Personal Reflections 2017 – How did Academy Northwest look after 10 years of having its own graduation ceremony?

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Graduation, 2006 – Academy Northwest’s graduation program tells the story. All over Western Washington we have “learning centers” operated by Teacher Consultants. Our title, Teacher Consultants includes two of our functions. We teach classes to our students and we consult with their parents. Our model forms a triangle; each part has responsibilities and benefits.  Visit our website to see the “Family Academy Way” which illustrates how our affiliate school, Academy Northwest, operates.

The Family Academy Way

Here is an excerpt from that page:

The Family Academy Way includes, but is not limited to:

  • Learning within meaningful relationships
  • Accountability
  • Individualized learning plans
  • Professional guidance
  • Documentation of completed work (transcripts)
  • High standards (raising the bar)
  • Personalized help
  • Academic and personal excellence
  • Reinforcement of family values



Personal Reflections -2017 – 10 – What part do field trips and libraries play in homeschooling?


If you ask the students, I would venture to say that field trips played a big part in their learning. Over the years we often visited the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum and then we would go across the street to see the Botanical Conservatory. The Karpeles had rotating exhibits on many topics – always interesting and sometimes they fit right in with what we were studying. Then a stop to see exotic plants at the W.W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory in Wright’s Park in Tacoma topped off the day.

While our students needed to visit the public library for much of their research we did provide them with a lending library that grew over the years. When we moved to Oklahoma, much of our library found a new home in Arrow Academic Center, another Academy Northwest learning center in Bothell.

Some of our activities included a group of students and other included one-on-one studies.

Personal Reflections – 2017 – 9 – What happens when Monet, Copernicus, Newton, Bunyan, Boyle and Mozart to come to visit?


Our students learned about different historical figures through reading biographies.  Also, they gained public speaking / acting skills. You probably notice that we had a broad range of ages, 7th – 12th, in our learning center during those years. It is great to know that biographies are available at different reading levels so each student could work on his own level and participate with the class.  Some students could have a low reading level, but still presented well in class.

Personal Reflections 2017 – 7 -How did we adjust as our learning center grew?


After a year of using our remodeled garage as our learning center, Master Enterprises Learning Center moved into the living / dining room area.  Ronnie’s office moved into a “bedroom”.

Except for two short times in the future that is where the students met for classes.  Early on the remodeled garage was our living room, but after some time we actually lost our living room. That room was our bedroom for a while and finally Ronnie’s office. My office eventually moved into the largest “bedroom” as well, so you can see we were trying to make the most of the space we had.

After the first few years, our learning center grew to about 20 students. Some may have been taking just one class, such as Spanish or they may have been full time Academy Northwest students.

Preventing Meltdowns in Children


Many children experience meltdowns in an academic setting and at home. Some of these children are on the autism spectrum, others are not. Finding the underlying cause helps to prevent meltdowns.

One underlying cause relates to dominance. For example, a child may have a mixed dominance – that means some information enters the system through the right ear or eye and other information enters the left ear or eye. That information goes to different parts of the brain and the individual must look for it crossing from one hemisphere to the other. While looking for the information, at the very least, he takes a very long time finding it. At the worst, he gets frustrated or melts down. When the meltdown relates to dominance the solution is to establish a one-side dominance.

Another underlying cause relates to sensory perceptions. What seems like a normal sensation, visual, auditory, tactile to us may not be for this child.  This child may have hyper auditory reactions to sounds that register in a “normal” range.  Further, a light touch may activate a violent reaction. Neurodevelopmentalists recommend activities that stimulate these senses to normalize the response.

While working on these underlying causes with a neurodevelopmentalist, one may create an environment to aid in preventing these meltdowns. Using visual strategies are especially helpful for these individuals in knowing what will happen and what will not happen as well as making good transitions.  Visual tools work well because they can overload easily with auditory input. Even though visual input usually works better than auditory, one can provide a “too busy” visual environment. Organization helps, but do not overdo it.

Visual calendars / schedules and timers can help the individual know what to expect and to change from one activity to another. You can Google “visual timers” to see the great variety of timers available. Each one will provide a unique solution for different settings. If a child needs to understand the passage of time, analog or other types will help. Digital types do not help for all needs, but one certainly needs to be able to use all kinds.

Rules or Expectations should be visually posted in age/developmentally appropriate ways. Remember the appropriate number of rules will vary for individuals. You need to post, review and refer to these rules when you correct the child. This helps the child know what to expect. Unpredictable situations set them up for meltdowns.

Linda Hodgdon, expert in this area gives, “12 Essentials Every Classroom Must Have for Autism and Asperger’s Success”.  Do not try to implement all of these essentials all at once. Add one at a time. Starting with a personal schedule for the individual usually works best.

