Our mission at the Sidney Ledson Institute is to raise children’s intelligence. To whatever extent normal academic instruction can contribute to this, our primary goal, it is considered important. And yet, this unusual switch in priorities yields surprising results, for our children not only acquire exceedingly high intelligence, they establish supremely high academic standings as well.
We boost children’s intelligence from the ordinary to the extraordinary – a goal our teachers achieve 100% of the time. Failure is unknown at the Institute. If children need special attention, they receive it. And any topic that is unsuited to small group instruction is taught individually to each child.
Though the Institute offers enriched academic programs up to Grade 6, it is the achievements of our preschoolers – age two and older – that have attracted so much media attention during the past 30 years. Preeminent among the newsmakers have been our early readers.
Reading: the life-long key to learning
The Sidney Ledson Simplified Phonic Reading System grants quick literacy to all children (and adults) and even to preschoolers considered too young to read. The program permits any child who can talk (usually age two or three) to identify and understand, in printed form, those words the child can understand in speech. (Reading instruction is given individually to each child so children may join the program any time of the year.)
Shamit Bhagani, age three, was reading Grade 4 material (written for nine-year-olds) in just five months. Three-year-old Aly Merchant also read this material after five months. A recording of two-year-old Jesse Britstone reading – two months after enrolling – was aired at several radio stations. Another two-year-old, Jessica Li, spoke no English on enrolment but was soon reading our First Reader (Grade 2 material). Three-year-old Alden Ching was reading Grade 2 material in eight months. His parents expressed delight and wonder at Alden’s advancing social skills, his vocabulary growth, and his interest in books.
But note: there is far greater reward in early reading ability than merely opening a new door to learning and entertainment. Reading has traditionally played a major role in boosting children’s intelligence. The ability to distinguish between tiny black squiggles on paper (letters) and convert them into recognizable sounds in the reader’s head, provides an exercise equal to a brain massage. Indeed, if preschoolers were to receive no other form of intellectual stimulation than what is provided by learning to read, their acquisition of that one skill would reward them with rare brilliance. However, we add three playful activities to increase neural growth.
Mazes provide the same enjoyment and intellectual stimulation today that the earliest mazes did thousands of years B.C. Beginning as early as age two, children learn to draw a line around a simple path from the mouse to the cheese. (At this age, of course, children are also learning to manipulate a pencil in preparation for printing and writing.)
Gradually, in easy steps, children advance to more challenging mazes. By the time Mark Lazarte reached age four at the Institute, he was solving our difficult mazes (and was able to read the daily newspaper). Another four-year-old, Alexander Hung, found great delight in solving complicated mazes. Alexander is shown below, followed by one of his successes.
What price a good memory? Another mind-expanding activity teachers use – the Ledson Memory Energizer – equips children with an enviable skill that both aids and quickens learning. Designed for children as young as two, the Memory Energizer provides an entertaining form of brain gymnastics. Children are shown cards with a different silhouette on each, selected from a set of twenty-five silhouettes. The teacher discusses the silhouettes that are shown then puts the cards away. Later, children are given a sheet that displays all twenty-five silhouettes and asked to circle those they saw earlier. As children’s memory skill advances, the number of silhouettes shown is increased, as is the time lapse between the display and the request for recall. Five-year-old Safina Allidina, below, could eventually remember all thirteen of thirteen silhouettes shown – three days later!
Superior visual discernment
Another playful activity, the Diligent Spotter, advances children’s visual perception. Children learn to search for, and distinguish, differences they find between two otherwise identical pictures – beginning with the simple pictures shown below. The challenge gradually becomes more difficult, and by the time children are able to solve the entire series, they have acquired rare visual acuity.
|The diamond-studded reward
Possibly the most important trait generated while children are grappling with the various challenges is the power quietly forming within each child: one that equals in value all the other benefits being gained. It’s a ‘can do’ attitude – the will, the drive, to press on, to persevere when others would admit defeat and give up. This force ignites the boost that propels intellectually-advanced children toward whatever lofty goal they aim for. They are programmed to succeed.
A paediatrition reported, “I have told many parents about the excellent program you provide, and their children have gained – and are gaining – the same special advantages my own daughter obtained at your school:” Dr. Janet A. Milne. Sometimes, public school teachers enroll their children rather than gamble on uncertain service in the public system. “Thanks to your superb program my son gained priceless intellectual and academic advantages:” B. Szkoken, public school teacher.
Other meteoric achievers
After two-year-old David McMillan had attended the Institute for eight months, his parents reported a surprising advancement in their son’s logical and critical thinking skills, in his ability to respond rationally to questions and situations, and in his newly acquired reading ability. When two-year-old Eric Furtado had attended the Institute for four months his parents reported, “He surprises not only us but others around him, not just with his extensive vocabulary, but also when he starts to read complicated words and books that his much older peers are unable to.”
