It’s easy to feel helpless and that nothing is working when you have paid the money and taken the time out to drive your child to tutoring, believing this will be ‘the fix’ and you see minimal results.
Last summer, Lisa told me that her son Isaac must have been misdiagnosed. She explained that she was told his dyslexia was mild but that he had been in tutoring for two years and made little improvement with reading. “It has to be more severe,” she decided.
She described how her son’s self-esteem had taken a nose dive. She had tried pointing out to him that he made some improvements but it didn’t make a difference. He says he is dumb all the time and it makes Lisa sick with worry.
Lisa was surprised when I said, “can you blame him for feeling dumb?”
I asked her who wouldn’t feel dumb if after two years they have only made minimal gains when everyone else is speeding past them and doing half the work.
I know what you’re thinking. Talk about driving that knife in further – that poor mother.
But you know it’s true. The fact is that confidence comes from success and there’s no feeling of success when you have made minimal gains in two years.
When Tutoring Fails
I see this all the time with tutoring. Thousands of dollars, countless hours and the child is progressing at a snail’s pace.
I’m not knocking tutoring. It can be absolutely amazing and worthwhile.
But other times it can produce minimal results.
There are a few reasons why tutoring and remedial reading programs fail – and it does not necessarily have anything to do with the tutor!
Treating the Symptom Not the Cause
My experience is that we often approach reading and learning difficulties with the same approach as outdated medical approaches. We see the symptoms and that’s what is treated. Instead we need to look at the cause. Not the surface cause – the one that can be pretty easy to identify.
The root cause.
That usually requires a little more digging.
The Real Cause Usually Goes Further than Phonics & Letter Sounds
Don’t get me wrong, identifying the cause can be tricky. It requires some serious detective work that requires experience and an in-depth knowledge of the various potential factors that can cause reading impairment that extends much further than phonics, blends and word recognition.
Even when we think we are looking at the real issue we can still be looking at the symptom. If we think a child who is a poor reader needs more reading – we are likely missing the boat.
Why Your Child Is Not Picking Up On Reading the Way Other Kids Are
There is a specific reason your child has not been able to experience the same reading success as their peers. For some kids extra practice and tutoring helps immensely, for others the benefits are only minimal.
…And it’s not because they are dumb. It’s not because they have a low IQ or that when brains were being handed out they got ‘a lemon’.
It’s because trying to solve the problem of poor reading ability by addressing the symptom is going to result in sub-optimal results. To get optimal results, we need to uncover and address the cause.
The Dyslexic and Non-Dyslexic Brain is Different – But There is a Reason
Asking what is different about your child’s brain and what makes learning to read so much more difficult is an approach that involves an actual intervention that aims to correct the root cause.
Trying to cram letter and phonic sounds into a brain that is not yet ready or able to retain or process the written word is like trying to add extra water to a bucket with a small hole in the bottom. Some water might stay in for a time but in the end, we are not fixing the actual problem. We are managing it.
That is my whole gripe with IEP’s. Accommodations and modifications are great, but only if they get your child to the goal of reading mastery. Sadly, this almost never happens.
Teach Them the Way They Learn BUT FIRST – Make Sure Their Brain Has Strong Connections
You have likely heard the saying. “If a child can’t learn the way we teach, then we should teach the way they learn.” I couldn’t agree more.
But often, when kids are having a hard time learning and reading, trying to teach in a ‘different way’ is not going to solve the problem. It’s not more explaining or different strategies that will work if the brain has weak connections or areas of underdevelopment.
Tutoring & Teaching Fails When the Brain is Untrained
The number one reason that tutoring does not work is because the brain is not ready! That’s not the tutors fault. I have seen some excellent reading programs like the Orton-Gillingham method, not produce the results parents hoped for because the brain is untrained. This leaves parents feeling discouraged and a child who is left with the false confirmation that they are ‘dumb’.
Sub-optimal results often means that the brain had to work extra hard to even retain and make the progress it did. It’s this same reason why one child has to work so hard compared to another to get the same results on an assignment or test.
When Your Child Has to Work Harder than Others, There’s a Glitch
When a child has to work that hard to read or learn any information – the wrong approach is extra practice. Usually these kids have blocked learning gates in their brain, meaning weak connections, areas that are underdeveloped.
When areas of underdevelopment are strengthened, learning and reading becomes a lot easier.
The right approach is identifying what areas of the brain are weak, what areas are underdeveloped, determining if there are retained primitive reflexes that are hindering optimal auditory or visual processing, focus, eye-tracking, and working memory.
The Piece of the Dyslexia Puzzle that No One Wants to Swallow
The other factor that parents are sometimes skeptical about is the impact of nutrition and even gut health on the brain’s ability to do the tasks that are necessary for reading. There are key nutrients that are critical for everything from eye-tracking, to eye-teaming, to auditory processing to reading comprehension.
Likewise, the connection between yeast and bacterial overgrowth in the gut and the impairments to auditory processing has been identified in countless studies. When the eyes, ears and brain are not getting the nutrients they need, we can’t expect them to work optimally just as a car can’t run without the right amount of oil, gas and so on.
In order to achieve reading success, kids need three ingredients in the correct order.
1.Optimal Brain Nourishment
2.A well-developed and organized brain with strong connections (and in the right places)
3.An intensive phonics-based reading program
Tutoring and remedial reading programs go wrong when we jump to step 3 right away because on the surface, the symptom we are seeing is poor reading.
We must first make sure the brain is getting the nutrients it needs in order to be able to build strong, healthy connections in the brain.
Reading Rockstar Bootcamp offers one-on-one learning therapies that targets the underlying reason why learning or reading is so hard for your child. Think of me as a personal trainer for your child’s brain.
Set up a free 20-minute discovery session to learn more about how you can help your child improve their reading comprehension so they can become a fluent reader and a more confident kid.