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Celebrating 20 Years of Evidence-Based Education and SpellRead

9 Questions - Evaluating a reading program

By Halifax Learning on Thu, Jan 05, 2023 @ 02:29 PM

Systemic change

Are you looking for literacy support and feeling overwhelmed, confused, or frustrated? Let Halifax Learning help.

You should know exactly what you’re signing up for and we strive to empower our visitors with accurate and practical information. We know there are other programs out there and that you will do your due diligence in making a final decision for you and your family. To make this process easier, we've compiled a list of 9 FAQs that we recommend you ask us and any other service providers you may visit! 

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1. Does your program address the 5 core skills needed to become a skilled reader?

Research has identified five core components to inform effective reading instruction.

  1. Phonological Awareness
  2. Phonics
  3. Vocabulary Development
  4. Reading Fluency
  5. Reading Comprehension

We're proud to say SpellRead was designed with them in mind. Download our free guide, "All Children Reading Well" to learn more.

2. How do you measure student progress?

SpellRead provides a clear path for your child to master phonological automaticity, to transfer those skills, and to become efficient readers. Our program is explicit, systematic, multi-sensory, evidence-driven, and meets the needs of even the most struggling learner.

SpellRead integrates ongoing assessment and evaluation through carefully designed card packs for timed reading. This ensures students achieve automatic recognition of the letter, sound relationship. Students work toward realistic goals and receive ongoing review and individualized instruction. Did we mention you can play fun games with the packs too!

Each class students participate in reading aloud and independent writing. After each class, our teachers assign a score from our carefully designed rubrics. These scores inform our teachers in their selection of reading material and mini-lessons designed to remediate common errors. 

Finally, Halifax Learning takes pride in communicating student progress with families. We are fortunate to have face time with parents and guardians after each class and we are eager to provide updates and celebrate success!

3. What results can we expect and in what time period? Are they sustainable?

Our goal is to bring skills to the point at, or above grade level.

We administer assessments for all new enrollments, midway and upon completion of the recommended registration in the SpellRead program. Our results are sustainable and the research supports it! 

4. What professionals refer to you?

We have a long list of individuals that refer to us including clinical psychologists, teachers, speech-language pathologists, and community groups but our number one source of referrals comes from our graduates and their families!

5. Who are the teachers?  

Our teachers come from all walks of life and backgrounds, but they all have one thing in common: A love of reading and student success! 

All of our teachers do have a post-secondary education, whether they are coming from an education degree, psychology background, early childhood education, etc., etc.  

At Halifax Learning we provide teachers with a robust and in-depth training to become certified SpellRead teachers.

6. How are they trained 
Our teachers participate in a blended-learning teacher training program in the SpellRead methodology. After the successful completion of the initial training, teachers are regularly observed and submit daily reports after each class. Experienced SpellRead teachers provide bi-weekly feedback to ensure students are meeting outcomes and progressing at the expected rate.

7. Has your program been independently reviewed? If so, can we see the research?
Yes, it sure has! SpellRead was most recently named as one of the recommended programs by the Ontario Human Rights Commission and published in the Right to Read Inquiry Report. Click here to review our extensive research library.

8. What will your reading assessment provide?

Our assessment measures the 5 core skills, listed above, required to become a skilled reader. Our clients are provided with a digital copy of the initial, progress, and final assessment reports that clearly compare results and show progress. 

9. Why do you do what you do?

Because reading doesn't just happen. There is a science to it.  We can all do better to ensure our children receive reading instruction that we know works. When you know better, you do better and the science is unequivocally clear. It just so happens that Halifax Learning has been delivering this science-based reading instructional method for over twenty years and guess what? The results are clear! We've changed over 4,000 lives and we're making plans for 400,000 more.

Don't wait. Trust the experts.

Enroll today so your child can enjoy everything that is magical about reading!

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The journey of a Reading Rockstar.

By Halifax Learning on Thu, Oct 20, 2022 @ 02:33 PM

 

Welcome to Halifax Learning.

We are so excited to begin this journey with you and your child. At Halifax Learning, we are leaders in evidence-driven, science of reading program delivery and teacher training.  

Our goal is your child’s literacy success. At the end of their time with us, students are confident, efficient readers! Collectively, we have worked with thousands of children, youth, and adults to achieve this outcome. Ensuring equity in literacy skill acquisition is very important to us and it's our privilege to be working with your child. 

