About Us

Independent Learning Tools specializes in teaching students with dyslexia in the northern suburbs of Chicago.


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Remediation for reading and spelling issues using Wilson Reading System®, tutoring in fluency, writing, and memory, teacher training and coaching, parent support and advocacy.


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Wilson Reading System®

The Wilson Reading System® is a reading program designed for students in grades 2 through adulthood who have difficulty with decoding (reading) and encoding (spelling).


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ILT Blog

Check out inspirational stories, academic musings, or specific explanations about teaching reading and dyslexia.


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What people are saying about us.

  • Through Catrina’s wholehearted dedication and passion for teaching, she guided me through much more than the black and white strategies of coping with dyslexia. Catrina instilled in me the skills I pride myself in as a student. She showed me how to use my strengths to lead me to academic success.

    Jenna W., college student, University of Colorado, Boulder
  • I just wanted to thank you again for your encouragement to go for the certification and for your detailed instruction, guidance and personal pointers which you have given me. I wish you could see the tremendous change that has occurred in the lives of many of my students once they learned to read and spell accurately. I have truly been amazed.

    Marcia W., Level 1 Wilson certified teacher, Skokie, IL
  • After about a month of graduate school, today I sat down with my box of colored pencils and wrote myself a schedule for the rest of the semester. It’s sort of like a giant syllabus, integrating all of my classes and telling me what I need to have done week by week. This made me thing of you because, well, I’m pretty sure you were the one who taught me how to do that. This particular trick got me through high school, and I know it is going to get me through this PhD. I just wanted to thank you for this, along with the ton of other super useful things that you taught.

    Katy D., Masters student, University of Chicago
  • Catrina views young learners as individuals. Each student is met right where they are, and step by step she helps build the student’s confidence and love of reading. Catrina helped our daughter understand her personal learning style. She explained that information has to be learned in in a different way than her peers, and Catrina explained and taught this in a way that always made our daughter feel smart and powerful. Catrina has been an amazing advocate to our daughter and our family as we learned about her learning style and how to navigate her learning within the public school system. We now have a 6th grader who has a huge love of books, knows the tools she needs to use to compensate for her learning style and has confidence to boot! I am not sure what school would have been like for my daughter if we had not been supported by Catrina. I highly recommend Catrina and the Wilson method.

    Julie W., student’s mother, Chicago, IL
  • Catrina Hays is the most phenomenal teacher I have ever had! I would not be where I am today if it was not for her. A couple of years ago, I received my undergraduate degree from the University of Iowa, and now I am currently working as an assistant teacher and getting my master’s degree in Special Education. She gave me the tools and the confidence that I needed to get to this point in my life.


    Before Catrina, I despised school and found it extremely challenging due to my learning disability. At the time, I felt like no one could help me. Catrina was able to teach me in a unique way that fit my learning needs. She showed me my strengths and weakness and how to use them to my advantage. I learned that I learn best through pictures. Catrina showed me how to study using visuals; for example, when I was trying to study for the Constitution, we drew pictures on flashcards of each part of the Constitution.


    Not only did I learn a lot through Catrina, but she made learning enjoyable. When we were learning angles, she had us jumping around the room creating a 90, 180, 360 degree angles and more.  I loved going to school when I had her as a teacher. I would even stay in for recess to study and get homework done with her. All the strategies she has taught me I now use with my students. She is the one who changed my life and inspired me to become a teacher.

    Brittany S., teacher assistant, Evanston, IL
  • Michael was born in Russia, and we adopted him at the age of 5. At first we thought his difficulties in learning the alphabet and reading simple sight words were because English was his second language. As his schooling progressed, it became apparent Michael had a learning disability severe enough to prevent him from reading. By age 11, he was still not able to read or write. His school claimed he would never be able to read so I sought outside help. Michael initially received tutoring from two different sources, but neither showed results.

    Frustrated, I called our neuropsychologist who recommended we contact Catrina Hays. Upon reading Michael’s test results and background information, Catrina stated she could teach Michael to read. I must admit I did not share her confidence, but was impressed with her insistence that she could help Michael.

    Michael did not have an easy time learning to read. Days, weeks, months passed as he struggled with the fluency pages. However, over time, I noticed he was beginning to write notes and express his feelings on paper. This was especially the case when I was upset with him. I think he felt it easier to apologize on paper than in person! Michael began texting, setting up his own account on Facebook and reading simple stories. His writing improves every month. What has been very enjoyable for me is that Michael can now play Scrabble, a favorite family game.

    I wish I could describe how much working with Catrina has meant to Michael and our family. I can only say that without the ability to read, he could not live an independent life – what a tragedy that would have been.

    Julie I., student’s mother, Chicago, IL

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