What is Grounding, why is it so important and what’s the connection with Learning and breathing

  1. Listen to this brief 20 mins recording: https://youtu.be/TQ7xB8Mgn08

Grounding is something that many people don’t know about and why it is so important for learning and so much more. This session will explain what grounding is, in answer to those people who look at me somewhat surprised and think it is something to do with being sent to your bedroom for misbehaving.

With so much happening at the moment, at such a fast pace, it is difficult to remain grounded and not exhausted. So join us for a quick session on the importance of grounding, what grounding is and how to stay grounded when you want.

2. Then explore Grounding and Learning : https://youtu.be/IS3BtyW0RzA

Being ungrounded when trying to learn or remember anything, looks roughly like this: loads of windows open, no structure, unable to concentrate, a bit wobbly and mounting confusion. Sound familiar? Whether you are a parent, a teacher or a student understanding this connection will make so much sense; and why didn’t anyone tell you this before – few people know. People tell me that “grounding is possibly the most vital component of the whole Empowering Learning toolbox of skills, everyone should know about this”.

You can learn why grounding is so important for everyone’s learning, especially any neurodivergent students, who may come with a variety of diagnoses such as ADHD, ASD, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, etc. You can learn the skills simply and easily for yourself, with just a bit of practice and no cost.

And if you want to learn simple processes for yourself, check out the recordings from my book Bridges to Success, with credit to Art Giser:
Preparing to change: https://youtu.be/z5Y7Br4HimY
Grounding Yourself: https://youtu.be/1H49eGTjjZI
Grounding the physical environment: https://youtu.be/6hosDecAMTc
Releasing blocks: https://youtu.be/UAkCPjfM8vw

Since publishing these we have learned how calm, gentle breathing improves grounding. Do refer my other videos for breathing.

Olive Hickmott
olive@empoweringlearning.co.uk
http://www.empoweringlearning.co.uk

You can read more about these visualisation techniques and more case studies in the book The Elephants in The Classroom – uncovering every student’s natural power of mental imagery to enhance learning available here ,  and also from Amazon USAAmazon UKKindle.

#Neurodivergent #empoweringlearning #theelephantsintheclassroom #mentalimagery #grounding #breathing #visualisation #ADHD #ASD #Dyslexia #dyspraxia

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Would you like your child to really enjoy reading?

Do you have a bookworm in the house? This child is just loving completing a David Walliams book in 24 hours. We know that children who are fluent readers like this have:

* mastered holding thousands of words in their mind, so that they just recognise words
* only have to break down a very few unusual words
* are reading for meaning rather than obsessing over each individual word
* are probably creating pictures in their mind’s eye, to aid their memory, of what the story was about.
* holding the book up that aids being totally relaxed
* is totally engrossed without any parental pressure.

These are visual skills and come naturally to some children. But if your child doesn’t get these skills they are totally teachable and very quickly when you use the right strategy that matches their visual skills. Just drop me a mail and prepare to be amazed as you discover what is possible.

Whether your child has been home schooled since Covid-19, or back in school, or you are moving to home education, you and your child can learn these skills quickly and easily and they are fun.

Olive Hickmott
olive@empoweringlearning.co.uk
http://www.empoweringlearning.co.uk

You can read more about using visualisation techniques to enable learning and more case studies in the book The Elephants in The Classroom – uncovering every student’s natural power of mental imagery to enhance learning. Available here ,  and also from Amazon USAAmazon UK.

#empoweringlearning #theelephantsintheclassroom #homeeducation #davidwalliams #homeschooling #homeeducation #visualskills

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A reformed Dyslexic – growing up in the dark

Reprinted from Chapter 2: The Elephants in the Classroom – uncovering every student’s natural power of mental imagery to enhance learning

My real passion is to alleviate and prevent much of the confusion that threatens to overwhelm students. Teachers and parents of children under 7 years old need to incorporate visualisation into any and all forms of teaching and learning, especially literacy and numeracy. Nobody showed me how to use my visual brain for literacy – something that has affected my entire life. It would have been simply turning on what had been turned off.

