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Education Resources

Ensuring your child is ready to succeed. Education is vital to the development of your child. That’s why our therapists have put together a few articles on topics that you might need a little insight into to help your child be their very best.

Research suggests that knowing more than one language helps to prevent dementia, by serving as a kind of mental workout for your brain.

But what about children who struggle to speak one language? Can we expect them to learn a second?

The answer seems to be yes—at least in certain situations.

Believe it or not, children with limited vocabularies (even just a few words) can learn those words in more than one language. It seems that, if a child has mastered a certain label or concept, such as “apple” or “more,” the child can learn another name for that same item or concept.

In general, the outcome seems to depend on the support that exists for both languages in the child’s environment. Like anyone, a child with a language disorder will struggle to learn and maintain a language if it isn’t spoken frequently, either at home or at school. As long as there is rich immersion in the language in at least one environment, kids can learn the second language to the level of their overall language development.

The fact is that speaking two languages is crucial for many children. They may need one language for school, but without access to their family’s native language, they are cut off from the language-rich conversations of family members. Sometimes, there are older relatives who only speak the native language. Interactions with those family members are limited if the child hasn’t learned the second language.

If family members are still regularly using the native language in conversation at home, the child needs access to that language too.

When family members are encouraged to speak to their child in the language with which they are most comfortable, this provides the richest and most fluent language stimulation. On the other hand, well-meaning professionals who wrongly advise parents to speak to their child using only the language of the surrounding community, so as not to “confuse” the child, can inadvertently limit children’s language stimulation. The most language-rich input, with a wide vocabulary and variety of grammatical markers, is received from parents speaking fluently in their native language.

The bottom line: speak to your child in your native language, which you feel the most comfortable speaking. The stronger your child’s native language skills become, the stronger their skills will be in their second language. Remember, a label or concept learned in one language can be fairly easily learned in another language.

Sure, you may need to simplify your speech for a child with a language disorder, using shorter sentences and simpler vocabulary. But the same is true no matter what language you are speaking.

So go ahead, speak freely with your child in the language you feel the most comfortable, and rest assured that you are making the best choice for his or her language development.

For more information about early intervention services that LifeScape offers for young children with autism, including speech-language therapy, occupational therapy, and behavioral therapy, call us for details: In Sioux Falls, (605) 444-9700. In Rapid City, (605) 791-7400.

Learn more about our therapy services.

More outside play over this past summer and increased use of tablets and other technology can erase progress made during the school year on handwriting. If your child is struggling with handwriting, there are some fun things you can do to help.

Handwriting is far more complex than most realize. There are essentially three components to good handwriting that parents can easily monitor: formation, position, and spacing. Letter formation is different than letter construction. Letters should be formed starting from the top, not the bottom, and should start on the left and not the right. Learning Without Tears® offers an excellent handwriting curriculum and offers free downloads. Positioning means that letters should sit right on the line. Letters like g, j, y, etc. dip below the line. Sizing should also be consistent, and all capitals are the same size. Finally, there should be proper space between letters and between words. Placing a finger after a word helps ensure enough space is allowed.

Sitting at a table and putting pencil to paper day after day is, fortunately, not necessary. Consider these alternative fun and creative ways to practice letter formation:

  • Draw letters in sand, dirt, cornstarch, flour, or rice. It ‘erases’ easily! Trays or bins keep the medium contained.
  • Form letters in shaving cream – on nearly any surface. Add food coloring for extra fun!
  • Finger paints – Use fingers, Q-tips, cotton balls, or paint brushes to write letters and words. Or, put paint in a Ziploc bag, lay it flat, and draw letters with a Q-tip.
  • Sidewalk chalk is great on black construction paper, as well as on concrete.
  • Dry erase markers on a mirror make for fun messages to be discovered.
  • Play-Doh – Roll out snake-like pieces and form letters. Easier clean-up outside is a bonus for mom and dad.
  • Squeeze paint or icing from a condiment squeeze bottle to form letters.

If your kids can’t get enough of that messy play outside, an outdoor paint easel can provide hours of fun. Even cleaning it is fun, using a garden hose! Here's how to make one!

Just five minutes a day will have powerful results for your child. Happy writing!

Call us for details: In Sioux Falls, (605) 444-9700. In Rapid City, (605) 791-7400.

Learn more about LifeScape’s therapy services.

