Schools and Dyslexia - Page 3 of 6 - Lexercise

Facilitate Growth From Frustration

How to Correct Your Child Without Discouraging them (18)Mistakes can cause frustration for your child, but they can also be used to teach your child to process frustration in a healthy way. It will be hard, but you have to let them make mistakes and deal with their frustration on their own before you intervene. If you always do the hard work for them, they will always turn to others for help and one day those people will not be at arm’s reach. Here are some tips for facilitating growth from your child’s frustration.

Encourage the expression of emotions

Tell your child that it is okay to feel frustrated. If you try and ban the emotion, they are just going to become more frustrated.

Take Breaks

All kids need breaks, but kids who have learning disabilities need them more often. Frustration is an emotion that goes hand in hand with disorders like dyslexia– they are simply unavoidable. Taking breaks will allow your child to reset and try again with a clear mind.

Infuse humorPictofigo_Frustration

Being silly with your child will take the pressure off them and lessen their frustration. Having fun will take their mind off the daunting task at hand.

Play board games

Board games are a great way to teach patience, sitting still and taking turns while still being in the form of a game. They will be learning how to deal with frustration without even knowing it.

If you think your child may have dyslexia you can screen them for free in 10 minutes here.

Accommodations vs. Modifications

apple, books, and blocks on teachers desk

If your child is having trouble in school, the administration may speak to you about providing them with accommodation or modification services.

Accommodation changes how the student learns, such as changing the setting or the time allowed. Modification changes what the student learns, so they will be held to different expectations than the rest of the students in their class.

You will likely hear these terms if your child has an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or a 504 plan.

In the context of classroom instruction, accommodations can help students learn the same material as their peers but just with some extra assistance. Examples include audio recordings of text and sitting in the front of the classroomModifications, on the other hand, are for students who would benefit from changes in the curriculum. They may receive shorter or lower-level reading assignments.

Students who have special plans will students needing accommodations or modifications sitting in classroomhave different test experiences as well. Students with accommodations will likely have more time to take their tests, but they will not be allowed to use the same tools that help them during instruction. Modifications will usually allow students to take a different test entirely. If the test is modified it can also mean that they are only tested on half of the information that the rest of the students are tested on.

Standardized testing essentially follows the same rules as normal classroom testing but may have different implications regarding how much the test is modified. The state can allow students with modifications to take a different test, but the results may be interpreted differently and have certain implications attached to the performance. As in, if the test was some kind of entry exam, the institution may throw their test out because it was modified.

Although accommodations or modifications can be helpful for your child’s education and performance it is not a solution to their problems. To address your child’s learning disability they need to be taught in a way that their brain is wired to learn. Consider Structured Literacy therapy to address your child’s reading, writing, and learning struggles at the root of the cause. Contact us if you have any questions about structured literacy and how it can help your struggling reader.

Dyslexics Need Deep Instruction

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Deep vs. Surface Instruction

Is your child getting deep or surface reading and spelling instruction?  How can you tell and does it matter?

In the 1970s Marton and Säljö (1976) described two types of learning approaches based on clinical studies of students:

  • a “deep” approach that focused on understanding
  • a “surface” approach that focused on memorization.

A student’s learning approach is not a personality trait; rather, it is produced by the interaction of the student with specific learning tasks.  

  • A “deep learning” approach allows a student to take what’s learned in one situation and apply it to another. It develops procedural knowledge of what, how, why, and when to apply concepts.
  • In contrast, a “surface approach” (also called a “holistic” approach) aims at reproduction and often uses analogies and illustrations rather than procedural instruction. (Pask, 1976).

Reading and Spelling Instruction

Students taught to read and spell with a “deep” approach would be expected to use a specific procedure to sound out and spell novel words, to explain spelling patterns and to correct errors.

Students taught to read and spell with a “shallow” approach would be expected to memorize words as whole units (“by sight” or as strings of letters), to use context to guess at words.Census-reading-hi

Reading and spelling instruction may use both “deep” and “shallow” types of instruction at different times.  Students with dyslexia have difficulty with the “surface” approach and benefit greatly from a “deep” approach. This is the basis for structured literacy intervention, which has been shown to help struggling readers and spellers develop an understanding of how words work.  Of course, teaching with a “deep” approach requires a teacher who has deep knowledge of word structure.

