cover image The Learning Tree: Overcoming Learning Disabilities from the Ground Up

The Learning Tree: Overcoming Learning Disabilities from the Ground Up

Stanley I. Greenspan and Nancy Thorndike Greenspan, Da Capo Lifelong, $26 (288p) ISBN 978-0-7382-1233-3

Pre-eminent psychiatrist and early childhood expert Stanley Greenspan collaborated with his wife, Nancy Thorndike Greenspan, in their fourth book together, the culmination of many years of research. The authors employ the metaphor of a tree to illustrate how children learn; the roots take in information and plan actions, the trunk represents thinking skills, and the branches stand for academic areas such as reading, writing, and math. Maintaining that labels serve limited purpose, the Greenspans encourage educators and parents to treat each child according to his or her unique learning profile. Instead of focusing on a diagnosis of ADD or ADHD, the goal is to give attention to the origin of a problem, providing exercises and support as children work through their difficulties. Identifying nine levels of thinking, the authors show parents how to recognize problem areas and then use such methods as their signature “Floortime”—in which the parent follows the child’s lead, challenges her to be creative, expands the action and interaction, and includes sense and motor skills as well as various emotions. With their developmental approach, the Greenspans focus on practical ways to enhance “thinking-based” rather than “memory-based” learning. Several chapters contributed by Richard Lodish, an educator at the Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C., demonstrate how Greenspan’s methods are used in the classroom and will be of particular interest to teachers. (Sept.)