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Preparing for University and College

Preparing for University and College

From the moment he received his first Lego set as a toddler, Adrian wanted to design and build things. Although he excelled at math and art in school, his reading and writing skills lagged significantly behind those of his classmates. In Grade 3, his teacher recommended a Psychoeducational Assessment to understand just what was causing his learning struggle. Adrian was diagnosed with a learning disability, which enabled his teacher to prepare an Individual Educational Plan (IEP). The IEP described the accommodations needed to allow him to access the curriculum equally with his peers. With these supports, Adrian blossomed throughout his elementary and high school years. Now in Grade 12, Adrian and his parents are exploring university and college programs, wondering whether students with specific learning needs can also be accommodated at the post-secondary level. The answer is “Yes.”

Dr. Bill Ford, an educational psychologist who works with students with a broad range of learning differences, compares the need for accommodation to his need for ‘glasses.’ He says: “If you test my driving using a multiple choice test, but don’t let me wear my glasses to read it, I’d fail! That is, you’d be testing my vision and not my driving knowledge.” This analogy also applies to learning in school. Students with learning disabilities need ‘glasses’ to compensate for the different ways in which they process information. In Adrian’s case, his visual and verbal abilities were remarkable, but he was hampered by a weak working memory and a small motor weakness.

The definition of learning disability states that the student must be of average or above average intelligence. The student may need extra time to complete assignments, technological equipment, or different teaching strategies, such as alternative test-taking, note-taking, mentorship, and other supports, all designed to help the student succeed. As these students graduate from high school, they face new challenges when it comes to post-secondary education. They still need their ‘glasses,’ but they must now also advocate for themselves by informing the administration and their professors what they need to reach their goals.

How does a student access post-secondary accommodations? The first step is to ensure that the student has had a recent Diagnostic Psychoeducational Assessment conducted by a registered psychologist. Most post-secondary institutions require that the student be assessed within three years before entrance. If the student has been previously assessed, an updated assessment is needed because developmental changes can affect a student’s learning and academic abilities over time.

When making application for post-secondary studies, it is critical that the student contact and register with the university or college’s Disability/Accessibility Services as soon as possible, to ensure that services are in place when they start. Dr. Ford also recommends career planning in Grade 10 or 11 to help guide the student’s post-secondary planning.

As for Adrian, he has already identified three universities and contacted their Accessibility Services. Moreover, he and his parents were delighted to learn that after graduation, professional associations also provide eligible candidates with accommodations for their licencing examinations. Moreover, qualifying examinations for graduate programs (e.g., LSAT, SAT, etc.) also provide specific accommodations based on the diagnostic assessment. Adrian is now ready for his post-secondary adventure!!

Dr. Bill Ford is an educational psychologist and the Director of Educational Connections. For over 35 years, Dr. Ford has specialized in the assessment of learning, recommended intervention strategies, and assisted families in their school search. Dr. Ford also works closely with students to prepare them for their post-secondary and vocational transition.

Posted in: Special Education Tutoring

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Strengthening Our Community

Strengthening Our Community

Every student starting in grade 9 is required to complete 40 hours of community service as a graduation requirement outlined by the Ministry of Education.  The purpose is to encourage students to develop an understanding of the various roles they can play in supporting their community and to help foster valuable and long-term relationships.

Below are examples of activities that you could suggest to your child.

Neighbourhood Support

  • Provide service to seniors or to others who have difficulty leaving their homes with gardening, reading and meal preparation
  • Help younger children to take trips to the library, community centre and park

Community Support

  • Assist with holiday clothing and toy drives
  • Take part in environmental initiatives like recycling, flower / tree planting
  • Volunteer at a seniors’ home/centre by visiting, reading, playing cards or board games
  • Get involved in charitable activities – walk-a-thons, daffodil sales, canvassing for organizations
  • Provide service through religious communities / places of worship
  • Help with the organization of local events such as food drives
  • Assist with local sports teams or parks & recreation programs
  • Get involved in the democratic political process – help with canvassing and / or campaigning
  • Volunteer in hospitals, libraries or any organizations recommended by your school

School Support

  • Assist in the planning of artistic events – sell tickets, get involved in art, drama or music productions
  • Help with sports teams and athletic events – assist a coach, set up for track meets
  • Become a peer buddy and assist students with special needs
  • Facilitate school events such as parent information nights – meet and greet visitors, give guided tours, serve refreshments
  • Sit on school councils and/or committees

Community application forms are available at your child’s school.   We would recommend that you check with your guidance counselor for a complete list of the community service eligible activities.   Your child’s selection of activities should take into account their age and current skill level.  Their safety is paramount.

