Hi, I’m Patricia Porter (Dr. Patricia Porter if you want to be formal!). I was a classroom teacher for over 35 years, both in England and in Canada. I was trained to teach physics to High School Kids but my heart was more in teaching than physics so I ended up working with younger students and, because I was following a young husband as he studied around the country, I ended up having to take a teaching job that no one else would take.
It seemed ideal, only twenty students, extra pay because they were designated as slow learners, and on a bus route that got me from home to school. What could go wrong?
Well, a lot went wrong.
The kids were in a portable classroom at the end of the school playground so they already knew they were the ‘rejects’. They came from a low socio economic area and had to be street wise to survive. They were not going to let a young, female, second year teacher tell them what to do!
It was tough six months. Eventually I scrapped all that I had been trained to do and decided that the only way I was going to connect with these kids was on their own level.
I asked students to bring their pets to show the class (I didn’t like the snake!) and we drew pictures and wrote and learned about them. They brought in sports shirts and we discussed the merits of different teams (this lesson got a bit heated so was never repeated!) and, because most of the time we had the playground to ourselves, when we all needed a break we played a simple running game that gave everyone a chance to win.
I am not sure how much reading and math the kids learned but I do know that they taught me much more than I taught them. After a year at that school my career was set. I spent most of my time working with so-called ‘slow learners’ and, on the whole, loving it.
I learned that these kids were bright in ways that never showed in school. They had skills and were intelligent in ways I didn’t know about. Later in my career I learned more about the theory of Multiple Intelligences and it became accepted that children learned in different ways. But I hadn’t had that training yet.
As I worked with a whole range of students who were designated as ‘slow learners’ I began to form the question that has led me to where I am today.
I wanted to know why some children learned more easily than others.
I wanted to know why bright kids struggled to learn.
I was busy earning a living and I didn’t have much time to spend looking for answers. But one day something happened that reignited my need to explore the issue.
I was talking with a friend who was a kindergarten teacher. It was the beginning of the school year and she was doing intake interviews with parents and children. I asked her how things were going and she told me that it looked like she was going to have about ten kids who were going to have a good year.
Her comment surprised me. How could she tell, after only a twenty-minute meeting, which kids were going to succeed and which were going to struggle?
Her answer? The kids who would succeed were those who were ready to learn. They were the ones who came into the room full of curiosity, able to listen, willing to try something new. They were the ones who picked up a book even though they couldn’t read.
They were ready.
And who had made them ready? Their parents. It is what the parents had done at home that had prepared their child to succeed in school. As this experienced kindergarten teacher said, “What parents do at home is vital to a child’s learning success”.
I wanted to know more. I went to the local University to ask who I could talk to about this, who could give me answers to how parents help their children succeed in school? I was told, gently, that if I wanted to know more I should take a research course and find the answers myself!
So, after seven years of research guided by the university I found my answer. (I also got a Ph.D. but that seems irrelevant). It was an answer so simple and profound that it changed my life and has helped me change the lives of struggling learners around the world.
The reason some children learn more quickly and easily than others is that they have learned how to learn.
And they had learned how to learn because their parents had helped them develop the foundational skills that lead to learning.
I told you it sounds simple. Who knew you had to learn how to learn? As a teacher I, like many others, taught students how to add, subtract, write, understand science and many other subjects that were prescribed by the curriculum. I was trained to teach but I was not trained to help kids know how to learn.
Fortunately, because of the kind of kids I was teaching, I had attended a specialist course in how to diagnose learning issues. I wasn’t about to become and educational psychologist who look at how children perform compared to standardized scores. I was trained to find children’s learning strengths as well as their weaknesses and to use their strengths to overcome their weaknesses.
I had tried using this skill in the classroom but it took too much time and I had many kids to teach. I started talking to groups of parents about the skills kids needed to develop so they could reach their learning potential.
It wasn’t long before I picked up the phone only to hear someone sobbing and saying that she couldn’t do it anymore! When this mother calmed down she told me that she was spending three hours every night helping her daughter with homework. She had no time for family life! What could she do?
I decided to help. I use my skills to diagnose her child’s learning issues and to provide the parent with strategies she could use. It worked! Word started to get around and soon I was helping several parents understand their child’s learning needs. But each session took time and I had to travel to their homes each time.
There had to be a way that I could help more parents without having to travel so much.
Then I met Bonnie. Bonnie understood what I was trying to do and she suggested that I put my service on-line. A bit scary at the time as I am somewhat technically challenged! However, I was able to translate my diagnostic skills into simple checklists that parents could complete and with her help, put the whole process on-line.
Leading to Learning was born!
Now I know exactly what to tell parents who are concerned about their child’s education. No more platitudes and guesses and ‘teacher talk’.
Now I can relate to parents on an equal footing because I understand that they, not the teachers, are the most important person to help their child succeed.
Now I can work with parents around the world (I have worked with parents in the US, Scandinavia, UK, India).
Now, using the technology, I can offer parents a proven, research based solution to their child’s learning issues.
Now I can help make a difference in the learning lives of children
Now I can help Seed Pod Kids, bright children who are underachieving in school, to break through their learning constraints, so they can grow and blossom.
Now I can take parents through my 5 step Porter Process where we discuss learning goals and I provide on-line diagnostic assessment tools that uncover a child’s learning strengths and weaknesses
Now I can offer parents proven, practical strategies that help them lead their child to learning!
This website is about giving you advice and support to help your child reach his or her learning potential.
Please explore all the information and contact me if you have any questions or comments.