Support “$200K for 200 Kids” and Transform a Child’s Life

Support “$200K for 200 Kids” and Transform a Child’s Life

Imagine this: You’re in elementary school and are asked to stand in front of your classmates to read a page from a book out loud. For one in 10 Canadian children who has a learning difference, like dyslexia, this can be a daunting task. At LDS, we believe that all children with learning differences should have access to the critical individualized education support they need to succeed in school and in life. That’s why we are raising $200K to provide learning support to at least 200 more vulnerable children in 2023. With your generous donation, you can transform a child’s life today! 

Your charitable donation to “$200K for 200 Kids” will help LDS and our dedicated expert instructors support 200 more students so they can catch up to their classmates, gain confidence, and achieve greatness their way. Until December 31, 2022, every dollar you donate will be matched by a generous LDS supporter, doubling your impact.

 

Corporate Philanthropy to Power Social Impact Locally

 

Does your organization have a corporate giving program? Consider LDS, Canada’s most comprehensive learning support, as your beneficiary charity this holiday season or as your Charity of the Year for 2023. 

As a corporate donor to “$200K for 200 Kids,” your organization will get: 

  • The assurance that your generous gift of education support will have a real and direct impact on the lives of children with learning differences in your community
  • Recognition on our LDS website and at our Learning Centres in East Vancouver and North Vancouver
  • Support for your corporate giving initiative. We’ll be happy to provide information on our programs for you to share with your staff and community, or possibly to attend an in-person or remote event with your team
  • Regular updates on our programs, student success stories, and community outreach initiatives through our Arise monthly newsletter
  • A donation receipt

Donating is easy. Just follow this link to access our donation form, which features options for individual and corporate donors.

We would be pleased to speak with you about building a relationship with you and your company; please get in touch with Rachel Forbes, Executive Director, directly at ED@ldsociety.ca or 604.345.9129.

For more information on “$200K for 200 Kids,” please visit our webpage here. 

Please share our webpage link with family, friends, and colleagues, tagging @ldvancouver (Facebook and Twitter), @ldsociety (Instagram), and #$200Kfor200Kids:  https://www.uniquelearners.ca/200kfor200kids/ 

As a registered charity (#108166307RR0001), LDS provides charitable donation tax receipts.

Sending a cheque? Please mail it to: LDS, 3292 East Broadway, Vancouver, BC V5M 1Z8. 

Assistive technology for dyslexia and ADHD

Assistive technology for dyslexia and ADHD

LDS is committed to providing exceptional learning support for our students with diagnosed or suspected learning differences, like dyslexia and ADHD. Whether that’s by providing accessible education through internal and external bursary funding or by investing in innovative tools for delivering instruction, we continually search for ways to engage students. In honour of dyslexia and ADHD awareness months (October), this post focuses on AT that may be most applicable for dyslexia and ADHD. 

Assistive technology (AT) is any device, software, or equipment that is used to maintain or improve the functional capabilities of a person with a disability, including a learning difference. Technologies include hardware, or physical technologies that are kept on site at our AT Studio, and software, or technology available via a computer that can potentially be used from home. To learn more about why and how LDS uses AT, head to our AT webpage 

Our AT studio at LDS has a number of assistive technology tools that our students can benefit from, including the following that may be most helpful for learners with ADHD or dyslexia:

Lexilight
Lexilight is a reading-aid desk lamp that can significantly reduce symptoms of dyslexia when reading printed texts. Dyslexia is a common learning difference that affects the brain’s ability to process language. Those affected have normal intelligence but have challenges identifying speech sounds and relating letters and words. Learn more in our blog post about LexiLight. 

Speechify
Speechify is text-to-speech software that provides a more fluid and human-sounding reader than other software. Text-to-speech software can be beneficial for anyone who has difficulty reading documents, emails, or webpages by reading the printed text aloud for them. Speechify will also guide you through the text by highlighting each word the reader speaks so that you can follow along. Speechify comes as both a browser extension and an app. Learn more by checking out our AT reference guide. 

Harkla
Harkla weighted blankets, weighted lap animals, and pressure vests provide calming sensory input to help create a perfect learning environment for LDS students. Harkla products can assist in calming and refocusing students who may struggle with sensory challenges such as ADHD. The use of weighted, calming products is supported by the science of Deep Pressure Therapy, which “helps to decrease nervous system activity” and “encourages a feeling of calm and relaxation.” Learn more in our blog post about Harkla. 

BeeLine Reader
BeeLine Reader is a software that colour adjusts on-screen text in a way that helps to guide your eyes through large blocks of text, making reading easier and faster while reducing screen fatigue. In the simplest terms, BeeLine applies a colour gradient to the text in your web browser so large blocks of text shift back and forth from shades of red to blue. This simple effect helps many readers maintain focus and read more effectively. It also allows you to change the size and appearance of the text on your screen, including applying the OpenDyslexic font to improve letter distinction. BeeLine is an easy-to-use software, requiring only a simple installation into your web browser and a login, then all long-form webpages, like Wikipedia, will be recoloured. earn more in our blog post about BeeLine Reader. 

