Social Skills Programs: Why Are They Important?

CanLearn Friends Program


What are social skills? We use social skills every day to work together and talk with others.

Research tells us that social skills can help children develop into healthy adults. Children who have better social skills have more self-confidence. They have better relationships with friends and do better at school.

When a child struggles with social skills, it can affect their future. It can lead to social, emotional, or behaviour problems. It can lead to mental health troubles, crime, drug abuse, and work problems.

Many children with ADHD, and autism, live with social and emotional skills problems that can put them at risk.

The good news is that children can learn social skills. They can develop these skills by taking part in a social skills program. Social skills programs help children learn the basic skills needed to build social skills and practice those skills in a safe environment. Children learn positive social behaviours by demonstration, role-playing, solving problems, discussions, and take-home activities.

The CanLearn Friends Program offers high-quality social-emotional training to at-risk children and youth in Calgary. Because we lost opportunities to be social during COVID-19, children must continue to work on these important skills.

Click here to find out more about the CanLearn Friends program.

Happy Family Literacy Day 2022!

Family Literacy Day takes place on January 27th. Its purpose is to raise awareness about the importance of reading and engaging in other literacy-related activities as a family. Since 1999, thousands of schools, libraries, literacy organizations and other community groups have taken part in this initiative.

With Family Literacy Day 2022 right around the corner, we would like to thank all families who have participated in CanLearn family literacy programs for reading, learning, and growing with us!

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to continue to impact families and schools, family literacy is more important than ever. What can you do to build reading skills in the context of your family?

We invite you to consider the following strategies:

  • Keep in mind that it is not just children that benefit from reading! Reading is very, very good for your own health (, so make sure you read something for yourself every day!
  • Make reading a priority in your home! Drop everything, turn your phones and other devices off, and spend some time reading after dinner, or find another system that works for your family. Allow your children to see you reading and talk about what you were reading with enthusiasm. It is important to show your children that you value reading and are a reader yourself.
  • Read to and with your children! Read regularly and often. Read as fluently as you can. Use different voices for characters, sound effects, and variations in voice volume and tone. Stop frequently to ask questions, predict, infer, and make sure your child understands the story. Make connections with other books and everyday experiences. As they move towards being independent readers, listen to them reading. Don’t feel you need to correct every error or teach every sound that your child struggles with. Remember that your role as a parent is to make it fun and enjoyable for you and your child by encouraging them and building up their confidence.
  • Get your family talking! Some researchers think that up to 15% of young school children don’t have the oral language skills to cope fully with the demands of schools (Hart and Fielding-Barnsely, 2009). Many of these kids struggle with reading, some for their whole lives. The good news is that many activities you and your children already enjoy doing together can encourage and build language skills. For example, “What was your favourite thing about today?” is a great dinner table conversation starter you can use.

We are only a few weeks into the year 2022. Although we are still unsure of when exactly the Covid-19 pandemic will end and what the overall impact will be, we can already see the negative impact it is having on our society’s mental wellbeing. Reading can help us all increase our resilience during these unprecedented times and strengthen our social-emotional skills. Often called “soft skills,” these are the skills that help us get along with other people, regulate our emotions and interact positively with the world. Now, more than ever, we must talk, think, and read about social-emotional issues and become equipped to cope with life challenges.

We would like to share a few of our favourite books that can help us tackle social-emotional issues and build skills to cope with life challenges.

Books to share with preschool children:

This is a wonderful book to teach kids about emotions. It covers a range of feelings and will help your children start to identify situations or times they may feel angry, sad, disappointed, and joyful!


One day, Color Monster wakes up feeling very confused. His emotions are all over the place; he feels angry, happy, calm, sad, and scared all at once! To help him, a little girl shows him what each feeling means through colour.



This is a good book to help children understand that its ok to “have moods” or “be grumpy sometimes.




Books to share with school-age children:

This is an engaging and interactive book that guides children through the practice of naming their feelings and the physical sensations that accompany them. Learning to tune into their bodies and do this, is a foundation for self-regulation. Listening to My Body is a wonderful social-emotional tool for families!


If you drop just one soda can out the window, it’s no big deal … right? But what if everybody did that? What if everybody broke the rules … this and other questions are answered in a child-friendly way and show the consequences of thoughtless behaviour.


