IDA Conference

After returning from the International Dyslexia Association Conference, I’m again struck by the importance of understanding the individual child’s needs and responding with solutions that are customized to the individual student. This can’t be done with packaged programmed, no matter how good it is. Packaged programs ask the student to fit into the curriculum, versus identifying a student’s needs and designing lessons to meet the their specific needs.  Thank you, Virginia Berninger, Ph.D., and others for these reminders.

The latest research at MIT suggests that the movement of water through the myelin sheath might be related to dyslexia and it will require more study on my behalf – I love learning!  The fact that the right side of the brain is responding to the interventions we are delivering to change the left side of the brain reminds us that for each action is an equal and opposite reaction.  And that the right side of the brain might hold a link to how a child will respond to various inventions.  Current research shows that the brains of dyslexics are in fact built differently, not that the brain develops differently because of lack of reading. Thank you, John Gabrieli, Ph.D., and those that spoke on twice-exceptional children. (Meet John at )

Over the course of the conference I reflected on a comment from Jerome Schultz, Ph.D., that excellence is the new average. No wonder our children are feeling more stress. I’m looking forward to reading his book “Nowhere to Hide” and integrate some of his thought on ‘Save FASE’ and DE-STRESS.  Students need tools that will help them understand their stress and ready their mind for learning.  Students that shut down due to stress are unable learn, yet they are so often mislabeled so that the correct instruction isn’t even delivered.

What does summer mean to a struggling student?


Why is it so important to work on academic skills over the summer for struggling students?

If a child struggles during the school year they are mentally exhausted after a day of school.  These children work three to five times harder than their classmates to get fewer results.  During the summer these children’s minds are fresh and ready to grow.  When they only have to spend an hour or so a dayfocusing on educational activities, they remain engaged participants in learning. 

An average student loses 25% to 33% of their previous years academic growth over the summer.  Struggling students lose more, if they aren’t engaged in educational activities.

Given these two factors, it’s important for struggling students to receive target instruction to strengthen their weaknesses. Let them start the next year with a new confidence that can be gained by working in a one-on-one setting either with a tutor or parent.  For some children this is a good time to receive Occupational and/or Speech Therapy.  While for those that are on track, summer is a great time for experiential learning or possibly a language immersion opportunity.