Wichita School Helps Dyslexic Students Succeed
Dyslexia is a learning disability that affects twenty percent of people. Commonly misunderstood, dyslexia does not cause a person to see letters backward, but rather, it is the result of a person’s inability to distinguish letter sounds.
For example, a person without dyslexia will hear distinct, phonetic differences between letters like “B”, “C”, “D”, and “E” when they hear the alphabet. A person with dyslexia will only hear the hard “E” sound at the end of each of those letters, making it hard to differentiate them. In addition, those affected by dyslexia require more repetition before they retain new information. According to Dayna Hoock of Wichita’s Fundamental Learning Center, where a normal person needs about 40 repetitions, some dyslexics may require as many as 3,000.
As with any disability, dyslexia has a spectrum, and some cases can be much more profound than others. Many people life with undiagnosed dyslexia without even knowing it, while others require extensive remediation and an alphabetic phonics curriculum. These are the type of accommodations available at Rolph Literacy Academy (RLA).
Wichita is unique in that is offers a school for children with dyslexia where they can receive the instruction and resources they need to become successful readers, writers and learners.
Rolph Literacy Academy
Opening in 2014, RLA is an all-day intervention school that serves children ages 5-10 who are affected by dyslexia, with a current total enrollment of 31 students. Students with dyslexia attend RLA until they are able to read, write, and spell successfully, at which point they are able to return to the school of their parents’ choice.
RLA’s halls are lined with bright, beautiful drawings by the students.
“People with dyslexia have great artistic and creative skills, so we like to really showcase that,” Hoock said. “It’s amazing to me because our kids are using perspective and depth and color.”
At RLA, students work in groups of four or smaller. Though the staff at RLA places children with their age groups, they also take the skill level of the students into account RLA offers all of the courses a student would find in a public or private school, including science, social studies, mathematics, art, physical education, and drama in addition to reading courses. Utilizing a very hands-on method of teaching, the RLA makes learning fun for its students. Because dyslexia can lead to difficulty focusing, this method keeps students engaged, too.
Dyslexia has a math counterpart called dyscalculia that affects the way a person interprets numbers. Some people that have dyslexia also have dysgraphia, which causes illegible handwriting. The highly-trained staff at RLA are able to accommodate students that suffer in all of these areas and can help them to overcome their disabilities. With an extended language arts course and a math course each day, RLA targets the areas in which its students struggle. Other courses, like social studies and science, alternate each day.
Check Out the Rolph Literacy Academy
Overcoming the Struggle With Dyslexia
“Though students will always have dyslexia, there comes a time where things click,” Hoock said. “We’ve had success with it,” Hoock said. “We just started in 2014, and we’ve already had kids that have graduated out and are doing great.”
When students are ready to reintegrate into their regular schools, they will be able to read, write and spell without the remediation that they were receiving at FLA.
“In Kansas, dyslexia is recognized as a medical issue, but it’s not a medical issue, it’s a learning issue,” Hoock said.
Fundamental Learning Center
The RLA is a faculty of the Fundamental Learning Center (FLC), which has been operating in Wichita for 17 years. Beginning in 2001, the Fundamental Learning Center offers teacher training that educates teachers on how to work with students affected by dyslexia. Since its inception, it’s estimated that the FLC has 100,000 Kansas Children learn to read, write and spell, and that’s just the beginning. Equipped with a virtual classroom set up, the FLC has trained teachers as far away as Macedonia.