Which School for Dyslexic Child?

Parent Q&A

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  • Hello BPN Community,

    My family is considering a move to Upper Rockridge in Oakland and we are wondering about support for elementary and middle school aged-children with dyslexia at schools in that area.

    We currently live in the Peninsula and my 4th grade son was diagnosed dyslexia between 1st and 2nd grade. My son has made great progress at a local private school that specializes in dyslexia education. However, we may be moving to Upper Rockridge soon. Can anybody tell me about the support that a 5th grader or middle school dyslexic student would receive at either Hillcrest K-8, Chabot ES, or Claremont MS? Thanks so much for any advice, it has been quite an educational journey for our family so far!

    My child doesn't have dyslexia, but Hillcrest K-5 is generally pretty good with learning challenges, simply because they're well funded by a wealthy PTA and have a good principal. The middle school was more challenging when we were there, but that may have changed. (My child loved it and had a great experience, but we know kids with ADHD and other issues who didn't fare as well.) The positive is if your child has done well in the lower grades, it is very nice for them (and you) to remain in the same small and close school for 9 years. Deep and long friendships are born when families are connected for that long. That said, you have almost no chance of getting into Hillcrest unless you are zoned for it, and even then not everyone can get in. It's a very small school. If you're willing to consider private, Aurora can definitely support a child with dyslexia and they are about 2 blocks from Hillcrest.

    I have been a parent at Chabot for many years, and offhand, I can think of at least half a dozen families of dyslexic children who are deeply unhappy with the services their children receive(d) there. I think everyone in the building means well and does their best, but my sense from listening to other parents talk about it for years is that the root of the problem is district-wide policies and lack of funding. What fellow parents have told me is that OUSD doesn't have enough resources to provide quality services as federally required to all the kids who need it. So they do their best and only provide better services (slowly, reluctantly, and incredibly painfully for families) to those families who make themselves a total pain in the butt and/or sue the district. Honestly, it sounds like a total nightmare.

    I also had a few friends who struggled to get services through Chabot because administrators made assumptions about them being well off enough to afford help outside of school and kind of treated their kids like a lower priority. It was incredibly disheartening for those families (and the assumptions were wrong in some cases too.)

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  • Dyslexia in Berkeley

    (7 replies)

    Hi, my third grader has dyslexia and dysgraphia. I’d like to hear parents’ positive experiences with local schools. I find it hard to believe two 45 minute group pull outs in BUsD are sufficient, but perhaps I’m wrong. He already has a private tutor 2 hours a week and that’s not enough. Do any private schools handle dyslexia well? Would anyone tell me their experience with Raskob or Northbridge?

    Hi, I don't know about the specialty schools for dyslexia but i do know some private schools like Berkwood Hedge have a lot of kids with dyslexia. They have an education specialist who spends every day with my son, who hasn't been formally diagnosed but is clearly dyslexic and I know there are several kids in the higher grades with dyslexia and they are getting a literacy specialist in  addition to the education specialist since this is a priority for them. The smaller school allows for much more individualized learning and its project based which is great for kids with dyslexia, and the overall education is very strong. I have heard amazing things about the third grade teachers especially. Its also much better priced than the specialty schools for kids with dyslexia. So may be worth looking into

    I don't have experience with BUSD but my daughter went to Raskob last year. Raskob at one time was a great option for kids with learning differences but I can not recommend it in its current state. The school is controlled by Holy Names University and they are close to closing due to financial issues. Most of the quality staff have left the school and they are not replacing that staff due to financial issues. We spent all of last year waiting for the school to hire an Orton-Gillingham-trained specialist but they never did. We had other classmates leave for Hope Academy or Charles Armstrong. 

    This does not answer your question but two of my grown daughters friends who both were diagnosed with dyslexia ended up being very successful.One got into UCLA as a freshman and graduated and the other the same thing at UC San Diego.

    We found neither public nor private schools we’ve tried had the right learning support for our kiddo with dyslexia. Barton reading tutoring 2-3x per week is helping enormously. Vision therapy at UC Berkeley for eye tracking issues also made a huge difference. Feel free to message me if you’d like more details. Wishing you and your kiddo the best! 

    Our child was recently diagnosed with dyslexia and is currently in public school.  Is your child going to tutoring sessions or seeing an Educational Therapist?  I think seeing an Ed Therapist makes a HUGE difference.  I was lucky enough to know someone who recommended an Ed Therapist in the area to us for our child.  Our kid now sees them 2x a week for a 55 min session.  It really seems to be the only thing that is working (and working very well).  It is not cheap, but we would rather be putting our money toward that than anything else.  It's cheaper than private school tuition, that's for sure!  I would really look into ed therapy.  

    In my experience, the services provided via the school district are not adequate. Our son sees an educational therapist for 2 hours per week 1-on-1 (and if cost weren't an issue, he'd probably go 3 times). This may be different from a tutor because she is using very specific and tailored techniques known to help dyslexic students and has extensive training and experience working with them. I think that at some independent schools, you're more likely to encounter more flexible school environments where they can tailor your child's education and meet them where they are at. That's been our experience at Crestmont School, at least. 

    North Bridge Academy has been amazing for our daughter!  I can't tell you how grateful we are that we found this school.  It literally saved both her academic future and her self esteem! The school is built around the dyslexic profile and so each day she gets exactly what she needs from some of the best experts on dyslexia.  She is absolutely thriving and definitely did not have that opportunity during the 5 years she spent in BUSD.  She had well intentioned teachers who had no idea how to teach a dyslexic student, so they didn't.  They told her to guess at the words, listen to audiobooks and put books everywhere in the house. That was the best advice the literacy coach gave our family.  This is a much longer story than I can write here, but I highly, highly recommend that you visit North Bridge Academy.  When I heard Priya speak at their info session, I felt like she was talking about my daughter even though she hadn't met her yet.  

