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SAVVY kids News & Notes pg 38 | Meet the Parent pg 44






Talk about a power couple! AIS (Art Integration Services) and The Nature Conservancy have partnered to create Adventurers Art Club, which marries—yes!—art and nature. Notice the extraordinary in the seemingly ordinary as you paint and geocache your way through this art adventure. In four virtual sessions, AIS teaching artist Elly Bates and TNC’s Devan Schlaudraff will inspire your K-sixth-grade students to observe, enjoy and help protect the natural world through art projects and outdoor experiences on some of TNC’s beautiful land. Don’t miss it! Email artsintegrationservices@gmail.com with questions. With the registration fee of $100 ($25 per session) you’ll receive a fully supplied art box for two children.

BOO HOO? NOT NECESSARILY In the interest of safety, the Museum of Discovery wisely extended Tinkerfest, over four separate Saturdays. The last two are “Tinkering with Materials” on Oct. 10 and “Spooky Tinkering” Oct. 24, sure to get you in the Halloween spirit. To limit crowd size, tickets may be purchased in advance (members should reserve tickets) and are offered in two-hour increments, from 9-11 a.m., 11 a.m- 1 p.m. and 1-3 p.m. More Halloween fun can be found at the Historic Arkansas Museum. Its “Big Boo-seum Bash Dash!” starts at 6 p.m. Oct. 29 and is a free drive-by event. Get that treat bag ready!

Halloween isn’t called off, but it will look different. For instance, everyone will be wearing masks whether in costume or not. Boo at the Zoo is canceled this year, but look to these options for getting your treat on safely. “Shadows at Sixth Street,” Oct. 9-31, presented by the Little Rock Zoo and the Downtown Little Rock Partnership, is a haunted drive-thru event with ghostly ushers, witches, monsters and hungry alligators. In lieu of Boo at the Zoo, the Zoo is also offering “Laser Lights at the Little Rock Zoo,” Oct. 1-4, 2020. The only one of its kind, “Laser Lights” is a drivein show held in the Zoo’s parking lot featuring light displays, hit music and graphic effects. The 30-minute shows are at 8 p.m., 9:30 p.m. and 11 p.m. Limited to 116 vehicles per show. Tickets are $25 per vehicle and must be purchased in advance at littlerockzoo.com.

First Discoveries Camps are on at the Museum of Discovery! To limit the number of camps held this summer, the museum moved First Discovery Camps to the fall. Following the Arkansas Department of Health’s day camp directives and taking additional steps to provide a safe and fun experience for kids, the museum is offering a variety of one-day, inperson camps for children ages 4-6. They will be held on select Mondays (when the museum is closed to the public) 9 a.m.-noon. Tickets are $40 member/$50 nonmember per day. For more information, contact Beth Nelsen at bnelsen@museumofdiscovery.org. The schedule: Oct. 12: Superhero Science Oct. 26: Dino Discoveries Nov. 16: Little Builders

'SALINE, TAKES ME AWAY ...' There are a myriad of virtual happenings at the Saline County Public Library for kids of all ages: Teen D&D, Cuentos y Cánticos (storytime), Homeschool Creative Writing, Homeschool Art Zoom, Storytime Live!, Teen Discord Hangout, Tweens Read Book Club, Loose Parts Play, Rhythms & Rhymes, Online Gaming Club, a special Halloween Storytime, and the very cool SCL Theater: The Rising Star Players, to name but a few. There are weekly programs for each age group with a mixture of Facebook live and recorded video programs, as well as private Zoom calls to allow children and their families to interact with the librarians. Participants can register at SalineCountyLibraryCalendar.com. Special fall programs will be added each month.

SAVVY kids PUBLISHER BROOKE WALLACE | brooke@arktimes.com





he Pulaski County Special School District is offering a food stability program from the United States Department of Agriculture to help lower the financial burden on our families, while still ensuring our students are being provided necessities like food. Governor Asa Hutchinson and Education Secretary Johnny Key were granted a waiver to provide the Seamless Summer Option program in Arkansas. The program, which provides free meals for all PCSSD students, is being extended through December 31, 2020 to assure that all students have access to nutritious meals while the nation continues to recover from COVID-19. “At PCSSD, we understand the importance of providing healthy and nutritious meals,” said Regena English, director of student nutrition for PCSSD. “Taking away the burden of breakfast and lunch costs at the school-level allows families to focus on other important expenses at home. It also allows our kids the ability to focus on their education because they know they are getting breakfast and lunch at school.” Since September, all students at every school in the District have received free breakfasts and lunches from the school. The state also waived meal pattern requirements and allows parents to pick up meals for their students who participate in the blended and virtual learning options. This is something PCSSD already had set up for students and families prior to the program’s implementation.

