Learning Disabilities Association Conference 2016: Photo Gallery

February 29th, 2016 by

We were thrilled to attend the Learning Disabilities Association Conference in Orlando, where we spent three days talking with educators about multisensory teaching tools and strategies. Our Executive Director Jennifer Hasser received rave reviews for her workshop entitled, “Reaching Students with Reading Disabilities Through Multisensory Games and Activities.”

Learning Disabilities Association Conference: Kendore Booth

Anna-Leena, Jennifer, and Catherine at the Kendore Learning exhibit booth.

Learning Disabilities Association Conference: Kendore Booth.

Talking with a teacher about multisensory games.

 

 

Playing Slap at Learning Disabilities Association Conference

Reinforcing literacy concepts using what? Yes, those are (clean) toilet bowl brushes.

Multisensory games at the Learning Disabilities Association Conference

Jennifer leads a participant through “hot lava” during her workshop, “Reaching Students with Reading Disabilities Through Multisensory Games and Activities.”

Explaining Brain Research at LDA Conference

Jennifer takes a moment to explain the brain research behind multisensory learning strategies.

Jennifer Hasser and Kendore Learning at Learning Disabilities Association Conference

The “Cupid Poop Relay” was a big hit.

Learning Disabilities Association Conference Kendore Workshop.

Jennifer got participants on their feet during her workshop. Here, she teaches a lively way to sound out words.

Learning Disabilities Association Conference: Jennifer Hasser's Workshop reviews

We’re proud of Jennifer’s rave reviews!

Learning Disabilities Association Conference: Jennifer Hasser's Workshop reviews Learning Disabilities Association Conference: Jennifer Hasser's Workshop reviews

Why We Teach Sounds Before Letters

February 3rd, 2016 by

“Letter of the Week” is NOT Good Practice

It’s very common practice in preschool and kindergarten classrooms to introduce the “letter of the week.” While this method of teaching is based on good intentions, it presents problems when children are learning to sound out words (decode) and write (encode). Learning letters limits children because some important sounds in the English language are not represented by single letters (for example, /ch/, /sh/, /ow/ and /au/).  Also, alternate spellings get confusing when one sound is pegged to one letter.

Why We Teach One Sound at a Time

There are only 44 sounds in our language and the rapid automatic retrieval of those sounds is the foundation of reading. Regardless of age, in order for a student to be a fast and accurate reader, the sounds must be mastered. If a student is not able to retrieve the sounds efficiently, their accuracy and comprehension will suffer. EVERYTHING else in reading is secondary to this crucial first skill.  Once a student shows mastery, he or she will move ahead to increasingly more complex concepts.

Watch Kendore Learning Executive Director Jennifer Hasser explain in greater detail.

Make the Most of Winter Break

November 20th, 2015 by

Winter Break, when your child is not overwhelmed with school and extra-curricular commitments, is an excellent time to get ahead. Relaxed and rested children are more receptive to learning!

winter break tutoring at SyllablesThough we will suspend our regular schedule from Saturday, December 19th through Friday, January 1st, we will still see students by appointment.

Current Syllables Students

Fit in a few sessions to get ahead and speed up progress. Multiple-hour sessions are available.

Syllables “Almuni”

Brush up on skills by scheduling a few refresher sessions. Don’t forget that we offer free assessments for our former students. Schedule your assessment now so that we can develop a plan for Winter Break.

High School and College Students

We work with older students on study skills and test taking strategies. Winter Break is an excellent time to focus on these critical skills. It’s also an excellent time for high schoolers to tuck in some SAT/ACT test prep.

Call us at 770-752-1724 for more information or to schedule.

Reflecting on Dyslexia Awareness Month 2015

November 6th, 2015 by

Dyslexia Awareness Month was busy and exciting — with events taking place across the nation. It was a time to reflect on the importance of literacy education, raise much needed funding, and come together as a community to support those with dyslexia.