  • Hi everyone, My 8 year old daughter is dyslexic and has ADD. We are trying to figure out what would be the best fit for her schoolwise and looking into Raskob, Northbridge and the Albany public schools. We applied to Hope Academy last year, but they haven't had any openings. I would really appreciate hearing anyone's experience with any of these places...or if there are any other schools that have been good for this profile. She has been at the East Bay German International School since kindergarten and this has worked well so far because of the small class sizes and wonderful teachers (and they were open for in person all last year), but I think we are reaching the point that a bilingual education might be too much for her, given her dyslexia. If any of you have kids that are dyslexic and you have made it work at a bilingual school, I would love to hear about that too. Such a hard decision....any input would be helpful. Thanks much! Melissa

    Hi! Wanted to let you know that we send our child who is dyslexic to Charles Armstrong in Belmont, and it’s been great. There’s also a lovely carpool in Oakland so we only need to make the drive once, sometimes twice, a week. Best of luck making a decision! 

    Hello, My name is Maureen. I am the guardian for my nephew who has very severe dyslexia. He went to Rascob for 3 years and he loved it. His reading improved and he learned to like school. Later he transitioned to Berkeley public schools. With the help of IEPs and accommodations he is now a Junior in high school doing very well. I highly recommend Rascob. Thanks

    It's so challenging finding the right school for any child as they grow. Education unfortunately does not cater to diverse populations but rather one or two types of learners. My child is not dyslexic nor is my child bilingual, but they did have challenges at Albany and we pulled them out. The school district is notoriously bad at catering to neuro-atypical students across the board and it gets more challenging in the upper grades. Albany is fantastic if your child is an A+ student who needs very little intervention, but anything else is a struggle. Berkeley Unified (if you're looking at public schools) is more supportive of SPED needs and I know STAR academy in Marin is also a fantastic school for SPED. Hope this helps in some way!

  • I am looking for a private school rec for middle school for a high functioning and bright child with dyslexia. We were happy at Raskob but due to instability in leadership, things are rocky and they are still refusing to return to in person instruction. communication with families has broken down and I am looking for a more community oriented, student focused school.

    I appreciate recomendations

    I know you asked about private schools, but FWIW, King Middle School in Berkeley is getting ready to return to in-person instruction (tentative date, Mon 4/12), and they have a strong SpED department with special attention to dyslexia (grade level teachers and instructional aides with special training, running small groups) - I believe they are using Wilson Language Training, if that helps.

    We are a very happy Crestmont middle school family who joined the school community this past school year. While our child does not have dyslexia, they do have other learning differences that have made other private schools challenging for them.   Because of its small size, Crestmont  teachers and staff can really support kids in ways that other schools can't.  I do know of a few kiddos at the school who have dyslexia and seem to be faring well there. In terms of being community oriented, Crestmont's modern co-op structure means that there is a lot of community and transparency.  I was scared that co-op would mean way more work than I had time for, but it has actually been pretty reasonable and a great way to meet other parents. Its definitely worth checking out!

    Hi there, I know you are looking for a private school for your middle school child with dyslexia so feel free to ignore this if you’re not interested.  I have a 6th grade daughter who was just diagnosed with dyslexia and ADHD. She has been homeschooling with private teachers since October 2020 with stunning results.  For example, she went from a year behind in math to a year ahead in two months.  More importantly, she likes learning again.  This whole experience has been such a silver lining during this pandemic that I am planning on doing it again next year but this time creating a small pod  (4-10 kids, ideally) to reduce costs and increase socialization. The teachers have been wonderful about incorporating modifying curriculum and incorporating in dyslexia-specific recommendations made by the neuropsychologist. If you or anyone else is interested in joining in, please feel free to contact me directly for more information. We live in Alameda.

    I want to give a second shout out for Crestmont School.  Our son, currently in 6th, who has sensory needs along with ADHD, is having a great experience at school.  The classes are small, in person(!), and the attention and care as well as PBL approach to learning are all great for the students.  Work has an arc and progresses with longer term goals in mind which builds a sense of purpose and satisfaction as well as clarity around what's being conveyed and valued.  It's not scattershot busy work from various teachers but thoughtful, extraordinarily creative, and hands on too.  Our son has noticeably lighted and brightened in attending middle school at Crestmont, and his love of learning and general outlook has improved greatly which is a big relief and joy for the family to witness.

    My dyslexic daughter has had great experiences with Lindamood Bell's tutoring services in Berkeley. When we were recently scheduling an upcoming tutoring session for her, the LMB folks told us that, in addition to their traditional after-school/summer tutoring programs that focus just on areas where the student struggles, they just recently started offering an in-person, full time school option that they call "Lindamood Bell Academy." In the Academy option, the students are enrolled at LMB as their full time school and all of their subjects (science, social studies, etc.) are taught to them in a way that is more tailored to their learning style.  During COVID, I believe that they tried to have their Academy open to *in person* instruction (at least at certain locations), but it sounds like there may have been some distance learning depending on the Academy location and the respective County Health Department guidelines. So I can't say for sure whether their Academy is *in person* right at this moment, of if it's temporarily remote due to COVID. But it may be something you may want to look into. https://lindamoodbell.com/academy

  • Hello Network,

    Seeking advice.  We are anticipating a move to the Bay Area - with flexibility on where to live for the school year 2019-2020 (she will be in 8th grade) and then more flexibility to fully settle for high school 2020-21.

    She has to be in a private school given the complexity of her LD ie., Dyslexia, processing, ADHD.  But, is gifted with spatial/design ability and a mainstream social kid.  Any advice out there for the schools we should be targeting?  Should we consider non dyslexia related schools that accommodate and allow for therapists in school?    I will be visiting this year to meet with different schools but there are not that many for dyslexia and its difficult to understand which ones will actually have room.  We are also looking for a good educational consultant in the area.  Any insight is much appreciated. Thank you.

    hi there, my son just began public middle school in Berkeley and also has dyslexia. We thought he would be going to a private middle school and applied to several (that were not focused on learning disabilities) and they did not accept him. I think it was an eye-opener for me. It may be hard to find a place in a mainstream school. However, so far our son loves his public middle school and sees his educational therapist twice a week after school (not in school). There are schools in the Bay Area that specialize in dyslexia, including Raskob in Oakland, the Sterne School in SF, and the Charles Armstrong School on the Peninsula. Good luck!