Allow me the indulgence of sharing my own story in this regard.

I call myself a reformed dyslexic, because I struggled in school with literacy, long before dyslexia was commonly understood in schools. Had I been born later, I would probably have been labelled dyslexic. I have subsequently learned for myself those vital missing skills that have in turn inspired my efforts to help others. My hyperactive brain could have also got me diagnosed with ADHD and a splash of Asperger’s.  I am now an avid reader which has helped me to learn and reduce any number of other symptoms. My curiosity prompted me to discover why some EPIC students are successful while others struggle. From my perspective, there are very different experiences of mental imagery that dramatically affect every learner. 

I live in a permanent state of curiosity, with a ‘jigsaw-puzzle’ brain that people around me might find challenging but which has, I believe, the potential to be quite powerful. My mind can make intuitive leaps and see connections in things that others may keep separate. I see things clearly that others do not see. Things are obvious to me – I don’t know why – perhaps because of fast connections, insights or something else. There is nothing special about me, my brain likes understanding ‘why’ and connecting things, like huge jigsaw puzzles, in several dimensions. I see the same skills in many of my students. For someone who is neurodivergent, the biggest challenge is to present this knowledge in a way others can cope with and take action.
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School – Trying to Learn in the Dark

Entering the school system, in the UK, at age 4, my literacy was progressing, fitfully. By the age of seven, I was really struggling. My report at 16 says: “Hampered by lack of vocabulary and atrocious spelling, she has an inability to express herself clearly. It really would help if Olive could learn to spell.” I had been in the same school for 12 years and was generally a good but often shy student. It took me another 40 years to discover the secret of why literacy, in English, seemed so tricky. Having no mental images of words was like trying to read and write in the dark. I realised then that schools take no responsibility for their teaching methods negatively affecting their students’ ability to spell or read fluently.  I was expected to fix this, and I had no idea how to do it. I now regret, missing out on all that fabulous children’s literature, for I could read to myself, but I couldn’t remember anything I read. As a result, I found reading boring, and I only read those things I had to, rather than for pleasure. 

Also, I can remember, as if it were yesterday, with a clear picture of the room, being told I was tone-deaf and being told to leave the music class immediately. I was only around ten years old, and I was rejected without knowing why.  How many EPIC students are moved down a set without any explanation? This feeling resonates with what many of our EPIC students experience today about literacy, numeracy and so many other subjects.  They can’t do it, and they have no idea why. My spirits were kept up by excelling at sports and being good at maths, so maths is the degree I completed. 

A teacher once told my mother that my brain was far too fast for my hand, which was nearly accurate.  Whilst reading this book, you may notice I have a very different perspective on many things, which is a common and positive dyslexic trait. I have written this book to share these different approaches with students, their parents and their teachers.

I now feel privileged not to have been given any label in the past, although I knew my literacy skills were well below average. I recall wanting to disappear into the floor when we were reading aloud in class – dreading my turn coming around. I never read for pleasure until I was nearly 40 when I wanted to read to our son. How could I contemplate reading anything for fun when I found it such a nightmare? For me, it was extremely difficult to remember what I had read and, when putting a book down, a bookmark was essential. I also studied French for years and never managed to achieve ‘O’ level. Now, whose idea was it to teach me another language, when I couldn’t spell in my first language?

However, I did GCSE and A Levels Maths a year early, which was almost unheard of in the 1970s, thanks partly to my excellent mental images of numbers. I then graduated from Sussex University with an honours degree in mathematics.

Just like my clients, I was the child who always asked “Why should we do this?” and “How does that work?”  I have learned so much from clients, and come to understand more about what each brain wants and needs in order to make learning easier, and decipher what is happening for the student.  I don’t pretend to know all the answers for every learning difficulty as I am also continually learning, but I hope the understanding you will gain from this book will give you many new perspectives to try.

