Many parents consult a psychologist if they suspect that their child has a learning disability that impedes their progress in school. When parents receive the psychologist’s report, they turn to the school’s professional staff for support, but some children require additional help. Co-founded 28 years ago by Karen Foley, Strategic Learning Centre (SLC) offers a comprehensive approach to address each student’s individual learning challenges. “Students of all ages come to the Centre from the greater Montreal area and beyond,” says David Schipper, the Centre’s director since 2013. The long-time educator takes pride in his dedicated team. SLC studies the psychologist’s report as well as reports from other health and educational professionals prior to arranging an initial consultation. Students 13 years old and over accompany their parents to the meeting.

By delving into the child’s developmental, cognitive, and emotional history from infancy to the present, the Centre is able to elicit vital information. At this point, it could be decided that further testing is required in order to uncover the underlying reasons for the student’s struggles in school. Standardized academic tests in English, French, and math help determine a student’s strengths and weaknesses. The Centre also administers cognitive efficiency, phonological processing, and visual/spatial tests, among others. The test results allow the Centre’s program directors and teachers to recommend an appropriate and suitable plan.

The Centre offers three types of programs: unique science-based brain training and remedial programs, as well as one-on-one academic support, all of which are delivered by specially trained teachers. The science-based brain training programs permanently rewire the neural pathways of the brain. Fast ForWord addresses language, phonological, and auditory processing challenges, while Interactive Metronome is a motor-based program which enhances the student’s cognitive efficiency by addressing their attention, working memory, and processing speed. “So much of learning takes place in millisecond timing,” Dara Goldsmith, one of two Program Directors at the Centre, explains. “A strong sense of timing is crucial for information to be processed efficiently.” Cellfield, the third brain training program, addresses weaknesses in reading fluency, which can ultimately lead to greater comprehension. The remedial programs teach students the skills they have not mastered, such as reading, writing, and spelling in English and French as well as math. The one-on-one academic support program prepares students for assignments and tests.

After certain milestones have been met, a student is reassessed to ensure goals are achieved. “We hold meetings with parents at regular intervals to review the student’s test results and progress,” Goldsmith said. “When required, we’re in contact with schools, psychologists, and other professionals interacting with the student.” Learning can only occur with a solid foundation. With its unique programs, process, and experienced staff, Strategic Learning Centre builds that foundation by addressing the root of the student’s learning challenges.