We are always pleased when we receive recognition. Even if it is something that we consider to be small or trivial, we are secretly pleased when someone notices what we’ve done and mentions it. We feel validated and are more likely to repeat that behavior.

Businesses have recognition programs for employees who accomplish goals. Schools have recognition programs for academic excellence. Almost all organizations in existence have done something at some time to appreciate the efforts of individual members.

This is why recognition is such an important part of how TRC Tutor works with our kids.

Children with learning disabilities, autism, and other neuro-experitential challenges carry a higher and more intense component of stress and anxiety that other children. They know their school performance is not the same as their peers. Yet, they don’t know how to get to the level of the class and be accepted by their fellow students.

We at TRC Tutor always look for some way to praise a child. However, it is not just a vacuous “Good Job.” The praise we give is always in connection to where our students started. That way the children can see that their performance has improved and that they are making progress.

For our kids, recognition is vital. They are often starved for positive attention. When we call attention to an improvement that they themselves did not notice, they are especially tickled. They just love being “caught doing something right.”

Which brings us to the second point of this blog post.

This month TRC Tutor was featured as the Program of the Month in the July 2017 Get S.M.A.R.T. News from Tina Watson, the author, found us after doing a nationwide search for Therapeutic Recreation businesses and visiting our website.

Our article is on page three so you’ll have to scroll down a bit. In it, you can read about Barbara’s philosophy behind Therapeutic Recreation Consultants and how TRC Tutor strives to find each “child’s joy so they can then function.”

The link to the article is .

So, there you have it. Recognition. We didn’t know that someone was looking at what we are doing, but we are honored to have been chosen for the article.

And yes, we are tickled.



Freddy the Fridge Rat

Never let it be said that we do not think outside the box to create strategies to help our students learn. In one case, however, we thought inside the box just for the fun part of Live, Laugh, Learn.
We have a small refrigerator in our classroom mainly to hold those little half-pint  bottles of water. Our students can use the process of getting a bottle of water from the fridge as a way of breaking a mental logjam in a subject or assignment that’s causing their stress to increase.
Last August, we had stopped at the Farmers’ Market and bought some blueberries. These were nice blueberries still full of fresh-picked fragrance. When we got to the office, we put them in the fridge to keep them fresh.
Our afternoon student asked to get some water and went to the fridge to get it. Upon opening the door, he proclaimed, “Ewww. It smells like a dead rat in here!” Then, he turns to me and with an enthusiasm second only to Ralphie and his beloved Red Ryder B.B. gun and as only as an eleven-year-old boy can do, says, “You don’t have one, do you?” We assured him that we do not collect dead rats and definitely are not in the practice of storing them in our classroom refrigerator.
After finishing with our last student, we went shopping for some supplies and ended up at one of our favorite places, the dollar store. Lo and behold, we discovered that they had already put out their Halloween displays. [Why wouldn’t a retail store put out its Halloween displays before Labor Day?  (sigh :-<)]
There, sitting on a shelf was a collection of black, plastic rats that squeaked when you squeezed them. We looked at each other. Serendipity just doesn’t happen like this. It was immediately clear as to what needed to be done.
So, the next week when our student went to the fridge, he immediately saw its new occupant. Sitting there for a week had gotten our rat covered in frost so he looked light gray, almost ghost-like. Our student grabbed the rat and had to show it to his mom who had a good laugh because she knew what her son had said the previous week.
Well, Freddy continues to be part of our refrigerator. Our student still pulls him out from time-to-time and calls him “Old Freddy” until his frost disappears. Then, when he defrosts enough to squeak, our student returns him to the fridge with the parting words of “See you next week.”
They also serve to stand and wait.
Now, the question is: Should we list Freddy on our Meet the Team page? Give us your thoughts in the Leave a Reply section and click on the Submit Comment button below. Thanks.
Until next time,
Jerry and Barb


Reading Fluency: Why Oral Reading Still Matters

Moving from learning to read to reading to learn is similar to riding a bicycle. You learn the basic techniques and then you use the bike to go places.

In reading, it is fluency that allows a reader to go places. How children read puts them on the road to understanding the meaning of what they are reading.

Fluency has what I call the SAPE. That’s Speed, Accuracy, and Proper Expression. The big words are automaticity, accuracy, and prosody.

OK, you say, I get the speed and accuracy part, but what does “proper expression” have to do with reading? I’m not training an actor.

How something is said, especially in fiction, lends a lot of context clues to help understand not only the meaning of a statement but also the author’s or character’s intent. Which leads me to say that proper oral reading sets the stage for better silent reading and comprehension.

