Kara's story could be any child's story. She was always happy until you talked about school. She expressed her frustration by saying "I'm dumb. I'm never going to get it." She read at the 2nd grade level.
The public school she attended had a class-within-a-class. A para was in the classroom 3 hours a day. Kara hated it when the para stopped to see if she was doing okay OR when the para sat beside her to give her extra help. She thought the other students would see how dumb she really felt.
At the end of the 1st semester of 5th grade, her mom finally got tired of the school promising that she was going to "get it". Her mom, Nancy, knew something was wrong. She was upset because her daughter didn't want to go to school even though she loved her friends.
Nancy decided that she couldn't wait any longer to see if the school succeeded in teaching her daughter how to read. I was contacted.
After giving her a short evaluation, I determined that she didn't have a good
phonics foundation. She knew the single letter sounds, the digraphs and consonant blends. But she didn't know the double vowel sounds or endings like ong, and unk. She didn't have any decoding skills because she had no idea how to divide a word into syllables.
I accelerated the program because she was in 5th grade. But I had to keep it simple enough that she wouldn't be overwhelmed. I met with her twice a week for 1 hour each time. During each session, I would introduce her to a new way to divide words and one double vowel sound or another phonetic concept that she was lacking.
She "gobbled" this up! She was devouring decodable books. By the end of the summer, between 5th grade and 6th grade, Kara was reading at a 4th grade level when she went on to middle school, 6th grade.
She continued receiving accommodations at school. I continued working with her through the 6th grade. At that time, she was reading at a 5th grade level. She was gaining about 1 grade level each year in the area of reading.
NOTE: Kara was such an eager student. Not all students have such a positive attitude. It's important to note that she didn't have a disability that interfered with her learning. For some reason, she had missed the beginning reading skills.
Over the years, I have ran into many of my students or their parents. Everyone of them tells me that their child went on to graduate from high school. Of course some of these diplomas were "special" if the student had an IEP.
Some of my past students went on to become teachers, firemen, helping with the family business and other different careers that you can imagine. There have been a couple of students that had such severe learning disabilities that although they did not go on to college or a trade school, they did become an integral part of society and held various jobs.
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