We pride ourselves on delivering a program that is responsive and inclusive, and an in-person or online classroom experience that is collaborative, kind, and confidence-building. 

So how do we start?

Let’s start with an assessment

Our free, in-depth literacy skills assessment helps us understand your child’s needs and allows us to place them in a class with other students their age and skill level. We also use this assessment as a benchmark, as your child will be re-assessed at the halfway point and at the end of the program. 

The battery of tests we use is well-known and highly regarded in the academic world. We encourage you to share these with your child’s teacher at school, and we’re available to meet with additional school professionals to share more information.  

 

If you are keen to skip ahead and have an assessment and consult - please click here! 

 

What to expect when you start a class?

Whether you are working with one of our teachers in person or online, our goal is to make sure your child is coming into a welcoming and encouraging space.                                                                

  • All of our teachers have post-secondary education, but most importantly, they are excellent coaches, mentors, and cheerleaders! They all participate in SpellRead’s teacher training program and there is a support team behind them all the way to make sure your child is progressing. 

  • You will have brief communication with your child’s instructor at the end of each class, either in person or by way of email. The goal of this communication is to make sure you understand the homework assigned and also to give you any highlights of this class - new sounds learned or how active reading and writing connections went. 

  • Because our teachers are heavily supported by Halifax Learning support specialists, if we feel as though we’re encountering a hiccup, a member of our support team will reach out and set up a time to connect. 

  • You will hear from our Admissions Director a few times within their first month of classes to make sure things are going smoothly, but feel free to reach out to her if you have questions.

Want to see inside a classroom? Take a peek with us now:)

 

What does the class flow look like?

  • Our classes are typically 60-90 minutes long. During that time, students spend about 55% of the class on linguistic foundations and 45% of the class on active reading and writing connections.   We work in small groups and group students based on age/grade and skill level.  The goal is that one child is never held back or pushed forward before they are ready. 

  • There are three phases to the SpellRead program: A, B, C. All students start in Phase A; depending on the initial assessment and age of a student, sometimes Phase A can take just a few months to complete, or sometimes it takes the better part of a year. 

  • When we meet to discuss your child’s progress assessment, we will be able to talk more about whether or not they will complete all three phases during their full-year program with us and if not, whether or not they need to.

    Age and grade have a lot to do with it - but don’t worry. Our most important goal is to make sure your child is closing their gap and working towards ensuring literacy skills are at or above grade level. 

 

What are our touchpoints? You can put these on your calendar! 

  • Two-week mark - homework/calendar of events information is sent 
  • Two-month mark - you will receive a note from us with more detail on what you should be expecting to see from your child two months in, how time with us is impacting their self-confidence and school work
  • Five-month mark - your child will have their interim assessment followed by a meeting time with our support team to review the results and programming in general 
  • Eight-month mark - you will receive a note from us with more detail on what you should be expecting to see from your child eight months in, how time with us is impacting their self-confidence and school work
  • Completing the program - most students complete the program in about a year.  At this point you will be contacted about their exit -assessment, a time to review their progress and a time to go over the maintenance package we will be sending home 

 

Communication:

  • Parents have direct contact with our support team at any time.  
  • Consistent communication with the instructor. 
  • Upon request - we can facilitate a meeting with a child’s school and meet with a school team to talk about all programming and ways to provide some wrap-around.

 

Would you like to schedule a 15-minute conversation and just chat? Click here. We would love to talk. 

 

 

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Let's talk about the value of efficient literacy skills!

By Halifax Learning on Thu, Oct 20, 2022 @ 02:26 PM

Let’s talk about affordability and value! 

At Halifax Learning, we understand that our program is an investment however we know that the value of secure and efficient literacy skills is priceless!  Our goal is to ensure reading efficiently, maximizing the imaginative potential of each brain and the economic impact of every individual!

At our centre, we celebrate the importance of “human capital.” The most important resource in our world is people and our children. Literacy and poor literacy levels are at the root of many issues. We know we can help change this however it’s challenging for many families to access when we consider the cost of raising children in an inflationary environment.

We’ve created this document to help you better understand what the investment in SpellRead looks like short-term and long-term and some other ways to possibly help offset this cost. 

