again? Maybe your attention had wandered, concentration was lacking or did you just fail to process it?

Hearing is a physiological process that involves the detection of sound. Listening is an active cognitive process and processing what we are hearing, making sense of it, can be both active and unconscious.

Processing what we hear is a complex cognitive function and sometimes it can be hard to activate our thinking brain, especially when we are tired or anxious. If we consider reading to be the processing of language in print, then the same will apply - reading the words but not taking in the meaning.

I believe it happens to us all from time to time but for some children the ability to listen and to process auditory information can be a real challenge.
Understanding when this happens and asking why our ability to take meaning from what we are hearing is breaking down, is key to providing the right therapy, strategies and support.

It’’s always worth looking below the surface so if you would like to know more please follow the link to my Blog in the comments.

26/01/2021

My brain is fried!
My empathy recharged for all of the parents and children homeschooling. I know why learning new things in this crazy world is really hard because of how our brains work and my workshop today with Light Social was a reminder of the focus that's needed to learn new things and process information. Understanding the barriers to learning and knowing how to work around them is key for both parents and children and young people. Learning is tough but it was really great workshop with Light Social and Alana really knows her social media stuff.

# #

Do you know a child who is feeling anxious about learning? — SKYLARK 22/01/2021

Anxiety and learning really don’t mix.

Feelings of anxiety can hijack our brain, firing up the amygdala and disconnecting our prefrontal cortex - our thinking brain’s control centre.

Three simple steps can help:
1. Noticing and acknowledging the feeling of anxiety
2. Using strategies to calm
3. Provide effective support

Effective support relies on understanding what has triggered the anxiety but that needs unpicking.

Camouflaging difficulties can cause significant anxiety as can trying to comply with social norms - just a couple of reasons why girls with Autism Spectrum Disorder are often missed.

Sticking plasters have their place when I cut my finger, but when it comes to difficulties with learning, I believe in looking for the underlying cause(s) so that support and strategies can be effective and long lasting.

Whatever the anxiety there are strategies that can help.

What works for you when you are feeling anxious?
Do you know how to help a child who is anxious about learning?
Read more here: https://www.skylark-consulting.co.uk/skylark-news/debt-n93x6

A free, no obligation discovery call with me could be a good first step.

Do you know a child who is feeling anxious about learning? — SKYLARK Anxiety is one of the most common things that impact on learning irrespective of a specific difficulty with learning as well as because of one. Here we explore what anxiety is and how we can help.

How can you help a child who confuses ‘b’ and ‘d’ or hates building Lego from the instructions? — SKYLARK 08/01/2021

Did you know that doing a jigsaw helps us to build and maintain all sorts of skills that we use for reading, writing and learning as well as giving us a hit of that magical chemical dopamine?

This is one of my favourites - reminding me that the world is still full of amazing places. I will be using this to take a break from my desk and phone, disconnect from my thinking brain, recharge and dream.

Do you love them or hate them?

How can you help a child who confuses ‘b’ and ‘d’ or hates building Lego from the instructions? — SKYLARK Do a jigsaw with them to help them build skills in visual discrimination, visual perception, planning, reasoning, memory, fine motor and concentration. This is one of my favourite jigsaws and it feels really special in the current world when all I can do is dream of the places I want to visit and

Discrimination at school: is a Black British history lesson repeating itself? 11/12/2020

“The only defiance we had was in defiance, the way that we were rude to the teachers… it was all we had.”

This is from Steve McQueen, talking about his experience at school in the 1970s when our education system funnelled Black children out of mainstream schools and into schools for the “educationally subnormal”.

I was shocked by this article and realise how little we have learnt. Have a read and see what you think.

How much has changed?
41 pupils are excluded every day.
Pupils are excluded or put into isolation for bad behaviour without full understanding of why they are behaving in that way. Isn’t that just like putting someone into hospital when they are ill but not finding out why they're ill and not treating them?

Behaviour is communication. We need to listen to it with curiosity and a proactive attitude.

McQueen is dyslexic and “there was no help… you were left to your own devices … there was no interest.” He was lucky enough to have his talents fostered, and his passion encouraged, at a Black supplementary school.

He was one of the lucky ones.

His film Education, part of the Small Axe Series, is on BBC1 on Sunday 13th December.

It will be a hard watch.

Will you be watching?

Discrimination at school: is a Black British history lesson repeating itself? Steve McQueen’s film Education revisits the 1970s, when many working-class, particularly Black, children were treated as ‘educationally subnormal’ in UK schools. How much has changed?

Building literacy and language skills through nursery rhymes. — SKYLARK 02/12/2020

What is your favourite nursery rhyme?

These old fashioned funny, nonsensical and grim rhymes are important building blocks for literacy. Reading skills are built on early skills learned through nursery rhymes.

It's hard to decide between two that both made my children laugh and shout for more!
There's 'This is the way the gentleman rides..’ with the screams of delight as my child was dumped into the ‘ditch’ between my knees, tightly holding onto my hands.
Or is it ‘Round and round the garden’ with giggles of anticipation as they waited to be ‘tickled under there’.
I have lots of fond memories (as do they I hope) of the closeness and laughter - I had no idea back then of how important they were.

Building literacy and language skills through nursery rhymes. — SKYLARK Reading skills are built on early skills learned through nursery rhymes. These old fashioned funny, nonsensical and grim rhymes are important building blocks for literacy.

14/10/2020

Have you ever felt like a lost sheep when it comes to your child's learning?

One of the reasons I started Skylark was because every time a parent said that they were worried about their child's learning or engagement in education they were always right.

This is what one parent said:
You were the first person to ever mention Autism and to be honest it was a welcome relief that someone recognised there was more to it than simply her 'not trying'.
I felt like a lost sheep but now we have a plan and a happier daughter!

Don't you love it when you can make a difference?

02/10/2020

Do you know a child who feels like this about reading?

If so there's usually a reason why and understanding where the process is going wrong is the place to start.

I remember a boy who was always reluctant to read but he tried hard to please. I noticed that he could read the first half page with reasonable accuracy and understanding but about half way down the page he really struggled, making lots of mistakes, substituting words and losing the meaning. One day something prompted me to ask him what happened at that point. His answer changed things for me as a practitioner and him as a reader…..
“That’s when the words start jiggling so it’s hard to see them.”
He didn’t know that this wasn’t the same for everyone else.

He had a difficulty with visual functioning and with the right help he no longer struggled to read.
Just like fixing a machine or treating an ailment, we need to understand what the problem is in order to provide an effective solution.

It’s just one aspect of the detective work I do.

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When things are difficult emotions can run high. Our triggers can be more sensitive. Knowing how to manage our own emoti...

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