dysgraphia Archives - Lexercise

How to Do a Spelling Analysis

Spelling analysis is a powerful tool for helping students master decoding and spelling.  Spelling patterns are like little lights illuminating how the student’s brain has processed a word. A brief conversation about a spelling error can light the way to more accurate and automatic reading and writing.

graphic showing how proficient spelling develops
How Proficient Spelling Develops


Spelling Analysis in Practice

To use spelling analysis you need to know how the English spelling system works.  For example:

  • English has 44 speech sounds spelled with 26 letters and letter combinations.  
  • English spelling uses both phonics (how letters represent speech sounds) and morphology (how word parts combine to represent meaning), but it prioritizes the consistent spelling of meaningful word parts over their pronunciation.  For example, the past tense suffix is pronounced three ways (“d” as in filled; “t” as in backed; “uhd” as in lifted), but it is always spelled -ed. 
  • English spelling operates on predictable patterns, but most of the patterns are not obvious. 

    • There are sound-based patterns, such as the pattern that predicts that -a- will be pronounced “aw” when it comes after a “w” sound (as in want).
    • There are letter-based patterns, such as the pattern that predicts that the consonant sound “k” will be spelled -c- when it comes before the letters -a-, -o-, or -u- (as in cut) and the pattern that predicts when the -e- will be dropped when adding a suffix (as in making).      
  • English has a lot of homophones (words that are pronounced alike but that have different meanings), like tax & tacks; meet & meat; which & witch; to, too & two
  • English has a number of heteronyms (words that are spelled alike but that have different pronunciations and meanings), like tear meaning “rip” and tear meaning “liquid from the eye.”
  • Letter case is part of spelling, so capitalization matters, like in holly & Holly


Using Conversation to Correct Spelling Errors

Conversation (sometimes referred to as Socratic dialogue), used in conjunction with spelling analysis, can be a powerful and memorable way to correct a student’s spelling errors. 

conversation spelling analysis

In the example illustrated above, in which a student misspelled the word pig as peg, the conversation might go like this:

  • Adult:  (The adult realizes that the child’s error is related to a letter-sound confusion so asks a question to clarify that.) There is one letter-sound that is spelled wrong. Let me hear you isolate the three sounds in the word pig.  
  • Student: “p” “ih” “g”
  • Adult: Great! Now just pronounce the middle sound, the vowel.
  • Student: “ih”….. Oh!  I should have spelled it -i-! 
  • Adult: Exactly! Great job spotting your error! Let’s fix it.


An example of a more advanced student who misspelled the word defrosting as dufrosting, the conversation might go like this:  

  • Adult: (The adult realizes that the child’s error is related to over-extension of phonics. The prefix is spelled de-,  but it is pronounced “duh”,  so the adult asks a clarifying question.) There is a spelling error here. Let’s see if you can spot it. What is the base part in the word defrosting
  • Student: frost
  • Adult: Right!  So, what are the other word parts?
  • Student: Well, the suffix is -ing. And the prefix is…..Oh!  It is spelled de-!
  • AdultYes! Exactly How did you figure that out? 
  • Student: Because defrost means to remove frost. 
  • Adult: Super! The prefix sounds like “duh” but it is spelled de-, not du-.  It was in our lesson this week, in words like depart and delay.  Do you remember what the prefix de- means?  
  • Student: I think it means…like off or remove? 
  • Adult: You nailed it!  One more question.  Why is the de- prefix pronounced “duh”?
  • Student:  Because…it is… weak and mushy …uh….a schwa sound?!
  • Adult: Very impressive! 


How Lexercise Can Help

If you are a parent whose child is struggling with reading and/or spelling, consider Lexercise Professional Therapy, with a therapist who can use spelling analysis and error correction adjusted to your child’s current level and specific patterns.  

If you’d like to learn more about structured literacy, check out our Professional Education Courses and make sure you subscribe to our blog below for information and resources on literacy and dyslexia. 

Finally, here is a rationale for evaluation and teaching of spelling by D.K. Reed (2012), funded by the US Department of Education. It includes a chart of (basic) spelling expectations by grade according to the Common Core State Standards. Why Teach Spelling?



Homeschooling’s Surge and Lessons Learned

Homeschooling’s Surge and Lessons Learned

As we move into another school year, parents everywhere are scrambling for resources and examining the “lessons” of last year’s experience. Whether the local school district implemented virtual learning or parents elected to homeschool their children, 2020 pushed families into new educational territory.

