The skills of how to achieve excellence in the life-long skills of learning is not usually directly addressed in schools at this time. It begins with paying quality attention in a disciplined manner to hear precisely the teacher’s instructions, to pay visual attention to the details of the written word, to sit in such a way as to maximize the efficiency of eye movements of foveal (centre of the eye) vision for reading, etc.
Special techniques in neurocognitive training, such as listening effectively, taking notes, planning essays, using word resources, word learning, and spelling are applied as a VLC Signature Learning to Learn package in a way that fits the needs and lives of each learner. It provides advantages to any learner compromised by other factors, such as Attention Deficit (ADHD) or Emotional or Behavioural immaturity and it extends the reach and depth for gifted learners.
Further, at the Vancouver Learning Centre learning skills are individually mentored by experienced ed teachers trained to apply those specialized techniques one-to-one. As a result, VLC student alumni emerge with outstanding skills as learners that stand them in good stead the rest of their lives.
Sometimes, a learner is not able to master critical course content delivered at the pace and in the manner of classroom instruction. This does not mean this content subject matter cannot be mastered.
Using BC citizen’s access to correspondence courses in each subject at both high school and university and dynamic one-to-one teaching, using the tools and processes described above, VLC teachers specializing in the subject’s content teach the correspondence courses one-to-one.
The student then completes the practice exercises, sometimes with supervision, and independently prepares the “send in” exercises to a marker who provides an expert at-a-distance evaluation of the student’s work.
Students taught in this way usually achieve high grades that can become part of their transcript as they prepare and apply for post-secondary positions.
We also teach college level correspondence courses available through Thompson Rivers University (TRU) BC’s distance education system.
The main job of children from 5 – 19 is to be a successful classroom performer in all academic content. When this does not happen in the expected natural manner, the impact on the student and even on the family is serious.
Therefore, while the root causes of the problem often lies in impaired neurocognitive function, the improvement must be directly applied in an integrated fashion to the learning of academic skills. Therefore, at the Vancouver Learning Centre a program of academic development using innovative methods is integrated in each program and taught one-to-one by trained and experienced faculty who often specialize in the subject area assigned to them.
The academic program emerges from the cognitive and academic test data by applying the neuropsychological lens to decide the best methods to teach the academic subjects. A program is built that fits each learner like a glove.
Whenever appropriate and possible this program is integrated with the learner’s classroom through the school visit, the team captain system, and the transparency approach to the family.
Subjects are taught directly through VLC resources and integrated with the class curriculum through the VLC signature “Week-Ahead” program.
In this system, the teacher is asked to provide directions on upcoming topics, and the VLC faculty in one-to-one dynamic process preview the material and ensure the vocabulary is understood to the degree possible. The concepts that build the current topic are reviewed and re-taught. This makes classroom mastery more successful.
Further, our learning-to-learn basket of skills such as mind mapping, word harvest and visual display are included in every program where they serve the needs of the student.
Subjects from grades K – 12 taught include:
Advanced courses in math, calculus, and statistics at the college level are now being taught by experienced faculty in our College and University programs.
Memory and attention are the first order and first requirement skills for all learners. Human beings produce the internal chemistry to make memory by paying attention.
Young children develop this ability naturally as the years and grades in school increase. However, whenever there is difficulty in paying attention, the first priority of the Vancouver Learning Centre is to teach and extend each learner’s ability to pay attention.
But this is not enough by itself!
Learners must be directly taught to transfer this new ability to paying attention in the classroom. Systems of Cognitive Behaviour Training (CBT) are used to ensure learners become more effective at paying attention.
The emergence of human ability to think flexibly—to reason in an abstract manner, to organize, to plan ahead, to initiate, to adapt, to solve problems, to apply new learning to novel tasks—develops as children grow naturally. However, such second and third level skills are also based on the mastery of the primary first level tasks, such as learning to read, to write, to spell and to calculate. While executive function skills are very robust and often develop without the primary tools, in our society, and especially at this time, being able to read with understanding and having the language skills to communicate orally and in a written fashion are key to ongoing and future success.
This complex skill draws on many other skills, and learners develop an internal guidance system or dialogue to guide their thinking in a step-by-step fashion, often by modelling the systems they see used by the adults in their lives, parents and teachers.
A delay in some aspect of the “feeder” skills often delays the development of executive function skills. This affects behaviour as well as emotional maturity, along with academic and cognitive skills. School and life success is impacted in complex ways by the delay in the development of executive function skills proactively.
At the Vancouver Learning Centre, wherever executive function skills are compromised, our faculty are trained to apply the signature programs we have developed over the decades to address these skills proactively.
In a similar way visual acuity development begins early in a child’s life and increases with natural development and stimulation of various kinds.
Children who are natural visual learners and have no brain function impairment in processing simple and complex visual information, love to play with blocks, with patterns, and with pictures. They love to draw. Play experience builds strategic brain-based skills from an early age. However, if children do not experience this play, the development of these skills is often delayed. Combined with motor function, it affects their ability to learn to write, to spell, and to organize their skills visually.
In these cases, where there is evidence of inexperience in play-based and visual learning, the VLC signature programs for visual learners are included. Most important, however, is that the key core skill in school and in life is learning to read with understanding. Since reading is a sound/symbol task, both the auditory and visual modalities are included. When one of these systems is significantly impaired, difficulty in learning to read is often the first result. In these cases, the rehabilitation of both systems is addressed.
But this is not enough!
Such children must be taught and can be taught to read using a different approach than the ones used in the classroom. The VLC has four such innovative reading programs, and we have been using them, often in combination, to teach children to read successfully for three decades.
This ability is dependent on the physical clarity of the hearing system, the kind and amount of auditory stimulation, and the child’s natural genetic predisposition to learn from oral input from birth.
From birth (and even before) the growing child lives in a particular world of sounds and words. From this, language, the receptive ability to understand and the expressive ability to speak, develops.
If the clarity of input, especially in the speaking range, is impaired through many ear infections or allergic reactions that produce blocked ears and noses with fluid in the middle ear for extended periods greater than the norm, language and the development of speech is often delayed. This can be alleviated to some degree by inserting tubes in the child’s ear, sometimes with dramatic effect. However, it is important not to ignore the months and years from birth onward when the child’s hearing was affected.
If this delay is suspected due to speech delay or behavioural immaturity, and if standardized tests for early childhood flag the delay, rehabilitation can begin immediately by the age of 3, enabling the child to arrive at school with the problem addressed, if not fully resolved.
There are other causes for delay in auditory processing skills, including a child’s natural ability to learn in this way, or lack of specific stimulation when caregiving has not been given using English as the basic language.
Often, children or youth may have developed skills in listening to and learning from short and simple instructions, but they reach their challenge level on age appropriate, longer and more complex and challenging auditory input. This results in inexperience in processing the longer and more complex instruction in the higher grades.
In all cases, regardless of cause, the Vancouver Learning Centre signature program in Effective Listening will improve this brain-based skill.
But for us that is not enough!
The listening skill must be applied to learning better from oral instruction in general, and especially in the learner’s classroom, where to succeed in a larger group they need to learn as successfully as their peers from oral instruction.
Using a program that has produced successful outcomes over three decades, the Vancouver Learning Centre teachers are trained to deliver through both drill and oral delivery of increasingly difficult material a comprehensive program in improving simple and complex auditory processing skills.
This program is included in all VLC programs where there is reason to enhance this skill.