COVID-19 got you stuck at home with the kids? Need to reach your students remotely? We can help!

Bringing the classroom home, Part 1: Leahann McLaughlin

As you probably know, Lexercise believes in online learning!  For more than a decade, Lexercise has continually refined our online structured literacy teaching platform.  Now, with schools and workplaces closed down for the coronavirus, and people being encouraged (or required) to work, teach, and learn online we are hearing from more and more parents, teachers and therapists who want to know how online learning works.  

Over the next three weeks we’ll share some reflections on online learning from three Lexercise teletherapists:  Leahann McLaughlin, Lindsey Blackburn and Josie Moretti.  We’ll start with Leahann’s reflection. 

Reading is a hallmark of every other academic expectation of these kids. 

Lexercise teletherapist Leahann McLaughlin previously worked as an elementary school teacher and interventionist in the traditional classroom setting. A passionate lifelong reader, she loved teaching reading. As an interventionist, working with small groups of students with different deficits, she found that the piecemeal curriculum made it “hard to get the desired outcomes” for her students. The work was not one-on-one and there simply were not enough repetitions to help the students learn. As she was trying to learn more, she “happened to meet someone in school who was a Lexercise therapist. I saw her working with a student, doing structured Orton-Gillingham activities.” Leahann was amazed. “Even in my Master’s program I hadn’t learned anything about this.” More research and training followed. “It was exactly what I was looking for.”

Leahann agrees that online learning is “extremely user friendly. There’s a learning curve,” she says, “but it’s not especially steep. Plus, the more you do it, the easier it is.” It’s particularly easy for the students: “They know instinctively what to click on, where to find things. They take to it naturally.”

The advantages of working online are significant as well. “I find that student outcomes are better than what I experienced traditionally in school. Kids have ongoing practice every day. Without this frequent practice, they don’t retain what they’ve learned. The structure and design of this program with repetition and reinforcement really lends itself to positive student outcomes.” Leahann also sees the benefit of parental involvement. “Parents are very supportive, very serious, and committed to the program. I didn’t see that in the schools. Many parents had not realized how misunderstood their child was until they saw a new way of responding to their child’s needs.”

“I feel like students are more engaged,” Leahann says. “Kids gravitate to the technology. Students think it’s a neat setting. They like that there is actually somebody on the other side of that screen that they look at all the time. I find there’s a lot less resistance in this sort of setting than in-office therapy. Because we can see each other and are talking in real time, it’s possible to gauge responses and read emotional feedback.”

“Many students have historically not been successful in the classroom and have damaged self-esteem. But in the safe online environment, they learn that getting it wrong is part of the learning process. This setting overshadows their previous experience so they can get past their fear and negative associations with literacy.”

“It’s very exciting when a child starts enjoying reading instead of avoiding it. I’m thrilled when a parent tells me that their child is reading cereal boxes or street signs!”

Many families are today experiencing the world of online learning for the first time. If you have questions about how online therapy works or how it can benefit your child, we invite you to browse the Lexercise website and we hope you will contact us.

Please stay safe and stay healthy!

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