Families can fill out the free and reduced lunch application in order to continue receiving free (or reduced) meals after December 31. This program is separate from the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) program, which PCSSD announced prior to the start of the 2020-2021 school year. Twelve PCSSD schools were approved for the program which provides meals at NO CHARGE for all students at Cato Elementary, College Station Elementary, Crystal Hill Elementary, Daisy Bates Elementary, Harris Elementary, Joe T. Robinson Middle, Landmark Elementary, Lawson Elementary, Mills Middle, Oak Grove Elementary, Wilbur D. Mills University Studies High, and William Jefferson Clinton Elementary.

ABOUT PCSSD Pulaski County Special School District spans more than 600 square miles in central Arkansas and requires highly skilled and passionate personnel to adapt educational policies and personalization to 25 schools. Every school is accredited by the Arkansas State Board of Education. PCSSD has served schools across Pulaski County since July

pcssd.org 501.234.2000

1927. PCSSD is committed to creating a nationally recognized school district that assures that all students achieve at their maximum potential through collaborative, supportive and continuous efforts of all stakeholders. SAVVYKIDSAR.COM | SEPTEMBER 2020



The impacts of the learning disability can be wide-ranging. BY KATHERINE WYRICK


ou might want to get him evaluated,” my cousin said out of earshot of our 5-year-old, Harrison (who was probably fashioning a robot out of whatever was close at hand). A learning disabilities specialist, she had noticed some early markers for dyslexia during her visit. His preschool teacher had recently recommended that he enroll in a transition year before kindergarten, so my cousin’s observation confirmed that something was amiss. When he was diagnosed with dyslexia soon after, his dad and I felt grateful to have found out while he was so young, but we were shocked. Harrison was articulate, an early talker who had an extensive vocabulary by age 2. His dad and I were both avid readers and read to him often. How could this bright, creative kid be dyslexic? What followed was a crash course in a learning disability that affects one in five people, or 20 percent of the population. This was just over 10 years ago, and much has changed since then — for the better — but there’s still a long way to go. Early screening and intervention remain key. Parents, too, need a lot of patience and support along this journey as they learn how to advocate for their children. Sounds like a tall order, but do not despair — help is at hand. In honor of National Dyslexia Awareness Month, we offer the following resources and information.

WHAT IS DYSLEXIA? First, let us dispel the commonly held belief that dyslexia results in seeing words, numbers or letters reversed or backward. Dyslexia is not due to a problem with vision. (An aside: Just because your first-grader still confuses his “b”s and “d”s doesn’t necessarily mean there’s cause for concern.) According to the International Dyslexia Association (IDA), dyslexia “is a specific learning disability that is neurological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective

classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge.” In short, dyslexics process information differently.

WHAT ARE THE EFFECTS OF DYSLEXIA? The impact of dyslexia, different for each individual, can be significant and far-reaching; it depends on the severity of the condition and the effectiveness of remediation. The IDA says, “Some individuals with dyslexia manage to learn early reading and spelling tasks, especially with excellent instruction, but later experience their most challenging problems when more complex language skills are required, such as grammar, understanding textbook material and writing essays.” Our now college-aged son struggles with these issues in addition to having some problems around spoken language, like expressing himself clearly or confusing words that sound similar but have different meanings. Dyslexia can also affect a person’s self-worth, leaving one feeling discouraged, inadequate or less intelligent than others. As a parent, it’s tough to witness this. Our son suffered from both low selfesteem and anxiety. Because he had to work twice as hard as his peers, he also experienced constant frustration (and headaches) when at school or doing homework. Harrison also received a diagnosis of ADHD, which compounded his hardships. Therapy, both traditional and academic, helped. In a recent conversation, Kimberly Newton, MS, LPE-I and psychological examiner for ACCESS®, stressed: “There is a high rate of comorbidity, but that’s why a comprehensive evaluation is necessary. Sometimes what looks like ADD or ADHD is avoidance ... as examiners, we’re tasked with teasing that apart. Is it avoidance? Inattention? Anxiety? Maybe there’s all of that.” Dr. Elizabeth Speck-Kern, a neuropsychologist in Little Rock who sees a lot of dyslexics in her practice, says, “For individuals with

“Many people with dyslexia are brilliant in others ways, especially the arts and visuospatial skills.” - Dr. Elizabeth Speck-Kern 4


EARLY WARNING SIGNS •Family history •Early childhood • • • •

Difficulty learning to talk and incorrectly pronouncing words Difficulty following directions and sequencing Difficulty retrieving names of things like letters of the alphabet Difficulty with time management and organization

