RISE Summer Camps Series: Reflections on the emotional investment of our camp counsellors

RISE Summer Camps Series: Reflections on the emotional investment of our camp counsellors

This summer has been challenging and rewarding. For the first time, LDS offered RISE Summer Camps specially designed for kids with learning differences. We chatted with Matt Tikkanen to find out what the Summer Camp experience has been like from an instructor perspective.

Matt is an Educational Summer Program Coordinator and, along with other staff and instructors, he works with children in the small, safe, and specialized groups attending the LDS Summer Camps. Matt has a Bachelor of Arts from Capilano University, but it isn’t his academic background that helps him connect so well with his students; it’s the fact that Matt has a learning disability too. It doesn’t hurt that Matt is also friendly, fun, and quick to smile.

Matt says what he finds so special about the LDS Summer Camps is the 1-to-1 time that instructors have with the kids. As an instructor, “you have to be on the entire time,” Matt explains, laughing. But it’s exactly that intensive engagement that has such an impact on campers. 

“In terms of what we’re able to do,” Matt says, “is help kids with the academic side, but also feeling good about yourself when you leave camp. Our role as instructors includes trying to figure out how we individually support the children to succeed for themselves.” 

There are challenges to this work. “What I found emotionally tough is that you’re working with kids and you really see yourself within that kid. It can be hard not to because you think, ‘I know what it’s like to struggle in school!’ That’s been…difficult.” 

That said, the rewards outweigh the challenges. “The rewarding part of working with kids that have learning differences,” Matt explains, is when the students “walk out of camp and think to themselves, ‘Wow, I do feel really good about myself and I can accomplish whatever I set out to accomplish!’”

“That great thing about LDS is it can help children and their parents get an understanding of what it’s like having a learning disability and it’s OK, it’s not the end of the world, it’s not ‘the worst thing ever!’” Matt says, imitating the intonation of a tween. “Within the camps, you can help kids feel good about themselves and that they can be successful and, hopefully, you can help them transfer that into the academic setting.”

Another rewarding aspect is watching the kids work together. Matt gave an example of one cohort who worked really well together during an Escape Room adventure. Despite their individual learning differences, “they were all communicating and listening and hearing other people’s ideas and talking about what they wanted to do. The reason they succeeded was that they worked really well as a team. It was great to see.” 

Overall, Matt says, “It’s been a really fun experience. It’s been cool. Wait, don’t say, ‘It’s been cool!’” he says, laughing again. “It’s been really rewarding. I’ve taken more out of it than I thought I would.”

If you’d like to learn more about our camp programs, please visit our RISE Summer Camp or our RISE Spring and Pro-D Camp program pages.

Our commitment to standing up against racism and injustice.

Our commitment to standing up against racism and injustice.

We stand in solidarity with #BlackOutTuesday. Here’s why:  

We are a charity that exists to serve all children and youth with learning challenges. We know that doesn’t mean we can just open our door and expect “all” those children and youth to walk in. We know we need to always be learning and doing more to actively understand who EACH and every one of those children and their family are. Each individual child and their family deserves our humility, respect, understanding and time. Each individual child and their family deserve our hard work to make sure we are serving them, and that we are continually doing what we can to dismantle the systems – including those that operate internally – that may pose barriers to their full participation. Each individual child deserves to feel LDS is actively creating and holding a safe space for them.  
This is our commitment to standing up against racism and injustice: 

We commit to doing active learning and training in diversity, equity and inclusion, and anti-oppression throughout our organization and to responsively changing our structures. We commit to zero tolerance for and to actively calling out racism, bias, discrimination and injustice. We commit to listening to Black, Indigenous and other Peoples of Colour and their communities on ways we can better hear, include and serve them individually and collectively. And we commit to reporting back to our community at least quarterly on our work and seeking your feedback.  

We thank the communities of allies, educators, activists, philanthropists and others who are helping us, a predominantly white organization, learn more about how we can take responsibility without putting the emotional labour on those who are fighting ongoing oppression. We encourage everyone to seek out ways they can advance their own learning and take action in a way that is appropriate for them.  

To those within our community who are racialized and who are experiencing oppression and discrimination, we know your resilience and strength and we want to do our best to support you and be an ally. Please know you belong here, and wherever else you choose to be. 

Please reach out any time with your thoughts, ideas and feedback.  

