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Celebrating 20 Years of Evidence-Based Education and SpellRead

Backyard Fun That Secretly Teaches

By Eryn Steele on Thu, Jun 16, 2022 @ 07:27 PM

Science is everywhere! You don't need to go to a zoo - you can find all kinds of science-related experiences right in your own backyard. Here is a super simple list of science activities that are both fun and full of learning.

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What Can We Find? This is pretty straightforward, but probably not as boring as you'd think. Grass and soil are full of worms, ants, and all kinds of little critters that you wouldn't notice every day. Look under rocks, wood, and leaves. For smaller kids, focus on how individual critters use their bodies to get around (for example, having six legs, wings, or no legs at all). For older kids, bring a book to help them formally identify the creatures they find. You can also expand this activity to identify trees, birds, and other elements in the environment.

How Does It Fall? A backyard likely offers some high perches (a deck, for example) where you and your child can investigate how different things fall. Try things like balls, paper, a feather, or leaves. Do they all fall the same way? Which items fall faster? What is gravity?

Shadow Shakers: If it's sunny, encourage your child to experiment with their own shadow. What shapes can they make? Hand animals are always fun. Try incorporating items with interesting shapes and slowly rotate items to see how their shadows change.

Make It Grow: Get your child to observe and record the growth of a plant or animal. This can happen any time of year, especially if you plant something indoors. Depending on where you live, it may be tricky to find an animal to follow, but caterpillars or ducklings are often easy to identify. Growing veggies is also a really educational activity, and yields some delicious rewards!

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Hot/Hotter/Hottest: When the sun is shining bright, different surfaces feel warmer or cooler. Metal slides, for example, are much too hot on a hot summer afternoon. How does the shade of a tree impact the temperature? How does a breeze impact the temperature? Use you hand or an outdoor thermometer to investigate what can impact the heat.

How Does It Slide? Find an array of materials (balls, blocks, toys etc) and see how they all go down the slide. Ask your child to make predictions about items before they slide them. Will the item slide quickly? Will it continue to roll once the slide ends? Why does it roll more effectively than other things? This activity teaches about gravity, momentum, and shapes. This can also be expanded to "How Does It Fly", which is using paper airplanes and other items to test aerodynamics.

Balance Challenge: If your backyard doesn’t have a makeshift balance beam (a plank of wood laid on the grass, for example), head to the nearest park for some balance challenges. Don’t just walk across the beam - make it tricky! Try walking the beam with a book on your head. Try balancing something on the palm of your hand while you walk. Try balancing something (a pencil, for example) on your index finger. How do you stay balanced? What are some tricks to make it easier? How does the speed of movement impact balance?  Try this indoors by balancing on one foot.  Can you balance as long on a cushion as on the floor?  How about with your eyes closed?

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A Family Tree: Use flowers, rocks, or leaves to represent family members. Explain how, just like trees, families branch out. Starting with grandparents, use the materials to map out who is who in a family, and connect them all with branches to demonstrate how they all intersect.

Tap into your child's curiosity to keep their mind active and have fun while you're at it! Your backyard has a lot to offer! These activities are extremely simple, but familiarize your child with many important ideas. Go online to find more backyard activity ideas, or get creative and come up with your own!

If you have concerns about your child's reading levels why not get a true picture of the situation with a free no-obligation reading assessment.

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Helpful tips for Parent Teacher Meetings

By Halifax Learning on Fri, Nov 12, 2021 @ 07:15 AM

Parent-teacher conferences are put in place for communication, accountability, to celebrate success, and to overcome challenges. They are an opportunity for teachers to relay insight about a child's interactions with their peers, their approach and attitude towards challenging material, and their reactions to new emotions and ideas.  Everyone should take advantage of this time, albeit limited, to increase opportunities for the success of the student. 

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Halifax Learning has educators with years of experience as public school teachers and also clinicians working as reading specialists. The tips below are a collection of experiences we’ve found most useful when communicating with parents. At Halifax Learning we have the privilege of frequent parent-teacher consultations.  We also have a systematized assessment procedure that also ensures a discussion at the mid point of a SpellRead student's programming and upon completion of the program. 

Here are 5 ways to maximize your parent-teacher conference.

1. Don't Wait!

Don't wait for Parent-Teacher Conferences to open lines of communication. Remember, you are a team and communication is critical. We all know our public school teachers are overwhelmed with demands, but offering support, relevant information and ensuring you're supporting your child's needs at home will only reduce the demands on our classroom teachers.

You can help support your child's classroom teacher by asking for advice on ways you can support your child at home. Ask for recommendations for:

  • an online course, reading material or an upcoming conference that puts a spotlight on your child's learning challenges. 
  • an incentive program that can be carried out both at home and in the classroom. 
  • additional practice, activities and/or apps.
  • professional services and support in your community. 

2. Ask for Honesty

Give your child's teacher permission to be honest. Let them know you are prepared for the good, the bad and the ugly in order to move forward. In order for your child to thrive, the adults overseeing their education need to work together, even if it hurts. 