When three-year-old Jalia Kanji had attended the Institute for four months her parents commented enthusiastically on their daughter’s new maturity, her surprising ability to converse with adults, and her newly-acquired reading skill. Though Jamie Kwong spoke only Chinese on enrollment, he was speaking excellent English four months later and his parents reported great progress in their son’s maturity, sociability, and attentiveness.
Children join us at every age. Shun Yao was five when he entered the Institute; a year later he was reading Grade 5 material – written for children age ten. Naturally, the longer that children remain at the Institute the greater their advancement. Nelson Zhang, Daniel Tao, and Stephen Zhao entered the Institute variously at age two and three, and in four years the trio were all reading and functioning at a Grade 11 level – that of children twice their age. When two-year-old Neena Allidina reached age four, she read thirteen books for our Readathon and, in class, was reading a Grade 3 science text (indicating skill well above a genius level). Two years after enrollment, Tamara Zimmerman, then age 4, was reading Grade 5 material, and two years later Tamara, age six, was reading books of 40,000-word length. Three-year-old Laurence Batmazian remained at the Institute for three years. At age six, he could read 100-page books without stopping. His parents reported, “He always impresses people with his ability to discuss subjects in a very mature manner, remembers conversations and discussions with enviable recollection of what was said and done, by who, and where.”
Some preschoolers attend the Institute just part time. Jemmy Liu, age two, attended three half-days a week but was soon half-way through our reading Primer. Jonathan McDonald, age 4, attended the Institute three days a week for two months, then switched to five days a week. At the end of seven months he was reading Grade 2 material. Jonathan’s parents described his progress as ‘unbelievable'.
Graduates of the Institute are promptly accepted at schools requiring high academic achievement and in enriched programs for children with advanced abilities. When four-year-old Laura Florentino-Radzio began reading our Second Reader (Grade 4 material) she was following in the footsteps of three other children – known to her parents – who, after leaving the Institute, led their classes in other schools they had entered.
The remarkable achievements of our children, awesome to outsiders, are without wonder for our teachers who see these stellar performances every day. Though the idea easily emerges that very young children are engaged in a stressful round of intellect-raising activities, the notion is far from correct. Mind-expanding activities take just a few minutes each day; the rest of the time is given to matters common to nursery school programs: singing, story time, crafts, show and tell, and similar pursuits – with naps, of course, for children who need them.
The ultimate advantage
Finally, there is the matter of social skills – primarily good manners – that form an important part of the Institute program. If an intellectually accomplished child might be likened to a beautiful picture, then a suitably exquisite frame would be provided by maturity of conduct, propriety of thought and action, and concern and consideration for others. Outsiders sometimes inadvertently evaluate our success in instilling these traits. Andrea McIntyre, tour guide at Riverdale Farm observed, “Your children were the best group I’ve taken around the farm.” And after our children had visited the local library, the librarian reported, “Your children are more attentive and more responsive than other groups who visit us.”
To sum up, our purpose is to awaken the intellectual genius that resides in every child. Our dedicated teachers – specially-trained in the use of a winning system – grant average, ordinary, youngsters rare brilliance. Children become more inquisitive, more observant, more discerning, and more interesting to be with – and they more fully enjoy the delights of childhood.
As might be expected, our tutoring service is without equal. Failing public school children attend the Institute in after-school hours and on Saturdays. Poor readers quickly become good readers. When Ashley Palmer couldn’t read at the end of Grade 1 her parents were informed to “wait a year or two before worrying”. After nine visits to the Institute, Ashley was a happy constant reader. The parents of nine-year-old Matthew Sisco were told their son was “learning disadvantaged”; however, his ailment quickly vanished after thirteen brief visits to the Institute. Matthew was then an adventurous reader.
The field of tutoring is full of glitz and promises for quick results. Seven-year-old Robert Rossi attended a nationally-known tutoring service for more than a year – at great cost – without achieving any advancement. After sixteen visits to the Institute, Robert’s reading ability leaped ahead 2.5 grade levels. (All reading levels were determined with the Grey Oral Reading Test, among the most highly regarded measures of reading ability in use today.)
An older child, seventeen-year-old David Zamosc, endured the pain and penalty of faulty reading ability for many years before his reading problem was erased at the Institute – in fifteen visits.
These children – and many more – were spared the life-long restrictions that faulty reading imposes. Their lives are happier, more interesting, and they now enjoy easy access to learning and entertainment in printed form.
The Sidney Ledson Institute for Intellectual Advancement is situated at
220 Duncan Mill Rd., Don Mills, Toronto.
For more information or for a tour of the Institute, phone 416.447.5355