The Benefits of Quizzing Your Students Regularly

Testing is a touchy topic, mainly for students, but I’m sure there are some teachers out there who aren’t the biggest fan of grading tests. However you feel, numerous studies have pointed to the many benefits of testing/quizzing your students regularly. Quizzing your students will help motivate them, help them with information retrieval, encourage attendance, as well as various other benefits. Regular testing also has its benefits for teachers as well. It can help a teacher assess whether or not the students are grasping information. It will also let a teacher know if they need to adjust their teaching strategies.

Advantages of Quizzing Your Students

We broke down the advantages into three major categories: motivation, feedback, and teamwork. We feel that these broad categories adequately portray the advantages that regular quizzing can have on students and teachers.


As shocking as it is, quizzes are a way of motivating your students. If a student knows that there is going to be a quiz, they will be more likely to show up to class, pay attention while they are in class, encourage students to study, and reduce procrastination. Quizzes also give the teacher an opportunity to reward those who perform well. Hopefully, the reward system will encourage students who did not perform as well to put in more of an effort for the next quiz.


The feedback provided by testing is not only beneficial for students, but for the teachers as well. Quizzes allow students to study more efficiently as they can focus on questions or topics they struggled with. Additionally, regular quizzing will help increase students retrieval of knowledge. In other words, quizzes will teach students’ brains to organize information into clusters; allowing them to recall information more easily.

As far as teachers go, the feedback from tests will tell the teacher which students are grasping the content and which are not. Teachers might use this feedback to identify a specific students learning patterns and determine which students need extra help. If the class as a whole is struggling, the teacher may want to consider revisiting certain topics or rethinking their lesson plans.

Encourage Teamwork

Quizzes give a teacher flexibility. Since they are informal, a quiz can be administered as a group activity. Along with encouraging teamwork, communication amongst students will increase and new friends will be made. One effective way to encourage healthy debate is to split the classroom into groups and play a game, like Jeopardy. Reward the students who answer the most questions correctly with a homework pass or a gift, like candy or a toy.

The Benefits of Inclusion in General Education Classrooms

As was pointed out in an earlier entry on this blog, some parents often worry about what are known as inclusion classrooms: classrooms that include both children with and without special needs under the same teacher and, as is often the case, one or two special education instructors or assistant teachers in the same learning environment. Parents have often worried about children with special needs becoming a disturbance to their own children’s ability to learn or even simply be taught depending on how great a disruption such children could potentially be. And while this might have been a valid point in years past, there are some who would argue even more strongly in favor of inclusion nowadays.

In an article featured on, Dr. Thomas Armstrong outlined a presentation he had made regarding school systems and their tendency (or lack thereof) to integrate classrooms to include children with special needs into general education environments. Dr. Armstrong highlighted some benefits of special needs children that often went overlooked as secondary in classroom settings. For example, while schools and classrooms are often seen as a place where children are educated primarily in fields regarding the likes of math, science and history, Dr. Armstrong noted the social impact of incorporating children that often fell to the background of parental concerns. He argued that while children with special needs were often seen as disruptive or held back the pace of learning in a general education classroom, their strengths allowed other children to flourish in a number of ways.

Dr. Armstrong argued for what he coined, “neurodiversity.” That is, the varying degrees of thinking or feeling that integrating children into the same classroom setting could expose them to and thus allow them to grown as human beings. He mentions in his presentation that children with disabilities are often primarily seen with the stigma brought on by their disabilities while their strengths often fade from our set. But, upon closer inspection and interaction, we can find that those who live with autism spectrum disorder often are highly technical and skilled with computers and other electronic devices. Children with Down syndrome, while hindered by developmental or intellectual disabilities, often come off as more charismatic and charming, lending themselves well to human interaction and are often described as be warm toward many people. Children with dyslexia were noted as being more talented with regard to spatial abilities and those with ADHD were seen as more creative thinkers. The diversity of such different viewpoints and skill sets, even despite their disabilities, allow them to excel in other ways and allow their peers to excel alongside them.

Armstrong also noted that children with imposed limitations rarely ever reach high, noting that seclusion from general education classrooms can often lead to ridicule and self-condemnation whereas including them in a general education setting where expectations are loftier allows them to reach higher than other expectations might have challenged them to do. And while it isn’t necessarily to say that all children will excel to the same or even similar levels, inclusion in an environment where goals are similar often gives children with special needs more drive to succeed than isolation from such an environment.

