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Living History our students response to the Global Pandemic

By Halifax Learning on Sat, Sep 19, 2020 @ 06:31 AM

IMG-2032Home can be fun

Or it can be boring.

Make it fun and make it jolly

Even when it might be hard.

Lara

Most reported personal accounts and experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic tend to be from an adult perspective. Employment, childcare, and reopening the economy are for many, understandably, top of mind. But Natalie, our Speech Language Pathologist here at Halifax Learning, also saw an opportunity in the health crisis for children’s voices to be heard.

An author, artist, and mom, Natalie often uses visualization and narrative description lessons for students struggling with communication obstacles. It’s been a century since the world’s experienced such a pandemic. Children, who are now living through a moment of significant historical importance, have a unique perspective to bring to the narrative.

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To that end, Natalie worked with 21 Halifax Learning students to compile and create a living history that future generations could refer to and learn from. The book is filled with first-person poems, pictures, reflections, and word art inspired by the seemingly overnight changes the children are experiencing.

The observations and ruminations in “Living History: our response to the global pandemic” run the gamut from Lara’s optimism to Lucia’s firm “I don’t like it.” Duncan created a chart in which he compares his pre- and current COVID schedules. The keen thoughts, perspectives, and emotions expressed in the book are an affecting look into how children are seeing and coping with the pandemic.

Documenting and archiving the children’s experience of the pandemic as it unfolds in real time can be extremely useful in helping them understand what they and others are going through. It’s especially helpful for students who struggle to share their thoughts and ideas with the world.

“Living History” is available for purchase at our three locations. Books are $8 and the proceeds will go to cover costs with some funds raised going to local charity. To learn more about how we help children discover the joy of learning, reach out to Halifax Learning today.

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Coping with the “COVID slide”

By Halifax Learning on Tue, Sep 08, 2020 @ 08:15 AM

Most of us probably remember the return to school after summer holidays as a roller coaster ride of emotions. We scaled peaks of excitement at the thought of seeing friends again, tumbled down into regret that the holidays were over, and swirled around anxiety over what the next grade may bring.

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We hit classes coming down the proverbial “summer slide;” the previous year’s lessons flung into the recesses of our minds.

This September, students all over are facing a new kind of academic ride – the so-called “COVID slide.” Add to these past two months of summer the previous three months or so that students weren’t in school due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The lockdown has super-charged the annual summer slide, and many students will be struggling to keep up.

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Lost souls

Dr. Paul Bennett, the founding director of Schoolhouse Consulting and a respected education professor and policy researcher, claims the rapid and unplanned transition to distance learning “turned the Canadian school system upside down and disrupted the lives of some 5 million children and families, and their teachers.”

Educators were virtually scrambling to master new technology, while the majority of children were left to cope with “a vague and changing set of home learning guidelines.”

Sure, classes continued online during the latter months of the school year, but it’s debatable how engaged the students were in their lessons. Reducing the number of expected hours of work didn’t help motivate students to knuckle down either. “In actual practice, these programs took on a crazy-quilt pattern ranging from high tech to low tech to no tech, highly dependent upon a student’s school district, individual school or classroom teacher,” according to Dr. Bennett.

Nor did guaranteeing students their March grades, which, Dr. Bennett says, “removed most of the incentive to work until the end of the year.”

And he’s not the only one to recognize if not sound the alarm over the situation. A CBC News investigative report concerning the Maritimes indicated an estimated one out of four students in junior and senior high schools went missing or were completely unaccounted.

While the New York Times education reporter Dana Goldstein reported on June 5 that by September , most students would be “months behind” with “some losing the equivalent of a full year’s worth of academic gains.”

And the global non-profit, non-partisan think tank, the Rand Corporation, which is based in California, highlighted a CNN report that losses could be particularly problematic for grade school students who should be in the process of laying critical foundations of reading, writing, and math skills, potentially robbing a generation of students of vital stages of learning.