Dr. Timothy Shanahan, a literacy expert, wrote recently in Reading Rockets about the number of studies that showed how oral reading helped kids improve their silent reading comprehension. He also discusses how fluency training is important and should be continued even in the middle and upper grades. See

So, what are some ways to improve fluency? First, and maybe most important, find high-interest material especially fiction with a beginning, middle, and end. Kids today are tired of passages. They are passaged to death or boredom (which may be worse than death) in everyday regular school reading. If they are interested in something, half the work is already done.

Try different approaches. You can read a book aloud like the old-fashioned bedtime story while your child follows along by your side or in his or her own book. Be sure to put the expression in. Kids love that.

Choral reading is another possibility. This group reading activity allows readers of all levels to participate without too much fear of being heard making a mistake. Readstrong has some good ideas:

Paired reading in which two kids trade paragraphs or even sentences can work well especially when a better reader is paired with and helps a slower reader. Parents can use this technique with their children as well.

Maybe the most fun is reader’s theater. This is somewhat like the old-timey radio theater shows before television. There are characters and oral sound effects but no sets or costumes. This allows children to take on different personas and really work on their oral expression. A lot of reader’s theater scripts can be found at

So there are a number of ways to improve fluency. Just remember to start with interesting material and keep it fun.

See you next time,



Spring has Sprung Here at Therapeutic Recreation Consultants

We have had a very busy time since our last blog.  Our NEW offices are located at 2444 Commerce Rd., Jacksonville, NC and we have just moved the furniture into the building.  Painting should be finished tomorrow.  But even more exciting than the added space are the new programs that we are adding. 

Today, I’ll address one of our new program offerings, the Play Attention program.  This program is truly an awesome program for kids who are hyperactive or have symptoms of ADHD, Aspergers, ODD, anger issues and so much more.  Imagine a computer program with fun games that teaches you how to focus your attention and trains your brain to do what you want it to do.  Does this sound interesting yet?  What if we told you that you get to wear a cool arm band while playing the games?  Oh yeah, did I  mention that you play the game with your mind without touching the keyboard or mouse?  Really!  This is state of the art technology and the arm band monitors your brain waves. Some of you may have had an EEG and the Dr. put lots of wires on your head to read your brain waves.  This is sort of like that, but there are no wires.  The armband does all the work and can tell when you are focusing on task and paying attention.  The best thing about this program is that it teaches you to pay attention to what you need to so that you can learn while giving us feedback about your attention so that we can help you learn how to learn! 

Imagine being able to do what your teachers (or parents) tell you to do without making mistakes.  Imagine easily understanding all of your school work.  Imagine completing your homework and getting good grades while spending less time completing your work. Imagine being able to make and keep friends more easily.  Now, imagine that learning how to do all of these things is fun.  Yep, that is Play Attention. 

There are recent studies done by Tuft’s School of Medicine in Boston that prove that this is an effective program. But even better, they have demonstrated that the positive effects of the program last long after the program is completed and that many of the children using it needed less or no medication.  (The medication thing must be decided by your Dr. because he has the training to determine how much you need).  In the Tuft’s study, none of the kids using Play Attention needed an increase in their meds 6 months after the program, while the kids not using Play Attention needed an increase.  Your Dr. can read all about the studies in the PEDIATRICS Vol. 133, Number 3, March 2014 and The Journal of Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics – January 2014.

Now you understand why we are so excited!  We hope you are excited too!


New Year and New Beginings

Progress for the New Year

As we begin this New Year, we are doing our client progress reports and re-evaluations this week with our kiddos.It is so interesting to stop and really look at the kids and see how they have grown intellectually, academically, emotionally, and of course, physically.

Seeing our clients go from really struggling just to get through the day to gaining mastery over that which they used to believe was impossible is so very rewarding to us as teachers and therapists.

While it is true that there is a ways to go in reaching their goals, these are new and improved goals. These are the goals that our older kids now know that they can achieve.These new goals are not just to overcome academic and social deficits, but are ones that our kids desire and can attain.

What could be more rewarding than seeing smiles and progress? Perhaps, just the look of competence and satisfaction on our kids’ faces and the smiles of pride from their parents. We would like to thank all of our kiddos and parents for letting us join them on this journey of learning.

We love our job!


Camping In!

Therapeutic recreation and education are like chocolate and marshmallows (think S’mores).  They are both wonderful by themselves, but together-WOW!!!

First, here is the story before the story.

It’s that time of year again.  The dreaded End of Grade testing is here.  No matter what the test is called in your location, the kids (and their families) are stressed.  Our kids, who already have severe anxiety issues, are beginning to show signs of falling apart.  Parents are reporting that the kids are not sleeping at night and have been dealing with headaches and stomach aches and are so moody.  We have been seeing kids coming into the session and as soon as the door closes, start sobbing because they are so stressed and anxious about passing the test.  It has been taking us 10 to 15 min. to get them relaxed enough so that they are able to learn anything.  If kids are not emotionally in a place where they can manage their anxiety, they are not emotionally available to learn even it they have the ability to learn the material.

