Focus Music

Music has a profound effect on our mood, blood pressure, and heart rate.

Research indicates that music strengthens areas of the brain (that, in a child with ADHD, are weak.) Music strengthens the auditory, visual/spatial, and motor cortices of the brain. These areas are tied to speech and language skills, reading, reading comprehension, math, problem-solving, brain organization, focus, and attention challenges.

Parents of children with ADHD should know that there are methods beyond medication and counseling to treat ADHD. One of them is music. Confirmed by multiple research studies to play a significant role in cognitive development, music can be used to help children organize their thoughts.

But not any music will do. Only certain classical music builds a bigger, better brain. Listening to jazz or pop doesn’t have the same beneficial effects. A study conducted by Donald Shetler, Ed.D., of the Eastman School of Music, found that kids who listened to classical music for 20 minutes a day had improved speech and language skills, a stronger memory, and greater organization of the brain.

Classical music is peaceful and harmonious making it one of the best options to listen to when studying. It seems that there is evidence that Mozart improves mental performance. They call it the “Mozart Effect.”

It is said that to study it’s necessary to have a quiet environment without distractions. However, for some, studying in a quiet environment can backfire. This ‘quiet environment’ can make you end up fighting boredom and succumbing to the allure of sleeping at your desk! This is why the importance of choosing the right music for studying can’t be underestimated.

Although some studies say that listening to music while you study isn’t good, for many people it’s vital. It’s calms them down, which can lead to productive studying. Music can also help elevate your mood and motivate you to study longer.

It helps you focus, reduce distractions, maintain your productivity and retain information when working, studying, writing and reading.

Music stimulates the brain

‘Nothing activates the brain so extensively as music’. So says Oliver Sacks, a doctor and researcher at Columbia University, who has used music as a complementary treatment for many of his patients.

Research backs up his claim. Pleasurable music is known to increase dopamine levels in the brain. Dopamine is responsible for regulating motivation, working memory and attention ( which is often found in lower levels in people with ADHD.)

This is one of the main reasons why there are benefits of music for kids to train their brains and achieve higher levels of self-control and focus – both at home and in the classroom.

Music provides organization

Children may struggle to focus and regulate their thoughts and behaviors to maintain a linear path. Music has a defined structure and can help regain a sense of organization. It can also guide them – many kids with attention issues have trouble following directions, and music can help them to stay attentive and interpret the rhythm and melody as direction.

Music therapist, Kirsten Hutchison, claims that the structure of music has a positive impact on kids’ ability to structure their activities in a timeline, as well as strategize their responses to the things around them. ‘The structure helps a child plan, anticipate and react,’ she says.

Music has a soothing effect

Music has the power to change our moods and influence our emotions. That’s why it’s only natural that certain types of music, mostly slow and tranquil, present a great opportunity for reducing the impulsiveness and restlessness that children with attention issues often suffer from.

But that’s not all. Music can also help to alleviate the symptoms of stress and anxiety.

Music is social

Writing, practicing and performing music are all social activities. That’s why music therapists are eager to use these forms of social practice in order to help children with ADD to learn appropriate behaviors in social situations.

Children can learn how to listen to others with attention, recognize how to anticipate changes, get to know the social rules of taking turns in performance and generally follow cues that might not be as effective when generated outside a music therapy session.

Music therapy means many things – it can be listening to music, creating it or playing together with recorded music. It can even be composing music or writing song lyrics. All of this helps children to communicate their moods and feelings, while simultaneously reducing their level of anxiety and restlessness. Music therapy is versatile and readily available – a great option for complementing traditional treatments of ADD in children.

Feel free to use my Youtube Playlist on music proven to help focus:



Camo kids

Camo kids are all around us. You don’t see them because they blend in. They are not troublemakers (though they may be troubled), they are typically quiet and subdued, and they are not very social. They don’t volunteer to answer questions, and they may appear sullen. We tend not to notice them because we are drawn to the kids who need help, the ones we have to constantly correct, or the ones who we naturally like. Camo kids may be the forgotten ones. If they are absent from class, you might have trouble remembering who is gone.

This is not to point a finger at anyone, but merely to heighten the awareness of all the children in our care. Because they tend to blend, we have to be intentional in building relationships with them. Next time you are with a group of kids, notice:

Who is it that is not participating?
Who is it that is extremely quiet?
Who is it that avoids eye contact?
This is not a given that the kid has problems. They may be fully functional and intelligent. The point is that all kids need to be noticed. They need to know they matter. They want you to know their name.

This last point was driven home to me this week as I was tutoring a small group in reading. I called on one girl and she immediately said, “That is NOT my name.” I took a quick peek at my notes and it was indeed her name, so I asked her, “What IS your name?” She said, “That is how you say it in English, but not in Spanish.” I knew she was Spanish but it never dawned on me that she pronounced her name differently until she pointed it out. I apologized and assured her I would work on learning how to say her name correctly. No name is more important to a person than their own…especially if they are a child. If you learn to use someone’s name, it goes a long way in showing you care about them and value who they are.