Back to school – with a plan

Scary stuff. Though it’s comforting to know that at least the Nova Scotia’s Department of Education and Early Childhood Development also has recognized the issue. “The lengthy at home learning, followed by the summer break, will have created a variety of different responses, needs, and strengths for students,” reads its Back to School Plan.

Highlighting the Mi’kmaw word kinu, meaning “all of us together, inclusive,” the province plans to emphasize “the importance of reaching out to students who were disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and by this year’s school closures to understand the gaps in learning opportunities they may have experienced.”

How parents can help

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So what can parents do outside the school system to give their kids the added momentum they may need? Various volunteers, including students, have jumped into the education arena offering informal tutoring services, which could be looked at.

On the other end of the scale, organizations such as Halifax Learning can go a long way toward bridging the education gap with professional private assistance. Founder and CEO, Sarah Arnold, is a strong advocate of the SpellRead program, which was developed by Prince Edward Island’s Dr. Kay MacPhee and is widely referred to by psychologists, speech therapists and educators alike.

Sarah has channeled the organization to meet the current demand for online instruction in SpellRead. But she remains a strong advocate of basic techniques such as parents simply reading together with their children on a regular basis. And it needn’t be lengthy home lessons either; frequency rules here, she says.

Clearly, as we swing into September, educators everywhere are recognizing the importance of learning routines – at school and at home -- in navigating students away from the COVID slide.

At Halifax learning we continue to offer our free reading assessments, we are offering these online and in person.  

In less than 1 hour you will learn how your child, process language and comprehend text. Our assessment is not a product of the SpellRead program, but an independent standardized assessment that provides benchmarks for the foundational skills identified in research required for efficient reading.

You will also receive a digital copy of the report within two business days with no obligation to enroll in our programs. This information can help access school support as well. 

Our SpellRead students are assessed three times over the course of a full registration to ensure progress and success!

Book an Assessment with SpellRead

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Free Reading Resources for Homeschool Parents

By Halifax Learning on Tue, Jul 07, 2020 @ 01:09 PM

Teaching a child to read can be so rewarding. But sometimes it can be difficult to get your child engaged. These free reading resources for homeschool parents will help you teach your child how to read and turn your child on to reading so learning at home isn’t drudgery.

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Understand the Five Essential Reading Skills 
When you’re teaching your child to read, it can be helpful to know the breakdown of all the skills your child needs to develop to read efficiently before you start. The 'All Children Reading Well' resource from Halifax Learning explains those five core components. It all starts with phonological awareness, the ability to identify and manipulate words and syllables. We break it all down so you can understand the process your child will go through from start to finish.

Download our free guide, "All Children Reading Well" to learn more.

Starfall.com Website
The Starfall website offers fun and engaging games for children in Pre-Primary through Grade 3. It’s run by a non-profit organization (the Starfall Education Foundation). Your child can work through all their reading levels, starting with the ABCs and then Learn to Read, It’s Fun to Read, and I’m Reading. The Word Machine can be so much fun.

Watch your child enjoy clicking letters to change simple 3-letter words into brand new words. Plus check out their library of fiction and nonfiction picture books that read along aloud with your child. 

Khan Academy Kids App
Khan Academy is best known as an excellent website that offers a variety of free educational lessons and practice. Experts from Stanford University collaborated on their app, Khan Academy Kids. Designed for ages 2 to 7, it offers early literacy and reading practice. Five different characters (such as Kodi Bear), are your child’s guides through activities and stories. Your child will enjoy original activities, books, videos, games, and lessons.  Their book reader allows kids to follow along with recorded audio narration or read on their own across fiction and non-fiction levelled books.

Preschoolers can learn their ABCs and phonics sounds through read-along stories and enjoy tracing letters and copy words through fun games. They’ll also be able to practise reading labels, packages, and door signs. And enjoy rhyming, counting the syllables in each word, and start blending sounds together.

Beginner readers in Primary through Grade 2 can enjoy interactive story books. They can be read along aloud to the child or they can choose to read independently. The Khan Academy Kids app is available on the Apple App Store, Google Play Store, and Amazon Appstore.

