WOODSON BRANCH NATURE SCHOOL EXPANDS LITERACY PROGRAM WITH DYSLEXIA SUPPORT

Marshall, NC May 20, 2020:

Experts estimate that one in five students has some form of dyslexia, making it the most common learning disability. To meet the needs of their student population, Woodson Branch Nature School, a 501(c)3 independent school located in Marshall NC, expanded its literacy program this year to better support dyslexic students through an evidence-based remediation program called the Orton Gillingham Approach.

Dyslexia is a neurological disorder that makes reading, writing, and spelling especially difficult. It is not a sign of low intelligence but simply a learning difference. The Orton Gillingham Approach, which was pioneered over eighty years ago by a neuropsychiatrist and an educator, has become a mainstay in the world of dyslexia education. Using kinesthetic, visual, and auditory techniques, Orton Gillingham teachers instruct students in one-on-one and small group phonics lessons, which serve as a supplement to the students’ regular classwork.

The goal of this multisensory approach is to teach the connections between sounds and letters to students who are unable to learn this skill in a conventional classroom. “Multisensory learning is important for all children, but those with dyslexia need this support at every step of the learning process,” said Lauren Yero, a WBNS literacy teacher who completed coursework in the Orton Gillingham Approach last year. “Across all age groups, teachers at WBNS have students in their groups who need extra literacy support, and last year, through a generous gift from one of our families, we were able to expand our school’s resources to better support these children.

MRI scans have shown that individuals with dyslexia process tasks like reading and writing in parts of the brain not typically associated with language, meaning that it takes longer to process this information and can result in errors like skipped words or letters and sounds that don’t match up. The disorder may also lead to negative or anxious emotions about school.

Students with dyslexia often find it difficult to follow instructions and have trouble staying on task. This can lead to high levels of frustration and anxiety at school,” Yero said. “While WBNS isn’t able to formally diagnose dyslexia, we can identify some of the warning signs and explain to families why we believe their child might benefit from the extra supports that we now offer.

Our OG progress reports can also help families decide whether to seek out a formal diagnosis,” Yero added. In the coming year, the school hopes to expand their resources to include more teacher training sessions as well as workshops for families who wish to further support their child’s literacy at home. “Building a bridge between literacy at home and at school can be really empowering, both for students and for their families. We’re excited to soon be able to share some of the activities and resources we use in the classroom with our families so they can try them out at home.

Woodson Branch Nature School, a farm, art, and forest school for pre-K through 8th grade, teaches traditional and non-traditional subjects in rural Madison County. Students have access to an abundant campus with a well-established blueberry orchard, apple trees, pastures, a tobacco barn, trails, creeks, and multiple waterfalls that serve as the property border to the National Forest. To learn more visit www.madisoncclc.org


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