Our instruction helps a wide range of elementary school age children by developing language processing that is critical to becoming a proficient learner in any subject.
The two main areas we focus on at the Speech Language and Learning Center are Reading and Mathematics. Please review an outline of these programs below.
A child’s academic success is largely based on his or her reading proficiency. Reading proficiency is measured by reading fluency and reading comprehension. In fact, reading is the leading indicator of academic success. Researchers at Yale University have been studying reading disorders for years using brain imaging techniques. The research has shown that there are differences in brain activity patterns in children with reading disorders. Therefore, activating children's neural circuitry for reading early on is key.
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Despite the fact that the amount of spending per student has doubled since the 1970’s, our reading scores nationwide have been flat for the past 20 years. Additionally, thirty-eight percent of American school children are unable to read grade-level material (NCES National Center for Educational Statistics). So, why is that given the advances in society that teaching children to become proficient readers is such a daunting task?
Most teachers are not educated in how to identify if a child is having difficulty in reading. In fact, most teachers use the “wait and see approach.” This allows for the student to experience failure without getting any help. Waiting to see if a child catches up to his peers can be devastating to a student. Not only do students who struggle in reading become frustrated, they feel “dumb.” Children do not understand why they don’t read as well as the other students. They do not recognize that they may have some underlying processing issue.
Learning how to read comes naturally for most of us. It is something that is taken for granted and not given much thought. However, for children with dyslexia, it is not natural. In fact, it takes a lot of effort; therefore, many children with dyslexia do not like reading. Reading should be automatic and fluent. If not, the student may be putting forth so much effort in the “decoding” process that his or her comprehension may be affected. This may also be true if your child is a slow reader. Furthermore, since he or she is putting forth so much effort into decoding, he or she experience fatigue, particularly in the upper elementary years, when the amount of required reading increases voluminously. If a child does not understand what he reads, the effects are far-reaching since reading is essential for each subject (even math). Researchers have shown that children who are not reading fluently by the end of first grade are at significant risk for academic failure throughout their school years.
Your child may have dyslexia if he or she:
- reads slowly
- misreads words
- add words when he or she is reading
- skips words when reading
- adds ending to words
- uses a similar word when reading (ex: says mother for mom)
- avoids reading
- has poor spelling in relation to other academic abilities
- has difficulty memorizing math facts (addition, subtraction and/or multiplication)
Just as reading is the cornerstone of learning, mastery of mathematical concepts and memorization of math facts are the building blocks for success in math. When a child has not memorized his or her math facts (addition, subtraction, and multiplication), he or she will experience pitfalls by the time he or she reaches 4th grade math. Long division requires multiple applications of math concepts. If a student is still finger counting by the 3rd grade, he or she will often lose his or her place and make mistakes. Teachers often comment that children are lazy or not trying hard enough when this happens, which is not the case.
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Determining if your child has a Mathematics Disorder is done by assessing many facets in your child’s mathematical and language abilities. Mathematics disorders are often associated with other learning disorders involving reading and language. Therefore, getting a complete assessment of your child’s mathematical, reading and language abilities is crucial. The assessment allows for a specific intervention program to be developed as well as the selection of a mathematics curriculum which will complement your child’s abilities. Although the specific causes of mathematics disorder are not completely understood, symptoms can be grouped into four categories: language, recognition/perceptual, mathematical (memorization of math facts) and attentional.