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Reading, Writing, Arithmetic

One possible aspect of dyslexia that we haven't addressed in these blogs is dysgraphia, difficulty in putting thoughts down on paper. As you can imagine, a child who cannot read finds it difficult to write. Also, some of the issues related to reading challenges--difficulty with saying the alphabet in order, difficulty with following directions--also interfere with writing, the process of organizing thoughts on a page of paper. You may never hear the word "dysgraphia" used to describe a child's struggles in putting ideas to paper. Instead you may hear something like "an impairment in written expression" or "a disorder in written expression."

Like dyslexia and other reading challenges, dysgraphia is a function of how the brain works: it is not a sign that a child is lazy, stupid or sloppy. Like reading, writing involves many skills, including recognition of letters, hand and eye coordination and fine motor skills. For children with dysgraphia, the school may need to make some accommodation; for example, allowing the child to use a computer rather than writing by hand, to write shorter papers or to provide shorter answers on timed tests.

Another learning disability sometimes related to dyslexia is dyscalculia. Dyscalculia is often called "math dyslexia." Although not every child with dyslexia has problems with math, clearly reading is as important in arithmetic as it is in any other school subject. Children with dyscalculia often have difficulty understanding relationships (larger and smaller, first and last), understanding the concept of time and recognizing the number of items in a small group, among other problems with numbers.

At Windy Row Learning Center, we understand the subtle connections between dyslexia, dysgraphia and dyscalculia. We have nationally known programs in addition to Orton-Gillingham that can help a child who is struggling with getting thoughts down on paper or understanding math concepts. If we cannot help, we are happy to make referrals and discuss alternatives. Please info [at] windyrow.org (contact u)s with any questions you have.

Frequently Asked Questions about Windy Row Learning Center

We hope the answers to these Frequently Asked Questions will respond to some of your concerns about your child's reading and math challenges and about Windy Row. If you have more questions, please contact us by phone or info [at] windyrow.org (email).

Q. I'm not sure if my child has dyslexia but she seems to have trouble reading. Can you help her?

A. Please contact us, even if you aren't sure why your child is having trouble with reading. Windy Row does not require a formal medical diagnosis of dyslexia. Our guideline of 1 to 2 years below grade level in reading is only a guideline. We see many children who have been barely maintaining grade level in first or second grade; by third grade they are in trouble that could have been avoided.

Q. I know my child needs help but I don't see how I can afford one-on-one tutoring twice a week. Is there financial aid? Can my child go for fewer sessions?

A. Yes, Windy Row does offer financial aid. Each one-on-one tutoring session costs $55; there are 50 sessions during a school year. We adjust our fees to your income and we offer scholarships. Our goal is to help every child who needs our help. We ask children to attend one-on-one after-school tutoring sessions twice a week during the school year, from the time they start at Windy Row. During the summer we often offer a more flexible schedule so that children can maintain and strengthen their reading skills and still have a family vacation.

Q. The school year is half over. Can I start tutoring at Windy Row now?

A. Yes, we accept new students any time of the year, as long as we have space. Please phone or email us for more information.

Q. We live quite a distance from Peterborough and my child can't get to your location after school. Is there any alternative?

A. The Masonic Learning Centers offer similar programs to Windy Row. Contact the Children's Dyslexia Center in Nashua, the Seacoast Learning Center in Rochester and similar programs in other states.

Q. My child is not only having problems with reading. He also has ADD. Is that too much for Windy Row to handle?

A. Many of the children we see have ADD and other behavioral issues. Sometimes the behavior is a result, rather than a cause, of the reading difficulty. When a child has to sit in a classroom day after day, bored and frustrated because he can't understand what the other children understand, behavioral issues are very likely to arise. Our tutors are expert at helping children to focus and make progress.

Q. Will you take children of kindergarten age? Is it possible for someone that young to have dyslexia or will she grow out of it?

