Archive for Early Learning

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

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.

How to tell if a student is reading by sight or phonics

Kids who have been taught whole language methods often read quite well when given high-frequency words, yet struggle with words that have the exact same patterns but are not on the Dolch or Fry lists. Why? Because they have been taught to memorize, not generalize.

Here is a quick, simple test to see if your student is reading based on memorization, or is actually decoding the words:

Have them read both the first and 2nd sentence. The first sentence has only Primer sight words (ie, high frequency words). The 2nd has words that have similar phonics patterns but are not sight words. If they read the first sentence quickly but the 2nd slowly and make errors then they are using their memory, not phonics knowledge, to read. If they read both sentences equally well, they are doing well with sounding out the words and using their phonics patterns.

E. G. Johnson’s 2-Sentence Reading Test (thanks to Don Potter for sharing this on the SpellTalk listserv)

1. Mother will not like me to play games in my big red hat.

2. Mike fed some nuts and figs to his tame rat.