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Phonics Rhymes at Education.com 

Although some of the resources at Education.com are for paid members only, games, worksheets, and lesson plans are available with a free membership. Their learning library is designed for Preschool through Grade 5.

Kids remember what they rhyme because rhymes are catchy and fun. That’s why these games are terrific for young learners. For instance, in the “Short E Mud Hopper” game, listen for the short e sound to help the muddy monster find them. The “Silly Socks: Poetry Featuring the Letter S” lesson plan involves identifying the letter S, reviewing the S sound, and printing the letter S with a poem about socks.

Duolingo ABC - Learn to Read App

Rounding out our free reading resources for homeschool parents is Duolingo, famous for its language instruction website and app. With the app, your child age 4 and up can enjoy games, stories, and activities with no ads and no in-app purchases to worry about. They’ll love the fun and engaging stories and activities such as letter tracing. Lessons are gamified so your child wants to enjoy learning to read.

One of the best features of the Duolingo ABC app is that it is usable offline so your child doesn’t have to be connected to the internet or your data. Available for iPhone and iPad.

Want to see where your child is at in reading so you know where to start with these free reading resources for homeschool parents? Click here to schedule a free online reading assessment. 

We assess their phonological and phonetic skills, word recognition, reading fluency and comprehension as well as spelling and writing skills to give a clear picture of their strengths and weaknesses and the way your child is reading.

Book a Free Assessment

 

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How Halifax Learning Supports Homeschool Parents

By Halifax Learning on Wed, Apr 15, 2020 @ 01:10 PM

So, you’ve decided to homeschool. You’ve got this! But sometimes you may need a little outside help. After all, it takes a village to raise a child. Halifax Learning staff are athletes, coaches, volunteers, published authors, entrepreneurs, and parents, too! Here’s how Halifax Learning supports homeschool parents.

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Free Online Reading Assessment 

When you’re starting out homeschooling, you may not know your child’s reading level. It’s handy to know so you can start from there to meet them where they’re at.

Halifax Learning offers a free online reading assessment. It only takes about an hour to complete. Your child’s phonological and phonetic skills, word recognition, reading fluency and comprehension, as well as spelling and writing skills are assessed to give a clear picture of their strengths and weaknesses and the way your child is reading.

Tips on How to Choose a Reading Program

If you’re seeking a reading program or a tutor for your child to help them learn how to read or improve their reading skills, it can be difficult to know how to choose. We have a free resource available, How to Evaluate a Reading Program, that can help. It not only gives you questions to ask the teacher or tutor, but also indicators to watch for in your child that may reveal they need some help with reading.

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Reading Help

Instilling the joy of reading in your child is so important for their future education. We are proud to have successfully supported over 3000 struggling readers in Halifax and throughout Nova Scotia since 1997. Halifax Learning offers a variety of programs for children learning how to read and struggling readers. Many parents choose to homeschool their kids with special needs because they’ve fallen through the cracks and they feel their kids’ needs aren’t being met and their skills aren’t being developed. Our SpellRead Program is perfect for kids with challenges. It’s a structured literacy program that helps all developing readers, including children with learning disabilities such as dyslexia and ADD.

The SpellRead Program is based on specific skill mastery. Children move progressively from simple activities with easy sounds and one syllable words, to blending sounds and two syllable words, to clusters and polysyllabic words. It’s a fast-paced, engaging program. Our goal is to bring your child’s reading and spelling skills to a point at or above grade level within one year.

Writing Help

Competent writing skills develop through reading. The more your child reads, the better they write. Our Writing Connections program is designed for children in higher grades who need to develop excellent writing skills quickly.

Like SpellRead, Writing Connections begins with simple topics. Your child is provided with ongoing mini-lessons and opportunities to practise each skill to mastery before introducing a new concept. They will learn all about and practise using capitals, punctuation, commonly confused words, and sentences properly. They will also cover past and present tense, paragraph structure, essay structure, resumes, and cover letters – all excellent skills for your homeschooled child to develop.

More Support for Homeschool Parents

Halifax Learning supports homeschool parents through our newsletter as well. Get tips for reading, writing, and spelling success, community events, and more. Sign up for our newsletter here.