My challenge to you is to take note of the camo kids and be intentional in getting to know them. You might be pleasantly surprised at what you discover, and the relationship you build with them may indeed be life-changing for both of you.

By Dan Skognes

International Women Day

International Women’s Day is celebrated in many countries around the world. It is a day when women are recognized for their achievements without regard to divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political.

International Women’s Day is the story of ordinary women who made History and I would like to dedicate this #IWD to the women who inspire me the most in this world : Moms.

A week ago, I posted a message on my group “Things I learned from my mom” :

“There is one person in this world that is both magical, inspiring and love us unconditionally and it’s our Mothers! They are the only people on earth who knew us before we even came to this world. Our mothers experienced our growth while in their womb, delivered us through an experience that can sometimes be excruciating (and that is just the beginning). Interestingly, once a man gets married, he can witness that process far closer.

Standing by the mother of his kids, a man can see what they go through once they become mothers. My experience overwhelmed me with awe when my first daughter was born. My wife spent more than twenty-five hours in the delivery room. It struck me like an electric shock when I saw her in surgery delivering our second baby and take care of him before he sadly passed away from SIDS. I watched my wife, mourning the death of her son, yet not giving up. We got pregnant again and had a beautiful daughter one year after. Witnessing the agony of the loss and the bittersweet joy of having a new baby left me with an infinite admiration for her strength.

My own process as a partner, threw me back twenty years early. I found myself wondering about my own mother. How was she able to do this? Where did she get the strength from? What encouraged her to embrace me unconditionally? How come she didn’t give up on me?

I was born when my mother was only twenty-years-old. For six years, until my younger brother was born, we were just the two of us. She raised me as a single-parent. It was the early 1980’s and my mother was still in college, studying to get her degree (in Education) while working as a young assistant teacher. I remember the days she wrote her first lesson plans, creating activities, making phone calls to parents and even principals. She was a busy young lady!

Despite her hectic life, my mother succeeded in providing me with a great childhood. We had lots of quality time. We hosted many interesting people: stylists, artists, and fashion designers who came to speak with my mother to find some empathy. It was during those days that I learned how people can be different and so interesting in different ways. I remember a lot of 1980’s music too and will never forget how we danced in front of the mirror just for fun. As I grew older, I realized how young my mother was. Having me in her life imposed many kinds of responsibilities which she fulfilled diligently.

Three months before my 30th birthday, my mother passed away. She had just celebrated her 50th birthday a few months earlier. Today, I obviously cannot call her, send her pictures of the girls or go visit her. The only thing I possess is a set of memories, values and life lessons which I try to impart to my children. I created this group to encourage each one of you to share gratitude, express your admiration, and inspire us with life lessons from your mothers. I hope you will take the opportunity to do so because for some of us, it is the only way.”


Positive Body Image

How to talk to your daughter about her body, step one: Don’t talk to your daughter about her body, except to teach her how it works.

Don’t say anything if she’s lost weight. Don’t say anything if she’s gained weight.

If you think your daughter’s body looks amazing, don’t say that. Here are some things you can say instead:

“You look so healthy!” is a great one.

Or how about, “You’re looking so strong.”

“I can see how happy you are — you’re glowing.”

Better yet, compliment her on something that has nothing to do with her body.

Don’t comment on other women’s bodies either. Nope. Not a single comment, not a nice one or a mean one.

Teach her about kindness towards others, but also kindness towards yourself.

Don’t you dare talk about how much you hate your body in front of your daughter, or talk about your new diet. In fact, don’t go on a diet in front of your daughter. Buy healthy food. Cook healthy meals. But don’t say, “I’m not eating carbs right now.” Your daughter should never think that carbs are evil, because shame over what you eat only leads to shame about yourself.

Encourage your daughter to run because it makes her feel less stressed. Encourage your daughter to climb mountains because there is nowhere better to explore your spirituality than the peak of the universe. Encourage your daughter to surf, or rock climb, or mountain bike because it scares her and that’s a good thing sometimes.

Help your daughter love soccer or rowing or hockey because sports make her a better leader and a more confident woman. Explain that no matter how old you get, you’ll never stop needing good teamwork. Never make her play a sport she isn’t absolutely in love with.

Prove to your daughter that women don’t need men to move their furniture.

Teach your daughter how to cook kale.

Teach your daughter how to bake chocolate cake made with six sticks of butter.

Pass on your own mom’s recipe for Christmas morning coffee cake. Pass on your love of being outside.