VerSkin Inclusive Keyboard Protector
VerSkin Inclusive Keyboard Protector is a protector that uses colour-coded keys and bold, sharp contrast print to make the keys of the keyboard easier to recognize. The VerSkin protector aims to convert a standard keyboard into one that is more inclusive to those with vision impairments and those with learning differences like dyslexia. The VerSkin Inclusive Keyboard Protector is only currently available for the Microsoft Surface Laptop SE and Surface Laptop Go.

C-Pen ReaderPen
C-Pen’s ReaderPen allows students to scan printed text, bring it up on a computer screen, and hear it read out loud in English, French, or Spanish to help struggling readers. It’s perfect for learners who enjoy having audio and visual cues. The C-Pen also speaks in a human-like voice for students’ ease of understanding. It also defines challenging words and records voice cues. LDS students can ask their instructors to use the ReaderPen in their next in-person session! Learn more in our blog post about C-Pen ReaderPen. 

Download our RISE-AT Reference Guide to check all technologies provided by LDS 

How can my child access these technologies at LDS?

We offer these technologies as part of our AT Studio, a space dedicated to the collaborative use of leading-edge AT to help our students with learning differences. All LDS students and families have access to this and may contact us to learn more, have a tour, or get software subscriptions for your home. To learn more about how your child can benefit, email our AT Manager at AT@ldsociety.ca 

How to identify dyslexia in adults, and get tailored learning support to succeed!

How to identify dyslexia in adults, and get tailored learning support to succeed!

Dyslexia is a lifelong brain-based learning difference that presents as an unexpected difficulty in learning to read in individuals of average to above average intelligence. As dyslexia is a life-long brain-based learning difference, it’s something that people may be challenged with in different ways at different times in their lives. As adults move through post-secondary, job training, different employment opportunities, parenthood and other life experiences, they may face new or evolving challenges with navigating their dyslexia – or they may need some additional work on foundational skills that they either did not have the opportunity to acquire previously or need a bit of a brush up on.

For adults, dyslexia may present itself as some of the following in some individuals: 

  • Confusion between visually similar words such as cat and cot 
  • Erratic spelling 
  • Difficulty in scanning text  
  • Slower than typical reading or writing ability 
  • difficulty organising thoughts on paper 
  • Tendency to feel mental overload, including when given multiple types of information or instructions at the same time 
  • Avoidance of certain types of work or study 
  • Difficulty with personal organisation, time management and prioritising tasks 
  • Difficulty listening and maintaining focus, especially when there are distractions 
  • Tendency to forget conversations or important dates 

Did you know that LDS offers a program specifically for adult learners with learning differences? RISE Now tailors our Research-informed Individualized Student Education (RISE) to the needs of adults with suspected or diagnosed learning differences or learning disabilities. The program is individualized to support adults in achieving their specific learning, education, or employment goals through targeted support and intervention. 

 

“I contacted LDS in September 2021 even though I was aware that the population you served [at the time] was young.  My hope was that perhaps someone might have some suggestions of resources for adults.  I never dreamed that a year later my daughter would be able to read a short sentence – which happened last week for the first time.”  – Mother of a 36 year old adult learner 

 

RISE Now is specifically designed for adult learning and developed based on the needs, skills, and goals of the learner. The RISE Now program pairs adult learners with a specialized and compassionate instructor to work towards their career, education, or life goals in the following areas:  

  • Support for adults undertaking courses or training such as adult education, university courses, or pre-employment programs  
  • Explicit instruction to support foundational literacy (reading/writing) or math skills  
  • Entry or return to the workforce support (resume and cover letter development, interviewing, applications)  
  • Executive functioning skills support and development  
  • Workplace accommodation support and planning 

To apply for the program, click here to complete the online application form. Or simply give us a call to chat with one of our staff to discuss options – 604.873.8139.  

Full bursary support is available for those in financial need.

 

What can assessments and the dyslexia index tell me about my child’s learning needs?

What can assessments and the dyslexia index tell me about my child’s learning needs?

Dyslexia is a lifelong brain-based learning difference that presents as an unexpected difficulty in learning to read in individuals of average to above average intelligence. The International Dyslexia Association estimates that 15-20% of children have a language-based learning disability, with dyslexia being the most common cause of struggles with reading, writing, and spelling (affecting at least 10% of the population). 

Increasingly, the term Specific Learning Disability in a learning area such as reading, writing, or spelling is replacing the term dyslexia within current psychoeducational assessment practices. However, regardless of the term used for diagnosis, the benefit of knowing that an individual has a learning difference and needs specialised instruction and supports to learn the foundational skills that other children seem to ‘just get’ through general teaching and classroom learning experience is the key. 