Posted in: Community, Parent Education Resources

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Take Our Kids to Work Day

Take Our Kids to Work Day

As students consider their course selection and potential career interests, it is important they continue to gain opportunities to better understand their interests, strengths and abilities.

Take Our Kids to Work Day is an excellent program for Grade 9 students to gain a better understanding of the complexity of career choices and the benefits of early exploration.

On Wednesday, November 7 over 200,000 students across Canada will spend the day at work, job shadowing a parent, relative, friend or volunteer host.

Benefits for Students

  • Develop a better understanding and appreciation of the workplace
  • Link classroom and workplace experiences in a practical way
  • Begin discussions with adults about their career options
  • Gain a better understanding of the importance of career choices and the benefits of early exploration

How Parents can get Involved

  • Engage in discussions on career options before and after the visit
  • Invite your daughter or son to spend the day with you
  • Contact the school, speak with the guidance counselor or co-op teacher and ask if they can assist in finding a suitable placement for the day
  • Contact local businesses and ask if they are hosting students in an area your daughter or son may be interested in
  • Ensure you have reviewed the safety of the location prior to your child’s workplace visit

Please feel free to contact us we can be of any further help as you and your child continue to explore career options.

 

Posted in: Community, Parent Education Resources

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Embracing Technology for the New School Year

As technology has continued to play an increasingly important role in our lives it has provided numerous positive changes to the way we learn and how education is conducted in the school.   As the school year begins, we hope you find the information below on how technology is being integrated into the classroom beneficial to you and your family.

Interactive Whiteboards

Also known as SMART Boards, this interactive display connects a computer to a board, supplementing traditional blackboards and flip charts.  They provide an excellent environmentally friendly way to teach the class in an interactive style that allows for materials discussed in the class to be posted at a later date for future review.

Below are several examples of how teachers are incorporating SMART Boards into the classroom:

  • Classroom brainstorming
  • Using a Document Camera to display and edit text and images
  • Illustrating and writing a book as a class
  • Teaching steps to a math problem
  • Digital Storytelling
  • Saving lessons for students who were absent
  • Allowing students share projects during parent teacher interviews

Online Classroom Management Systems

Many teachers are engaging in the use of online web applications like Moodle to promote blended learning with the classroom.

These systems have many online features to benefit your child’s education, which include:

  • Classroom discussion forms
  • Homework submission
  • Online quizzes
  • Downloading information including prior lessons and additional learning resources
  • Classroom calendar

To see an example of this technology, we would recommend visiting: demo.moodle.net.

We would encourage you to work with your school and teacher to better understand how many of these technological innovations can be potentially used in your child’s classroom.

Good luck with the start of school and if we can be of any assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Posted in: Educational Technology

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Transitioning Back to School

Transitioning Back to School

The start of the school year provides an opportunity for you and your child to discuss goals for the year ahead and for them to develop new skills and knowledge.

Below are some tips in transitioning from the summer holidays to the start of school.

Adjust to the New Routine

  • Work with your child to ease back into a school year routine, especially bed and meal times
  • Discuss with your child what time of the day works best for homework / studying
  • If your child takes part in after-school activities, develop a weekly schedule to ensure balance with their school work
  • If your child is going through a transition year (middle school, high school) make a trip before the first day of classes and provide extra support

 

Emphasize Organization

  • An agenda is an excellent tool to help your child stay organized.   Work with her or him to develop a habit of recording their homework, tests and assignments to remember due dates
  • Utilize school supplies such as binders and folders to keep items organized in a knapsack
  • Before the first day of school, organize supplies, clothes and other items to ensure a smooth morning

 

Stay Informed

  • Engage your child on an ongoing basis to learn about their progress
  • Understand the important dates throughout the year:
    • Report cards, parent-teacher interviews, course selection, important assignments and tests, and exams
  • Get to know your child’s teacher(s) and continue stay in touch with them throughout the year

 

Good luck with the start of school and if we can be of any assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Posted in: Parent Education Resources

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