Kendore Cares: A Nonprofit Foundation With a Mission to Help All Read

January 5th, 2017 by

You know the feeling.

If you are the parent of a student with reading challenges, you’ve been there.

You’ve held your child who sobs, “I’m dumb,” while you ache with frustration that the world can’t see the brilliance you know is there.

You’ve eagerly scanned the classroom bulletin board, then stopped in your tracks when you realize that the scruffy paper with the poor handwriting belongs to your child. Your heart has broken with the realization that your child feels this spotlight of shame every day.

You’ve grinned at the “helpful” moms who offer up suggestions while inside you want to scream.

You’ve endured conferences where you’ve been told to “work with your child at home,” as if more of what’s not working will somehow make a difference (or as if some negligence on your part caused the problem in the first place).

What if it didn’t have to be this way?

Imagine a world that looks like this:

Classroom teachers are given the tools and support to effectively teach all children to read.

Every student leaves the classroom each day feeling smart, empowered, and excited about school.

Children who learn differently never struggle and typical learners are able to soar.

Families do not have to choose between help for their child and basic necessities.


This is a realistic dream, and it’s the dream of Kendore Cares.

Kendore Cares is a new nonprofit organization that brings the strategies and curriculum of Syllables Learning Center into the classroom. It’s a proven system of reaching struggling readers before they struggle and of helping all children reach their fullest potential.

The consequences are too dire to ignore!

Reading forms the foundation for learning throughout life. Yet 15 to 20 percent of all school-aged children have reading problems, many of which go undiagnosed. We know that unaddressed reading issues result in dire consequences for individuals, families, and communities:

Children who cannot read proficiently by third grade are four times more likely to drop out of school.

Two-thirds of students who cannot read proficiently by the end of fourth grade will end up in jail or on welfare.

Help us provide the solution.

Maybe this cause is personal to you – perhaps you are a parent who has agonized while your child has struggled. Maybe you’ve been able to get your child the help they need, but you realize that not all are so fortunate. Maybe you have thought time and time again, “there’s got to be a way to help my child at school in a classroom setting.” Perhaps you are not personally affected by reading struggles, but you are compelled by the stories or statistics of those who are.

Gin&Phonics InvitationWe invite you to help. Please join us on March 3rd for our inaugural event, Gin&Phonics. You will learn more about Kendore Cares, and you will be given the opportunity to make a difference. You will also experience a lively evening of fun, food, and entertainment and you will leave feeling excited about the opportunities that await all children of Georgia.

Learn More About Gin&Phonics

Learn More About Kendore Cares

Back to School Tips

July 15th, 2016 by

It seems like just yesterday that we stored backpacks in coat closets and turned off our kids’ alarm clocks. Summer has flown by quickly — store shelves are now filled with shiny new school supplies and the back-to-school countdown has begun.

Anticipating the start of school can be stressful, particularly for children who have a hard time with new routines. But with a little advanced preparation now, you can make the back-to-school transition easier on your kids…and yourself!

Seven things you can do NOW to avoid back-to-school chaos

  1. Take some time to de-clutter your children’s bedrooms and closets. Less clutter means fewer distractions. This is not only helpful if your kids study in their rooms, but it also makes for easier morning routines. For younger children, hang clothing in closets (or group them in drawers) by outfit to simplify choices in the morning.
  2. Back to School TipsConsider beating the rush and buying school supplies and clothes early.  Most office supply stores already have weekly super-savers advertised in the Sunday newspaper supplement. If you are a savvy shopper, you can save money by working through the school list over time — buying the best deals each week. If you live in the state of Georgia, mark your calendar for tax free shopping: July 30 and 31st, 2016!
  3. Designate and prepare a specific area of the house for your children to do homework. Prepare this area with supplies, good lighting and a clear workspace so that your children are excited to begin their homework routine. If your children study at the kitchen table or another multi-purpose space, find a box or bin (one for each child) for supplies and papers.
  4. Reduce the amount of television your children watch and increase the amount of reading they are doing. If your children are in middle or high school, make sure they have completed any required summer schoolwork. Help them develop a schedule for summer work if they tend to procrastinate.
  5. Plan now to complete any forms that require appointments or professional signatures (such as immunization records, notarized proof of residency, or sports forms).
  6. Re-establish bedtime and mealtime routines (especially breakfast) at least one week before school begins. You may have to do this gradually if your kids have been sleeping late!
  7. If you have an anxious child, schedule a few play-dates with classmates the week before school begins.

A little advanced preparation now will enable you to enjoy these last few weeks of summer while making a smooth back to school transition.

Make Summer Learning Fun With These Four Outdoor Activities!

June 15th, 2016 by

Summer provides an excellent opportunity to work with your kids to boost their skills and prevent the dreaded (and very real) summer slide. But mention summer learning, and most parents envision grumbling kids and workbooks at the kitchen table — enough to make them call it quits before even beginning.

We know that learning is most effective when it is enjoyable, when it engages the senses (i.e. when it’s multisensory) and when it involves new and unique experiences. So get your kids moving this summer and promote learning while they are having fun outside. They’ll never even realize they are doing their “summer work!”

Four Multisensory Outdoor Activities to Promote Summer Learning

Note: we have geared these activities toward reading/writing and phonemic awareness, but you can easily adapt them to other concepts you are reinforcing.

