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Celebrating 20 Years of Evidence-Based Education and SpellRead

Celebrating our Online Cohort's Success

By Melinda Cameron on Wed, Nov 25, 2020 @ 09:06 PM

Halifax Learning went online in March and we have taught most SpellRead classes online since. We already had experience with online teaching, so the transition was fairly easy. SpellRead is very hands on, so students don’t need to feel as though they’re staring at a screen the whole class. Our instructors care and encourage their students, and build relationships with them, and the families of our students know that no matter what may happen, they will have that regular class time each week to progress toward their reading goals.

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Our students’ results are most important to us, and we are excited to share that our most recent cohort of students who are finishing the program online have done an excellent job! The results measure up to any other exiting group of students, even keeping in mind that most students were not in school for much of their time with us, as they normally would be.

Here is a link to download our recent assessment results. At Halifax Learning, we assess student reading skills before enrolment, at the midpoint, and as they exit the program. 

The first section of the assessment,  phonological processing skills, measures the ability to identify, analyze and manipulate the sounds of the English language. We look for these foundational skills to increase by the midpoint assessment. For both of these students, we see these skills at nearly 100% upon their final assessment. 

The next sections, Word Attack and Word Identification, measure an individual's ability to identify unfamiliar and familiar English words. Because students are using their newly acquired phonological processing skills, we also tend to see any increase in these skills by the midpoint assessment. For both students, we do see some great progress in these by the midpoint assessment before the skills really take off on the final assessment. 

The above skills contribute to a student's ability to read a piece of text fluently and to be able to understand what they read. For both students, an amazing amount of progress has been made within one year. The best part about this is that these skills will continue to grow as they read in the years to come. 

Check out the results here.  

If you are interested in seeing you child be a part of next success story enrolment for January is happening now and classes are filling up quickly.  The next steps is a free no obligation assessment, this assessment is truly valuable even if you don't move forward with us.  Sign up for your assessment here.

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Tips for Working at Home and Homeschooling

By Guest Blogger -- Kimberly Charron on Tue, Oct 27, 2020 @ 09:25 PM

Written by Guest blogger, Kimberly Charron.

Kimberly Charron is a homeschool mom of two living with her husband of over 25 years in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She works from home as a homeschool coach and Certified Online Business Manager. In her free time, she likes to hand-spin, knit, read, and volunteer in local theatre.

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In March 2020, many parents suddenly found themselves working at home and homeschooling for the first time. I’ve been working at home and homeschooling since 2005 and it can be challenging at times. It’s even more challenging when things aren’t quite normal – when the whole family is home all day when they’re not used to it, tripping all over each other at times.

Here are tips for working at home and homeschooling and experiencing a happy homeschool, home life, and work life.

Fill up Your Child's Tank Before the Homeschool Day Begins

Fill up your child’s tank with attention at the beginning of the day. This applies if your child is a preschooler, a teenager, or anywhere in between. Kids crave attention and giving them what they need at the beginning of the day means they’ll interrupt you less throughout the day. It could be as simple as eating breakfast together and discussing the day ahead with your child.

For teens, it’s a good idea to start each day with a daily check-in. Discuss what they accomplished yesterday and what the plan is for their homeschool day today. This way you don’t end up realizing they haven’t done their online math for a whole month.

Exercise at the Beginning of the Homeschool Day

Studies show that exercise boosts brain power and academic performance  Encouraging your child to exercise at the beginning of the homeschool day helps them get their wiggles out, burn off their energy, and increase their focus for learning. Besides, exercise also counts as Phys. Ed. class. Anything that works up a sweat counts as Phys. Ed.

If you like to do yoga first thing in the morning, invite your child to do it along with you. Alternatively, dance around to your favourite music together or dance along with a Zumba class on YouTube. I used to send my kids to do laps around the house – they tried to beat their number and do more laps every day. Our mini-trampoline also got a lot of use.

Take Advantage of Homeschooling’s Flexibility

Homeschooling is flexible and can work around your schedule. It can be frustrating to try to get work done while your kids are trying to get homeschool work done. They often need you more than you realize.

You can decide to homeschool your child in the evening or even on weekends if that’s what works best for you and your family. If your work is flexible as well, consider working before everyone wakes up. Then enjoy homeschooling your child in the morning and spending time with them in the afternoon. In the evening once your child is in bed, finish up your work day.

Set Limits for Your Child

You can set limits for even young children with time and patience. Teach your child when it's okay to get your attention, when it's not, and how to get your attention quietly. You can teach your child to knock if your home office door is closed or when a “do not disturb” sign is hung on it. Or you can even get a fancy red do not disturb light that plugs into your computer’s USB port.

Teach your child what to do when you’re on the phone and they need you. One technique that works well is to have them to quietly put their hand on your shoulder to cue they need you. You then place your hand over theirs to acknowledge they need you and you’ll be right with them. Once you can excuse yourself from the phone, you release their hand and find out what they need.

Every family is different and has different daily rhythms. You’ll find yours through trial and error. If something doesn’t feel right, change it up. You will know when you’ve found the rules and routines that work best for you as you are working at home and homeschooling.

