"Whether you are an adult who never learned to read, or the parent of a child struggling at school, you know the anguish of the poor reader.

Beacon is the answer for genuine, long-term solutions."

- Beacon Literacy

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If you don't learn to read, how can you read to learn?

By Markham Hislop of The Calgary Beacon

According to Lani Donaldson of Beacon Literacy, almost half of Canadian adults have insufficient reading skills to get through their day.  If the strategies currently being used in our classrooms “don’t fit about 40% of the children” how can we assure that our children are learning to read fluently?  For many parents, help outside the classroom is the answer.

Once a child has been identified with delays in their reading, it is important for parents to ask what level the child is actually at and what strategies the teacher would suggest.  Then it is time to seek expert help.  Beacon Literacy is just that: specialists dedicated to literacy, or reading.


Beacon offers a free reading assessment.  Ms. Donaldson explains that it is their belief that every parent has the right to know where their child is at without a huge cost.  If the problem is only minor, Beacon will provide the family with information.

In cases where intervention is needed, Beacon Literacy offers a fast and efficient program.  On average, Beacon’s students have a 2.7 grade increase in their reading level after 20 hours of instruction.  Their program is based on a process of first building the underlying skills of reading and then expanding. Most kids are “just cognitively confused about how it all goes together,” explains Ms. Donaldson.

When a student comes in to Beacon, the initial assessment takes one to one-and-a-half hours. The parent(s) will complete a questionnaire after which testing begins. Parents are invited to observe the entire process.

First, the child is tested on word recognition and comprehension skills.  They will then have a sample lesson so they can see what the sessions will be like.  Finally, the student is taken to play some computer games which test the underlying skills involved in reading.

The follow-up meeting, where specifics regarding the test results are shared, happens without the child present.

The most common problems Beacon Literacy addresses are: word recognition or attack skills, comprehension, and short term memory issues.  For many students with writing problems, their reading skills are the real issue.  Reading problems lead to writing problems because the kids “don’t use words as thinking tools”.