Research shows that flexible seating in the classroom improves classroom engagement, on task behaviors, motivation, improves focus and attention, increased burning of calories, uses up excess energy, and it increases core strength and posture. The benefits of flexible seating in the classroom outweigh the negatives. Flexible seating should allow for students to do their best learning. The child should be moved to another type of seating if the chosen seating is causing a distraction or is being used incorrectly. Students should try all the available seating options for an entire day to see which seating they prefer for optimal learning.

Options for flexible seating:

  • Seating cushions
  • Camp chairs
  • Small rugs, bath rugs, yoga mats
  • Stand-up tables (tables can be raised using bed risers)
  • Balls
  • Pillows, core discs, move-sit-cushions
  • Papasan chair
  • Scoop rocker chairs
  • Lying on stomach or back
  • Stools that move up and down
  • Wobble chair
  • Bean bags
  • Bungee chair
  • Milk crate seats
  • Video rocker

Call us for details: In Sioux Falls, (605) 444-9700. In Rapid City, (605) 791-7400.

Learn more about our therapy services.

The first three to five years of life are critical in the growth and development of your child’s brain. Sharing language with him or her is never more important for later success in school and life. One way to do this is by regularly reading aloud to your child. It’s not only enjoyable and a bonding experience, it encourages speech and language skills, and can enhance memory, analytical thinking, vocabulary, and general knowledge. As humans, we’re hard-wired for connection with others, but those connections must be developed through regular interaction.

When caregivers read aloud, babies hear the sounds of language and the rhythm of speech, which helps them develop adult-like speech sounds, pitch and melody, first in babbling and then when using words in phrases. Book reading exposes older children to new vocabulary, reinforces social skills, and helps them learn about new experiences.

Pictures in books help children understand the connection between spoken words and their meanings. The story in the book is consistent, no matter how many times it is read, which helps children understand grammar and more complex sentences. Through books, children are also exposed to text and begin to recognize that written words are important, even if they are not able to read them yet.

HOW you read is important. Read with emotion, “do the voices” of the characters, change the speed, volume, and pitch of your voice, and pause to allow your child to respond.

Tips for reading aloud:

  • Reading longer stories helps build your child’s attention, especially texts with rhyming or rhythmic verses, such as The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen or Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae.
  • Books with repetitive phrases can increase the child’s participation. Examples include Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell, The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle, Good Night Moon by Margaret Wise Brown, and 5 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed by Eileen Christelow.
  • Point to pictures on the page. If your child cannot label the pictures, provide labels for her. Provide more language exposure by talking about what the characters are doing or how they feel.
  • For older children, ask open-ended questions related to the story, such as “What is he/she doing?”, “What do you think will happen next?”, or “What might happen if he/she does that?” If this is challenging for your child, demonstrate how you would answer these questions.
  • Limit e-books. Enhancements in e-books can distract from the story and children typically remember fewer details. Use “real” books whenever possible.

Reading to your child for 20 minutes each day is an effective and enjoyable way to set the stage for academic achievement.

Call us for details: In Sioux Falls, (605) 444-9700. In Rapid City, (605) 791-7400.

Learn more about LifeScape’s therapy services.

Learning to write can be very challenging. Ensuring a child has mastered pre-writing skills before introducing letter or number writing, can remove some of the stress and frustration. Pre-writing skills include the lines and strokes that make up letters and numbers. Each of these strokes are developed in a sequence, based on a child’s age.

Developmental Sequence of Pre-Writing Strokes:

  • Vertical Line- Age 2 imitates, age 3 copies/masters
  • Horizontal Line - Age 2 ½ imitates, age 3 copies/masters
  • Circle Shape - Age 2 ½ imitates, and 3 copies/masters
  • Cross Shape (+) - Age 3 ½ imitates, and 4 copies
  • Square Shape - Age 4
  • Right/Left Diagonal Line - Age 4 1/2
  • X Shape - Age 5
  • Triangle - Age 5

If a child is struggling to progress through the sequence of pre-writing strokes, it could indicate delays in fine motor skills, visual motor skills, or poor hand strength. For further information on helping your child master pre-writing skills, please call us in Sioux Falls at 605-444-9700; and in Rapid City at 605-791-7400.

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The need for classroom sensory supports, tools, and strategies has steadily increased over the last few years. Trends of increased screen time, less opportunity for movement, and fewer breaks in the school day has a direct impact on a child’s attention to task, focus, and self-regulation (mood, emotions, and behavior).