  1. Sandwriting

    Sandwriting makes learning funHeading to the beach or playground? Have your child practice sounds or sight words in sand. Writing in different textures makes writing a multisensory activity and helps kids retain what they learn. Plus, it’s fun!

  2. Beach Ball Toss

    Beachball Toss summer learning activityWith a permanent marker, write sounds, words, or nonsense words on a beach ball. Toss the ball to your child and have them read the words closest to their thumbs. For advanced students, cover the ball with blends, vowel teams, roots, examples of syllable types, etc.

  3. Scavenger Hunt

    Send your kids on a scavenger hunt in search of the sounds they are learning (or for objects that have the sounds in the middle or end of their names). If your kids are old enough to use a camera or phone, have them photograph what they find and review their photos and sounds with you. You can make this more challenging for advanced kids by asking them to find objects with a certain number of syllables or with certain syllable types in their names.

  4. Paint the House (Yikes!)

    Multisensory outdoor learning activitiesGive the kids a bucket of water and paint brushes. Have them write sounds, words, or even a whole story on the house, driveway, deck, etc. Watch as the writing evaporates and fades away.

 

 

b d Reversals

March 31st, 2016 by

Why Do Children Experience b d Confusion?

To understand b d reversals, it helps to think about how we learn to label objects. When children are very young and beginning to acquire language, the first thing they learn is to associate names with objects. They learn that a ball is a ball, a cup is a cup, and so on. They also learn that no matter how they view an object, its name typically does not change — a cup is still a cup whether it’s on the table or upside down on the floor.

b d reversals occur because b and d look so similar but have different namesWhen we introduce letters to children, things get a bit more tricky. Thankfully, most letters look unique, making them easier to associate with their name. For instance, y, k, f, and e all look different. They can be identified even if they are viewed backward or on their side. This is not so for b and d. They are mirror images that look so similar that they are difficult to tell apart. Furthermore, if these tricky twins are flipped upside down, p and q become involved!

b d reversals occur because the letters are mirror images of each otherIt is important to note that b d confusion is NOT a phonics issue — children do not say “mom and bab” instead of “mom and dad.” They are not confusing the sounds, they are visually confusing their symbols.

Most children under age seven make occasional b d reversals. This is not a concern and will correct itself over time. But children with learning issues, including dyslexia, can have b d confusion that persists past the age where children begin to accurately discriminate between b and d.

How to Correct b d Reversals

The most effective way to promote learning is through frequency, intensity, and duration. In other words, the best way to correct b d reversals is to spend time with b and d! Students should be taught correct mouth formation when each sound is made and they should be exposed to b d discrimination activities repeatedly over time. Kendore Learning’s dabboo hand tattoos intensely reinforce b d identification over a period of several days. To learn more b d reversal remedies and to learn a helpful b d fingerplay, watch the videos below.

 

 

What is Working Memory and Why is it Important?

February 29th, 2016 by

Working memory is the brain’s system for temporarily storing and managing the information required to carry out complex tasks such as learning, reasoning, and comprehension.

Children with poor working memory typically have difficulty remembering multi-step tasks and instructions. They also may have issues with impulse control, because their brain cannot hold the thought of both an action and its consequence at the same time.

Working memory has a profound impact on reading because sounding out words requires that a child hold each sound in working memory before putting those sounds together. For instance, a child with a working memory deficit may sound out /b/, /a/, /t/, and then go back to say the word, only to find that they have forgotten the sounds they just decoded. The child will then guess by saying “butter” or “bite.”

One of the best ways to help a struggling reader who has working memory deficits is to help reading become automatic. Teaching good decoding strategies creates automaticity, which frees up working memory space. Students with poor working memory can also benefit from brain training programs such as Cogmed.

Learn more about working memory by watching the video below:

 

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.

The Importance of Nonsense Words

October 2nd, 2015 by

Let’s talk nonsense!

We are frequently asked why we use nonsense words with students. Parents and teachers worry that nonsense words will confuse their children and will interfere with learning new words. While we wholeheartedly agree that students need to work with real words, we also know that nonsense words play an important role in effectively teaching students how to read and spell.

Many young children have excellent memories and are able to memorize one syllable words without understanding how the words’ sounds connect with their letters. When these students eventually are introduced to multisyllabic words that do not contain memorized words, the child is lost.

If a student has been given a strong foundation in the alphabetic principle (connecting sounds with letters) through real and nonsense words, more advanced words won’t deter them in the future. For example, if we ask a student to sound out the nonsense word “lat,” we are reinforcing the sounds /l/, /a/, and /t/. Students who have learned to decode (read) and encode (spell) using letter sounds will not be deterred if the words they encounter are unfamiliar or as they increase in difficulty. They will not have to resort to memorization of large words because they will possess the tools they need to decode. Later, as the child is exposed to more advanced words, they will see words like “latitude” and “bilateral.”  They will learn that roots like “lat” are not necessarily nonsense after all —  “lat” is a Latin root that means “side.”

Working with nonsense words will not confuse a child in terms of vocabulary because if a word is not assigned a meaning, the child will not use it. For instance, the student who decoded the word “lat,” in school will not come home and say, “Mom, can we have lat for dinner?” or “I really would like a new pet lat.” Since the word has no meaning, it will not interfere with the child’s growing vocabulary. On the other hand, it will help with their reading and spelling for years to come.

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