This story tells the tale of a boy who is very wiggly, and people keep telling him that he has ants in his pants. He keeps trying to find those ants until his mom finally clues him in that they are talking about his wiggly he is.



And a Few Books for YOU (the parent):










When you read together as a family, you will experience moments of joy similar to these:



… or you may decide to do some singing and dancing:

… or some reflecting:


We wish you a lot of reading, talking, laughing, and dancing together on January 27th and every day!


‘Tis the Season

By Nada Jerkovic

It’s a magical time of year. A time of year when we all think about showing the important people in our lives how grateful we are for them. However, around the middle of December, it’s easy to start feeling bogged down. Stress, lack of time, Christmas shopping, decisions, and freezing weather can all stand in the way of finding the vaunted holiday spirit.
When I start feeling like the Grinch, I usually make time to watch some of my favourite video clips or movies – some of which may be familiar to you.


I also go back to some of my favourite holiday short stories:

  • David Sedaris’ “ Santa Land” Diaries is about the time that the author, in his 30s and out of work, had to suffer the indignities of taking a job as an elf at the Macy’s Santaland in New York City. It never fails to make me laugh.

  • Truman Capote’s story “A Christmas Memory” in which the narrator, Buddy, looks back on a particularly beautiful Christmas she spent with his much older cousin is another one of my favourites. Buddy and his cousin have a Christmas ritual in which they bake and then give away fruitcakes to people they barely know. Click here to read the story.


Comparing the original version of the song “Do They Know It’s Christmas Time” to more recent ones makes me think about how much the world has changed over the thirty-seven odd years since the song was first released in 1984. But despite all this change, the constants of kindness, empathy and helping others are still ultimately what makes our lives meaningful.


When lengthy pre-holiday task lists are calling your name, it is easy to forget that the holidays are a time to spend time with friends and family, to reflect, and slow down before another busy year begins. Nichole Nordman’s beautiful song helps me keep this in mind.


By now my inner Grinch experiences a complete change of heart and, just like the Grinch in the story, I am ready to admit, “ I’ve changed my mind! Christmas is a wonderful holiday after all!”

I believe that everyone deserves a book for Christmas! Here are a few books I think important people in my life will enjoy.

  • All my friends and family members who are parents would enjoy The Christmas Wish by Lori Evert, a wonderful holiday book with gorgeous photos and a sweet story of giving and helping.

  • My friend and her 7-year-old son who announces that “today is the worst day ever” several times a day would laugh their heads off at The Worst Book in the Whole Entire World! by Joey Acker.

  • The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires – is the story about a girl and her very best friend, who happens to be a dog. The girl has a wonderful idea. “She is going to make the most MAGNIFICENT thing! But making her magnificent thing is anything but easy, and the girl tries and fails, repeatedly. Eventually, the girl gets really, really mad. She is so mad, in fact, that she quits. But after her dog convinces her to take a walk, she comes back to her project with renewed enthusiasm and manages to get it just right. This funny book offers a perfect example of the rewards of perseverance and creativity. Good for friends with kids!

  • The B on Your Thumb: 60 Poems to Boost Reading and Spelling by Colette Hiller – is a collection of rhymes to help children learn reading and spelling tricks. One of the reviews of the book says that it may even be of use to adults. A friend of mine has a daughter who is finding the process of learning to read in grade 1 challenging. She is noticing that her daughter is ready to do about anything to avoid reading at home. This would be a fun book for the two of them.
  • 101 Things to Do Instead of Playing on Your Phone by Ilka Heinemann – this is an adult book and a perfect ‘hint’ book for people (myself included) who spend too much time on their phone or in front of the screen. I may decide to give this book to myself as a Christmas gift and New Year’s resolution.
  • What Strange Paradise by Omar El Akkad – is a profoundly moving adult novel that looks at the global refugee crisis through the eyes of a child. Most of my friends would enjoy it. Should one of my New Year’s resolutions be to start a book club?
  • Feline Philosophy: Cats and the Meaning of Life by John Grey – on the surface, this book is a playful exploration of what cats might have to teach humans about change, resiliency, and nimbleness, but there is much more to it. (I would love to discuss this book with other people, I should really start a book club or join one…)


One of my favourite authors, Neil Gaiman, says, “Books make great gifts because they have whole worlds inside of them. And it’s much cheaper to buy somebody a book than it is to buy them the whole world!”

