The 4 Habits All Successful Students Share
The way we learn new information and skills may have changed significantly over the past twenty years, but no matter how many new technological tools we acquire, basic study skills are still a central part of education at all levels.
Consistently, the most effective students — the ones able to rapidly master new disciplines and incorporate new information into their understanding of the world — are those who have built a reliable set of habits that help them synthesize new information quickly and to retain what they have learned over the long run.
Good study habits can:
- Make studying easier
- Make studying faster
- Reduce the time needed to synthesize new information
- Improve grades
- Lock information into the long-term memory
So what are these habits, and how can students who want to study more efficiently acquire them?
In this article, we’ll go over four of the most important study habits a high school or college student can develop and explore some of the strategies that can help you make them part of your daily life.
1. Regular Goals
When you start out in a new subject or discipline, learning is often stimulating and fun — after all, it’s empowering to discover new things about the world. But once the initial excitement wears off and your realize just how much you don’t know, it’s easy to get discouraged. Learning a handful of words in Japanese makes you feel smart and accomplished: putting in the hard work to master the language’s complex grammar is another thing entirely.
We often imagine that the thing that separates students who learn a few words and then give up from those who go one to achieve a degree of fluency is simply a matter of motivation and dedication. But motivation is about more than just drive, and motivated students tend to be good at providing themselves with incentives.
Setting regular goals is an essential part of this, because regular goals help students to feel that they are making a progress. Learning a language or mastering calculus takes a long time; if you are constantly measuring yourself against some kind of perfect ideal, it will be hard to stay the course.
But if you find ways to set regular goals — learning a cluster of words every week and a grammatical tense every month, for example — you can measure your progress more effectively.
Having outside help can make this a bit easier, which is why you might want to find a tutor near you if you’re worried that you won’t be able to hold yourself to your stated goals on your own.
2. Good Time Management
We tend not to think of time management as being a studying skill, per se, but effective studying is all about making the most of the hours available: the problem most students face is not that they can’t master the material, but that they struggle to balance all of their different time commitments, and can’t dedicate the time a given learning task requires.
For this reason, becoming a better student typically means finding ways to use one’s time more efficiently.
One common problem students run into with time management is that they aren’t sufficiently realistic about how long certain tasks will take. This leads to forms of magical thinking whereby students convince themselves that they can do more with their study time than is actually possible.
It is important to find out how long certain routine learning tasks actually take (how long, for example, does it take you to read a page of a history book, or write a thousand-word position paper), and then base your study plan on realistic metrics regarding what you can accomplish with the time you have.
Time management isn’t just about allocating yourself enough time to complete a learning object, however. It’s also about using that time strategically.
Cramming is an excellent example of where this often goes wrong: if you have four hours to prepare for a major test, that time will be far better spent in half hour or forty-five minute blocks of studying time spread out across the week, rather than a single intensive session the day before the test.
While certain mnemonic techniques can help you remember key information more easily, scientists who study how memory works know that there are no real shortcuts for mastering complex material: you need regular exposure over time in order to lock major and minor details into your long-term memory.
Again, when you find your local tutor they may be able to help with time management simply by virtue of requiring you to do regular, weekly work, thereby keeping you on task and not giving you a chance to fall behind in your studies.
3. Willingness to Use the Resources at their Disposal
We are living in a time of unprecedented access to educational tools. Companies like Udemy, Duolingo, Masterclass and other online learning sites have all become massively popular by making learning software, games, and lectures widely available to the public. You can now receive high-level instruction in everything from German and literature to cooking and coding on your phone.
And the resources that are available are not only digital — even small Canadian cities now feature thriving innovation hubs that can help students of all ages connect to quality instruction and learning opportunities. And of course, tutoring services like Prep Academy Tutors can help students get hand’s-on help with English, French, math, science and other challenging subjects.
The most effective students don’t just set regular goals and manage their time well — they also look beyond the textbook to find resources that can help them learn more effectively.
Studying is, for many people, a deeply social act, and using the resources other people provide to make learning easier is an important way to make the information really stick. After all, a student who is regularly meeting with tutors and peers will have new material regularly reinforced, which plays an important role in locking it into the long-term memory.
If you want to find out how tutoring can help you meet your learning goals, contact us to learn more about our tutoring services or take a look at the tutoring opportunities we offer in your city or community.
Study habits are just that: habits that form an almost unconscious part of our everyday lives. The routine nature of habits is part of what makes them so effective. Once you have developed good study habits, it is easy to make learning a regular part of your life even when you aren’t preparing for final exams.
But developing good study habits is easier said than done, especially for busy high school or college students who have a lot of activities to schedule in every week. For this reason, building these studying routines into your life requires an intentional and strategic approach, one that avoids overly optimistic thinking and focuses on what is doable.
There are plenty of tools online that can help you create a study routine that works for you, but here are five easy steps that can get you started:
- Make a list of your learning goals for the month.
- Determine how long each of these goals will take to complete — and be realistic.
- Sit down with your calendar and map out what your week and month look like. What activities and events are locked in? Where do you have time to spare?
- Portion out your study time into twenty-five minute blocks, with five minute breaks between, and see how many blocks you have over the course of the week.
- Allocate the tasks you need to complete to these time blocks, being sure to spread out major tasks like exam prep over a few days.
Like many things in life, there are no shortcuts when it comes to studying. If you want to see positive results, you just need to put the hours in.
But this can also be a liberating thing to realize. After all, if acquiring a new skill, learning a new discipline, or mastering a new language is simply a matter of studying smart enough and long enough, then the only thing holding you back from achieving your goals is proper planning.
One of the most important benefits that comes with professional tutoring is the feeling that you are not alone. Intellectual work can be tiring and isolating, and working with a tutor is a great way to feel not only that you have the expert help you need to overcome the obstacles in your path, but also have the human support you need to stay motivated.
If you want to overcome your personal learning challenges in 2020, get in touch with Prep Academy Tutors today and find the tutor in your city who is right for you!
How Students in Ontario Can Master High School French
Because Canada is a bilingual country, acquiring a high level of French fluency while in high school can be an essential stepping stone toward careers in politics, public service, academia, law, and medicine — not to mention unlocking incredible opportunities for travel and personal development outside of work.
But for parents raising kids in heavily Anglophone parts of the country, like Western Ontario, it can be hard to know how to make dreams of bilingualism a reality.
After all, the nature of Canada’s education system is such that the resources available in some areas — French immersion programs and robust community support for language learning — simply aren’t available in others.
If you want to help your high schooler get the most out of their French curriculum and achieve the kind of fluency that will prepare them for success in university and the workplace, here are four ways you can help them tap into their full language-learning potential.
1. Get Extra Support
Probably the first thing you need to understand about your child’s high school French curriculum is that it is not really designed to produce students who are able to communicate like native French speakers. Instead, it is meant to provide a strong foundation in the kind of skills students can learn most easily outside a French-speaking context — grammar and writing being the most significant.
This means that helping students really master French is generally going to require doing additional language-learning outside of school.
This isn’t always easy: in Toronto’s downtown core, there is significant access to French language cultural institutions that can help you enhance your child’s education prospects, but in other parts of the GTA they are not so readily available.
For this reason, you may need to consider engaging private help to provide the educational boost that one-on-one conversation and grammar work with a French expert can provide.
A private tutor can provide many benefits for people learning French as a second language, including but not limited to:
- Targeted support that deals with individual learning obstacles
- One-on-one help that lets students move at their own pace
- A safe environment where students can make mistakes and build their confidence without fear of judgement
- Expert education help that understands the pedagogy of linguistics and can incorporate modern methods for language acquisition into private lessons.
