Frequently Asked Questions
Why is my child struggling with Reading and Writing?
We have found that many children struggle at school because they have gaps in their skill sets. There are many reasons such gaps may occur. Quite often gaps in learning are the result of information being delivered in a way that does not match how a student is able to process information. For example if a child is struggling in Reading he or she may not understand the sound/symbol relationship of letters or groups of letters. With auditory processing weaknesses for example, he or she may not truly be “hearing” the individual sounds. In other cases a student may not be able to recall what he or she has seen. This makes it difficult to remember how to spell words for example, since many spelling programs are delivered using long lists of words that do not relate to each other. At Appletree our goal is to locate the gaps and to begin addressing the weaknesses that have caused them in order to remediate and move forward. We also focus on each student’s strengths. For example we discover if he or she is a strong visual or auditory learner, and program according to this information. We then structure individualised programs that address each area of need, one step at a time.
My child is a reluctant reader. How does Appletree engage these learners?
We find that many reluctant learners have low self-esteem and confidence in their abilities. We focus on the whole child; by highlighting each of our students' inherent strengths, we can begin to rebuild a child's confidence. Our teachers prioritize building rapport and a relationship with their students, which helps to motivate a reluctant learner. Additionally, the mastery-based nature of our direct instruction programs allows a child to see themselves progress and succeed!
What is Direct Instruction?
Direct Instruction or Mastery Learning is a method of teaching that breaks learning into small manageable steps. Each step is reviewed and mastered before progressing to the next. A solid foundation is then built so that new concepts are integrated successfully. The lessons are very systematic and organized. In Reading, for example, the student must master certain phonetics (sounds in words) before progressing to newer more complex sounds. In Mathematics, an example is long division, where a student must be able to add, subtract, and multiply before becoming successful at dividing. We use the Direct Instruction model at Appletree so that students consolidate pre-requisite skills necessary to succeed in each subject; Reading, Writing and Mathematics. Most importantly, we build success and positive feedback into every program so that a strong sense of accomplishment fuels our students. We know that all students are capable of success with the correct teaching and appropriate resources.
How do you measure the progress of your students?
Measuring progress is ongoing at Appletree. Formal measuring tools are built into every DI (Direct Instruction) program. We also carefully monitor each lesson to make sure all skills are consolidated before progressing to the next level.
What can we do at home?
The most important thing you can do at home is focus on the strengths, gifts and victories of your child. You have already found specialists to do the academic programming. There may be times when we send review exercises home for your child to practice. We also send a list of learning Apps that we have found to be successful. We do recommend reading to your child in a stress free environment. (Please do not ask your struggling reader to read aloud to you an unknown passage as this will likely cause stress and could quite possibly undermine any bit of confidence your child has recently acquired.) Many children who struggle with written text have not yet discovered the joys of reading. If you do not have time to read regularly please consider audio books so that your child can relax and enjoy stories regularly.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a state of being aware of your own mind in the present moment. We may introduce basic mindfulness strategies into our programs to help some of our students maintain or regain focus, relieve anxiety and reduce stress particularly in a classroom setting. For example, simply becoming aware of one’s breathing can be a very effective and practical tool! Scientific research has proven that mindfulness strategies incorporated into daily activities can be very beneficial to one’s emotional, social and physical well-being.