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How to Avoid Summer School – Antonio’s Story

Written By Geoff Nixon . March 11, 2021

by Danielle Meaney & Geoffrey Nixon

A Good Work Ethic Was Not Enough

Antonio was a 2nd grade student struggling to meet expectations in school, even though he is a hard worker.  He struggled in class and had a hard time paying attention – including having an ADD diagnosis.  One classic symptom was difficulty following multi-step instructions.

To make matters worse, Antonio had a sister who was a natural reader.  And so naturally, the fact his hard work was not getting results was frustrating and he had become extremely discouraged.

Hearing Problems Early On

Antonio received services from the Maryland state Birth to Three program, for his hearing and speech difficulties.  He was a hard worker and was able to make enough progress that he was on the cusp of qualifying for services once he entered school, but never did qualify.

However, once in school he struggled, particularly in learning to read – his decoding was labored and he was reversing letters, a classic symptom of reading difficulties at an early age.  At his 1st grade midyear conference,  Antonio’s teachers expressed they did not feel he would be ready to move on and recommended summer school and/or repeating 1st grade.

Antonio wanted to avoid summer school.

Enter Gemm Learning

It turns out Antonio’s school used Fast ForWord, Gemm Learning’s primary learning and reading intervention, but not in a disciplined way.  Antonio’s mother was intrigued by Fast ForWord and so decided to do more research on it.

She found Gemm Learning through an internet search and decided it would be a good program to implement at home.

There were many days that were a challenge for Antonio as Fast ForWord was getting to the heart of his cognitive and learning skill delays –  attentiveness, processing letter sounds, sequencing and reading fluency.  But once he got into a routine, he found that he was progressing –  because the program is adaptive – which he found satisfying, doing well in something academic where he doesn’t often do well.

That provided him with a sense of control in a situation where he did not feel he had any. It gave him independence, confidence and the responsibility to do well which he relished. Being accountable for his own work and doing well was great for Antonio’s self-esteem.

A New Antonio

After the first few months of consistently working on Fast ForWord, Antonio was no longer recommended for summer school.

All of his test scores rose to meet the expectations of the school, there was no longer any talk of holding him back!

He is now a better reader, more patient with new material and his fluency has improved tremendously!

(Name changed to protect privacy.)

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