Fortunately, if you are looking for a French tutor in Mississauga we can put you in touch with highly qualified instructors who can help your child get the extra support they need.
2. Understand the Difference Between Academic Success and Fluency
In Ontario, most students who are not from Francophone families will first encounter French when they start school. While access to primary and secondary education in the French language is one of the key benefits of living in a bilingual country, the downside is that young students quickly come to think of French as a subject of study rather than a mode of communication.
While it is certainly true that academic success in French is extremely important — and language acquisition unquestionably relies on intensive, rigorous study — a language is a living thing, and simply memorizing vocabulary and conjugation patterns will never get you to full fluency.
This is why it is important to find opportunities for more creative language use outside of school. This could mean getting involved in an extra-curricular language club, or it could mean finding a pen-pall to communicate with via social media.
One of the major advantages of learning French in the twenty-first century is that it is easier than it has ever been to find authentic French language resources on the internet, and to gain exposure to French film, television, and news outlets online, no matter where you live.
If you want to augment your school’s language curriculum and go beyond academic mastery of the language, here are a few helpful tips for engaging with French on your own time:
- Public screenings of French films (or watching French movies online)
- Following French language accounts on social media
- Reading national news stories in both languages
- Reading French translations of your favourite books
A good education plan will involve both tips to improve your SSAT scores and maximize your chances for getting into a good post-secondary program and providing you with the tools you need to communicate effectively with native speakers.
3. Make it Social
Unless you’re studying a dead language like Latin or Ancient Greek, you will never be able to attain fluency on your own. Languages are inherently social, and language acquisition relies on a number of social factors — not least of which being a student’s opportunities to engage with other people who speak the language they are trying to learn.
Students now have an unprecedented number of options for learning not just French, but any major language they have an interest in. Education apps like Duolingo and Busuu make it possible to study your language of choice in engaging and stimulating ways whenever you want, wherever you want.
But while these apps can play an important role in increasing exposure and helping you master new vocabulary, without regular interactions with other language students or native speakers, there is a hard ceiling limiting how far you can go if these are your only language-learning tools.
This can pose a problem, especially for students who don’t have the option of spending summers in a French-speaking environment or attending French-language summer camps. As many experts have noted, because of the social interactions that come with it, immersion plays an outsized role in helping students become confident and practiced in a new language.
Without opportunities for immersion, it can be extremely difficult to truly attain fluency. So what should people with limited options to use French in their daily lives do to overcome this obstacle?
There are no easy answers to this question, but it is important to remember that fluency and academic success is a team game — and if you’re going to succeed, you need to find a team. Tutoring is helpful not just because it gives kids an opportunity to correct their mistakes and practice their speaking, but also because it can help them plug into a wider network of language learners who can help them find out about French language speaking opportunities that exist in their own communities.
Languages are social tools, so building a community of language learners who will help you use that tool in social ways is essential if meaningful language acquisition is actually to take place.
4. Do a Little Every Day
Probably the best piece of practical advice for language learners is also the simplest: do a little bit of work every day. Time and time again, research has shown that there is simply no substitute for steady, incremental progress in language learning, which is why it is so important that students practice their French every day — even if it is only for fifteen minutes to half an hour.
When you learn a second language, you are essentially reprogramming your brain, and this takes time. Apps and services that promise to help you become fluent in a matter of weeks are making an impossible pitch, for the simple reason that it takes most of us years to be able to meaningfully communicate in our own language, let alone a second one.
This shouldn’t be discouraging: like physical fitness, the key is to make language learning part of your routine, so it becomes as familiar and comfortable as the drive to school. Just like exercise, problems tend to come when the routine is disrupted.
One of the reasons why tutoring has proven to be such an effective method for helping people learn new languages is that tutoring builds language learning into the schedule of every week, increasingly the likelihood that students will keep up with their homework and continue to learn a little bit every day.
If you want to learn more about us and how our approach can help your kids improve their French, and even achieve fluency by the time they graduate, get in touch with us today to find out how our unique, hand’s-on approach helps students build confidence and master the studying techniques that will help them become independent learners.
More than simply increasing earning potential or giving students a shot at getting into better schools, learning a second language is one of the great intellectual pleasures of a fulfilled life — a good that is worth pursuing for its own sake.
If you want to give the gift of bilingualism to your children but are worried that you don’t have the necessary skills or tools, call Prep Academy Tutors today!
5 Things to Look for in a Math Tutor
For thousands of years, mathematics has been central to education. Ever since the Greek philosopher Pythagoras set about trying to discern and codify the underlying scientific laws that govern the universe, mathematics has been an essential tool for understanding the world around us.
For some students, math comes easy — the beautiful symmetry, the unambiguous nature of the answers, and the simple puzzle-solving pleasure that comes from getting a question right make learning fun. For others, even basic arithmetic can cause anxiety.
Even if a student isn’t planning on going into a mathematics-related discipline like engineering, mastering basic math and succeeding in the math curriculum at school can open lots of important doors. Math and numeracy skills can help provide:
- Improved financial literacy
- Greater independence in business accounting and filing taxes
- Improved capacity for everyday tasks like home renovations to calculating exchange rates
- Better problem-solving skills
For these reasons, investing in tutoring that can help students who are struggling with math excel can be essential in helping them overcome obstacles and develop a healthy relationship to math.
But if you want the best results, it is also important to make sure that the tutor you hire has the necessary skills to help your child succeed. If you live in Ontario and you’re looking for a math tutor for the coming year, here are just a few qualities you should look for in potential candidates.
1. Knowledge of the Local Curriculum
If you are hiring a math tutor to help your child improve their math skills, there’s a good chance it is because you want to make sure they can succeed in school and build the kind of transcript that will give them plenty of options when it comes time to graduate.
For that reason, you are probably looking for more than just a candidate who knows math well — you also want someone who can tailor their approach to the particular curriculum your child is using at school.
While it is possible to find tutors online who offer a range of different educational services, when it comes to hiring a math tutor, you should look for someone who:
- Has experience with the Ontario education system and the local math curriculum
- Is able to provide lessons that complement what is being taught in primary or secondary math classes
- Is able to prepare students for upcoming challenges they will face in future modules and grades
At Prep Academy Tutors, we understand how important it is for tutors to work alongside the curriculum a student is learning in school. If you are looking for a math tutor in Kitchener for example, we can make sure to provide someone with the detailed, specific knowledge that can help augment what your child is learning in their regular classes so that when test time rolls around, they are equipped for academic success.
2. Familiarity with Pedagogical Methods
The world has changed significantly since the days when elementary math classes were mostly about memorizing times tables and regurgitating formulas, and a lot of progress has been made in math education in recent years.
Pedagogical experts have broken new ground in figuring out how it is we come to understand abstract mathematical concepts, and how we can master these ideas more easily. These insights are having a huge impact on how math is taught at all levels of school — which is why, when it comes to finding a tutor, you should make sure that the individual you hire has a good working knowledge of the latest teaching methods.
One particularly striking example of this is the way educators prepare students for the jump between more basic mathematical concepts, like arithmetic, and more complex ones, like algebra.
In the past twenty years, researchers have found that the kind of rote teaching that works rather well when teaching addition and subtraction does not actually prepare students for the more sophisticated thinking that algebra, trigonometry, and calculus requires.
This has led to a shift toward dynamic and engaging education methods designed to help students approach math more creatively, and to prepare them for more sophisticated forms of problem solving.
Another example is the massive strides that have been made in understanding how to deal with math anxiety in young learners. If you want tips for beating math anxiety that will actually work, hiring a tutor who understands the psychological and emotional reasons that math anxiety happens in the first place is essential.
