Monday, March 22, 2021

New Data Confirms Emotional Toll of Virtual Learning

There has been much conversation over the past year about the impact that virtual learning has had on children and families. The ways that virtual learning has been used during the pandemic have varied -- sometimes abruptly -- as school systems and families have reacted to infection rates, clusters of outbreaks, and the availability of vaccinations for faculty and staff. But almost all students have faced reduced class time and many have dealt with the unavailability of effective online learning as well, when families lack computers or efficient high speed internet connections.

A new study released by the CDC has examined the impact of virtual learning on the mental health and well-being of children aged 5-12 by looking at almost 1300 families. Of those families, approximately 46% had children receiving only virtual instruction. Another 31% received in-person instruction and approximately 23% received hybrid instruction, both virtual and in-person.

The study looked at 17 indicators of child mental health and found that children who were getting virtual instruction scored worse on 11 of the 17 mental health indicators. In addition, children learning virtually full or part time spent less time outdoors, spent less time with friends (both in person and online), and reported decreased physical activity. And it wasn't only the children who were affected by virtual learning. The study noted,

"Parents of children receiving virtual instruction more frequently reported their own emotional distress, difficulty sleeping, loss of work, concern about job stability, child care challenges, and conflict between working and providing child care than did parents whose children were receiving in-person instruction."  

None of the statistical findings of the CDC study will come as a surprise. Hopefully, with increased vaccination of teachers and school staff and lower Covid rates as more of the general population gets vaccinated, in person instruction will increase and families and schools can turn to addressing the academic and emotional challenges that have affected children and families during the past year. Making up for the impact of the pandemic will not be easy.


Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Watch Dr. Yellin Discuss How to Help Struggling Learners

In case you missed a terrific discussion with Dr. Yellin, you can catch the video below. In a conversation with Laura Hart of Robofun, Dr. Yellin gives a clear explanation of the evaluation process and how it can help students of all ages. 

The "call in hour" Dr. Yellin mentions in this video is scheduled for every Thursday morning (EST) from 8-9 am. Our office telephone number is 646-775-6646. If you can't get through, just leave a message and someone will get back to you.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Our Traditional Holiday Poem - For an Untraditional Year


This terrible, horrible, no good year is coming to an end

It has broken our hearts and made things so hard

We’ve almost gone way ‘round the bend


But there have been some glimmers, some real rays of hope

That have helped us to power on through

And as we close out our year, we thought we would share

A few of these glimmers with you


Our office is open and our staff has stayed well

(And we pray will continue the same)

We’ve taken precautions, with distance and masks

We’ve removed all our books and our games


We’ve used telemedicine, Facetime, and Zoom

And can do many meetings online

We’ve been doing in-person assessments

And these are all working out fine


As kids work from home, with learning remote

Some challenges rise to the fore

We’re glad we can work with these students

Giving strategies, insight, and more


The election’s behind us, democracy holds

Though our system has been sorely stressed

As a new term begins, let’s hope justice wins

And our country can be at its best


In this year of great loss, there are new babies too

Arriving amidst the pandemic

Two new Yellin boys have brought us great joy

Though visits and hugs are too few


The vaccine is here and it brings us all hope

Though we’ll have to all wait for our shot

Still, it remains our best path

To go back to our lives

The very best chance we have got


So deep in this season of hunger and loss

We wish you some moments of light

With good things to come, good health, and warm homes

And may everything turn out all right!


The Yellin Center will be closed beginning December 25th, reopening on Monday, January 4, 2021.

We wish you all a happy, healthy 2021!

Photo Credit: 









Monday, November 23, 2020

Still Thankful

Every year around this time we have posted a Thanksgiving blog, noting all the ways in which we are thankful and sharing suggestions for children's books about Thanksgiving. We remain thankful this year but, as with so many aspects of our lives, in very different ways than we could have imagined even just a year ago.

We are thankful that The Yellin Center is able to be open and that we can see students in-person in our spacious, COVID-modified office space. We have found that many parents have seen new aspects of their child's challenges and strengths while watching them learn remotely, and we are glad that we can help support both students and their parents in these unique learning times. 

We are incredibly grateful for the dedication and skill of our clinical and administrative staff, whom have kept us going through these difficult months. We are thankful that our staff has stayed safe and well and that our own kids and grandkids have too. Both family members and dear friends have lost parents to COVID and we have shared in their sorrow. And we know that so many others have also suffered losses. Our thoughts go out to them all.

We remain grateful for the front line medical workers - and the folks who work in the grocery stores, deliver our mail and packages, and do so many other things to keep us going in these difficult times. We are glad to see that here in NYC, wearing a mask and keeping distance is very much the standard, but we remain alarmed to see that these simple steps to protect ourselves and others are not universal, and certainly not once you get outside of our New York bubble. Why is it that our not-quite-three-year-old grandson always wears a mask when outside, but so many grownups still haven't learned this lesson?

We are thankful for the light at the end of the tunnel - the excellent news about soon to be available vaccines that can eventually bring this national crisis to an end. We are enormously grateful to the scientists whose tireless work and dedication will make this possible and look forward to this "shot in the arm" for all of us.

We are thankful, too, that our nation seems to be slowly moving past a gut-wrenching election process and that the path to presidential transition seems to be growing clearer. We continue to hope that everyone involved puts the good of our country first, and that January 20, 2021 dawns clear and sunny, with blue skies ahead. 