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What does "evidence-based" really mean?

By Halifax Learning on Thu, Nov 15, 2018 @ 11:24 AM

 

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When it comes to evidence-based practices, we sometimes think about doctors - professionals who help patients based on past medical research. No two patients are exactly alike, but doctors know they can rely on the evidence that has been produced over the years to help their patients. Similarly, no two of our students are exactly alike, but we know that we have the right evidence-based program to help them build the skills that they need. That's the power of evidence.

Something is considered "evidence-based practice" if: 

  • there is robust support. 
  • group designed studies and research.
  • a large series of single-case design studies.

Having the privilege to be labeled as "evidence-based" is not a small feat and should carry a lot of weight to an individual or parent that is considering their child's learning needs or their own. Foundational literacy skills should not be left to chance regardless of a child's race, gender, socio-economic status, presence of a learning difference, diagnosis of a neurological disorder and so on.

The list is endless. Intelligent, hard working individuals with huge hearts have worked tirelessly to develop programs that work - particularly in reading. We believe parents today are more and more aware of the impacts that the "Reading Wars" of the 1980s are having on our children today.  

"Reading is the most studied aspect of human learning."
- quote for Emily Handford's documentary, Hard Words: Why aren't our kids being taught to read?

Despite the Marianas Trench of research identifying the 5 core components required for effective reading instruction, our students are still not being taught to read effectively or efficiently. 

halifax learning spellread evidence-based

How did SpellRead become an evidence-based reading intervention program?

We at Halifax Learning love to celebrate the origins of the SpellRead program. SpellRead was created by a parent from Prince Edward Island desperately searching for effective reading instruction for her child. She was inspired to help her son, who is deaf, learn to read in a way that works for people of all abilities. One really important piece of her story, that we sometimes don't emphasize as much as we should, is the fact that Kay is a life-long educator and researcher. In creating SpellRead, Dr. MacPhee used research and evidence.

Once Kay had created SpellRead and had taught it successfully, the program was evaluated in various research projects, like in this study on elementary-aged students, and this larger-scale study. SpellRead continues to be evaluated, like in this recent study with students in Halifax's Youth Advocacy Program, and in a current study being done by the NeuroCognitive Imaging Lab at Dalhousie University. These studies consistently demonstrate that SpellRead offers effective, sustainable results. 

Delivering an evidence-based program is important because sometimes there are strategies that seem like they might work, but actually have no benefit or introduce bad habits and compensatory strategies. Our students tell us all the time that they've been taught to guess an unfamiliar word based on a picture, or to skip over the word and then come back to it later.

These strategies might seem sufficient, but they have not been proven and often get in the way of the actual process of learning to read. Anecdotally we find that this type of instruction becomes ineffective for a high number of students around grade 3. As students begin to progress more heavily into reading content without pictures, these compensatory strategies are no longer an option and student's comprehension, productivity and enthusiasm for reading is impacted in a very negative way. 

It's so important that we understand there is science behind reading education, and that it has actually been studied a lot over the years (which makes sense, considering how vital it is to have strong reading skills). Not all methods of reading instruction are equal. Here are 9 questions to ask when evaluating a reading program. We know what works to teach, and we know how to teach it.

How do know if your child is being taught to read the right way? Download our document, "All Children Reading Well" or Contact us today to book a free assessment. 

Free Assessment

 

 

 

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What is phonics?

By Halifax Learning on Wed, May 30, 2018 @ 12:20 PM

a_eAlthough reading research has remained consistent for decades, phonics is the source of heated debate in the education world. The phrase "drill and kill" might come to mind. We want to change the conversation.

Does your child play a sport? Do they have a coach? Does your child's coach practice the fundamental skills required to play said sport. Do they break down each skill to its most basic part in order for your child to properly and efficiently perform said skill? Or do they simply hand over the equipment, show them the field of play, watch a few games and expect results?

Reading is a fundamental skill. It allows all other learning to take place and should be taught in a systematic, explicit way. 