Humbly on behalf of the LDS Team, 

Rachel S. Forbes, Executive Director 

How RISE at Home offers the highest quality all-round online instruction experience

How RISE at Home offers the highest quality all-round online instruction experience

Here we are in a brand new world with different challenges and new solutions. The LDS team has worked around the clock to transform our inperson instructors into online instructorsAfter dedicating hours to researching the right online platform for our students and their families, we’re excited to offer our RISE (Research-informed Individualized Student Education) at Home online learning through TutorCruncher and LessonSpace 


We chose TutorCruncher with the full student experience in mind. Far from the surface are the nitty-gritty detailsscheduling, invoicing, timesheetspersonal and organization-wide calendars, reporting to parents and to staff, data tracking, apps that sync people, apps that sync appsWe can also all rest easily knowing that the limited data that’s stored in TutorCruncher is on Canadian servers, is in line with Canadian privacy laws, plus adheres to the highest data privacy standards (the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)). Choosing the right software was essentialTutorCruncher helps us coordinate the system that surrounds the student. With software to simplify our operations, we can minimize our resources devoted to administration and maximize developing more resources for families 


TutorCruncher is more than a business management system. Integrated into each scheduled lesson is an interactive whiteboardLessonSpacewhere our instructors and students meet. Many features of LessonSpace will feel familiar. We can see and hear each other through video calls, similar to FaceTime or Skype. On the interactive whiteboard, we can collaborate on schoolwork and the individualized lessons designed by our instructors. Using a collaborative whiteboard may be new for many of our students, but don’t worry. This one is easy to get started and easy to use. And after each session, parents can access lesson reports to keep updated on their child’s progress.  


The new online whiteboard is “1 click connect“It literally walks into a virtual classroom. Your pencil and paper are waiting. Screen sharing on the whiteboard is just like watching your tutor work out a problem on paper. It has separate tabs, just like turning to a new chapter in a book. It even has built in graph paper for everyone working on their math skillsEven online it feels familiar.  


Together, TutorCruncher and LessonSpace are user friendly, high-quality, secure and interactive – giving our kids, families and instructors the best experience possible. These systems facilitate the lesson without distracting our students and create a secure learning environment. And they help LDS make learning accessible to more families in our community. 


Our mission is to empower the unique strengths of our students. The foundation of this service is employing instructors with diverse skill sets. Behind our capacity to individualize student learning is our ability to connect students with instructors experienced in creating an individualized experience for each of their students, as no two students are the same.  


We have found ourselves in a changed world and since March, our transition has gained a new significance. Developing our online community now also keeps us safe. We will stay home and teach. We hope that you will stay home and learn. We will research, and we will investigate.  It is a great time for imagination, and we look forward to joining you online via RISE at Home to keep our kids learning! 


Do you have questions, comments or feedback on RISE at Home? Want to find out more information about how we can help your child who has a suspected or diagnosed learning disability? Please get in touch – info@ldsociety.ca or 604.873.8139 x102 



Make Home Learning a Success in 5 Simple Steps

Make Home Learning a Success in 5 Simple Steps

Transitions can be a challenging part of life and change can be difficult for any child, regardless of their learning abilities. For many families, the current shift to home learning is a big transition and a huge change for students who thrive on consistency and structure. That’s one of the reasons LDS is proud to be continuing our 1:1 instruction via a dynamic, interactive online platform; we call this our Research-informed Individualized Student Education at Home program – RISE at Home.

Here are five simple steps that will help you make home learning a success for your child.

1. Set up a schedule

A normal routine brings comfort and consistency, helping children understand expectations and develop self-discipline. Try to include your child in this process and make it interactive through checklists or reward systems. Checking off activities as they’re completed reinforces routine, organization, and structure. As many parents and educators know, students love reward systems. An effective reward could be more time for creative, play, or social activities.

Keeping a similar structure to their regular school days will help establish consistency. Meal and bedtimes can stay the same along with their learning hours. Hang up the schedule where your child can see it. The fridge or their designated learning space are great places.

Here’s an example adapted from Youth Mental Health Canada:

Time Task Details
Before 9am Wake up Eat breakfast, make bed, get dressed, put PJs in the laundry basket
9-10am Morning walk Family walk with the dog, indoor yoga if it's raining
10-11am Academic time NO ELECTRONICS
Sudoku books, flash cards, study guides, journal, workbooks
11am-12pm Creative time LEGO, drawing, crafting, playing music, baking, etc.
12pm Lunch Ask your child to help you prepare lunch!
1-2:30pm Quiet time Reading, puzzles, nap
2:30-4pm Academic time ELECTRONICS OKAY
LDS Online Resource list, Remote 1:1 instruction with LDS, iPad
4-5pm Afternoon fresh air Ride bikes, walk the dog, play outside
5-6pm Dinner Whole family
6-7:30pm Free TV time BONUS: Watch educational shows
7:30-8pm Bedtime routine Brush teeth, floss, wash face, bedtime stories, etc.
8pm Bedtime All kids
9pm Late Bedtime Kids who follow the daily schedule and don't fight!

2. Designate a learning space

It doesn’t have to be a desk or in the child’s bedroom, but it should be in a place where they feel comfortable, able to learn, and where you can monitor them. Noisy, shared spaces might not be ideal if your child has attention difficulties or is easily distracted.

