Yesterday at a baby shower, I ran into the mom of a former student who shared with me that her son, now 31, came to Stowell Learning Center when he was 7.
She said, “We’re so grateful. I don’t think he would ever have learned to read if it hadn’t been for his time at the ‘Stowell Institute.’ Now he is a voracious reader.” This student, virtually a non-reader at the end of first grade, easily completed college, has a successful career, and is never without a book!
Wow! I love hearing about our former students and I feel so blessed everyday to get to do something that really changes lives.
I attended and spoke at the International Learning Disabilities Association (LDA) conference last week. There were so many excellent speakers sharing outstanding teaching techniques and hundreds of dedicated special education teachers soaking up the information.
There was lots of talk about teaching struggling students in “a different way.”
But it’s not just about teaching the same thing in a different way. If we really want to correct a learning disability (which, by the way, no one is really talking about), we have to identify and develop the weak underlying processing/learning skills that are causing the problem in the first place. Then, the brain is prepared for the introduction or remediation of academic skills.
Let’s take reading and my former student (I’ll call him Adam) as an example.
English is a phonetic language. To be a good reader, one must understand the sound symbol system and be able to learn and use phonics. Adam was not able to make sense of phonics, in spite of good teaching, because he had very weak phonemic awareness – the auditory processing ability that allows the brain to think about the number, order, and identity of sounds in words.
You can repeat phonics rules and practice phonics skills until you’re blue in the face, but if the brain cannot think about the sounds, you will not be able to use phonics effectively. If the sounds are a mystery, reading will also be a mystery.
So just teaching reading in a different way, will NOT do the trick. That underlying auditory processing ability has to be developed so that the brain is ready to learn to read and the learner can make sense out of phonics.
We have to stop thinking that it is OK for our bright, creative, but struggling learners to get through school and life with compensations and accommodations. Like Adam, they have the potential to become voracious readers and successful adults.
Do you know someone who struggles with reading or learning? Are you ready for a change? Most reading and learning challenges can be dramatically improved or completely corrected.
JOIN US at a FREE Parent Information Night to find out what is getting in the way of your/your child’s learning and what can be done to change that, permanently!
For information and RSVP, go to www.learningdisability.com
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