3. A Supportive Attitude
A good tutor has to know the curriculum and has to know their subject: but they also need to know how to work with students.
As anyone with teaching experience knows, education is about a lot more than imparting information and developing skills. It also requires a supportive attitude that can help students become more confident and master the study strategies and problem-solving skills that will help them prepare for a life of learning.
One of the frequently-cited benefits of tutoring for elementary school kids is that it helps them learn how to learn, insofar as it helps them develop tactics for dealing with unknown information and the temperament to approach new problems methodically and rationally.
For example, tutors can help young children discover:
- How to learn from mistakes
- How to handle negative emotions that come from difficult material
- Where to go for help (dictionaries, reference works, etc.)
- What resources are available when they are struggling
Adults often take for granted that children have the tools they need to face down the often bewildering learning challenges they face over the course of their primary school years. Not all parents are themselves equipped to guide their kids through the difficulties of these years.
One of the reasons tutoring is so effective is that it helps students build confidence in their own problem-solving skills, so that when they come across something they don’t know, they know how to break the learning task down into manageable pieces and approach it in ways that help them overcome it.
4. A Student-Centered Approach
As parents know very well, every student is different. An approach that works for one kid won’t necessarily work for others, and the learning goals of one child may be very different from those of their neighbour — or even their sibling.
One of the challenges that seems to be baked into modern education systems is that the people staffing them and providing primary services like teaching tend to be people who place a lot of value on higher education and abstract thinking.
This can mean that students who don’t necessarily want to go on to university are given less attention and support than their more academic peers — there are plenty of students who simply need a math education that will help them go about their daily life, and these students deserve just as much attention as the future astronomers do.
A good tutor understands that their role is to help each individual student achieve their potential, even if that simply means helping them achieve sufficient grades to get their diploma so that they can enter a rewarding and valuable career in the trades.
At Prep Academy Tutors, we believe very strongly that no matter what a student’s goals are, they deserve the support and instruction that will help them to realize them. If you want to learn more about our educational philosophy, you can get in touch with us today to find out how our one-on-one service works, and how you can find the tutor who will be right for your child.
According to the latest numbers, Ontario math students are continuing to fall behind in rankings. According to Ontario’s Education Quality and Accountability Office, less than half of Grade 6 students scored above the provincial standard for math in 2017-2018, down from just over half four years earlier.
This alarming trend could have serious repercussions for these students down the road, and while the Ontario government has pledged to do something about the situation, there is no guarantee that a quick fix is available. Parents whose children are currently in the Ontario education system may want to consider alternatives that will ensure their own kids don’t fall behind.
Tutoring has consistently been shown to be one of the most effective tools for improving student performance in mathematics, in part because math tutoring provides the kind of one-on-one help and support that is becoming increasingly rare in Ontario’s under-resourced schools.
At Prep Academy Tutors, we work with well-trained, experience tutors across the province to help you get the best education results possible, so if you want to find out what math tutoring options are available near you, get in touch with us today.
Why Language Skills are Essential for Academic and Career Success in Canada
When are we going to use this?
It’s a question most language teachers have heard at some point or another. Some educators find it a bit frustrating to have to justify the importance of their subject, but kids do have a right to know the practical value of the lessons they are studying.
So in a world where technical knowledge based in science, math, and engineering is creating hundreds of thousands of jobs every year, why should students worry about English literature and conversational French?
The truth is that language skills continue to be absolutely essential for success across a wide range of different industries. And while lessons about the importance of coordinating conjunctions may not seem to have the same real-world applicability as biology labs, effective communication is impossible without a deep appreciation for and facility with language.
In this post, we will discuss some of the reasons why you should work with your child to improve their abilities in reading, writing, listening, and speaking in English and French, and will also provide examples of some of the practical things you can do to build up your child’s language skills at home.
Employers are Looking for Communicators
There is no question that studying in a STEM-related field will open doors for employment, but students who pursue English, Communications, Foreign Languages, and Journalism are also in high demand among employers across a range of different industries — not because they can quote Shakespeare or analyze a poem, but because they know how to analyze and share information.
Industry surveys consistently show that good writing and speaking skills are at the top of the list of qualities employers want new hires to posses. This means that all the hours put into learning the difference between a defining and a non-defining relative clause can pay off big when the time comes for a young person to enter the workforce.
So how can you help your kids become better communicators? Children who are struggling to keep up with their language arts curriculum can benefit from the help of Toronto English tutors who know the program, but if you really want them to excel in the long term you should also find ways to inspire a love of language and an appreciation for its nuances.
One simple practice you can make part of your daily life is vocabulary extension. There are more than 170,000 words in the English language, but the average native speaker only knows 20,000 (the average university graduate knows 40,000) — why not challenge your kids to add one new word to their vocabulary every day?
Not only is this a great way to make learning competitive and fun, it can have the added benefit of helping them learn more about the world around them. If they are interested in animals, for example, you can encourage them to add more zoological language to their vocabulary using words like “primate” or “herbivore.”
The Importance of Bilingualism
In Canada, language proficiency isn’t just about how well you can communicate in your native tongue: it’s also about developing competence in the nation’s second official language.
Bilingualism is both official federal government policy and a lived reality for millions of people, and this means that young people who can communicate effectively in both English and French will find it much easier to build careers in business, education, and the civil service at the national level.
But having two languages will also give you an advantage over monolingual competitors in just about every other sphere of life. The simple fact of being bilingual suggests a certain degree of diligence, dedication, and intellectual ability, and in a country that prides itself on its multiculturalism, command of both official languages can be a huge boon.
Unfortunately, while the benefits of bilingualism are apparent to most Canadians, actually being able to develop competence in both languages can be quite difficult. This is not only because of the famous political and cultural divide between English and French Canada — the country’s famous “two solitudes” — but also because of the way the languages are distributed geographically.
Bilingualism may be built into the country’s DNA, but the demographic realities are such that outside a few scattered pockets (the Ottawa-Montreal corridor, Quebec’s Eastern Townships, New Brunswick, and parts of Manitoba), most children live their lives in either English or French-dominated contexts.
So how can you improve your Toronto French class grades and achieve a higher degree of fluency in the language without entering French immersion? These days, there are plenty of options.
Popular apps like Duolingo make language learning easy and fun, and let your child practice their speaking, listening, grammar and vocabulary anywhere, at any time. And for those living in large cities, resources like the Alliance Française can help you connect to other families trying to improve their children’s French.
But if you really want to build toward full bilingualism, it will also be necessary to get personalized academic support through a tutor. Prep Academy Tutors is committed to helping people across the Greater Toronto Area become more fluent, so hire our best Mississauga French tutor to find out how big a difference tutoring can make in your child’s second language acquisition.
Language Skills are Portable Skills
In the twenty-first century economy, the only constant is change. So as a responsible parent, how can you prepare you children to compete in a workforce that is already seeing entire industries made redundant by new technology?
One of the benefits of being a good communicator is that the skill is highly portable, meaning that they can easily be transferred between industries. It doesn’t matter how technologically advanced our society becomes, we will still need people whose language skills make it possible for them to serve as a bridge between programmers and the sales team, or to generate clear, accessible, and appropriate content, or work in public relations.
And yet even as language skills become more and more critical, the number of people who can communicate effectively in writing is decreasing every year. Increasingly, students are entering university barely able to compose opinion essays.
Because university programs are largely designed with the assumption that matriculating students already have adequate literacy skills, they are unlikely to improve their communication skills significantly unless they are specifically entering an English degree program. Little wonder, then, that standards continue to fall: as the Globe and Mail reported last year, only one in four Ontario postsecondary students lacks basic literacy skills.