Once you and your child have decided on the space, work together to set up all the tools your child will need. At the end of each learning day, allow for time to tidy up and take note of any supplies that are running low.

Check in with your child after the first few times using this space to see if it will work for them. Be mindful of tricks! They might try to move to another space that has less supervision or more distractions.

3. Start each day with setting goals

Goal setting is an important skill in life. It provides your child with what they’ll be working toward for the day, the hour, or each task. Keep the goals minimal, starting with no more than three, and S.M.A.R.T.: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based. Starting off with simple and easily achievable goals are great ways to build self-esteem and help with on-task behaviour. Ask them what their goals are, what challenges they may see in their learning for the day, and what strategies they will use if they have these challenges.

Write down the goals on a small whiteboard, piece of paper, or on a computer for your child to refer to. Keeping track of all their completed goals will build their confidence and show them how much progress they’ve made. Completing each goal can also be included in a reward system. Extra points earned for achieving all three goals!

4. Make time for play

Another way to involve your child in structuring their learning is to let them choose their play activities. These are fun activities that allows your child a break from academics and keeps them engaged and learning. They can be creative, social, or physical exercises and can be used as a part of reward system for motivation.

All students need breaks and putting the emphasis on constructive breaks that include a different way of learning can be a great way to keep your child stimulated and on task. Learners with attention difficulties may need more frequent breaks in their academic learning. Remember to structure in these extra breaks and set clear boundaries for your child to help direct them back to the task.

5. Find resources for your child’s needs 

A Google search of “learning resources for students” will come up with endless results, but we can help! We’ve done our own searching and have created a list of online educational resources that we’re excited about. It may take a couple different tries to find the best math program for your child’s needs and that’s okay. Our top ten are in the resource list. Let us know your favourites!

Online learning may be a challenge for your child and might not be the first place you go to for support, but it is an excellent way to keep your child engaged in the learning process while they are away from school. Give some of the tools on our list a try to change things up and keep your child engaged. Many resources explain the material being covered and can assist you with helping your child.

If you’re interested in additional academic support for your child, stay connected to us for more information on strategies to set your child up for success and remote learning options coming soon.

Online Learning Tools and Resources for At-Home Study

Online Learning Tools and Resources for At-Home Study

With schools closing indefinitely, it is essential to find ways to continue to provide learning opportunities and critical services to our students. Below we offer a selection of online learning resources that may prove useful in your efforts to support your child’s learning at home. Please note our top ten resources have been highlighted to supplement our RISE at Home programming!

Click here to explore the BC curriculum by your child’s grade-level and subject


Online curriculum resource for early years – 11 years old. Subjects include: math, science, english, design, and history.

Practice questions, assignments, and tests for math, science, and english language arts grade 5 – 12.

Boost student engagement & fact fluency with this free multiplayer educational games, math games, language arts games, and more. Designed for grades 1 – 6.

Animated Educational Site for Kids – Science, Social Studies, English, Math, Arts & Music, Health, and Technology. BrainPOP aligns all topics to the standards.

Breakout Edu
An immersive learning games platform to support learning in math, sciences, and language arts. Organized by grade and topic, there are a wide range of games to choose from.

CK-12 Foundation
Each lesson has a reading passage, videos, optional review questions, and self-graded practice questions. The lessons can be assigned to Google Classroom. Free School closure webinar: How to teach online and learn from home with CK-12.

Classroom Secrets
Digital learning tools in all subjects for grades K-6 including spelling, history, math, and reading.

The folks over at Century are allowing parents to access all their resources for free over the next few weeks. Designed for students of all ages, kids can brush up on their math, science, and reading skills.

Digital Learning Academy
An online learning platform with 32 STE(A)M courses that come with lesson plans, instructions, online materials, quizzes, worksheets, and more. Educators will receive full access to all of these courses at no cost during the coronavirus crisis.

Discovery K12
Discovery K12 provides a complete online curriculum for pre-k to 12th grade. All main subjects are covered, plus extra curriculum courses. Curriculum is free to use and available worldwide.

Edmentum is offering schools and districts subscriptions to its online academy and subscriptions to its online practice program. Email info@edmentum.com and watch the recorded webinar to learn more.

Edu-Together will be providing selected services including online courses, staff training and tech assistance “at cost” to any schools or students who are unable to attend school due to the Coronavirus. This website has online courses for high school students in math, history, science, and languages.

Free full access to Emile games-based learning resources for reading and math. Designed for early learners and primary grades.

Fluency & Fitness
Fluency & Fitness® helps students review essential literacy and math skills, while getting in some exercise. Find over 900 videos to help your child keep learning at home and burn off some extra energy. The company is offering its subscription website free for parents to use at home during the school closures.