Maybe you and your daughter both have thick thighs or wide ribcages. It’s easy to hate these non-size zero body parts. Don’t. Tell your daughter that with her legs she can run a marathon if she wants to, and her ribcage is nothing but a carrying case for strong lungs. She can scream and she can sing and she can lift up the world, if she wants.

Remind your daughter that the best thing she can do with her body is to use it to mobilize her beautiful soul.
~ Sarah Koppelkam

Help Your Children Understand The Core Values of Friendship

The following activity will take between 20-25 minutes of your time but will have a lasting impact on your child’s life!

Helping your child understand what true, loyal, and happy friendship is can be a complicated task. You should not give up the opportunity to know how your child perceives friendship and what s/he is willing to tolerate to stay in friendship with others.

Below, you can find two charts I created (one for boys and one for girls) to help young students understand the pillars of healthy and happy friendship. We did it as follows:

  1. My child and I spoke about her friends and asked various GENERAL questions about her social dynamic in school.
  2. To make a smooth transition I asked: “Could you complete the sentence: A good friend is….” Fill-in-the-blank questions are more engaging than questions like “Who do you think can be a good friend?”
  3. I suggested we will search in the internet for pictures that described a good friend.
  4. We found four pictures that encompass the values I wanted to illustrate with her: inclusiveness, loyalty, respect, and diversity.

It is essential that your child will describe the picture and only then complete the sentence. Also, make sure to revolve the conversation around the value YOU think are relevant to your child’s social dynamic with her/his friends.

Friendship- GIRLS

Friendship- BOYS

The Highly Sensitive Child

Highly sensitive children are often in amidst of some strong emotional turbulence. Their eyes may seem sad, they could become vexed for little or no issue at all, and when they are ill it seems that the entire home is in commotion. Nevertheless, being sensitive can be a good thing as long as we guide our children according to their emotional capacities.

Highly sensitive children can be explained in five different categories:

The Anxious Highly Sensitive.

Not all anxious people are hypersensitive, but many highly sensitive people are anxious. At home, sensory perceptions are exacerbated. Thus, their hypersensitivity makes them fine observers of nuances of expressions and mimicry. What could be positive, like being able to read people, will be contaminated by anxiety. This is how neutral attitudes of concern or concentration will be interpreted as threatening. For example, an unusual facial expression by the father will signal his highly sensitive that something is wrong. This feeling may impact the child’s behavior through the rest of the evening.

In addition, their imagination is filled with anxiety, and they consider all the possible consequences of imaginary threatening events. They spend a lot of time trying to find solutions to problems that exist only in their head. This tires them enormously. Moreover, as they anticipate all kinds of difficulties, they often under-perform in school, even though they have all the required skills. Performance anxiety is an obstacle to academic success. Highly sensitive children are not easy to mobilize by teachers and are often not motivated by their difficulties.

Another characteristic of highly sensitive kids is their propensity to worry about everything all the time. As if they carried all the misery of the world on their shoulders, they spend a lot of time imagining the worst for their loved ones and for themselves and are very affected by it.

The Highly Sensitive Withdrawal

In this profile, we find children whose defense against excessive sensitivity is reflected in the inhibition, in different areas of life, emotional, social or intellectual. It is an unconscious attitude, which allows them to live better with their personality. As they are overwhelmed by their emotions, they prefer to avoid situations that expose them, such as group activities or strong, friendly relationships. They are often thought to be indifferent, whereas, on the contrary, they are too receptive! Some children prefer to give up a social and emotional life that overexposes their sensitivity.

Shyness is the corollary of this type of highly sensitive child, who is moreover often influenced. “Indeed, their hypersensitivity encourages them not to upset their friends, to avoid conflict they would live very badly.” This profile can lead them to take part in reprehensible actions, even cruel, only in order not to put in a situation of conflict vis-à-vis the group. And as they do not express their discomfort, they remain undermined for a long time without being able to evoke what disturbs them.

In addition, highly sensitive withdrawal, whose sensitivity is “mobilized to excess in all areas of life,” have a strong tendency to somatize. The stomach ache is then the privileged expression of their overflowing emotions, which they can not express (apart from any proven affection). Fleeing the reality too hard in daydreaming, they take refuge in an imaginary often rich. And in some cases, their inhibition leads to intellectual blockages that jeopardize their academic success. “This is particularly the case for these children who are psychologically frozen at the slightest remark of an adult, connoted negatively or deemed too dry.” Their motility can also be weakened by their hypersensitivity: they become clumsy, left.

The Expressive Highly Sensitivity

Unlike the previous examples, children whose high sensitivity is manifested by introversion, children in this category demonstrate with high intensity all the emotions: joy, sadness, fear, anger, love, disgust, frustration, astonishment … The physical enters then also in the dance, causing tears so intense that they can suffocate. They lose control of themselves. In case one of the parents is also hypersensitive, then it is the paroxysmal explosion on a daily basis!