The upshot of this is that students who are able to develop strong language skills at the secondary level will be ideally positioned for academic success in university or college, and a plethora of options once they enter the workforce.
If you want to improve your children’s literacy, there are a number of options available to you. You can hire Montreal English tutors who can provide in-home service that is tailored to each individual student’s needs, and you can also encourage them to get involved in any after-school clubs that provide fun ways to explore language through games like scrabble or activities like playwriting and screenwriting.
The most important thing you can do to help improve literacy, however, is to encourage reading. This doesn’t necessarily mean sitting down with a fat novel: magazines, newspapers, and non-fiction books on topics they care about can also help children and teens develop an appreciation for and interest in reading.
It is worth noting by way of conclusion that while there are many practical reasons to improve one’s language skills and abilities, it can also be an end in itself. As the old saying has it, “the limits of my language are the limits of my world” — for every new word and phrase your child brings into their lexicon, their understanding of reality becomes a little bit broader.
No matter what other interests your child might have, academic or otherwise, helping them develop strong language skills (both in English and in French) is one of the surest ways to guarantee that they will be prepared for the challenges that await them in higher education and over the course of their lives.
While there are many things you can do to improve your children’s language skills as part of their daily routine, tutoring can play a crucial role in helping kids at key stages in their language development, such as learning to read and write, or preparing for the Ontario literacy test.
If you want to ensure your kids get the personalized one-on-one help they need to acquire the basic language competencies they will rely on for the rest of their lives, get in touch with Prep Academy Tutors today to find out more about our unique approach to tutoring in Toronto and Montreal.
How to Anticipate and Address the Most Common Challenges in Math Learning
Whether you want your child to become an engineer or simply want to make sure they can file their own taxes, ensuring they develop the arithmetical and numeracy skills they need to function in the modern world is essential.
Math undergirds just about everything we do, from calculating how much of a tip to leave a restaurant server to baking a cake or planning the monthly budget, but competency in math is not to be taken for granted: according to MacLean’s, math scores have been steadily falling across Canada, even as the amount of time students spend in math classes has risen.
It is common for children, especially in elementary school, to struggle with math. Many students find it to be counter-intuitive, too abstract, or just plain boring, and many teachers are struggling with inadequate resources and an out-dated curriculum.
So how can you make sure that your children get the support they need to master vital skills like multiplication, division, fractions, and basic equations?
In this post, we’ll talk about how parents can play an active role in helping their kids develop their numeracy skills by anticipating common problems in math learning and addressing them proactively. Understanding the challenges your little one is about to face is a key part of making sure they have the resources they need to overcome them.
While it isn’t your job to teach math, there are things you can do to help the information they are learning in the classroom stick: this can mean that you hire a private math tutor but it can also involve harnessing digital tools to make math learning more comprehensible and fun, and just providing good, old fashioned moral support when they’re struggling.
Understanding fractions is just one of those things that most adults have understood for so long, they don’t even realize they had to learn it. But in fact, as many pedagogues have explained, fractions can be incredibly difficult for elementary students to learn.
But put yourself in the position of your child, who is just learning how the world works, and how the words we use to describe the world — like percent, integer, and fraction — relate to the concrete objects around them. How are they to understand that if you cut an orange in half, they have both half an orange, 0.5 of an orange, 50% of an orange, and ½ of an orange? And that if they cut that half in half, they have both half of a half of an orange, and also a quarter of an orange?
One of the joys of parenting is being confronted with the challenge of explaining all the things that you know and take for granted to your children. But in the case of something like fractions, which is an essential building block without which your kids will simply not be able to acquire new math skills, it can be a bit stressful.
That’s why it is important to take an active role in helping your kids learning fractions. Many of our Montreal math tutors have noticed that when parents make a point of engaging their kids about what they are learning in class at this crucial stage, students are more likely to learn and remember the material.
Fortunately, in the case of fractions, there are plenty of real-world applications you can use to help strengthen your child’s understanding.
For example, asking them to help you in the kitchen is a great way to teach the practical value of measurements, and to give them something concrete to think about when confronted with halves, quarters, and thirds. Or you can use coins and paper money to give them a chance to practice their math skills in a tactile way.
At a time when just about everyone is walking around with a high powered computer in their pocket, do we really need to learn multiplication tables?
This is a question most twenty-first-century math teachers have gotten time and time again. It can be hard to convince elementary students (and even their parents) of the point in learning how to do multiplication on paper given that most smartphones have easy-to-use calculator apps.
But there are two key reasons why learning how to do multiplication (and division) problems in elementary school without the use of a calculator is an essential part of the math curriculum.
First, as our math tutors in Ottawa will tell you, long-form multiplication and division for a foundation for a lot of what will come later. While a calculator app may be able to help you figure out the square footage of a room, it won’t be nearly as handy when it comes time to do advanced equations. Giving students a thorough understanding of how simple problems work makes it a lot easier for them to master harder problems down the road.
In fact, some researchers have argued that one of the reasons U.S. schoolchildren are outperformed in math by other education systems around the world is that the American curriculum does not provide the kind of deep grounding in basic skills that students need to excel at more complex kinds of arithmetic.
Second, it is never a good idea to rely too much on technology. If you can’t do basic addition, subtraction, or multiplication without whipping out your phone, you’re going to be at a huge disadvantage — especially once your battery dies!
For this reason, it is important to encourage your children to see the value in learning how to do the problems, rather than simply finding the solution. While getting the answer write on the test is the end goal, the only reason they’re being tested in the first place is to see whether they understand the process.
Making this kind of learning into a competitive game is one of the most effective ways of getting kids to learn. Drill them on their times tables while you’re driving around, and ask them to solve simple questions throughout the day (for example, if a recipe calls for 3 tablespoons of butter, and you’re tripling the recipe, how much butter do you need?).
Normalizing math, and making it a part of everyday life, is one of the most important things you can do to help your kids take it seriously and apply themselves to learning.
Connecting Learning to Real Life
The single greatest challenge an elementary math teacher faces, however, is in resisting the temptation to make the curriculum an end in itself. Young children are curious about the world, and are often obsessed with finding patterns, and the most successful educators are the ones who can harness that raw interest into math learning.
But teachers can’t make these connections on their own, and one of the most important roles a parent can play is in modelling an interest in the value of math. The human brain is designed to take pleasure in solving problems, which is one of the reasons we like games so much. Instead of thinking about math as a chore, find ways to connect it to their real-life experiences.
For example, finding something your child is already passionate about, and then drawing out the mathematical features, is a great way of helping your kids see that math touches everything. If they like to draw, you can find books and youtube videos to teach them about the importance of ratios, scaling, and angles. If they’re interested in sports, use the hockey rink, football field, or soccer pitch to show the importance of fractions.
These exercises won’t just make math more accessible, they will also emphasize its practical value — and perhaps more importantly, show them that a command of math can help them accomplish things in areas they already care about.
At Prep Academy Tutors, we have made it part of our mission to work with educators who are passionate about their subjects and who use modern pedagogical tools and methods to pass that passion on to their students.
If you are in Ontario, Quebec, or Alberta get in touch with us to find out more about our tutoring services — we even have math tutors in Calgary who can help your kids work with the local curriculum to engage elementary and secondary students in the joys and pleasures of math.
In an era of high technology, where new jobs are being created every year in engineering, programming, math, and science, equipping your children with the tools they need to master their math curriculum is one of the best ways to set them up for sustainable and rewarding careers.
Call Prep Academy Tutors today to find out how we can help your children develop a love of math.
Equipping Children to Succeed in a Rapidly Changing World
Whether we’re talking about automation or climate change, it is no longer possible to believe the future will be much like the past.