My Corporate Career

University was followed by a successful career as a software engineer, first developing systems for medical blood analysis which had 150 software programs all interacting with thousands of patient records. When looking for a software bug, I remember developing the strange knack of being almost able to dialogue with the programmes, asking which could have changed those data bits incorrectly – visualising the components in my head, trying them out and fixing what didn’t work – all using clear mental images.

I progressed from engineer to department manager and finally research and development director in a hi-tech data communications company. I was involved in the early days of the Internet, managing up to 100 software engineers, hardware engineers, authors and a customer support staff.  One of the excellent skills I possessed was to be able to see problems and challenges from very different perspectives; a useful skill when working in a complex global company. The downside, of course, is that you can be overwhelmed by seeing too many different perspectives to make a decision.

When, years later, I first discovered that good spellers could see words in their head, I was dumbfounded that I had never thought of trying this. I was furious that no one had told me about this skill, which others had taken for granted.  I then turned this into a passion for offering others these skills. 

Revisiting my own Education

Living in a permanent state of curiosity, I challenge the status quo and want to know why things are the way they are.  A neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) training programme introduced me to visualising words in just 15 minutes. Those 15 minutes set me off on this new journey of discovery and ultimately changed my life. Picture visualisation works efficiently for most people, but many need to develop new skills for words and numbers. Having discovered how people who are good at spelling do it, I worked out a method to teach others to achieve the same exceptional success rates.  I needed to help them resolve areas of confusion, such as letters jumping around on the page, being overwhelmed, stressed out or having low self-esteem, before they could all achieve what they wanted.  Then I moved onto the rest of literacy, for example, reading, comprehension and handwriting. I even discovered how I made maths easy for myself when others struggled. Above all, I needed to make teaching these skills person-centred, easy for the student, the teacher and a parent home educating. My consulting practice, Empowering Learning,TM was born in 2002 and continues, today, to train people around the globe.

With a bit of help from inspirational authors like Temple Grandin’s brilliant account of her own experiences, I figured out how to help students improve concentration while avoiding sensory overload, fidgeting, zoning-out and so many other impediments.

As is my wont, I looked outside the box to discover what neurodiversity, neuroscience and metacognition could contribute to the story and found limited but valuable research. For example, most people believe that everyone’s symptoms are different, especially on the autistic spectrum. I agree with researchers that even with dyslexia, different people are affected to varying degrees. But exploring the bigger picture, including dyspraxia, dyscalculia, ADHD, Asperger’s, 48XXYY and autism, I discovered a theme running through all of them and that theme is how we use mental imagery for thinking and learning. It is common to almost all neurodivergent skills and is, of course, the reason for this book. 

As my journey continued, I realised I could now overcome some of the challenges I had assumed that I had no control over, and the process of change was really gratifying. I also realised that I had always been able to visualise numbers (hence the maths degree) but had never imagined visualising words.

What did I need from my teachers? I was great at mental arithmetic because I was easily visualising numbers and all I needed was a teacher who asked me how I did maths so quickly and who would then help me to learn how to add words to my pictures; Unleashing trapped potential.  These skills would have prevented me from growing up riddled with anxiety and stress about literacy.

What I Realise Now

I realise now I had very fast-moving images of pictures, often moving so rapidly I couldn’t recall them. I had no mental images of words and yet good mental images of numbers for mental arithmetic.  As a result of learning how to use mental imagery for words, I let go of my crippling confusion over spelling and reading. I love reading now, whereas it used to send me to sleep and my spelling is patchy.  The area I have never caught up with involves all the technical details of English, such as sentence construction, styles of writing, etc., all of which should have become embedded at a young age.  I was too busy just trying to spell each word.

My story is like so many of those with whom I work – they have fabulous visual skills, neither they nor others appreciate. Nobody has taught them how to optimise these skills to visualise numbers, letters, whole words, sentences and stories; keeping them still or moving them at will and moving pictures around to see different perspectives. I am always distressed to meet so many adults who have been made to feel ashamed of their spelling and reading and are too traumatised even to discuss it.  