Ultra-receptive to the moods and moods that emerge from their surroundings, they live according to the moods of others, especially when they are collective – as in a classroom. Their need to constantly please, their staggered attitudes, make them chameleons very difficult to follow and understand.

The Sensitive Highly Sensitivity

Sensitive children of this type think that we are angry at them or that they are not considered to their real value. They do not support the slightest criticism. Their ego is strong, they have a high opinion of themselves, even feel superior to others. However, their hypersensitivity makes their self-esteem vacillating, because it is based only on what is said about themselves, and not on their experience, the analysis of their strengths or weaknesses. Their imagination often makes them paranoid, and they make stories. “They are unfortunately rather difficult to meet, despite their keen desire to be loved and their ability to understand the emotions of others” because they react very strongly when their susceptibility is hit, quite often! They take everything to the first degree and easily distort what they say. They keep thinking that they are being mistreated, which makes their relationship exchanges very complicated.

How to help a highly sensitive child?

The first thing to do is to find out what is the dominant of your hypersensitive child. However, that it is rare for a child to belong exclusively to one of these: they often overlap with each other.

Then, we must bring them to relativize, because they have a lot of trouble to screen what happens to them, they take all full force. Parents can, little by little, help them distinguish between what is important and what is not. But for that, we must avoid the rational arguments: it is better to be reassuring, showing that one understands that the pain or anger is great for the child. Do not ridicule him.

Another action to take is to teach them to wait. Teach your child not to react immediately, to take time to distance themselves from the situations, to repel the primary reactions. For this, parents must lead by example, be patient, agree not to immediately get behavior from the child.

Soothing one’s susceptibility is also helpful. It’s about giving your child confidence so that the words of others do not reach them as much. To do this, you can discuss with your child afterward remarks that they perceived as offensive, and show them that there was no reason to react at all. Avoiding sensitive topics also pays off.


Surround them with love and security, more than other children, because the hypersensitive have greater needs in these areas. “It’s not about raising your highly sensitive child in a bubble, says the psychologist: a hyper-protective attitude will not help his business. But special attention is required, as well as evidence of love and esteem.

A highly sensitive child can have trouble with the demonstrations of tenderness and love (which overwhelm them with emotions): it is, therefore, necessary to observe and go at their own pace.

Developing autonomy is also fundamental to help your highly sensitive child live better with her/his hypersensitivity. This is true for all children, but even more so for highly sensitive kids. This autonomy will allow them not to model their emotions on those of others, to which they are particularly receptive. “To help him, he is offered a precise and stable framework, especially for unusual moments, by leading him to anticipate a little the events to come: how will he react? What are the alternatives? What questions to ask?”. The more situation your child is psychologically prepared, the less anxiety and unfounded interpretations s/he will experience.

Making them tame his emotions, helping your child identify and name her/his feelings, will be of great help to both of you. The best way is to help them do it as soon as the emotion begins to invade, or when it is still between two glasses of water. Getting your child used to hear words about how he feels will gradually allow her/him to distance himself from his invasive affectivity. It is crucial never to mock or criticize the emotional outbursts of a highly sensitive child, as it reinforces them. When it comes to anger, you can train her to restrain her by positive images, by breathing properly, while trying to speak.

Do not neglect the body dimensions. Taming their bodies is crucial for these children who do not have this skill innately. Clutching them, carrying them, cuddling them, making them do motor activities, is even more essential for a highly sensitive child.

Listen to them carefully. Even if they are often in excess, the little hypersensitive needs to feel that her/his word is valuable and is heard. To make them verbalize their suffering rather than somatize or shout, tap, etc., they should feel confident, and that their word is really heard, and not thwarted every time they try to tell you what open their heart. Then discuss with them to help relativize, delay, etc.

The importance of activities such as music, gardening, cooking, visual arts, but also relationships with animals and nature, as well as manual work, is beneficial for the all highly sensitive children.

Impulse control (video)

The following video is an illustration of how impulse control can come in the way of young students. It important to remind ourselves that having weak impulse control (Response Inhibition) is NOT a character trait, rather a developmental issue that can be solved with coaching.

I encourage you to watch this video with your child (ages 5-8):

Ask them if this situation is familiar, and feel free to share with them the last time it was difficult for YOU to resist what you wanted to say/do. Talk about the how we feel after and how others might feel when we interrupt them in the middle of an activity or a conversation. Finally, invite them to join you in creating ways to deal with the need to say/do something out of turn. Some strategies that work for students in 1st through 4th grades are:

– Sitting on a cushion

– Stretching while sitting

– Asking to be the teacher’s helper.

– Asking to introduce the story (if you are familiar with it).

– Setting a signal with the teacher to take a short break.

These are just examples to help your child think about strategies that work for THEM.

You should feel free to share with me your experience and ask questions if you wish.