photos by Tyler McElhaney

Learning Problems Don’t Have to be Permanent

cs_literacy1Why do smart children struggle in school? “When children are struggling in school there are likely underlying learning skills that are underdeveloped, inefficient, or need correcting. These are hidden challenges and most go unrecognized,” says Maria Bagby, Owner and Executive Director of the Therapeutic Literacy Center (TLC). “Many are labeled with ADHD, Reading Disorders, or just said to have low motivation.” These are the children that spend hours doing homework, feel conflict in family dynamics because of homework, and begin to feel less smart than they really are.

TLC identifies and fixes the problem that is causing challenges and frustrations. “Our highly trained and professional clinicians are trained in identifying these deficits in underlying skills and in developing those skills through very specialized systems, techniques, programs, and tools. We specialize in developing and correcting deficits in auditory and visual processing, processing speed, working memory, reflex integration, motor coordination, sensory integration, logic and reasoning, and many others areas that are critical for independent academic success.”


TLC has facilitated seven children in exiting special education this year and prevented many others from being identified as needing extra resources in school.

After 30 years in education and three Master’s degrees (Psychology, Reading, and Curriculum and Assessment), Maria knows well the training that educators receive. According to her, schools are taught how to create accommodations and in helping children learn to compensate for learning problems. They aren’t trained in how to fix the problems. “The neurosciences haven’t reached the schools yet, resources are limited, and it’s just not in their job description. The schools’ job is to help children access the curriculum – not to fix the problem that is causing the difficulty. And they don’t have the time in their day to develop the underlying learning skills that might be creating the difficulties these students experience.”


Children become successful independent learners when these hidden underlying skills are developed. The lives of children and families change and homework is no longer a struggle. In addition, TLC students and families find a safe haven that is both life-changing and fun. “It’s a welcoming and friendly environment with the buzz of hard work, a lot of laughter, and a real feeling of enjoyment for each individual as the gifted people they really are,” Maria said.

Parents often comment that their child feels ‘normal’ at TLC, that they feel accepted, affirmed, and mentored by clinicians that know how smart they really are. One such parent shared, “My son absolutely loves going to TLC because he feels like the gifted and smart child he actually is. I’m no longer seeing his frustrations but his joy in finding the quick ways he grasps things.” Another parent commented, “Our daughter’s ability to read has improved dramatically. Not surprisingly, so has her confidence. She is a much happier and well-adjusted teenager.”

For more information about their individualized programs or to find out how TLC can help your child visit

Become Part of Creating Opportunities
Maria gave the seed money to start a nonprofit foundation that will help children in families from the ‘disappearing middle class.’ “Many middle class families are ‘one paycheck away from poverty’ and can’t afford the therapies their children need to succeed and fix the hidden underlying cause of their difficulties. Children who have struggled may not only need therapies at the underlying skills level, but often there is a need for psychological therapies after years of feeling failure or watching their friends find learning easier. Learn more about the North County Literacy Foundation and how you can help children at home here in North County. Learn more here.

Therapeutic Literacy Center’s North County Literacy Foundation, whose mission is to assist families in need with necessary funding to attend TLC, invites you to make a difference in a child’s life and give back today.


Name of Business: Therapeutic Literacy Center, LLC
Owner: Maria Bagby
Clinical Director: Chelsea Leatherman
Assessment Director: Margaret Calderon
Year of Establishment: 2012
Address: 990 Highland Dr. Suite 106-D, Solana Beach, CA 92075
Phone: 858-481-2200cs_literacy3