A. The younger we see a child, the happier we are because we can save that child from years of failure at school. If you believe your child has signs of a reading problem, even at kindergarten age, please contact us. Some of the signs you might look for include an inability to say the alphabet in order (or sing the alphabet song in order), an inability to follow directions for a game that your child's peers can follow, and confusion over concepts such as first and last or left and right. If your child is having difficulty with these and other reading concepts, she will not simply grow out of it. Please let us help.

Q. Do you tutor children who are behind in math?

A. Yes. The math form of dyslexia is called dyscalculia. Many of the same techniques that work for children who struggle with reading also work for children who are struggling with math. We have specialized programs to help children with math if they are falling behind grade level.

A Further Thank You to Generous Donors

The Masons in West Peterborough recently donated $1000 to Windy Row. Here are (left to right) Jeff Allen, President of the Peterborough Masonic Association, Kevin McElhinney, Treasurer of Windy Row Learning Center, Craig Livingston, Treasurer of the Peterborough Masonic Association, and John Kaufauld, Board Member of Windy Row. These funds will help with Windy Row's operating expenses and with our scholarship fund, helping to make our services affordable for every child who needs help learning to read.

We received a $1000 grant from the Fidelity Charitable Fund which will also help with operating expenses and our scholarship fund.

In addition the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation granted $10,000 to Windy Row for purchasing updated reading and math evaluation tests and setting up an evaluation program. These tests will enable Windy Row to access the latest data on the issues affecting reading and math challenges, such as phonological processing, and to better target our specialized, one-on-one tutoring to each child's needs. For further information on the tests and program, please sign up for First Quarter 2015 Windy Row newsletter.

If you would like to join in supporting the work of Windy Row Learning Center in West Peterborough, New Hampshire, you can do so at the click of a mouse here. Thank you.

Reading Is Not Easy

Recently, the Dyslexia Foundation retweeted a version of the old rule, "I before e except after c." The new version goes: "I before e, except when you run a feisty heist on a weird beige foreign neighbor." English is full of exceptions to rules, especially since we borrowed much of our language from other cultures and countries. Take, for example, maize and maze or phial and file.

When children have trouble reading, the problems show up first in the everyday words. A child will read the word "were" correctly the first time it occurs in a sentence and then not recognize it the second time it occurs--in the same sentence. A child will be able to read one word (for example, "the") every time, but not able to read any of the words surrounding it, and will not recognize the "th" sound as part of another word (there, then, them). If those basic words are so difficult, you can imagine the problems caused by exceptions to the rules.

Reading is a complex process involving many parts of the brain. When I was a child, I could never sound things out. I read very well but if I came to a new word and the teacher asked me to sound it out--I couldn't hear what I was clearly saying. It frustrated the teacher no end (and me, too). However, once the teacher said the word, I could read it whenever I saw it. A child with dyslexia may need specialized, one-on-one tutoring to make that leap between sound and sight.

Processing speed is also a factor. The words come out eventually but because of slow processing speed, the meaning of the words (let alone meaning of the sentence) is lost. In addition, slow processing speed may mean that a child takes a very long time to read a paragraph or a page, an exhausting struggle. Visual cues are another problem. Some children read better with a different contrast between letters and page, not the standard black and white. Others read better when the font is changed to emphasize the distinctions between letters like b and h or a and g. 

Finally, after months and years of frustration, a child may give up. The psychological harm of repeated failure to read cannot be overemphasized. Reading is the basis of all learning in school. A child who fails to read fails everything.

Windy Row Learning Center is aware of these and all the other aspects of reading, and we help children every day to overcome their particular challenges. If you know a child in the Monadnock Region who is behind grade level in reading, please mention Windy Row. And if you are able to, please donate to our scholarship fund. The tutors, parents and children of Windy Row thank you.

Making Reading Easier for Children with Dyslexia

Recently, a friend of Windy Row Learning Center forwarded news about Christian Boer, who has designed a new typeface that makes reading easier for people with reading challenges. The letters in this typeface have heavier bottoms, making it easier for a reader to see the differences between letters, for example, between b, p, and d.