This blog post is the second in a series of blogs about the five core components for effective reading instruction. Revisit the blog or Download our free guide, "All Children Reading Well", to learn more.

Phonics is the second essential skill in developing effective, efficient reading skills and is an extension of solid phonological awareness. In our previous blog we discuss the two terms and how they can often be used interchangeably. Read more of that post here.

What is phonics and why is it important to be taught?

Phonics is a method of teaching developing readers the correlation between phonemes and graphemes. Developing readers learn to match a unit of sound (phoneme) to a letter or letters that make the sound (grapheme). Readers use phonics to decode unfamiliar language, thus, a solid foundation in phonics allows developing readers to acquire new vocabulary independently. Without a solid foundations in phonics, many children are left to rely on compensatory strategies such as memorization, guessing, and inference. 

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The word “cool” contains three phonemes and graphemes - /c/ /oo/ /l/.

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"Writing systems require treating spoken words as consisting of parts, which can then be represented by a limited set of graphical elements. We take it as obvious that speech consists of units such as words, syllables, and phonemes, but these units are phonological abstractions that had to be discovered. Writing and the phonological way of thinking co-evolved over a long period of time."

- From Language at the Speed of Sight by Mark Seidenberg

We recommend evaluating your child's skills at home by having them spell a list of pseudo (or nonsense) words. This strategy is effective because it eliminates the possibility of success as a result of memorization. The ability to spell pseudo words indicates that your child can recall the symbols for the sounds they hear. Below is a recommended list of pseudo words.

  1. shoom (shewm)
  2. heesh (heash, heshe)
  3. moyf (moif)
  4. skade (skaid)
  5. fash
  6. bof (bawf, bawff, bauf)
  7. tobe (toab)
  8. chub
  9. crite
  10. marth
  11. dib
  12. sep (cep)
  13. chesp
  14. thook
  15. smerd (smurd, smird)

If this is a daunting task, perhaps some intervention is required. Luckily there is a proven, gold-standard reading remediation program available! We're here to fill the instructional deficit for your family and make reading easy.

halifax learning spellread phonics

SpellRead, the gold standard in evidence-based reading remediation programs, puts phonics instruction at the core of its outcomes.

SpellRead is divided into three Phases. In Phase A, students are introduced to the most simple phonemes and graphemes in the English language and practice those skills at the single syllable level. SpellRead assesses progress through our evidence-driven speed reading tool that ensures automaticity. In Phases B and C, the skills become more complex and expand from one syllable to multisyllabic, real-word vocabulary. The 10 core activities introduced in Phase A are consistent through the entire program, ensuring that students continue to practice their auditory, visual and practical application of these skills.    

In addition to phonics, developing readers also need effective instruction in phonological awareness, vocabulary development, reading fluency and comprehension.

Download our SpellRead Program Walkthrough to learn more about how SpellRead uses effective teaching methods to develop all 5 of the essential reading skills for new, developing and struggling readers.

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Social Skills, Can they be taught?

By Halifax Learning on Thu, May 03, 2018 @ 04:11 PM

#throwbackthursday

On Thursday, April 19th we had the privilege to sit down with Angela Rudderham, Director of Bridgeway Academy and creator of Bridgeway's Social Skills program. Using evidence-driven outcomes, Angela has been studying, developing and improving her Social Skills program for the past 12 years.

Why are social skills so important?

"Social deficits are often viewed as insensitive and willful behavior."

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So what are social skills, how do people learn them and can they be taught?

I think most people would answer yes to the final question, but Angela Rudderham has taken this question to the next level. Effective social skills are a learned behavior and predictor of future success and personal fulfillment. Can the efficacy of a social skills program be measured?

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Angela has invested in research and development of Bridgeway's Social Skills Program for 12 years. Each year she studies student progress and refuses to accept a ceiling and demands growth and development of herself, her staff and her program. She does this by being on the front lines of program delivery.

