Archive for Dite Bray

How can parents help with math homework they don’t understand?

Common Core Math: Where 5 lines and 4 dots equals... something.

Common Core State Standards for math

There has been a lot of discussion lately on the new Common Core State Standards for math, and how they emphasize learning the “why” behind what is going on rather than just a rote formula for solving equations. This has led to a lot of confusion as parents aren’t sure how to do this type of math, and are not sure how to help their kids with their math homework.

This is a great article from the National Center for Learning Disabilities on strategies to use when helping your child with math homework you don’t understand yourself!

I use a multisensory, Orton-Gillingham math program which helps even the most number-challenged kids *get* tricky math concepts! I myself have dyscalculia so I know what works and what doesn’t. If your child is bringing home homework that just doesn’t make any sense and you’re not able to help him or her, contact me!

Why Public Schools Struggle to Help Kids with Dyslexia

A great post from our friends over at Lexercise about why you shouldn’t wait around for your public school to diagnose and address your child’s reading problems:

I can work with kids as young as 4 who are suspected of having dyslexia. I even have 3 years of experience as a Pre-K Reading Specialist, so I know how typically-developing, gifted, and dyslexic kids learn how to read.

Summer Tutoring

Presenting the Summer Learning Menu

Now you can create your own summer tutorial or mini-camp!

This summer, Ladder Learning Services is offering you more choices than ever before so you can design a summer learning plan that fits your budget and schedule. You choose the skills to focus on, location, whether you want 1:1 or a small group, and the number of lessons you want to buy– all at a great discounted price!


Lessons/week (over 8 weeks)

Total # of Lessons

Total Cost (without travel)

cost per lesson

Total Cost (with travel)

cost per lesson

BASIC 2 16 $672 $42 $752 $47
PLUS 3 24 $912* $38 $1032* $43
PREMIUM 4 32 $1120* $35 $1280* $40
GROUP (1:2 or 1:3)** 3 24 $600 $25 $600 $25

*Can be split into two payments
**Individual lessons are 50-minutes; Group lessons are 65 minutes.
**Groups must be pre-approved children who are learning the same skills and at a similar level in those skills. We cannot do online group lessons. We may or may not be able to match your child with a group. You are welcome to put together your own group with prior approval from us.


Sign Up Now!

If you have any questions about our summer offerings for dyslexia, ADHD, reading skills, Orton-Gillingham, math skills, or grade-readiness skills, please contact Director Dite Bray at (505) 920-5218 or email ladderlearning at

How often to do tutoring?

Recently I have been contacted by several parents who want to do tutoring once/week. Their reasons for not being able to do more sessions vary, from a lack of funds, to not wanting to over work their child, to competing activities.

In the past, I have really tried to work with our students who could only come once/week. Ultimately, it has proven to be frustrating both for the child and the tutor, because they do not see enough progress being made. The child ends up falling farther and farther behind, and feels like just giving up.

Orton-Gillingham is an intensive style of tutoring, originally intended to be done 5 days per week for at least an hour. Many experts and programs advocate that twice/week tutoring is the bare minimum that will work. We have seen this first-hand over the years, and so we now only offer tutoring twice/week or more. (The only exceptions to this would be children who are at or above grade-level and who are not in danger of falling behind.)

The case for labeling

This young man with dyslexia wrote an excellent blog post about why labeling your child with dyslexia is not a bad thing! It can be very liberating and empowering. Kids know when something is “wrong” with them, but if they don’t have a label they will think the worst. This usually means they will label themselves as “stupid”. Don’t let that happen to your bright dyslexic child!

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Dyslexic Advantage Community

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Does your child’s spelling list make sense?

The spelling list your child brings home every week can tell you a lot about how they are teaching reading and spelling at his/her school. If the words are following a similar pattern, such as “bat, cat, can, lap” (short-a words) or “nation, vacation, conviction, election” (all “tion” words), then spelling is being taught as a skill that follows predictable patterns and can be learned through word-study.

However, if your child’s spelling list looks more like “autumn, apple, because, doll” and is just random words or a list of sight words that do not follow any particular pattern, then you should be concerned. Your child is being taught that spelling is random and all words must be memorized. This is not an efficient way to learn how to read and spell!

As a side-note: yes, around 10% of English words do not follow the pattern, and these must be learned by rote. But those 10% of words still all have predictable parts and only one or two letters which must be memorized! This should be pointed out to children, and studied using multisensory techniques.

Learning By Design has published this great list of Ten Things Parents Can do to Improve Spelling. I encourage you to take a look!

Free Dyslexia Screening!

I am pleased to be able to offer a free dyslexia screening to any child in Kindergarten or 1st Grade. This screener was developed by dyslexia researchers in Mississippi. It takes around 15-25 minutes to administer and will give you a range of results for different skills such as rapid naming, reading nonsense words, and spelling, which are possible indicators of dyslexia. It will also provide a score from “Low-Risk” to “High-Risk” for your child. You will get a report and can use these results to determine whether you need further testing from a psychologist or the school.

Please contact me at 505-920-5218 or santafereadingtutor at to schedule a time for your screening.

If your child is older than 1st Grade, I offer a low-cost assessment which will give you similar information; contact me for details.

confusing short e and short i sounds

Many of my students confuse the short e and short i sounds in words. This can be due to accent or vowel confusion, but it often comes out in both reading and spelling, and causes a lot of confusion. One way that we work on this is by using a speech-therapy technique known as “minimal pairs”. In this activity, the student is presented with a list of words that only differ in the vowel sound, such as “bed/bid” (they can be real or non-sense words). I provide a sheet of paper with the words printed out (usually on pastel paper, to reduce any glare for reading), and read one word from each pair at random. I have the student circle which one they heard, and we compare to see how many they got correct. Then, we switch, and they are the reader, while I see if I can get their words correct. This helps them to both be aware of how the vowel sounds and how it is produced. Many of my students improve greatly with this simple exercise!

Here is a free list of e/i words to use with your own students: short-e and short-i minimal pairs.