Two of my three children have dyslexia. Because learning to read came easily to me, this has been a huge challenge in our homeschool. I was a voracious reader by third grade.
I read to each of my kids from the time they were infants. We went to Story Time at the library while they were still in strollers. Mountains of books were always accessible to them. We did all the “right” things.
I never expected any of them to struggle with reading.
While the bulk of Brianna’s struggles were overcome with intensive phonics instruction during her second and third grade year, nothing seemed to click with Josh.
I was thrilled to discover Lexercise earlier this year and to be able to bring you our first Lexercise review, which focused on their online dyslexia assessment. To finally have an official diagnosis and a plan of action was such a relief. An even bigger relief was getting Josh started with their online dyslexia treatment program in July. (They also offer therapy for dysgraphia.)
Working with the Lexercise Clinical Educators
I know a lot of homeschooling parents are a little apprehensive about working with people outside the homeschooling community. There is a fear of judgment or condescension. I have never, ever felt that way with Josh’s clinician, Tori.
From our very first conversation, she told me that when she worked in the public school system she had always worked closely with the classroom teacher to customize each student’s therapy. She told me that she considered me to be Josh’s classroom teacher and that, as his mother, she recognized that I knew Josh better than anyone.
She let me know that she was willing to work closely with me to tailor Josh’s therapy sessions to meet his unique needs. She has always treated me as a colleague and the authority on my son’s strengths, weaknesses, and learning style.
Tori has often let the concepts we’re studying with our spelling program guide those covered in Josh’s therapy sessions and has freely shared resources and suggestions with me. We’ve incorporated several of those tools and ideas into our school day, which means that all of my children are benefitting, not just Josh.
I have been thrilled with Josh’s progress! Tori admitted to me recently that she was not sure, at first, with how quickly Josh would progress due to his age and the fact that he had already experienced such frustration with reading, but she’s been as impressed as I’ve been with his progress.
We’ve both seen improvements in Josh’s reading level, his spelling, and his overall confidence. He’s noticed, too. Additionally, Josh’s engagement with Tori has been exciting for me to see.
I was worried that he would be really resistant to the whole process (the “extra work” involved), but Tori has worked really hard to incorporate things that interest Josh and he has responded well to that. As just one example, in yesterday’s therapy session, she’d searched around and found photos of blacksmiths for Josh to write about during the sentence structure portion of the lesson because he’s so obsessed with that right now.
It’s really cool to me to see how he interacts with Tori. He’s so relaxed when he’s online with her. He cuts up and jokes with her, which tells me that he’s comfortable with her. I love that because his attitude about his therapy sessions has a direct correlation to their effectiveness.
Lexercise Online Dyslexia Therapy
The online therapy process is pretty simple. Josh meets with Tori online once a week for about 45 minutes. They use Adobe Connect and Skype. With Adobe Connect, Tori can screen share with Josh. He can see the slide presentations that she’s using and either of them can control the screen as needed.
This means that Josh can do things like use the pen tool to write out spelling words, or he can write them on paper on hold them up so that Tori can see them with the webcam. Tori can type out words or phrases that Josh dictates so that they can work on creating more complex sentence structures.
The therapy sessions focus on concepts such as:
- Syllable types
- Sound/symbol correspondence
- Explicit spelling instruction
- Reading fluency and comprehension
- Parts of speech
- Sentence structure
I have noticed marked improvement in Josh’s reading fluency and comprehension and his spelling. As we resume school after our fall break next week, I’m going to begin incorporating the sentence structure techniques that Tori has been using with Josh to see if we can start building the complexity of his sentences.
A huge benefit of the Lexercise therapy is that it’s all done online. We don’t have to drive anywhere, so we don’t have to worry about getting everyone dressed, ready, and out of the house by a certain time.
It also means that Josh is relaxed. He’s in a comfortable environment…and he can even have a little help from Gus, the cat, if needed.
I can work with my girls on other things while Josh is doing his therapy…or use his therapy time as an excuse to site and relax for awhile while I observe what he and Tori are working on.
Lexercise Online Practice Games
In addition to the weekly therapy sessions, Josh has daily online practice games. The games were created based on the Orton-Gillingham principals and focus on the areas of:
- Phonemic awareness
- Word recognition
- Vocabulary comprehension
The interactive games are set up so that the student can play them completely independently. Tori sets up the content of the games each week after their weekly online therapy session so that Josh is practicing the concepts that he worked on during his weekly session.
The games only take about 15 minutes per day. At the end of each practice game session, I get an email with Josh’s error words and a link to the Lexercise site with a detailed explanation of how to practice those words and concepts with Josh.
Each game is timed and the student gets bonus points if he beats his previous high score, so he’s always trying to improve on his own best efforts. At the suggestion of the folks at Lexercise (because I had expressed my concern that he might be resistant to playing the games), we set up a reward system for Josh based on the points he earns. Josh earns $5 for every 10,000 points, which generally take about two weeks to earn.
He actually hasn’t complained about the games too much. It’s only been recently that he’s fussed a bit. That’s because he has to complete his therapy and practice games even when we’re on a school break so that he doesn’t lose any momentum. He only grumbles a little, though, because he’s honest enough to admit that they don’t take much time.
Over the last few months, I have told so many people, if you suspect your child may have dyslexia, I strongly urge you to have them take the free dyslexia screener. It’s not some scam where every kid who takes it is flagged for needing the full evaluation.
I wish we had done this years ago. It would have saved us so much time, tears, and frustration. Josh is finally getting the kind of personalized, one-on-one help that I didn’t have the knowledge or training to give him. He’s finally making progress. I just wish we’d found out about Lexercise sooner.
If you’d like to see how another homeschooling family is faring with Lexercise, visit Maureen at Spell Outloud. We’ll both be updating again at six months, so keep an eye out for our next full review in January 2013.
I was privileged to receive this service at a discounted rate in exchange for advertising space and writing a review, but I would gladly have paid full price for it. I received no other compensation for this review, nor was I required to post a positive review. The opinions expressed are my personal, honest opinions. Your experience may vary. Please read my full disclosure policy for more details.
Kris Bales is a newly-retired homeschool mom and the quirky, Christ-following, painfully honest founder (and former owner) of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She has a pretty serious addiction to sweet tea and Words with Friends. Kris and her husband of over 30 years are parents to three amazing homeschool grads. They share their home with three dogs, two cats, a ball python, a bearded dragon, and seven birds.