With schools continuing in lockdown and students turning to online learning, we have been hearing something surprising from some of our Lexercise therapists. They have been noticing that there is a group of Lexercise students whose reading skills have actually improved faster since school has been cancelled. At first glance, this seems crazy, but after a bit of analysis we think it makes perfect sense.
These surprising results remind us of the work journalist Natalie Wexler has been doing. (In fact, we’re such big fans of Natalie Wexler that we recently named our practicum scholarship The Natalie Wexler Scholarship in her honor.) In her recent article in Forbes, “Achievement Gaps Increase The Longer Kids Stay In School,” Wexler discusses the learning gap that has become known as the “summer slide.” Briefly, this phenomenon attempts to explain how students lose ground when they’re out of school over the summer. As a result, some school districts are suggesting extended school days and/or year-round school – and this was before COVID-19 closures!
Wexler argues that the studies around summer slide are old and don’t necessarily apply or offer a valuable solution to anticipated losses due to our current school closures.
Perhaps schools should be taking a page from the Lexercise approach. When we look at the Lexercise students who are sprinting ahead during their home schooling, what they have in common is this: Each student has an involved adult (a parent, tutor, therapist or teacher) who does two vital things: 1) makes sure they do their 15 minutes of structured literacy practice at least four days a week, and 2) connects with them – even very briefly – to comment on their practice results and provide some – even very brief – focused coaching and support.
This involvement seems like a remarkably simple intervention – one that doesn’t require specialized knowledge or training, but demonstrates a shared interest and shared investment in the student’s achievement.
If you’d like to learn more about how Lexercise works, and how we are responding to COVID-19, please visit us online.
Sandie is a speech-language pathologist with more than 30 years of experience in the private practice sector. She is Visiting Assistant Professor of Communication Sciences & Disorders at University of North Carolina Greensboro, and founder/owner of the Language & Learning Clinic, PLLC, a private practice in Elkin, NC, and Greensboro, NC, specializing in communication disorders, including disorders of reading and written language.