Given increased concerns for health and safety, homeschooling is surging. The U.S. Census Bureau has reported that while homeschooling rates had remained steady at about 3.3 percent for nearly a decade, they showed a sharp increase during the pandemic, from 5.4 percent of households in spring 2020 to more than 11 percent by October 2020 and about 19.5 percent in May 2021.

Prior to the pandemic, parents cited bullying and other forms of aggression as well as discontent with the curriculum as their primary reasons for homeschooling. Many parents who recognize their children’s learning challenges, including dyslexia and other specific learning disabilities, have witnessed the value of the one-on-one learning environment that homeschooling offers. (In a July NPR segment, one parent expressed concern that mandated classroom masks might pose a greater difficulty for her speech-delayed child.)

Of course, homeschooling is a significant commitment that must consider the standard curriculum, teaching materials and how to acquire them, and the particular learning abilities of each child. According to School Library Journal, personalization has become a key element, with parents tailoring both subject matter and teaching techniques to meet the individual educational and cultural needs of their children.

Homeschooling has also boosted the importance of libraries and social media. Parents “gather” in like-minded online groups to share resources and increasingly turn to libraries and librarians before purchasing new materials.

Whether families will choose to continue homeschooling remains to be seen. School Library Journal suggests that pandemic restrictions and economic resources will certainly influence that decision, but the success of a family’s recent homeschooling experience may be just as important.

When it comes to success, Lexercise online reading and writing therapy offers consistent, measurable language improvements to students with dyslexia and other learning differences. In fact, we guarantee it.


During this unusual time, we are particularly excited to extend our curriculum to meet the needs of families with Pre-K students. Our research-based, one-on-one, individualized approach includes on- and offline practice, and generous guidance for parents as they support their child’s successful, early start with literacy.

Lexercise provides young students with the foundational skills they need to move easily into the classroom—wherever that classroom may be.

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How to choose an online school for a dyslexic student

computer on a desk with Lexercise on the screen

What Should I look for when selecting an online school for my child?

As we move toward the school year, not certain if or for how long school buildings will be open, many parents of students with dyslexia are asking themselves – and Lexercise! – how do we choose an online school or curriculum for our dyslexic child?

Online learning has been around for a while, getting both easier and more sophisticated all the time. In fact, the International Dyslexia Association (IDA) posted their “Parent’s Guide to Online Virtual Schools” in 2014!  But many families have had an opportunity to experience online learning for the first time in the last several months.  More and more parents are asking how they can evaluate virtual schools and virtual schooling. 

We suggest that parents “interview” schools and ask for specific information on the following essential elements of online learning for dyslexic students: 

1. A structured literacy approach

Structured literacy (Orton-Gillingham) is the gold standard in teaching students to read, spell and write. It is not only the most effective method for students who are struggling with reading words and spelling them, but it is also the most effective method for teaching the foundations of literacy to all students. In fact, students with dyslexia may not become proficient readers and writers unless they are taught using a structured literacy approach. A structured literacy approach requires three elements:

  • A structured literacy curriculum

    – A structured literacy curriculum thoroughly covers the concepts related to decoding and spelling words with the goal that the student will read and spell even the most complex words automatically and without excessive struggle. In addition, the word study includes vocabulary and usage. Reading, spelling, and writing are practiced in increasingly challenging text reading and writing assignments. (See this IDA structured literacy infographic.)

  • A qualified structured literacy teacher

    – To be an effective instructor for the dyslexic learner, a teacher/therapist needs special training. The IDA accredits professional development programs that meet IDA Knowledge & Practice Standards. Professional development programs that have earned IDA’s Accreditation-PLUS prepare professionals to work one-on-one with students who have complex language processing difficulties.

  • Adequate structured, daily practice

    – A system of structured, daily practice, available online, is critical to the student’s success and advancement. It allows the student to make measurable progress, offers immediate error correction, and provides the parent and teacher with data about the student’s mastery of specific skills.

2. Access to accommodations and technologies

The dyslexic child may need a variety of accommodations, such as extended time to complete assignments and tests. Parents should consider their child’s unique needs in exploring this subject with potential online schools. For example, a child who has reading and spelling challenges can benefit from the support of audio services that provide reading assignments and tests in audio mode for “ear reading.” For writing assignments, a dyslexic student may benefit from technologies such as speech-to-text and spell- and grammar-checkers that work on the level of the sentence (to flag misspellings such as “there” versus “their”). School-wide use of organizational software, such as planning organizers and a calendar system for assignments can be valuable. 

