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  • Writer's pictureBuilding Pathways

It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint…

For students with dyslexia or struggling readers, one of the best supports we can offer as teachers and parents is the gift of time. The typical expectation is that a student is taught a phonics or spelling skill, engages in a bit of practice, and…voila! The concept is linked, stored, and ready to go in their memory for future use. For struggling readers, however, there is a disruption somewhere in this process and they require instruction that provides more time, more support, and more practice.

Explicit Instruction:

Structured literacy/dyslexia therapy programs are designed to be sensitive to students who need more time, support, and practice. You might run into the words systematic, explicit, and diagnostic. Here’s what that means for you and your child:

️⭐️Systematic means there is a logical order to instruction from basic to advanced skills. It’s a journey that is one step at a time.

️⭐️Explicit means that instruction is carefully crafted to include modeling and conversation between the student and teacher to help the student develop a deep understanding of the concepts being taught.

️⭐️Diagnostic means that each child is given the time and intensity of instruction that they need. They are not just pushed through lessons or a program, but instruction is adapted for them based on their progress data.


Practice is the other essential piece for struggling readers. Here’s what you need to keep in mind:

️⭐️ Practice intensity is one of the most important predictors of progress for struggling readers.

️️⭐️ Not all practice is equal! Powerful practice is deliberate, frequent, and rigorous. Traditional curriculums are great, but online platforms that combine direct instruction with computer-assisted practice create approximately four times the amount of responses elicited in traditional intervention.

️️⭐️ Practice should contain different types of activities. Online platforms allow for literacy to be practiced in different ways, including games, review videos, and interactive activities.

Growth Mindset:

Developing a growth mindset is critical for dyslexic learners because in the typical classroom, they will experience many “failures” when completing classwork. These “failures” often result in feeling shameful about their “weaknesses.”

Reminding children often that failures should be thought of as an opportunity to learn is how to foster a growth mindset. As Dr. Carol Dweck explains, “In a growth mindset, challenges are exciting rather than threatening. So rather than thinking, oh, I’m going to reveal my weaknesses, you say, wow, here’s a chance to grow.”



Therapist Spotlight: Dawn Korra M.S., SLDS

I have been a special education teacher for 37 years. I have enjoyed helping children learn to read. When someone unlocks the reasons behind letters, it opens up a new world for them! I am a certified Structured Literacy/Dyslexia Interventist trained in Lexercise, Wilson Reading Method, and Discovering Intensive Phonics. I retired from public education last year and am excited to transition to only online teaching. I have been working with Building Pathways since 2018. I plan to expand my clientele with Building Pathways. I enjoy teaching students to improve their reading skills. I have found that structured language and literacy teaching, when it includes explicit system instruction, significantly impacts a student’s reading growth and understanding of the printed word. I can not think of a better way to move a child’s life than by helping them read independently.

When not teaching, I love to read, spend time with my dog, Charlie, and visit my family. I have two adult daughters and an extended family within several hours of my home.

One family shared these thoughts:

Through this program, Dawn met with our child regularly over Zoom. Dawn was warm, personable, and encouraging as she began to build complex skills. Dawn encouraged her to try hard and keep a growth mindset while indulging in our child’s interests and tangents as appropriate.

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