Children and youth with a learning difference in the area of reading, writing, and spelling who do not receive the specialised support and instruction they need struggle with academic skills in the classroom and when completing home reading, assignments, or homework at home. Additionally, they often struggle with their self-esteem due to the frequent challenges and frustrations they experience during learning tasks that seem ‘easy’ for others, and from teaching strategies or expectations placed upon them that do not take into account their learning difference and individual accommodations for learning that they need. 

Individuals with learning differences can absolutely succeed through developing the foundational academic skills and learning strategies needed to thrive in their learning and development. However, early identification of a learning difference is key to avoiding the negative learning and peer experiences that can have long lasting impacts on an individual’s learning and self-esteem. 

A psychoeducational assessment is the only tool that can formally diagnosis a learning disability, which is required for a BC Education Ministry Designation. However, these assessments through school districts can have years long waitlists, and privately they are quite expensive (several thousands of dollars), which can make accessing this assessment within the timeframe needed for early intervention seemingly impossible for many families. However, if you have concerns and are seeing early warning signs that your child may have a learning difference, there are other steps that you can take to put the right supports in place for your child. 

One of these first steps that can give students and families detailed information about a child’s learning and identify whether your child would benefit from more comprehensive evaluation (such as a psychoeducational assessment) is a formal Level B Assessment called the KTEA-3 & KTEA-3 Dyslexia Index. At LDS, we see firsthand the significant benefits of these assessments for families who are in the process of waiting for a psychoeducational assessment, or who are trying to determine whether or not they want to pursue a psychoeducational assessment for their child. 

The benefits of this assessment include: 

  • Detailed information about how your child’s learning is tracking in relation to grade level expectation in the foundational areas of reading, writing, spelling, and math;  
  • A comprehensive report of your child’s grade level progress in academic areas that can be shared with your child’s teacher, school, and other professionals you may be working with; 
  • A report on your child’s risk assessment for dyslexia or a learning difference in reading, writing, or spelling that provides you with key information in relation to the value of moving forward with a psychoeducational assessment for your child; 
  • An opportunity to meet with and ask questions/gather information from an LDS Assessment Specialist who completed the KTEA-3 assessment with your child about their strengths and stretches, and areas that warrant further investigation and supports; and  
  • Rapid turn-around – a KTEA-3/Dyslexia Index can be booked at LDS, completed, and the reports and assessment debrief meeting scheduled within a few weeks to a month’s time. 

The KTEA-3/Dyslexia Index offers parents/guardians and families the opportunity to take quick action and gather detailed information that allows for a quick and accurate assessment of what your child needs to learn, and what supports will make the difference for them in both the short and longer term.  

For Dyslexia Awareness Month (October 2022), if you call us to book your KTEA-3/Dyslexia Index by October 31, we are able to offer a $50 discount on the service. You can book an appointment for any time from now until the end of January 2023. 

For more information about the KTEA-3/Dyslexia Index or to book an assessment, see our webpage here or contact us at info@ldsociety.ca

ADHD signs and support

ADHD signs and support

This post is intended to be an introductory overview of ADHD. Please note it is not a substitute for specific professional advice.

 

What is ADHD? 

ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) is a neurobehavioural disorder characterised by symptoms of inattentiveness, distractibility, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. These symptoms usually occur together; however, one may occur without the others. 

Three primary types of ADHD include the following:

  • ADHD, impulsive/hyperactive type. This is the least common type of ADHD and characterised by impulsive and hyperactive behaviours without inattention and distractibility;

  • ADHD, inattentive and distractible type. This type of ADHD is characterised predominately by inattention and distractibility without hyperactivity. 
  • ADHD, combined type. This is the most common type of ADHD, and is characterised by impulsive and hyperactive behaviours as well as inattention and distractibility;

What does ADHD look like?

Individuals with ADHD of the inattentive and distractible type might find it difficult to concentrate on tasks at school or work and may daydream frequently. They may have some or all the following behavioural tendencies:

  • Make careless mistakes 
  • Are easily distracted
  • Seem not to be listening when spoken to directly 
  • Have difficulty following instructions 
  • Have trouble with organising or planning 
  • Avoids or dislike sustained effort 
  • Frequently forgetful, often losing things

Individuals with ADHD of the impulsive/hyperactive type may have behavioural challenges and might struggle with social interactions. They may have behaviours such as:

  • Fidgeting or squirming in their seat 
  • Difficulty staying in one place or waiting their turn 
  • Excessive running and climbing 
  • Trouble playing quietly
  • Extreme impatience 
  • Very often seem to be “on the go” or “driven by a motor” 
  • Excessive talking or interrupting, blurting out answers 
  • Tend to make rash decisions  

Individuals with the combined type of ADHD have symptoms of inattentive and impulsive ADHD. 

Did you know? 

People with ADHD can hyperfocus on things that they are very interested in. 

Hyperfocus (intense concentration) is also the reason children with ADHD often get upset when asked to stop doing something they are engaged in, like a favourite activity at school or playing a video game. They have what experts call an inability to “attention switch,” which can cause conflicts with adults.  

How can we help? 