Wishing you all of the Hope, Happiness, Wonder, Joy, and Reading that the Season can bring!

Kiayana’s Story of Learning How to Read

By Kiayana (Kiki) Bond, Student at Mount Royal University

Tuesday afternoons, after my university classes, I am an instructor for CanLearn’s Reading Pilots program. When we started working together in September, my student was really struggling with reading and she hated it. Over the last few weeks, I have been amazed at the progress she has made. I nearly burst with pride the day she told me that she now likes reading and now she reads ahead in her assignments because she doesn’t want to stop reading! Her progress is particularly significant to me because I have such clear memories of struggling to read, just like my student.

First Failure

My earliest memory from school was doing a multiplication test. We had ten minutes to answer five questions. The anxiety and panic I felt when everyone else flipped their papers over before me made me sick to my stomach. I cried after that test. My classmates said that the test was easy. That was when I first started noticing I was different, but at least the other students did not know that I did not complete the test. I was the only one who knew I struggled.

But when we started reading aloud, my inabilities were showcased to the whole class. Reading aloud destroyed me as a young student. The anxiety came back every time we had to read aloud. I stumbled through every word, missed all the punctuation, and the worst part was that I never truly understood what I was reading. I remember it felt as if everyone knew I could not read. I concluded that I was just simply bad at reading and math but I also struggled with science and social studies. I never understood what we were doing or what we were learning. I came to the conclusion that I was dumb. I cannot remember when I shrank into myself or how long it lasted. I stopped connecting with other students and with learning. The only person who noticed the change was my mom. Although teachers told my parents I was struggling, no one directed my parents to where I could get help; many insisted that I was just not trying hard enough.

Luckily, my mother knew I was not dumb or lazy and she fought to get me tested, as she knew how hard I tried but never could improve. Testing showed that I have many learning disabilities, such as delay in processing, memory issues, comprehension issues, and performing poorly in math and reading. My teachers were informed that I had these learning disabilities, but many did not or could not provide me with the support I needed. A few did their best to push me to the finish line and they were the people who ensured I kept trying.

My Aunty

My Aunty insisted that I read every day with her and with her support everything started to change. We read a chapter a day. No matter how much I struggled, my Aunty and I read. At the time it was hard work, but it’s a fond memory for me now. I do not know how long I went to her house every day after school or how she taught me, but I remember the day I fell in love with reading; it was not the first book I finished reading but the first book I enjoyed reading. It was a small collection of stories that told the tale of the Deathly Hallows from Harry Potter. I remember I was not able to put it down. I finished the book in record time, and the best part was when I could tell my parents what happened in the book. It was the first time I enjoyed reading and could tell people what happened in a book. That’s when I could not stop reading; I spent my lunch break and recess reading. I would finish soccer practice and read. I would read while eating and read before sleeping. Now I am watching my students experience the same thing. I am doubly thrilled to see the world of reading open for her and to know that the work I am doing with her is like the work my Aunty did with me.

Learning to read made school enjoyable for me. Although finally, I could read ahead of my level, I still struggled with comprehension, science, and math. I worked hard to meet the requirements and instead of being a below-average student, I became an average student, and I was ecstatic to see the improvement. I studied every day, asked for help, did tutoring, focused with my teacher’s aide, triple-checked my work, and never fooled around in the classroom. I understood at a young age that to succeed in my education, I would have to work hard. Still, I spent my high school years working hard to maintain decent grades and I still believed that I was dumb. It was not until university that I realized that I am not dumb.

University For Me

In 2018 I got into the history program at Mount Royal University. I fell in love with this program and met the most amazing professors who worked so hard to accommodate my learning disabilities. Now I’m in the teacher education program and my grades are the highest they have ever been. I fell in love with learning in university, from the atmosphere, the choice of what I learned, and how deeply I wanted to understand this knowledge. It felt like a whole new world was opening up for me. This is when I realized that I wanted to teach. I want to help students like me who are struggling to find their confidence in their learning.

