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Learning Success Stories

If your child is struggling in school, it’s easy to lose hope! But have no fear, we’re here to share a few of our learning success stories with you.

Although we have tens of thousands of these learning success stories, we could only pick a few to share. We truly hope that you enjoy reading about our students and their amazing accomplishments. And always remember, this can be your child, too!

Sophia’s Story

Age: 15
Grade: 9th – Retained in 3rd grade
Emotional State: Frightened

Sophia came to the Institute after her parents were told she would never rise above the second-grade level in reading. After the school tested her, Sophia was given an active IEP (Individualized Education Program) which meant she was placed in a special education pull out program designed to give her extra attention. But Sophia only felt isolated and singled out.

All she wanted was to be a normal kid like her friends. Every time she left the regular classroom she felt ashamed and stupid. You see, Sophia was failing in both reading and math even though her parents had hired a tutor. When presented with any academic work, Sophia just looked up and croaked, “I can’t.”

Sophia started coming to the Institute twice per week. She loved the exercises, especially the brain integration activities, because she felt more balanced after doing them. She especially liked using the Bravo! Reading System. “It’s the only thing that made sense to me,” she confided in a soft voice. “And I like reading with a dot dabber.”

After a few weeks, Sophia started sounding out words instead of guessing at them. She worked extra hard to move through three levels of Bravo! Reading and found out a huge part of her problem with reading was nothing more than trial and error learning. Once Sophia had a strategy for sounding out words, she discovered reading wasn’t so hard.

One day she came bounding in, a huge smile on her face. “I just read Looking for Alaska by John Green,” she announced with a spring to her step. “All by myself!”

For the first time in her life, Sophia felt normal. And best of all, she exuded a quiet confidence every time the teacher asked her to read out loud. No pushed back tears, no sweating bullets, and no fear.

After eighteen months, Sophia was reading at a 10th grade level and was at grade level in math. When we asked her what she liked most about coming to Harp, she said, “You taught me to read without getting embarrassed. And now I’m confident about lots of other things.” Sophia is no longer afraid and is currently a successful ninth grader who loves hanging out with her friends, going to the mall, and volunteering at the local animal shelter.

Career Aspirations:

Sophia wants to go to college and become a veterinarian.

Wyatt’s Story

Age: 9
Grade: 4th – Reading at a Kindergarten Level
Emotional State: Withdrawn

Wyatt was a quiet, withdrawn boy who came to us hanging his head. He just seemed limp. Reading was his most difficult subject, and he was significantly behind in all subjects. He was in the process of being tested for Special Education.

Although Wyatt knew letter sounds, he couldn’t blend them together to form a word, and spelling was a nightmare for him! When he tried to read, he stumbled over letters and words, his face turning beet red. Wyatt presented with indications of dyslexia, and we could see it weighed heavy on his soul.

Wyatt was very athletic and loved to play baseball. He was obsessed with the movie, “The Sandlot.” However, when asked what kind of books he liked, Wyatt muttered, “I don’t read much.”

Since Wyatt was so physical, we started him with a slew of kinesthetic activities, which made him happy. After this initial physical introduction, we launched him into the Bravo! Learning and Reading programs, which included cognitive, auditory, memory and academic work. You see, Wyatt was smart; he just needed programs that made sense to him. Wyatt loved the balance board activities best, because he was naturally good at them, and they boosted his confidence.

Wyatt started at Harp three days a week, and after only eight months, he was reading at the second-grade level. One day he strolled in and announced that he had read three baseball books! Wyatt continues to come once a week to refine his reading skills and focus on memory building, as visual and auditory memory were significantly weak for him. We have him work on spelling as well.

He is happy to get out his journal and write every day, which is a big improvement, as he simply refused to do this before!

Wyatt attacks his work with pride and confidence now. He reads words easily and can sound them out instead of guessing at them. He continues to be physically gifted and is proud of his baseball accomplishments as well as his academic achievements.

Career Aspirations:
Wyatt strives to be a professional baseball player.

Xavier’s Story

Age: 5
Grade: Kindergarten – High Functioning Autism
Emotional State: Unfocused and Tense

Xavier came to the Institute in bad emotional shape. Although he went to a private school that worked hard at meeting his needs, Xavier was so busy that he kept getting in trouble. He had been expelled several times, as once Xavier got wound up, not much could calm him down. His parents were thinking of medicating him, although it went against their moral beliefs. They were desperate for help.

Xavier was bright and knew all letters and sounds. He could already blend letters together to form words, but he struggled to hold a pencil in his little hand! He avoided writing, coloring, and puzzles at all costs, often throwing himself onto the floor and having a tantrum if asked to write even a single letter.

We immediately put Xavier on the Bravo! Behavior Booster Plan, choosing just two tasks for optimal success, which helped right away. He loved it when we marked off a task box, and we celebrated with him every time he got a reward.