At LDS, we support learners with diagnosed or suspected ADHD, from children through to adults. With our inclusive, comprehensive, and specialized one-to-one instruction programs, we support learners in developing their academic and executive function skills in each session, boosting student’s attention and learning. Most students with ADHD have deficits in their executive functions such as working memory and attention, though not all children with executive function issues have ADHD.

For more information about our programs, access our programs page on the website.  

Understanding dyslexia: What it is and how to recognize the signs

Understanding dyslexia: What it is and how to recognize the signs

Dyslexia is a learning difference that is neurobiological in nature, makes reading difficult, and may also interfere with recognizing, spelling, writing, and decoding words. Often genetically inherited, dyslexia is by far the most common learning difference, affecting at least 10% of the population and representing 80% or more of all those with learning differences. 

Learn to spot the signs that your child may have dyslexia. Please note the below are potential signs, but there is no substitute to speaking with a professional to obtain specific advice and, where warranted, assessments for your child or loved one. 

A preschool child might:

  • Have a history of delays in speaking, making sentences or pronouncing words correctly 
  • Have a history of ‘glue ear’ or similar early childhood difficulties 
  • Find it hard to remember the names of familiar objects (e.g., spoon, cup) 
  • Have difficulty learning nursery rhymes 
  • Have other members of the family with similar difficulties

An elementary school child might:

  • Have difficulty learning to read, write, and spell, taking longer to complete written work 
  • Have trouble remembering sequences such as the alphabet and months of the year 
  • Struggle with phonemic awareness, such as rhyming and blending/segmenting sounds 
  • Have continually reverse letters and figures (e.g., 15 for 51, b for d) 
  • Have difficulty remembering and following oral instructions, leading to increased frustration and loss of confidence  

In secondary school, a teenager might:  

  • Tend to read inaccurately and without adequate comprehension 
  • Use inconsistent spelling and get ‘tied up’ using long words (e.g., preliminary, philosophical) 
  • Find planning/writing essays and starting/completing work difficult 
  • Confuse verbal instructions, places, times, and dates 
  • Be disorganized at home and school, express frustration, and show signs of low self-esteem

At LDS, we support learners with suspected or diagnosed dyslexia with specialized one-to-one instruction, because we understand that children with dyslexia learn in a different way. Our Research-informed Individualized Student Education (RISE) programs are effective because we create interventions based on each learner’s unique needs and strengths. One methodology does not fit all, so LDS draws on different methodologies to create an individualized instruction plan that fosters each student’s learning. 

In supporting individuals with dyslexia, early intervention is key. Our Resources and Contacts page features our assessment tools and a list of several providers able to assess or diagnose dyslexia and other learning differences. 

For more information about our programs, click here.  

 

October is Dyslexia Awareness Month!

October is Dyslexia Awareness Month!

October is Dyslexia Awareness Month, a time to advocate for support for individuals with dyslexia, which is the most common of all neuro-cognitive disorders, affects 20% of the population, and represents 80–90% of all those with learning differences.  

LDS supports the Dyslexia Canada #MarkItRead campaign and Succeed with Dyslexia’s #GoRedForDyslexia campaign, aiming to raise awareness, end the stigma, and show the world all the amazing things that people with dyslexia can do! 

Learn how communities, schools, and businesses can get involved: 

Go Red For Dyslexia 

Mark It Read

Do you want to learn more about Dyslexia? Discover top reading resources from Dyslexia Canada:  

Books by or about people with dyslexia: 

  • Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt 
  • Hank Zipzer Collection (10 Books) by Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver 
  • It’s Called Dyslexia by Jennifer Moore-Mallinos 
  • Knees: The Mixed-up World of a Boy with Dyslexia by Vanita Oelschlager 
  • My Name Is Brain Brian by Jeanne Betancourt 

Resource books for parents & teachers: 

  • Basic Facts About Dyslexia & Other Reading Problems by Louisa Cook Moats 
  • Dyslexia by Gavin Reid 
  • Dyslexia: A Complete Guide for Parents by Gavin Reid 
  • Dyslexia in the Early Years by Gavin Reid 
  • Dyslexia: Myths, Misconceptions, and Some Practical Applications by Malatesha Joshi

Find out more at www.dyslexiacanada.org. 

LDS supports learners with suspected or diagnosed dyslexia. If a parent is seeking to learn more about their child’s learning, contact us about the KTEA-3 Dyslexia Index, a brief, individually-administered, performance-based screening tools that provide risk assessment, strength of risk, and interpretive information for team and parent/caregiver communication regarding individuals who may be at risk for dyslexia. 

If you’re looking for one-to-one specialized support, contact us today! If you would like to support a learner in financial need, click here to donate.

 

Supporting School Transitions for Tweens and Teens, the Heart-Mind Way

Supporting School Transitions for Tweens and Teens, the Heart-Mind Way

Navigating big transitions, such as starting highschool or a new school year, brings added challenges for young people who are neurodiverse, have ADHD, or experience learning disabilities, anxiety, depression, or other mental health conditionsFor these groups of young people, executive functioning skills often require extra support to develop in a resilient way. 

