“I have a bit of a unique background,” says tutor Joy Vrooman Sayen
. Joy’s educational and professional history is in dance and movement therapy, but when her son was diagnosed with dyslexia, she earned her certification in the Wilson Reading System and began tutoring.
"I’ve been working at a Waldorf School for the past ten years, but before my son was diagnosed with dyslexia, I was primarily helping children through movement therapy. I often worked with students who had disabilities, but my experience with dyslexia was limited. Through my son, I learned more and more about learning disabilities and developed an interest in helping him and other students with their reading struggles. When my school needed a tutor to help with reading instruction, I earned my certification in the Wilson Reading System.”
As both the parent of a child with dyslexia and a professional, Joy is able to relate to students and families on a deep level. Her son is now in college, but Joy still tutors students in the second through eighth grade, skewed toward the younger end. She says that since she began working as a tutor, she has noticed a heightened awareness and increased effort to identify children with learning disabilities earlier. “We’re trying to find students who are most likely to have reading struggles at a young age so we can begin early intervention. At the school where I work, students are given an assessment in the second grade.”
She stresses how important it is to begin multisensory language instruction, including Orton-Gillingham-based methods like the Wilson Reading System, with dyslexic students as early as possible. “All children learn in different ways, so if you address instruction from only one direction, some are bound to be missed. If you vary instruction and incorporate different senses, you’re able to tune into the distinct learning style of each child. That's where including movement therapy can also come into play as a way to help the child be at ease and be open to tutoring.”
The problem with traditional reading methods, Joy says, is that they can allow a student to scrape by without providing remediation. “Some children need to relearn the rules of reading. About 80% of English words follow rules, whereas the other 20% need to be learned by sight. For students with dyslexia, learning all those rules at once can be overwhelming. Orton-Gillingham-based methods put those rules in a progression so the child can systematically and explicitly learn them. The child masters one level of the rules before moving onto the next so they create a solid foundation to build upon. Once someone with dyslexia has a foundation of these rules, they can learn to read.”
Joy Vrooman Sayen
, MFA, MS, BC-DMT, NCC, is a board certified Dance/Movement Therapist. She also has certifications in Spacial Dynamics® Level I, as a Waldorf Educational Support/Extra Lesson Teacher, and the Wilson Reading Program® Level I. She has received related training in Sensory Integration therapy and Body-Mind Centering®. She offers dance/movement therapy and Wilson Reading and Spelling Tutoring at her Movement With Joy studio, and also is in her tenth year working at a private NJ Waldorf School. Learn more about Joy at her website, www.MovementWithJoy.com