3. Content subjects 

For content subjects such as mathematics, science, history, literature, and art, ask to see the curricula and review the content. Each curriculum should specify what the student will know and be able to do after completing each unit and at the end of the course. Skills and strategies should be related to mastering specific content as opposed to vague objectives, disconnected from content. (For example:  “The student will summarize the causes of the American Civil War” as opposed to “The student will summarize passages.”)

Ask about how students are placed in the curricula. Is there flexibility for placement at a different level if a child has already mastered the material at a particular grade level or if they need to step back a level in one subject? Or will they be placed at a certain grade level regardless of what they have or haven’t already mastered. 

4. School culture

“School culture” may be a little more abstract than the measurable program elements above, but it may be vitally important for a child’s success. The Harvard Graduate School of Education article “What Makes a Good School Culture?” explains the concept. Parents seeking a supportive environment for their child’s learning should explore the school’s stated policies and goals as well as the school’s reputation and achievements. Does the school really do what it says it will do? Do the school’s values align with family’s values and priorities? How do the school’s virtual classes provide children with the opportunity to discuss their questions and opinions about topics in various subject areas? Does the school teach students a process for investigating questions, engaging in discussion, and encouraging them to respect diverse thoughts and opinions?

5. A learning coach  

IDA’s guide emphasizes the role of the learning coach (LC). Typically a parent, the LC “is an integral partner in the education process. Students look to them to administer lessons and provide immediate corrective feedback on their performance toward the lesson objectives.” In our recent “Closing the Gap” post, we noted that the reading skills of some Lexercise students have actually improved faster since school has been canceled – a success we attribute in part to the consistent involvement of that involved adult/learning coach, who may be a parent, tutor, therapist or teacher. (There is a qualified Lexercise therapist assigned to every Lexercise student.) Parents should ask whether the school assigns a learning coach for their child and whether, how, and how much the parents are expected to participate in the lessons. 

Questions about equipment, hours, communication between parents and teachers, written reports, and IEPs should also be part of the conversation with the online school. When it comes to the education of your child, there are no stupid questions. Parents should look for IDA accreditation on the program’s website and ask for detailed information until they are satisfied with the answers.

And of course, if you have questions or concerns about how your child’s reading, spelling or writing may be impacting your child’s learning, Lexercise is here to help with our online dyslexia therapy.

Our Interactive Online Games Get Even Better!

screenshot of Lexercise online game for children with dyslexia

You may have noticed that we recently made some dramatic improvements to the Lexercise practice platform, with new games that enable students to practice the concepts they learn during each weekly lesson. Of course, the quickest way to see these improvements is to try the online demos. But we thought we would let Rob Morris offer a little background.

What is New in Lexercise’s Games?

Now you might think that the Chief Technology Officer would respond to the “What’s new?” question with a lot of tech-speak. Not Rob. With his combination of techno-wizardry and big-picture understanding, he talks about the Lexercise platform with passion and pride. Here’s what he told us:

“When Sandie Barrie Blackley and Chad Myers started envisioning Lexercise nearly 15 years ago, there was always one guiding principle: the platform would be research-based and science-driven. They recognized that there was inadequate structured, deliberate practice built into most dyslexia treatment programs. The child would see the therapist, practice during the session, and that would be it until the next session.

screenshot of Lexercise game to help children with dyslexia and other learning disabilities“But MRI research and neuroscience was confirming practice a few days a week was not enough for the dyslexic brain. Remediation is a process of re-patterning the brain with very specific input – breaking down words into bits, teaching and practicing patterns, and providing specifically targeted examples and micro-challenges over and over to recruit the parts of the brain that are not currently being used efficiently for reading.

“That’s what our games do, and that helps explain why Lexercise works as well as it does. Language literacy is enormously complex. These games allow us to supplement what’s learned in instructional lessons, taking tiny pieces of language and building them, one on the next, creating fluent, confident readers.

“When I came on board, the games were working, but there were limitations to the technology. For example, they were based on Flash, which wasn’t up to the job for a variety of reasons. So we started to plan changes that would allow Lexercise to have the power and flexibility it requires.

screen shot of word game used on Lexercise's platform to help struggling readers“That’s an ambitious project. The games need to appeal to a broad range of users and cover a broad range of skills, plus they need to offer students, parents, and therapists measurable results. Originally, it seemed like the target audience was beginning readers – first-graders. But over time, we’ve learned that it usually isn’t until grade 4, 5, or even 6, that parents, teachers, and school districts finally agree that a child is struggling to read and that the child needs testing and help.

“In addition to adjusting our graphics and vocabulary to appeal to a slightly older audience, the last decade has seen a revolution in the use of technology. Kids are exposed to very sophisticated graphics from the time they start watching television, playing games, and looking at phones. Our platform had to step up to that level of sophistication, while still meeting the research and science standards.