  • Hello Parents,

    We have a child at a private Oakland K-8 school. Our child has dyslexia and our school doesn't think that they can support him much past 3rd grade- it's not their "niche" as it was put to us. We are wondering if there are folks out there with dyslexic children that are supported enough to thrive at a private school? We looked into Raskob, but it didn't seem to be a good fit. Our child seems to be a mainstream kid who just needs extra support. We want to find a place that takes their pledge to diversity a step further and not only be inclusive of neuro diversity and learning differences, but also celebrate them. Is there a private school in Oakland that is paving the way for children with learning differences? 

    Thank you!

    Hi there.  My kid is a mainstream kid who needs extra support and he's at Raskob, so not sure what metric you are using.  We were at a couple of private schools, some were better than others supporting kids with learning challenges. The good ones do well in the lower grades but what can happen is that either the supports aren't as good in the higher grades, and/or the demands get higher and what was working before for mild LD no longer does and the kids flame out.  We have a lot of kids come in at 6th and 7th grade at Raskob because their LD looks worse as they get older. Anyhow, to answer your question, if you want to keep your kid in a private elementary school you can try Berkwood Hedge or Aurora.  They're pretty good for younger kids with LD.  If your kid needs more support later on you should look at Raskob again.  Lindamood-Bell has a school, Stellar in  Hayward is good for dyslexia, Hope Academy in Concord, and if you don't mind a commute there's Charles Armstrong on the peninsula. Hopefully, though, your kid can get by with minimal support.

    Though we can't recommend a school in Oakland, we also have a dyslexic child in private school, and can speak to the fact that this will be the case most places you go, unless you switch to public school, and then the resources will vary district to district. Our child was diagnosed after 2nd grade, and we started having them work with an educational therapist right away. Now our child, with few accommodations, is at the top of their class, still in private school and thriving. It's a very expensive way to go, but if you are able to manage it (we never vacation and forgo other luxuries) and are committed to private school, it may be your best option. Good luck!

    I highly recommend the Berkeley School. My daughter is dyslexic and she flourished and loved her middle school years at the Berkeley School. She is in high school now. She was prepared well and ready academically and socially for high school. The teachers at the Berkeley School were great and accommodated my daughter's needs. It was the perfect fit for her. All the best and good luck! -frank r

    My son was diagnosed with Dyslexia and ADHD ( inattentive) in first grade. He was attending a “ progressive “ private school in Oakland and they were unwilling and unequipped to provide support for my son - as are most schools. The problem is that most learning specialists are not trained in the proven methodologies that support and instruct kids with Dyslexia. In fact, the trend these days is for learning specialists to support teachers - not necessarily students. You might get a “ pull-out” a few times a week but that wont help your child.  Early intervention is crucial. Many studies have shown that early intervention can even “rewire” neuro pathways. Check out UCSF’s brain imaging study on Dyslexia.

    We sent our son to Charles Armstrong for three years and it was well worth the sacrifice. He is now a 6th grader at The Berkeley School and thriving. TBS is a wonderful community and a school that really and truly embraces diversity in all forms. The school is working on more ways to support neuro-diverse students because the leadership understands that a diverse classroom helps develop deeper learning.  TBS also has a project based curriculum, which really works well for Dyslexic students. Our son still needs some outside support but the school makes it easy and welcomes all types of scaffolding that students depend on.

    If you are not going to send your child to a school that focuses on remediation of Dyslexia, then I encourage you to hire an educational therapist who is trained in Making Math Real, Orton-Gillingham, and or Slingerland. The Berkeley School provides an environment where your child’s strengths will be highlighted and their challenges will be supported. Unlike many private schools - they welcome students who learn and think in different ways. I encourage you to contact Stephen Cahill ( learning support coordinator) at the Berkeley School. He welcomes the opportunity to discuss the school’s strategies for different learners - I’ve never encountered a more engaged and forward thinking educator !

  • Hello there,

    We are considering transferring from our private Oakland elementary school to go to our local elementary school (Montclair Elementary) to get more support for our 8-year old son with dyslexia. Is there anyone out there that has done this? What worked and what didn't? It's a tough position to be in and we are just beginning to familiarize ourselves with our options. Thank you!

    Public school districts are required to provide resource support to students in private schools.  Have you pursued this?  You might want to consider how much resource time your child would receive in the public school compared with what the district would provide to your private school.  Have you already had your child tested and an IEP (Individualized Educational Program) set up through the Oakland District?

  • Hi everyone,

    I would like to know if any public middle schools in Alameda, Albany, Berkeley  and charter schools in Oakland are providing the right services and accommodation for dyslexic children, such as subscriptions to learning ally or multisensory structure language teaching (Orton-Gillingham Approach, Wilson approach, Lindamood Bell, etc).  Would you please share your experiences with your school?


     I do know that from experience you have to constantly fight for what you want in the schools otherwise they will not support you. If they say no to something keep going back until they say yes. 

    Many  Schools do not have the funding or the staffing to provide the services but just keep fighting for what you want. 

     Also try looking on Facebook for support groups as there are many here in California. 

     Good luck 

    At King Middle School, and, from what I have heard at the other Berkeley Unified Middle Schools, there is NO structured  multisensory approach, which is a crying shame. More then that, there has been much active discouragement of getting help for dyslexic students. 