Teachers want to tell all parents that their child is exceeding expectations and your child's teacher is likely agonizing over focusing on the positive. As hard as it is to receive difficult news, it's also hard to share it, but when we sugar coat reality, we are providing a disservice to our students.  At Halifax Learning, ss providers of a structured literacy program, too often we are asked why no one spoke up sooner. When parents ask for honesty and open communication, parents and teachers can more quickly develop solutions for the child's learning needs.

3. Share Information

The golden rule for teaching success is "get to know your students" and no one knows your child better than you do. Relationships are paramount and parents can help fast track this process by sharing as much information as possible. Share with your child's teacher:

  • the challenges and successes that have defined your child.
  • what motivates your child.
  • what causes your child anxiety.
  • what programs and services they have received up to this point.
  • the strengths and challenges you face as a parent in reinforcing the goals set out by your child's teacher.

4. Include the Student

Your child is the subject of your meeting and one of your best sources of information.  Students should have an opportunity to assess and provide feedback about their teacher, classmates, and learning environment. Yes, a child's perspective can be skewed, but regardless, what they perceive to be true impacts their learning outcomes.

How they feel matters and can help inform their educational journey. Have multiple, meaningful and intentional conversations with your child about their experiences at school and record their comments in a journal at a later time. Ask your child specific questions and allow them to express their feelings completely. After several conversations about school, reflect on your notes and look for patterns that resulted in success or presented barriers for your child's learning. Take this information to your child's teacher with the intention of finding a resolution, not to point fingers. 

5. Advocate, Advocate, Advocate

Advocating for your child doesn't mean being a bully and making unreasonable demands. Asking informed questions with the expectation of an informed response is well within your rights. When it comes to your child's reading, you should ask: 

  • When were you last able to read with my child one on one? 
  • What are they reading in comparison to their peers? 
  • What do you notice about my child's reading? Are they using compensatory strategies such as memorization, context or pictures to guess or are they using the sound-letter relationship of the alphabet code to attack unknown words?
  • Are you teaching the five core components of essential reading skills? How? 

… 

If your child is struggling to read, remember:

✓ Reading skills do not develop in a short time.

✓ 95% of the developing readers benefit from explicit, systematic instruction to decipher the alphabetic code.

✓ Developing readers need multiple, repetitive opportunities to master skills.

✓ Reading programs must incorporate all five of the core components to ensure skilled, confident, reading.

✓ Halifax Learning uses evidence-based programming that offers effective, sustainable results, delivered by exceptional, experienced, experts. 

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The Covid Learning Slide: A Year Later

By Halifax Learning on Tue, Oct 19, 2021 @ 06:24 AM

Educators have long dealt with the “summer slide,” the loss of learning that takes place while students are on summer break. Today, a new phrase, “the COVID slide,” presents a whole range of novel educational challenges.

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When we first wrote about this phenomenon in September 2020, we talked about how the COVID slide turned the school system upside down, disrupting millions of children, families, and teachers. Sadly, a year later, the slide has continued, with experts calling the education disruption a “shadow pandemic” that’s widening learning gaps and causing Canadian students, particularly those at-risk, to fall behind their global peers.

While many educators are eager to emphasize their students remain motivated and are on target with their schoolwork, they also acknowledge a concern about students not keeping up academically. They especially worry about students who have underlying learning challenges or lack appropriate resources to keep pace.

Fortunately, there are things parents can do to help their children who might be experiencing COVID slide, including investing in online instruction such as Halifax Learning’s SpellRead Program.

Shrinking Learning Gaps to Minimize Disruption

Many experts agree addressing learning gaps now can go a long way in keeping students’ education journeys on track. Student well-being, home-school resources, and consistent evaluation and assessment, they say, can help at-risk students by providing flexible approaches to the delivery of learning.

These same experts also see the current crisis as offering an opportunity to improve educational pathways for learners and build resilience for all students. They believe educators can alleviate student learning loss that many say will last through the end of 2021’s school year by putting three crucial initiatives in place:

  1. Acting now to reduce learning gaps and commit for the long term.
  2. Embracing holistic and flexible interventions that enhance the multiple worlds of individual students, including resources that enable the use of a variety of delivery methods.
  3. Rethinking and embedding evaluation and assessment components to maximize impact.

Including students and parents in the design and delivery of learning interventions is an especially useful way of achieving these goals. Programs like SpellRead can accelerate learning and ensure a student receives the ongoing support and assessments they need to thrive and meet their full potential.

How Parents Can Help Students Experiencing COVID Slide

Before they can help their child cope with the pandemic’s effects on their studies, parents must recognize how their child is doing. Has the child lost interest in subjects they once thrived at? Are they using the phrase “I hate reading” more often? These might be the sign of academic struggle. At-home reading lessons that include activities in phonemic, phonetic, and language-based reading and writing can ensure a child’s skills in these areas remain current with their grade level while keeping them engaged in overall learning.

A University of Alberta study confirms that students who were already struggling with reading are falling even further behind in their reading skills due to the COVID slide. Halifax Learning is committed to helping educators, students, and their families, turn the situation around. To learn more about the COVID slide and how our program can help your child strengthen their reading skills, 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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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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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 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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