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Educational & Academic Services
When researching additional learning/academic support in the community you will need to consider what your child’s needs are first and then interview educational agencies and specialists to determine if they are a good fit. When you are interviewing service providers, use the Screening Checklist – Service Providers as a guide.
Accessing Academic Instruction Privately – What to Look For
What is your purpose?
If your child has a diagnosed Learning Disability, such as a Reading Disability, then your child will be receiving academic support in a school setting. Small group academic intervention is generally more available during elementary grades one to three or four. For more information about School Support, go to: School Support for Diverse Learners
Some parents choose to augment the support at school with private academic intervention as well. If this is the case, it is important that the specialist delivering the intervention has the required expertise, is using an evidenced-based program, and adheres to the principles of explicitly, systematically and cumulatively teaching the targeted skills.
Skill improvement will take time, even with combined efforts of school and private support. There is no ‘quick fix’. You can expect that any kind of educational intervention for someone with a Learning Disability will require a significant commitment. Academic intervention, particularly for older students, is most effective when it is intensive and extensive.
Is an evidence-based approach to academic instruction utilized? What is it?
The agency or specialist should be able to give you specifics, including:
-The programs and materials they are using
-An explanation and justification for utilizing those programs including scientific evidence of effectiveness of the programs
-Details about its proven effectiveness with their clients and their expertise in delivering the programs
Review Academic Subjects for more information on evidence-based approaches
For example, review Effective Literacy Instruction to determine if literacy instruction is based upon the most current research on the Science of Reading and follows a Structured Literacy approach, which is proven to be most effective.
Are Resources Current & Comprehensive?
Look at the programs and materials being used and ask them to answer the following questions:
-What skills and outcomes do the programs and materials address? How?
-How current are the materials? Ask for current information about effectiveness of the program.
-Are the programs and materials comprehensive and complete?
-Are there enough resources available for the instructors?
-What are the targeted skill levels and age levels of the students who will be using these resources? Are they appropriate for your child?
Qualifications of Educators
What are the qualifications of the instructors?
If your child has complex learning and academic needs, then a qualified and experienced educator in the subject area, with in-depth understanding of Learning Disabilities and appropriate interventions will be a key component for success. The qualifications and expertise of the instructors may differ at different agencies, so be sure to ask.
Managers: Expect managers to be experienced teachers or psychologists who oversee the program and train and supervise their instructors.
Instructors: Ask what the minimum credentials are required for instructors and to describe the training provided.
Private Educational Specialists:
Credentials: Seek out experienced teachers or psychologists with proven expertise delivering learning and academic instruction/ intervention to individuals and small groups. Ask what have been their past roles and in what settings? (ie. Learning Specialist, Literacy Specialist)
Training/Professional Development: Ask them what training (PD) they have undertaken in the specific area of intervention.
LD/ADHD Expertise: Ask details about their expertise in LD/ADHD.
What ongoing professional development/training is provided to the educators/teachers?
Get specifics on what professional development the instructors have completed as a requirement to teach the students and the ongoing training that is provided.
Principles of Effective Intervention
Research has indicated that educational intervention, particularly with literacy intervention, should adhere to the following principles:
-Diagnostic: Pre-assessment to determine needs and progress monitoring is built into the lessons
-Prescriptive: How are the assessments guiding the instruction?
LEARN MORE - Books and Articles
Book by Sally Shaywitz: Overcoming Dyslexia. 2nd edition; 2020.
This is an excellent resource for parents to learn about the Science of Reading and effective literacy instruction. Both the 2003 and 2020 editions are excellent.
Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities Website: Finding A Reading Specialist.
What is Educational Therapy: What You Need to Know https://www.understood.org/en/learning-thinking-differences/treatments-approaches/therapies/what-you-need-to-know-about-educational-therapy
Educational/Academic Support Services in Calgary
There are some educational agencies and independent learning specialists in Calgary that provide academic instruction and remediation for students struggling in an academic area, particularly in reading/literacy. These agencies may specialize in supporting students with diagnosed or suspected Learning Disabilities and/or ADHD. Some of the agencies also offer psycho-educational assessments or academic assessments as part of their service.
There are other tutoring agencies and independent tutors that also provide academic support, but may not be as specialized in working with individuals who have more complex learning needs, such as Learning Disabilities or ADHD, and may or may not deliver evidence-based instruction.
