We address the core thinking and language processes so learning can be approached with curiosity and confidence.
Scroll down to view or click the links directly below.
Carla’s parents called FRL when they noticed that their daughter was having difficulty with her sounds and blending words. She seemed to be “guessing” the words. Sometimes she was right, but mostly she was making errors. As a 2nd grader, she was learning new sight words but did not recognize them from page to page. She could memorize the spelling list for a Friday test, but could not spell the same words the following week for review.
Karen was a bright 5th grader who did not spend time reading for fun. By the time she was done with her homework, she was tired. The required 30 minute “leisure reading” time was filled with tears and frustration for Karen and her parents. She put more effort into figuring out the words rather than thinking about what the language meant. When her parents read the textbooks to her, Karen demonstrated great insight and vocabulary and could correctly answer review questions. However, on test day Karen either failed the test or barely passed.
Carla and Karen had weak phonemic awareness. This is a cognitive processing skill that supports the ability to perceive sounds within words. It is the most complex level of phonological awareness. Phonological awareness is not phonics. Phonics is the sound to symbol association. Phonological awareness skills enable us to recognize the sounds and syllables within words, apply phonics, learn sight words, and read with fluency. A weakness in phonological processing will result in difficulty learning to read and spell.
Using a structured, sequential and scientifically proven program, we built the awareness of sounds at the sensory level for Carla and Karen. By linking seeing sounds, hearing sounds, and feeling the mouth actions for sounds, the brain is able to detect and self-correct reading and spelling errors. While strengthening this sensory feedback, students verified the sounds within words, maniplulated syllables, and visually recognized affixes. Their phonological awareness skills were also applied to spelling and reading fluency. Confidence and accuracy replaced dread and frustration.
Carla attended 50 sessions and her word attack skills improved two grade levels. She was also able to recognize and spell her sight words.
After 90 sessions, Karen gained five years in word attack skills and her reading fluency increased form the 25th to the 75th percentile. Karen looked forward to reading the books her friends recommended.
The subject of math is abstract. As a 3rd grader, Jan struggled to memorize her multiplication facts and still used her fingers to add and subtract. She noticed her classmates finishing work before her, so she rushed to finish and made several errors.
Jan seemed to do well during the class lesson, but she made “careless mistakes” on tests. Also, she had difficulty building on the concepts.
For many students, the use of manipulatives aids the development of foundational math skills. However when the manipulatives are taken away and the math lessons rely on those foundational skills, the gaps become evident.
Jan attended 40 sessions at FRL. Using a structured, sequential process, she learned to combine language, manipulatives, and visualizing to build the concepts of the number line and the operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Then these concepts were applied to place value, calculations and word problems, fractions, decimals, and measurement.
David learned to read easily and progressed through the 3rd grade with good tests cores and glowing reports from his teachers. As the textbooks transitioned from mostly pictures to mostly texts, David struggled with learning new vocabulary and test taking. He preferred visual aids, but had difficulty connecting the concepts to the reading material.
David said it felt like “the words went in one ear and out the other”.
David had strong phonological awareness. However, he was not able to get the “big picture” of what he was reading. David had a weakness in concept imagery—the ability to create a mental picture of the gestalt (whole). As a 6th grader David was struggling to earn good grades.
Do you see what I mean? Picture this!
These common phrases allude to the process of imagery. However, concept imagery is a cognitive processing skills and a weakness may cause difficulty with reading comprehension. Students grasp the parts rather than the whole and struggle to use critical thinking skills such as identifying the main idea, drawing conclusions or making inferences.
David needed to strengthen his ability to make mental pictures of oral and written language. Using a structured, sequential program, we built his ability to image language from the single word to the paragraph and page levels. And, David learned to identify concrete and abstract ideas as well as figurative language in texts and literature.
Using language as our main tool, we practiced “thinking on purpose”. The brain likes to name, organize, categorize, sequence, compare, and contrast ideas and information. We guided David through the process of developing his “schema” to plan, apply and check his thought process.
David attended 95 sessions at FRL. As he became efficient with “making movies in his head” and planning his thought processes, his study skills and test taking skills improved. His nonverbal reasoning scores improved from the 16th percentile to the 84th percentile. His reading comprehension scores improved two grade levels.
David’s notes and homework were now tools for reviewing his knowledge rather than relearning the day’s lessons.