Bridgeway's Social Skills Program is divided into 8 Units:

  1. Self Awareness
  2. Awareness of Others
  3. Perspective Taking
  4. Self Regulation
  5. Problem Solving
  6. Relationships
  7. Communication
  8. Life Skills

And follows 7 Steps:

  1. Connect
  2. Investigate
  3. Identify
  4. Plan
  5. Teach
  6. Practice
  7. Transfer
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What did we learn?

When discussing highly structured, measurable programs based on evidence, there are a lot of parallel themes. Here were my top three take aways.

1. Rewards and consequences do not teach the expected behavior. It lowers motivation, creates anxiety and stress and negatively impacts relationships.

2. Mistakes are teachable moments.

3. The social behaviors of our children don't always line up with our expectations as parents, this doesn't always mean our children are lacking

Thank you Angela and Bridgeway Academy for your knowledge, inclusive, and effective education.

Visit their website for more information on Bridgeway's Course Overview. Notice SpellRead on that list? We're proud to partner with Bridgeway and provide on-going training and support to their SpellRead teachers. Halifax Learning has developed an extensive training model based on 20 years of experience, research and development, that can be replicated in a variety of delivery models. If you work with youth in need of literacy intervention, Halifax Learning can support your staff to reach an infinite number of struggling readers.

Help us, help you, help kids!

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10 Tips to Develop Reading and Writing Skills this Summer!

By Halifax Learning on Sun, Apr 29, 2018 @ 09:00 AM

 

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Many of the staff at Halifax Learning are parents too. Which is why we've written this blog.
Below are tips to help parents develop reading skills and writing skills over the summer. Better yet, register for SpellRead or Writing Connections to ensure your child has the proper foundation for academic success!

1. Start planning now!

Classic teacher. Plan, plan, plan and then plan some more. 

Most of us have already booked our camp sites, hotel rooms for wedding season and concert tickets, but how thoughtful have you been about how you'll ensure your child maintains (and hopefully improves upon) their literacy skills. This is not an easy task and without proper planning and inspiration you'll likely run into conflict, whining and ultimatums. Summer is a chance to relax, have fun and have make memories. We think that means more opportunity to incorporate reading and writing into your plans!

2. The Golden Rule - Read every day!

This is a no brainer. We probably all do a great job integrating reading into our evening bedtime routine, but is this really quality time or just us parents trying to survive the chaos in hopes of getting some much needed shut eye!? A structured reading time is best, but what does that mean, because if it means reading at the same time each day, I'm out. I had to learn very quickly the difference between structure, schedule and routine. We think that a structured reading time means selecting reading material and presenting in a thoughtful and meaningful way. Keep reading!

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3. Be Prepared!
Wherever you go, whether it’s the beach, park, or a long car-ride, pack a few books and writing resources.

Below is a list that pairs books with local excursions or at home activities. Associating books with adventure will have a profound impact on your child's approach to reading as an agent of discovery. 

  • Atlantic ABC, by Angela Doak
    • Go anywhere! We recommend taking a camera or a sketchpad and creating your own version of an Atlantic ABC book. 
  • A is for Adventure, by Jan Lapierre - Anywhere!
    • This book is an excellent resource for families looking for inspired stay-cation ideas. 
  • Ish, by Peter H. Reynolds
    • Nova Scotia Art Gallery, Clay Cafe or at Home. Ish is a great lesson in 
  • The Harbour Seal, by Dorette Groenendyk
    • Where else? The Halifax Waterfront!
  • Be Who You Are, by Todd Parr
    • Stay home, create a self-portrait.  Who are you? 
4. Read Aloud!

Parents are a child's first teacher. Your approach to reading and writing will set the tone, but that tone doesn't need to be rigid perfection to the text. Modeling good reading fluency is important, but don't be afraid to deviate from the script.

This is a key to survival in our house. Being flexible, creative and engaging during reading sessions is a valuable skill that will ensure your child associates reading with positive, happy times! When my daughter asks why a goat is wearing a monocle or what is that tall pointing building in the picture, this is a teachable moment! Engaging in your child's questions is affirming their interests and curiosity.

