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Why Windy Row Tutors Are Special

Children with dyslexia and other reading and math challenges often find their way to tutoring programs and yet make no progress. What is it that enables Windy Row Leaning Center to give those children the gift of success?

First, our tutors are all trained (with over 100 hours of instruction and supervised tutoring) in the Orton-Gillingham method, internationally known for helping children to read.

Second, our tutors do not simply rely on one method: they have at their disposal several internationally known reading and math programs as well as other resources; they are encouraged to be creative in their approach; and they accept each child as an individual, with individual strengths and challenges.

Third, all our tutoring is one-on-one, precisely so that tutors can construct an individualized program for each child. A child is assigned one tutor and stays with that tutor throughout their time at Windy Row, unless special circumstances arise.

Fourth, after a decade of tutoring children of all ages and at all grade levels, our tutors understand that dyslexia, dyscalculia and other reading and math challenges do not define the whole child. The children who come to us are supported in their creativity and their enthusiasms. We work with the child.

Fifth, we are not here to make a profit but to help children who are falling further and further behind grade level in reading and math. Our tuition is based on a sliding scale; the top tuition just covers the cost of tutoring and keeping records. We provide scholarships, thanks to the donations and grants we receive and our annual fundraiser selling holiday wreaths. We aim to never turn a child away for financial reasons.

If you know a child who has attended other programs without success, please info [at] windyrow.org (contact) Windy Row Learning Center in West Peterborough, NH. We make a difference for children every day.

New Research on Dyslexia & What It Means for Parents

Windy Row keeps up with the latest research in dyslexia and shares it with parents and teachers through our blog, newsletter and Facebook page. Here are two examples of recent research and how the findings may affect children, parents and teachers.

Understanding Instructions

Children with dyslexia have a hard time understanding the connection between letters and their sounds; it turns out they may also have difficulty connecting spoken words with their meaning.

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University asked adults with and without dyslexia to play a video game that depended on recognizing characters by the sounds they made. They found that adults with dyslexia had a much harder time with the game than adults without dyslexia.

For parents and teachers of children with dyslexia, this may mean a change in how they give directions. For example, parents and teachers may find that a lot of background noise is more distracting to children with dyslexia. The children may listen better if the parent or teacher makes sure the children are paying attention first before asking a question or giving directions. Also parents and teachers may find it beneficial to break up directions into smaller pieces and wait for the child to complete each piece before going on to the next. Children with dyslexia learn to read when the process of reading is broken up into small stages. The same technique may work with verbal instructions.

Early Detection

Researchers at the University of California-Davis and at Yale School of Medicine have confirmed what many parents and teachers have known for a long time. The earlier dyslexia is found, the better. Waiting until the third grade to identify and respond to dyslexia is unacceptable.

The senior author of the research has stated, "We now know that the achievement gap between typical and dyslexic readers is already present and large at first grade. Developmentally we know that reading growth is greatest in the very first years of school. This mandates that the screening and identification of children with dyslexia occur early, even prior to first grade."

For parents and teachers of children with dyslexia, this means that advocating for early identification of reading problem is essential. If you believe your child has a reading problem, take heart: you are probably right and anyone who says you should just wait ("boys read later than girls," "she would read if she paid attention in class") is wrong. At Windy Row we see children as young as kindergarten age.

If your child is already in 3rd grade or beyond, help is still possible--at Windy Row we work with children who have been nonreaders for years. We have tutored teenagers who are complete nonreaders and had them reading short words in 5 months--and restored their self-respect in the process.

Please call us to discuss your child's reading challenges.

Hiring a Tutor for Reading or Math

This is an update to a blog post that first appeared in September, 2014. We hope it will answer many of your questions about Windy Row and finding help for your child.

An article from the National Center for Disabilities lists the questions to ask a tutor before hiring them. Here's how Windy Row tutors would answer those questions. Once you read our answers, please phone or email us if you have further questions; we are always open to talking with parents.

  1. What is your background in the subject?

    All of our reading tutors and math tutors have worked in the school system and all of them have completed 45 hours of seminars and 100 hours of tutoring in Orton-Gillingham under the supervision of our Executive Director before they are allowed to tutor independently. Our Executive Director, Dr. Cheryl Orcutt, has taken extensive graduate and post-graduate courses and seminars in the Orton-Gillingham method, educational leadership and special education. She is certified in Orton-Gillingham and has C.A.G.S. with Reading and Writing Specialist certification.
     