It can be heartbreaking for families and educators alike when students struggle to adjust as expected, be it at home or at school. When the hours before school regularly feel like a battlefield, or assignments continue to fall by the wayside, feelings of powerlessness and overwhelm are likely. As a caring adult in a young person’s life, such enduring patterns are cues for curiosity and compassion rather than frustration and punishment. The five Heart-Mind qualities can act as a roadmap to investigate and, when necessary, intervene to help young people adapt to the new challenges and opportunities big transitions bring in a supportive way.

Practical Tips for Supporting School Transitions, the Heart-Mind Way

The following tips, insights, and actions can help guide parents and educators to support healthy transitions for young people in grades 5-8. While these suggestions address the back-to-school transition for this age group specifically, they can be adapted to other age groups and types of transitions.

Secure & Calm

  1. Starting the day off on the right foot can set the tone for a smooth home-to-school transition. Focus on calm mornings grounded in the absolute essentials – so long as your young person is dressed, their teeth and hair are brushed, and there is something in their stomach, consider it a win! Providing process praise for each completed task can build confidence to start the school day on a positive note. Use incentives to encourage getting ready on time. Peaceful mornings often begin the night before – see suggestions for getting organized under Alert & Engaged.
  2. Name your feelings & support young people. It is ALWAYS better to name what you’re feeling, rather than brush it under the rug, otherwise young people may personalize your negative emotions. Pair naming your feelings with supportive action to demonstrate that they don’t need to fear your big feelings because you can recognize them AND still provide the support they need. Teachers can engage in this practice as well.

Alert & Engaged

  1. For young people (and adults) who find transitions challenging, organization is key! Parents and educators can learn six ways to help young people to strengthen their organizational skills and executive functions for smoother transitions.
  2. Being an Alert & Engaged parent requires staying atuned to challenges that transcend the typical speed bumps that affect most young people in transition. While getting used to a new school routine can initially be a bumpy road, it becomes smoother for most students over the course of several weeks.  If you’ve tried several strategies to support the young person you care about, and none of them are working – or your gut instinct tells you they need more help –  it is likely time to seek out professional support.

Compassionate & Kind

  1. Most young people (and their parents/educators) can benefit from maintaining the perspective that they are trying their best, with the skills and resources available to them, even if it might not look like someone else’s “best.” Supporting and modeling positive, realistic, and growth oriented self talk can nurture the ultimate gift of self-compassion in young people struggling through a transition.
  2. Being kind to yourself as a parent or educator is crucial while supporting tweens & tweens – just because they are experiencing adjustment challenges, it does NOT mean you’ve failed them as a parent or teacher. Being tuned into their struggles is a sign that you ARE a good enough parent/teacher, and willing adapt the support and scaffolding you provide (which some young people naturally need more of) in a responsive way. After all, giving them space to try and fail on their own with unconditional support nurtures resilience.

Gets Along with Others

  1. Help young people avoid the comparison trap, which breeds resentment and can complicate feelings of social acceptance – it can be hard to feel like you belong when those around you seem to have it “all figured out.” Based on your child’s ability to cope with distractions and overstimulation, it may be helpful to set some supportive expectations for homework completion, such as that homework is done at home in a quiet space (with parental support and snacks) BEFORE spending times with friends.
  2. Depending on a young person’s age, it may be helpful to build direct communication lines between parent and teacher to facilitate efficient information sharing, especially if remembering assignments and other information sent home is a challenge for the student. Include young people in the information exchange when appropriate – for example, CC them on email conversation exchanging information on key events and deadlines. Bringing them into the loop in this way models respectful and proactive communication and builds healthy communication skills.

Solves Problems Peacefully

  1. Plan ahead to support young people to hand in assignments even late. Most teens and tween, especially those with learning differences or who are neurodivergent, need help to manage the organization and workload. of assignments and homework, and may not be forthcoming about outstanding assignments. Stepping in to support prevents students from taking advantage of the “if I ignore it it will go away” avoidance mentality, which can be a less-than-beneficial coping strategy.
  2. Support young people to take the lead when it comes to troubleshooting issues that arise at home and at school – lawnmower parenting doesn’t nurture the skills they need to solve their own problems peacefully. This is especially true as they move into the upper grades of secondary school, where students are expected to take owenership over their learning.  

This resource was developed in collaboration with The Dalai Lama Center and Jenn Fane, LDS Director of Education.

Established in 2005 in Vancouver, Canada, the Dalai Lama Center for Peace and Education is inspired by the Dalai Lama’s vision for 21st century education. His belief that a balance between educating the mind and educating the heart will help create a more compassionate and peaceful world is the cornerstone of the Center’s mission.