So, as your blogger plans a Thanksgiving feast for our immediate family, with a break for a Zoom call with the multitude of Yellin relatives who usually make our holiday so wonderful, we wish you all a happy, healthy Thanksgiving!

                                             .LIST: Local Thanksgiving meal giveaways | WSAV-TV

Monday, October 19, 2020

Take N.O.T.E. - A Tool for Parents

Two of our favorite organizations - The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and Understood - have teamed up to create a tool for parents to help them recognize when and how their children may be having learning difficulties and the steps to take to help them.


Take N.O.T.E. breaks learning issues down into four steps:

NOTICE is the first step, with subject by subject guidance on how a parent can be certain there’s something going on with their child that’s out of the ordinary. Areas of concern need not be academic and include:

  • Reading and writing
  • Math
  • Focus and organization
  • Self-control and hyperactivity
  • Frustration, stress, and anxiety
  • Developmental milestones

OBSERVING comes next. Once parents notice a problem, the program guides parents in how they can learn how to find and keep track of patterns in their child’s behavior with downloadable observation tools.

The third step of the process is TALKING. The program includes tips and conversation starters for parents to use when talking with those who know their child best, like teachers, aides, and other caregivers, as well as talking to their child about what they are observing.

The final step is to ENGAGE, helping parents figure out  how and when to connect with experts like pediatricians and school specialists, who can help you figure out if your child might have a learning and thinking difference.

The Understood site includes links to helpful articles and videos designed to illustrate the issues in  each of the steps involved. So far, so good, since Understood is known for its helpful information for parents. But Take N.O.T.E. goes further, and that's where its partnership with the AAP comes in. The AAP urges pediatricians to be familiar with the steps in the Take N.O.T.E. program and shares links to information from Understood. Furthermore, it offers guidance to its members on how to discuss learning and developmental issues with families, including suggestions to start with open-ended questions, asking for details, and getting more information. 

Dr. Yellin serves as one of Understood's "Experts" and is a resource for numerous pediatricians who seek to refer their patients for a better understanding of their learning, behavioral, and related difficulties. Parents and professionals are welcome to contact our office for more information.

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Looking at the Election Through the Lens of Time

One of the interesting things about having written this blog for eleven years, starting in August 2009, is that we can sometimes look at a topic through the lens of time, seeing what we thought and wrote about something over the course of a number of years. 

As we thankfully put the first Presidential Debate behind us and as many folks around the country have begun to vote, by mail or through in-person early voting, we took a look back at some of the blogs we have written about past presidential elections. 

In 2012, we wrote about bringing your child with you when you vote, something we took very much for granted at that time. We also directed teachers to the resources about elections on the TeacherVision site, including charts and printables. In 2016, we shared information about iCivics, founded by former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, with the goal of transforming civic education for every student in America with innovative, truly engaging games and resources. In 2020, iCivics has a Guide to the 2020 Election, including a countdown clock to Election Day and a guide to the Presidential Debates, along with games, including Win the White House.

One issue which is new to this tumultuous election is how to vote safely and securely in the midst of a pandemic and political upheaval. All but the youngest children are likely to have heard about the pros and cons of voting by mail and all of us have been urged to make a plan for how we will vote. This can be a good conversation to have with your children. Talk about how voting used to be almost exclusively in person on election day and discuss the options this year for voting in person, on election day or during an early voting period, or voting by mail. Have a conversation with your children about how you plan to vote this year and why. Your blogger remembers entering the voting booth with her parents and, in turn, bringing her own children to vote with her when she was a young parent. While this isn't a safe option this year, we look forward to a time when it is again a routine part of parenting and civic education.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Supporting Your Remote Learner

Labor Day is behind us and schools are opening -- one way or another -- all around the country. Most students are engaged in some form of remote learning, at least part of the time, since being in school full time seems to be the exception in most places.

It was with the continuing challenges of remote learning especially in mind that Dr. Yellin and his colleagues from QED Foundation, Kim Carter and Betsey Bradley, presented a webinar last week focusing on Observations and Opportunities: Supporting Your Child in Remote Learning.

They used Betseys experiences with her own son to frame the challenges and possibilities that learning from home presents for students and parents alike. Betsey had noticed that her son was struggling with writing tasks. She knew that he had a good vocabulary and was a strong reader. But when it came time to create a report or write an essay, his work wasn't up to the level of his conversational skills. So she put on her parental detective hat and used the Neurodevelopmental Framework for Learning (NDFL) that underlies QED's approach, to examine where and why he was having difficulty.

 Betsey knew that writing involved a number of tasks that had to be performed simultaneously -- coming up with ideas, spelling, grammar, vocabulary, organization, punctuation, and actually forming the letters to write. But her son struggled with handwriting (graphomotor function) and attention difficulties made it hard for him to handle all the tasks of writing at the same time. Watching her son work at home gave her insight that she might not have gotten from just looking at a paper he had brought home from class. Once the bottlenecks in his writing became clear, it was possible to put together specific supports to help address the areas that made writing difficult. 

Some of the tools that can help students who struggle with writing can be found on the Resources page  of the Yellin Center website. Graphic organizers can be especially helpful for students who need to put their creative thoughts or academic knowledge into an organized story or essay. 

Parents whose children learn from home this fall -- even part-time -- have a unique opportunity to observe how they learn. Doing this while doing one's own job and managing other kids is not easy. But if circumstances allow, watching your child work through a lesson can provide useful insight into which areas might be challenges for him or her and how to help him or her improve.