Here in Georgia we were proud to sponsor the annual Dyslexia Dash. On a personal note, it was rewarding for me to see an event I started years ago grow into a powerful force in providing funding and community support for literacy initiatives.

On a national level, I was honored to lead a workshop at the International Dyslexia Association Annual Conference in Dallas. Hundreds of educators attended our session to learn about the importance of multisensory education (and to discover the benefits of the Ghost Poop Relay!!). It is inspiring to meet people from across the nation who have devoted their lives and careers to helping people with dyslexia.

The month has ended, but its benefits continue.

— Jennifer Hasser, Kendore Learning and Syllables Learning Center Executive Director

IDA Conference International Dyslexia Awareness Month

Our workshop, Putting Research into PLAY, was attended by dyslexia educators from across the nation.

Jennifer Hasser and Kendore Learning at IDA Conference

The Kendore/Syllables team at the IDA conference. We enjoyed meeting so many dyslexia educators and advocates.

Dyslexia Dash Atlanta 2015

We had a blast working the Dyslexia Dash photo booth.

Educators at IDA Conference

At the IDA Conference, more than 100 of us played Beach Ball Pass to demonstrate fun and effective ways to teach literacy.

IDA Conference Kendore Spelling Bees

Spelling Bees Anna-Leena and Pam buzzed around the Kendore Booth and celebrated Halloween at the International Dyslexia Association Conference.

IDA Conference Multisensory Activities

We practice what we preach! Our workshop at the IDA Conference was multisensory and full of movement.

Jennifer Hasser teaching multisensory activities

Preparing for the Beach Ball Pass at the IDA Conference. Before each activity, we discussed research that proves that multisensory education WORKS!

Jennifer Hasser speaking at IDA Conference

Yes, toilet bowl brushes can be effective learning tools!

Teachers at Dyslexia Dash Atlanta 2015

Runners and supporters at the Dyslexia Dash. This group of dedicated teachers goes the extra mile (literally) for their students.

The Syllables:Kendore team Dyslexia Dash 2015

The Syllables/Kendore team at the Dash finish line.

Kendore Learning at IDA Conference

We enjoyed introducing educators to Kendore’s multisensory games and activities at the IDA Conference.

Families coming together at Dyslexia Dash Gerogia

Families came together to have fun at the Dyslexia Dash. Here a dad and daughter played a multisensory game in gooey Brain Freeze.

Learning Hard and Soft C and G Rules

July 22nd, 2015 by

Mastering hard and soft c and g rules is an advanced skill that yields significant rewards. Beginning readers frequently encounter hard c and g sounds as they learn single syllable words (for example: cat, cloud, go, and glow). However, soft c and g are often found in Greek and Latin roots so they tend to appear in more complex, multi-syllabic words. Understanding how to decode c and g enables students to read very complex words (for example: biological and circumspect).

Hard and Soft C and G Rules

When c is in front of an i, y, or e, it is soft and says /s/. For example: city, cycle, and race.
When c is in front of any other letter, it is hard and says /k/. For example: camera, car, and cone.
When g is in front of an i, y, or e, it is soft and says /j/. For example: giant, gypsy, and gem.
When g is in front of any other letter, it says /g/. For example: go, gave, and gravel.

There are some common sight words that don’t follow the rules (for example: girl and gift). This is why we teach hard and soft c and g rules to older students, who already have good mastery over basic sight words and phonics concepts. These students can handle the additional layer of hard and soft c and g rules.

Giant vs. Cyclops: Hard and Soft C and G Games

Our Giant vs. Cyclops card deck gives students a fun way to practice applying hard and soft c and g rules. The game comes complete with instructions for playing six games of varying difficulty. To ensure mastery, the deck contains real and nonsense words (nonsense words force players to decode rather than memorize). Click below for a video demonstration of two fun Giant vs. Cyclops card games.

Order Giant vs. Cyclops — on sale through 8/31/2015.

Jennifer Hasser demonstrates games that teach hard and soft c and g rules.

