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BACK TO SCHOOL: Need help navigating homework, 504B plans and IEPs? An important Q&A.

Are you lost on helping your kid do homework? What about figuring out what accommodations to suggest in these 504/IEP meetings? Are you constantly getting calls home and you don't even know where to start? Struggling with teaching your kid to read?


This post is for you!


The next question is WHO IS MS. FOILES AND WHY IS SHE IMPORTANT?


THE NEXT MS. RACHEL!? (if you have littles, you will know who Ms. Rachel is).


Ms Foiles may have attended my elopement, and she also may be a former phenomenal elementary school teacher in Arizona (who has relocated to a much better state).


Renalde Foiles recently started Fundamentals with Ms. Foiles to offer parents **free** resources in helping their child learn to read. She also decided to offer one to one sessions with parents to review how to advocate for their child.


Not sure how to navigate the IEP/504B plan implementation process?


She does.


Not sure what to ask for as far as accommodations?


She does.


Not sure how to help your child accomplish homework without a complete meltdown?


She does.


Not sure how to handle when your child is in trouble every single day at school?


She does.


Q&A with Ms. Foiles


Tell us a little about about you!

My name is Renelde Foiles and I grew up with undiagnosed learning disabilities and ADHD which caused me to struggle tremendously through school. My path led me to years of low self-esteem, but I found my chance for redemption by becoming an educator myself. Over my 7 years teaching in a public elementary setting, I found a passion for seeing my students as a whole child and not just for their academic skill level. This summer I received the opportunity to move back home to San Diego, CA to be closer to my parents and it altered my career path. I will always be a teacher at heart but have shifted away from teaching children and into educating parents.

Tell us about Fundamentals with Ms Foiles!

Fundamentals with Ms.Foiles is a comfortable place for parents to learn the fundamentals reading skills their child will need to master at their own pace. Before earning my degree in education, I didn’t know the difference between a CVC word and a sight word and probably would have forced my child to just memorize them (which is not effective, there are better ways I want to share with you). I’ve combined hundreds of hours of training and years of trial and error in the classroom to make streamlined courses that educate parents on what I found to be the most effective and fun emergent reading skills activities.


Do you have any special advice to parents with kids who are neurodivergent (ADHD, ASD, etc)? Could a 1:1 session with you be beneficial for this?

Please make sure that your child knows being “smart” is not the same thing as “working hard”. I encourage you to instill that working hard WILL get your child to where they need to be academically and that being “smart” has absolutely nothing to do with it. Every single child will be faced with a skill they won’t master the first time but needing to be “smart” or “fast” can send a child into fight or flight mode because they will do anything to not be shamed by an adult or their peers.


I am a huge advocate of using timers when a student has been diagnosed with ADHD and/or ASD and they need to complete a task that they don’t want to. I will set the timer for the appropriate amount of time (based on their age), the student will press the start button and work until the timer goes off. If the activity is finished, we give high fives, but if the activity is incomplete, I ask if they would like to take a quick break in the calming corner and to come back to finish when they are done. There is no one size fits all when it comes to children and if you would like help making a plan that fits your child’s needs, please check out my live workshops to set up a 1 on 1 appointment so we can create one together!

We’ve learned that COVID that engaging children in virtual learning can be difficult — and often times, parents with multiple children or even parents who work from home may struggle with balancing engaging their child in learning. What advice do you have for parents for helping with engagement?

Before I begin, I want to acknowledge the strength and resilience I witnessed from parents with children who partook in online learning. Every year I gain new respect for parents, but I was particularly blown away by the strength I saw in parents during the pandemic. Online learning can be extremely difficult for adults and children alike-my only suggestion is to set routines and allow for “off” days. Routines will become habits and children will most likely begin to do it automatically.


