Spark Learning helping persons with Learning Disabilities
Natasha Gray is the Director of Spark Learning which she has been operating for the past fourteen years.
The former student of Ellerslie Secondary School and Barbados Community College is a graduate of Shortwood Teacher’s College, Florida International University, Concordia University, a member of the British Psychological Society, and a Certified Orton- Gillingham practitioner decided to start her business in Barbados and Jamaica due to her passion to ensure children are properly identified and assessed for learning disabilities.
“I saw that there was an increasing need for educational assessments as children were presenting with learning disabilities at an alarming rate. All children learn differently and should be screened and identified early before it’s too late. This was the catalyst that led to the implantation of Spark Learning,” she said.
Spark Learning provides psycho-educational assessment services to determine if a child or an adult has a Specific Learning Disability (SpLD) such as dyslexia (reading, spelling, comprehension), dysgraphia (writing), Dyscalculia (mathematics), ADHD and provide screening for Autism.
Gray said the real push to start her business came from a few of her friends who asked her to observe a child and or give a parent tips on how to support their child who was struggling in school.
“I worked for the School Board of Broward Country in Florida and when I travelled home for holiday a few teacher friends or family members would ask me to observe a child or give tips to a parent. After conducting my research, I realized that there was a significant deficit of how children and adults are screened, identified, and supported for Learning Disabilities(Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, Dyscalculia, ADHD, and Autism),” she said.
Gray said there is a need for more educational assessments, screening and identification for children and adults with learning disabilities. Spark Learning also offers tutoring services where persons have the option of either face-to-face or Zoom regionally and internationally.
The Director of Spark Learning is an educational psychologist who specializes in diagnosing specific learning disabilities in Barbados and Jamaica.
She noted that in recent years there has been an increase in the awareness of Dyslexia especially as persons like herself continue to advocate and provide information for parents, schools, and teachers.
“Since the onset of Covid-19 there has been an increase of parents having concerns about their child due to the decline of their academic achievement,” she said.
Gray said one of the highlights for her business was providing psycho-social and educational assessment services to the Government of Antigua and Barbuda through her consultancy firm Inclusive Education Consultancy.
She noted that while she has had some challenges with the way some educators teach, she has been seeking to curb that by offering free workshops for parents and teachers at various schools across the island.
“Like any business there are indeed challenges as some educators may not want to change their current teaching practices and or methods that do not align with the science of reading. They would need to transition and build on their previous experiences whilst adding best practices and techniques that would assist them with understanding learning disabilities. Thus, we have started to host free workshops for parents and teachers at schools, parent/ teacher meetings and or professional development events. All of our activities are always well received. We have also taken it a step further and partnered with businesses and individuals who are willing to facilitate parents and children who are not in a financial position to afford an assessment, at present we have a partnership with a Canadian entity,” she said.
Gray is also a consultant on regional and developmental projects on education and she’salso been a member of the British Psychological Society for over the past 10 years. She invites persons who are interested in finding out more information about her company Spark Learning to follow her on Instagram @spark_learning. (Write Right PR Services)