Wednesday, May 17, 2017

What I Am Being Blamed for When Children Are Being Put To Sleep

Many years ago, I shared an article about how I was able to help some parents sleep better at night. It was an anecdotal story shared with me by one of my former students who is now in college living the good life. (I really am happy for you because you are living in the heart of D.C. Lucky man!)

Now that my young students have come and finished one of my many programs, I can certainly say that for many (if not all of them),  have moved on to bigger and brighter futures. Except for the case of one mother who has recently contacted me on Facebook.

To make a long story short (or bearable in this case) I was on my way to one of my private school vendors when Facebook alerts me of a message that was shared by a former client. Instead of looking away from the screen and starting my car to travel a total of two miles, I decide to read the message that - for one brief second, solidified the reason why I love what we do.

Here is the message that she wrote (I know that she might be reading this so I am deleting some of the information because - confidentiality):

I know that for some reason or another, our company has been able to help so many students. I remember working with this little man and many others like him. Like many who visit my practice, his parents decided working with us after visiting another agency for six months. This wonderful mother (a former teacher) was one that I came to respect and was happy to work with. We came up with a few changes to help him not only have the stamina to read, but showed him how to manage the world around him.

K** here. Not sure if you remember working with W********? K************* Just to let you know we have nightly arguments for him to go to bed because all he wants to do is read! Thank you so much and now that I am back teaching I recommend LR to parents.

By the way, thank you to "K" and all the other parents that I am so happy to have helped over the years. I'm grateful that you allowed us the opportunity to work with your child and bring them a newly learned skill that they will value for the rest of their lives.

If you have any questions about Learning Ridge and our approach to Orton-Gillingham, please do not hesitate to contact Christine at or you can call us at (404) 964-8533.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

JATP : The 3 Ways Atlanta Parents Choose Their Private Schools

It's not uncommon for parents to shop around during the Private School/JATP process and see what it is that they should and should not do in choosing a school. Unless you are shopping at a local Whole Foods, it is difficult for one to obtain and objective perspective on what the schools represent until you make an appointment to tour the schools personally. Parents in the Atlanta area must rely on word of mouth to determine which schools would serve their students best.

In an effort to help understand how parents "think" and make their final (or in some cases, only) choice, here are some strategies that some parents have subscribed to in preparing for this life-changing decision:

The "Cast a Wide Net" Approach 

In some circles, this is an approach that is used by families who are more concerned with the status of being in a private school than the actual private school itself. They have listened in on the various conversations that their fellow "Parent-In-Arms" are having at the playground, preschools and athletic fields to gather information freely. Once they hear of another school that was not on their radar, they add it onto their personal list, call the school the next day and sneak into the next tour before the end of the month. They are new to the private school world because they either are not from the Atlanta area or they attended public school and do not want their children to attend public school.

Pros: Somehow, one of these schools may provide a favorable response and glimmer of hope that may cause you to star in your own "School Wars" trilogy

Cons: A school may choose you because they need to fill in the numbers and it may not be the best choice for your child.

"Legacy" Approach

My practice is private and confidential, however, I can tell you that there are a number of Legacy families that I meet on a daily basis. The "Legacy Approach" (also known as the "Blind" approach) is one where the pride of a family and where one or more than one individual attended, takes precedent over the proper selection of a school with a child. It is important to keep up with traditions that are meaningful and important, but isn't that what Thanksgiving football games and the Macy's Parade is for? Knowing that Grandma and Mom went to the school is important, but times have changed and some schools have changed in their educational philosophy and have contributed some wonderful students in the global community.

Pros: Great for family pictures and maintaining a certain degree of conformity within your micro-community

Cons: Choosing or imposing a school for your child may cause more harm than good especially if your child does not feel that school is for them.

"One-Shot" Approach

This approach is taken by some families because they either know too much about one particular school through another child or family member attending the school or because they are completely enamored by that chosen school. They have played out their cards rather favorably because their children can attend the local neighborhood public school as a back up in their envious neighborhood or continue to attend their "Plan B" school that their child is currently enrolled at.

Pro: Saves you time in planning and prioritizing your school search. For the most part, you only have to schedule one of everything for this "chosen" school.

