A short stroll through any school hallway or a cursory look into any school classroom will quickly give one ample evidence that God doesn’t use cookie cutters in His creative act. A class of 20 students yields 20 different fingerprints, 20 different perspectives on the world and at least 20 different ways of eating an Oreo cookie.

Those types of differences are present in the learning process of a student as well. Every child is different with his own set of gifts, strengths, weaknesses, and challenges. Those challenges and strengths are not always clearly visible or evident, but they are present nonetheless, and they have profound impact on the learning experience that a student has in school.

At Cary Christian School this past year we introduced a program developed by the National Institute for Learning Development (NILD) called Search and Teach that seeks to identify those potential challenges that a young student may have so as to work with them in such a way as to make those challenges opportunities and those weaknesses strengths.

Recent and current research indicates the value of a “preventive” approach to deal with potential learning problems in the future. Search and Teach is an early identification and intervention program developed to meet the educational needs of young learners before they experience the frustration of learning failure.

Search and Teach was developed by Archie A. Silver, M.D. (child psychiatrist) and Rosa A. Hagin, Ph.D. (psychologist) and the staff of the Learning Disorders Unit at New York University School of Medicine. It is based on extensive interdisciplinary research on the diagnosis and treatment of learning disorders and is now being implemented in diverse school settings throughout the nation.

The “Search” component of Search and Teach is a 20-minute individual test designed to identify 5 and 6-year-olds vulnerable to learning difficulty. It provides profiles of individual strengths and weaknesses in the foundational skills necessary for reading success.

The “Teach” component is a program of 55 learning tasks that have been carefully developed and tested during a four-year investigation of pre-reading skills to address the needs revealed by the “Search” component. It is an individualized program but does allow for some small group work of review activities with children of similar needs.

By employing these techniques and reaching students at a younger age, we hope to set more students on a path toward success earlier, thus establishing confidence in further academic development. As that confidence increases in their academic development, they will feel similarly confident in their understanding of their callings in Christ, and that’s when we really see some magic!