BC Parent Magazine | Specialized Learning Support for Kids with Learning Differences Builds Confidence and Self-esteem at School and Beyond: Dr. Jennifer Fane

BC Parent Magazine | Specialized Learning Support for Kids with Learning Differences Builds Confidence and Self-esteem at School and Beyond: Dr. Jennifer Fane

This article by Dr. Jennifer Fane, Director of Education at LDS, is as published in BC Parent magazine’s Education Issue 2022. (Direct link: https://issuu.com/bcparent/docs/bcp_fall-edu-issue-2022-compressed/24

 

School can be an exciting and joyous experience for students and families, with the building of relationships with classmates and working with school staff, and academic, social, and personal growth. However, for many, it can also come with uncertainty and challenges as academic and social demands for children and youth continually increase as students move from grade to grade.

The signs that a child may need extra support at school can often be subtle and many families are surprised to first learn that their child is struggling during early parent/guardian-teacher interviews. Conversely, sometimes despite reports from schools that their child is doing ‘okay’, parents/guardians may have a ‘gut feeling’ that progress is not being made. As a parent/guardian of a school-aged child or youth, the first step and most powerful tool you can equip yourself with is understanding your child’s learning needs and the ways to work in collaboration with the school and avenues to ensure that your child has the support they need to succeed.

Understanding Learning Disabilities and Learning Differently

A learning disability is a neurodevelopmental (hardwired) disorder that impacts an individual’s ability to acquire, organise, retain, understand, or use verbal and non-verbal information. A learning disability is unique in that it affects individuals of average to above average intelligence. It’s an unexplained inability to learn or develop skills or knowledge within a typical educational setting—imagine an otherwise bright and engaged child in grade 2 who is unable to read sight words or retain letter sounds, or a child who can read and verbally tell a story but struggles greatly with writing words on paper. Learning disabilities mean that a child needs a different level of support, instruction, materials, or accommodations to learn and retain information that others seem to just ‘grasp’ through typical classroom learning.

It can sometimes take months or even years to identify a learning disability because the child is otherwise very capable. This can mean the opportunities for early intervention and support are lost, negatively impacting a child’s confidence and self-esteem, but there are some early warning signs for learning disabilities.

At home:

  • Not wanting to go to school
  • Frequent worries about school
  • Difficulty sleeping or eating
  • Excessive time on homework
  • Avoidance of homework

At school:

  • Work avoidance at school
  • Teacher concerns about progress
  • Reports of behavioural issues
  • The suggestion that your child receive resource support

Fortunately, with the right support, students with learning disabilities can absolutely succeed and develop both the academic and executive functioning skills they need, building confidence in themselves and how they learn. The challenge for parents/guardians is how to advocate for a child’s learning needs and work with teachers, the school, and sometimes other educational service providers to put all the right supports into place.

Experiencing the BC Education System as a Student with a Learning Difference

The BC public school system is inclusive, so it seeks to integrate all learners into mainstream school environments. Meaningful inclusion, where all learners have the supports and opportunities they need, is a challenge that all schooling systems face, especially when the BC Ministry of Education and Child Care is reporting growing numbers of students with special education needs—there were 82,786 students with special needs in the province’s public and independent schools in the 2021/22 school year, 4,484 more than the previous year.

The upward trend is a result of better knowledge and more proactive assessment of struggling students, and that is a positive thing. However, this doesn’t necessarily translate into better support. Most school districts have years-long waitlists to receive psycho-educational assessments through the school system, and the cost of private assessments is highly prohibitive for most families. Yet without this assessment and diagnosis, a child is not entitled to the Individual Educational Plan (IEP) which identifies accommodations for learning and the required additional support at school. Also noteworthy: No extra funding comes directly to a school for a specific child. Rather, these limited funds are distributed at the district level to be administered to the schools, which then try to adequately allocate them to support all their students. Funding often ends up going to the most high-needs students while those with learning disabilities with no significant behavioural challenges tend to receive less support.

For families, accessing diagnostic tools, sourcing the individualised supports needed once the diagnosis has been received, and effectively advocating for their child are incredibly daunting tasks. However, there are ways to do all this effectively.

Working Collaboratively with your Child’s School

It is very challenging for a teacher to assess and monitor student progress across all learning areas in a diverse classroom environment. A learning challenge in a specific area for a student that is otherwise ‘doing okay’ at school can be easily missed. Because of this, when parents/guardians and teachers work together to identify concerns, share information, and identify solutions, students are best served. As with any relationship, open and collaborative communication is always best. Below are some steps that will help you to open a constructive dialogue about your child’s learning with their teacher(s).

Document your concerns: Start with writing down what you are noticing about your child’s learning. What is your child struggling with? What challenges are you encountering at home? What comments or concerns have previous teachers expressed?

Know what the school system is required to provide for all students, namely:

  • Ongoing observation of the child’s learning and consultation with parents
  • Teacher administered achievement tests
  • Early intervention: identifying learning gaps/challenges and a way to address them
  • Consultation with the school-based team or resource department as needed

Additionally, with a Ministry Designation and/or IEP, your child is legally entitled to accommodations for learning and additional learning support.

Prepare to communicate your concerns to your child’s teacher and school: Start by identifying your key concern and use specific examples. Reference what the school is required to provide to guide your notes and schedule a meeting time with your child’s teacher.

