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Literacy center reaches out to children, adults

The Baltimore Sun

There are learning and literacy centers throughout the state that cater to the general population.

But people at The Highlands School in Bel Air wanted to meet a more specific need - for educational assistance for children and adults with learning disabilities.

As a result, the Community Outreach Center for Literacy and Tutoring Program was recently started at the school.

"We want to help the child who learns differently, or adults who want to improve their literacy skills," said Paula Moraine, director of the Community Outreach Center and Tutoring Program.

Housed in The Highlands School, the outreach center is free and open to the public. It provides resources, workshops, conferences on learning disabilities and a lending library.

The tutoring program is designed for ages 6 and older. The sessions are taught by Highlands-trained instructors and cost $65 to $75 per hour for individual lessons.

Each child starts with a minimum of 10 to 36 sessions, she said.

The outreach center is designed to help children who are struggling in school, are home-schooled or in special education who have learning differences, dyslexia or attention-deficit hyperactivy disorder, Moraine said.

Unlike other learning centers, such as Huntington and Sylvan, that have open, group lessons, the Highlands program is private and individualized, she said.

Each person is assessed to determine their level of learning, and based on the results of that assessment, a specific curriculum is created for that student. Then the assessment is used to help gauge the student's academic progress.

The focus of the program is language arts and math, the building blocks of learning, she said. Through the one-hour sessions, students can improve specific learning problems such as auditory skills, and phonological awareness, she said.

The program also offers adults an opportunity to improve the gaps in their learning and literacy, she said.

The program is fine-tuned to meet the needs of the adults, Moraine said. Some adults have difficulty with things such as decoding, so a program is created for them in decoding at an adult level.

"The adult sessions are also individualized," she said. "This helps cut down on the embarrassment that some adults feel when they can't read."

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