Time for an online program?

This is a time of change.

Schools have shut down, families are told to stay at home, household routines are disrupted. For many, it is a time of anxiety, uncertainty, and frustration.

Parents of struggling readers may feel overwhelmed, as they are thrust into an unfamiliar role of teacher and tutor to their child. Other parents who believed their children were managing well enough at school might be realizing, to their dismay, just how far behind their child is, seeing the intensity of a child’s struggle with fresh eyes.

Adults who previously managed to cope despite unresolved problems may now be facing additional struggles of their own. The disruption to a normal work routine may be particularly frustrating for a dyslexic adult if expectations for written communication have increased. Some may be growing acutely aware of how much difficulties with reading, writing, or poor organizational skills limit their current and future employment prospects.

But this can also be a time of opportunity. Every household is different, each family faces their own set of unique challenges. But for some, the disruption to their outside lives of work and school and other scheduled activities has created an opening for shared family time, time to talk and share and pay attention to one another.

And for some there may be a nexus between the recognition of the urgency of one person’s need for help, and the simultaneous respite from the external schedule of obligations. Because now there may be a time and a way for a child’s needs to be met in the home, or for an adult to take the first steps toward resolving the problems that impact their work.

At least for now, a large number of Davis Facilitators are able to offer complete, online programs for dyslexia, reading, math, and attention focus. The Davis program has always been hands-on and participatory, developed with an expectation that there would always be a facilitator working in-person, one-on-one with their client. Taking this all online presents challenges. It is something that would have seemed inconceivable for most facilitators to undertake only a few months ago. But it is something that has now become necessary.

The Davis trainers and specialists learned the technology and brainstormed to figure out how the full array of Davis tools could be taught remotely. A three-week trial was conducted in March. That gave rise to a set of guidelines to allow for an expanded offering. As of the time of this post, more than 150 Davis Facilitators worldwide are participating in the current pilot for online program delivery, Davis programs are grounded on modeling clay and interactive exercises koosh balls — not things that can be done on a computer. But the guidance and facilitation can now be transmitted across a virtual medium.

The good news is that it’s working. Of course, there are small tweaks and adjustments that have to be made along the way, but it is now clear that each Davis program and all of its elements can be conveyed in ways that are consistent with the goals and standards of traditional, in-person delivery. The Facilitators are seeing the results. A young child’s face lights up after being guided through the steps of Davis Alignment. A man in his fifties who struggled to read at a 2nd grade level experiences the pride of accomplishment in reaching a 9th-grade reading level as he finishes his 30 hours of online work with his Facilitator.

These triumphs are no different than what Davis Facilitators and their clients have experienced in the past, with the traditional delivery of one-on-one, in-person programs. But, the stay-at-home regime created an opportunity for some who may not have otherwise been able to arrange a Davis program, simply because of time constraints. It created a window of time during which there was no need to arrange a break from school or work to fit in the days and hours needed to complete a Davis program with a facilitator. And once the facilitated portion of the program reaches its conclusion, there is also a natural transition to the at-home follow-up, without the impediment of work schedules and school hours, homework, and other activities that can make extra time such a scarce commodity.

Of course, not everyone will have this opportunity. Not everyone has access to the basic elements needed for a successful online program. These include a fast and reliable internet connection, a room and a table in the home where the person can work with the facilitator without distraction for several hours a day, and a parent or other family member who can take on the role of a support person for the bits that really require human interaction. And not everyone is at home with extra time on their hands. Many adults have jobs in health care or other areas deemed essential and are finding the challenges of balancing work and family life more difficult than ever. Others may be dealing with the direct consequences of the pandemic, suffering serious illness themselves or needing to provide extra support and care to others.

And some people simply may not be so comfortable with computers and video apps. There are many children and adults who may still fare better in an environment where they can have personal, face-to-face contact with their facilitator.

So that is why this blog post was framed as a question.

For some, the time is now, and the technology that makes this possible a precious gift. For others, the next step may have to wait until calmer and more certain times.

Davis Facilitators are currently able to offer full standard programs for dyslexia, reading, math, and attention mastery online, with the participation of a parent or other family member as a support person. For a list of all facilitators offering online programs, go to www.davismethod.org/online

The photos on this page were shared by Julie M. Cameron.