After understanding how to help people explore their mental images and learning how to teach these simple skills, I moved onto really understanding how neurodivergent people use their mental images for all manner of different activities, often in situations far superior to my own experiences.  I added brain research, personal energy, motivation to change, the concept of growth mind-sets and family coaching, all in an effort to facilitate learning.

I have seen time and time again, that if students are prepared to practice, as I have, to change a long-established habit, they can overcome the confusing and debilitating symptoms, in minutes or hours, thus escaping the trauma of failure.

I didn’t value my visual skills as a child. Now I realise the gift I had been given – to see many different perspectives simultaneously and make extraordinary connections at high speed – was the very skill that made words so confusing, as they “flew past” in a blur. Like many other people, I had taken my positive skills for granted and not realised that it wasn’t second nature to everyone. These skills are invaluable to me. I employ them many times, every day, especially when coaching individuals, to really understand another person’s experience. I am now very appreciative of these valuable gifts and wouldn’t be without them. All my clients have outstanding gifts, but they often don’t realise their own exceptional and diverse skills.

I have always worked as an outsider, without specialist training in education or an official professional position from which to explain or defend and shape my perspectives. I have focused on primary research relying on stories, anecdotes, first-person accounts and my own experiences to help me develop this approach. I listen to affected EPIC students; they are the experts, and without their valuable assistance, these insights would not have been possible. I have come to trust them more than I do many conventional academic theories. My observations and experiences have enabled me to develop techniques that complement conventional approaches. As a result, I can empower individuals to take action, using resources they already possess in order to positively affect their health and offset any learning challenges.

Olive Hickmott
olive@empoweringlearning.co.uk
http://www.empoweringlearning.co.uk

You can read more about using visualisation techniques to enable learning and more case studies in the book The Elephants in The Classroom – uncovering every student’s natural power of mental imagery to enhance learning. Available here ,  and also from Amazon USAAmazon UK.

#empoweringlearning #theelephantsintheclassroom #homeeducation #breakthroughliteracy #dyslexic #dyslexia

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Breakthrough Literacy – any child can use this simple skill

In minutes you will practice how to visualise words and switch the light bulb on in your brain for fluent reading and spelling. If you are struggling with spelling or reading at home, visualising words is fun and aids concentration, even if you are diagnosed dyslexic or ADHD. As 1 in 5 people experience difficulties, it is more than likely you will know someone this can help. All you need is to come along with an open mind, a post-it pad and a felt pen. Register in advance here and boost any home education you are planning.  Tuesday 28th July 12noon for 1 hour.
https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZUrcOyvpj4qE9VascnSq_x4svJtkpTcKQ3X

Olive Hickmott
olive@empoweringlearning.co.uk
http://www.empoweringlearning.co.uk

You can read more about using visualisation techniques to enable learning and more case studies in the book The Elephants in The Classroom – uncovering every student’s natural power of mental imagery to enhance learning. Available here ,  and also from Amazon USAAmazon UK.

#empoweringlearning #theelephantsintheclassroom #homeeducation #breakthroughliteracy

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Home education for literacy made easy

p49_dinasaurWord recognition is necessary for fluent reading.  But with an emphasis on phonics ONLY, word recognition is left either left to chance or not being taught well in school.  One of the first words you can be expected to read or write is your name and the easy way to do that is through word recognition.