Meet Artist Meghan Ambrose

June 30th, 2015 by

Artist Meghan Ambrose of Inklings and HuesWe are proud to feature work by artist Meghan Ambrose in Syllables’ lobbies.  Meghan has been a member of the Syllables family for nearly ten years – serving as a tutor, associate director, and in her current capacity as graphic designer. Meghan is the creative force behind the art found on Kendore Learning card decks and curriculum materials.

Meghan’s journey with dyslexia began long before her affiliation with Syllables. As a child, Meghan worked harder in school than other students, yet she often was labeled “unmotivated” and “lazy.”  This continued through her freshman year of college, where once again Meghan worked harder than her peers but still struggled academically.

Notes Meghan, “A children’s literature class my sophomore year was my turning point. I was asked to read aloud to the class, something I had always dreaded. After class, the professor pulled me aside and asked if I had ever been diagnosed with dyslexia.” Subsequent testing revealed that Meghan was “profoundly dyslexic” and that it was remarkable that she had achieved so much without remediation or accommodations.

Artist Meghan Ambrose of Inklings and Hues

Meghan displays her art at local festivals and on her Etsy site.

Always a gifted artist, Meghan changed her major to art and began to excel.  She transferred to the Atlanta College of Art, where she graduated third in her class. Meghan also pursued training in dyslexia remediation and became a reading tutor at Syllables.  “I knew I wanted to help kids like me,” Meghan reflects. “I would tell students that I understood their struggles and I explained how Syllables would make a difference.”

Today, Meghan combines her artistic talents with the love of teaching she developed at Syllables. When she is not at home with her son Gabriel or designing art for Syllables, she is busy teaching art to children and adults.  Meghan sells her art at local festivals and on her etsy shop, Inklings And Hues. She is also available for commissioned work. Contact Meghan at InklingsAndHues@gmail.com.

Home by Inklings and Hues artist Meghan Ambrose

Chicadee and Baby by artist Meghan Ambrose of Inklings and Hues

 

 

 

 

Ooey, Gooey Multisensory Fun!

May 26th, 2015 by

Brain Freeze is one of our favorite tools for multisensory fun. This ooey, gooey gel keeps students engaged and actively learning as they practice sound and word dictation.

A cup of water transforms Brain Freeze from tiny crystals to squishy gel. After a day or two, the crystals dry up and can be reconstituted or stored for later.

Watch Syllables Learning Center/Kendore Learning Executive Director Jennifer Hasser demonstrate Brain Freeze.

 Watch Brain Freeze Multisensory Fun DemonstrationBuy Brain Freeze

 

Make Significant Strides With Summer Tutoring

April 28th, 2015 by

During the school year, students squeeze tutoring into a schedule packed with school, sports, homework, and other after school commitments. Summer frees up not only time, but also brain bandwidth — making summer tutoring at Syllables extremely productive.

Don’t miss the chance to help fill in any learning gaps and prepare your child to succeed next school year!

How Syllables Can Help

  • Intensive Tutoring:  Speed up your time with us by increasing tutoring frequency or scheduling two-hour sessions. Students who complete “intensive summer tutoring” make remarkable strides and dramatically shorten the time they need to spend with us during the school year. Because our therapists are experts at keeping students engaged and active, double sessions are extremely productive.
  • Math: If your child comes to Syllables for reading tutoring but also struggles in math, consider adding math to their Syllables summer tutoring menu. Our Orton-Gillingham math program breaks down math in a new way — giving your child the tools they need to finally “get it.” Math tutoring is available for students in grades K through 5.
  • Cogmed Working Memory Training: Did you know that is is possible to actually change the existing pathways of students’ brains to boost working memory and improve learning skills for a lifetime? Summer is the ideal time to complete Cogmed Working Memory Training, which requires several blocks of time per week. Learn More.
  • Brush-Up for Syllables Alumni: If your child has graduated from Syllables’ reading program, they are welcome to come in for a free reading assessment. We will determine if your child has retained their skills and kept up with their peers. If we see any deficits, summer is a good time to fill in gaps.
  • Study Skills: Did you know that we are experts in teaching kids study skills? Summer tutoring is an excellent way to develop these skills without the pressure of daily schoolwork. Learn More
  • Work at Home: Parents who work with their child at home decrease their child’s time at Syllables. Make sure to complete the practice your therapist recommends between sessions. You can also visit our YouTube channel to watch demonstrations of games you can play and activities you can do at home.
  • Attend a Training Session: Parents are welcome to attend our teacher training sessions (offered through our sister company, Kendore Learning). You’ll learn our proven method of teaching reading and you will leave prepared to help your child at home more than you ever thought possible! Parents of currently-enrolled Syllables students receive 40% off of Kendore Kingdom training.  Learn More
  • Sibling Screenings: Dyslexia and other learning disabilities run in families. If you are concerned about your Syllables student’s sibling(s), bring them in for a complimentary one-hour reading assessment. If there is an issue, we can help you make a plan.