  2. How much experience do you have teaching or tutoring?

    Most of our reading tutors have been with us since Windy Row was founded in 2009. Every year, they each tutor 2 or more students at the kindergarten to tenth grade level. They treat each child as an individual and engage each child on multiple sensory levels, including drawing, dance, singing, and working with sand, until the connection is made between symbols, sounds and meaning. Our primary math tutor has been with us for three years and is an expert in the field.
     
  3. Have you tutored students with the child's needs before?

    Windy Row specializes in after-school and summer tutoring for children with reading and math challenges (such as dyslexia and dyscalculia) that are keeping them from ever reaching grade level. Reading and math are what we do--and are all we do. Often we see children who have been diagnosed (or misdiagnosed) with other learning disabilities or with ADHD. We welcome homeschoolers.
     
  4. What kind of tutoring results can I expect?

    For the first time, your child will begin to make progress. Most children gain at least 1 grade level for each school year of tutoring (sometimes 2 or 3 grade levels) after years of falling further and further behind.
     
  5. What is your availability?

    Windy Row has two programs. Our afterschool program runs Monday through Friday. Children are tutored individually in two one-hour sessions each week. Our summer program generally works around the summer schedule of individual families and can be offered as often as four times a week depending on the availability of a reading or math tutor.
     
  6. What do you do when you are not tutoring?

    Most of our tutors have full-time or part-time jobs in the school district as teachers or assistant teachers. A few run their own companies.
     
  7. Do you have any references?

    Please look on this website at Success Stories, featuring testimonials from Windy Row parents, or read the articles featuring Steve Walker and others who have praised Windy Row as the most effective program they have seen.

Windy Row Learning Center is based in West Peterborough, NH and serves the entire Monadnock Region. We are the only program in the region for children with dyslexia, dyscalculia and other reading/math challenges that keep them below grade level.



 

How Did You Hear About Windy Row?

Most of the parents who seek us out have heard about Windy Row from other parents, their pediatrician or their child's teacher. But we often hear that people aren't sure what we do (provide afterschool tutoring in reading and math) or what age children we help (kindergarten through grade 10) or what problems those children face (any reading or math challenges that keep them from progressing at grade level). They may not be sure where we are located (Peterborough, New Hampshire) or what geographic area we serve (the Monadnock Region, at our facility in Peterborough).

Therefore, we have been broadening our outreach in several ways. We would like to hear from you whether you have noticed:

  • The Windy Row Facebook page. If you haven't liked us yet, please go to www.facebook.com/windyrow.
  • Our newsletter. If you haven't signed up yet, please send us an email.
  • Articles and photos in the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript.
  • Ads about our tutoring services in the Education section of the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript.
  • Windy Row's participation in the River Center Spelling Bee (coming up on April 29).
  • Our postcards in the Peterborough Library book bags for parents of young children, encouraging reading and math games.
  • Windy Row posters and rack cards placed around the Monadnock Region.
  • Our program for teachers, parents and service organizations, including libraries, on recognizing and helping children with reading challenges. If you would like to schedule this program, please email or phone us.

Have you heard about Windy Row Learning Center through any of these efforts? Please let us know!

We are grateful to everyone who spreads the word about how Windy Row can help children with reading and math challenges like dyslexia and dyscalculia. We don't need an official diagnosis; we perform some testing at Windy Row as part of our intake to make sure that we can help.

The more we find out about how parents find us, the better we can target our efforts to reach more parents and children who can benefit from tutoring at Windy Row. Thank you for your help!

Is Your Child Behind Grade Level in Math?

"Tommy" has a bunch of cars. If you put five of them on the table and ask Tommy how many are there, he might answer 2 or 200. He might refuse to answer at all. Tommy is 8 years old and has a math challenge.

Math challenges may or may not accompany reading challenges, but dyscalculia (the math equivalent of dyslexia) affects up to 6% of children. Although less common than dyslexia, it can be just as devastating and just as difficult to overcome without individual tutoring and specialized help. Among other warning signs, children with dyscalculia may struggle to:

  • See at once how many items are in a small group (such as 3 to 5 marbles for younger children or the number of dots on dice for older children)
  • Count from 10 to 1 for younger children or 100 to 1 for older children
  • Put numbers in order
  • Associate the sign for a number (2) with the name of the number ("two")
  • Make comparisons, such as more than and less than
  • Distinguish left from right
  • Understand the passage of time

Windy Row applies many of the same techniques used with reading challenges to help children overcome math challenges. We use internationally known instructional methods that are specifically developed for children with math challenges like dyscalculia.