For example, a teacher with deep word structure knowledge will be able to answer these 10 questions:

  1. Why are these words homophones (sound the same)? tax – tacks
  2. Why are there double letters in each of these words?  letter, kiss, tapping
  3. Why does the -i- in this word sound like “uh”?   habit
  4. Why is <in> spelled with one “n” while <inn> is spelled with two?
  5. Why is does the <y> sound different in these words?  gym, cry
  6. How can the spelling of these words be explained?  to – too – two
  7. Why are these words spelled with an -e- at the end? rate, judge, rinse
  8. Why does the -a- not sound the same in these words?  ash – wash 
  9. Why is the /k/ sound spelled <ch> in school but <c> in cool?
  10. Why does <gh> sometimes spell a /f/ sound (laugh) and sometimes a /g/ sound (ghost)?

If you aren’t sure, ask a Lexercise therapist!

Combating Summer Learning Loss

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It’s nearing the end of the school year and grades are coming in. No matter what, you are proud of your child, but their education should not stop with the last school bell of the year. They need to continue their education over the summer. Learning loss is inevitable when kids have the summer off from school and educational enrichment. Students can lose up to fifteen percent of their academic ability over the summer if they don’t regularly read or write.

This is why the end of the school year is a perfect time to start Structured Literacy therapy with Lexercise. If your child did well, you don’t want them to lose two month’s worth of information they worked so hard to learn– especially if they have a learning disability like dyslexia. It is already hard enough for them to learn, and continuous reinforcement is key to them retaining information. Help them keep what they have learned and boost their abilities and confidence for the next school year.

Two boys and one girl visibly happy playing alongIf your child’s school year did not go as well as you hoped, grade retention is not ideal– but Lexercise therapy is. We guarantee a grade level increase in reading abilities after two months of therapy or we will pay for the third month. Conveniently, summer vacations are usually around two months– so you would see that reading grade level increase before the start of the new school year. Within two months, your child will likely be caught up with their classmates– greatly minimizing the need for retention.

We know that summer vacation is a time for straying from your routine and you aren’t always sure where your family will be during a given week. Luckily, Lexercise is available wherever you can gain wifi access. All of the lessons are done via webcam, and the customized practice can be done on any device. Lexercise was created to make Structured Literacy therapy easy and accessible for you and your child.

Your child does not need to have dyslexia in order to benefit from our Structured Literacy therapy– especially during the summer months. But, if you suspect your child may have dyslexia you can have them take our free screener here.


Teaching Dyslexic Students: A Guide

How to Correct Your Child Without Discouraging them (11)Unfortunately, public school educators are usually overwhelmed with the amount of children in their class so they cannot take the time to alter their techniques for everyone. They are forced to stick with teaching styles that will help the majority of students. But as a parent, you’re only interested is in one student– you’re own. Here are some things you can discuss with your child’s teacher in order for him or her to get the most out of their classroom experience.

  • Ask the teacher if they can provide a handout of their lesson for your child to reference during the teachings. This way they can follow along with visual cues, and they can go back to the outline when they get home. The information is more likely to go from short term memory to long term memory.
  • Ask the teacher to check if your child has written their homework down correctly. Add that it would be helpful to make sure that your child has the appropriate worksheets and books needed at the end of the day.
  • Tell your child to take down the number of some of their friends. This way they can become homework buddies and help each other if one has forgotten what the homework tasks were. Make sure these numbers are stored in a safe place. If your child is too young to get phone numbers, ask the teacher for some parents’ phone numbers.
  • Ask the teacher to use the board to communicate messages and day to day classroom activities instead of sending them verbally. This will benefit all students by adding a visual element to tasks that need to be remembered.
  • 13584535514_c2bb726231When your child gets home, work with them to create a to-do list for the evening. Do this with the intent of eventually having them create their own to-do list without assistance.
  • Ask the teacher to make sure your child sits at the front of the classroom. This way distractions will be minimized and it will be easy for the teacher to see if your child is struggling.

In addition to these tips, check out what Lexercise has to offer your child here. We guarantee a grade level increase within the first two months or we pay for the third. Don’t be discouraged, there is help for your child!

Special Education Categories in School

Special Education Categories in School - LexerciseIf your child has dyslexia, the school system may throw some words at you that have different meanings in different contexts. We want to make sure you are equipped with the best information before you make decisions that affect your child’s education. Let’s review the different categories of Special Education.