With the rate of technological change ramping up in exponentially greater cycles, and with demographic and environmental realities fundamentally changing how we conceive of humanity’s future on the planet, it is important to acknowledge that our children will face opportunities and challenges very different from the ones we faced.
While this may be cause for existential anxiety, it also poses a more practical question: how can we help prepare the children of today for life in the twenty-first century, when no one is quite sure what the next fifty years will hold?
There is no one clear answer to this question, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways you can start helping your child get ready for life in this brave new world. As your Toronto tutoring agency we at Prep Academy Tutors have seen first hand just how significant a role education plays not only in giving kids the concrete skills for academic and career success, but in helping them develop a flexible mindset and the confidence to take on new challenges.
If you want to make sure that you are doing everything you can to prepare your kids for success down the road, here are four pieces of general advice that can help you equip them for a life of learning and adaptation.
Focus on Communication Skills
There’s a common idea that the ticket to success in our tech saturated world lies in learning to code, or mastering other, related computer engineering skills.
While it’s certainly true that the tech industry has become one of the central tent poles of the Canadian economy, tech is about a lot more than just coding — and at a time of offshoring and automation, the hard skills required to be a programmer may not actually be as essential as they once were.
Instead, many employers are looking for applicants who have strong communication skills who can not only understand complex information, but simplify it and disseminate it. Communicators have always been an essential part of the public and private sectors in Canada, and it is likely that even a highly automated world will still require people who can write and speak clearly.
For this reason, one of the most important skills you can impart to your children are old fashioned ones like how to write a formal email, proper conversation etiquette, and good written communication skills.
Ironically, while we can communicate more easily and efficiently than ever before thanks to chat apps and social media, many students are not developing the high level literacy skills needed for clear and effective writing. Fortunately, you can improve your writing with our Toronto tutors who specialize in literacy and written communications.
All of our tutors have extensive experience and can offer lessons in the security of your own home, and can help your children not only prepare to pass standardized exams like the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test, but develop the real-world skills that will stand them in good stead once they enter the workforce.
Start Preparing for University Applications Early
Getting children ready for the workforce isn’t just about identifying skills they will need and helping your kids appreciate and develop them — it’s also about taking concrete steps to make sure they are ready to move on to the next stage in their education.
In the knowledge economy of the twenty-first century, a university degree is rapidly becoming just as important as a high school diploma, and getting into the right program in the right school can open up incredible opportunities for hard-working students.
But while post-secondary enrolment in Canada is increasing steadily, if your child is considering an elite program like medicine, law, engineering, or technology at an ivy league school, they will be competing against some of the best students in the world.
If you want them to come out on top, you’ll need to start preparing their university application early to ensure that they have the best chance possible. Admissions staff look for well-rounded candidates who are engaged in a variety of community and volunteer activities while also having a strong GPA, so you’ll need to find a way to strike the right balance between extracurriculars and academics.
One of the best ways to make sure your high schooler has the support they need is to get them tutoring help specifically designed to help them pass the SSAT. Your Toronto SSAT prep can be a snap if you have dedicated support from a tutor who knows how the test works and can help your child use their study time as efficiently as possible.
Help Them Expand Their Skill Base
According to recent statistics, the average person will change careers at least twelve times over the course of the first thirty years of their working life. The days when training students to do one or two jobs well are long gone, and parents who want their children to be able to participate in the workforce of the future will want to ensure that they have as wide a base of skills as possible.
The teenage years are a perfect time for young people to explore their interests and develop a solid knowledge of a variety of subjects. When done strategically, it can help ensure that they have a lot of different skills to draw on once they start working.
There are several ways you can help your teenagers to expand their skill base, from encouraging them to sign up for new clubs and extracurricular activities to helping them find jobs during the school year and the summer.
But you should also make sure they are developing the core competencies they will rely on in the workplace. If you are worried that they are falling behind in essential skills like numeracy and literacy, search near you for our tutors — we offer tutoring in a number of different subjects, and tailor our approach to the specific needs of each child.
But perhaps the most important quality parents who want their kids to succeed in the coming years should cultivate is curiosity. With so many changes coming in such rapid succession, it will be the curious people, the ones who never stop learning, who will be best able to adapt to a rapidly evolving world.
The current generation of high school students has more access to information than any previous cohort before them, and it is the task of the parents, in these uncertain times, to help their kids navigate all this data in edifying and healthy ways.
While the dangers of unfettered access to the internet are very real, building resilience in young people requires letting them test their limits, explore boundaries, and learn to exercise their curiosity about the world around them in ways that make them feel empowered and confident.
Sometimes this means steering your children in a particular direction and giving them a chance to experience new things in a controlled and safe environment; at other times, it means letting go while they set out on their own, following their own interests and passions.
This can be just as scary for parents as it is for children, but in the long run it can be one of the best ways to teach them to approach the world responsibly and with their sense of wonder intact.
Being a parent has always been hard, but it is especially difficult in periods of rapid change, when the hard-won wisdom you have culled from a lifetime of experience can seem completely inadequate to the challenges of the future. How can you make sure that you are your children with the support they need to succeed on their own terms in a world that feels completely unpredictable?
This is not a question that most of people will ever be able to definitively answer, and in most cases the best a parent can do is help their child develop a broad base of knowledge, skills, and competencies that will help them stay flexible and curious as they grow older.
While it is important to ensure that your children are achieving the kind of academic credentials that have become a prerequisite for entering the modern workforce, it is also necessary to focus on less tangible skills, like open-mindedness, empathy, and adaptability.
At Prep Academy Tutors, we understand that parents today are facing unique challenges, which is why we have designed our tutoring service to help students do more than simply master the curriculum.
Our tutors will not only work to ensure that your child understands their math or English homework, but will come alongside your child and help them develop the kind of confident, inquisitive, problem-solving mindset that will stand them in good stead for the rest of their lives. Call us today to find out more!
3 Ways High Schoolers Can Build Competencies in STEM
Perhaps no four letters are as important for building a successful career in the 21st century as STEM.
Since this acronym was coined more than twenty years ago (STEM stands for “science, technology, engineering, and math”), it has revolutionized the way schools prepare students to enter the workforce. By focussing on integrated knowledge and problem-solving, a STEM-based approach provides students with skills and know-how rather than just data.
But while STEM has become a major force in university learning, especially in professional disciplines like engineering, it still hasn’t filtered down to the vast majority of Canadian public schools. Unless you are able to send your kids to a high school that specializes in technology and the sciences, your options for giving your kids a STEM-specific secondary education can be sparse.
So how can high schoolers in Ontario’s regular public school system build the STEM competencies that will give them a competitive advantage once they get to college or university?
Here are three practical ways you can help your teenager get a solid grounding in STEM, regardless of what the specialized offerings at their local high school are.
1. Get the Most Out of the Resources You Have
Even if your high school doesn’t offer specialized options, that doesn’t mean there aren’t resources available to help your child improve the core competencies in science, technology, engineering, and math. Be creative about taking advantage of what is available at your local school and the wider community.
For example, many Ontario high schools are now offering students extracurricular programming clubs that can help them improve math and science skills, or engage in community activities like science fairs. Extracurricular activities can be a great supplement to the regular curriculum, because they engage students’ creativity and curiosity and offer more opportunities for exploration.
In addition to extracurricular activities, you may also want to consider whether tutoring might be a beneficial way of providing targeted educational support to help you get help with your Toronto science homework and build a strong foundation for post-secondary study.