Find creative ways to build in shared-reading time with your child, not just independent, silent reading.  If your child acts out and becomes defiant, this is likely a sign of a struggle.  We offer a free, no-obligation literacy skills assessment that will answer all of your questions about how your child processes text. Our SpellRead students take part in share-reading every class and read aloud with our expertly trained staff. 

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"Children who struggle when reading texts aloud do not become good readers if left to read silently; their disfluency merely becomes inaudible." Language at the Speed of Sight, by Mark Seidenberg

5. Practice What You Preach

Remember what I said about being a role-model? Monkey see, monkey do. Set a good example and show your children your love of books. But, time is precious and who wants to waste it on a lousy book. Here's my list of planned summer reading.  Here are a few potential titles: 

  • The Boat People, by Sharon Bala
  • Seven Fallen Feathersby Tanya Talaga
  • The Sun and Her Flowers, by Rupi Kaur

What's on your summer reading list? Send your recommendations in the comments!

6. Choose ‘Fun’ Reading

Allow your children to choose reading material other than books. If you've been following our blogs, we talked about this in Reading Opportunities are Everywhere! Do you know Where to Find them?

Magazines, graphic novels, and reading the sports’ scores are all great opportunities for reading. We use Newsela, a free resource, for engaging content articles for all ages!

7. Let Reading Enhance Your Travels

Find a book set in the location you will be visiting. Your children can learn about the town’s history and local interest before seeing it for themselves. Going on a road trip? Make a game of reading road signs and place names on route to your destination. Teach your child to read a map; allow them to be navigator as you find your destination. There is no better teaching strategy than allowing the student to become the teacher. 

8. Read books connected to your summer activities

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There's a theme here. Make reading meaningful and thoughtful and you'll have substantially more success.

How many of you read Anne of Green Gables as a child and were then mesmerized to visit Anne's home in Prince Edward Island?! The experience of visiting that place that had previously only lived in your imagination?! What a profound experience for a developing reader. 

9. Make the most of rainy days

  • Watch a movie inspired by one of your favourite books and compare the two. The options are endless! 
  • Visit a museum on a topic of interest from a non-fiction reading selection. Bring home pamphlets and information sheets or visit the museum gift shop for their reading recommendations. 
  • Use a favorite book to inspire an afternoon of arts and crafts. 
  • Plan a trip and start researching the area, culture, accommodations and excursions you'd like to plan.   

10. Write About it!

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Inspire your child to write by letting them be in control. Or at least let them think they are! Here are some tips to guide your child toward writing that is meaningful and more importantly, inspired. Because let's be real, Mom and Dad want to enjoy their summer vacay too. #amirite

  • Let them pick a journal and customize it! Recently we went to the dollar store and purchased plain black scrapbooks with hard covers, then we went nuts in the sticker aisle and voila, custom journals that they are proud of and excited to fill with new ideas!
  • Let them set the expectations and create a tracking system that they can maintain. What is the goal? What do they want to produce by the end of the summer?
  • Let them pick the writing topics. You can do this by having your child brainstorm and dictate a list of topics. Write them on popsicle sticks or strips of paper and fill an empty box or jar for random selection. 

11. Bonus Tip Alert! Skip the summer slide with Summer Camp at Halifax Learning!

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If all of this sounds appealing to you, but you're thinking to yourself ... umm, I have a day job, multiple children and an endless to-do list. We get it. So do we, which is why we want to offer the best summer camp options for developing readers and their busy, well informed and thoughtful parents. 

Our Summer Camp is a unique experience of education and exploration. At Halifax Learning we practice what we preach and will be using all of these tips this summer to inspire our campers to read and write and have fun doing it!

Visit our Summer Camp page for our 2018 itinerary and meet our Camp Director, Emily. 

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It's World Book Day! Here are 5 Books We Love

By Halifax Learning on Mon, Apr 23, 2018 @ 04:27 PM

World Halifax Learning SpellRead Reading Program Reading Support tutor tutoring Day

April 23 is World Book Day, but every day is Book Day at Halifax Learning in our SpellRead classes.