What is Special Education?

Special education is the practice of educating students with special educational needs in a way that is designed to address their individual differences and needs. A federal law, The Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), requires that public schools provide special education (with an Individual Education Plan or IEP) to eligible students, but not every struggling student is eligible.  Eligibility requires that the student’s school performance be “adversely affected” by a disability in one of 13 specified categories:

  1. specific learning disability – includes reading and writing disorders like dyslexia
  2. other health impairment –  includes attention and executive function disorders
  3. autism spectrum disorder
  4. emotional disturbance
  5. speech or language impairment
  6. visual impairment
  7. deafness
  8. hearing impairment
  9. deaf-blindness
  10. orthopedic impairment – includes cerebral palsy
  11. intellectual disability
  12. traumatic brain injury
  13. multiple disabilities 


Specific Learning Disability 

Special Education Statistics

Specific learning disability (SLD) is the category that dyslexia and dysgraphia fall under for purposes of public school special education services. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) defines a specific learning disability as “a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, that may manifest itself in the imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell or do mathematical calculations.”  SLD is the largest special education category, and an estimated 80% of students with SLD have a reading impairment.

Many struggling readers are not eligible for public school special education services. While about 14% of students are eligible for special education services, 25-33% of students read at a below basic level.2   

Dyslexia is more common than you may think, with 15-20% of the school population showing symptoms. If your child has not been diagnosed but is showing symptoms, take our dyslexia screener here for free.


1 What Is Specific Learning Disorder? American Psychiatric Association, Retrieved March 28,2022. 

2 White, T. G., Sabatini, J. P., & White, S. (2021). What Does “Below Basic” Mean on NAEP Reading? Educational Researcher, 50(8), 570–573.

Teachers Aren’t Taught Learning Disabilities

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Fifteen percent of Mississippi children didn’t pass the state’s reading test by third grade.
 Though, Mississippi is not the only state with reading scores lower than the national average. In 2013, thirteen other states scored below the national average in their 4th and 8th graders.

Teachers are just not adequately trained, a new report from the Barksdale Reading Institute says. Teachers are more than capable to help these children, but they aren’t taught to teach children with learning disabilities let alone identify them. 

The group from BRI reviewed 15 traditional teacher preparation programs at 23 different sites in Mississippi and found inconsistencies throughout the programs. Many of the new teachers are taught strategies to teach literacy that are not even research-based. The programs varied on the hours required to spend on instruction and in the classroom.

For one early literacy course that is offered by all programs, the hours spent in class ranged from 14 to 40 among the prep programs, and the hours of fieldwork required ranged from zero to 20. These are huge discrepancies!

Even though the amount of time spent on teacher preparation programs since 2003 increased as a whole, this is not the case for most individual situations. The five components of early literacy are phonological/phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.

The study found that 11 teacher prep programs do not teach letter formation, and 4 programs spend less than an hour teaching candidates about vocabulary.

Some teacher prep students said they were graded on the organization of their notebooks and were given tasks like reading 100 children’s books.Syrian_refugee_children_in_a_Lebanese_school_classroom_(15101234827)

According to the BRI study, in 2015, only 31 percent of the state’s fourth-grade students scored proficient or advanced on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, compared to the national average of 35 percent. Only 21 percent of the state’s eighth-grade students were proficient or advanced.

Dyslexic students have trouble with content even if it is taught by someone trained to fit their needs. Since 1 in 5 children have a learning disability, this makes the lack of teacher education particularly concerning. 

Martha Youman, who came out of college as a New York City Teaching Fellow with a Master’s degree, felt she did not know how to teach the “bottom third” of the class. She ended up giving them low-level busy work, to keep them from acting out. She did not have the proper training to help these kids, even with a master’s degree.

It wasn’t until she went back to school to get her Ph.D. that she truly learned about dyslexia. She was alarmed to find out that five to twenty percent of school-aged children have dyslexia.

Lexercise knows that teachers want to learn and help their students. We created the Mississippi dyslexia screener to help teachers identify children with dyslexia in their classroom. Additionally, Lexercise offers professional educational courses to learn the Structure of English and the Orton-Gillingham method to teach children with Learning Disabilities.


Is Grade Retention Effective?