Tutoring can provide a variety of benefits to Ontario high school students, including:
- Extra help with particular areas of struggle
- One-on-one lessons that allow students to move at their own pace
- Teaching tailored to the Ontario school curriculum
- Confidence-building support that can strengthen core competencies
- Flexible scheduling that gives students help when they need it
Tutoring can play a transformative role when it comes to helping students prepare for a career in STEM not only by supplementing the education they are receiving at school, but also by giving them the opportunity to address their own areas of weakness.
No matter what your teenager struggles with most, Toronto chemistry tutors and math tutors and biology tutors can help them overcome the hardest parts of the curriculum, and start to see the real-world applications of all this abstract knowledge.
By getting the most out of the resources you have at your disposal, whether that be extracurricular support from your school or tutoring help from qualified professionals, you can make STEM learning a part of your child’s life, no matter where they go to school.
2. Don’t Neglect Language and Critical Thinking Skills
The nature of our education system is such that students are, once they reach high school, encouraged to focus either on the sciences or the humanities. While necessary for pragmatic reasons, this kind of educational streaming can have a number of adverse effects, chief among them being that students studying the sciences often don’t see the point of language arts, while arts students may conclude that science is dull and uncreative.
This practical division is necessary for preparing students to operate in a specialized economy, but it can also lead to an uneven development of skills. A student interested in software engineering, for example, may know a lot about the technical side of their work while having great difficulties communicating what they know to others.
While some school boards have made moves to overhaul this approach to education in recent years, it looks as though the system will continue to operate this way for the foreseeable future.
This means that if you want to help your high schooler stand out from the crowd in the world of STEM, helping them improve their communication and critical thinking skills is one of the best ways to do so.
STEM isn’t just a series of overlapping fields. It’s also an educational philosophy designed to apply disparate kinds of knowledge to the tackling the problems of the modern world. And developing skills in STEM is about more than just knowing the math and science: it’s about mastering the communication and critical thinking skills needed to find big picture solutions.
Here are just a few ways that enhancing your high schooler’s language, critical, and creative thinking skills can help them improve STEM competencies such as:
- Horizontal Thinking: Many researchers divide thinking into two categories: vertical thinking is analytic, methodical, stepwise, deep, and particular, while horizontal thinking tends to be associative, multidirectional, creative, and broad. While math and science tend to involve a lot of vertical thinking, the arts tend to be much more horizontal. Students who are able to operate using both kinds of thinking have a far greater capacity to innovate.
- Capacity for Teamwork: The era of solitary inventors working away in their shops is long gone, so if you want to work in STEM, you need to be a team player. Traditional arts subjects like theatre can help students learn to become productive members of a creative team who can develop collaborative solutions under stressful and time-limited conditions.
- Ability to Play Different Roles: Given the constantly-evolving nature of science and technology, preparing for a career in STEM means learning to excel at a number of different tasks. The workers best positioned to play a variety of roles are the ones who have strong communication and people skills as well as being versed in the specialized knowledge of their field, which is why improving language and communication skills can be a major asset in the world of STEM.
All of this means that if you want to help high school students prepare for a career in STEM, you will want to do more than just encourage them to excel in STEM-related disciplines.
In our experience, science tutors in Pickering and other communities in the Greater Toronto Area often find that the students who are best positioned for future work in STEM are the ones who have been able to supplement their knowledge of science and math with concrete skills from disciplines like English, theatre, creative writing, and music.
3. Get Involved in Collaborative Education
As we have discussed, the world of STEM is a collaborative one. It won’t matter how good your high school student is at algebra and physics if the don’t also know how to work with people who have different but complementary skill sets.
The workplace of the future, as many business experts have noted, is going to be a collaborative one, so in addition to bolstering your child’s chances of getting into a good school by finding them the best science tutor Markham has to offer, you might also want to take advantage of the collaborative education opportunities that exist in your community.
Fortunately, parents in the Greater Toronto Area have a wealth of options to choose from, including a range of different science camps and STEM-specific educational clubs designed to give kids an opportunity to start developing their skills early.
Enrolling your teens in a extracurricular activities relating to science, math, and STEM won’t just give them an opportunity to practice collaborative learning and problem solving, it can also be a great way to connect with people in Toronto’s scientific community who can help advise you on other educational opportunities.
Naturally, this kind of activity also looks good on university applications, when the time comes for your child to take the next step in their education journey.
It is never to early to help your kids start building a strong foundation in the analytic skills they will need if they decide to go into a STEM-related field, and even if you aren’t able to enrol your child in a secondary school with a particular commitment to sciences, math, and technology, you can still help them improve their math, science, and problem solving skills.
If you want to learn more about how you can give your child a head start in building their STEM competencies, get in touch with Prep Academy Tutors to learn more about our unique approach to tutoring, and how it can help your child meet their learning goals.
Preparing Your Child for a Career in STEM
In the dynamic, ever-changing economy of the twenty-first century, many parents are worried about whether or not they are adequately preparing their kids to succeed in the future. With young workers facing more pressure than ever before to develop the kind of advanced skills needed to compete in a world where automation is making entire industries obsolete, how can you make sure your kids are equipped to enter the economy when no one knows what the economy will look like in fifteen years?
While there is no sure-fire way to guarantee your child will sail smoothly from high school to college to a lucrative career, there are things you can do to give them better odds. One of the most practical is to hire math and science tutors in Toronto who can give them a strong grounding in the STEM subjects that are the foundation of the modern knowledge economy.
If you’ve never encountered the term before, STEM is an acronym used to refer to a cluster of subjects most students start studying in earnest once they reach high school. Conventionally, these are considered to be:
But this can also extend to:
But it is also a teaching philosophy that views these subject areas through the prism of an integrated learning paradigm geared toward real-world applications like developing new products or finding new energy solutions.
But what does a STEM approach to education look like in practical terms, and how can you give your children a chance to start developing their knowledge of this critical area of study early on? This article will provide an introduction to the STEM teaching philosophy, and provide you with some practical examples for how you can make STEM a part of your child’s education at the primary and secondary levels.
What is a STEM Approach to Education?
The acronym STEM was first coined in 2001 by a Judith Ramaley, an American biologist working for the National Science Foundation (NSF). The term quickly gained popularity over the course of the following decade as researches, scientists, and bureaucrats became concerned that children in the United States were falling behind their international competitors in these core areas of competency.
An emphasis on STEM education, therefore, grew out of a growing sense that these increasingly integrated fields played an essential role in preparing young people to compete in a globalized economy alongside countries in East Asia and Europe that had made significant investments in STEM education in their own countries.
For this reason, a STEM education isn’t just about science and formulas — it’s about prepare a equipping young people with a range of practical skills and the kind of broad knowledge base that will allow them to grow and adapt in a world where technology is evolving faster than ever before.
If you are interested in learning more about how you can get your kids started in STEM, read on to find out how to get them involved in this dynamic field during their primary and high school years.
Why STEM Education Should Start Early
Most discussions about the importance of STEM education focus on high school and university students. And while those are crucial periods in any person’s education, success in STEM-related subjects at the secondary level will only succeed if it has a solid educational foundation to build from.
This can pose a range of challenges to parents who want to be as far-sighted as possible about their children’s education options. Not many seven-year-olds have much of a sense for what kind of career they would like down the road, and the subjects they dislike most may well turn out to be the ones they rely on daily for the rest of their lives.
If you want to keep their options open later in life, you need to make sure they are developing their skills across the board, so that if they do fall in love with programming at the age of fifteen, they already have a knowledge base to work from.
But it isn’t just about knowing the math: STEM incorporates a lot of different ideas and branches of knowledge, and success in a STEM-related field means being able to digest and make sense of a lot of information. STEM education isn’t just about crunching numbers and memorizing facts: at its core, it is about creativity and critical thinking, learning how to interpret and apply data to solving real-world problems.