Dr. Armstrong also argued that including children into general education classrooms not only benefits the children with and without special needs, but also the educational system as a whole. Having such diversity present in one location challenges the status quo of the modern educational programs and sets new expectations for teachers and administration to alter their ways of thinking as far as their approach of educating children as a whole is concerned. Challenging teachers to think outside the box in their methods of educating not only broadens the scope of teaching, but also simultaneously benefits the children who can now be engaged to learn in a greater number of ways.

These were but a few of the points touched upon within Dr. Armstrong’s present regarding inclusion of children with special needs, and I urge you to review it at your own leisure.

Planning For The Future For Your Disabled Child

I want to preface this article by stating that estate planning is not something that people like to talk about. No one likes to think about their own death let alone plan for what happens after they die. In my opinion,  one of the kindest things that you can do for your family before your death is to make sure that all your affairs are in order. We are going to assume that your family is upset about your passing and the last thing they want to do is sit through endless court sessions while people who don’t know you divide your possessions and assets. And this becomes even more complicated if you have disabled or special needs children.

What Is A Special Needs Trust?

While you are estate planning for your family in the event of your death or in the event that you become incapacitated, you can create something called a special needs trust. A special needs trust lets you put aside a certain amount of money that will be used to take care of your special needs child. This trust is exempt from supplemental social security income and Medicaid benefits because it’s technically not your child’s money – it’s yours.

If you do not trust your child to make financial decisions then you can also outline who is the trustee. The trustee will be in charge of managing the special needs trust and utilizing the money to help take care of your special needs child.

What Is The Money Used For?

The money that you put into the special needs trust covers things like medical expenses that are not covered by Medicaid or SSI. And can be used for other essentials such as food, clothing, and shelter. It can even be used for recreational activities as long as the trustee feels that it will help the beneficiary (your special needs child).

What Else Can I Do?

The special needs trust allows you to write a letter of intent. In this letter of intent, you can write whatever notes you wish to the trustee to explain how you feel the money sh0uld be used or to give them advice. For example, if you know that your autistic child hates wearing socks, you can mention that in your letter of intent.

As I expressed before, this is something that no one likes to talk about and no one wants to deal with. But don’t let your death be a burden on your family. Make decisions now so after your gone everyone can be in peace.

Recess Time At School

When you ask any child in elementary school what the best part of school was, their answer is always RECESS! However, when your child has special needs or suffers from a disability, recess time might be more challenging for them than other students. Here are some of the most common issues that occur during recess and some ways to solve them:

Recess Is Too Loud!

Especially those who are auditory sensitive, the noise at lunchtime can be overwhelming. It’s important to talk to your child’s school to see what accommodations they can make for your child such as having them eat lunch and play in a secluded classroom, a separate area on the playground that’s quieter (such as the swings) or ask if your child is permitted to wear earplugs or headphones during lunch/recess.

Unsure Of Appropriate Behavior

For some disabled students having unstructured time can be more stressful than structured time. A lot of times they are unsure of what to do with themselves. Having a checklist of activities that they can do on rotating basis can be a good way to add structure. Activities such as counting birds, finding a grasshopper, playing jump rope, going down the slide 3 times, or volunteering to push someone on the swings are some examples.

Feelings of Unsafe

A lot of times people with disabilities are unsure if the playground equipment is safe for them to enjoy.  Doing a walkthrough of the area with your child to let them know what is safe to do and not to do can be helpful. Also, show them where the monitors will stand so they know where they can contact an adult if they have feelings of being unsafe.

By implementing these tips and tricks, your disabled or sensory sensitive child should be able to enjoy recess and have more interaction with peers.



Bucket List for Disabled Kids

If you aren’t in a position to live an easy, care-free life in a world like ours, then it helps to have people around you who would do anything to make sure you’re as happy as you can be while you have as much fun as possible. When you’re a 12-year-old girl–as Charley Hooper is–suffering from microcephaly, you can use all the help you can get. Hooper suffered this type of brain damage as the result of a birthing accident. When she was born, no one ensured her throat was clear. She went without oxygen for far too long.

Her eyes work, but her brain doesn’t process images. That means she’s effectively blind. She also requires a fair amount of help just to move about, because her brain can’t shoot the right signals where they need to go.

