Guest Author - Valerie Shoopman
Reading is a necessary skill in todayís complex world. You need to know how to read menus, signs, directions, food labels, prescription labels, tax forms, and the list goes on and on and on.
Unfortunately, many children and some adults cannot read at all, or they are way below their peers and grade level. For these people, reading is not just challenging, it is pure agony for them to try to read even a short passage, and a book is just too overwhelming. Throw in a teacher that is requiring them to read out loud in front of the class and you have just combined the ingredients for a perfect melt down.
Lexia learning software was created to specifically help struggling readers from ages 4 all the way up to adults. I love their tag line. Feed a mind. Watch it grow.
That is exactly what I have been able to witness since starting to use the Lexia learning software program. Children who just could not get reading before are now decoding words and reading like never before. In some instances, students are jumping 2-3 grade levels within 1 year.
Two men who were friends worked together to develop the Lexia learning software, one man had a dyslexic child and the other was a neurosurgeon who specialized in traumatic brain injury. They followed the Orton-Gillingham methods closely as they developed the software along with testing on severe dyslexic children. The neurosurgeon brought in his knowledge and research of the brain and neurotransmitters to develop the timing and mechanisms that he knew could help re-fire pathways in the brain. The end result is a fantastic piece of software that kids love to use, and teachers and parents see tremendous results with.
Lexia comes in three different flavors if you will, depending upon what age your child is. There is Early Learning, which is for 4-6 year olds. You will find some younger acting 7 and 8 year olds liking and learning from this program as well. Primary Learning is for ages 5-8 but could easily go up to age 10. The Strategies for Older Students is for ages 9 and up through adults.
The primary difference in the three is the user interface and the way the material is presented to the audience. The Early Learning is definitely for a younger audience. You would not want to put a 12 year old on this even if he is a non-reader. It just wonít work. He will feel as if he is being treated like a baby and will put up huge defensive walls that hamper learning.
All of the programs have different levels that start at the very basics of letter recognition and move up through vowels, consonants, syllables, word decoding, sight words, and paragraphs. The Strategies for Older Students also moves up into higher levels objectives such as Greek, Latin and special accents, along with much longer paragraphs and word comprehension.
The beauty for teachers and parents is that either you can move through the program very focused one level at a time, or you can spot target specific skills. The program is adaptive to children in that if a child knows a particular objective, the program allows them to move very quickly through it and on to the next level. If they are struggling, the program presents that objective repeatedly until they get it mastered. Only then can they move to the next level. This is wonderful for kids who need repeated practice to get a particular concept.
The Lexia learning software also comes with a Quick Reading Test that allows you to quickly decide on where the student should be placed in the program. I like to use the Quick Reading Test as a pre and post test to see gains made within the program. Of course, you want to see gains in reading too, but sometimes those gains come more slowly. Transfer of learning to a new environment takes lots of time and effort. However, if you can see and show the student the gains within the program, it motivates them to keep going.
The Lexia learning software itself has terrific graphs that automatically graph the studentís results as they move through the levels. There are a variety of report options as well so you can print out hard copies to zone in on areas of difficulties or celebrate successes.
Lexia has school licensing options available through their independent representatives and has a home version through their website online. There are various testimonials and research based information available on their web site at www.lexialearning.com.
Based on the results Iíve seen from this software over the last two years with the students in school and the students I tutor, I highly recommend Lexia learning software as a tool to help struggling readers learn how to read. Keep in mind this software is used as a tool for repetitive practice and does not take the place of direct instruction. However, when kids are begging to do Lexia and their reading levels are increasing you have to think you have found a winner!