For more information.

Scientific Learning – Learning Accelerators

Scientific Learning’s Fast ForWord and Reading Assistant

Teach students to:

  • Distinguish sounds in words
  • Focus on reading content
  • Follow directions
  • Engage in class
  • Understand what they read
  • Read fluently

    More Info and Registration (click below):

Scientific Learning’s Fast ForWord and Reading Assistant

Info About All Of Our Services (click below):

        Unlocking Learning Potential – Getting Started

Dyslexia, ADHD or APD? Answers Based on Research

Unlocking Learning Potential

Have you been frustrated by trying to find the cause of your child’s learning struggles? Do you suspect that it could be Dyslexia or Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) or auditory processing disorder (APD)? I frequently hear from parents how difficult it is to get the right diagnosis and treatment for their child, especially when many learning or attention issues can look very similar.

What I’ve found is that many children exhibit symptoms similar to these:

  • Being easily distracted
  • Not engaging in class
  • Not following directions
  • Reversals
  • Slow, labored reading


CFND Keys Logo

Customized solutions to learning challenges.

Teachers and parents may feel like their children are not trying, not paying attention, or being disruptive when in fact what’s happening is that they try to pay attention but can’t follow what’s being said and eventually give up. These children may also receive a diagnosis of ADD or ADHD or APD or even Dyslexia but fail to see progress.

If your child exhibits any of these difficulties, we can help you address the underlying causes for these learning struggles. We offer Scientific Learning’s online products (Fast ForWord, Reading Assistant) at a low cost. Also, we offer personal online Brain Training Assessments and Brain Training.

Contact me with questions at:

Maggie Dail, MA

Learning Specialist

ICAN Certified Neurodevelopmentalist

More Info and Registration (click below):

Scientific Learning’s Fast ForWord and Reading Assistant

Info About All Of Our Services (click below):

Unlocking Learning Potential – Getting Started

Info from Scientific Learning

APD Whitepaper

Recognizing and Treating Children with Central Auditory Processing Disorders

Whitepaper by Maxine Young

This whitepaper is always a popular resource when we promote it. This is a great one to keep in your office or to email out in response to the email included above. This has also been added to the resources page.

APD/Fast ForWord® Research

Summary: After Fast ForWord use, children with language learning impairment (LLI) showed improved language skills and changes in patterns of neural activity that indicate “a change in cognitive control strategies.” This is consistent with other recent neuroscience studies on children with and without LLI (Stevens et al., 2008) and children with dyslexia (Temple et al., 2003). All of these studies suggest that the improved language and literacy performance seen after Fast ForWord use may result from better application of attentional and memory resources.

Summary: The authors concluded that measures of brain wave efficiency are not only correlated with auditory processing problems in children with language-based learning disabilities, but that the Fast ForWord Language program improves at least one measure of the brain wave efficiency and that is in turn correlated with improvements both in rapid auditory processing accuracy and also language skills.

Summary: After Fast ForWord use, the authors noted significant changes indicating plasticity in the auditory brainstem’s neural activity to speech stimuli.

Dyslexia Research: See The Difference

Amanda Miller’s Success Story:

The Stanford Study

Developmental dyslexia, characterized by unexplained difficulty in reading, is associated with behavioral deficits in phonological processing. The results of this study suggest that a partial remediation of language-processing deficits, resulting in improved reading, ameliorates disrupted function in brain regions associated with phonological processing and produces additional compensatory activation in other brain regions.

The Harvard Study

This study showed effective remediation with the children with developmental dyslexia, and that disrupted brain responsiveness to rapid auditory transitions of non-verbal sounds may be a risk factor for developmental dyslexia. Effective remediation through Fast ForWord® can foster neural plasticity that enhances brain responsiveness to rapid auditory transitions as well as improves language and reading skills.

This is great research from highly reputable institutions, but they’re a bit heavy on the scientific/technical side of things. Here is some more user friendly information:  Read this


Brain Rules by Dr. John Medina – Brain Rule # 9 – Stimulate More of the Senses


When our brains are neurologically organized and sensory input is received accurately, they process an incredible amount of input simultaneously.  In this rule, Dr. Medina concentrates primarily on the sense of smell which surprisingly plays a big part in our lives. It is the one sense that cannot be turned off.  The others must ask the thalamus for permission to transmit the sensation. We often remember things based upon an odor that our brains associated with an event.  Most of this takes place in association cortices which are “specialized areas that exist throughout the brain, including the parietal, temporal, and frontal lobes.”  They function as bridges between the sensory and motor areas. P. 204

This integration of sensory input proceeds through three steps: 1) sensation; 2) routing and 3) perception. Once the stimulus makes its way to the appropriate place, “various senses start merging their information. These integrated signals are sent to increasingly complex areas of the brain…and we begin to perceive what our senses have given us.” P. 203

For learning multisensory input is more efficient than unisensory input. Review’s note: If a student has difficulty with the the reception of sensory input and demonstrates sensory overload, the system must be normalized through neurodevelopmental activities.