Free printable K-8 math and reading packets for students.

IXL is built on four key components: comprehensive K-12 curriculum, a Continuous Diagnostic, personalized guidance, and real-time analytics.  Free IXL access for 90 days is offered in addition to a free webinar series with strategies for at-home learning, plus implementation resources and videos to help plan for school closures.

PBS Learning Media
Videos, games, lesson plans and supplemental materials can be searched by grade level, subject area, keyword and standard. PBS Learning Media’s Google Classroom integration makes it easy to share resources.

Khan Academy
You can learn anything. Expert-created content and resources for every course and level. Always free.

Khan Academy Kids
Khan Academy Kids is a free online education program for children ages 2 – 7. the mobile app was designed by child development experts at Stanford University and engages kids in core subjects like early literacy, reading, writing, language, and math, while encouraging creativity and building social-emotional skills. Always free, no ads, no subscriptions, with an offline version available for when internet access is difficult.

The classroom magazines team has created a free “Learning at Home” hub for teachers and families which presents 21 days of engaging, knowledge-building learning journeys for different grade levels that can be accessed at home by kids on any device, even phones.

Online game-based learning for students in grades K – 3. Starfall’s emphasis on phonemic awareness, systematic sequential phonics, and common sight words in conjunction with audiovisual interactivity has proven effective in teaching emergent readers. Starfall activities are research-based and align with Individual and Common Core State Standards in English language arts and mathematics.

This site provides ELA, Math, Science and other areas of study for children through 6th grade. Free unlimited access.

Walkabouts: The Active Learning Platform
Walkabouts are on-demand adventures that transform math and language content into short, movement-rich activities for Pre-K through Second Grade students.


Age of Learning
Age of Learning provides schools closed due to the coronavirus with free home access for all affected families to  digital education programs ABCmouse, Adventure Academy, and ReadingIQ. Programs serve students in preschool / pre-k, elementary school, and middle school. Access to a digital library and online educational games for learning reading skills. Designed for early learners.

Book Creator
Parents can help their school-age kids make their own books using Book Creator’s 90-day free tutorial, which lets kids write and illustrate their own creations.

Classroom Cereal
Grammar practice in free, printable short stories.

Browse our free collection of reading passages in all literary and nonfiction genres for grades 3-12.

Dyslexia Academy 
Dyslexia-Academy is an online dyslexia school of support for Parents, Teachers and Pupils.

Ecree provides real-time feedback on the elements of foundational academy writing: argumentation, organization and analysis. Due to COVID-19 school closings, Ecree is offering all students free access to its interactive writing assistant software until May 31, 2020.

Handwriting Heroes
Handwriting Heroes is a multisensory handwriting curriculum that teaches children how to form their letters through animations, stories and song. iPad app is being offered free of charge. Letter formation videos – always free.

Early learning reading program for ages 2-8 that is personalized to your child’s interests to help them fall in love with learning.

Libby App
Free Overdrive app for digital books and audio books. Access through libraries.

High-interest, cross-curricular texts with accompanied lesson plans. Reading level of the articles can be adjusted. Free access to Newsela’s entire product suite for the rest of the 2019/2020 school year.

Phonics Hero
Phonics Hero teaches school-aged children to read and spell with systematic phonics. Using a step-by-step approach, the 850 games teach children the 44 sounds, the reading and spelling of words, and how to conquer sentences. Available on tablets and computers. 30 days full free access.

Screen-free, ad-free audio streaming service for kids 3-12, featuring podcasts, audiobooks and music. Use the promo code PINNA4KIDS. To activate, create an account and enter the code in step 2 of the sign up process. Two months for free.

ReadWorks is an online resource of research-based reading passages and lesson plans for students of all levels K-12. Always free.

Storyline Online
The SAG-AFTRA Foundation’s award-winning children’s literacy website streams videos featuring celebrated actors reading children’s books alongside creative illustrations. Always free.

Short videos and readings that answers various intriguing questions for students. There are vocabulary challenges and comprehension questions to test knowledge. Good for building vocabulary, comprehension, and reading skills for elementary and middle school students.

Writing Legends
Free writing program for students. Guides through the writing process, and promotes independence. Includes over 200 writing activities.

Vooks brings children’s books to life with animated illustrations, read-a-long text and narrated story. The ad-free platform features a variety of titles.


Asecend Math
Ascend Math offers K12 math instruction providing an individual study plan for each student. Free service is offered from now until the end of April for schools new to Ascend Math.

Bedtime Math/ Cabin Fever Math
Bedtime Math helps families introduce math as a fun part of their daily routine, like a beloved bedtime story. Also, this resource contains ideas for hands-on activities that students can do at home to better understand math concepts.

Boost your math understanding by getting instant feedback on your work.