“What Lexercise is doing now is fairly cutting edge. Each game reinforces a lesson concept or a specific skill and each of our new games keeps track of what the student is working on and how well they’re doing it. That generates useful, actionable data for therapists, parents, and educators.

“The look of the games is new, too. Our fabulous graphic artist, Iszzy, developed the color palette and the graphic design of the games. The games have to be engaging, rich, and animated, but they also have to be attentive to various constraints. Students with dyslexia may also have attention, focus, and sensory issues, so the graphics can’t be overstimulating or overwhelming. They have to strike a balance between exciting, interesting, and of course educational.

 “In the game design, we’ve also incorporated what we’ve learned from Lexercise therapists. For example, therapists told us that breathing exercises in their live sessions help reduce anxiety. So we built an optional breathing-break ‘game’, called Calming Breath, into the practice.

“The games work with the Lexercise Structured Literacy Curriculum©, which is a speech-to-print approach to word-study, structured from simple to complex in a series of lessons. The curriculum and the teaching and practice tools are continuously reviewed for scientific accuracy and effectiveness and refined with feedback from kids, parents, and therapists. The beauty of the new Lexercise platform is that the games “know” what concept the child is being challenged on and how they perform, while at the same time providing the child with feedback and a sense of control and mastery.

“We went live with the new games late in 2019 and the demos are now online. You’ll notice that each game has a ‘bot’ who guides the user through the game. That’s Anna. We named her in honor of educator and psychologist Anna Gillingham, co-founder of the Orton-Gillingham Approach. In the actual games (not the demos), Anna personalizes her language and instructions so they are age-appropriate. We have more games in the pipeline. They’ll just keep getting better.”

We’d love to hear from you. Please try out the demos and contact us at any time with questions about dyslexia, language learning, or Lexercise.

UNC Greensboro and Lexercise Partner for Professional Development

When their ideas for Lexercise were taking shape more than a decade ago, Sandie Barrie Blackley and Chad Myers set out to integrate the research-based approach of Orton-Gillingham (structured literacy) therapy with accessible, user-friendly technology. Since that time, every aspect of the Lexercise platform, from testing and basic therapy to professional therapy, has followed the same pattern.

That knowledge and experience placed Lexercise in a strategic position to offer professional training. Using the same approach – research-based knowledge plus user-friendly technology – the Lexercise Professional Development program took shape.    Lexercise has recently been recognized by the International Dyslexia Association (IDA) as an Accredited ProgramPLUS.

Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders UNC GreensboroIn 2018, Lexercise was honored to form a partnership with the University of North Carolina Greensboro (UNCG) Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD) in which Lexercise provided a course to train their speech-language pathology (SLP) masters students in the structure of written English. Now the program has been renewed for another year.



Lexercise and UNC’s Relationship Background

Sandie Barrie Blackley is no stranger to UNCG CSD. She joined the graduate faculty in 2002 to coordinate a large grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The grant provided funding to train SLP graduate students in the science of literacy and to provide them with practicum experience working with reading-impaired, at-risk adolescents in the Guilford County, NC, juvenile justice system. 

After the grant ended, Sandie stayed on for another nine years teaching language-literacy graduate courses, but when she left the university in 2016, those courses were no longer offered as part of the CSD curriculum. Since CSD graduate students needed competencies in language literacy, Lexercise formed a partnership with UNCG CSD to offer an online professional development course: The Structure of Written English.

Picture of Connie Williams UNCG CSD Faculty Coordinator
Connie Williams UNCG CSD Faculty Coordinator

Now part of the regular clinical curriculum at UNCG, the fully self-paced, semester-long course includes units on phonology, orthography, morphology, and syntax and semantics. Participants learn the units of analysis and structures of written English, with mastery exercises included for each unit. UNCG faculty member Connie Williams serves as the faculty coordinator, holding discussion sessions with enrolled graduate students and helping them to apply the information to their practicum clients.

At Lexercise, we see this as a win-win-win. It’s good for Lexercise, it’s good for the SLP graduate students, and most importantly, it’s good for the many hundreds of children who will benefit from the skills that newly minted speech-language pathologists attained through our successful partnership.

To learn more, visit the Lexercise courses page, find out about Lexercise online professional education, read the course objectives and contact us if you have questions.

Understanding Dysgraphia: Reading the Research

banner for understanding dysgraphia

In today’s tap-and-click culture, where even toddlers seem to be device-savvy, how important is handwriting?

Very, if recent research is any indication.