End-of-the-year parent-teacher conferences might reveal that your child is recommended to repeat their grade in the following school year. Grade retention has been a long debated topic in child education. It only makes sense that a child who fails to learn to read and write correctly should repeat it until they get it right…right? Wrong. Most research does not support the effectiveness of grade retention for struggling readers and/or writers.

There are many ways public schools struggle to help children with literacy issues. Notre Dame sociologist Megan Andrew studied and proved “that kids who repeat a year between kindergarten and fifth grade are 60 percent less likely to graduate high school than kids with similar backgrounds, and even 60 percent less likely to graduate high school than siblings in the same family” (Barshay, 2016). Her study didn’t even take into account children with learning disabilities! Can you imagine how much more damaging holding a child back with a learning disability could be? Grade retention will not benefit your child, especially if your child’s struggles are a caused by dyslexia or another learning disability.

Research has also shown “that promotedpicture of elementary school classroom students ha[ve] higher academic achievement, better personal adjustment, and more positive attitudes toward school than retained students d[o]” (David, 2008). Promoting your child forward will keep them with their friends and peers, make them feel capable and keep morals high. That doesn’t mean their struggles just disappear, though. So what do you do?

Instead of trying something over and over again expecting different results, try something different to begin with! Learning disabilities affect 1 in 5 people and those with a learning disability need to be taught using a very different approach than how normal readers are taught. Decades of research, The American Academy of Pediatrics, and The International Dyslexia Association all recommend a Structured Literacy (Orton-Gillingham) method.

Lexercise provides online Structured Literacy therapy that incorporates an expert therapist, daily practice, and parent involvement to guarantee your child’s success. If your child is still struggling and you suspect they might have a learning disability you can screen them in 10 minutes for free HERE.


Barshay, Jill. “New Research Suggests Repeating Elementary School Grades — Even Kindergarten — Is Harmful.” Education By The Numbers. Hechinger Report, 13 Oct. 2014. Web. 29 Apr. 2016.

David, Jane L. “What Research Says About… / Grade Retention.”Educational Leadership: Reaching the Reluctant Learner: Grade Retention. ASCD, Mar. 2008. Web. 29 Apr. 2016.


Davis, B. (2021). Holding Students Back – An Inequitable and Ineffective Response to Unfinished Learning, The Education Trust. 

Goos, M., Pipa, J., Peixoto, F. (2021).  Effectiveness of grade retention: A systematic review and meta-analysis, Educational Research Review,  34, 100401. 

After School Reading Practice

How to Correct Your Child Without Discouraging them (7)Most of school is made up of reading, and when you are dyslexic, it can be extremely draining. When your child comes home from a long day, the last thing they want to do is read more. So how do you get them to practice without burning them out?

Social Media and Blog Posts

If your child is old enough to have some social media accounts, don’t steer them away. They will be reading captions and comments about people and things they are interested in. This will also help your child realize that reading is everywhere.

Joke Books

They may just be one line a piece, but it is still practice. They will most likely want to tell their friends and siblings, so they are also practicing memory skills with these books. Joke books replace the stress of reading with laughs, and who knows– they might pick up a great joke or two.

Young_boy_reading_mangaComic Books and Graphic Novels

These are perfect because the illustrations will help guide them through the story line. If they get frustrated with a page, they can skip reading and simply look at the pictures. These publications also have small blurbs of text so it does not look overwhelming to tackle.

Cookbooks, Menus and Online Recipes

Your child will read and then implement the action they just read, which will test and enhance their comprehension skills. This can be a fun activity for you and your child to do together.


Tablet Apps and eBooks

Sometimes reading on technology is more exciting than the paper books they have been looking at all day. Let them switch between playing games and reading, so that they want to read in order to play the games.

Lexercise highly recommends structured literacy therapy to accompany daily practice in order to achieve the best results. If you would like to learn more about our therapy sessions, click here. 

Harnessing Stress for Student Success

Making Stress Work for Students Unfortunately, stress will always be a part of a student’s life– even more so when the student has a reading disability. But, what if your child harnessed their stress to make it work in their favor? Kelly McGonigal, a health psychologist, and lecturer at Stanford University recently presented a TedTalk explaining how to do just that.

At a recent “Learning and the Brain” conference McGonigal said, “In a number of situations, accepting and embracing the stress instead of trying to calm down helped students to do better.”