While teaching a full year of virtual kindergarten I was forced to find creative ways to engage students and the most success I had was when I allowed for them to be silly! My favorite way to engage my students was letting them pick a sticker to put on my face if they got an answer correct or allowing things to get messy by plopping my face in a pile of flour for completing a task. Other ideas I’ve used is putting pipe cleaners in my hair for every correct answer, clipping clothes pins to my face, adding a Lego to a tower to see how high we could build it, and making up silly chants to let their brains know it was time to transition. If you can provide opportunities for children to be silly as they accomplish their academic tasks it can relieve stress and motivate them to push through the hard stuff to get to the fun stuff they know is coming.


What ages of kids do you feel would best benefit from your techniques?

My techniques are commonly used with children ages 4-8. Parents can use these techniques to introduce or familiarize their child before they enter the classroom and use as a support for skills they will learn in kindergarten. Remember, kids’ brains develop at different times and so although your child may have been taught these skills in kindergarten, they may not have mastered them YET (and that’s ok!).


One of the most fascinating things I learned over my 7 years in the classroom is that each child will develop at a different rate. I would tell my students that their brains are like their teeth; children don’t all get together at recess and decide they will all lose their two front teeth at that same time. Kids lose their teeth when their bodies are ready, and brains are no different. With that in mind, my techniques are designed for kids who can identify patterns auditorily and visually. These techniques are great


You’ve been a teacher in Arizona for quite a period of time. What are your thoughts on the new policy Doug Ducey put forth for teachers?

To be a successful educator it is ESSENTIAL to have proper training, period. Not only will sending in un-educated and ill prepared adults harm those students’ education, but it will also put an unbearable amount of work on the new teacher which will most definitely lead to burn out. My only hope is that schools will provide unlimited professional developments and training to those teachers; but honestly…when do we expect them to do all this training? During their off-contract hours or their weekends? We all see the problem here, right?

What do you think parents need to understand about teachers? What types of responsibilities should be taught at home vs. in the classroom?

Teachers are professionals that commit their days to providing educational experiences and expertise in hopes their students will learn the necessary skills to become functioning citizens after they graduate high school. One could argue that a parent’s job is also to raise their children to become functioning adults so in my opinion, teachers and parents should be looked at as teammates with the same goal. Once a “team” relationship is formed between a teacher and parent, there is a much higher chance the child will reach their learning goals for that year. What should be taught in the classroom vs at home is all up to the parent/teacher team; some children need more practice than what is available to them in the classroom and may need additional practice outside of school. I hope that parents also remember that their child is not the only one in the classroom-most teachers have an average of 25-30 students, each needing their own amount of attention and instruction.


From my experience, parents who make it a priority to practice academic skills at home have children who are more confident and prepared to learn in the classroom but not all families have the privilege or resources to do that. I think we can agree that we all want functioning adults contributing to society so if you are a parent that can practice academic skills at home, you absolutely should!


How often per day should parents be working with their kids on learning fundamentals (reading, writing..)?

Referring to my previous statements about developmental levels, it depends on what each child needs-which is why it is crucial to have a working relationship between a parent and teacher. Some students won’t have a fully developed memory until 2nd grade so it’s not the amount of time working that matters, it’s the routine and frequency. For example, I found the most success with my kindergarten students when I practiced core reading skills for 15 minutes a day for 180 days in a row (an entire school year). I had the highest number of readers by the end of the kindergarten when I prioritized reciting a letter name-letter sound chant, reciting each letter sound (correctly), identifying rhyme, counting syllables, identifying letter sounds and segmenting words. Some days were difficult, and I had to spread it out through the day and other days we could sit and knock it out before morning recess BUT we never skipped a day.


I recommend practicing for 5-15 minutes a day using the same routine but changing out the words to keep up engagement and slowly increasing the level of difficulty to ensure progress. Routine will promote memory development and consistency will produce results.


Contact Renelde here:

Email: renelde@fundamentalswithmsfoiles.com

Website: https://www.fundamentalswithmsfoiles.com/

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