  • My 8YO son has dyslexia and ADHD. He struggles in the typical public classroom with 25+ students both academically and socially. He just finished the Lindamood-Bell program and is doing great with his reading, but we have seen that he needs the smaller class size so he doesn't get distracted as easily. He often complains that he is getting bullied at school and called names. I am looking for a private school that would have a smaller class size and a more nurturing environment. Any recommendations?

    I am very sorry to hear about the bullying, which the school should be completely on top of preventing. However, moving to a private school is a double-edged sword, because private schools don't have the same obligations to provide an equal education to students with special needs. (See recent posts on this.) Some do, of course, but it's more voluntary. There are private middle and high schools focused on special needs students but I am not aware of a local private elementary school that does. My 3rd grade son has an IEP for a variety of conditions (including ADHD, in process of diagnosis) at his public school in the WCCUSD and I am certain he would do better in a smaller classroom - as would all the kids in his class! - BUT, the tradeoff is he wouldn't be getting his current level of service in school for free. And this year anyway there were only 19 kids in his classroom, you can't really do better than that. I have been reading about some auditory therapy used at Suma Kids in Concord to help minimize environmental distractions, and we may pursue that outside of school.

    Check out Raskob, they may have the programming your son needs. Best of luck!!! I am so so sorry that your son is being bullied. 

    Several schools come to mind, but many are in the South Bay.  The ones that come to mind in the East Bay are Raskob, which is in Oakland and is a school geared for kids with ADHD and dyslexia and has low ratios in the classrooms and integrated therapies.  We toured their in the past and I was impressed, but we didn't end up there.  Your post doesn't mention whether math is an issue- some kids with dyslexia also have math learning affected.  The other school that comes to mind is Da Vinci school for Gifted Children in Alameda- they are a very low ratio school (5:1) and I've heard several kids with ADHD have done well there.  Don't let the "gifted" wording throw you off- there is no testing involved, and its really a description to indicate social emotional learning needs as well as asynchronous development where they can be "gifted" in one thing and way behind in something else.  Also, check out EdRev website for a listing of other schools that teach to different learning modes- you may be surprised at the options that are now all over the Bay Area.  Good luck!


    I'm sorry for your troubles.  We have a 9 year with dyslexia.  It is encouraging to find that Lindamood bell helped.  Some info.  If you want to go full on dyslexic school, there are many from the east bay that carpool to Charles Amrstrong in Belmont.  It is 200 kids all dyslexic.  And ADHD often goes along with it.  No bullying. And my son is convinced he is super smart.  Some parents go for a cloupke of years. In public school, it was hard to fight for resources once my son reached "grade level".   Private schools you might choose nice and small.  You will likely have to supplement.  

    Two programs.  Foundations is used at Berkeley School.  1 st to 3 Rd. And that is the program Amrstrong uses. Math made real is used at several schools and is based in Berkeley.  We found there was not one solution but decided private plus supplement worked for our son.  

    Some ideas for your son.  Other famous dyslexics? In London in told the reserve a track for dyslexics at the top schools because so many are Brillant at math and science.   Finding places where he can succeed in other areas.  

    Also Debbie Vielbaum former head of admission ls at Charles Armatrong has a consulting practice under Vielbaum consulting.   She has worked with famikies transitioning out of Amrstrong into public and private. 

  • Hi, I am moving to SF next month. I will temporarily be living in SF for a few months before we buy a home somewhere in the Bay Area (most likely East Bay along the BART line or down to SSF. I am looking for recommended schools to try to get into that successfully address middle school students with dyslexia. 

    It really depends on what your child needs. Piedmont is known for having high quality public schools with good support for students with learning disabilities. It has an alternative public high school called Millenium which is reputed to serve students with special needs well. No public schools in the area that I know of do an adequate job at remediation. It can be a lot of work to fight at schools for accommodations. You might want to post again with more information about your child and the specific needs. Berkeley Unified is facing a class-action lawsuit for inadequately serving kids with dyslexia. 


    If your son needs a lot of support you could consider Raskob, a private K-8 school for students with learning disabilities. From there your son could go to Bayhill High School in Berkeley for high school.

    Good luck!

    I would not consider public schools based our experience. We were actually told that unless a child is two grade levels behind, public schools will not provide adequate assistance.  

    Our experience in the Piedmont School district was terrible for learning disabilities (dysgraphia). We had an IEP and our child scored 12 grade level in all standardized tests from the first year in middle school. These tests are used by the public schools to show how great the schools are. Yet the school ignored the tests when we tried to keep our child in regular classes but ask for assistive technologies or other assistance. We had outside testing that stated that our child was gifted. Yet no matter how much we fought, paid outside advocates, our child was placed in remedial classes. Our child was not on tract for getting into college. Millennium High School was not a better option.

    We eventually went to a private school and our child is not only thriving but in advanced classes.

    I would consider private schools with proven track records of assistance for learning disabilities. After being in two highly rated and wealthy public school districts, that public schools just do not treat intelligent students with learning disabilities as capable of achieving along with their peers.

  • Dyslexia help for middle schooler

    (2 replies)

    Hi, I'm looking for some advice regarding our daughter that is Dyslexic and currently in a public school in 7th grade. She's had an IEP since 3rd grade and has accommodations, but it's always been a challenge to get her the help that she needs in school, because she is well behaved so she falls under their radar even with her IEP.  She struggling in her public school and we've been trying to get her additional reading support and assistive technology, but they don't seem to have programs in place for students like her.  We've been looking into other options (i.e., private schools that offer programs for Dyslexia, tutors that can work with her with the Slingerland/Orton-Gillingham Approach, or another public school system that may have more resources and supports in place). Love to hear your recommendations for all of the above options or other options we may not have considered yet.  

    Thank you in advance for sharing.  