The following are some “tools” for your teachers’ toolbox to help students succeed in the classroom and throughout their school day – and they are time and cost efficient! We have you covered—from head to toe!


Movement is a must! Our brains need sensory input at least every 90 minutes. Movement increases blood flow and oxygen to the brain. Beyond utilizing what recess time is available, here are other strategies to support engagement and development. These are big muscle activities that are quick, easy, and usually most effective when done with rhythm and at a steady pace (ie: on a count of 10).

  • Wall pushes, wall push-ups
  • Isometric exercises such as palm pushes, hand pulls
  • Chair push-ups
  • Cross crawls (arms up, hand comes down to touch opposite knee, alternate sides)
  • Jumping jacks
  • Animal walks
  • Yoga


  • Work on a vertical surface and tape the paper to the wall
  • Tape together (side by side) a couple of two- or three-inch 3-ring binders and use as writing or reading surface. The slant helps take strain off of the eyes.
  • Use natural light whenever possible


  • Soft background music
  • Quiet spaces for those that get overwhelmed by sound


  • Oral input can often provide calming and organizing input.
  • Chewing gum
  • Suck drinks through straws or water bottle throughout the day


  • Broken crayons or short pencils to promote proper grasp
  • Age appropriate tool use – scissors, tweezers, tongs, etc.
  • Hand fidgets (squeeze balls, paper clips, rubber bands, pipe cleaners, pencil toppers, Velcro for them to place in or on their desk)


Appropriately-sized seating. The rule of 90 (hips, knees, ankles, and elbows resting on table should all be at 90° angles. This help kids focus on what is being taught, not on keeping themselves upright and stable.

Alternative seating options to try:

  • Sitting on an exercise ball
  • Slightly inflated beach ball on a chair
  • Cut tennis balls and place on the bottom of 2-3 chair legs to provide an unevenness to the chair
  • Exercise band across the legs of their desk or chair to kick into
  • Short periods of being on tummies on the floor, kneeling at desks, standing, etc.


  • Balance on one foot
  • March/ stomp in transition
  • Wrapping feet around the legs of the chair

It helps to remember that humans are sensory beings, and our learning – starting in infancy - depends on exposure to sensory stimulation (light, sound, taste, touch, and movement). Addressing those sensory needs can make all the difference!

Call us for details: In Sioux Falls, (605) 444-9700. In Rapid City, (605) 791-7400.

Learn more about our therapy services.

As if the parental ‘love-hate’ relationship with electronics wasn’t bad enough, distance learning for many school-aged children led to a greater attachment and several more hours of staring at a screen. Even if your child is taking screen time privileges to the max, using apps and websites that are educational or even help foster age-appropriate developmental skills can put your mind at ease. Here are a few that LifeScape therapists have used and recommend!

  • Self-cares: Accessible Chef ( is a website that has a collection of free visual recipes to help individuals of all abilities learn to cook. They also have resources on adaptive cooking tools and a recipe creator to make your own visual recipe!
  • Visual Skills: Eye Can Learn ( offers activities that help to improve a variety of visual processing skills which can help school performance and sustained attention.
  • Language: My Play Home is a virtual dollhouse app, but works great for describing characters and what they are doing, objects in the house, and you can address direction following by instructing the child to make the characters do different things in the different rooms of the house.
  • Fun with Verbs and Sentences is an app used to create and speak simple sentences. Users build sentences by choosing the parts of a basic sentence – subject, verb, preposition, etc.
  • Articulation Station is a highly rated app, and very comprehensive for addressing articulation at the word, sentence, and story level in 22 sounds that target the initial, medial, and final positions of words. There is a free version, but the Pro version is preferred, but does come at a significant cost ($59.99).
  • Sensory and Self-Regulation: Zones of Regulation is a virtual game experience in learning the four Zones of Regulation. It teaches children how to best regulate your alert level and maintain a regulated emotional state.
  • Handwriting: Letter School is a great tool for toddlers and preschoolers to learn formation of letters and numbers. It also includes phonics skills.
  • Drawing for Kids allows kids to work on prewriting strokes in a fun way. They add a single portion of the drawing at a time and then the app puts it together to make an animal. Kids with very early skills can draw a frog and then watch it hop around the screen.
  • General: Khan Academy Kids is a free app that addresses early learning skills for ages 2-7 through music and fun games, and even personalizes a learning path for each child to allow them to learn at their own pace.

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