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Posts Tagged 'Special Education'

Partnering with Schools for Student Success: Effective Parent Advocacy

The Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario, in partnership with the Integra Program of the Child Development Institute, is presenting an online workshop for parents and those who are helping parents navigate the school system. The course is called Partnering with Schools for Student Success, and promotes a collaborative approach to advocacy, based on knowledge and understanding on both sides.

The seven units explore perspectives of parents and schools, promote an understanding of the needs of students and of special education and behaviour management processes in schools, and teach strategies for successful negotiation. Scenarios will be used to help illustrate the ideas presented.

The online course is offered in two versions:

  • Professionals, and others who are working with parents, will do assignments at the end of each unit, and submit a final case study, in order to receive a Certificate of Completion.
  • Parents can choose to take the course for their own information, without submitting assignments, for a reduced fee.

All participants will have access to a discussion forum where they can ask questions and share ideas.  The course will be moderated by Kate Cressman, and Diane Wagner, Public Policy & Education Consultant at LDAO. Kate is a facilitator with the Community Education and Engagement program at Integra where she provides training for and promotes collaboration between schools, students, parents and other helping professionals around children’s mental health and learning.

The seven units will be made available one week at a time over seven weeks (taking a break for March Break), starting on February 23, 2015.

To register go to: www.ldao.ca/ldao-services/workshops-courses/partnering-with-schools-for-student-success-effective-parent-advocacy/

Posted in: Parent Education Resources, Special Education Tutoring

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Back to School Jitters – What Parents Can Do to Help

Featuring: Lindsay Ross, MSW,RSW

As the end of summer quickly approaches, many children start to experience the usual feelings of nervous excitement that come with the impending first day back at school.  Whether it’s the start of kindergarten or the first day of high school, it is normal for kids to worry about the unknowns of a brand new school year.  These worries often include:

1)      Will I like my teacher(s)? Will my teacher(s) like me?

2)      Will my friends still like me after the summer? Will I meet new friends?

3)      What if I get teased or bullied?

4)      Will I achieve academically? Can I manage my course load? Am I taking the right courses?

So how can parents support their children through these last few days of summer and with the transition back to school?  Here are some general strategies that parents can use to help ease their child’s anxiety as they embark on a new school year:


Stay Calm

Children, both young and old, are extremely in-tune with their parent’s emotions.  If you are openly anxious and worried about the transition back to school then your child will most likely pick up on that nervous energy.  They will start believing that if mom and dad are worried then there must be a good reason.  Try and stay calm.


Stay Positive and Normalize their Feelings

A new year often means new challenges and opportunities.  Remind your children of their past successes as well as their skills.  Communicating to your child that you believe in their strengths and capabilities can help boost their confidence and feelings of self-worth.  Explain to your kids that what they are feeling is completely normal.


Visit the School

Familiarizing yourself with your new surroundings can remove a lot of undue stress.  If your child is entering into a new school, go for a tour.  Locate your classroom, gym and cafeteria.  Getting lost on the first day is very common.  If you know where some important landmarks are located, you are already ahead of the game.


Meet with your Teacher(s)

If you know who your teachers will be in advance, it can be helpful to book a meeting with them before the start of the school year.  Have your child prepare some questions that they may want to ask their teacher, for example, how to access extra help if needed or how to let the teacher know if certain academic or social issues arise.  Allowing your child to prepare and ask questions will encourage your child’s building of autonomy and self-confidence.


Meeting with the School Guidance Counsellor

If your child requires special school accommodations, it will be important to meet with the school guidance counsellor to organize a plan, or at least get the ball rolling, prior to the start of school.  Creating a realistic and structured plan can relieve a lot of stress and worry.  If the plan meets the child’s needs, they will feel that they have been taken seriously and supported by their school.


Be Available to Talk to your Kids

You are the expert on your children and the most important support system in their lives.  Frequently reminding your children that you are always available to talk about both the good and the bad opens the door for communication.  Put down your cell phone, turn off your computer and television and make sure that every day you devote some quality time to be with your kids.  They need to know that they are your number one priority.

Lindsay Ross is a clinical social worker working in private practice in Toronto, Ontario.  For more information on her services, please feel free to contact her at (647) 501-7220 or at lindsayross.msw@gmail.com

Posted in: Parent Education Resources, Special Education Tutoring

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Be in the Moment this Summer: At Least Once a Day

I had my first parent-tears of joy today. I looked into my 3-month-old son’s eyes and the overwhelming love I feel for him came out in tears. His little legs working hard to hold himself up and his eyes engaged with mine, we were in the moment. We danced together and we just were.

As an ADHD coach to kids, adults and parents for the last 4 years, I have always started working with my parent clients with the disclaimer, “I am not yet a parent, and you are the expert of your children, I am here to walk alongside you, to help you with tips and tricks, and to be a sounding board for your world”. In essence, I work to help parents take a pause and to work on their own, or with a partner, to find solutions and build family goals that resonate with them.

As June hits, you may be feeling pretty exhausted, you may feel on different pages with your partner and/or your children, and you may feel like you are “just holding on for dear life”. I urge you to use your child’s ability to be in the present to help find some moments of peace this summer. By focusing on their needs, joys, gazes, and emotions, by standing “in their boots”, you may discover you, too, will find solace.

Set aside 10 minutes a day to get on the floor with your youngster and have a tickle war or crawl under the dinner table with them. Take a few minutes to look through baby pictures with your older teen and tell them about some of your favourite moments when they were little. Run off the dock, or arrive home wearing a funny costume. Spend a few minutes being silly, or playful, and try to use their ability to be in the present to connect.

The moment I shared with my son today was soon taken away by his cries for hunger and his need for a nap, but propels me through the challenges of being a parent with newfound energy nonetheless.

Short moments of connection are enough, and summer is the perfect time to remind yourself about the importance of just “hanging out”.  Ten minutes a day is all it takes: in fact for me, it was probably only two.


Laura MacNiven is the Director of Health Education at Springboard Clinic. Springboard specializes in ADHD and offers family coaching, ADHD testing, psycho-educational assessments, and a variety of mental health assessments. If you or your child needs support, please don’t wait. There is no time like the present. www.springboardclinic.com

Posted in: Special Education Tutoring

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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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