When meeting with your child’s teacher: Take notes and ask clarifying questions that start with how, what, why, where or when. It generally helps to generate the most precise answers. Then, develop an action plan for next steps, such as future meeting times, ongoing observation, further support, etc.

What to do if you feel your concerns haven’t been adequately addressed: If you feel this way after the meeting or in the months that follow, or your child is not receiving appropriate support, connect with the school principal.

Accessing Additional Learning Support

Unfortunately, the resources available through school are not adequate to provide the instruction and support that many students with a learning disability need, even though the document Special Education Services Manual: A Manual of Policies, Procedures and Guidelines issued by the BC Ministry of Education and Child Care states that research shows that students with learning disabilities should receive (1) intense direct instruction; (2) instruction in learning and compensatory strategies; and (3) adaptation of instructional practices and assessment strategies. Many families, therefore, choose to access additional and direct individualized academic instruction outside of school, be it after-school tutoring or specialised instruction by individual tutors or through an education provider. Doing so can make an incredible impact on a student’s ability to address academic skill gaps and build confidence in their ability as a learner.

If you are thinking about specialized instruction or tutoring for your child, here are some key things to consider:

  • Does the service provider have experience working with students with a learning disability?
  • Do they have appropriate qualifications for working with the age and grade level of your child?
  • How will the service provider assess your child’s academic skills and monitor their learning progress?
  • Can they support you with communicating the learning progress and needs of your child with your child’s school?
  • Do you feel comfortable and confident with the service provider?

These questions will help you to assess if the service provider will be able to meet your child’s unique needs and help them build the confidence and academic skills required to thrive throughout their lifetime. If you are a low-income family and face financial barriers to accessing specialized instruction or private tutoring, you can apply for funds through charitable organizations. Some specialized learning disabilities organizations also offer sliding fee scales for families based on their own charitable fundraising.

Dr. Jennifer Fane is the Director of Education at LDS. She holds an interdisciplinary Ph.D. in education, public health, and social policy from Flinders University (Australia) and a Bachelor of Education degree from SFU. A BC Certified Teacher and published author, Dr. Fane is a passionate advocate for responsive and transformative education that prioritizes the learner and their needs and goals. Follow her on Twitter @jjfane.

Are you looking for a hard copy of BC Parent? Find a list of locations here.

Follow BC Parent magazine:

Facebook: @bcparent
Instagram: @bcparentmag
Twitter: @bcparentmag

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This article is by Dr. Jennifer Fane, Director of Education at LDS. It was featured in the Fall Education Edition of 

 

School can be an exciting and joyous experience for students and families, with the building of relationships with classmates and working with school staff, and academic, social, and personal growth. However, for many, it can also come with uncertainty and challenges as academic and social demands for children and youth continually increase as students move from grade to grade.

The signs that a child may need extra support at school can often be subtle and many families are surprised to first learn that their child is struggling during early parent/guardian-teacher interviews. Conversely, sometimes despite reports from schools that their child is doing ‘okay’, parents/guardians may have a ‘gut feeling’ that progress is not being made. As a parent/guardian of a school-aged child or youth, the first step and most powerful tool you can equip yourself with is understanding your child’s learning needs and the ways to work in collaboration with the school and avenues to ensure that your child has the support they need to succeed.

Understanding Learning Disabilities and Learning Differently

A learning disability is a neurodevelopmental (hardwired) disorder that impacts an individual’s ability to acquire, organise, retain, understand, or use verbal and non-verbal information. A learning disability is unique in that it affects individuals of average to above average intelligence. It’s an unexplained inability to learn or develop skills or knowledge within a typical educational setting—imagine an otherwise bright and engaged child in grade 2 who is unable to read sight words or retain letter sounds, or a child who can read and verbally tell a story but struggles greatly with writing words on paper. Learning disabilities mean that a child needs a different level of support, instruction, materials, or accommodations to learn and retain information that others seem to just ‘grasp’ through typical classroom learning.

It can sometimes take months or even years to identify a learning disability because the child is otherwise very capable. This can mean the opportunities for early intervention and support are lost, negatively impacting a child’s confidence and self-esteem, but there are some early warning signs for learning disabilities.

At home:

  • Not wanting to go to school
  • Frequent worries about school
  • Difficulty sleeping or eating
  • Excessive time on homework
  • Avoidance of homework

At school:

  • Work avoidance at school
  • Teacher concerns about progress
  • Reports of behavioural issues
  • The suggestion that your child receive resource support

Fortunately, with the right support, students with learning disabilities can absolutely succeed and develop both the academic and executive functioning skills they need, building confidence in themselves and how they learn. The challenge for parents/guardians is how to advocate for a child’s learning needs and work with teachers, the school, and sometimes other educational service providers to put all the right supports into place.