    -Concerned mom

    Middle school years are the hardest. We ended up paying for our own neuropsychological evaluation so that we knew where to intervene. The psychologist recommended an educational therapist, whom we adore, Toby Michelson. It's been worth every cent. In hindsight, the earlier you intervene the better and be mindful of any social challenges. With puberty-related changes, there's so much these kids are trying to figure out. It's one thing to address remedial learning, it's probably more time important to help our kids accept themselves (learning differences included) wholeheartedly. 

    Yes, most Public Schools are plain awful in not providing help for this. My Dyslexic son made HUGE strides with his Slingerland tutor, and (he has Auditory Processing Issues) with FastForward by Gemm Learning, online, 50 minutes a day, and, yes, I had to sit right next to him to make him do it. These two things made a WORLD of difference. I also filed a Complaint with the Calif Department of Education, who then made our District (Berkeley Unified) reimburse me for the Slingerland tutoring as well as in service their (very incompetent) special ed people.

  • I am a parent of a 5th grader who is dyslexic and has ADHD however very smart.  He has worked very hard and is a top reader now however because of his dyslexia he struggles with other subjects.  He is very social and has a lot of friends.  The public schools are not helping him.  He is BORED and not learning.  Does anyone know anything about Charles Armstrong Academy in Belmont?  Can you tell me good, bad and anything about the school?  Or can you recommend a different school?


    Concerned Mom

    Hi, I'm not sure where you're located, but I live in Belmont and if you'd like I can post your question on our local NextDoor forum and see if I can get any feedback from around here.  I did a search and didn't turn up anything from the past.  

    I have a highly gifted, dyslexic child with ADHD as well.  We got a list of schools that were geared specifically for dyslexia that included Raskob in Oakland, Charles Armstrong (Belmont), Hope Academy (Concord), Stellar Academy for Dyslexics (Fremont), Athena Academy (Palo Alto) and several in San Francisco.  There were so many options, but most of them (except Raskob) seemed like they would be hard to get to in a morning commute and juggling work.  Raskob looked good, while at the same time, I didn't see the "gifted" and "creative" component highlighted as much as I would have liked in the lower elementary groups and felt like school would mainly be geared towards remediation, and not teaching to strengths as well.  Athena Academy would have been one we would have selected, if the drive there were at all doable- that one looked like an amazing overall fit.

    Instead, I chose a small private school with a low ratio and project based learning that was geared towards gifted children and decided to "remediate" the dyslexia outside of the actual school.  Got a really great O-G tutor (started with Barton then moved to an overall O-G program) for the dyslexia and dysgraphia.  Schools for gifted children already have a built in "meet child where they are" component and tend to teach using multi modal methods as gifted children also learn differently (visual, kinesthetic, audio), and most have a strong social-emotional component to them and plenty of movement and outdoor time, as well as a low ratio (which helps the ADHD/focus).  My child blossomed and was no longer complaining of being bored in school and the anxiety dropped.  They are now also reading at grade level.  

    I think there are allot of options in the bay area and you can explore what will fit you and your child best.  Good luck! 

    My son has Dyslexia too and the public schools refused to help, blaming me, etc. Best thing I ever did, on the recommendation of a friend, was file a Complaint with the California Department of Education, with some help from DREDF. It has to be filed on a procedural issue (like not responding on time, not complying with an IEP, etc). Made a 180 turn for my son, all of a sudden he was getting what he needed, and they told the district to reimburse me for the specialized Slingerland tutoring I had started. for him, which helped hugely.

Archived Q&A and Reviews



Dyslexia and private versus public school

Nov 2013

Hi, My just turned 6 year old daughter is in the process of getting assessed for Dyslexia, Dysgraphia and possible ADHD. She is currently in Kindergarten. I was wondering if anyone in the community has a positive experience currently in a private school (we are moving to Alameda and hope to find a school no more than 25minute drive) that is supportive and accommodating to their child with Dyslexia. I've seen the reviews for Raskov but they start from 2nd grade, and we are trying to find a school that would accept my daughter this school year and also be a place where she can be supported and still engaged. She is a super bright kid (even her teachers agree)- exceptional in some areas- beyond her years- but struggling in reading, handwriting, audio memory, and time management/organization. Also anyone have experience with the public school system in Alameda who has a child with Dyslexia- do you feel supported? Did you keep your child in public or were forced to take them out to homeschool or private school? Thanks, R.

Our 9 year old daughter has dyslexia and we've been very happy with the response and support we've received from Beacon Day School in Oakland. The school noticed that there was an issue as early as kindergarten and we confirmed it in first grade. Beacon's learning specialist provided support, including information about testing and options for helping our daughter. We have an accommodation plan that our daughter's teacher has been very diligent about implementing. The school has been willing to coordinate with our outside (privately hired) Educational Therapist which has been very helpful. Beacon's approach for all students is to offer flexible pace groups so that students can progress at their own speed. This system seems to be particularly well-suited to someone with a learning difference. We have received excellent support from Beacon - but we also have had to be self-motivated about getting our daughter help and following through with the recommendations we received both from Beacon and our daughter's doctor. And, yes, the whole process has cost us money but we've felt that dealing with this early is essential to keeping our daughter on track in school. Beacon's very supportive environment has been an essential component to our daughter's success. And she has shown strong improvement - reading at grade level and feeling confident about her ability to succeed in school. Best wishes to you. Happy Beacon Parent


Middle school for dyslexic child

April 2011

After loads of review of past posts and current I am posting to ask if anyone has advice regarding middle schools that are private. We have found our private remediations went well but our child needs more. Do we do outside support ,special ed therapist/Lindamood bell/Making Math Real/Pace while mainstreaming or enroll in a private middle school. If anyone has recent experience with Raskob/Star/OA/? I would appreciate any guidance.Our Neuropsych is a big fan of Charles Armstrong but we are in the east bay and its a big commute. Advocate loves STAR. Our child has severe dyslexia and is bright. Doing great socially and loves his sports and music. What to do? any help appreciated

I'm a parent advocate for low income families. I have daughter who has dyslexia with ADHD. I think it is different for each child. We had to make the same decision for my daughter in middle school. Does your daughter have ADHD too? It is pretty common to have both. We are in the East bay too. My daughter was social and into sports. I went and observed at Charles Armstrong but, it didn't seem like socially a good fit and she would be doing a commute everyday ( very good school though). Our decision was to keep her in public school and pay a good Ed. Therapist. I had to flight with the school in order for my daughter to have a good reading program in a small group with appropriate accommodations.