The physical side effects stress produces can often make students underperform. McGonigal calls that reaction a “threat response” to stress, but says if teachers can help students have a different response. She calls this positive response to stress a “challenge response,” which includes the realization that the student has the resources to handle the situation.

McGonigal makes sure to mention that prolonged “threat response” stress can have negative effects on health, and suggests three intervention techniques to help students change their approach to stress and create resiliency for dealing with anxiety.


Caring for others builds resiliency against stress

kid meditatingThe biological reaction to stress naturally includes a desire to connect with others. Focusing on social relationships and closeness can dramatically reduce the harmful negative effects of stress.

Purpose in life reduces stress

Ask your child what they love to do, and support their hobbies. Remind them how that activity makes them feel and reward them for their interest and determination.

Focus on how stress can help students grow

McGonigal makes the point that if you are able to look back on your life and tell yourself a story about your stress that includes how you learned from it, it helps to create a narrative of strength, learning, and growth.

The Orton-Gillingham method focuses on building students up and harnessing the “good stress” that McGonigal speaks to. If you would like to set up a consultation with one of our trained therapists, you can visit this page on our website.


Learning and Memory- What Works?: Practice Opportunities

What Works- #3 (4)

So far in this series about methods for improving learning and memory, I have covered two facts from consensus research:

  1. No one method works for all types of learning and memory. The best method depends on what needs to be learned and remembered.
  2. The most effective methods involve making some errors. Practice provides an opportunity to forget and remember again, strengthening memory.

Even if the right type of practice is provided, there must be enough of it. Whether preparing for a piano recital or a soccer match, a player would need to not only choose the right type of practice but also spend enough time with it. Could it be the difference in practice opportunities that makes one-on-one intervention so much more effective than group instruction? (Bloom, 1984)

What is enough practice and how can that be measured? We can use time to measure the amount of practice (for example 30 minutes of piano practice orYoung_boy_reading_manga soccer drills). But what if the player sits on the piano bench daydreaming and only plays a few notes? What if the soccer player hangs back during drills and rarely touches the ball? What if in a 30-minute reading intervention group a student daydreams, hangs back, and gets only a few practice opportunities?

A practice opportunity is really a chain of three elements:

  • the challenge (or question)
  • the response (or answer)
  • the feedback (right, wrong, or an invitation to think more about the challenge and response)

Reading intervention is typically set up based on seat time, not practice opportunities. While we know from research that the number of practice opportunities matters a lot for learning and memory, we don’t have good data regarding how many practice opportunities individual students typically get during reading intervention.

So here’s a challenge: Count your students’ practice opportunities. How many independent response challenges does he or she get per day (or per week) as part of their reading intervention? We’d love to hear what you find, please comment below!

Dyslexia and Dysgraphia are Different


Dyslexia and DysgraphiaPublic schools in the United States are treating students with dyslexia and dysgraphia the same, when they aren’t and shouldn’t be. New research out of the University of Washington proves this. The Federal Special Education Law labels both under one category, but they are significantly different and need varied forms of instruction.

The research headed by Todd Richards, a UW radiologist, consisted of scanning the brains of 40 children in grades 4-9 who were diagnosed with dyslexia, dysgraphia or were not diagnosed with any learning disability. They observed the children’s brain activity while completing tasks such as filling in a missing letter in a word or planning a composition about space travel they would write later.

They found that the three categories of children differed in how efficient messages traveled between nerve cells in their brains. The children who are developing at a normal rate used fewer highways, meaning their processing is more efficient.

The children with dyslexia and dysgraphia show the opposite, they have more detours and highways, meaning their brains have to work harder. Though their patterns were similar, the dyslexic and dysgraphic children’s patterns look distinctly different from each other.

The researchers concluded that the two are neurologically distinct disabilities and according to Virginia Berninger, an educational psychologist, it is vital that kids receive a proper diagnosis and specialized instruction tailored to them.

teacher with kids in white shirtsLexercise begins therapy with a Language Processing Assessment to reveal the root cause of a child’s difficulties, their strengths and weaknesses and allows our therapist to completely customize a child’s treatment. Lexercise therapists are trained to treat specific disorders, including both dyslexia and dysgraphia and separate methods for these separate disorders:

  • For dyslexia -Lexercise Structured Literacy Curriculum©
  • For dysgraphia – Lexercise Chancery Script Curriculum©

If you think your child may have a learning disability screen them for free here >>>