Experiencing the BC Education System as a Student with a Learning Difference

The BC public school system is inclusive, so it seeks to integrate all learners into mainstream school environments. Meaningful inclusion, where all learners have the supports and opportunities they need, is a challenge that all schooling systems face, especially when the BC Ministry of Education and Child Care is reporting growing numbers of students with special education needs—there were 82,786 students with special needs in the province’s public and independent schools in the 2021/22 school year, 4,484 more than the previous year.

The upward trend is a result of better knowledge and more proactive assessment of struggling students, and that is a positive thing. However, this doesn’t necessarily translate into better support. Most school districts have years-long waitlists to receive psycho-educational assessments through the school system, and the cost of private assessments is highly prohibitive for most families. Yet without this assessment and diagnosis, a child is not entitled to the Individual Educational Plan (IEP) which identifies accommodations for learning and the required additional support at school. Also noteworthy: No extra funding comes directly to a school for a specific child. Rather, these limited funds are distributed at the district level to be administered to the schools, which then try to adequately allocate them to support all their students. Funding often ends up going to the most high-needs students while those with learning disabilities with no significant behavioural challenges tend to receive less support.

For families, accessing diagnostic tools, sourcing the individualised supports needed once the diagnosis has been received, and effectively advocating for their child are incredibly daunting tasks. However, there are ways to do all this effectively.

Working Collaboratively with your Child’s School

It is very challenging for a teacher to assess and monitor student progress across all learning areas in a diverse classroom environment. A learning challenge in a specific area for a student that is otherwise ‘doing okay’ at school can be easily missed. Because of this, when parents/guardians and teachers work together to identify concerns, share information, and identify solutions, students are best served. As with any relationship, open and collaborative communication is always best. Below are some steps that will help you to open a constructive dialogue about your child’s learning with their teacher(s).

Document your concerns: Start with writing down what you are noticing about your child’s learning. What is your child struggling with? What challenges are you encountering at home? What comments or concerns have previous teachers expressed?

Know what the school system is required to provide for all students, namely:

  • Ongoing observation of the child’s learning and consultation with parents
  • Teacher administered achievement tests
  • Early intervention: identifying learning gaps/challenges and a way to address them
  • Consultation with the school-based team or resource department as needed

Additionally, with a Ministry Designation and/or IEP, your child is legally entitled to accommodations for learning and additional learning support.

Prepare to communicate your concerns to your child’s teacher and school: Start by identifying your key concern and use specific examples. Reference what the school is required to provide to guide your notes and schedule a meeting time with your child’s teacher.

When meeting with your child’s teacher: Take notes and ask clarifying questions that start with how, what, why, where or when. It generally helps to generate the most precise answers. Then, develop an action plan for next steps, such as future meeting times, ongoing observation, further support, etc.

What to do if you feel your concerns haven’t been adequately addressed: If you feel this way after the meeting or in the months that follow, or your child is not receiving appropriate support, connect with the school principal.

Accessing Additional Learning Support

Unfortunately, the resources available through school are not adequate to provide the instruction and support that many students with a learning disability need, even though the document Special Education Services Manual: A Manual of Policies, Procedures and Guidelines issued by the BC Ministry of Education and Child Care states that research shows that students with learning disabilities should receive (1) intense direct instruction; (2) instruction in learning and compensatory strategies; and (3) adaptation of instructional practices and assessment strategies. Many families, therefore, choose to access additional and direct individualized academic instruction outside of school, be it after-school tutoring or specialised instruction by individual tutors or through an education provider. Doing so can make an incredible impact on a student’s ability to address academic skill gaps and build confidence in their ability as a learner.

If you are thinking about specialized instruction or tutoring for your child, here are some key things to consider:

  • Does the service provider have experience working with students with a learning disability?
  • Do they have appropriate qualifications for working with the age and grade level of your child?
  • How will the service provider assess your child’s academic skills and monitor their learning progress?
  • Can they support you with communicating the learning progress and needs of your child with your child’s school?
  • Do you feel comfortable and confident with the service provider?

These questions will help you to assess if the service provider will be able to meet your child’s unique needs and help them build the confidence and academic skills required to thrive throughout their lifetime. If you are a low-income family and face financial barriers to accessing specialized instruction or private tutoring, you can apply for funds through charitable organizations. Some specialized learning disabilities organizations also offer sliding fee scales for families based on their own charitable fundraising.

Dr. Jennifer Fane is the Director of Education at LDS. She holds an interdisciplinary Ph.D. in education, public health, and social policy from Flinders University (Australia) and a Bachelor of Education degree from SFU. A BC Certified Teacher and published author, Dr. Fane is a passionate advocate for responsive and transformative education that prioritizes the learner and their needs and goals. Follow her on Twitter @jjfane.

Are you looking for a hard copy of BC Parent? Find a list of locations here.

Follow BC Parent magazine:

Facebook: @bcparent
Instagram: @bcparentmag
Twitter: @bcparentmag

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ARISE Newsletter October 2022

Our October ARISE Newsletter includes exciting news about 2022 programming, our fall fundraising campaign, and holiday greetings.

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