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MARCH/APRIL 2012

Lindamood-Bell Changes Children’s Lives
By Jennifer MacGregor

Lindamood-Bell is now celebrating twenty-five years of success in fifty centers including London and Sydney helping young people overcome reading and language problems. Founded by a speech-language pathologist Patricia Lindamood and a Harvard trained reading specialist, Nanci Bell, the huge success of the process can be seen here in New York City at their center in mid-town Manhattan.

At a recent open house for the Lindamood-Bell Learning Processes center, parents listened intently to a presentation by Tom Mariani, the center director, who described the incredible strides children have been able to make in their reading and math skills after tutoring at the center.

Students work one-on-one with a tutor for each of the two sessions they attend after school. One student, Dylan, worked with his tutor on building the mental imagery he associates with a bunch of words. His tutor showed the words he could process fast and those he needed to work on. The tutor and student have 55 minutes together of one-on-one time.

Jennifer Egan, the northeast regional director including New York City, explained the diagnostic evaluation process. Each student is evaluated in an individual room.

Mariani described the sensory-cognitive factors that go into decoding language. When these processes aren’t working properly in children, they have trouble reading; they can also be identified and stimulated to aid in the reading process.

The first one is phonemic awareness, which is the ability to perceive the identity, number and sequence of sounds within words. Symbol imagery is the ability to perceive and create an image of sounds and letters within words. Another factor is concept imagery, which is the ability to create an imagined whole of what was read.

At the center, the staff evaluates the cognitive functions that are strong and those that need improvement. The summer tutoring sessions are intense — they run for four hours a day, five days a week.

Parents can expect weekly reports detailing their child’s progress, as well as a reevaluation after the program has concluded. Mariani also emphasized that they will show parents what they can do at home to continue their child’s progress.

Mariani said that students receive plenty of encouragement and positive reinforcement during the sessions. The center uses a nonverbal reward system to keep their students motivated. They can earn prizes for filling up cards with stars and can choose a prize from a toy chest for getting enough stars.

During our visit, students of all ages were studying one-on-one with their tutors, focused and learning in a relaxed, nurturing environment.#

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