East Ridge Bridges Lab:

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The Bridges Learning Lab is available for students at East Ridge Elementary who are not reaching their academic potential. This type of Learning Therapy is a different concept in education. It provides learners with something similar to what a weight room provides athletes—it trains the “mental muscles” needed for learning. This training helps students become better learners by developing learning skills and abilities. Learning to do things like riding a bike or riding a horse requires experience. Learning to learn is no different. Students go to the Bridges Lab to strengthen their learning skills. Many students in the Lab are highly intelligent; however, it may be that a child has learned to compensate for the learning skills that have not been fully developed. 

In order to learn or learn more easily, students need:

· good eyesight

· the skill to follow visually

· the skill to focus and re-focus the eyes easily

· the skill to focus near and far easily

· the skill to use both eyes together

· the skill to do visual tasks without tiring 

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Eyesight and vision are two different things. Eyesight concerns the physical shape of the eyeball and its medical health. Vision is the brain’s learned response to messages perceived by the eyes. Vision skills for reading and other learning are highly specialized. They are not necessarily developed with other activities that require good eyesight.

Students are recommended to our lab in various ways:

1. Teachers may refer students to our lab at any grade level based on classroom performance. 

2. The Sweetwater I. S. D. has developed a policy of conducting a vision screening on all second grade students. Through this screening process we may determine that a child could benefit from our Bridges Learning Lab. Please understand that this is not an eyesight exam, but a focusing skills assessment.

3. We conduct the SOI Learning Abilities Test-Form L on all third grade students. There are eleven sub-tests within this test. Each of the abilities tested is essential to a specific area of early learning. The results are reported as they relate to Reading, Language, Arithmetic, Spelling, and Fine Motor Coordination. The various tests in the SOI-Form L can be combined to give us an indication of a student’s ability to handle different types of content. This is especially important for the young student. If the learning style or preference does not match the content mode of the curriculum, the mismatch can lead to poor early school experiences.

Students in our lab will participate in strengthening learning abilities. These abilities will improve comprehension, memory, problem solving, decision-making, and creativity. In our lab, students will work on focusing skills to strengthen their vision system and balance activities to improve their sensory-motor system. The activities they will be doing in the lab involve the use of small trampolines and balance boards under the constant supervision of a Bridges specialist. 

First and Second grade learning labs are 30 minutes, twice a week. Third grade lab is 45 minutes, twice a week. Parents are notified if their child has been recommended for the Bridges Lab. We hold a parent open house each year for parents to come and experience the lab with their child. Parents are invited, in advance, and are given a choice of days in which to participate.

We welcome any questions parents may have and are available for conferences, if necessary.