Data Classroom
DataClassroom is a web app that allows students in grades 6-12 to make graphs (line, bar, box plots, dot plots, etc.) and do basic statistical analysis. This activity uses data from the 1918 influenza pandemic to illustrate why schools are closing in an attempt to flatten the curve. Start a free 90-day trial to create classes with student accounts. Company CEO Aaron Reedy says that teachers can email him directly to extend a trial longer than 90-days.

Automated online math tutor, like a Google for math. Enter your math problem or search term, press the button, and it shows you the step-by-step work and answer instantly. 2nd grade through college.

Free science and math simulations for teaching STEM topics, including physics, chemistry, biology, and math, from University of Colorado Boulder.

Join more than million students, teachers, parents and school leaders using our zero cost math learning platform for grades 1–8.

ST Math
It’s a PreK-8 visual instructional program that leverages the brain’s innate spatial-temporal reasoning ability to solve mathematical problems.

K-5 curriculum aims to build deep understanding and a love of learning math for all students. Always free.

Free math facts fluency website.


Develops apps for learning chemistry concepts.

American Chemistry Society
Free articles for high school students to learn about chemistry topics such as chemical reactions, acids/bases, etc.

Defined Learning
Hands-on projects are based on situations in STEM careers to help learners discover their passions and choose a pathway to a promising future.

ExploreLearning Science4Us
Science4Us covers Inquiry, Physical Science, Life Science and Earth & Space Science with lessons designed for K-2 students. 1000’s of online and offline activities teach students using videos, interaction, poems, songs, and digital notebooks. Free 30-day trial.

NASA Kids’ Club
NASA Kids’ Club helps children in pre-K through fourth grade learn the ins and outs of NASA’s missions using hands-on educational games. There’s also a “Now in Space” slideshow that introduces budding astronauts to the crew currently orbiting Earth on the International Space Station.

National Geographic Kids

National Geographic Kids has put together a site full of free educational videos, games, and activities that center on wildlife and preservation for kids of all ages.

Free science simulations, scientist profiles, and other digital resources for middle school science and high school biology. No login required. Always free.

Tyto Online
Next Generation Science video game focused on middle school students. Free 60-day trial offered with the possibility of extension for schools affected by COVID-19/coronavirus closures.


Active History
British educator Russell Tarr offers tools and resources for teaching history including interactive simulations, quizzes, and games. A one-month free trial is available on request due to school closures.

Big History Project
Big History Project is a free, online social studies course that emphasizes skill development such as writing and critical thinking, as students draw connections between past, present and future.


Conjuguemos makes learning verb conjugations in Spanish, French (+ 7 other languages) easy with drill practices and fun multi-player games.

ESL Library
Offering Plus subscriptions to all Standard users, and its printable lessons on Pandemics and the coronavirus are also currently free for non-members.


BeeLine Reader
BeeLine Reader helps students read on screen more effectively. It is used both by skilled readers (including high school and college students) and readers with dyslexia, ADHD and autism. The technology is backed by educational research and has won social impact awards from the United Nations and Stanford University. Free access to the BeeLine Reader Browser plugin for Chrome has been added.

CMU CS Academy
Online, interactive high school computer science curriculum that is entirely free.

Minecraft: Education Edition
A game-based learning platform that aims to promote creativity, collaboration, and problem-solving in an immersive digital environment.

Typing Club
Always free. Master touch typing using this game / educational program.

Youth Code Jam
Free bilingual, hands-on coding activities for K-8 that can be used in school or at home, teaching basic computational thinking and computer science concepts. Adventure Mode helps drive student-centered learning.

Offering Vidcode’s full computer science curriculum and coding platform at no cost during COVID-19/coronavirus closures.


Digital Theatre Plus
Three million students, at over 2,000 academic institutions, in 80+ countries have unlimited access to some of the world’s finest productions, unique backstage insights, practitioner interviews and written analysis. Free during this time.

Mark Kistler
Offering free access to free, virtual, live webcasts for art/drawing lessons for students needing to work from home during this period.


Cisco Webex is the leading enterprise solution for video conferencing, online meetings, screen share, and webinars.

ClassDojo is a free tool for parent communication, sharing information, and portfolios, provide a platform for teachers to assign and students to complete and submit work online.

EdConnect is a video messaging tool that brings the classroom environment online.

Online app for video conferences. Has features to project desktop screen, and a whiteboard.

From creating digital content and capturing lessons with video, to organizing digital assignments, our myViewBoard education solutions help deliver classroom interaction in digital learning.


Quizlet makes simple learning tools that let you study anything. Start learning today with flashcards, games and learning tools — all for free.


Game-based interventions that focus on improving social and emotional skills in K-8 students. Educators can get a free 30-day trial and have as many students as they’d like to play the programs at school or at home. Free SEL lessons/activities and printables.