Not sure how to structure your child’s summer at Syllables? Give us a call at 770-752-1724. We are experts at assessing students and helping you make the most of your child’s time with us.

Teachers’ Corner: What Should I Do if My Students Have Poor Phonological Memory?

January 28th, 2015 by

What is Phonological Memory?

Weak Phonological Memory leads to frustration in the classroom.Phonological memory is the ability to hold information (numbers, sounds, words) in working or short-term memory for temporary storage. Students must be able to hold information long enough to process it, use it, and then transfer it to long-term memory.

Why Poor Phonological Memory is a Problem

Poor phonological memory can hinder a student’s ability to accomplish most tasks including:

  • mastering early reading skills
  • learning new vocabulary words
  • comprehending new and lengthy material
  • following multi-step directions

For example, when decoding an unfamiliar but lengthy word, a student must figure out each sound and then each syllable. The student must recall these word components in exact sequence, and finally, blend them back together.  The longer the word, the more parts there are to remember. Children often have to rehearse each syllable first until they know it well enough to blend all of the syllables together to complete the entire word.

If a child with poor phonological memory is hearing new words as someone is talking, the speaker may be well into the rest of the message while the child is stuck making sense of the new word.  Or, the child may miss the new word as he or she tries to keep up with the story/message. Either way, vocabulary development is at risk.

How to Help a Child with Poor Phonological Memory

Helping a child with weak phonological memory to be successful in the classroom requires us to be mindful of the following:

  • how much information we deliver at one time
  • what senses we engage when delivering and reinforcing information
  • how often we repeat key ideas

C.A.R.S.:  Remember this mnemonic and your students will be off and running!

CARS -- A Phonological Memory Reminder.Chunk Information into smaller parts for mental storage.  Only introduce one or two concepts at a time and pause strategically when talking.

Allow for Success by teaching, modeling and practicing (and practicing some more!). Practice skills in different contexts to reinforce.

Repeat, Repeat, Repeat!  Restate key elements or new information in various ways.  Have students repeat back to you.  Use purposeful pausing as you repeat.

Sensory: make lessons multisensory!  Children with poor auditory memories need to SEE, ACT OUT, and FEEL the lesson in order to understand better. Their weakest mode of learning is by sitting and listening.                        

 

Dyslexia Tutoring May Be Tax Deductible

January 27th, 2015 by
Dyslexia Tutoring may be Tax DeductibleIf you itemize medical expenses on your income taxes, you may be able to deduct the costs of tutoring at Syllables.
According to IRS Publication 502, “You can include in medical expenses fees you pay on a doctor’s recommendation for a child’s tutoring by a teacher who is specially trained and qualified to work with children who have learning disabilities caused by mental or physical impairments…” (page 13). The cost of transportation to and from Syllables may also be included. Check with your tax advisor to determine your eligibility.
Some healthcare flexible spending accounts also allow you to pay for tutoring with pre-tax dollars. Contact your plan administrator to see if you qualify.