 

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Local Homeschool Facebook Groups

By Guest Blogger -- Kimberly Charron on Wed, Oct 14, 2020 @ 02:29 PM

Written by Guest blogger, Kimberly Charron.

Kimberly Charron is a homeschool mom of two living with her husband of over 25 years in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She works from home as a homeschool coach and Certified Online Business Manager. In her free time, she likes to hand-spin, knit, read, and volunteer in local theatre.

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One of the most important things a homeschool parent needs is support. Your local homeschool Facebook group can help you find playmates for your kids, get suggestions on where to shop for local resources, create and find local field trips, and more. Homeschool groups are incredible sources of support from other parents who have been there, done that. I always recommend new homeschoolers seek out homeschool Facebook groups for support.

Almost all the following groups are Private Facebook groups. You will need to click on the blue Join Group button and then may need to be approved, often by answering questions to identify yourself as a homeschooler.

The Comedy of Errors Homeschool Facebook Group

With over 1400 members, The Comedy of Errors is one of the biggest, most active homeschool Facebook groups in Nova Scotia. It primarily serves the HRM, with field trips and activities being organized and shared for the area. However, many homeschoolers across Nova Scotia congregate here. As their description states:

This group is designed to be a resource for our NS home education community for future, past, and present events taking place. Organized activities, as well as general community events that may be of interest to others can be posted. You may wish to use this forum to meet up with others in the group when it's not an organized gathering.

Homeschool Facebook Groups for Specific Methods or Needs

HEMS Homeschooling 

The HEMS Homeschooling group has almost 800 members. Although everyone is welcome, HEMS has a Christian focus. Activities are organized for the HRM area, including weekly swimming lessons. Their description explains what “HEMS” means:

HEMS is actively committed to helping, encouraging, mentoring and serving homeschooling families; both at home and across Canada. This group will include information, updates and events dedicated to enhancing your homeschool journey.

NS Unschoolers 

The NS Unschoolers group consists of almost 400 homeschoolers. Unschooling is sometimes referred to as delight directed or child-led learning. As the group description elaborates:

NS Unschoolers is a support network and resource page for Unschooling home educating families, with a strong focus on joyful, relationship building, and compassionate parenting. Members here comprise those interested in learning more about Unschooling principles to full on Radical Unschoolers. Home Ed parents on all parts of the researching/deschooling/unschooling process are welcome here.

Secular Homeschoolers of Nova Scotia 

This is a secular (non-religious) group. Their description explains:

Welcome to our little corner: A support network for freethinking, agnostic and non-believers homeschooling in Nova Scotia.

It’s a fairly quiet group with 308 members. One of their focuses is helping others find secular homeschool curricula.

Local Homeschool Facebook Groups in or Near the Halifax Area

Annapolis Valley Homeschoolers 

The Annapolis Valley area has quite a few homeschool families and this is a very active group with over 500 members.

Annapolis Valley Homeschoolers is a group dedicated to the homeschooling families of the Annapolis Valley, of Nova Scotia. It is a place to share information on family friendly events, field trips, and curriculum.

South Shore (Nova Scotia) Homeschoolers 

While this group is primarily for homeschoolers in the South Shore area, as their description explains, others are welcome:

This group has been created with the goal of connecting home educating families in Nova Scotia, as well those who wonder about whether home educating is a good fit for their family, or simply wish to share their encouragement from homeschooling in previous years. The goal is to use this space to communicate group gatherings and opportunities for learning outside home, with field trips, activities and perhaps even the odd BBQ and Co-Operative Learning Day. Let's gather here to introduce ourselves, ask questions and share our experiences in this fantastic journey. This page is for you!

 

Members of this group, just under 400 strong, regularly share resources, support each other, and arrange meetups and field trips.

With so many parents thrust into homeschooling out of necessity due to the pandemic, support is even more important. Do you belong to any homeschool support groups that you would recommend?

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How Parents Can Help Kids Learn Online

By Melinda Cameron on Thu, May 14, 2020 @ 06:15 PM

At Halifax Learning, parents have always been a big part of their child's reading success. These days, it's more important than ever. But how can parents provide the best support on their child's reading journey, as they learn to read online with SpellRead?

1. Be present...

Kids usually need older family members around to start the Zoom or video chat meetings and to make sure the microphone and camera are working correctly. There can also be times when it's good to be around to troubleshoot any issues that come up, like if kids accidentally click the wrong part of the screen or if there's a problem with wifi.

2. ...but not TOO present.

Classes are designed for kids to do successfully with their class and instructor, so parents don't need to be around to give hints about the answers or do the activities! Any support that's needed will be provided by the instructor.

3. Have materials at the ready.

Each online class goes by quickly, so the better prepared kids are, the more work that gets done. Some families set an alarm for 10 minutes before each class - that way, they can be logged in and ready to go when the class starts. Better yet, set an alarm for 30 minutes before each class, giving kids time to have a quick snack and drink if needed and to use the washroom.

Supplies kids will usually need to have include:

  • Pencils and a notebook or scribbler
  • Sound cards
  • Speed packs

4. Be positive!

Make your home a safe place to make mistakes. Not every answer will be correct the first try - if it was, what are we even doing here? Encourage kids by noticing when they're working hard. 

For more information, please visit our website www.halifaxlearning.com

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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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