COVID-19: LDS’s proactive measures and updates

COVID-19: LDS’s proactive measures and updates

Dear LDS community members,

This space will be updated as proactive measures and policy or practice changes are made by LDS in response to the evolving COVID-19 situation. Last update: March 17, 2020

What is LDS doing?

We would like to assure you that LDS staff are monitoring the COVID-19 situation on an ongoing basis. We are keeping abreast of measures being taken by health authorities, local schools and others, and are aware of information shared by various public health and government authorities.

As of March 16, all staff are working remotely.

We are prioritizing the set up of remote online software to ensure that our instruction can continue following spring break. We will be updating our instructors and our families as soon as possible to confirm timing, technology options and programming that will be offered online starting approximately March 30th.

We have and will continue to increase the thoroughness of cleaning at our facilities, including regular disinfection of surfaces, door handles, table tops. For the time being no work or instruction is happening at our Learning Centres.

To ensure as much safety as possible, LDS has temporarily (until April 30) amended our cancellation policy. Families may now cancel sessions due to sickness without being charged. We will update this policy if/as necessary. We have also urged parents to report any signs of illness right away and cancel their session.

We have asked our instructors and staff to report any of their own symptoms immediately to us, and to alert us of any suspected symptoms in students, parents, other staff or anyone interacting with the LDS community.

What can you do?

In line with guidance from the government, please stay home as much as possible, including not attending school or work places.

If you feel unwell, please notify LDS immediately and do not go into schools or LDS offices. If you have come into contact with any known or suspected cases of COVID-19 locally or internationally within the past 14+ days, please alert us immediately and do not go into LDS offices or any schools.

Since respiratory viruses, such as the one that causes COVID-19, are spread through contact, change how you greet one another. Instead of a handshake, a kiss or a hug, a friendly wave is less likely to expose you to respiratory viruses.

Practice frequent hand hygiene and coughing and sneezing etiquette. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces, such as toys, phones and door handles.

These are the most important ways that you can protect yourself and your family from respiratory illness, including COVID-19.

Support our families

If you are able to give, your support now will mean that we are better able to move all of our instruction online to ensure continuity of service and support to all of our families during this time when we need each other’s help the most.

Please consider donating or becoming a monthly supporter today. Charitable receipts are issued through CanadaHelps.


We encourage you to consult information and resources from reputable sources. Some of our suggestions include:

Advice by the Canadian government on COVID-19 as well as information on symptoms and prevention measures can be found here https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/coronavirus-disease-covid-19.html

Q&A for Kids from the BC CDC: http://www.bccdc.ca/Health-Info-Site/Documents/COVID19%20QA%20for%20kids%20Feb%202020.pdf

BC CDC information: http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/coronavirus-(novel)#Community–resources

If you have any concerns or questions, please do not hesitate to contact us. INFO@LDSOCIETY.CA or 604.873.8139

LDS Welcomes New Associate Director of Learning Support, Melissa Sager

LDS Welcomes New Associate Director of Learning Support, Melissa Sager

We’re pleased to welcome Melissa Sager to the LDS team as our new Associate Director of Learning Support. Melissa has over ten years of experience providing remedial instruction for children with special needs in both public and private settings.

During that time, she even created a small school where she worked with a team of multidisciplinary professionals to address academic, social, emotional, behavioural and executive functioning goals, while nurturing maximum student engagement through interest-based learning programs.

As Associate Director of Learning Support, Melissa will work closely with the Executive Director and Director of Learning Support to expand and develop LDS’s in-school, centre-based, after-school and summer programs.

What first inspired you to take up teaching as a profession?

During university, I volunteered at a therapeutic horseback riding farm where I helped teach children and youth with a range of disabilities and mental health disorders learn about horsemanship and horse care. Horses are keen observers; they are very sensitive to movement and emotion. They often mirror behaviour or emotions, conveying understanding and connection that allows a person to feel safe.

It was really impactful to observe how children and youth were able to develop a sense of self-awareness using the horse’s behaviour and interactions for feedback. I witnessed how clients were fully present when working with these large, sensitive animals and able to be so present and process what was happening in the moment. My experiences at the farm helped me realize how much I loved being a facilitator of both learning and therapeutic experiences, so I decided to go back to school to pursue my Masters in Education and become a special education teacher.

Some of the work you did for your Masters of Education centered around students with learning disabilities. Can you tell us a bit about that and how it has informed your approach to teaching over the years?

I worked with children who had significant emotional and behavioural challenges in a Special Education classroom, which required me to become incredibly attuned to a child’s needs and level of engagement during instruction.

I realized that there are numerous factors, unrelated to aptitude or ability, that influence a student’s availability to learn and access the curriculum. As teachers, there are many environmental variables we can control and strategies we can employ to facilitate optimal learning, and great instruction begins with making sure a student’s needs are being met.

