Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Why Do We Love What We Do?

At the end of a student's journey with Langsford, students often write us letters about their experience here. We love letters like this:

"Dear Langsford Staff,                                            
While I have been at Langsford I have learned how to read more smoothly and write better. My reading hours have helped me with sounding out words, how to spell them correctly, checking the spelling, and many other things. My writing hours helped me with punctuation and finding synonyms of words, instead of using the same words over and over again. It has also helped me with knowing how to write a great, short main idea, visualize, plan and not loop back to the same ideas. You all have helped me find what I need to watch for when reading and writing in the future.


Thank you for the kind letter, Cami!


Tuesday, January 17, 2017



I know you think you understand what you thought I said,
but I'm not sure that what you heard is what I actually meant!

Have you ever been on either end of this scenario? It is frustrating for both parties. Language comprehension is essential for one to communicate effectively with others. A person must be able to not only receptively understand language, but to also be able to use his or her expressive vocabulary to effectively convey that information to others.

Surprisingly, one can be highly intelligent and still have difficulty with language comprehension. At Langsford Learning Acceleration Centers, our experience in teaching reading over the last 25 years has been that many who are struggling to comprehend are simply lacking the foundational skills necessary for good comprehension.

Research indicates that people with good comprehension utilize concept imagery to facilitate understanding. Simply put, they make mental movies in their head when reading or listening.

Have you ever tried to put together a bookcase or a child's bicycle? Did you find the diagrams that accompanied the directions to be of more help than the written directions? That's because the diagrams helped your brain to see the relationships between the pieces and how they would work together as a whole. Concept imagery is very much like this.

Clients who we tutor in comprehension at Langsford do systematic work to develop their imaging skills, starting with a simple sentence and building up to multi-page units of material. Once they have the information pictured in their minds, they practice recalling and verbalizing it in a clear and concise manner. Emphasis is also placed on determining the main idea and important details, as well as on developing higher order thinking skills (such as making inferences, drawing conclusions, or making evaluations of material).

Many people make mental movies in their minds naturally and without prompting. For those that don't or those who do not do it efficiently, structured practice to develop their concept imagery and verbalizing skills can make both school and interaction with others easier and less frustrating.

In conclusion,
I hope that what you read and what you think I said
matches what I actually said and what I meant to say!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Reading Problem or Comprehension Problem?

"Why Can't I get this?"

Oftentimes there is some confusion about the underlying cause of a student's academic problems. They are often associated with reading, but reading is not a single process and, when we talk about reading, we could be meaning different things. The end goal of reading is, of course, comprehension of the material. But poor reading comprehension is not necessarily the result of a weakness in one's language comprehension skills.

Reading comprehension can only occur when other factors related to the reading process are in place. It is dependent on a student's phonemic awareness skills, knowledge of phonics, word attack skills, and the fluency of their reading being efficient and automatic.

When a reader is struggling or unable to decode words in a text, or he or she is just inefficient in doing so, the result is that they are putting most of their energy into the process of decoding and are not as focused on determining what the text is actually saying.

It is also hard to understand what you are reading when you are not a fluent reader. When your reading is slow and choppy, perhaps lacking in expression, it is more difficult to glean meaning from what you have read.

Parents frequently think or are told by their child's teacher or tutor that they have a comprehension problem, when, in fact, it is actually a problem within the mechanics of their reading. This is related to people erroneously believing that if a student cannot answer questions about what he or she has read that it must be due to a weakness in their basic comprehension skills.

Conversely, some students are perceived to be poor readers because they are unable to answer questions about what they read. In this instance, the false assumption is that if a student is a good reader they will be able to answer questions about a text, and precludes the possibility that the incorrect responses were due to under-developed or inefficient language comprehension strategies.

The confusion around these areas is why we, at Langsford Learning Acceleration Centers, do a comprehensive evaluation of all areas of the reading process to determine the precise needs of any given student. We want the family to have clarity on what underpinnings are not in place and what area or areas need to be addressed for their child to perform optimally academically.

So remember: Reading and reading comprehension are two different, but related, entities. Both areas should be evaluated and considered when looking into whether a student has a "reading problem."