What do our payment plans look like? 

We offer payment plans designed to work within a family's budget.  This could mean paying over an extended period of time if necessary.  Click on the below images to view our full-year payment plan program and our half-year payment plan program. 

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Most students are with us for 12-15 months of program delivery and an hourly rate between $57 and $63 per hour.  In any circumstance, with 4 weeks' notice, a student can withdraw from the program at any time.  If a student enrolls for a half-year program it could be recommended that they continue. 

What is the value of this investment? This is a question we are often asked! 

The goal of SpellRead is to ensure that all students’ literacy skills move to a point where they are at or even above grade level, and most importantly, to ensure these skills are sustainable. 

  •  Poor literacy skills should never be a barrier to an individual reaching their potential. 

  • Your child will be working in an inclusive environment with other children of a similar age and skill set (based on our in-depth literacy assessment) with a highly qualified SpellRead instructor.  

  • All of our instructors have a post-secondary education and all come to us with excellent coaching, mentoring, and cheerleading skills! We train them in our methodology with continuous internal program support specialists who are supporting our instructors and your children - RESULTS MATTER! 

  • We are also available to meet with your child’s school and explain our program and explore any opportunities to provide more of a wraparound approach and incorporate homework support during their school day. 

Would you like to hear what other parents are saying or review our results? We publish our student results quarterly and welcome all parent and student feedback. Click here to learn more

 

What are our touchpoints as your child journeys through our program? 

  • Two-week mark - homework/calendar of events information is sent 
  • Two-month mark - you will receive a note from us with more detail on what you should be expecting to see from your child two months in, how time with us is impacting their self-confidence and school work
  • Five-month mark - your child will have their interim assessment followed by a meeting time with our support team to review the results and programming in general 
  • Eight-month mark - you will receive a note from us with more detail on what you should be expecting to see from your child eight months in, how time with us is impacting their self-confidence and school work
  • Completing the program - most students complete the program in about a year.  At this point, you will be contacted about their exit -assessment, a time to review their progress, and a time to go over the maintenance package we will be sending home 

 

Communication is very important! 

  • Parents have direct contact with our support team at any time.  
  • Consistent communication with your child's instructor.
  • Upon request - we can facilitate a meeting with a child’s school and meet with a school team to discuss our programming and ways to provide some wrap-around instruction.


Is cost a barrier? It can be and we want to be able to help with this! 

After the assessment, we’ll sit down and discuss our payment plan options with you and answer any questions. Our goal is to work with you so that your child can access the value of our program without it becoming a stressful monthly payment. 

~The payment doesn't last forever but the results do! ~

 

Here are some helpful tips to explore as you consider affordability: 

Extended Health Benefits

Do you have an EAP (employee assistance plan) through health coverage or through an employer? Be sure to ask:

  • Is a doctor’s referral needed?
  • How much coverage do I have and when is the renewal (most plans are based on a calendar year but this is not always true)?
  • Are there any restrictions?

Tax Credits & Benefits

Your child and/or family may be eligible for the Disability Tax Credit and/or Child Disability Benefit. The CRA website or your accountant/financial advisor can help you determine your eligibility.

If you would like to know more about the disability tax credit, you can watch this webinar by Dyslexia Canada.

Another possible option is to claim your SpellRead tuition as a medical expense when you do your taxes. You can learn more here. To claim a medical expense, you will need a doctor’s referral to the program.  

If you would like to discuss our program results or see if SpellRead is a good fit for your child, please reach out today! 

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Understanding The Science of Reading

By Halifax Learning on Thu, Nov 04, 2021 @ 08:00 AM

Halifax Learning embraces the Science of Reading. It’s a term often used when discussing remedial reading programs, but many parents we talk to aren’t entirely clear on what it means. 

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We know that being a proficient reader has a huge impact on a child’s entire education. In this post, we want to talk about what the science of reading is and how it enables students to succeed not only in reading but in all areas of learning.

What is The Science of Reading?

As the name implies, the science of reading is based on methods and statistical analyses drawn from the work of experts in education, special education, psychology, neurology, literacy, and more. Over 20 years in the making, their evidence-based body of knowledge has helped uncover the deficiencies in traditional observation-based methods. 

