What is Educational Therapy?

Student lookingUnlike tutoring which provides homework help and assistance with grade-level content and materials, educational therapy addresses the underlying fundamental skills or “building blocks” essential for successful learning.  Oftentimes these core processing skills may have been delayed in early development and/or missed being learned or taught at school.

In the same way as a house needs a solid foundation upon which to build a strong structure, educational therapy ensures that a student’s learning foundation is developed and strong, before layering on higher level language and math skills.

If these fundamental processes and skills are not fully in place, children, teens and even adults can be plagued by lifelong struggles with reading, spelling, comprehension, writing and numeracy skills.

When these important “building blocks” of learning are in place, it is like a key unlocking a door – allowing entry to a world where an individual can read, write, spell and calculate with ease and proficiency, to the best of his or her potential.

Why is Educational Therapy Important?

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For kids with learning disabilities or learning issues, it’s not simply a matter of “not paying attention”, “not trying hard enough”, etc.  They may truly not be “getting it”, regardless of how much they listen or how hard they work.  For parents and educators, this may also require a shift in our own understanding and perspective in order to support and advocate for these children.  We first must look at and understand why and then determine how best to teach them.

Certain core processing skills if absent or weak may perpetually hinder a students’ ability to learn, if not addressed.  At the younger grade levels, this may not seem as imperative.  However, as a student moves up to the higher grade levels (and onto post-secondary education), the difficulty will compound exponentially because he/she will have to deal with more complex, difficult material which will demand higher level reading and comprehension skills.

In the case of reading difficulties (such as dyslexia), if a student is unable to read or read well, they will forever struggle because they lack the core reading skills that are required not only in language subjects but in virtually all other subject areas as well.

In deciding whether and how to address their child’s learning issues, parents and educators need to look beyond immediate school functioning and also consider the impact on future work opportunities and overall life management skills.

At LearnAbility our approach  is to strengthen each student’s learning foundation and fill in the gaps. Our ultimate purpose is to enable every student to manage with assurance on his/her own.  Instead of giving children a learning “crutch”, we teach them to “walk on both legs”, confidently in school and into the future.

How Does an Educational Therapist Help?

IMG_8279Some learning disabilities are more noticeable and readily detected while others may be more subtle and not as apparent.  Academic results and potential can vary greatly depending on the severity and/or combination of a child’s learning disabilities or challenges.  Students with evident learning difficulties are more likely (but not always) to be diagnosed through the school system.  However, there are also kids whose learning issues are not so pronounced and as a result, may easily slip under the educational system’s “radar”.

In this latter group, children may be meeting grade level expectations but are working much harder than their peers to achieve the same results.  There may also be students who are working at mid-range level, but who really should be getting better marks because they have the capacity and potential to perform at a higher level, if not for these undetected learning issues.  In either case, children will not be identified because they appear to be “managing”.

Every person learns and processes information in their own unique way. For students experiencing difficulty, there are specific learning challenges that are particular to that individual.  The key to facilitating learning for these students is determining what learning processes need to be in place and exactly which specific methodologies work for each individual.

At LearnAbility we are specially trained to help children, teens and adults overcome their obstacles to learning and help them reach their full learning potential. We not only help to determine and define the specific learning differences and challenges, but we also provide the critical intervention necessary to overcome them.

Working one-on-one, we assess and diagnose the specific weaknesses in a student’s learning foundation.  We then create an individualized plan using a combination of, research-based, proven-effective learning programs.  These include the Lindamood-Bell® programs, the Cellfield Reading Intervention Program, Fast ForWord®, and Interactive Metronome®.  This approach not only addresses any deficits, but also concurrently builds on a student’s strengths.  The combination of both these aspects is critical to successful, lifelong learning.

Who Will Education Therapy Help?

andresr21961 As children begin school, some parents initially sense that something is not quite right with their child’s abilities but are unable to put their finger on the exact nature of the problem. What they know is that their child is struggling and not keeping up with the rest of the class. In the case of older students, parents notice that their child is working much harder than the other students to maintain the same level of achievement. There can also be inconsistencies between abilities in differing subject areas. Alternatively, other parents feel that their child is intelligent but their achievement at school is not in sync with their potential. In each of these cases, parents feel there is a problem but don’t understand why.

As children progress through school, parents rely on educators to notice any learning challenges and begin the process of examining why a student is having difficulty. Although an initial evaluation may provide a diagnosis, it may also signify that further inquiry, assessment and intervention (outside of the school’s capability) is needed to uncover the full scope of the problem.

Most school systems offer classes for children with learning disabilities, where the teaching is done in a group setting with a generalized curriculum aimed at addressing the most common learning disabilities. In certain cases, parents come to realize that while these remedial classes are a beginning, they are simply not enough. These parents recognize that their child needs to receive specialized and intensive help not to simply “manage” their learning challenges but to overcome them.

Signs and Symptoms

Does your child (or do you) struggle with, or experience, any of the following learning challenges or diagnosed conditions?

ELEMENTARY AGE CHILDREN:

  • Dislike and avoidance of reading
  • Slow or hesitant reader
  • Difficulty reading new, longer, multi-syllabic words
  • Weak comprehension (doesn’t understand ideas or remember details)
  • Poor spelling
  • Limited vocabulary in spoken and/or written work
  • Difficulty with written work (in a variety of subjects)
  • Difficulty expressing thoughts either orally or on paper
  • Dislike, avoidance or obvious difficulty with math

As a high school, college or university student, does your child (or you) experience any of these learning difficulties?

OLDER STUDENTS:

  • School work takes a great deal of time and effort
  • Needs a lot of parental or tutoring support
  • Exhibit signs of stress
  • Reluctance to read
  • Difficulty grasping the main ideas, inferences or humour
  • Difficulty getting thoughts down on paper
  • Dislike writing
  • Poor spelling
  • Messy, poorly legible writing
  • Low self-esteem, particularly in relation to school work
  • Discouragement, withdrawal or acting out

DIAGNOSED CONDITIONS:

  • Learning Disabilities (LD)
  • Dyslexia
  • Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD)
  • Phonological or Phonemic Awareness Deficits
  • Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Asperger’s Syndrome
  • Autism

If your child (or you) experience one or more of these behaviours or conditions, working with an Educational Therapist can be the solution to overcoming learning difficulties and creating academic success.