We went through several Ed. Therapist until we found one that connected with my daughter. Lindmood Bell is good but, expensive and you can do that over the summer. I have heard that Making Math real is a good program too.

Landmark Summer Camp has a good summer program. I'm not sure which STAR school you are referring to. You can talk to your daughter to see how she feels too. I know it is a difficult decision. I think you should look at the whole child- academics, socially and extra activities. You can email me if you have more questions. oam

Our son attends Raskob . It is wonderful. The middle school students are mixed so that they take their classes with 6th, 7th or 8th graders that have similar ability levels. All classes have a teacher and aid, and none have more than 10 students. In addition to the traditional core (Reading, Writing, Math, History, Science) the kids have PE, Music and Art. (Since it is spring the middle schoolers are using the pool and currently learning water polo in PE.) The school makes great efforts to create a nurturing environment. Teasing and bullying are addressed immediately and effectively. Social skills are developed as is the students self awareness of their personal learning differences and how they learn best. This is a culminating project over the years and by the end of 8th grade the students are able to advocate for the accommodations they need to succeed. It is very powerful.

As a public middle school teacher I can assure you that what my son is experiencing at Raskob is far and away a superior education when compared with what my district would have offered. (Mainstreaming into classes of 40 for core subjects, a PE class on an asphalt black top with 50 kids, and no elective because that would be when he got a ''study skills'' class supervised by a special ed teacher.) I feel greatful everyday that between financial aid and scrimping and saving we are able to make it possibel for him to attend Raskob. I definitely recommend the school to any family who has a child with a verbal learning disability. Definitely give them a call to see if you can get him in for fall. They are very careful to only admit students who they know they can help, so you dont' need to worry that they will string you along just to get you in the door. glad to be Raskobian


School for severely dyslexic 3rd grader

February 2009

Recently our son was diagnosed with severe dyslexia. We live in the east bay and are looking into schools which know how to teach bright kids that have Dyslexia. Raskob has some reviews, but I was hoping for something recent. He is in third grade. And if you went to a school which teachers kids with this LD, what kind of changes did you see? What was the environment like? Teachers? Recreation? Any and all information would be appreciated while we are trying to sort out what to do. Thank you, Anon

You might want to check out Hope Academy in Concord for your son as well: 5353 Concord Blvd. Concord, CA 94521 email: hopeadmin [at] hopeacademyconcord.org phone: 925-687-7555 Debbie Booker, the primary teacher, is trained in the Slingerland methodology and is a wonderful teacher. anon

We are in our third year at Raskob and love it there. My son has dysgraphia and some oral processing issues, among other things, and we have found the tailored approach to each child really works for him. The school works well for kids with all kinds of learning disabilities and is also improving in it's communication/relationship to parents [a problem in the past that comes up less and less], in large part due to an active parent community and great new director. I can highly recommend it. Satisfied Raskob Parent

My friend's child is severely dyslexic and they are looking at the Charles Armstrong school in Belmont, which targets dyslexic kids. So you might want to check into that one too.


School for dyslexic middle schooler

February 2003

My daughter is dyslexic and barely holding her own in a traditional private middle school. I'd like to hear from other parents about their experience in a high school or middle school that is particularly caring of kids who have learning difficulties. I only know of Raskob, which is specifically for learning disabled kids, and would be interested in hearing responses from parents about this school and others that mix kids with and without learning disabilities. D

Recommendations received:

To the person who asked about schools other than Raskob , for his/her child with dyslexia. There are a number of schools besides Raskob for kids who fall outside the regular crop, and have a variety of educational issues not usually addressed or even ''allowed'' at most private schools. I will bypass public placements, because, frankly, I know of no public school placement which would be appropriate, and no district that is friendly (I don't say there is none, just that I don't know of any). First, does your daughter have an IEP? (Individual Educational Plan). Is she registered as a special needs kid, and does she have a diagnosis by a professional? If not, go do that. The professionals who focus on learning disabilities can be extremely helpful in placement suggestions, not just with diagnoses and prescriptions (such as pharmacologic treatment for ADHD, OCD, depression, etc.) If you don't know of someone, ask her pediatrician for a specialist or contact me for some names.

Arrowsmith Academy is a high school near the UC Berkeley campus.... (click "Arrowsmith" to see the full review)

If you are thinking of Junior High School, how far are you willing to travel? Star Academy in San Anselmo is reputed to be excellent for kids like your daughter. They have a new program (as of a year ago) which goes through high school, though they have been, traditionally, a junior high school.

Those are the two with which I am familiar, but I do think there are others, and there are ways to include an individualized plan with professional support into a regular curriculum as well, which would broaden your search.

But the first step would be to contact a professional who deals regularly with teens with learning disabilities. There is a host of them. You may also feel free to write to me.
Good luck, Tobie


Public school for dyslexic child?

December 2000

My child has mild dyslexia. I was wondering if there is a support group in the East Bay for parents with children who have dyslexia. (The support group I attended focuses on more severe special needs).

I had my kid in a Berkeley public school, but they were reluctant to notice there was a problem, saying it was developmental. Finally, we made the move to a private school, and privately paid for assessment.

The private school has been very helpful, and accommodating, but my child is unhappy at school, finding the work difficult (reading and spelling below grade level), and, compared with others, feeling slow and dumb, therefore not liking to go to school... on the other hand, learning a lot, and the teacher is highly communicative and figures out special ways to accommodate problems-- plus is highly attentive. As you can understand, I am torn about making the move to another school. (We tried, for a while, a school that let kids approach subjects at their own rate with not much teacher help, an enjoyable experience but not enough drill to help master subjects).