•Preschool through first grade • History of a speech and language impairment (remediated or persistent) • Trouble learning common nursery rhymes • Difficulty learning and remembering names of the letters in the alphabet (Alphabet song) • Seems to be unable to recognize letters in his/her own name • Mispronounces familiar words; persistent “baby talk” • Doesn’t recognize rhyming patterns • Reading errors that show no connection to the sounds of the letters on the page • Will read “puppy” instead of “dog” because in the illustration there is a dog • Does not associate letters with sounds

•Second grade and beyond • • • • • • • • • •

Slow in acquiring reading skills. Reading is slow and awkward. Doesn’t have a strategy for reading new words Trouble reading unfamiliar words, often making wild guesses Avoids reading out loud Needs extra time to respond to questions Searches for a specific word and ends up using vague language such “stuff” or “thing” Pauses, hesitates and/or uses lots of “umms” when speaking Confuses words that sound alike “tornado” for “volcano,” “lotion” for “ocean” Mispronunciation of long, unfamiliar or complicated words Messy handwriting

Source: The Hannah School dyslexia, my job starts with diagnosis and description of the academic problems and identification of intellectual strengths and weaknesses so realistic plans are made. I also help the parents and child by steering them into areas for vocational development and getting them services to succeed in school. Sometimes changing schools is needed to find a better fit for the child. I encourage the parents to find emotional, physical and artistic outlets for the child, so they can experience success. It is very discouraging to fail in something as important as reading. So, they need other areas of success and to blow off steam and frustration. It is important to develop self-compassion to encourage persistence.”

DEVELOPING A PLAN OF ACTION If you suspect your child is dyslexic, the first step is to get an evaluation and diagnosis and follow up with academic support, and there’s a wealth of specialists throughout the state. Our son’s SAVVYKIDSAR.COM | SEPTEMBER 2020


tutor was trained in the Orton-Gillingham method — a phonetic, multisensory approach for teaching reading — but there are others, including the DuBard method and Wilson Language Training (now used for all students in the Little Rock School District). To help you find your footing, it’s imperative to seek out parents who understand what you are going through. The Dyslexia Project — an organization that aims to raise awareness, empower families to support their children, and inform policy-makers on best practices to support students — is one excellent resource. There, you can connect with parents and find tutors and other specialists. There’s also the ACCESS Evaluation and Resource Center, which looks at the whole picture when assessing your child. ACCESS offers screening, evaluation and tutoring and serves students from a variety of different schools. Kimberly Newton, co-president of the Learning Disabilities Association of America’s Arkansas chapter, has been working with children and families for over 20 years. “It’s important to play to their strengths ... and tailor accommodations accordingly,” she says. “Not every dyslexic student has the same area of deficit.” And then there’s the Hannah School, Arkansas's first and only school solely devoted to educating dyslexic students. The school, which serves students K-12, has grown leaps and bounds since it began as a homeschooling group in a garage in 2016. “There was such a huge demand that we extended our services over the past four years,” co-founder Melissa Hannah said. Our son, Harrison, stumbled through private elementary school with some success but in middle school (also private) received little to no support in the classroom. Then came public high school, which presented its own set of challenges. Harrison got a 504 plan, an essential step that ensures the children with disabilities receive necessary accommodations. IPEs —


Albert Einstein George Washington Agatha Christie Walt Disney


Steve Jobs Leonardo da Vinci Steven Spielberg Whoopi Goldberg

Individualized Education Programs — and 504s offer modified curriculums for K–12 students struggling in school. Yet, for him, it did little to ease his burden or anxiety. One unforeseen challenge in high school was encouraging him to use those hardwon accommodations — like getting more time on tests, not having to take a foreign language, not having spelling mistakes counted against him. During those tween/teen years, he became increasingly self-conscious about his learning disability, at times denying that he had one or claiming that dyslexia wasn’t “even a real thing.” This kind of behavior isn’t uncommon. A constant source of frustration for him was having to work twice as hard or harder than everyone else to get the same results. At some point, someone explained it to me this way: “You wouldn’t give someone who couldn’t walk ‘more time’ to make it up the stairs in a wheelchair; you’d build them a ramp.” In other words, though necessary, 504s only go so far, and there’s room for improvement. We still need a ramp. Fortunately, improvements have been made since our son was in school. Due to recent laws, public schools in Arkansas are now mandated to screen for and remediate dyslexia, and the Little Rock School District hired a dyslexia specialist, Clinton School