Xavier responded to games of any kind, and the visual motor integration games that are part of Bravo! helped with his motor skills development, something he was significantly weak in. He also enjoyed exercises on the big ball, which strengthened his core.

We then placed Xavier in our Dyslexia ABC Workbook, and it was magic for him! Using a dot dabber to write made sense to this little guy, and after two months, we were able to introduce writing with an iPad and Apple Pencil! He was enamored with these “gimmicks” and we got him to do his spatial exercises by letting him choose the pen’s color tip for each skill. Before long, he was happily holding a real pencil and writing letters without a single fit.

Xavier has just been promoted to the first grade and is reading at the second-grade level. He can write a rudimentary sentence and his handwriting is legible. He finished his kindergarten school year without one expulsion, and his school was happy to adapt their program to meet his needs, instituting the Bravo! Behavior Booster task sheets as well. Xavier’s future is bright, and his parents are exuberant that their little boy didn’t need medication.

Career Aspirations:
Xavier wants to be a giraffe when he grows up.

Zoe’s Story

Age: 6
Grade: 1st – Special Education Special Day Class
Emotional State: Confused

Zoe’s parents came to the Institute, worried and scared about their daughter’s future. You see, Zoe was failing to learn and thrive. The best the public school she attended could offer was a safe place for her to spend her days.

All subjects were difficult for Zoe, and she struggled with proper speech development. She loved mermaids and unicorns, but couldn’t say either word clearly. She went to Speech Therapy two times a week for thirty minutes, but it wasn’t helping much. Zoe’s parents explained that she was once an animated toddler but when they enrolled her in kindergarten, she slowly “disappeared” from them.

We suggested home schooling or switching schools to help Zoe gain confidence. Although not all families can do this, Zoe’s family did a little juggling and they were happy to announce that after just a few weeks of homeschooling, they were seeing a glimmer of their daughter return. We performed our Bravo! testing on Zoe to discover she was terribly weak in auditory processing skills.

Zoe loved it when we had her perform auditory skills exercises while playing with kinetic sand or jumping on the mini tramp. She also benefited from our brain integration exercises. One day, Zoe’s mother proudly told us that her speech teacher called to see what was going on, because Zoe was suddenly making progress.

Slowly, Zoe came around, and the day she strung three letters together to sound out a word, we cheered while her mom sniffed back happy tears.

After two years, Zoe is back at her public school and performing at grade level in all areas except math. She continues to go to Special Education classes, but she has been exited from Special Day Class and placed in mainstream education. Her parents are pushing to exit her from the IEP completely. Their biggest happiness is that Zoe has found her voice, although they claim there are times they really wonder what kind of verbal monster they created.

Career Aspirations:

Zoe wants to be a fantasy writer, and we have no doubt she’ll make it!

Alejandro’s Story

Age: 12
Grade: 7th – Performing at the 4th Grade Level
Emotional State: Angry

Alejandro’s mother brought him to Harp hoping we could help turn her son around. He had become stiff, quiet, and unreachable. Although he’d once been enamored with beatboxing and hip hop, he rarely even broke out his headphones anymore. She was worried he was depressed and didn’t know how to help him.

Alejandro was indeed a talented beatboxer and talked about a hundred miles a minute, but lately, he’d been tight-lipped. His smile had all but vanished. Reading was his hardest subject, and he often reversed letters and words while writing. Math had always been easy for him, but he was failing that subject as well. He had one C, two D’s, and three F’s on his report card.

“Dyslexia runs in our family, and I’m afraid Alejandro inherited it,” his mom grieved. “For some reason, he doesn’t qualify for special help at school.”

Alejandro spent most lunch periods in school detention for not completing work, and he recently, he’d quit asking friends to hang out on the weekends.

We first found a common ground with Alejandro, allowing him to listen to some hip hop music while he performed simple physical exercises that connected his body with his brain. At first, he refused, but one day we coaxed him to do Magic Eights, and a grin crept onto his face as he moved the dot dabber in a lopsided eight figure.

Gradually, Alejandro came around and we were able to help him with reversals issues as well as perfect his reading skills. We discovered that he was right-brain dominant, and our visual/cognitive system helped him learn to “see” images correctly. He especially loved “reading while moving”, something he thought he should have had in kindergarten.

Alejandro has made the honor roll three times now and is back to having beatboxing battles with his friends. He is even composing some music on his own. He walks with a bounce to his step again, and although he still doesn’t love to read, he’s able to read for meaning and pass tests with ease.

“Thank you, Harp Learning Institute, for giving me my son back,” his mom said, a huge grin on her face. “I know Alejandro can be whatever he wants to be now.”

Career Aspirations

Of course, Alejandro wants to be a musician.