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Holiday Thank You Notes-- As Easy As 1-2-3

Some traditions or acts of etiquette should never go out of style.  Alas, in this day of instant gratification, email and texting, writing thank you letters seems to have fallen out of vogue.

But who doesn't like to see a handwritten thank you note show up in the mail?

Encourage your kids to write thank you notes to Aunt Jane for that adorable sweater and Uncle Pete for those drums.  During the holiday break, after the festivities have passed and when the kids are becoming restless, bring out the markers or crayons, some pretty paper and envelopes, and have your kids make you proud.  They may even have fun doing it!


Start note with:

Dear __________, (Insert name of gift-giver)

Come up with three clever sentences:

Sentence 1:  Thank you sooooo much for the ___________. (Insert name of gift)

Sentence 2:  It is ________________________. (insert your initial impression of gift: beautiful, adorable, just what I wanted/needed)

Sentence 3:  I will (or it will) ______________________. (insert why you like it or how it will be useful: I will think of you every time I wear it/ it will keep me warm this winter)

End note with a nice closing:

love, sincerely, yours truly,

Sign name!

It's as simple as that.  Some pretty artwork to finish it off makes the task fun and lands the note in Aunt Jane's drawer of keepsakes.  :)


Monday, December 12, 2016

Getting Kids to Write

How can a child who can talk your arm off transform into a whining, crying, complaining, about-to-go-into-the-fetal-position mess when given a writing assignment?  What's so hard about writing?

Most kids who say they don't like to write say that because they don't think they are good at it.  Given praise and positive feedback, many reluctant writers will blossom into authors.  The key is giving them the tools they need to get their thoughts on paper, and then lots of encouragement with a focus on what they did right!

Heather Radar talks about using "wows and wonders" to encourage kids to write in her article "Coaching Reluctant Writers" for ChoiceLiteracy (click here to read). Wows for, "Wow, this part is great," and wonders for "hmmmmm......I wonder what you could do to make this part even better?"

Everyone likes to do things they feel proficient at and a little praise can go a long way in getting your child to write more.  But the praise needs to be specific.  Tell them exactly what you think is good and why it is.  Then, instead of saying, "This part isn't very good. You should change it," guide them gently to a revision by saying something like, "Gee, this is so good, but you do seem to say he said over and over.  I wonder if there are other words you could use that mean the same thing as said that might make your story more interesting?"

Who knows?  Maybe your child will be a published author some day, thanks to your encouragement!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

An Important Step in the Writing Process

Visualizing, or imaging.....We do it all the time!  
 Both are terms referring to the act of making mental pictures in your mind.

We are visualizing when we read a book 
and picture the characters and events.  

We are visualizing when we listen to oral directions
and see what we need to do in our minds.  

We are visualizing when we daydream 
and fantasize about our upcoming vacation 
or what we want for Christmas this year. 

 Most of this imaging is so automatic that we are hardly aware of it.  Bringing it to a level of consciousness, however, can allow us to use the skill in a variety of ways you may not have thought about.  For example--writing!!

Has your child ever sat staring at a blank sheet of paper 
and complained about not knowing what to write? 

 Visualizing what you plan to write is actually one of the most important steps of the writing process.  If you can clearly see in your mind's eye a scene or event, you will be better able to write about it.  The more detail you have in your imagery, the more descriptive your writing can become.  You just have to think about what you see and put it into words on the paper.

The next time your child is having difficulty with writing, encourage them to visualize the topic and then incorporate those images into their work.  They should include colors, shape, size, and other details they imagine.  This simple yet often overlooked step can help your child to become a better writer and make the whole process easier and more enjoyable!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Kindergarten Enrichment

Our Kindergarten Enrichment Workshop is a fun way to nurture the joy of reading!

This is small group instruction in building phonemic awareness, sounding out words, and fostering independent thinking.  Students need to know all of their letters and sounds, and be able to write their letters.

Our instruction is hands-on, interactive, and fun!

We offer this workshop every Wednesday from 4:30 to 5:30 pm.  Enrollment is for a 12 week block. You can enroll your child at any time!

To enroll, click here.