Learning is complicated. It involves multiple neural pathways that interact, overlap, and support each other. As we now know, when those pathways are disrupted, a student may have difficulty processing spoken and written words. With appropriate testing, problems such as dyslexia, listening comprehension disorder, and dysgraphia can be diagnosed and a treatment plan developed.

With a classroom emphasis on printed capital letters and a growing emphasis on keyboards, some students may be missing an important step in the development of the brain’s literacy network. The hand’s movement as a student forms lowercase letters is an important part of a complex process that includes letter-sound awareness, word recognition, and spelling.

A letter or a word is an object that can be seen, heard, spoken, and written. Neuroscience research increasingly supports the interdependence of those processes as a student learns to read. Studies conclude, for example, that “handwriting is important for the early recruitment in letter processing of brain regions known to underlie successful reading” (James & Engelhardt, 2012) and “literacy training establishes a tight functional link between the visual and motor systems for reading and writing” (Pegado, Nakamura, & Hannagan, 2014). If you want more details, Dr. Stanislas Dehaene, cognitive neuroscientist, explains the current research in his lecture, “Reading the Brain”.

With growing evidence of the connection between handwriting and literacy, it is important to address a student’s challenges with letter formation sooner rather than later. The first step is to answer the questions on the free Lexercise dysgraphia test.

If you have questions about dysgraphia, dyslexia, or other brain-based learning disorders, please review the many Lexercise online reading and writing therapy resources or contact Lexercise today.

Learning Methods and Note Taking Skills for Dyslexic Students

Neuroplasticity Research on DyslexiaDyslexia has been defined as a neurological disorder that causes difficulties with accurate word reading and spelling.  Listening comprehension is typically a strength, but reading comprehension may be weak due to disruptions when reading words.

Dyslexia can cause significant academic problems because, especially after 3rd grade, teachers expect students to be independent readers. Strategies that help students comprehend and remember what they read can be helpful.

Yale University has provided note-taking and study tips for students. These techniques can be adapted for elementary school students. The Cornell Method of note-taking remains one of the most popular and is outlined below:

Cornell Note-Taking Method

When taking notes on a reading assignment or lecture aim to take down the main points rather than copying everything verbatim. Call out any questions or points you don’t understand. Use diagrams or sketches if that helps. Finally, write a 3-4 sentence summary.

Divide the page of your notebook into three sections:

  1. Notes (main points)
  2. Questions and/or illustrations
  3. Summary

note taking blank exampleClick to expand image

Note-taking strategies can be helpful, but the student must have a basic skill level to use note-taking tips. For example, the student must be able to write legibly enough and with
good enough spelling that they can later read and make sense of what they have written. Students who are not quite at that point may be showing symptoms of dyslexia. You can screen your child for dyslexia in 10-15 minutes here, for free. Dyslexic students benefit from technological accommodations and researched-backed intervention.  Our dyslexia therapists meet and exceed the International Dyslexia Association’s Knowledge and Practice Standards for Teachers of Reading and Spelling. Sign up for a free fifteen-minute consultation here.

Changes to Federal Disability Law

ada-blogThe U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has issued a final rule to amend its Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations in order to incorporate the statutory changes to the ADA federal disability law, which were set forth in the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 and took effect on January 1, 2009.

The DOJ has made several major revisions to the meaning and interpretation of the term disability in the ADA Amendments Act. The revised language clarifies that the term disability shall be interpreted “broadly” and “applied without extensive analysis”. Minimizing the need for extensive evaluations that often cost thousands of dollars! This is intended to make it easier for an individual to establish that he or she has a disability. The rule took effect on October 11, 2016.

excerpt of federal registerIn addition to requiring the definition of disability to be broadly interpreted, the final regulations expand the definition of “major life activities” by providing a non-exhaustive list of major life activities that specifically includes the operation of major bodily functions. The activity of “writing” was added as an example of a major life activity. Reading, concentrating, thinking, and communicating were also included among others.

This is a great step in the right direction to make identification and accommodations for the disabled more accessible. The Lexercise evaluation follows ADA regulations.  If your child needs a school accommodations plan (aka, a 504 Plan) for a reading or writing disability our evaluation should provide the school’s assessment team with what they need to write an effective, individualized plan that complies with the ADA.

For more information on the final rule see the Federal Register [PDF], Vol. 81, No. 155, August 11, 2016.

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.

Dyslexics Need Deep Instruction

How to Correct Your Child Without Discouraging them (16)

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!

Teachers Aren’t Taught Learning Disabilities

How to Correct Your Child Without Discouraging them (8)
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.