Are you and your child confused by school maths?

I am delighted to offer you a FREE online call with Steve Chinn, a world-renowned expert in the teaching of mathematics, especially in the primary stages.
Book your FREE online webinar place here, for Wednesday 10th July at 7:30pm.
Steve quotes that 25% of young adults in the UK have poor numeracy, with those diagnosed as dyscalculic having no understanding of simple number concepts. So don’t worry you are not alone.  His approach uses a lot of visual imagery and is thus very complimentary to Empowering Learning and really resonates with me.
Empowering Learning practitioners  teach students how to get control of their images including numbers and a little on times tables, especially when the experiences of neurodivergent students may be very different; starting with out of control mental images and deep anxiety,  Steve builds on student’s visual images to teach the who range of number skills developing the students’ visual imagery for all mathematics. When students have not developed these skills they need to briefly go back to the beginning, building their confidence at every step. In just one hour you will improve your understanding, learn a few tips and discover how you can learn more.
Book your FREE online webinar place here, for Wednesday 10th July at 7:30pm.
You would really benefit from looking at his website before the session
#mathematics #mentalimages #visualimagery #stevechinn #empoweringlearning #webinar #maths #primarymaths #elephantsintheclassroom
For more information about learning to visualise numbers, go to, it is an easy skill to learn once you know how or take a look at “The Elephants in the Classroom: uncovering every student’s natural power of mental imagery to enhance learning“.  To find out more, order your own copy here, or more than 10 copies here or on or
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How young can you spot learning differences?

baby looking upThrough our work with children and adults with various learning challenges, we have realised that the place to start is with very young children and ensure they are making the most effective use of their mental images as they start to learn.

Click here to learn more

#learningdifferences #mentalimages #learningchallenges #children

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Is SEND at breaking point?

archieYesterday’s article in the Observer, talks of a 26% increase in the number of court appeals, a total of 6374 appeals lodged in 2018-19. Full text below.

So we have a “perfect storm” for special educational needs;  parents are desperately trying to do the best for their children, but this can be very expensive for them. They are exhausted battling various educational systems but the needs are exploding, all amongst more and more limited funding for schools.

As Einstein is reputed to have said: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results “? It is clear to me that we can’t continue to do the same thing amongst skyrocketing need. And then today’s Guardian says that 1 in 3 people in prison have learning difficulties.    So what else can we do?  Clearly something different to what we are doing!  

As someone, who by today’s standards would be diagnosed as Dyslexic, ADHD and a bit of Aspergers, several years ago I “tripped over” a key to much of this chaos.  I call it the Elephants in the Classroom.  Those things that everyone knows about but few discuss:

  • the vital role of mental imagery in learning, that some call visual imagery; those pictures that even our youngest children hold in their heads to assist recognition, your memory, literacy, numeracy, concentration, comprehension, etc.
  • keeping calm, feeling safe and grounded so that your images are stable and a major asset, rather than developing into a sensory overload nightmare for our brightest neurodivergent students.
  • unpicking the students’ strengths to assist with their challenges.
  • we must start young, preferably pre-school and include improving parents’ understanding, who may share some of the same challenges.
  • the damage that is happening to our children’s mental health amongst continual testing and failure.

And when SEND is finally broken what are we going to do about it for future generations? We need to change the system for our youngest students and in parallel implement those same changes in an age-appropriate way for our older students.  The costs of teaching students these skills are minimal and the results are exceptional.

For more information go to (part of the International Association for Health and Learning).

This is all documented in a new book, called “The Elephants in the Classroom: uncovering every student’s natural power of mental imagery to enhance learning“.  To find out more, order your own copy here, or more than 10 copies here or on or

#school #theelephantsintheclassroom #grounded #visualimagery #mentalimagery #safe #sensoryoverload #strengths #neurodivergent #observer #guardian #insanity #parents #einstein



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Does your child explode after school like a shaken soda can?

cokecanA problem with Soda cans is that when they are shaken enough, they tend to explode when opened. This can happen with our students as well. After a long day in school, they may be ready to explode at home.

Sometimes the day in school may have seemingly gone well, but on other occasions, there may have been problems, that built up inside your student to the point of explosion. This energy build-up is very common with ungrounded sensitive students.

Being grounded might be understood as feeling balanced and collected, leading to wiser decisions, feeling more focused and being more present with those around us. We can feel most grounded when we are well-rested and in a comfortable environment.

Being ungrounded can be the cause of oversensitivity and feeling vulnerable in everyday situations. Just like a tree with unearthed roots or a building without firm foundations, a person who is ungrounded is more likely to be affected by the events that happen around them.

When it comes to dealing with new experiences, and school can be a unique experience every day, being able to stay calm and grounded with time to process all this further information afterwards in a quiet environment is invaluable. Without this space, processing new information is often an explosion of thoughts, frequently visual, that vie for your attention. People can switch from feeling grounded to being ungrounded in seconds when something upsets them and then they find it hard to function and have any logical conversation.

Please note that being grounded in this context is feeling fully in your body, embodied and safe. This is nothing the same as grounding a child by sending them to their bedroom in disgrace, although it would be useful to get grounded in this situation too.

To switch back to being grounded is a skill to learn and with practice, can be achieved in seconds. There are techniques which are faster than meditation and mindfulness and you can use whenever you wish, taking just a few moments, without anyone knowing.