And so…

All last week, we attended IEP meetings and teacher meetings with the parents (for those kids without IEPs).  All of the teachers and staff seemed to get what we were saying, because so far this week ALL of the kids came into the session with big grins on their faces.  One kid came in with a handful of papers from the last several days with good grades on them.  Another reported that he had taken the reading portion of the EOG and was happy with his performance.  He spontaneously told us that he had used his relaxation techniques and self-affirmations and they “really worked!  I was able to get through the whole test!!”  We’ve heard that some of the teachers have used some of our fun techniques and the kids loved it.

After the pain of this past month, this week has been amazing!

As a special chance to help kids relieve the stress of the tests, we have been having our Under the Stars Campfire Camp-In. Yes, we do have night skies and campfires in our office.  And the kids loved making their own S’mores by the campfire!

I’m including a list of some activities that we are doing this week in case parents or teachers would like to turn the stress level down for their kids.

Campfire EOG

S’mores – Gluten free graham crackers, Kisses, Fluff

Take a small graham cracker and put a Kiss on it.  Nuke for about 15 secs.  (Careful, it’s very hot at first)  Spread another small graham with fluff. Carefully smoosh together making sure to watch the stuff ooze out.  Make enough at the same time for everyone at the campfire.  Enjoy.

Do as I say, not as I do– “I like to (name an activity like walking…but do a different activity…like flapping your arms).  Next person has to demonstrate what you said-not what you did and then he continues.  This is a great memory game and focuses on following verbal instructions which is really a critical school skill.

Pack the back pack– On my camping trip I will pack (name item).  Next person has to start with the same phrase including your item and add his own.  Continue adding items to the backpack including all previous items.  We like this memory game a lot.  How many items can you remember?  This helps with listening to all participants and listing all of the steps in an activity. It is not very different than listing the steps for a word problem.

Fortune teller story– Everyone rotates writing down group sentences (which can be as silly as possible). Large poster paper.  This fun activity gets even the most reluctant writer into the act.

Math Ball – Use per child’s math needs. Math ball.  Our Math Ball can be used for learning basic numbers, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, factors, fractions and more.  Did I mention that its fun, too!

End Of Grade song to tune of Twinkle “Twinkle Little Star” or choice of student. Change the words and let out those feelings!

Jump Rope – similar to 1,2 buckle my shoe….1,2 I Can Do; 3,4 Tests and More;             5,6  There are no tricks; 7,8 I Can’t Wait; 9,10 summer again; YEAH!  Good activity to help kids re-frame their thinking about testing

Frankenstein Fracktions – Dr Frankenstein put together many animal combinations.  He couldn’t choose what to call his new creatures until he did his fractions.  He combined 1/8 of a Cow, 3/4 of a Moose, and 2/3 of a Goose.  The animal with the larger fraction comes first in the name.  Is this animal a Moogoomoo or a Goomoomoo or Moomoogoo?  (Try saying any of these 3 times without laughing.  Anxiety has just left the building! )


Summer is Special

When kids (and parents) see spring flowers, they begin to dream about the freedom of summer.  They yearn for the chance to play without constantly worrying about the 3 Ts: teachers, tests, and tantrums.  Kids dream of long days filled with playing and learning fun things.  The continuous task of keeping up or catching up academically with their peers is over.


This makes summer a great time to begin tutoring with TRCTutor.  Kids learn academic subjects through our unique methods which feature playing to learn in our sensory room while practicing techniques to reduce anxiety and stress.  While their peers are loosing ground gained in school, our kids are catching up to their peers so that next school year will start on a great footing.

Which reminds us that spaces for summer tutoring at TRCTutor are filling up rapidly.  Our early-bird summer special will end soon.  Call us now to find out about our summer programs.

It’s time to think about Summer!

When school ends in June, will your child’s academic and social skills regress due to lack of practice?  TRC Tutor can help!

Sign up for our Early-Bird Summer Special and receive 25% off the regular price. With our stress-reduction program, your child will  practice and improve social skills while remedial tutoring will build up any academic weak areas. Sign up by June 10, 2013.

But wait, there’s more! Social skills can’t be practiced in a vacuum. Enroll with a friend and receive an additional 25% discount when they enroll.

When school starts back in August, your child will be prepared to re-enter a classroom with improved social skills while being academically stronger.

Contact TRC Tutor at 910-650-3734.

Our goal is the same as yours: your child’s success.




An Educational Perspective

Today’s post is from our Educational Director, Mr. Jerry.

Why is teaching at TRC Tutor so much fun?

It is the freedom you get when you can work one on one with a student. When we look at a student as a whole person, we see both cognitive and emotional intelligences, and we see how these intelligences interact to support or impede learning. The freedom comes in having a much larger number of approaches to use in solving a school performance issue.