That hasn’t stopped her amazing mom from creating the world’s best bucket list for her little girl. She did it because she knew that Charley might not have as much time as everyone else does, and she wanted her daughter to experience as much as she could in the time remaining. This wasn’t a quick realization–it was a scary epiphany that only occurred after Charley almost died.

The bullet points on the bucket list aren’t always easy to achieve, either: one of them involved meeting Ed Sheeran.

When the list was originally conceived, it was meant to have a beginning, middle, and an end. Charley’s twelfth birthday was supposed to mark the culmination of that list, but instead, the list has not only continued to grow longer, it has grown indefinite. Charley’s mom became addicted to the sense of purpose that it gave her and her family, and the great experiences that it gave her daughter. That’s why she created a Facebook page dedicated to the challenge. Hopefully, these aspirations and moments to be cherished can show other people that some things are worth doing, and educate those who could use a little inspiration.

That’s not the end of it, though.

New Zealand has enjoyed a strong new advocate of maternal care and better accessibility for those living with disabilities. In addition to giving her own daughter with the experiences of a lifetime, she has also managed to provide hundreds of families with access to legal aid for parents in similar situations to their own. She did it using Action to Improve Maternity (or AIM), an organization dedicated to its namesake’s cause. On top of that, she is in the process of beginning charitable work that will bring truly disabled-accessible bathrooms to as many places in New Zealand as possible. With luck, this is only the beginning.


Sign language has been a godsend to many deaf people since its invention in the 1800s by Thomas Gallaudet. Many communication challenges have been mitigated and eliminated thanks to sign language, as well as technological innovations like closed captioning.

Sign language can often be the only language that young deaf children will ever know. There is evidence to suggest that sign language may be beneficial to hearing children, as well as an alternate form of communication before the words of the native language, can be spoken.

It has been widely reported that gorillas and some monkeys are able to understand basic signs, and research has shown more recently that teaching sign language to babies and toddlers can help incomprehension by the children, understanding of needs by parents and creating a closer bond between children, siblings, and their parents even before verbal vocabulary enters into the communication dynamic.

Whether you realize it or not, sign language is a language, and even hearing children have an opportunity to benefit from bilingualism if sign language is taught as a second language just like Spanish or French. And research seems to confirm that the benefits that children gain from learning sign language as a second language are similar to those who learn a second spoken language other than their own.

We are always told, or encouraged, to teach children other languages either through educational apps like DuoLingo, through home instruction or in classroom settings at school. With sign language, you can develop your child mentally and emotionally well before he or she speaks first words, as even as early as six or seven months children can begin to use hand signals to communicate ideas.

Some of the benefits for children learning sign language are included here:

  • As much as an additional 12 IQ points over peers who don’t learn sign language
  • Better grades in school
  • As much as 17-percent higher scoring on standardized tests
  • Faster emotional and speech improvements
  • Earlier reading and a larger vocabulary
  • Better memory – sign language involves muscle action, and the more senses are used in learning, the better the child is remembering the concept
  • Speaking earlier and forming longer sentences at the same time as the peer group

As you can see, thinking of sign language as a second language and applying it to children’s education to support bilingualism, shows that young brains have the elasticity to understand multiple languages and to develop competency in more than one language at a time, even at a time of development before spoken words. It lends credence to the belief that babies do indeed understand language even before speaking it. Sign language is the perfect first language for them to “speak,” and the benefits are long-lasting and in some ways permanent in creating a well-rounded individual.


Children develop their five main senses during early years of life. It is unfortunate that some kids do not have the privilege of all five senses, and some will have blindness, deafness or may be insensitive to taste, for example.

But those who are so privileged are often put into various situations during their very early years to experiment with their senses by touching, hearing, seeing – and yes sometimes tasting – various objects and foods in order to have proper development of all the senses into a normal range.

Sometimes, though, one or more of the senses will not develop in a proper way, and children will need some assistance in the form of aids to maintain sensory use while development comes along.

You may hear of young ones sometimes needing small hearing aids for a time because their ear organs aren’t developing fast enough, and you might hear of children using glasses to see in their classrooms at school.

While there may be a belief that eyeglasses for young kids may be inappropriate because they might actually hinder the development of the eyes, the right prescription glasses may actually do the opposite and help accelerate the development of the eyes while allowing the children to have the right vision for the classroom and other activities.

The eyes are about focus muscles, which allow children to see clearly whether looking at a distance or up close. Under normal development in the early years, children will tend to be naturally far-sighted, as far-sightedness is not a condition where glasses would be necessary.