You will have to educate yourself and do your homework when selecting learning/academic support in the community.
Disclaimer: The Learning Disabilities & ADHD Network does not support, endorse or recommend any specific method, treatment, product, remedial centre, program, service, or person for people with learning disabilities or ADHD. It does, however, endeavor to provide impartial and, to the best of our knowledge, factual information for persons with Learning Disabilities and/or ADHD.
If your child has learning challenges and has been struggling academically, you might decide not to wait to get the assessment through your school district. You may consider the option to access a psycho-educational assessment privately, with the understanding that you will have to pay for the assessment.
Ask the psychologist specific questions to ensure that they have the expertise in Learning Disabilities and psycho-educational assessments.
Note: Some not-for-profit agencies in your community may offer bursaries or a sliding scale for their psychological services. Examples in Calgary; Foothills Academy, CanLearn Society, University of Calgary’s Integrated Services in Education (ISE)
PAA: Psychologist Association of Alberta
The PAA website has a referral search section to help you locate a psychologist.
Within the filters for specific problems you can click on criteria such as academic, learning disabilities, ADHD, literacy, children – emotional or physical, etc.
For more information about the assessment and diagnosis process for Learning Disabilities, go to About LD, Assessments & Diagnosis
Listed below are a few of the educational agencies available in Calgary that provide academic instruction/intervention.
Foothills Academy Community Services – Read/Write Program
Individualized, one-to-one instruction for struggling learners, drawing from evidence-based programs.
Clients: age 6 years and older through adulthood.
All of the instructors are university-educated professionals who receive training in specific intervention methods.
Sessions are offered after school, on Saturdays, school year or summer intensive program, and booster program. Programs: Read/Write
Financial assistance available to children of qualifying families.
745 37 St. NW, Calgary
The Reading Foundation
Trained clinicians deliver instruction in specialized programs designed to strengthen the student’s fundamental learning skills when they experience difficulties in reading, comprehension, writing, and math.
Sessions offered after school hours, part time during school hours, or through intensive programs.
#401, 320-23 Ave SW, Calgary
U of C – Integrated Service Education: Reading Intervention Program
Clinic based reading intervention program for students in grades 2-4 who struggle to sound out words or read fluently.
Weekly small group instruction for 19 weeks, approximately 75 minutes long
Integrated Services in Education, Education Tower, Rm 408
University of Calgary
CanLearn Society – Literacy Programs
CanLearn Society has a variety of literacy programs for children and adults.
Programs for Children: Reading Pilots, Share the Magic, Word Play
Programs for Parents and Adults: Learning Starts at Home, Reading Connections
Reading Pilots: For elementary aged students. Once a week, in a one-on-one setting, trained instructors teach intensive, intentional reading strategies. Program runs for 10 weeks.
Learning Starts at Home: A trained facilitator visits the family with children ages 3 to 7 in their home once a week to help families build strong literacy skills.
#100, 1117 Macleod Tr. SE, Calgary
SRCF Learning Centre
SRCF Learning Centres assist dyslexic children with specialized tutoring based on the evidence based Orton-Gillingham methodology. This tutoring is provided at no cost to the family.
103, 2915-21st ST. NE, Calgary
Calgary Academy Summer Programs
Calgary Academy is offering summer school for level 30 courses.
1677 – 93 Street SW Calgary
Kaizen Education Services
Academic coaches are experienced, certified Alberta teachers, supporting students with executive skill deficits. They focus on the process of learning and transferable skills that can be applied to any subject or course. They also provide assessments, study skills coaching, high school and post -secondary planning and coaching, and parent coaching.
#400, 119 – 14 St. NW, Calgary
Family Psychology Place
north and south locations
Licensed teachers offer one-on-one tutoring. They have experience working with learning disabilities and ADHD.
They can support your child with reading, writing, math, study skills, LD strategies, etc.
587-316-9173 for the North location at #226, 1829 Ranchlands Blvd NW
587-355-2238 for the South location at #5, 10333 Southport Rd SW
Parent Support Groups
Creating awareness of dyslexia/learning disabilities in Calgary; sharing of information, research, and anything and everything related to dyslexia.
Decoding Dyslexia Alberta
A grassroots organization driven by Alberta families and educators who recognize the need for conversations with our school districts and policy makers regarding dyslexia.