AEF (Alternative Education Foundation) is a not for profit 501(c)(3) governed by a Board of Directors. The foundation operates schools, conducts educational research, provides professional training, and hosts parent support groups. The schools serve the South Florida area and provide transport for students within Broward, Miami-Dade, and Palm Beach Counties.
AEF Preparatory School’s program focuses on four distinct skill areas which are cornerstones of success for every child, adolescent, and adult.
Academic – ability to find and use knowledge/ information effectively and efficiently
Social – making friends, fitting in, playing by the rules
Life – self regulatory skills, hygiene, taking responsibility, decision making
Physical – Fine motor, gross motor, dexterity, nutrition, physical well being
A person must master all these skills to be successful in today’s society. Regardless of intelligence, a person will not be successful without all these skills in place.
Children are unique like fingerprints. They possess similar characteristics and qualities, but don’t fit perfectly into any one diagnosis. Every child has specific needs and possesses unique skill sets.
Not everything listed below will apply to your child. The important thing is AEF’s philosophy and focus meets your expectations.
Social / Life Skills
Difficulty making friends / treating friends / keeping friends
Low self esteem / self confidence / depression
Impulsive / poor decision making skills
General lack of social skills
Inability to see cause and effect
Will not accept responsibility for their actions
Oppositional or defiant
Problems in one or more subject areas
Cannot or will not complete homework
Leaves books at school or homework at home
Is non cooperative / non compliant in the classroom
Constant phone calls from the school / teacher
Does not like school
Won’t get up in the morning / fight to get them to school
Room is a mess / cannot find things / loses things
Poor hygiene / won’t shower or brush teeth
Uses all the shampoo or loses the soap
Leaves wet clothes all over the house
Wants to watch TV or play games during meal times
Won’t sit at the table or eat with the rest of the family
Won’t eat the food prepared
Wants to do all kinds of things during bed time
Won’t stay in room
Fights with parents / siblings
Won’t get up in the morning / fight to get them to school
Everything listed above are symptoms of Cognitive Skill Deficits. In other words, your child is not struggling academically because he or she can’t read or add numbers. Rather, they can’t read or add numbers because of cognitive skill deficits. They have trouble following directions, staying on task, keeping things organized, making good choices, taking responsibility, and problem solving because of cognitive skill deficits. What are cognitive skills?
Cognitive skills are any mental skills that are used in the process of acquiring knowledge; these skills include reasoning, perception, and intuition and are broken down further into the following categories.
The efficiency in which the brain processes the data it receives. Faster processing speed leads to more efficient thinking and learning.
This is the specific skill of processing sounds. We break this skill down into three measurable areas that greatly impact reading and spelling. These are analyzing, segmenting, and blending sounds. For example, when you hear a word, you are required to hear the individual and blended sounds that make that word unique and recognizable. When you read a word, you must recreate the individual and blended sounds to form a word in your mind or to speak it. When a word you read is unfamiliar, you must decode it and correctly assign sounds to the letter or letter combinations. This skill is called Word Attack. Auditory skills are essential if a student is to read, spell, or learn new words or concepts well.
This is the ability to receive and manipulate visual information. Puzzles are a great illustration in the function of visual processing. Visualization (creating mental images) also greatly affects reading comprehension and long-term memory.
Memory skills fall into two broad categories: long term storage and recall memory and short-term working memory. Long term memory becomes the “library” of facts upon which we build our concepts and accumulate knowledge. Working memory handles the dynamic job of holding data during the learning experience, while we are receiving multiple bits of information. We then combine and process that information to create new concepts and understanding.
Logic and Reasoning:
These skills are necessary to create those new and likely relationships between information we take in as we learn. We use these skills to compare new data with recalled facts stored in long term memory. Problem solving and planning are also greatly impacted by logic and reasoning skills.
Task Analysis, Sequencing, and Part/Whole Relationships:
These skills dictate how we approach a problem, decide on potential solutions, implement the solution, and evaluate the effectiveness of the solution to the original problem.
Critical Thinking and Conflict Resolution Skills:
These skills dictate how we respond to adversity and praise, when to fight and when to walk away, and knowing the appropriate method of responding to stressful situations.
The last broad area we work on in training is attention. Attention breaks down into a few areas:
is the ability to stay focused and on task.
is the ability to focus on several important points simultaneously.
skills enable a student to quickly sort and discard distractions or irrelevant incoming information or instruction.
It is not difficult to see how these Cognitive Skills apply to learning and if any of these skills are weak your child’s ability to learn will be difficult if not impossible.
…and not just learning in the classroom. Skills like showering, making friends, following directions, waiting their turn, and many others would be affected.
Building strong cognitive skills is the key to any child’s success.
Why tutoring and academic remediation alone won’t work…
“Reading and writing rely on a specific set of cognitive skills such as attention, memory, symbolic thinking, and self-regulation. As children learn to read and write, they continue to improve these skills, making them more purposeful and deliberate. Deliberate attention is required to differentiate between letters, even if they look alike, and to isolate specific portions of a word for encoding and decoding it. Children must remember the previous words as they decode the subsequent words in a sentence. If they do not make a purposeful attempt to remember, they cannot extract what the sentence means. Writing and reading are the use of symbols and if they cannot think symbolically, they cannot learn to manipulate letters or words. Finally, self-regulation must be in place so that children can monitor their own understanding of the print so they can abandon ineffective reading strategies and move on to more effective ones.” Midcontinent Research for Education and Learning (1998).