The conclusive research of the science of reading gives educators the information they need to gain a deeper understanding of how children learn to read, what skills are involved, and which parts of the brain are responsible for reading development. From the research, experts have been able to develop a best practices approach for teaching foundational literacy skills often called “structured literacy.”

By helping educators understand the cognitive processes essential for reading proficiency, the science of reading helps prevent many reading difficulties in young students who are most at-risk. And studies have shown that for students in higher grades, intensive phonemic awareness and decoding training coupled with opportunities for repeated practice with reading controlled text has been highly effective. 

How Science of Reading Differs From Traditional Reading Instruction

Conventional reading instruction emphasizes whole world memorization, which can impede a student’s progress. Phonics empowers students by increasing their reading power. Here’s how it works.

Reading development can be divided into three stages: letters and sounds, phonic decoding, and orthographic or spelling mapping. When a child memorizes 10 words, they generally can read those 10 words well. However, if the child learns the sounds of 10 letters, they can read:

  • 350 three-sound words
  • Over 4,300 four-sound words
  • 21,650 five-sound words

As learning to read is a complex neurological process, it only makes sense to use evidence-based methods to support all readers.

Are Phonics and Science of Reading the Same Thing?

The science shows that systematic, explicit phonics instruction is the foundation for successful reading. Yet while phonics, which is about decoding words, is a critical component in early reading education, other techniques are used by educators to keep students focused and energized as they master challenging skills. The science of reading also:

  • Incorporates connecting phonics to spelling instruction.
  • Recognizes the importance of language and reading comprehension.
  • Focuses on building vocabulary and background knowledge.
  • Helps students develop comprehension skills.

So, while phonics is certainly an essential element in the science of reading, it’s not the whole thing, in fact, ​​ efficient reading instruction includes: phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary development, reading fluency, and reading comprehension - all working together.

How Halifax Learning Can Help

Halifax Learning is committed to transforming students’ lives through the power of reading. Halifax Learning's delivery of the SpellRead Program is a fully integrated approach based on specific skill mastery that uses language-based reading and writing activities to help children, particularly those who struggle with reading, improve their reading skills.

To learn more about the science of reading and how Halifax Learning can help support your child’s learning needs, reach out to us today.

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There’s a science to it – but reading’s not rocket science

By Halifax Learning on Wed, Oct 28, 2020 @ 11:58 AM

Every kid can learn to read, and well

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There’s a lot of uncertainty about education in a post-pandemic world, but thankfully one thing that remains certain is that virtually all children can learn to read, and read well.

The science of reading continues to evolve, but there are tried and tested notions of what’s involved in learning to read. And it’s not rocket science for parents to learn it.

Melinda Cameron, one of the three partners at Halifax Learning, spells these out in the centre’s first webinar -- All Children Reading Well.

Melinda is a teacher with 15 years experience, and she’s working on her Masters in Literacy Studies. She’s also a mom with a daughter who is now in Grade 1. Melinda admits that with the schools shut down during the pandemic and over the summer, she was worried about how her daughter would get the instruction she needs.

Hence the 32-minute webinar, where she shares with other parents “how I’m making that happen, how Halifax Learning’s making that happen, and what we can do together to support each other.”

It’s the first in a series of webinars the centre is developing to educate and empower parents.

Parents can and should help

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“People ask me all the time, is there anything I can do to help my kid? And that question sort of breaks my heart, because of course there are things you can do to help,” says Melinda.

You don’t have to be a reading scientist, but it helps to have an understanding of the basic skills that are required to read, and these include:

  • Phonological awareness – The ability to hear and play around with parts of words, including phonemic awareness, which is the ability to break sounds into different syllables and manipulate them;
  • Phonics – making a connection between a sound and the letter that represents it;
  • Vocabulary – which becomes more and more interesting and fun for kids as they get older; reading with a parent is a great way for learners to develop vocabulary;
  • Fluency – reading accurately, with good pacing and intonations;
  • Comprehension -- the “end goal.” The point of learning to read well is to understand what we’re reading.

The webinar covers each basic in some detail, providing parents with a general understanding of them.

Frequency is what counts

Time and time again, educators emphasize the importance of parents reading along with their children. “If you do nothing else with your child at home in terms of their education, I think reading has to be it,” confirms Melinda.

All Children Reading Well Webinar

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