"When they're reading, people with dyslexia often unconsciously switch, rotate and mirror letters in their minds," said Boer, who is dyslexic himself.  "By changing the shape of the characters so that each is distinctly unique, the letters will no longer match one another when rotated, flipped or mirrored...Bolder capitals and punctuation will ensure that users don't accidentally read into the beginning of the next sentence." In addition to the differences in shape and the bolding, Boer's letters have other features, like bigger spaces between letters and words. For more information about this typeface, see de zeen magazine.

At Windy Row Learning Center, we are aware that small changes can greatly help children over the initial hurdle of reading, and every success encourages children who have experienced failure over and over. We experiment with the shapes and sizes of letters, textures, sounds and colors to help the brain distinguish one letter from the other. We use Orton-Gillingham techniques that enable a child to keep reading, even if a book is not written in a special font on specially colored paper. Once children have a hope of reading, they are eager to learn more techniques. 

The Orton-Gillingham method ensures that a child with dyslexia (or other reading challenges) masters each element of reading before moving on to the next. Because we stress one-on-one tutoring at Windy Row, each child moves at his or her own speed, and we can spend more time on the highest hurdles as needed. If you know a child who is falling behind grade level with reading, please info [at] windyrow.org (contact) Windy Row to find out how we can help.

How Windy Row's Chairman Conquered Dyscalculia

George Sterling is an entrepreneur in Peterborough, NH. A certified business coach, he is founder and president of Sterling Business Corporation and chair of the board of the Windy Row Learning Center.

Being dyslexic does not mean you are stupid. Nor is dyslexia a disease. And for some, like me, the challenge is not reading but numbers.

I have never been diagnosed with dyslexia or dyscalculia, but I transpose numbers a lot even if the numbers are keyed into a calculator or keypad. I was attending college and struggling as an accounting major. I was just two weeks away from being unable to change my major when one of my professors spoke with me privately after an exam. He said, “Look here, on the first problem you did the work and then erased it all, and did it again. Your first answer was correct. Here again on problem two, you did the work erased it all, and your first answer was correct. Here on problem three, I see that you did the work three times and your second answer was correct. If you cannot get the same answer twice with a calculator, how are you going to make it as an accountant? It's clear that you understand the concepts of accounting but I suggest you choose a different major.”

So I did change, to business management, and started my own business right after graduating college.

Having dyslexia or dyscalculia isn’t a bar to success; but there’s no need to wait until college to find help for a child with reading or math challenges. The frustration children face when they can’t read wears them down, may lead to behavioral problems, limits their life choices, and makes them feel like “broken,” a word used by many of the children we see at Windy Row. We should all be aware and on the lookout for children who have trouble saying the alphabet or numbers in order, can’t seem to follow directions that their peers understand, don’t understand concepts like larger and smaller or first and last, avoid reading out loud, or exhibit other signs of trouble with reading or math.

Windy Row provides one-on-one specialized after-school tutoring for children from kindergarten through grade nine. We help children find new ways to make sense of the written page when they are struggling with the sounds, shapes, sequence, and meanings of letters, words, and numbers. We regularly bring children up to grade level or beyond in reading and math. In honor of Dyslexia Awareness Month, if you know a child who may have difficulty in reading or math, please remember Windy Row Learning Center and contact us at info [at] windyrow.org.

"My Child Hates Math"

Math can be a stumbling block for many children, but sometimes that stumble is also a warning sign. "Dyscalculia," a difficulty with numbers, often involves language processing problems and is similar to dyslexia in some of its warning signs: difficulty in following the steps in a game or in directions; trouble with placing numbers (or letters) in order; and difficulty in visualizing patterns (for example, shapes and sizes).