I would like to hear from parents who have dyslexic kids in either a Berkeley Public School or private school, particularly in upper elementary and middle schools. Does BPS accommodate kids with mild Learning Disabilities, making sure they are keeping up and learning? What are a few good private junior high schools to consider? Finally, do you know of any psychologists who work with dyslexic kids? (And, oh yes, information on special gadgets, like typing machines that correct phonic spelling, etc.)

Our son, now age 9.5 yrs, was in first grade in a private school when we realized there was a learning disability. The school did some testing and the results ranged from the first to the 99th percentiles. The school was unable to provide adequate remedial help in the classroom, or guidance outside of it, though they were not uninterested or unconcerned. They recommended his retention for a second year in first grade, and we complied. Even when retained, he continued to fall further behind his class by mid year. In response to this we hired a retired teacher as a private tutor, but we also went to the BUSD to get further testing and support from the district.

This service is federally mandated and funded, even for kids in the private ed system. Testing began about 6 months after our initial application for help, and an IEP (Individual Education Plan) was in place a few months after that. However, it took a full year to complete paperwork and testing by the BUSD, and a good bit of follow-up advocacy was also required, to establish (1) our son had a mild learning disability; (2) that he qualified for remedial help in reading; and (3) he also qualified for help in occupational therapy, with fine and gross motor issues.

The crucial aspect in getting the IEP from the district was that testing established a significant quantifiable gap between academic achievement and intelligence quotient (IQ). We, as parents, had to gain the allegiance of a BUSD RSP (Reading Specialist Program) teacher to influence the BUSD psychologist administering the IQ tests to acknowledge this disparity. We also advocated with an administrator in the central BUSD offices.

During the time this lengthly procedure transpired, the BUSD dropped its program to offer remedial services to private school kids, saying that the federal govt mandated but did not fund such services. (However, testing services are still provided, as they are federally funded.) Law suits were filed shortly thereafter. We do not know the outcome of these legal struggles, and took other measures to cope with the issue.

The following year we moved to El Cerrito (for other reasons) and transferred our son to the local public school, in order to be sure of receiving remedial services we could afford (4 hrs RSP/wk + 1 hr. OT/wk). In addition, we hired a private learning specialist for 1-1/2 hrs per week (rates at $60 to $65/hr). We continue with the private specialist through the summer. Once our current school district was satisfied that the IEP was legitimate, they were, and continue to be, entirely supportive.

Results have been quite gratifying and successful. There will always be learning issues. They do not go away. The goal post moves as the child develops, but he is now reading and beginning to write at grade level for his age, and above grade level for his academic grade placement (you remember he was retained). The school district has been supportive throughout, and is not trying to cut services, even though he has moved into the normal performance range. In addition, he gets additional time when taking state tests.

It's a long haul, but it is one of my great satisfactions that we have stuck to our goal of getting services for our son, and the success of our persistant efforts has made a very special bond between us and our child.


My middle school daughter was diagnosed with dyslexia in the third grade. She simply could not read. Her third and forth grade teachers and the school principal were very supportive in negotiating through the student study team process and the districts evaluators were very kind. However, in the end the School District had zero to offer in the way of specialized help. My daughter was simply not "broken enough". What did help was an intensive private program called Lindamood Bell located in downtown Berkeley. Expensive, but worth it. My daughter is now doing very well at King. One of her core teachers called me the first week of school for a long conversation about my daughter and her particular challenges. In fact, since my daughter was diagnosed, every one of her classroom teachers has been a real partner in working with us and keeping us informed about my daughter's progress. So my advice would be to get private help if you can't get what you need from the school district, but be sure to share your child's learning disability with her classroom teachers so that they can give you feedback and support what you are doing privately. My daughter had a great attitude tackling her learning disability. I think this was because she knew that all the important adults in her life really cared and that they had confidence in her. Nancy

to the parent looking for info. on dyslexia. I can recommend Raskob Day School on the campus of Holy Names College in Oakland. they have done wonders for my son. joann

To the person wanting advice on dyslexia: As a parent who has a child with a learning disorder and as a person who also has a professional interest in long-term outcomes associated with such disorders I applaud the great care you are taking in trying to get everything you can for your child. From my experience very few teachers (private or public school) go out of their way to try to present information to a child in a non-standard way. The self esteem problems and dislike of school will only grow as more and more such teachers are encountered. The majority of my son's teachers interpreted his ADHD as "willful" and punished him continually for his disorganization -- they refused to accept any responsibility for presenting the material or giving him assignments in ways that favored his learning/organization style.

The fact that you have a teacher who is willing to go out of his/her way is 90% of the battle so I wouldn't suggest that you change schools. However I would strongly suggest that you try investigating some non-invasive but physiologically-based approaches to dyslexia. A lot of learning disorders including dyslexia are rooted in the fact that different parts of the brain aren't talking to each other right. There is a book called "infinity walk" which has lots of bi-lateral exercises -- that is the real cheap approach. Alternatively, various forms of biofeedback including neurofeedback have been very helpful for dyslexia -- kids have shown gains of several grades in just a few months once the circuits are working better. There are two recent books on neurofeedback -- one by James Evans Intro to quantitative eeg and neurofeedback and one called 'a symphony in the brain' but I don't remember the author.

The younger your child is the easier it is to get him/her to comply with exercises and feedback approaches -- don't wait until they are an adolescent because it really gets tough to get compliance and then and you start to reap the harvest of many years of a kid feeling bad about her/himself. They see themselves a losers, get rejected by the "cool" kids, start to hang out with other losers, get into alcohol and drugs, cut school, get into more trouble, etc. etc. etc.


