L.A. School Scout
This week, L.A. School Scout is pleased to have an article from Sasha Borenstein, founder and director of The Kelter Center, on a topic of interest to many of you: 
Recognizing Learning Challenges without Diagnostic Labels
No one is equally skilled at learning all subjects in school – when I was in school, reading and spelling came easily, but I struggled with mathematics.  I could get by because I was a good memorizer, however, I was following the steps to the recipes of multiplying and dividing fractions – not really understanding why I was doing the steps.

I felt nervous and embarrassed in math class, I knew what my 7th grade math teacher’s shoes looked like because I seldom looked up – if you make eye contact with the teacher, you will get called upon to answer a question.
My parents probably heard that I was “lazy” and “not trying hard enough” and “not participating actively in class discussions”.
I did very well in all my other classes and my struggles in mathematics were not evident to my other teachers, yet to this day I have to think carefully and work slowly at mathematics.
Could I have been labeled “dyscalculia”? No.  Did I struggle in mathematics? Yes.  Did those struggles affect my academic self-esteem? Yes. 
How can your recognize when academic struggles, not disabilities are happening for your child?
Here are some of the things you might see or hear if your child is struggling –

               “This is boring!”                         “It’s unfair to get so much homework!”
               “I hate to read!”                          “Why do I need to do homework anyway?”
               “I’m just not a natural at math”
  • If a student does not understand spelling they may get 100% on their test each Friday and misspell the same words the next week or when they are writing a paragraph.
  • When reading aloud, your daughter may misread a word – she correctly reads the beginning letters and guesses at the rest of the word.
  • Your son may read a page in his book, but is not able to retell or summarize what he read.
  • Your daughter may be able to answer questions about what she read by retelling the exact words on the page, but she can’t answer “why” or “what if” questions about the information.
  • When your son explains his ideas aloud, he uses rich, varied, technical vocabulary, but when he writes, because he is unsure how to spell the words, he uses simple words.
Again, let’s go back to the idea of everyone can’t be an expert at every school subject.  We have to ask, “How deep, how wide are these difficulties, how much do inefficient learning skills affect you son’s or daughter’s ability to complete school assignments and feel competent as a learner?”
At The Kelter Center, we carefully assess each learner’s unique set of learning skills, we ask the student to think aloud so we can hear and see where their thinking goes awry, is only slight off the mark, or is accurate.  We develop specific teaching protocols for each student and then work at his or her pace to strengthen the inefficient skills.  We work as quickly or as slowly as each student’s learning pace warrants.  We create lessons that are challenging, yet attainable.  Each student works individually with one educator. The partnership in learning is critical to each student’s success. 

Summer is an excellent time to work on these skills – students don’t have the burdens of homework and the busy, extra-curricular activities schedule of the school year.  Students with learning challenges benefit from the continued practice and growth that can be gained by working multiple hours a week during the summer time. 

Please check out our website, www. for further information about our programs during the school year and summer months.
If you have questions about your child’s learning abilities, please call and speak to us at The Kelter Center, 310-312-1056.

And now for other matters:

1. For those of you struggling with the whole traditional vs. progressive schooling debate, there is an interesting article on rote memorization, and an argument for it (with many comments):
2. The Santa Monica – Malibu Unified School District has just published their calendar for school year 2011/2012:
Santa Monica and Malibu schools start on August 30, 2011!

3. And LAUSD has just changed their mind about extending the school year into August this year - but until there is a final calendar, I'm loathe to publish their dates. Suffice to say that as of now LAUSD schools will start after Labor Day, in September.

And finally,

Do you need some recommended reading on a particular subject, related to education? You can now browse our website for recommendations. Check out

Until next time,
Sandy Eiges
Sandy Eiges, M.S.W.
L.A. School Scout
"The panic that had gripped me subsided the instant that Sandy was on my team...getting my boy into a wonderful preschool...Sandy is now working with me on K and elementary for my son. THERE IS NO REASON TO DO IT WITHOUT HER!!" - Jill D., April 2009

"... I cannot say enough good things about Sandy Eiges and her company LA School Scout...What Sandy offered was not only information about all of the schools, but she also spent a considerable amount of time learning about my daughter and my family so she could suggest schools that she thought would be a good match for us ...Things are constantly changing and Sandy's job keeps her at the forefront of what's going on." - Renee A., March 2008

"Just wanted to say thank you for the incredibly helpful call!  You gave me such valuable insight.  I already feel like a big weight has been lifted..." - Melanie L., March 2010

"I could not have imagined going through this process without Sandy's help.  She is truly committed to what she does, and really takes the time to get to know you and your family. She knows each schools personality, and can really help you figure out which is your school, and how to maximize your admission chances.  Even though I thought I had an idea of what I wanted, Sandy was able to give me another perspective.  She takes the stress out of this very complicated process.  I felt very well prepared the whole way through. We are thrilled that we will be attending Crossroads in the fall!” - Belinda C., July 2010

"Because of your knowledge of Los Angeles schools (both private and public) and a sensitivity to my family, your recommendations of where to apply were spot-on. I felt very confident during the interview because you helped me understand that a good fit matters to everyone. When we got to the actual interview at our favorite school I was not worried because I knew I was prepared and could just be myself...your advice helped us gain acceptance into our first choice private school in a rushed, mid-year situation." - Cynthia S., January 2011

"You are awesome.  Thank you so much...Sheesh!!  This process is crazy!" - Michel W., 2009


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