One approach of traditional tutoring is the pencil and paper, drill and repeat routine with a knowledgeable person beside the student showing him or her what to do. Another way is the electronic computer approach with a game-like presentation of information and repeated practice with much color, movement, and sound. Neither of these approaches consider emotional intelligence. Becoming proficient at one particular subset of a subject does not automatically eliminate the stress and anxiety that came with the learning issue in the first place.

Our combination of the many fun therapeutic recreation techniques for stress reduction and anxiety management along with our unique differentiated academic approaches make us different. (We rarely sit at a desk or use pencil and paper in our sessions, but we are seriously working.) Seeing the student as a whole person and using that person’s natural strengths makes each tutoring session different from the previous session. The student changes with each session and so do our teaching strategies. It is creatively challenging to find new approaches and very rewarding to see a student become a resilient and confident learner.

That is what makes teaching at TRC Tutor so much fun.


Just Another Day at TRCTutor

Several of you have asked me what makes TRCTutor different than a regular tutoring service.  It is the combination of Therapeutic Recreation and Academic Tutoring which is unique.  I work with the mental health side and our teacher deals with the academics.  By combining a licensed recreational therapist and a licensed teacher we can meet the many needs of the child who is experiencing multiple problems learning.

Here are some pictures taken today at the TRCTutor which will illustrate some of the ways we are different from traditional tutors.

Reading is so much more fun when you get to read to Grandma by the campfire under the stars.  And she never gets upset when you miss a word.

Teaching the camel some new tricks

Did you know that camels can  multiply?

And that you can do fun multiplication on your fingers?

Who knew learning was this much fun?  Yes, we do cover all of the traditional reading, writing, and arithmetic and test taking skills.  We just present it in ways that make your child more successful in learning these tasks.  By making it fun, and using specific techniques to  lesson stress and anxiety, your child will blossom and become successful in the traditional classroom.


National Recreational Therapy Month

Today is the last day of National Recreational Therapy Month.  Time passes so fast!  It seems like a good time to explain how Therapeutic Recreation fits into the academic tutoring at TRCTutor.  Many people are familiar with Therapeutic Recreation and sports and activities for children with special needs.  RTs (they are the people who provide Therapeutic Recreation) often work with wheelchair teams, aquatics, horses, ropes courses, arts and crafts, music, and other typical recreational activities for people who have disabilities.  They also work in hospitals, schools, nursing homes, rehabilitation programs, private and public agencies.  Therapeutic Recreation is the related service under the Federal IDEA legislation for schools.  What most people do not know is that RTs also work with stress management, relaxation training, anxiety, anger management, self -destructive behaviors, behavioral management, teaching social skills, group behaviors, sensory activities, wellness, and community inclusion.  This is just the short list. Contact your local Recreational Therapist, state organizations, the North Carolina Board of Recreational Therapy Licensure, National Council of Therapeutic Recreation Certification, or ATRA to learn more.  That’s enough general information about Recreational Therapy/Therapeutic Recreation.  What does all of this have to do with TRCTutor?

At TRCTutor, I work in collaboration with a child, his family, our academic director and teacher to ensure that services are provided in a seamless manner that will work in our tutoring system, at home, and at school.  We specialize in tutoring the child who has severe anxiety which interferes with academic progress.  Many of these children who are suffering from anxiety receive labels of ADHD, LD, ODD, OCD, Tourettes, Autism, Aspergers, BiPolar Disorder, Behavior Disorders, and other disorders.  Some of these children are in gifted and talented programs and some are in self-contained special education classrooms, but most are in regular classrooms.

When a child comes into their session, I check-in with the child and parent about the past week and see how the day is going.  Often during this time, I learn that the child’s class has moved on to new topics which are creating additional stress for the child.  During the time we are discussing this change two things happen: 1) the tutor revamps his lesson plans to incorporate the new information and 2) I determine the best method to relax the child and lessen her anxiety.  This may include breathing techniques, guided visualization, sensory activity, progressive muscle relaxation, physical activity, or other technique.   The child and I will choose  a fidget, a distractor, a puppet, or a stress technique he can use during the academic session.   When the child is relaxed,  the teacher will begin his session.  My job also includes bringing the fun into the lesson.  It is much more difficult for a child to be anxious while enjoying himself!  We incorporate games, activities, arts, and things that bring “wow” into the lessons.  TRCTutor uses all of the child’s learning styles to help explain academic information.  Schools try, but often do not have the resources to use more than just sight (reading) and hearing (lecture) as their main teaching styles.  Unfortunately, not all children learn primarily through sight and sound.  When a child is unable to process new information through these main teaching methods, she begins to think that she is unable to learn and becomes very anxious at being put in a position of failure.  We show the child how to learn, how to reduce stress, and how to deal with anxiety!  Maybe our next blog will be from our educational director.