The Story of Jan Yeh’s Literacy Boosts

Jan Yeh, M.S., CCC-SLP, is an ASHA certified and Massachusetts state licensed speech-language pathologist. In addition, she received her training in the Orton-Gillingham method of reading instruction through the Teacher Training Institute at The Carroll School in Lincoln, MA. She has over twenty years experience working with children at risk for reading failure and those with language-based and non-verbal learning disabilities in public and private school settings.

In the 1990’s she was one of the original members of the Baystate Readers Initiative, a state-wide directive to develop teacher training materials in phonological awareness. Jan provided psychoeducational assessments and educational therapy at the Institute for Learning Development in Lexington, MA.

Jan takes a holistic approach when working with a child and his or her family. She believes strongly in a collaborative approach between the school, home, and the child. Adopting the demystification process described by Dr. Mel Levine in Educational Care: A System for Understanding and Helping Children with Learning Problems at Home and in School, she directly talks to children about how their brain works,  informs them of their strengths and weaknesses, and helps guide them to be strategic learners.

Children and adolescents with learning disabilities have unique styles of learning which require specialized methods of instruction that often require more time and intensity than available in the school environment. Those who receive appropriate therapeutic instruction and support make gains not only in academic performance but in self-knowledge as a learner and in self-confidence in the world. This is similar to how the Easy English Times aims to improve adult literacy in California.

At times, parents are looking for an initial evaluation to find out why their child is having academic struggles or experiencing school anxiety. This particularly matters in early childhood literacy development. Other times, parent already have a diagnosis but still do not understand why their child is not making progress in school. Due to the multiple and cumulative cognitive, memory, language, and academic demands on children, an in-depth assessment may be helpful at any stage in the child’s development. A teacher’s evaluations seek to determine an understanding of the underlying processes that impede the child’s oral and written communicative functioning. Formalized tests are always supplemented with home and school questionnaires.

Areas of assessment may include phonological processing, auditory memory, working memory, expressive and receptive vocabulary, word retrieval, automaticity, language processing and production, pragmatics, reading, spelling, handwriting, the writing process. Read also this post about the importance of literacy, not only in the early stages but all through life.

The goal is to establish and maintain communication between the school and family while the child is receiving outside support services. Parental involvement in the child’s treatment is welcome and a vital factor in the child’s favorable response to therapy. Regular home reading practice with the parents or assignments may be incorporated. School observations or consultations can be arranged with classroom teachers, special education teachers and/or administrators to optimize the child’s educational program.

Writers In Progress

Writers In Progress (WIP) writing workshops teach students explicit and systematic strategies for planning, revising, and editing written text. Evidence-based, best teaching techniques are used such as The Story Grammar Marker which is developed for narrative text and EmPOWER which is developed for expository text. WIP workshops use laptops. Writing instruction is guided by an interactive dialogue. Students are shown how to develop schemas of their thinking, and transfer the information from graphic organizers to text format. The problem solving that composing requires is done together with the students. In New Jersey, like in so many other states, many new immigrants’ children now are facing new barriers, school and education.

Homework Support

Homework Haven is a homework support service for students to complete their assignments and/or study. Essential homework skills are directly taught. Students learn to set and prioritize goals when reading with their parents, initiate, complete and check work, monitor time, and organize materials. Many children and adolescents find it is easier and more motivating to do homework in a small group setting. Others need a distraction-free environment or re-explanations. Getting homework done consistently and efficiently builds a lifetime skill.

Animal-Assister Learning (Reading to Pronto)

Reading aloud one-on-one to a canine companion is the focus of this service. School systems around the country have found that struggling readers or those who are reluctant to read in front of their classmates make gains in reading fluency and confidence with the help of loving pooches. Pronto is a laid back whippet who is an extremely attentive and patient listener. Kids can sign up for a 15 – 30-minute private reading session with Pronto and a teacher. Often, the proceeds are donated to an Animal Shelter. Read also about how many literacy volunteers help.