- Education and Science
A Tutor's Experience of Lindamood-Bell Learning Processes Summer Program
Help for Children Struggling with Reading, Comprehension and Math
Does your child struggle with reading, comprehension, spelling or math? If so, you have probably done a lot of research into the best ways to help your child. In your research you might have come across the Lindamood-Bell Learning Processes website. The company was started in the 1960s by Pat Lindamood and Nanci Bell, teachers and researchers in the areas of reading and comprehension. Over the past decades, Lindamood-Bell-trained tutors have helped thousands of children improve their reading, comprehension and math, and gain confidence as a result of success in school. Unfortunately, Lindamood-Bell tutoring runs at $90/hour or more, making it a huge commitment to enroll your child in the program.
How Does the Lindamood-Bell Method Work? Adressing Dyslexia and Hyperlexia.
Every child is different, and has different strengths when it comes to school. Some kids are math whizzes but hate to read. Some kids can read words well, but have trouble remembering information. Some kids have trouble in all areas of reading and math, and are understandably frustrated. They might say things like "I'm stupid," or "I hate school." Frantic parents would do almost anything to help a struggling child, but not all methods work for all children. Trying program after program only creates more frustration and a sense of failure for the parent and the child.
There are a few key elements of reading that are critical to success, so if only one part of the equation is present, reading will be a struggle.
The first aspect of reading that is taught to children is word attack. Word attack is another way to talk about sounding out words. In order to successfully read words, children must be able to distinguish between s-p-o-i-l and s-p-o-u-t, for example. In English, "o-i" makes the sound "oy," and "ou" makes the sound "ow." Imagine trying to read without knowing the difference! Lindamood-Bell tutoring sessions aim to make reading words automatic by practicing word attack in a very specific way. LMB's "Seeing Stars" program is designed to improve word attack skills. Children also learn to identify "sight words" during the Seeing Stars program. Sight words are words that "do not play fair" - that is, they do not follow the rules of the English language. "What" is an example of a sight word, because if you tried to sound out every letter in the word "what," you would come up with the nonsense word "whhat." Once children have a bountiful supply of sight words that they can identify instantly, reading becomes significantly less labored.
Word attack is not the only skill necessary for reading, though. Lindamood-Bell also helps children with comprehension - that is, understanding the words that they read. In the "Visualizing and Verbalizing" program, students improve their concept imagery, which is a fancy way to say that the children learn to create images or movies of what they are reading. As fluent readers ourselves, it's hard to imagine what it would be like to be able to accurately read words, but have no idea what those words are telling us. In some ways, problems with concept imagery are even more frustrating than having poor word attack skills, because children feel like they should be able to comprehend if they are able to read the words.
"On Cloud Nine" is the math equivalent of "Seeing Stars." Lots of parents enroll their children in OC9 because they know that if their child is having trouble with math in the third grade, he or she is almost certainly not going to be miraculously able to handle fourth grade math. As with reading, math difficulties tend to snowball as children progress through the grades.
The Downside: High Price of Lindamood-Bell Instruction
As life-changing as Lindamood-Bell is for many children, the truth is that Lindamood-Bell instruction is very expensive. Many learning centers charge as much as $95 per hour, and the recommendation is often for daily tutoring (1-2 hours after school) or an intensive summer session of 4 hours a day for anywhere from 2-12 weeks. At a cost of $360 a day for summer tutoring, is it really worth it? There is no doubt that such a commitment is a huge financial strain for almost all families, and the decision to invest in such a program is not an easy decision.
Please Share Your Experiences with Reading and Math Tutors!
As a Lindamood-Bell tutor myself, I see inspiring changes in children every day. Teaching there is a very rewarding experience, and I love to see shy, tentative children leave with an abundance of confidence. Unfortunately, Lindamood-Bell is not a magic cure for all children. Kids with attention or other behavior problems may have trouble focusing enough to make the tutoring worthwhile. If your child will have trouble sitting still, concentrating, and behaving for a full hour, two hours, or four hours (the length of a summer session day), then I would advise you to ask for a trial period of a week or two to see if the commitment will be manageable for you and your child.
How about you? Have you ever sought tutoring for your child, either through Lindamood-Bell, another learning center, or a private tutor? What's worked, and what hasn't? Was the tutoring worth the money? I would love to see this hub become a resource for parents who are trying to decide how to help their children. The financial and emotional commitment to yet another program can be draining and frightening, so let's help each other out!