This is a reply to the mother of the child with dyslexia. BPS can only do so much with a child with different learning styles, needs, and pace. We tried to make it work, but left after 2nd grade. The resource teacher was great, but the time given to my daughter was too little, and the classroom time was too stressful and chaotic for her so it was really a very negative waste of her time. We now are at Raskob Day School on Holy Names Campus. I strongly suggest you call them and go visit. You will see regular kids who each have a learning disorder of some sort. The school goes through middle school. Currently it is quite a small group ot 6-8th graders, but they are hoping very much to double the size of the middle school so as to give these kids more of a typical social milieu. There has been much discussion already on this newsletter about learning disabilities, which should be accessible through the archives. But please check it out- other schools which some people say accomodate different learning styles have been known to request that a child leave mid-way through the school year (esp. if they are trying very hard to boost their reputation as a college-prep school) and can you even imagine anything more disastrous? Anyway, we are thrilled with my child's progress, and the difference in self-esteem Raskob has given her. Kids are savvy- I firmly believe that self-esteem only comes with true success, and the kids at Raskob are succeeding. Please post anonymously.

I would call the Family Resource Network on Claremont Avenue in Oakland or Children's Hospital, Oakland (psycho-education department) about support groups. Sorry but I do not know of any support group for mild Learning Disabilities.

The Berkeley Public Schools does accommodate students with mild Learning Disabilities. If your child wasn't eligible for special education, he/she may be eligible for a 504 Plan (generally a regular education procedure but since your child is in private school, not sure how that is handled). You should contact Sally Sweatfield at the BUSD Special Education Office regarding your concerns. Share with her the private assessment and ask about a 504 Plan. I am not sure how private schools accommodate students with 504 Plans.

On yes, about special gadgets, like typing machines ...I would talk to someone from the Center for Accessible Technology (841-3224). They are great. Wednesday afternoons are open resource days. Membership isn't expensive either. They provide wonderful suggestons. Doreen

I don't know anything about the BPS programs, but I have had great success with a sensory-motor skills program for my eight year old's dyslexia. It seems to have dramatic results, despite being apparently irrelevant to the problem. It involves (for him) lots of spinning around, hanging from monkey bars, crawling in special patterns, tracing big letters etc. In four months his reading skills have gone up by eighteen months and his writing is now fairly readable and much faster. There are lots of different such programs around. I took my son to one that was outside the school, because he was already feeling discouraged among his very bright and quick friends, and I didn't want to draw attention to it any further. The whole thing has been our "secret weapon". I didn't even tell his teacher, feeling that any response she makes to his improvement would then be impartial evidence.

His end of year report is streets ahead of his mid-year one, with many comments from his teacher about his improved "attitude".

His school did offer a program, but it seemed less focused, and they were already full up with kids with much more severe problems ( he was reading at a "reasonable" level for a boy, according to his teachers). I was much more concerned that he should feel good about himself, and not believe he was naturally stupid. He was really upset after the first session, claiming I thought his brain was no good, but after the big improvements we've been seeing, he seems to be okay about it. I was pretty worried that if it hadn't worked, he never would have forgiven me, though.

The exercises are daily, quite fun, and have had a good by-product in that his father does them along with him. He has also decided to take up boxing, since he now has so much upper body strength and balance....

My nephews, who have a different and more severe dyslexia, have used a different program in England called "Tow to Toe" (or "Torture to Torture" according to my sister-in-law) which has also been effective, but it has been a lot of work over a full year, on top of two years of less effective help before that. It involves a lot of repetition, as far as I can understand, but I really don't know much about it.

Every kid is different when it comes to reading and writing problems - you may have to search around a bit to find the program that's right for you. I certainly found the sensory-motor approach relatively painless. If it's working you should be seeing effects within a few months, that's the bottom line. Fiona

My son is medium-dyslexic, 6th grade Albany MS and about 4th grade reading level. He just began working with Leba Morimoto, LCSW in Berkeley 1-2x per week. So far I am impressed that she understands his learning style. Her own style is firm, focused, yet kind and understanding. I think it will be productive but time will tell. Leba's number is 510-528-8224. Tom

We had our kid diagnosed at Raskob Learning Institute , which gave us an incredibly detailed report. Also we are using CASE, Community Alliance for Special Education, to help us in our IEP meetings, they provide advocates and attornies if needed. Also, our child uses "Talking Book" a free service from the Calif.State Library, 916-654-0640, which you have to apply for. They provide books on tape and a special tape player at no cost. Also the State offers instructional materials on tape for dyslexic kids, also at no cost, if you have them ordered through your public school. We also started with a diagnosis from UCBerkeley School of Optometry, Binocular Vision Clinic, when we first suspected something was going on. -

Re: Parent of Teen Recently Diagnosed with Dyslexia
I have had the same experience with my son, who will be 15 next month. We got the first clear diagnosis when he was 13. In many ways it was a relief to him. It explained why he had to work so hard to get the good grades he gets. We have had various additional testing done since then to hone in on exactly what the problem is. Guiding us through this was Ann Gordon in Oakland 510/873-0801. She may not be taking clients now, but if she has a waiting list, she's worth the wait. Our son went to a Slingerland (a technique to work with dyslexia) summer school last summer, which helped a lot. Call Nancy Cushen White: 415/661-0956 for information. He will begin shortly a very intense tutoring program through Lindamood Bell (510/649-7618). The trouble with this program is that it's VERY expensive (for us, $5000 - $10,000)--thus, unaffordable to most people. Charles Schwab himself is dyslexic, and there is a resource website through Charles Schwab about dyslexia (but I don't know the address). I also understand from Ann Gordon and others that the Ann Martin Children's Center provides testing and other services. I know that having this come up so late in your daughter's life is shocking. It's a testament to her intelligence that nobody figured this out before. My son has found things much easier, now that he understands the issues. He is now able to advocate for himself with his teachers, and seems completely able to discuss with peers what his issues are. Good luck.