Leila Enrolls to College

“I am enrolling for phlebotomy class. I went to orientation and I filled out the forms for my class on my own. It was such an exciting experience for me because it was something I never dreamed I would be able to do.”


Need a miracle for your struggling child? HERE’S WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE:

We have a little project in the CommunityReading Facebook group. Leila Lewis is 42 years old and is severely dyslexic. Or has been, until now.  We have run a 3-month intensive reading intervention, and she is now a strong reader.  Last night she enrolled into a course on Phlebotomy, which will help her get a job as a blood technician.

Leila was one of those students with all the assessments and labels and accommodations and supports.  She was diagnosed with dyslexia, pulled out for weekly interventions, given extra time, etc.  She had a reader and scribe, modified curriculum and extra time.  Everything parents of dyslexic students fight for.

Except that eventually she got older and exited school. Her life has been filled with hardships and humiliations that we can’t imagine. She lives in her mom’s basement with her 16-year-old daughter. She is whip-smart and the hardest-working person I know, but she has been fired from every decent job (never ‘officially’ for dyslexia).

It’s hard to get a proper job when you can’t fill in an application form on your own.  When you can’t understand the instructions or follow the directions.  It limits you to precarious part-time, minimum-wage positions.  Leila knows all about that.  But that’s behind her now, she has become a competent reader.

When we started at the end of December, Leila was reading at a grade-1 or -2 level, using memorized words and guessing from context. We worked together every morning over Skype, 7 days a week, and recapped the lessons in our FB group for parents, explaining our techniques, and tracking her progress. In the beginning it was mostly BLENDING, then mostly Repeated Reading drills (like FLUENCY but we read from her books).  And we’d read a few pages from a book together.

It took us 6 weeks to finish our first book together – we painfully whacked through a grade-3 Goosebumps. The first day it took us 30 minutes just to read the single-paragraph on the back cover. Then we started our second book, ‘Catboy’, a grade-4 level, 2-3 pages a day. But suddenly she started reading independently.  AND SHE READ EVERY SINGLE DAY, she was relentless.

Her third book was “The City of Ember”, a grade-5 level book that uses imagery and metaphor.  She was still a painfully slow reader, and missed almost anything that wasn’t in the surface gloss.  We continued to meet on Skype 2-3 times a week to do “Repeated Reading” drills, and discuss the book.

Last week she finished Ember and started the second book of that series, “The People of Sparks”.  Her reading is smoother, her fluency is better, and her comprehension is way up.  It has been just over 3 months of reading every day.

You can scroll back through the CommunityReading Facebook group to watch her progress, to see in detail which exercises we were on, what we were doing each day.

Today Leila wouldn’t meet any of the criteria for dyslexia. She has strong phonological skills, strong decoding, etc. And of course she can read, she doesn’t need accommodations anymore.


Parents whose older children still read at grade-1 or -2 level and survive at school with accommodations should connect with Leila. Contact her on FB to ask a question, or simply post in our group. Leila will give you an earful. And mostly she will say “Start teaching your child to read, right now. Today.”


No one is going to help your older struggling child except YOU. You must find the hour-a-day of quiet time, and teach your child to read properly. Pull him out of school if necessary. If the school could help, they would already have done. Likely your struggling child is just an inconvenience to his school.

There’s no magic program to teach reading – almost any phonics program will work, if you stick to it EVERY DAY for weeks.  We offer FREE, easy-to-use tools and programs on our website.  We also recommend a superb book called Toe-by-Toe that you can order from Amazon.  You don’t need a crazy-expensive O-G program, but they work too.

We are parents, educators, volunteers, and activists building a community of strong readers. We’d like to help you with your struggling readers.  Join our Facebook group. Scroll back and see what we did.  Message Leila on FB and ask for her advice.  Stay tuned and see what we do next.  BUT NO MORE DELAY – GET STARTED WITH YOUR CHILD. TODAY.

Create your own miracle.


Posted in ReadingBlog, Summer of Repairing Dyslexia

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