Con: This leaves nothing on the table for other schools in the search. Many schools in Atlanta are being avoided because the parent is only choosing one school. Because you are looking at one school, the pressure is insurmountable for some individuals who may not be able to handle it. (Yes, that means you might need to call on your support system when your children are in bed at 11:00pm or early in the morning at 7:00am to relieve stress). And, it might cause you to have a nervous breakdown if your application make a grievous mistake anywhere during this process.

If you would like to learn more about how Learning Ridge has helped Atlanta families through this process of choosing an Atlanta private school and obtaining a favorable response, feel free to contact Christine at or you can call me at (404) 964-8533.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Why Finding a Great Orton-Gillingham Professional in Atlanta is harder than you think..

I've worked with several parents this year that have been recommended to different Orton-Gillingham professionals before seeing me. I can't blame them for meeting with other professionals because the fact of the matter is, most people spend more time on marketing and networking than working on their clients - and as such, that is when referrals come. What makes me a little sad are the stories that I hear when they finally pick up the phone to call me.

One of my lovely clients is a wonderfully talented physician in the Metro Atlanta area. She called me out of the blue asking me questions about our program and giving me the sob story of what has (or has not) happened to her son over the course of the last year. Her son (sad to say) had worked with a provider who has a reputation for "not being nice" but has given the parents an expectation that "you don't see results until after 100 hours". Guys, this isn't losing weight without bariatric surgery, this is helping a child learn how to read in the most authentic way possible. In no way am I saying that I know everything about Orton-Gillingham. To be quite frank,  I know a great deal about cognitive development, motivation, brain processes, and other boring facts about learning and psychology that would put anyone over the age of one years old to sleep. It really pains me to share with you that I have a few books on the brain that I have tucked under my pillow that I read for fun at night.

After my client spent an entire year with the provider, she saw little to no progress. I'm not saying that this was a nine-month school year - this was 12 months of seeing the same organization over and over and for some reason, they could not teach him the basics. In comes "Learning Ridge" into the picture. They visit me on a quiet Friday afternoon. She brings her entire family to my office and little did I know, her husband is a former international educator. Before we finished the conversation and my initial impressions of what we will be doing should he start working with me, she shares her husband's notion that the first place that they went to was a "quack" and he does not feel that I will be doing anything to help make the situation any better.

This news hits me pretty tough. I'm not one to back down from an insurmountable claim. Nonetheless, I smiled and said, "You know, it's okay. Sometimes I don't believe that I'm great at what I do either. It's been hard knowing that you are capable but I guess he'll just have to wait and see." I laugh (and tear up) at the same time. Orton-Gillingham has been something that I hold really close to my heart. It has helped shape some fundamental processes and strategies that I use in my teaching and interacting with those whom I instruct and for some unknown reason, others in the industry use it as a "hook and catch" phrase to attract desperate clients.

Sorry, I digress.... After several weeks, I meet with my wonderful client and start what I was hoping, would be a key to unlock my new friend's reading ability. During that first lesson it was as if he was getting ready to catch some fish and I was there with the fishing rod and a few hooks. I provided him with the best (and least boring) lesson I could think of and suddenly, his face lit up. Letters started to click and the movement of the lesson from one concept to another started to (for once and for all) make sense. I left at the top of the hour and gave the mother some instructions/guidelines that she should consider for the next lesson.

I'm happy to say that when we met again for the second lesson, her husband became a believer. Given the fact that he was not raised in this area, he shared with his wife that for some reason or another, what I did makes sense and it works for their child. What that company attempted to do in one year I had accomplished in less than one hour.

The truth is, the power to connect at Learning Ridge is one person at a time. I know each and every one of our clients and what we do for them is life-changing and important. Teaching a child how to read or helping them attain a goal they were unable to do prior to meeting with us is life-altering. I'm proud of each and every one of their accomplishments and there's nothing better than making doubters in this life your biggest fans.

Thank you to my Learning Ridge Orton-Gillingham clients for always trusting in us. Your child's happiness and success lies in their ability to feel confident in their life and I am eternally grateful to be part of that!