As the eyes develop and the focus muscles get stronger, a child will be able to make out more details up close and will be able to have their eyes’ focus move quickly from close objects to distant ones. Sometimes, however, the far-sightedness in a child may be more pronounced than normal, which would suggest that the focus muscles are not developing as they should.

It is important to put your child through a vision text in early years, so that a professional can make note of whether the eyes are developing slowly, or whether there is a problem with the eyes that are preventing the focus muscles from developing at all.

If far-sightedness develops within a normal range, that is considered normal that glasses are generally not recommended. But if near-sightedness is not where it should be at a certain age, then glasses may be a good tool to help the child see clearly while also utilizing the focus muscles to get them to develop more normally without sacrificing the child being unable to see the front of the classroom, for example.

If the near sight is slight, then that does not usually mean glasses are needed; it will take multiple tests to determine of development of the focus muscles is at a normal pace. Of course, a stigmatism may be present, as a child’s eye may not be developing into a perfect spherical shape, which of course will affect vision regardless of the focus muscle development. But an eye professional can do a check of your child’s eyes to monitor the progression of the visual development, and a recommendation of some prescription lenses for a short time by prove beneficial in developing eyes normally so the child can have good vision for years.

Think of glasses for kids as similar to braces for teeth, and you understand how it all works.

Why You Should Have Your Child Evaluated Early

This post is brought to you by a criminal defense law firm Blischak Law. If you’re a new parent or thinking of becoming one soon, then you should start getting familiar with how children develop over the years. What they pay attention to at which age when they start to learn how to communicate with you in a variety of ways, and how far along their learning should be in the first five years: all of these are crucial bits of knowledge. Most parents won’t know what signs to look for, and so they fail to recognize if their child has special needs requirements that aren’t currently being met. That’s why there’s no such thing as “too early” when it comes to having your child evaluated.

But what exactly does that mean?

Evaluation isn’t the same as it is in school or college. It isn’t about knowing all the right answers to a rigid set of questions on a test or exam. It’s about figuring out whether or not your child’s strengths and weaknesses are on par with other children his or her age. Is your child’s development where it should be? This is something every parent should know. This is especially true if you already have a child with special needs. It increases the chances that your next one will require more attention as well.

If your child isn’t in school yet and you or a pediatrician feel the need for this kind of evaluation, then don’t hesitate. Knowing everything you can know now will help prepare you for the day when your child is placed in an unfamiliar social situation later. You’ll know what kind of programs are available when your child is in school.

If your child is already in school, then knowing how to manage and navigate the obstacles ahead should be priority one. The procedures in place for this time of evaluation usually take the form of various tests in order to identify learning, social, and attention disorders. These can take a few days, but the resulting information will be worth the wait. The tests will discern where your child places in terms of key skills based on age. These include mathematics, reading, writing, website designs etc.

If your child is special needs and requires additional attention, then you might be entitled to support systems that weren’t available to you before the evaluation.  Usually these include an Individualized Education Program (IEP) specifically catered to the needs of your child. Although many children might be enrolled in similar programs, each child’s needs are different, and so the type and amount of attention provided is personalized. The IEP allows you to become involved in a manner not typically available to other parents with children enrolled in the public school system. If your child has specific academic needs that you feel aren’t properly addressed, you’ll have the opportunity to fight to see them met.

This knowledge can help your child understand how their struggles can be better managed throughout the years, and often will help better integrate them into familiar environments. It will also help relieve a lot of the burden you often shoulder as the parent. It’s a win-win for everyone.

New Technology for Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy can result in moderate or severe symptoms that range from mobility issues and brain-related thinking problems to pain or seizures. Cerebral palsy is classified as a permanent movement disorder, sometimes genetic, sometimes caused by brain damage. Because movement can be extremely inhibited in those suffering from the disorder, new technology shows the potential to be a bright light illuminating a long, dark path sometimes without end.

Researchers out of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that operates in Bethesda, Maryland are providing kids who suffer from this disorder with mechanical exoskeletons to help them experience a range of motion that might otherwise be impossible for them to achieve, especially when confronted with longer distances that normally present a greater challenge. The researchers may have expected some pushback from the participating kids, but that’s not what happened. It turns out that everyone likes feeling superhuman every once in awhile. Thanks, Iron Man. You really know how to make lemon into lemonade. 