Despite some similarities, dyscalculia and dyslexia are separate learning disabilities. Children with dyslexia or other reading challenges may or may not have challenges with math--and vice versa.

Windy Row Learning Center has programs specially designed to help children with math concepts. Our one-on-one, step-by-step, patient, and creative approach works with math challenges as well as reading challenges. If your child is a year or more behind grade level in math, please info [at] windyrow.org (contact us).

The Value of Windy Row Learning Center

Windy Row Learning Center is known for our ability to keep costs down for our one-on-one specialized tutoring in reading and math, using world-renowned programs. Our costs include licensing fees for those programs, tutor salaries and the usual rent, phone bill, website maintenance and so on. Many of the families who come to us are unable to afford our fee of $55 for each one-hour lesson; they are desparate for help for their child who may be years below grade level in reading and math. We offer them financial aid because we are dedicated to helping children to read.

If children grow up totally unable to read they are more likely to end up in prison, on welfare and with psychological problems. Despite their cleverness, their career choices are severely limited. Think about what your own options would be if you lived in ancient Rome without reading a word of Latin or understanding Roman numerals. How would you get from place to place? How would you prevent being cheated out of your earnings? You would certainly never be among the fortunate in ancient Rome; and children without reading and math skills are not among the fortunate in today's world. 

But Windy Row Learning Center turns that prognosis around. We give the children the skills they need to succeed and the support they need to feel capable again. An adult with dyslexia once told us that even his severely limited ability to read seemed like bounty when he met someone who was not able to read at all. The children who attend Windy Row leave us as readers.

In addition, we are working with several school systems to help teachers become more aware of reading challenges and how to meet them in the classroom.

Please support our efforts by donating what you can to Windy Row's annual appeal. Or click on this website's Donate Now page. Thank you.

Phonetics and Decoding: Two Sources of Reading Problems

Phonetics is the study of the sounds of speech. Children with reading problems often have difficulty recognizing how letters sound, alone ("t") or in combination ("th"). They may be challenged by combinations that are similar (like "sh" and "ch").

Decoding is the ability to recognize words each time they appear. Often children with decoding problems have memorized certain words that appear regularly (like "the") but are unable to read or recognize other words ("these") and so mispronounce them or skip over them.

The Orton-Gillingham approach is world-renowned for helping children who have problems with phonetics, decoding and other aspects of reading. It is multi-sensory, which helps a child to recognize the connection between letters and their sounds. It is structured and sequential, each lesson building step-by-step upon the previous lesson, which improves decoding and gives a child the confidence to read, rather than memorize or guess at words.

At Windy Row Learning Center in West Peterborough, New Hampshire, our tutors let the child lead--our one-on-one tutoring eliminates competition between children, and each child can take as much time as needed to master a reading skill. The lessons target the individual child's specific issues with reading and favor that child's specific learning style, whether through ear, touch or eye. Many children come to us after years of frustration and failure at learning to read. Our tutors are sensitive to their struggles and make every effort to help children feel comfortable and capable.

If you have noticed your child stumbling over phonetics or decoding, please contact us. Reading is what we do.

Dyslexia, Learning Disability & Other Scary Words

When you know your child is having difficulty in school, sometimes it is a relief to name the problem: dyslexia, learning disability, slow processing speed.

However, words can also feel like limits. Will my child outgrow this condition? Will my child feel inferior and inadequate? Will everyone stress the "can't do" instead of the "brilliant at"?

On the other hand, will a refusal to use certain words like "dyslexia" prevent my child from receiving appropriate help?

At Windy Row Learning Center, our goal is to help a child cope. We test enough to locate the challenge that your child has with reading or math, then we focus on strategies that not only overcome the challenge but help your child feel successful, maybe for the first time in his or her school career.

Your child's tutor becomes your child's partner, as together they move from not reading to reading, from math confusion to math comprehension and from impossible to possible.

Please don't let a few words stand between your child and the help we offer at Windy Row Learning Center. Phone or email us today.

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