One of the reasons STEM is such an important area of study in the twenty-first century is that the problem solving skills that are such an essential part of a STEM education are applicable to a wide range of different challenges students will face once they graduate from high school. Helping your child acquire the basic skills they need to excel in STEM will also set them up for success in a variety of other fields.
For this reason, when considering the best way to approach STEM education you should also think about things like reading comprehension and creative problem solving. Hiring a reading tutor can actually be an important part of preparing an elementary school student for the kind of integrated learning they will need to master in secondary school and university.
How You Can Give Your Kids a Head Start in STEM
Clearly, a STEM education can be a huge benefit even for young children. But what can you as a parent do to help give your kids the opportunity to excel in this field? Aren’t you to some degree hostage to the classes, extra-curricular activities, and quality of teaching offered by your local school board?
While there are certainly limitations to how much control parents have over their children’s education opportunities, there are probably more options available to your children than you know. If you live in the Greater Toronto Area, there are lots of resources for parents who want to get their kids excited about science — and as people become more aware of the importance of a STEM education, there are even extra-curricular STEM-specific opportunities available to parents of young children.
After school activities can provide a vital chance for elementary and secondary students to expand their horizons and discover new passions, and it can also play an important role in helping your child get ahead in school by strengthening their working knowledge of things like astronomy, ecology, and algebra.
You should also, of course, double down on making sure your child is mastering their regular school curriculum. The primary years are critical in terms of developing basic literacy and numeracy skills, so don’t let your young ones fall behind in difficult classes like science and math. If they are struggling with challenging concepts, you should connect with a tutor near you who can help them excel in subjects related to STEM.
Tutoring doesn’t just give students the formal knowledge they need to pass tests and get good grades, it can play a vital role in growing students’ confidence and sense of curiosity about the world. And when you work with a professional tutoring company like Prep Academy Tutors, you can make sure that the tutor you are working with is fully qualified to help your child take the first steps down the road toward a career in STEM.
According a Forbes article published last year, the five most lucrative college majors are all in STEM fields. And while STEM can be a great path toward financial security, this isn’t the only — or even most important — reason to encourage your kids to enter this field.
At its core, STEM trains young people to understand how the world works, and how it can be made to work better for all of us. At a time when concerns about energy, climate change, and environmental degradation are of paramount importance, it is worth remembering that the technical solutions that will play an important role in helping humankind meet these challenges will come from people working in STEM-related fields.
Because it brings together so many different branches of knowledge, STEM requires and encourages a great deal of creativity, making careers in these areas not just lucrative, but also highly fulfilling. Inculcating in your children a sense of what is possible through reason, inquiry, and hard analytic work is one of the greatest gifts you can give them.
If you want to inspire your children with a sense of wonder while also building a strong academic foundation they will benefit from for the rest of their lives, then giving them the tutoring support they need to thrive in science and math is one of the most immediate things you can do.
Get in touch with Prep Academy Tutors to find out how we can help you give your child a head start in STEM today.
How Montreal Parents Can Promote Literacy at Home
There is no city in North America quite like Montreal. Famous for its relaxed pace of life, romantic architecture, and refined culture, the city’s bilingualism and biculturalism help it to stand out in a country where English and French tend to be geographically divided. No wonder Montrealers are so fond of their home!
But while Montreal can be a great place to raise a family, parents in bilingual cities like Montreal face special challenges — especially if they are part of the Anglophone minority. That’s why Prep Academy Tutors works with a number of talented and professional literacy specialists in Montreal who can help you make sure your children develop strong reading and writing skills early in life.
For most people, developing literacy skills is a lifelong process, one we never really stop working on, which is why it is so critical to give kids a strong foundation they can build off of. If you are looking for ways you can promote literacy in your own home, here are a few of the things you can do to help give your kids a head start.
1. Model Good Reading Habits
As any experienced English teacher will tell you, it’s easy to tell the difference between kids who read at home and kids who don’t. The single best way to develop strong literacy skills is to spend a significant portion of time every day reading, and kids who read for pleasure will have a natural advantage over those who don’t.
And if you want to get your kids to pick up books — especially if they are between the ages of five and ten — one of the most effective ways to do that is to read yourself. Young children will often mimic their parents’ behaviour as they explore the world around them, so if you want your kids to have good reading habits, normalizing reading as a leisure activity can have a powerful impact.
Parents are busier than ever, of course, and it isn’t always going to be possible to spend as much time reading as you might like, but even half an hour a day can make a difference by showing your kids that there are entertainment alternatives to watching television, playing computer games, or spending time on one’s phone.
But if you have young children at home and really want to get them hooked on reading, there is simply no better way to do so than by reading to them before bed. Scientific studies have shown that this has value far beyond helping to cultivate literacy: it also helps them developing longer attention spans, feel more connection to you as a parent, and improves behaviour.
2. Talk About What You Read
Getting your child to read is the first part of the battle, but it isn’t he entirety of it — if you want to help them develop the kind of critical reading skills that will help them succeed in school and in life, you also need to find ways to encourage them to interact with the material they are reading.
Checking in regularly about what books they are reading and what they think of them is an easy and practical way to help them think through what they are consuming. This can be as simple as asking them to recount the major plot points of a the story, or can involve detailed discussions about how the stories make them feel and what they like or dislike about what they’re reading.
In some families, this happens fairly informally — around the dinner table, perhaps, or while commuting to and from school or after-school activities. But if this kind of conversation doesn’t come naturally to your kids, you can make it an aspect of the daily routine to ask them a few questions about what they have read, what they have liked, and what they think about it.
Not only will this serve as a good way to develop critical reading skills, it will also help them express their opinions in constructive and thoughtful ways, and develop confidence in their own ideas.
3. Encourage Your Kids to Express Creativity Through Writing
Most advice about cultivating literacy in children focuses heavily on reading, the assumption being that learning good reading habits will naturally impact one’s abilities to communicate using writing. And while it is certainly true that kids who read tend to find that writing comes more naturally, it’s no substitute for time spent actually writing.
But how do you get an active child with so many other distractions in their life to sit down and start composing? If it can be a challenge to get kids reading, getting them to write something of their own should be next to impossible, right?
Fortunately, the technology-saturated world of the twenty-first century actually offers a lot of opportunities for kids to develop their abilities as writers and their own distinct writing voices. Thanks to text, chat, and internet apps, writing has remained an immediately applicable skill, and getting a young person to write more doesn’t necessarily mean sitting them down to compose something longhand using paper and a pen.
But one of the best ways to make writing more appealing to young children is to encourage them to see it as a means to expressing themselves and exercising their creativity. Writing their own stories and poems, creating captions for pictures online, and even writing plays they can perform with their friends are all ways young kids can develop an appreciation for the beauty and complexity of written language, an appreciation that will make them more likely to spend time on activities that will improve their abilities as written communicators.
4. Get Help from a Private Tutor
While there are lots of things you can do to make reading and writing a bigger part of everyday life for you and your kids, sometimes there is no substitute for structured education, especially if your child is facing particular struggles mastering the basics of reading and writing.
In situations like this, hiring a private tutor in Montreal with experience teaching and a strong knowledge of the pedagogical tools that can be used to help develop literacy skills can be the most effective way to get your kids reading and writing as soon as possible.
One of the most common challenges students face when learning to read and write in the classroom is accessing the kind of one-on-one help that is essential for helping students overcome their own particular struggles, and while Quebec’s education system remains one of Canada’s strongest, the teacher shortage is having an impact on the amount of hands-on instruction individual students can expect to receive. Hiring a tutor can provide students having difficulties mastering the English curriculum with a vital life-line that can mean the difference between a passing grade and a failing one.
