Learning Center Teaches Unique Skills To Dyslexic Children

Reporter: Shannon Samson

New Media Producer: Kerry Corum

A local learning center has become so popular that 35 children are on the waiting list to get in. Dyslexia isn't just a disorder where people read words backwards. The term can encompass many different kinds of reading disabilities. At the Masonic Reading Center, tutors teach students to decode a single word and then build upon that until they're reading with confidence. Sounding out words and letters is a piece of cake for seventh grader Mariana Berseth now, but that wasn't always the case. In elementary school, testing revealed Mariana has dyslexia. She says, "I remember getting so mad for a while, because I just felt really stupid."

The disorder seems to be linked to the brain's circuitry. During reading a normal brain is typically stimulated in the center and back, with some front-brain activity. But with dyslexia, areas in the center and back are under-stimulated, while a front-brain area is over-stimulated. The result, says Learning Center Director Tammy Cole, "Not separating the words in the proper places or then putting things out of order, but it isn't always that. Sometimes it's just a matter of not understanding sounds and just saying whatever they have memorized."

Many kids get through school memorizing words, but never comprehending the sounds made by the letters. To turn that around, the 32nd Degree Masonic Learning Center has a five level program where students learn to sound out words in physical ways. Cole explains, "Using your hands to learn the sound of a letter, using your ears to hear a sound."

It's working for Mariana who used to shy away from reading. Not anymore. "I'm pretty much reading as much as I possibly can."

The Masons are able to provide this tutoring service free to children thanks to the money raised at event's like the one next month. It's a fun fair with food, games and prizes set for Saturday May 22nd at noon at the Masonic Learning Center in downtown Evansville. Admission is free.

To make a donation or if you have questions, please call 1-877-861-0528.