How Early Intervention Can Help Prevent Academic Struggles

posted in: Trident Academy

Did you know: if students aren’t reading on grade level by the end of third grade, they are likely to fall even further behind? In fact, those students are four times less likely to graduate from high school, according to a Tri-County Cradle to Career Collaborative report.

Statistics like this hammer home the concept that early intervention is essential, especially for students who may be struggling with a learning disability.

If parents suspect their child is struggling, the first step is to talk to the child’s teacher according to Betsy Fanning, Head of School at Trident Academy. Make an appointment to sit down and discuss what you are seeing at home and if the child is having a tough time in the classroom, too. At that point, parents and teachers can discuss the options – anything from after-school help to testing to determine if the child has a learning disability.

Students who struggle with reading, spelling, writing and math may simply need a different teaching method. At Trident Academy in Mount Pleasant, teachers use the Orton-Gillingham approach in their instruction. This approach focuses on individualized instruction and multisensory teaching techniques that encourage students to use seeing, hearing and touching to grasp concepts in a way that makes sense to them.

For some students, full-time instruction at an independent school like Trident Academy is most effective. Other students may benefit from a couple of day in Trident’s academic therapy program available after school and open to everyone. Teachers assess each student and then customize direct instruction to target weak academic areas.

Fanning said that while intervening to help children at a young age is the best approach, older students can also benefit from targeted instruction.

“Even if the student is in fifth grade, we can put that struggle to rest,” she says. “We’re about helping kids be successful.”

While public schools may not be able to offer special literacy programs or individualized instruction, Trident’s small classroom size and focused approach are beneficial to students needing that academic boost.

Parents can also help get kids on the right track. Fanning advises making reading with the kids a regular part of families’ schedules starting in infancy. As the children get older, they can read to their parents. Or if the child doesn’t like to read, switch off reading paragraphs. This will help the parent determine if the child is struggling.

“Reading together sets children up for lifelong learning,” says Fanning. “It’s an awesome way to imprint the value of the written language.”

And it will help parents spot problem areas early on so they can avoid that third-grade slide. “By third grade, children should be reading to learn rather than learning to read,” says Fanning.


Trident Academy specializes in educating cognitively capable children diagnosed with learning differences including dyslexia, ADHD and Asberger-like attributes. Their staff of experienced educators is committed to providing students with the tools and confidence to successfully transition into a traditional academic program.

Trident Academy is now accepting applications for the fall semester and for its after-school academic therapy program. For more information visit or call (843) 884-7046.