Learning (More) About The Hamilton Institute

October 12, 2023

As part of our series highlighting Dyslexia Awareness Month, today we’re learning more about The Hamilton Institute at Wheeler, which was founded in 2019 to increase The Hamilton School’s impact to the broader community in Rhode Island and New England. As part of its mission, the institute aims:

  • to serve children with undiagnosed learning differences by offering free screenings that assess their literacy-based skills,
  • to further educate families and educators about dyslexia and other language-based learning differences, and
  • to spread awareness and expertise about language-based learning differences and teaching children who are diagnosed with them.

Today, the Hamilton Institute connects with families and educators not only regionally, but nationally and internationally as well.

What inspired the establishment of this outreach program?

For 35 years, The Hamilton School at Wheeler has positively affected the lives of hundreds of students who may not have found success in a traditional classroom. Children at Hamilton improve as readers and writers and they also gain confidence, curiosity, and a joy of learning.

It is believed that 20% of children experience reading-related problems in school, and Hamilton is not accessible to everyone, be it due to cost or available space. The Hamilton Institute’s programming allows for more children, caregivers, and educators to benefit from the proven experience and expertise of The Hamilton School.

Who does The Hamilton Institute serve?

The short answer is, anyone who needs it. The institute predominantly serves families and educators outside of our school community. The free reading screenings help give families direction in their quest to advocate for greater support or diagnostic testing. Orton-Gillingham (OG) training is offered to caregivers and educators so they can work towards certification in this structured approach to teaching literacy. Annual conferences and seminars are open to the public and promoted nationally when virtual options are available. The Hamilton Summer Program is offered to students entering grades 2-7.

While all of these services and programs are available to people outside the Wheeler community, they are also offered to members of the school community. In the case of conferences and seminars, registration fees are waived for families, faculty, and staff. Additionally, The Hamilton Institute annually offers a few spots in OG training to Wheeler Lower School teachers free of charge.

What is a reading screening and who are they for?

A reading screening is an assessment of a child’s literacy skills performed by a trained member of The Hamilton Institute staff. Each screening usually takes about an hour, and the caregiver will receive a debrief with the screener as well as a written report that includes data from the assessments and observational notes. While this screening is not in place of an evaluation and it cannot provide a diagnosis, the results provide caregivers direction on what to do to support their child and where they can find more help.

What kinds of resources do you offer to caregivers?

The Hamilton Institute website has lots of information to guide caregivers in supporting their child. They can find original materials like the Talking Dyslexia podcast, as well as curated resources like suggested reading and recommended practitioners.

What events are on the horizon?

On October 19, the institute will host the second edition of its Annual Learning Differences Seminar. This year, the seminar includes a film screening of the recent documentary about ADHD, “The Disruptors.” The screening will be followed by a Q&A panel. People within the school community should email hamiltoninstitute@wheelerschool.org to register for free. Members of the public can register on our website.

In addition, the Annual Learning Differences Conference will be held on Jan. 27, 2024. More information will soon be available on our website.

During the summer, the institute will once again offer The Hamilton Summer Program and Orton-Gillingham training.

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