Below are 10 books we love and a favorite quote from each. These books are fun, imaginative stories that are sure to spark up a conversation and a new sense of curiosity in a developing reader. Be sure to engage in their questions and find ways to make their imaginations come to life. Create a piece of art inspired by the story, visit a location similar to the setting  or speak to their inner YouTube star and record a reenactment. The possibilities are endless and so are the rewards!

Fostering a love of reading is the first step in developing strong, confident, readers. But, as our friend, author and reading researcher, Mark Seidenberg says, "You can read until the cows come home" and your child may still struggle with learning how to read. Explicit, systematic, evidence-based reading intervention programs are available and SpellRead tops the list! 

Enjoy!

  1. You Can ReadBy Helaine Becker & Mark Hoffman

    Halifax Learning SpellRead Reading Program Reading Support tutor tutoring
  2. The Word CollectorBy Peter Reynolds
    Word Halifax Learning SpellRead Reading Program Reading Support tutor tutoring
  3. Be Who You AreBy Todd Parr
    Halifax Learning SpellRead Reading Program Reading Support tutor tutoring

  4. Fancy Goat, Jeremy Holmes and Justin Gregg
    Halifax Learning SpellRead Reading Program Reading Support tutor tutoring
  5. Rosie Revere Engineerby Andrea Beaty
    Halifax Learning SpellRead Reading Program Reading Support tutor tutoring

To learn more about World Book Day visit https://www.worldbookday.com/.

 

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Why do you think SpellRead is effective? We asked our teachers!

By Halifax Learning on Sun, Apr 15, 2018 @ 11:00 AM

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We asked our instructors to share their experience teaching the SpellRead program. They have developed relationships with their students that have created bonds that will last a lifetime. We are proud of what we offer and even more proud of our team of passionate and dedicated teachers. Read more about Brittany's story!

 

How did you become a part of Halifax Learning?

When I was 21 years old I had previously worked for several years delivering another literacy program similar to SpellRead, and I was looking for a summer job. I emailed a few service providers and Halifax Learning got back to me with the possibility of a job.

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Describe a student that you are proud of.

Last year I worked with a student in grade 6 who I had worked with at my previous job, a similar reading program. He was a struggling reader in French Immersion and I knew that, while he had been making some progress with me in the other program, the resources I had were simply not going to be enough for someone who needed a more intensive intervention, especially in spelling and writing.

To my surprise, when I left my position to join the Halifax Learning team, this student followed me and enrolled in SpellRead. We were roughly a quarter of the way through the program and I saw him take off. He completed SpellRead, as well as Writing Connections, and within a year he had everything he needed for Junior High.

I imagine if he had stayed in the other program, he likely would have been there for years, combatting confusion and frustration. This is what I saw over my years there with other significantly struggling students. This sort of situation really proves to me that no matter how wonderful, knowledgeable, or dedicated a teacher may be, it's really the program that makes the difference.

He was the same kid, he had the same instructor, but it was the method that changed, and that's what made the difference.

How would you describe SpellRead to someone that is unfamiliar with the program?

Students are "re-taught" reading strategies, starting from the very beginning of phonological awareness to spelling and into essay writing. They are able to tackle any unknown word, because they are explicitly taught to implement the rules automatically. There is no opportunity for confusion or frustration because we "over-teach" concepts until they are firmly established to the point of independent implementation.

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Why do you think SpellRead is effective?

We aren't complacent. We don't look at our student results and say "Good enough." We are constantly doing research and finding ways to make our program even more effective for every student, no matter what age, learning difference or challenge they are facing.

Many teaching techniques are based in decades-old philosophies or methods or data, but at Halifax Learning we are able to say that not only does SpellRead work, but here is exactly why based on up to date research.

If a student struggles, our attitude is never that the student should simply "try harder", but rather we actively find ways to troubleshoot the issue and find another path to success.

Is there anything else you would like to add about your experience as a SpellRead teacher?

It's been an extremely rewarding experience. I think SpellRead should be available in all schools and offered to every struggling student.

Literacy skills are  a fundamental human right!

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