Summer Slide and Dyslexia

booksWhen I was a kid I counted the days till summer vacation!  I lived for the hours that would extend before me, mine to fill with whatever I might choose.  What I most often chose was reading!  I loved reading, and it came easily to me, so I spent my free time devouring books, books and more books!  Summer was a time of ongoing growth for me, and when I returned to school in the fall it was with my brain filled with what I had learned over vacation.

It wasn’t until I was a teacher that I realized that for many students, summer vacation has the opposite result.  Many studies have confirmed what I observed as a teacher: no matter how hard I worked with my students during the school year, most of them would lose some of that progress over the summer.  They would come back to my classroom months behind where they had been at the end of the school year.  I was able to observe this very directly because, as a special education teacher, many students would remain in my classes for several years.  I knew that my students, who struggled to read with my support, did not spend their summers as I had: devouring books.  Even with my support and instruction during the school year they would fall behind.

When reading is not a preferred activity students often don’t choose to read in their free time.  If students are compelled to read but are using counter-productive guessing strategies that are often taught in schools their time spent reading may not have the desired effect and may  further entrench ineffective reading habits!

I didn’t want my students to have to give up summer vacation entirely, but I wished there were ways to get them just a little effective practice every day, to help them maintain their learning and even progress a bit.

That is one of the things I love about the Lexercise model!  I see my students on a weekly basis and can see them from anywhere with an internet connection.  Not only have I met with students all over the world, but this model makes Lexercise as portable for families as a laptop.  I have met with students who are staying with grandma, family friends, in their vacation home, and even one who was in a car at a campground near the Grand Canyon!

The Lexercise blended learning model allows students to practice a little every day. Unlike homework, Lexercise practice is individualized for each student. Plus, it is designed to be brief, so it fits relaxed summer schedules beautifully.   By working with a Lexercise clinician over the summer, students can not only avoid the summer slide but begin the new school year with even sharper skills!

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Tori Whaley

Since 2003, Tori has been a committed special educator, working as an elementary special education teacher. Her drive to improve outcomes for her students with dyslexia led her to the Neuhaus Education Center, where she was trained in Orton-Gillingham the summer after her first year of teaching. "I was so frustrated as a first year teacher, not knowing how to meet my students' needs. I spent the entire summer learning about dyslexia and was thrilled by my students' progress the next year!" Since then, she has used the method in English and Spanish with students in three states. In 2009, Tori completed her M.Ed. in Special Education at the Peabody College of Vanderbilt University, where she focused on educational strategies for students with learning disabilities. Tori joined the Lexercise team full-time in early 2014 after seeing students online for over a year. When she is not working, Tori loves to read, cook, garden, and spend as much time outdoors as possible.