• • • •

graduate Chandle Devor Carpenter, in 2018. “As educators, our job is to teach so that all students can learn, but many of us didn’t know how,” Carpenter said. Her duties include building systems to address the needs of dyslexic students, providing professional development that addresses dyslexia awareness, offering support to dyslexia interventionists, and collaborating with the literacy team to develop a district-wide literacy plan. By all accounts, she has begun to implement a robust program; sadly, however, the pandemic has complicated matters, causing parents and teachers to worry that some students may fall through the cracks. Private schools are exempt from these laws, so screening and remediation vary school to school. Newton from Access strikes an upbeat note: “Having dyslexia doesn’t mean that there’s an inability to learn. … I try to show my families the silver lining.” It’s not an easy path and can be a lifelong battle, but heartening news is on the horizon. For one thing, neurodiversity is becoming a competitive advantage in the workplace. Major corporations like Microsoft at times actively recruit dyslexics and others with learning differences because of their ability to think outside the box. Our dyslexic, who railed against school for the entirety of his K-12 years, is now thriving in art school and at work. Even though Harrison is now considered a “compensated” dyslexic, it’s unlikely that he’ll ever enjoy curling up with a good book (unless it’s illustrated) — reading will always be slow-going — but we, his parents, can now see that silver lining with greater clarity. We’re starting to believe that it’s because of, not despite, that beautiful, imperfect brain of his that he’s living from a place of creativity and curiosity — and on the way to becoming his most authentic self.



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WE ARE MORE “Best Parent Ever ” moments . Jump on a virtual storytime, take home a craft kit, or make learning fun (and easy) again with homework help programs and resources. All free with your library card so you can get back to being the “Best Parent Ever.” Follow us on Facebook or visit www.SalineCountyLibrary.org to view full calendar.

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Meet the Parent:

HEATHER CHAPMAN-HENRY Heather Chapman-Henry is a licensed certified social worker and registered play therapist who has worked with adults, children and families for more than 20 years in homeless/youth shelters, schools, childcare settings and clinics in St. Louis, California and Arkansas. She has extensive experience working with young children, adolescents and adults addressing a variety of issues from anxiety disorders to depression to trauma-related behavior disorders. Her practice is LGBTQ-friendly and based on inclusion. Heather is also the mother of Maya Henry, 15, and Cora, 12, and the wife of Chris Henry. Other family members include Roxy the rescue dog and cats Gordy and Linley. What’s your biggest parenting challenge? Being present and attentive as much as I need to and being able to parent two girls who have very different personalities. How do you organize to balance work and family? We have a color-coded dry erase family calendar that helps us a lot. We put appointments and activities on that calendar and have it hanging where we can all see it. I have to put time off for myself on that calendar, too. It helps me make time for me. If I don’t schedule it ahead of time, it likely will not happen.




What does school look like for your family this year? I know this has been hard for everyone, especially for parents who have no option other than sending their kids to school full time. I worry about kids who don’t have access to WiFi or who have health problems and maybe should not attend in person but have no other choice. My mom and step-dad used to work for LRSD in special education, and they are both retired now. Luckily, they decided to do a “learning pod” with my seventh-grader and one of her friends. They teach them from their home. My 10th-grader is doing half of school in person and the other half online. My husband is a teacher, too, and has to go in person full time.

What are your favorite “family time” activities? We like to play games, watch movies and sing and dance in the kitchen. How do you manage your own stress? Honestly, I wish I did better with this. I used to do Jazzercise regularly before COVID. Now I try to take walks at least three times a week. I make it a point to work on deep breathing and like to let off steam by singing (loudly) when I can. It startles my family and scares the dog, but it helps. How do you recharge? What does your “me time” look like? I read daily meditations that keep me focused on something positive and help me forgive myself more often for mistakes I make. I like reading and taking naps on the weekend since the weeks are so hectic. I like to look at positive social media sites that remind me of the good in humanity. I also like to follow people on social

media who make me laugh and who inspire me to be actively involved in making this world better. I try to plan phone calls with good friends who make me feel good about myself and who make me laugh. How would you describe your parenting style? Maybe this is a question for my kids. … Being raised by a social worker is a hard road; I warn my girls too often about the harm of doing drugs, not ever going to jail (unless it is for being an activist in a worthy cause) and not having sex too young or without protection. Half the time, my girls look at me like I am crazy when I go on these rants. I remind them (maybe too often) of all those who are hungry, those who don’t get love and attention, and those who struggle to have their basic needs met. I try to listen to my girls. I tell them that I love them a lot. I apologize when I hurt them. I try to do the best I can each day and some days I do better than others.

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SAVVYkids | October 2020