If your child is falling further and further behind grade level in math, please email info [at] windyrow.org (Windy Row Learning Center).

You may find this website helpful: www.ldaamerica.org/types-of-learning-disabilities/dyscalculia. It offers some strategies for students to help deal with math challenges, including using different colors of pencils for different types of math problems (for example, green for addition and red for subtraction).

Windy Row's Summer Program

We're beginning to take calls from parents who wonder if it is too late to start one-on-one tutoring in reading or math for their children. The short answer: Call us! We try to fit children in at any time during the school year.

However, at this point you may be interested in summer tutoring. Our tutors are available to help your child over the summer with reading and math, and still accommodate your family vacation.

If your child is already falling behind peers in school, or if your child is being homeschooled but doesn't seem to be making progress in reading or math, please contact us.

Our individual tutoring is customized for each child, and we target those areas where your child is having the most trouble.

Want to find out more? Please sign up for our newsletter or call us directly or email us.

We're located in West Peterborough, New Hampshire, and our services are available to children from kindergarten to tenth grade from anywhere in the Monadnock Region. We are a 501(c)3 nonprofit with a sliding scale for services.

"Slow Readers Are Not Slow Thinkers"

The quote in the title comes from an interview with Dr. Sally Shaywitz at the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity. She is noted for developing "the Sea of Strengths model of dyslexia which emphasizes a sea of strengths of higher critical thinking and creativity" surrounding dyslexia.

Dylexia and other reading challenges are neurological--that is, they involve the way signals pass to the brain for the activity of reading. Sometimes a slow processing speed (the quickness with which the brain reacts to signals) can also interfere with reading and understanding text. When researchers looked at dyslexia--even as long ago as 1896 when dyslexia was first described in writing--they always found that the inability of read did not mean low intelligence. In fact, they often found dyslexia paired not only with intelligence but with creativity.

At first researchers thought that reading challenges stemmed from problems with seeing words: letters turned backwards or bunched together or not caught at all. We now know that the problem is not visual. Instead, it involves the ability to process phonemes, the individual units that make up spoken and written words.

The Orton-Gillingham method used at Windy Row Learning Center gives children techniques and tips on how to process phonemes and shows them how they, too, can learn to read. We offer moral support as well as reading support, because many of these children feel "stupid" or "broken" after years of struggling on their own or even with the loving help of parents and teachers.

To "qualify" for Windy Row, you do not need a formal, medical diagnosis of dyslexia for your child. We conduct some testing right at Windy Row which helps us to pinpoint where your child is struggling. We assign a tutor who stays with your child throughout the year or two of one-on-one tutoring that most children need. We provide financial aid if you cannot afford our full fee for 50 tutoring sessions (a one-hour session twice a week) during the school year.

Please contact us by email or phone. Your slow reader is not a slow thinker. We can help your child prove that.

If You Couldn't Read

If you couldn't read:

  • You couldn't drive because you couldn't read road signs and in any case you couldn't pass the written driving test.
  • You couldn't follow the signs to a doctor's office or an emergency room.
  • Store signs, including the name of the store and the open, closed and sale signs, would mean nothing to you.
  • To go anywhere new, you would have to hear the directions; you could not read them.
  • You would be baffled by labels on drugs and unable to figure out correct dosages unless told or shown.
  • You would have to bring employment applications home for someone else to fill out.
  • You couldn't read job postings.
  • You couldn't surf the web.
  • You couldn't read a rental agreement or any other legal document that you were asked to sign.
  • The labels on food and recipes in books would be nonsense; you would be able to cook only if you were shown how.
  • You couldn't read to your children.
  • If you wanted to act in a play or participate in a ceremony, someone would have to read your part aloud so you could memorize it.
  • You would miss warnings like "no loitering" or "private property" or "beware of dog."
  • You would depend on other people to apply for any benefits you are entitled to, such as social security, and to fullfill any of your own obligations, like filing income tax forms.
  • You would depend on other people to inform you about changes in laws and procedures, even to taking off your shoes for an airport scan.
  • You would suffer through 12 years of utter failure in school and you couldn't find help on your own, because all the advice is written.