Was there a pivotal moment or experience in your career that really highlighted the value and/or need for individualized instruction?

I tutored an incredibly bright first grader whose enthusiasm about life and high level of engagement in the learning process was infectious! When he entered grade 2 and expectations shifted towards greater independence, especially in reading and transitioning between tasks, he began to internalize some of his difficulties keeping up with the class.

It was heartbreaking to see how he lost confidence in himself and in his academic abilities. There was a stark contrast in his demeanor when learning at home in a tutoring context compared to his learning experience at school. At home, his inquisitiveness was insatiable. He was constantly seeking out information on a wide variety of topics and initiating in-depth, multi-step projects that required a great deal of planning, organization and goal-persistence.

Knowing how successful he could be in an environment that was well-suited for his learning style, his family decided to try homeschooling and asked me to help design a customized learning program based on his strengths and needs. When lessons were both individualized and geared toward his interests, he was able to access the curriculum, develop good strategies for optimal learning with a disability, and excel beyond grade level expectations in many areas.

What drew you to LDS?

From the moment I first met with LDS staff during the interview phase, it was very clear to me how deeply this community cares about helping kids with learning disabilities and making sure no student is left behind. I’m excited about being a part of a really passionate, creative and dedicated team, and working towards furthering LDS’s mission.

What most excites you about working here?

When I learned that LDS is a non-profit charity whose mission is to improve life outcomes for at-risk children and youth through individualized remedial education, I was very interested to learn more. It is rare to find a program that can offer fully funded, one-to-one interventions for clients who qualify. It is a high-need service in many communities and there aren’t any other organizations who offer this service in Vancouver.

What’s your favourite subject to teach?

Even though it was my least favorite subject during my school years, I really love teaching Math.

Red apples or green apples?   

I love ALL apples!

Meet Our New Executive Director, Rachel Forbes

Meet Our New Executive Director, Rachel Forbes

The LDS Board of Directors is excited to announce that after an extensive search process with very many qualified applicants Rachel Forbes has been appointed LDS permanent Executive Director. From the moment she stepped in as Interim Executive Director, Rachel’s impressive dedication and decisive, insightful leadership impressed both Board members and staff.

Rachel brings over 20 years of experience working with non-profits, charities, and companies in various capacities including as executive director, program lead, staff lawyer, and volunteer board member. With experience in governance, fundraising, strategy, project management, and communications, Rachel is well-poised to lead LDS through our next phase of strategic growth and beyond.



Tell us a little bit about your background. What first drew you to work in the non-profit sector? 

Fundamentally, I’m driven by my values and by what I consider to be positive impact on the world we share. While there are increasing numbers of for-profit companies who have a core commitment to values, I find the greatest alignment in the non-profit and charitable sector.

I believe the non-profit sector has taken on an increasingly heavy and often unrecognized responsibility for delivering the services, supports and products that allow our society to operate at a level we consider fair, just, and healthy. That responsibility is significant and serious. I find it an honour to work with and lead non-profits that are finding creative, innovative and systemic ways to make our communities and our world a better place.

Do you feel personally connected to the LDS mission? In what way? 

Of course, in many ways. I think the primary way I feel personally connected with LDS, especially now as a parent, is a feeling in my gut and in my heart—a passion—that every child has the opportunity to “learn how they best learn” and to be able to apply that in school and throughout their lives in whatever path they end up pursuing. I love that we work on an individual basis with each child who comes through our door to equip them with the skills and tools they need to navigate their world and to pursue whatever challenges and adventures they are most passionate about.  

How does an interim ED’s role differ from a permanent ED’s role, and what made you decide to apply for the permanent position? 

It’s different because now I don’t have to think about how to stay connected with LDS after my interim role ends! I now get to focus on working with and building our amazing team. I decided to apply for the permanent position because I couldn’t imagine not working with the LDS team to advance our mission. It grabbed me right away.

In the short time you’ve been at LDS, what has inspired you the most?

Every student of LDS is an inspiration. Every time I meet one of them, hear about their progress and see their smiling faces, my inspiration reignites and grows.

What most excites you about working at LDS? 

I think the most exciting thing is the potential that exists at every turn—the potential to work more deeply with some students, the potential to work with many more students (including in new and creative ways like our 2020 summer programming), and the potential to positively influence the lives of the children, youth and families that we work with on a daily basis.

What was your favourite subject when you were in school? 

That’s a tough one. I really loved math when it was taught by a specific teacher—he had an amazing way of making math a really gratifying problem solving endeavour. However, geography ended up being my favourite in the end. My dad was my teacher for geography in high school and I feel like he really made the Earth come alive for me. I am mesmerized by our planet’s powerful natural systems, the history that they carry, and the influence that they have over all living creatures.