At Prep Academy Tutors, we champion a one-on-one approach designed to target the particular problems individual kids are facing. We also understand that tackling difficult subject material can be a little scary, especially for younger children, which is why our tutors offer lessons in your home, where students will feel more relaxed and comfortable. If you want to learn more about how we work you can get in touch with us about our Montreal English tutoring program today.
There are many benefits to raising your children in a bilingual environment. Not only will it give your child the natural advantage when it comes to picking up a second language, according to some scientific studies, it can also make it easier for children to switch between tasks and learn other languages later in life.
But one of the drawbacks of growing up bilingual can be a lack of full proficiency in either language. If a child only speaks English in the home but goes to a French-language school (or vice versa), they will tend to have a bifurcated vocabulary in which their language proficiency changes depending on the context.
For example, a child might be completely comfortable discussing domestic or family-related matters in English, while not being able to talk in any great detail about work-related issues for which they only ever use French.
If you are concerned about ensuring that your child develops the literacy skills they need for effective communication in English, call us to learn more about how we can provide the kind of personally tailored approach kids need in order to master reading and writing.
Whether you are looking for tutoring support for high school students preparing for admission to one of Montreal’s prestigious universities, or want to make sure your children get a head start on reading and writing at the primary level, Prep Academy Tutors can get you the teaching help you need to set your kids up for a lifetime of academic and personal success.
4 Ways Toronto Parents Can Set Their Kids Up for Academic Success This Year
Once the busyness of first classes and orientation has died down, the beginning of a new school year is a good time for reflection. As students become acclimatized to their new classrooms, new teachers, and new peers, it is possible to get a sense for the challenges and opportunities the upcoming academic year holds. This is especially true for parents who are concerned about making sure that their kids have the support they need to excel in all of their subjects.
For years, we have helped parents find science, chemistry, and math tutors in Toronto and given cohort after cohort of students the tools they need to go on to academic success in college and university, or provided them with a strong foundation for a career working in the trades or other sectors of the economy. We understand just how crucial the role parents play in their children’s education is, which is why we work hard to provide them with the support they need to give their kids the best possible learning environment.
In this article, we’ll talk about some of the ways you can help you set your children for success in the coming year, while providing some practical tips for how you can overcome common learning challenges primary and secondary students face.
1. Explore Extra-Curricular Education Opportunities
Increasingly, schools in Toronto are being asked to do more, and with fewer resources. But many dedicated teachers are still finding ways to offer after-school study clubs and other educational resources that can help kids get extra help with the subjects they are struggling with.
The beginning of the year is a good time to look at the extra-curricular educational activities your school offers, to see whether or not there are clubs that could give your child an opportunity to get in some extra study time with their peers. Not only can this provide an excellent opportunity to further practice subjects like music, literature, math, and science, it is also a great way for kids to bond with their peers over shared activities.
Naturally, you shouldn’t just consider extra-curriculars that have an explicit educational component. Sports, volunteering, and community groups can also provide fantastic opportunities for kids to develop their confidence, explore their interests, and form the close relationships that are such an integral part of making school nurturing and enjoyable.
Not all kids will be excited by the prospect of an after school club, of course, and it is important to not force your child into doing something they really want to do. One way to get around this is to require your kids to join at least one or two extra-curricular clubs, but to give them the freedom to pursue their own interests — even when those interests do not align with your own.
After all, you may not see a lot of value in an after-school computer club, but it could be the springboard that gets your child to get interested in tech design or programming.
2. Hire a Tutor for Challenging Subjects
Every child has subjects they find more difficult than others, and all students will, at some point or another in their academic career, come up against learning challenges they will need special help with. With class sizes growing in schools across Ontario, however, it can be difficult for kids to get the kind of one-on-one support they need to overcome these education hurdles.
The problem is especially acute in Toronto, where the nature of funding formulas is such that access to extra help is spread unevenly around schools across the city. Unfortunately, this means that parents need to take a more active role in ensuring that their children have the supports they need to master the subjects they find most challenging.
When deciding what kind of extra help students need, it is important for parents to be realistic about their children’s time — after all, study after study has shown that too much homework is ineffective, and detracts from the time kids should spend playing, exploring, and developing their sense of creativity. Simply piling on more homework is not necessarily going to help them push through difficult material.
What is far more effective is using things like tutoring to strategically target areas of struggle and help students overcome their personal challenges using a collegial, personalized approach. Our team of professional tutors in Toronto has found that the one-on-one approach provided by tutoring can be highly effective when it comes to helping students focus on the subjects they find difficult so they can keep pace with the curriculum and not fall behind their classmates.
In order for this to work, however, you need to find tutors who have specialized knowledge of their subjects, and a background the pedagogical background that will enable them to bring scientifically proven educational methods to bear on overcoming problems like math anxiety, literacy issues, or struggles with subjects like science, chemistry, and biology.
3. Keep an Academic Journal
One of the biggest challenges kids face during the school year is simply keeping track of everything they have learned when there is so much going on. This can make it hard to remember everything they have learned, which in turn causes problems when test time comes around.
Keeping an academic journal where you record everything you have learned over the course of the day is a great way to create a quick study aid that will help students — and their parents! — remember what has been covered over the academic year. You can also use this journal to record specific notes about what your child found easy and what they found difficult, so you know what areas require a little extra work and what areas came easily.
Academic journaling doesn’t need to be a time-consuming activity. You can simply keep a paper journal (or electronic spreadsheet, depending on how you see fit to integrate tech into your child’s day-to-day life) by their bed, and close out the day by helping them record in simply language and short bullet points what they covered in each of their classes that day.
In the case of older students, you can simply ask them to keep this record in whatever way they see fit, and check in every week or so to see what they are covering. This will help them develop independent habits that will serve them well once they leave home, while also giving you a chance to make sure they are keeping up with their studies.
4. Start Preparing for University Admissions Early
For parents with children in the higher secondary school grades, academic success tends to be geared toward preparing young adults for university and college admissions. The late teenage years are a crucial period for growth, and kids who achieve high marks are well positioned to get into prestigious universities like McGill, Queen’s, and the University of Toronto.
But if you want your teen to put together a winning application, you need to start planning early. Whether your child is entering Grade 12 or just starting Grade 11, you can give them a huge boost by starting the year off with a planning session for how they can best position themselves to take the next step in their academic careers.
This shouldn’t just be about academic qualifications — many universities look for well rounded applicants who have shown a commitment to excellence in community service and extra-curricular activities like sports and science clubs — but without a strong academic track record, it is difficult to cross the necessary threshold to be considered.
For that reason, it can be useful to bring on a tutor with experience in university preparation to help your child achieve the best possible grades in key academic subjects like English, History, Math, and Life Sciences (you can click here to find out more about the role tutoring plays in university preparation).
Given how important academic success is to future employment and a fulfilling life, it’s natural for parents to be anxious about making sure their kids get the best possible start to the new school year. But being anxious about whether this semester’s poor math grade will impact their university application two years down the road is a recipe for a lot of sleepless nights, so try to focus your energy instead on making sure your child has the resources and supports they need.
Why not sit down with your child this weekend to formulate a family plan for how they will achieve their academic goals this semester, then explore some concrete steps that will make it possible to achieve these goals.
Remember, extra-curricular education opportunities, tutoring, keeping an academic journal, and post-secondary admissions prep are all things you can start doing today if you want to make this year an academic success. And if you want to find high quality specialized tutors who offer lessons in homes across the Greater Toronto Area and beyond, get in touch with Prep Academy Tutors to find out how we can help.