Many people take having education for granted. But for those of us with learning disabilities, it requires alternate ways of learning. Once those are in place we have the power to do what we want in life. Although I still love history and will complete that degree one day, I realized that teaching was something I knew I would love and learn to do well. But to get into the education program meant I had to take an English course to achieve a higher grade and ensure that all my grades were strong. It took long days and nights, lots of coffee, little sleep, and a lot of support. My first year in Education made me realize how much I want to be a teacher. My first teaching job with Reading Pilots has proved to me how much I love teaching.

Two extraordinary women are behind my successful university career. First, my mother fought for me every time a teacher doubted me and fought for me to get the help I needed; she is one of the reasons that I am confident that I have a good brain. Then my Aunty took on the job of teacher without being asked. With no background in educating she did everything she could to ensure my success. I owe these women so much; they forced me to dream bigger; they loved and nurtured me when I struggled. Without them, I would have given up on myself. The two of them have been my top supporters. I love them both so much, and I am so grateful for what they have done and continue to do for me.

Not Alone

I am thankful for all the teachers who told me to keep trying, and I am grateful for the professors who allow me to ask millions of questions and provide the accommodations I need for success. I am thankful for Reading Pilots for giving me the chance to realize my dream more fully. And I am especially thankful that my student is learning to love reading because I know that reading is a key to her future success. I did not get here alone, and now she won’t have to get where she is going alone either.


Self-Compassion, Self-Care, and Mindfulness for Adult ADHD

ADHD doesn’t go away, but it can be managed with self-compassion and self-care. This means prioritizing things like sleep, exercise, nutritious food, doing things you enjoy, daily mindfulness and making time for yourself. In this FREE live and interactive webinar, we will talk about Self-Compassion, Self-Care, and Mindfulness for Adult ADHD.

You will learn how to empower yourself to do what you need for self-care.

Participants can expect to receive information in the first half of the session. The second half is devoted to discussion, collaboration amongst participants, and an opportunity to continue discussions and support following the webinar.

The information portion of the webinar is recorded and available on our website.

Date: Thursday, December 16, 2021

Time: 5:00pm-6:30pm

Cost: FREE

Speaker: Catherine Masou, MSc., Registered Psychologist

Support Groups

Are you an adult or a family who is experiencing challenges with ADHD? We invite you to join our bi-weekly support groups!

Every other week we will be available to drop in and receive support on all things ADHD and your emotional well-being.

Be a part of a supportive community of other adults with ADHD. There is no commitment. Come when you want. It’s free, and it’s for a limited time.

Date: Every other Thursday, until mid-January 2022

Time: 5:00 to 6:30 PM

Cost: Free

Facilitator: Laura Godfrey, AAC, ACC, CACP


What Can I Expect When I get a Psycho-educational Assessment?

What can I expect from a psychoeducational assessment?

A psych ed assessment is a process that generally takes between 6 to 8 weeks. Although the process may vary, an assessment typically involves the following stages:

  1. Initial meeting with a psychologist – during this initial meeting, consent and other paperwork are reviewed, and you discuss concerns, your general history, education experience, and other relevant strengths and challenges.
  2. Testing – these in-person sessions can range significantly depending on the questions asked and the assessment plan. Typically, 4 to 6 hours of testing is conducted over several sessions. These tests involve multiple assessment methods such as pencil/paper activities, verbal response items and the use of manipulatives (blocks).
  3. Often the psychologist will have questionnaires and additional forms for you to complete as a different way of understanding strengths and needs.
  4. Report development – The psychologist summarizes the results, makes interpretations, and provides recommendations in a comprehensive report. You get a copy of this report at the end of the assessment process.
  5. Feedback – Once the testing and report writing is completed, you meet with the psychologist to discuss results. It is important to use this opportunity to ask questions and make sure that you have a good understanding of the results and recommendations. If you’re not sure – ask!

What is the cost of a psychoeducational assessment?

In Alberta, the cost of a psychoeducational assessment can vary depending on the agency/professional providing the service. Alberta psychologists typically work within a $200-$250 per hour rate. The number of hours per assessment again depends on the questions being asked. In general, assessments can take between 10-15 hours. Several agencies work on a sliding scale or can provide subsidies for assessment services. In addition, third-party insurance companies will often cover part or all of the assessment. Check with your third-party insurance provider for details.
Interested in getting started?