Pencils, or pens, and why? 

Pens—blue ink, smooth medium point tips only. I especially love it when the ink is warm so I often put a pen into my pony tail to warm it up!

How to Help Your Child Set Goals in 2020

How to Help Your Child Set Goals in 2020

New Year’s resolutions aren’t just for adults! Learning to goal set is an effective life skill. LDS Learning Support Manager Melissa Henderson shares tips on how to teach goal setting to children.

Each January, we’re reminded of all the ways we can improve our lives through setting resolutions, and, subsequently, how difficult it is to stick to the goals we set. As with most skills, it is best to start teaching goal setting early. It’s a good opportunity for children to explicitly reflect on their strengths and weaknesses and to develop their self-awareness.

When children set realistic goals, work towards these, and see their progress, their self-confidence—which is crucial to development—grows. Additionally, many students with learning difficulties experience challenges with executive functioning skills such as organization and planning. Setting goals is one strategy that can help improve their ability to think ahead and take ownership of their future.

Here are some tips you can use to help your child set goals in 2020:

1. Pick a Goal

Goal setting does not need to be specific to learning. You can encourage your child to think of goals they may want to set regarding their hobbies, social interactions, habits, and organization. The important point is that your child must choose and set the goal themselves, and understand why they want to achieve that goal. It is best to start with short-term (weekly or monthly) goals as seeing success quickly will improve their motivation.

2. Assess the Goal

Many people use the acronym SMART to assess their goals In order to ensure that the goal is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Bound. For children, this can be simplified by picking a deadline, and reflecting on the achievability of that deadline with an adult.

3. Make a Plan

Make sure your child writes down their goal and puts it in a place where they will see it often. As their goal should be achievable, the next thing your child should do is note the first step that they will take in order to achieve the goal. For example, you can use an outline such as: “I want to [insert goal] by [date], so I will [step taken to achieve goal].”

4. Reflect

Applaud your child’s effort to achieve their goal, even if the goal was not completed. If they fall short, help them to reflect on whether or not the goal was achievable, what could have been done to adjust the goal, or other steps that could have been taken to achieve the goal. Once your child is comfortable with setting small goals, they can work on setting larger, long-term (multiple months or yearly) goals.

10 Ways to Help Your Kids With Their Homework

10 Ways to Help Your Kids With Their Homework

All parents home school. And, in fact, even if parents send their children off to school to learn, they are almost singlehandedly the only factor that matters in their kids’ educational success.

Paul E. Barton of the Educational Testing Service (which administers the GRE among other standardized tests) wrote a piece called “America’s Smallest School: The Family.”

He has estimated that about 90 percent of the difference in schools’ proficiencies can be explained by five factors: the number of days students are absent from school, the number of hours students spend watching television, the number of pages read for homework, the quantity and quality of reading material in the students’ homes, and the presence of two parents in the home. So the best schools are really those where there are parents helping with homework. So here are 10 ways to help your kids with their homework.

1. Set the time

Structure is always important. Designate a specific time frame for homework to be completed. Creating a regular routine will increase productivity.

2. Get involved

It is important to be active in your kid’s education. Most schools offer online services to check on grades, homework assignments, and overall progress. Keep yourself up to date on all of these things.

3. Help create a homework space

Provide a quiet and well-lit location. Make sure there is a spacious work area and all necessary items to complete the assignments. Preparation is half the battle.

4. Limit distractions

Our homes are filled with distractions. Televisions, cell phones, and video games just to name a few. The use of these items should not be allowed during homework time. The mind should be focused on the task at hand.

5. Organize

Multiple subjects and classes can create confusion. Provide a planner and instruct your child how to organize and prioritize assignments. Create a solid game plan.

6. Be a cheerleader

Always show support and give encouragement. Reward strong effort as well as results. We want our children to always give their best.

7. Provide guidance

We all get stumped sometimes. Make sure helpful resources are available when needed. These might include yourself, school-provided telephone services, or school-approved online assistance. A child should always be able to ask a question and get an answer.

8. Work first

Just like their parents, children have busy lives these days. Homework should always come before sports and social activities. Make sure education is a number one priority.

9. Notes

Make sure your child develops an excellent note-taking system. Experts believe an outline form of note-taking is the most efficient method. However, all children are different, so just make sure they have a system that works for them. Handwritten notes, as opposed to typing, tend to lead to better memory of the information.

10. Study habits

Help instill strong study habits and work ethic in your children.[ctt template=”9″ link=”UvP2L” via=”no” ]Help instill strong study habits and work ethic in your children.[/ctt] Tests and projects require plenty of planning. Provide tips and techniques that will bring the top-notch results that are desired.


Read the original article on All Pro Dad