This is an extract from my latest book,  “The Elephants in the Classroom: uncovering every student’s natural power of mental imagery to enhance learning“.  To find out more, order your own copy here, or more than 10 copies here or on or

#school #soda #explosion #grounded #oversensitivity #skill  #sensitive #doesyourchildexplode


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How do you know it is safe to cross the road?

safetysmallI have heard many parents say that however many times they tell their child about basic safety, say for crossing the road or swinging from bars, they just don’t seem to take it in. Well, I have a little explanation that might help every parent before disaster strikes, as it did to one parent I saw posting recently.

When you go to cross the road, what are you aware of? You may have a little voice in your head saying “look out for the lorry”, or “I need to check what is coming”, or “let’s wait for the traffic lights to change” or “stop”.  These and more are all possibilities that come from your own internal dialogue; that is a little voice in your head that tries to keep you safe.  Start noticing your own internal dialogue, it will pop up regularly to give you warnings about all sorts of things.  Now, what happens if you are in a panic?  You are late for the bus or school?  You are busy thinking about something else or listening to something on your phone? Everything has been going wrong this morning and you are scared about a test in school?

Are you listening to that little voice in your head that is trying to keep you safe? Are there too many thoughts going on in your head to listen to a little voice?  Psychologists say it is easier to hear that little voice when looking down. It is certainly easier to be aware of this little voice when you are calm and fully grounded in your body; that is where everything works better. So stop for a second, breathe out slowly, and try listening to your own inner wisdom. When you are listening try teaching your children to listen to their own wisdom.

My condolences go to anyone involved in an accident of any kind and I can only trust that this message and increased understanding might keep a few more of our beloved children safe.


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School – Trying to learn in the Dark

in the darksmallDreading my turn to read – 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.

A teacher once told my mother that my brain was far too fast for my hand, which was nearly accurate.  Whilst reading this, you may notice I have a very different perspective on many things, which is a common and positive neurodivergent trait.

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.

This is an extract from my latest book,  “The Elephants in the Classroom: uncovering every student’s natural power of mental imagery to enhance learning“.  To find out more, order your own copy here, or more than 10 copies here or on or

#neurodivergent #learningdifferences #learning #learningdifficulty #students #reading  #mentalimages #atrociousspelling #French

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The Parents Heartache

p20_catching fast picturesTrying to help children who learn differently – both to you, as a parent, and to the average child in their class – can be an enormous heartache and source of frustration for both parents and teachers, not to mention their children. My heart goes out to all those parents I meet who have no idea how and why their children are struggling so much and who have not even heard of “mental imagery.”

As parents strive to do the very best for their children, they encounter various questions on social media such as:
“I am new to dyslexia; what do I do now?”
“My child is struggling; at what age should I press for a diagnosis?”
“I can see my child facing the same challenges I did, and I feel so guilty.”
“Whom do I need to contact to make some real progress?”

To those, I say: “Learning differently doesn’t mean you have learning difficulties. We can empower you with new knowledge and skills.”

Let’s assume just for a moment that there is nothing wrong with these students; there is no condition to assess, no “deficit” to find; only to discover their neurodivergent strengths and how best to use them.  Perhaps the questions we should be asking are: How we can best teach a neurodivergent population? Or: How can we change the way we teach to include our brightest children? These questions were first poised in 1911 by Hans Asperger who “instead of seeing the children in his care as flawed, broken, or sick, believed they were suffering from neglect by a culture that had failed to provide them with the teaching methods suited to their individual style of learning. He had an uncanny knack for spotting signs of potential in every boy or girl, no matter how difficult or rebellious they were alleged to be.”  We must urgently address this fundamental question that has largely been overlooked, since that time. We need vital help from students, parents and teachers to bring about change.

Working as a family is essential to success.  You will learn how you can best investigate your children’s skills even before they go to school and indeed before they learn to talk. Curiosity encourages the development of a healthy, mutual learning environment where students feel empowered to grow. Moreover, this allows whole families to learn and grow together.  When students learn a new strategy, they have to practice to become an expert. Any new skill you are developing requires practice. In some instances, however, young people may choose not to do this for a variety of reasons.  Although they do not want to fail again, they may also not want to let down or show up friends or other family members, who share the same challenge. When working with students, I ask them to identify who else they can now teach, to reinforce the learning and encourage people to help each other.

The ability to successfully learn new skills is fundamental to the existence of every living creature. As we grow up, we continually acquire new talents naturally, often with little education. Parents of these neurodivergent students often marvel at how their child knows about things nobody has taught them. However, their natural capabilities can pull them in a different direction where traditional learning poses a much tougher challenge. When  neurodivergent students don’t naturally acquire these required skills and conventions, the world becomes more confusing, and they may often be identified as being “learning disabled.” I have lost count of how many parents, who, after a short explanation of mental imagery, exclaim: “This makes so much sense”.

This is an extract from “The Elephants in the Classroom: uncovering every student’s natural power of mental imagery to enhance learning“.  To find out more, order your own copy here, or more than 10 copies here or on or

#parents #neurodivergent #learningdifferences #asperger #familysupport #learning #learningdisabled #students #mentalimagery #learning #curiosity

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