Multisensory Rules:

1)    Multimedia principle – words and pictures are better than words alone.

2)    Temporal contiguity principle – words and pictures shown simultaneously are better than successively.

3)    Spatial contiguity principle – words and pictures that are near to each other are better than apart.

4)    Coherence principle – excluded extraneous material is better than included extraneous material.

5)    Modality principle – narrated animation is better than animation with written text.

“…researchers have found that certain types of memory are exquisitely sensitive to smells and other types of nearly impenetrable. Odors appear to do their finest work” … to retrieve emotional memories.  “Odors are not so good at retrieving declarative memory.”  P. 212 However, if we add an odor during a presentation of information, it adds an emotion to the mix and a memory forms.

”Smells have an unusual power to bring back memories maybe because smell signals bypass the thalamus and heads straight to their destinations which include that supervisor of emotions known as the amygdala.” P. 219

Homeschool Testing Season and Other Happenings at Center for Neuro Development

While I administer tests all year around, most of my families test between April and June. These months are especially busy around our home office and beyond. Some families have been a part of my schedule for over 20 years. Others have come for the first time this year. Many families have used my non-test assessment as a jumping off point to other tests – CAT, SAT and ITBS which I also administer. At the same time some families enjoy having younger children do the non-test assessment in my office, while older ones do the CAT in another room.

This testing season coincides with the end of the school year for Academy Northwest, an accredited private school with an extension program for homeschoolers – truly a blend between private school and independent homeschooling. This means grades, graduation and other activities. I began working with Family Academy / Academy Northwest in 1994. I continue to enjoy this affiliation to this day and am making plans for the new school year beginning in September!

In 2003, I began another affiliation with the International Christian Association of Neurodevelopmentalists, receiving certification in 2007. Using the neurodevelopmental approach I help families overcome learning struggles. By discovering the underlying missing pieces in development, parents can learn activities that will stimulate brain development. Evaluations and brain training serve to help families achieve academic progress.

For several years, we have used technology to deliver products and services to our families. ( During the last year we have increased the use of technology and are workng with Family Academy / Academy Northwest to help families with “Family Directed Education.” This is an ongoing process of development, but here are ways that we can help you now:

Family Academy’s Able to Teach – Parent Training Course delivered online.

Alpha Omega’s Ignitia (formerly Switched On Online) online curriculum for grades 4-12 .

Scientific Learning’s Fast ForWord – A Learning Accelerator with over 250 studies show that students advance 1-2 years in 8-12 weeks. We enroll students for 10 week sessions 5 times a year.

Online Spanish – (Choice of Ignitia, Rosetta Stone, Pimsleur for daily work; Spanish in 10 Minutes A Day for weekly conversation classes of up to 5 students)

Online Economics / Composition –Students read books (Uncle Eric / Politically Incorrect – Austrian Model) and post assignments on a Coursesites class – including writing -working on their own level from paragraphs to essays or position papers.

Family Support, Brain Training, Evaluations and Non-Test Assessments are also available online. If you have any questions about any of these options, singly or in combination, or for services offered by my colleagues, contact us at: or We can make an appointment to discuss in detail your questions.

Brain Rules by Dr. John Medina Brain Rule # 6 Repeat to Remember –(part 1 Working Memory)


Medina continues his treatise on memory in this new, but identical rule – repeat to remember. Old metaphors do not describe well what we now understand as the process of memory. Short-term memory is much more active than previously thought.

“Working memory is now known to be a busy, temporary workspace, a desktop the brain uses to process newly acquired information.” P.124

According to Alan Baddeley, British scientist, there are three or four components of working memory:

1) Retention of some auditory information – phonological loop;

2) Retention of some visual information – images and spatial;

3) Central executive – keeping track of all activities throughout this three part process.

4) Episodic buffer (later added; not as widely accepted or developed) any story a person may hear– with limited capacity and duration.

Medina illustrates working memory with the great chess champion, Miguel Najdorf, who played 45 chess games simultaneously within 11 hours – winning 39; tied 4 and lost 2 all while blindfolded. His opponents had to verbally announce their moves and thus he was able to visualize each game in his working memory.

At this point in Rule 6, Medina begins to describe long-term memory which we will discuss next time.