From this list it is easy to understand how some children with dyslexia and reading challenges could end up homeless, jobless or in prison. But the same children could also succeed brilliantly and creatively in many careers, some of them involving intensive reading. The difference is in the help they receive.

Windy Row Learning Center provides that help through one-on-one after-school tutoring. Steve Walker, the founder of New England Wood Pellet and one of those very successful adults with dyslexia, has said, “Out of the very many organizations I’ve seen, Windy Row Learning Center is possibly the most efficient and effective organization around.”

If you know a child with reading challenges, please contact us. Among other signs of a reading challenge, you may see:

  • A refusal to read out loud
  • Exhaustion when trying to finish homework
  • An inability to spell or read a word the same way twice in the same sentence
  • Trouble with directions (right, left) and putting things in order from first to last
  • An inability to follow directions for a grame that other children understand

Children with reading challenges are not stupid or lazy; in fact, they are often very creative. Many of them are able to hide their reading challenge for a long time; often the problem first becomes evident in third grade. Not only can they be helped to read but once they have the skills and techniques to help themselves, they go on to great success.

Windy Row in the News and in Our Newsletter

You may not be able to believe everything you read in the news, but you can trust the stories about Windy Row Learning Center!

The newest issue of the Monadnock Small Business Journal features a title story on volunteering--and Windy Row is mentioned throughout. Our longest serving board member, John Kaufhold, explains the benefits of volunteering for himself personally, his business, and his team. The story, on pages 20-22 of the Journal answers some of the most common questions people have about volunteering for a board, including the financial and time commitment.

In that very same issue, an article on page 11 introduces Susannah Batchelder, one of our newest board members (along with retired teacher Sue Kretchman). Susannah has taken over our Facebook page, brought new life to it and created a real Facebook community. Want to join the conversation? Visit www.facebook.com/windyrow.

Are you interested in joining the board of Windy Row Learning Center? We're interested in hearing from you! We particularly need someone who enjoys writing and someone who enjoys interacting with people to help promote Windy Row in person, including promoting the one-in-ten program that helps professionals and parents recognize the signs of reading challenges in children.

We're always looking for ways to bring our message into the community. You might enjoy this article that appeared in the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript a couple of years ago and is still relevant today: Windy Row Helps Children with Dyslexia Become Strong Readers.

But there's no reason to wait for articles to pop up in magazines and newspapers. You can find out more about Windy Row by signing up for our quarterly newsletter, which includes articles about our reading methods, successes and community outreach. If you would like to receive our newsletter, either write us at PO Box 43, West Peterborough, NH 03468 or send us an info [at] windyrow.org (email) with "newsletter" in the subject line. Let us know if you prefer email or snail mail for receiving your newsletter.

Dylexia: What Helps/What Doesn't

Dyslexia is based in the brain; the brains of non-readers do not make the same connections between sounds and symbols as the brains of readers. In some ways, this is a huge benefit. Non-readers are more creative; they think "outside the box" because their brains do not recognize the box. In other ways, this is a huge drawback, as so much of our current knowledge is handed down through reading (whether in a book or online) and reading is essential in almost every aspect of life, from passing a test at school to filling out a job application.

It doesn't help to tell a child they are weird, stupid or not trying hard enough. Most children with dyslexia try very hard; they want to fit in. They may find their own work-arounds for reading or disguising their inability to read, but those usually start failing them around third grade.

It doesn't help to assign the child to a slower reading group or to read out loud to them or to buy them special books--all of these are good choices; they simply won't help all by themselves.

What does help is specialized one-on-one multisensory tutoring or enrollment in a school that specializes in teaching children with dyslexia. In the Monadnock area, Windy Row is the only nonprofit that offers specialized, one-on-one tutoring after school, twice a week. Since 2009, we have helped 15-20 children every year to become readers. We know there are more children out there who cannot read (1 in 20 children has dyslexia) and who could use our specialized program.

One of the best ways to help non-readers--children with dyslexia or other reading challenges--is to recommend a call or email to Windy Row. Many Monadnock Region teachers, pediatricians and concerned family members have done just that. If we aren't the right fit, we will say so. If we are, we will make every effort to ensure that your child can come to Windy Row.

Please remember that your child cannot control reading ability; but your child can learn the techniques that make reading possible. Please contact us today.

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