There are at least 7 ways that are poor strategies for developing word recognition, that can be improved, by the work done by Empowering Learning with the aid of neuroscience:

  1. Being stressed –  when you are stressed it is very difficult to do anything and that includes reading and writing. Being asked to read aloud in school will ramp up a child’s stress levels. Grounding, breathing and being relaxed will improve this.
  2. 3 positions for reading – try reading looking down at the desk, then with the book slightly tipped up then with the book right up in front of your eyes.  Which is the best position for you? Flat on the table is normally more difficult and if you have any visual stress with the letters moving around on the page, don’t look down it puts you into negative emotions or nasty self-talk.
  3. Expecting that decoding words through phonics will lead to word recognition. This works for some but others drop into mild or severe learning difficulties. It is a poor strategy as neuroscience tells us that word recognition and decoding words work in different parts of the brain and it relies on luck to make this migration. Read on and see how this can be improved.
  4. Techniques where you look at the word, cover it and then attempt to write it (Look, cover, write).  When students are looking down at a desk they are not in the best position for getting their brain to access their word form area that is part of their internal mental imagery.  When students look up they will have better access to mental imagery, vital for word recognition.  For example, think of a dog; looking up will give you the best picture, looking down will get you into your emotions (maybe frightened) and self-talk (thinking he will bite me). The series that works best is Lookup, capture the image, see the image and write it down (without looking down at the paper).
  5. Focusing on high-frequency words does not encourage word recognition, most don’t have mental images.  Start with object words until the student is confident of visualising words.
  6. Modelling plasticine is a useful technique but is slow and repetitive and it does not encourage the student to look up and see their own mental images
  7. Nonsense words focus on phonics and we certainly don’t want students creating mental images of nonsense words.

Join our series of Changing Dyslexia for a new decade and find out do word recognition easily and effectively in minutes, whether or not you are Dyslexic.  This work is all based on how people who do word recognition successfully do it, it is just a skill to learn.

#homeeducation #homeschooling #dyslexia #wordrecognition #nonsensewords #highfrequencywords #lookcoverwrite #decoding #empoweringlearning #lookcoverwrite #phonics

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Dispatch those reading gremlins

Reading for fun in 30 mins and 10 seconds is on the Active in Redbourn, facebook page this Thursday at 11am. Symon Vegro, a local author, is talking to Olive Hickmott about

*Motivation to read
*The simple and natural techniques to enable our creative and imaginative children to read in the way that works best for them – visually through whole word recognition.

To follow up, on Tuesday 28th July, I am running a special birthday treat for me – a free zoom called “Breakthrough literacy”. In minutes you will practice how to visualise words and switch the light bulb on in your brain for fluent reading and spelling. All you need is to come along with an open mind, a post-it pad and a felt pen. Register in advance here and boost any home education you are planning.  https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZUrcOyvpj4qE9VascnSq_x4svJtkpTcKQ3X

Olive Hickmott
olive@empoweringlearning.co.uk
http://www.empoweringlearning.co.uk

You can read more about using visualisation techniques to enable learning and more case studies in the book The Elephants in The Classroom – uncovering every student’s natural power of mental imagery to enhance learning available here ,  and also from Amazon USAAmazon UK.

#empoweringlearning #theelephantsintheclassroom #homeeducation #progressiveeducation #breakthroughliteracy

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How is home schooling going?

Due to Covid-19 millions of parents have been attempting home schooling, without any preparation or training. Of course, they have been having a whole range of experiences from very good to deeply distressing for a number of reasons.

I have been looking into the whole range of home education options and learnt so much from the experts talking at the HGS2020 summit and grounding it back into a series of very practical explanations on the Progressive Education Group facebook page, that is full of knowledge and experiences.

I have learned so much, I must admit to being amazed as to just what has been going on and is offered in the big wide world. One of the original advocates of enabling children to learn rather than being taught to a strict curriculum was John Holt (dec). His book How Children Learn, taught me how to help our son to speak, when he had decided at 18 months old he did not like any attempt to help him. So we backed off and appeared to understand everything he said. The transformation back to fluent speaking took just 2 days. Something similar happened with reading later – It’s as if he said; I will read what I want (sports report in the newspaper, like dad), when I want and I don’t need any help. This was an extraordinary transformation. He now has a PHD and is a university professor.

For those who have had good experiences during the lock-down, many may now be considering home education. I would love to hear your views.