The biggest obstacle for kids who grow up with cerebral palsy can be the transition to adulthood. When you’re forced to walk with a crouched stance that isn’t atypical for palsy sufferers on a regular basis, it’s not uncommon to lose mobility as you grow older. Sometimes, walking becomes impossible as the years advance. The purpose of the exoskeleton is to increase the longevity of the bones, joints, muscles, and tendons by allowing the children to further extend their legs while they walk. It does this by wrapping the legs with metal supports that help manage the knee’s mobility during the rhythm that most of us maintain without thinking while we walk about.

Sometimes surgery can provide the same benefits, but a noninvasive approach is certainly always welcomed by parents and children alike. During routine surveillance of seven children during six separate visits, researchers were able to determine that the mechanical construct achieved the intended purpose: knee extension. Better yet, the exoskeleton didn’t do all the work. The children were still forced to use their own muscles to walk. This is an important step for the researchers because any surgery usually requires that muscles and tendons be lengthened. If muscle deterioration had occurred during the visits, then they would have failed in their goals.

The real proof of success comes next, though. Seven kids is a start, but it isn’t nearly enough to make any real conclusions. A larger trial in which many more children will don the exoskeletons will inevitably be conducted. The real difference is in the amount of time they have with the new technology though. While these exoskeletons were worn briefly, and only on a handful of occasions, the next study will occur with children who get to wear them for an entire year.

The team of researchers responsible for the project is also looking to expand to children with other mobility disabilities.

Teaching Tips For Autistic

Many people struggle with autism spectrum disorder. For those who have it, the sensory inputs of everyday life can be overwhelming and cause unwanted behaviors, not to mention the challenges of education and learning. For others, it can be a great exercise in patience and understanding, to see a child struggle with what many of us consider to be routine in the world around us. For those in a position of educating children with autism, this can be especially challenging due to the need to accommodate the tendencies followed by autism. This is hard to say that those with autism should be labeled or treated as anything besides normal. Like all children, they simply require attention and specific accommodations that maximize their potential to learn and understand the basics from math to science to their ABCs. Some children are visual learners, some are oral learners, some learn through application. And while autism is challenging in itself, the ability to learn is no less present for those who have autism with the proper methods, techniques and teaching tips.

One of the greater challenges to autism spectrum disorder is overstimulation through external sources. Flickering lights, bright or attracting colors, loud sounds or even large groups of people can be distracting, even discomforting, for those with autism. This sort of overstimulation can also lead to challenging behavior and cause children with autism to exhibit anxiety. Providing a calm atmosphere with minimal distractions so children can focus is key in this regard. If need be, accommodations via specified work areas should be arranged when particular tasks need to be completed. Involving their interests in the body of tasks as much as possible can also encourage children to focus and complete the tasks they are given. Feel free to be selective about activities in which they may or may not participate due to lack of interest, and make sure to encourage open-ended tasks and group work.

Differentiating verbal communication can also be challenging for those with autism. Avoid using sarcasm or idioms, as the literal meaning of your words is likely to be understood or considered more quickly than your tone or inflection. Be sure to use concise directions, and don’t overwhelm children with too many steps at a time. In Temple Grandin‘s guide for teaching children and adults with autism, she specified how she was unable to remember more than three steps if asking for directions and would require written instructions to follow. Sometimes, when you are giving instructions, children will return them with blank stares. Try rewording your instructions, and encourage children to repeat them back to you to demonstrate understanding on their part. Be sure to address children as directly as possible, by name if need be. This will assure them that they are part of a group that is being addressed so they can better understand that directions apply to them as well.

It is important to provide structure and routine for children with autism. Deviating from routine can also result in challenging behaviors or anxiety similar to overstimulation. Be sure to set specific times for regularly-performed activities and stick to them as closely as possible. If this should become an issue at any point, the best course of action is to alert children of a break in routine preemptively rather than allow them to discover it on their own. This will give them time to process the deviation. It is also encouraged that they are given small amounts of free time for what some may call obsessive behavior as a reward for adhering to structure and reinforcing positive behaviors throughout the day.

It is also important to remember that not everyone involved will understand the displays of autism. Protecting children from teasing by their peers and making peers aware of autism, in general, is advised. Should a child make displays of anger or frustration, it is important that the target of their frustration may not match the source. Patience is essential, lest you end up frustrated as well and further encourage potentially unwanted behavior.