Find out more here.

AGM and Volunteer Award 2021

Join CanLearn for our AGM and Volunteer Award.

Tuesday, December 7, 2021, 6:00 – 7:00 PM

via Zoom Online Meeting

AGM Agenda 6:00 – 6:40 PM

  • Agenda and 2020 Minutes
  • Board Chair and CEO Reports
  • Treasurer’s Report and approval of audited financial statements for 2020 – 2021
  • Appointment of the auditor for 2021-22
  • Nomination of the Slate of Board Candidates
  • Ratifying Acts of the Directors and Officers of the Society
  • Thank you to Retiring Board Members


Volunteer Award 6:40 – 7:00 PM

  • Presentation of CanLearn’s Carolyn Meier Helping Hand Award Winner for 2021


Please RSVP your attendance to:

[email protected]

How to Help Your Loved One with ADHD

FREE Live and Interactive Webinar: How to Help Your Loved One with ADHD

Are you in a relationship with someone with ADHD or have a family member with ADHD? In this webinar, you will learn about what ADHD is and how to support someone who has it. The more you know about ADHD, the easier it will be to see how it affects their lives and relationships and how best to help and support them.

In this live and interactive webinar, participants can expect to receive information in the first half of the session. The second half is devoted to discussion, collaboration amongst participants, and an opportunity to continue discussions and support following the webinar.

The information portion of the webinar is recorded and available on our website.

Date: Tuesday, Nov 30

Time: 5:00pm-6:30pm

Cost: FREE

Speaker: Catherine Masou, MSc., Registered Psychologist


Support Groups

Are you an adult or a family who is experiencing challenges with ADHD? We invite you to join our bi-weekly support groups!

Every other week we will be available for you to drop in and receive support on all things ADHD and your emotional well-being.

Be a part of a supportive community of other adults with ADHD. There is no commitment. Come when you want. It’s free, and it’s for a limited time.

Date: Every other Thursday, until mid-January 2022

Time: 5:00 to 6:30 PM

Cost: Free

Facilitator: Laura Godfrey, AAC, ACC, CACP

Why a Psycho-educational Assessment?

Why would my child or I need a psychoeducational assessment?

Psych ed assessments are done to answer specific questions such as, “does my child have a learning disability?” or “do I have an attention disorder” or “does my child’s anxiety come from an underlying difficulty with reading?”.

Typically, an area of difficulty is noticed by you, a caregiver, or a teacher. Challenges academically may also become apparent when a caregiver receives report cards for their child. A psych ed assessment may also be helpful when a teacher or caregiver notices a child has significant anxiety regarding academics, has difficulty paying attention in class, is acting out, or has difficulty connecting with others or the teacher in class.

Interested in getting started?

Find out more here.

What is a Psycho-educational Assessment?

Is your child falling behind in reading, writing or math? Maybe your child’s teacher has mentioned that they are not meeting grade-level expectations in their class. Academic difficulties can happen for many reasons and can lead to a child feeling anxious, frustrated, or different from their classmates.

The good news is that some strategies and supports can be put in place no matter your child’s age. In fact, many adults discover learning challenges in university and the workplace. For strategies and intervention services to be most useful, it’s important to understand an individual’s strengths and where they may need more support.

What is a psychoeducational assessment?
One way of figuring out your or your child’s strengths and areas of need is through a psycho-educational assessment (or psych ed). A psych ed assessment is a standardized assessment of a person’s intellectual abilities and academic skills.

Standardized means that a person’s results are compared to others their age to determine if they are below, at, or above the expected or average range. A typical psych ed assessment involves measuring how a person reasons for different information, how quickly they process information, and their reading, writing, and math skills.

A psych ed also assesses a person’s oral language, executive functioning, social-emotional functioning, and memory abilities. Depending on the area(s) of concern, the psychologist will create a plan for the assessment. An assessment may involve testing just a few areas listed above (academics and intellect) or may involve a more comprehensive assessment (memory, executive functioning, social-emotion, intellect, and academics).

Interested in getting started?

Find out more here.