Olive Hickmott
olive@empoweringlearning.co.uk
http://www.empoweringlearning.co.uk

You can read more about using visualisation techniques to enable learning and more case studies in the book The Elephants in The Classroom – uncovering every student’s natural power of mental imagery to enhance learning available here ,  and also from Amazon USAAmazon UKKindle.

#empoweringlearning #theelephantsintheclassroom #homeeducation #HGS2020 #progressiveeducation

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Neurodivergent Wednesday: Mental Health made easy

Access the short recording https://youtu.be/-46wEuXs0Uk

Mental health?

Have you ever been confused about someone saying this is a mental health condition? How does mental health develop and what tools can you learn to help. All of this and more will be covered in my discussion with ex-GP Mind Coach, Richard de Souza. We will also discuss how mental health relates to learning differences.

Olive Hickmott is a health and learning coach with a wealth of experience working with neurodivergent students. Let her and Richard help you connect the dots, so you can understand the connection to mental health.

Access the short recording https://youtu.be/-46wEuXs0Uk

Olive Hickmott
olive@empoweringlearning.co.uk
http://www.empoweringlearning.co.uk

You can read more about these visualisation techniques and more case studies in the book The Elephants in The Classroom – uncovering every student’s natural power of mental imagery to enhance learning available here ,  and also from Amazon USAAmazon UKKindle.

#Neurodivergent #empoweringlearning #theelephantsintheclassroom #mentalimagery #mentalhealth #learningdifferences

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Catching up with visual learning is fun for all kids

A simple solution

During lock-down I have been creating short videos of the key visual skills to improve literacy and numeracy for visual creative students. There are only 4 vital topics: reducing anxiety, finding strengths, visualising words and numbers.

As I know that parents have very limited time, some are as short as 5 minutes some a bit longer. Download the attached single pages and choose which Youtubes best meet your needs. You can even let your child try them out for themselves – learning visually is fun and matches how many learn best. Students can change rapidly when they get the right strategy that matches their skills.

Here is a very brief summary of the material attached. This vital knowledge is not just for your child / student but for you too, to understand the key visual skills they have missed.

Watch the short summary recording on youtube: https://youtu.be/11BcOSVXp2s

Olive Hickmott
olive@empoweringlearning.co.uk
http://www.empoweringlearning.co.uk

You can read more about these visualisation techniques and more case studies in the book The Elephants in The Classroom – uncovering every student’s natural power of mental imagery to enhance learning available here ,  and also from Amazon USAAmazon UKKindle.

#Neurodivergent #empoweringlearning #theelephantsintheclassroom #mentalimagery #literacy #numeracy

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Neurodivergent Wednesday: Weird symptoms of being ungrounded

Listen to the brief recording here

Are you feeling safe?

Do you or your child have these symptoms? Feeling unsafe, being deaf, not being able to wee/poo, can’t sleep, talking rapidly, wobbly, head banging, frantically running up and down the stairs, highly sensitive, hates clothes, clumsy, hyper-mobility, doesn’t get risk when crossing the road, no memory of bad behavior.

Being ungrounded can generate some really odd symptoms that you would not necessarily connect. In 10 minutes I will help you join the dots for you.

Olive Hickmott is a health and learning coach with a wealth of experience working with neurodivergent students, who are often ungrounded. Let her help you connect the dots, so you can understand the importance of grounding.

Listen to the brief recording here: https://youtu.be/MYKvvLCssCA

Olive Hickmott
olive@empoweringlearning.co.uk
http://www.empoweringlearning.co.uk

You can read more about these visualisation techniques and more case studies in the book The Elephants in The Classroom – uncovering every student’s natural power of mental imagery to enhance learning available here ,  and also from Amazon USAAmazon UKKindle.

#Neurodivergent #empoweringlearning #theelephantsintheclassroom #mentalimagery #grounding #memory #ungrounded #cantpoo #cantsleep #deaf #highlysensitive #hatesclothes #clumsy #hypermobility #nomemory

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