Test Anxiety Tips: What is Test Anxiety and How to Avoid It

The difference between being nervous before or during a test and having test anxiety is that test anxiety interferes with a student’s ability to do well on a test. Nervousness can be productive. Test anxiety, however, is not.

Even for a student who does everything she can to prepare for a test — take detailed notes, study often, do all assigned readings and homework — test anxiety can cause her to underperform.

Standardized testing anxiety can be particularly detrimental to a student’s education. Students with standardized testing anxiety experience anxiety when doing standardize tests like the SAT or MCAT, which are an important gateway to success.

Test anxiety can be experienced by many different types of learners — the experience is not limited to one type of student.

Symptoms of test anxiety can be behavioral, cognitive, emotional, and physical. Some of these include:

  • loss of focus
  • inability to remember information
  • hopelessness
  • negative self-talk
  • increased heart rate or heart palpitations
  • muscle tension or soreness
  • shortness of breath
  • stomach pain
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • shakiness
  • nausea
  • irritability

A less common, though severe, symptom is selective mutism, whereby a student becomes unable to speak while taking an exam.

Students preparing for online tests will benefit from understanding what testing anxiety is and what they can do about it. Test anxiety is a serious obstacle, but it’s an obstacle that can be overcome.

What is Test Anxiety?

Test anxiety is a psychological condition that shares many of the same symptoms as anxiety disorders. Anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), separation anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, and agoraphobia.

Commonly experienced among those who suffer from anxiety, including test anxiety, are anxiety attacks and panic attacks. (The chief difference between anxiety and panic attacks is that anxiety attacks build gradually while panic attacks happen with little to no warning.) These attacks can be both frightening and debilitating. A student who experiences one of these attacks during an exam may be unable to complete it.

Test anxiety manifests differently in every student who experiences it. For some, symptoms may be mild. For others, symptoms may be extreme. To make things even more complicated, children with testing anxiety may not know they have it. They may confuse it with simple nervousness, or believe they’re afraid of tests because they’re not good enough.

Other students may recognize their anxiety but refrain from speaking about it for fear of being negatively perceived or made fun of.

Although test anxiety is common, it’s not a widely understood condition. Teachers and parents with testing anxiety may not be able to identify it in their students if they are not adequately informed.

Unfortunately, some teachers and parents may even believe a student with testing anxiety does poorly on exams not because he has anxiety but because he is underprepared, uninspired, or even lazy. Students who are perceived in this way may come to perceive themselves in this way — which only leads to more anxiety, fear of failure, or humiliation.

Causes of Test Anxiety

Test anxiety can be a symptom of an overarching anxiety disorder. On its own, test anxiety is considered a form of performance anxiety. Performance anxiety is a fear about one’s ability to perform at a specific task.

For this reason, test anxiety has the potential to become a vicious cycle. Because students suffer anxiety during an exam, they come to associate exams with anxiety, and become even more anxious during exams. As a result, they may feel that they have no control over their anxiety, and stop trying to overcome it. This can lead to a state called learned helplessness.

If students don’t learn to recognize their anxiety for what it is, they aren’t likely to seek help. And if they don’t seek treatment, they’re not likely to overcome their anxiety. On the contrary, their anxiety can become worse.

Due to test anxiety, even the most dedicated and promising students can become so distressed by tests, or so humiliated by what they perceive to be personal shortcomings, that they will become fearful of school and fall far short of their academic potential.

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Test Anxiety Tips and Help

Fortunately, there are ways to overcome test anxiety. The first step is to identify test anxiety; the second is to seek help. Prep Academy Tutors can identify test anxiety in their students and help them overcome it in order to become the kind of students they have the potential to be.

Parents living in Ontario may look at tutoring services in Ontario. Parents living in New York may consider private tutoring in NYC — although online tutoring services are available to anyone anywhere.

In addition to enlisting the help of tutors, parents may also seek help for their kids from mental health professionals.

Medication is an option. So too is counselling and different kinds of therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, psychotherapy, and exposure treatment therapy.

Natural remedies are another option. These include:

  • meditation
  • exercise
  • diet
  • sleep
  • avoiding stimulants like energy drinks or coffee

The goal is to find the sort of help that best suits your child’s needs.

Communication

If you think your children may have test anxiety, it’s important that you communicate with them and help them understand that test anxiety is neither permanent nor inescapable.

There are questions you can ask your children to find out whether they have test anxiety:

  1. Do you worry about taking tests?
  2. Do you feel different when you take tests?
  3. When you take a test, do you feel like you know as much, or remember as much, about the subject as you do when you’re not taking a test?
  4. Do you find that, when you take a test, you suddenly forget what you’ve learned?
  5. Do you find it tough to concentrate when you take a test?
  6. Do you experience physical symptoms while taking a test that you tend not to experience otherwise?

As parents, another beneficial thing to do is talk to your child’s tutors and teachers. They may be able to tell whether your child behaves differently during tests, or seems to underperform compared to their performance in class or on homework assignments.

For example, if a teacher notices that your child doesn’t fidget during class, but does fidget during tests, this might be a sign that your child experiences test anxiety.

Test anxiety damages students’ self-confidence in their ability to do well in school. Our certified tutors understand how to identify test anxiety and teach coping strategies that boost confidence and in turn improve students’ academic performance.

Activities to Keep Your Kids Learning This Summer

With the onset of summer corresponding with the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions and the proliferation of available vaccines for all age groups, the future is looking bright. Students who’ve spent the school year entirely or mostly at home, learning online, may now finally return to a world that very much resembles the one they enjoyed before the onset of the pandemic.

This is cause for celebration.

At the same time, however, it’s crucial that over the course of the summer our children stay intellectually stimulated and motivated to further their academic growth. The pandemic has had a detrimental effect on their education. The summer marks a chance for our children to combat learning loss and stay academically motivated so that, when they return to school in the fall, they’ll be more than prepared.

Combatting Learning Loss

Without the strict structure that school offers, keeping kids focused this summer amid all the distractions will require alternative pedagogical resources such as online home tutoring or learning pods.

Online home tutoring will always be an excellent resource for parents invested in their kids’ growth and education. There is nothing quite like the bond between tutors and their students to keep students consistently focused and intellectually active during the summer.

Learning pods are another option. Whereas with traditional tutoring a certified teacher works with a pupil one-on-one, with a learning pod, a certified teacher works with a small, in-person group of students. A learning pod offers group-learning environments where students learn alongside peers and develop their social and leadership skills.

Learning Activities

One way tutors can offer educational support to your kids this summer is by getting them involved in learning activities tailored specially to their level and unique learning styles.

Learning activities are activities that kids can do at home with or without the supervision of a tutor or caregiver. There are different activities for different disciplines. Doing science experiments is an excellent way for kids to improve their science skills, for instance.

Here we’ll look at a few learning activities that improve skills in the two core academic areas in which many students have fallen behind over the course of the pandemic: literacy and math.

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Literacy Activities

Journaling—by hand—is an excellent activity for kids to develop as readers, writers, and communicators. The process is simple. To journal, have your children write whatever comes to mind, whatever is bothering them, whatever they’re curious about, or whatever they want to remember.

Your children don’t have to show their journal to you or their tutors — they’re free to write whatever they wish without fear of criticism.

Journaling helps kids get into the practice of writing every day in their own natural voices. It turns writing into a more comfortable, habitual process, which they don’t need to feel overly self-conscious about. Journaling stimulates the creative and critical parts of the brain. Writing what comes to mind is an excellent way for students to simultaneously nourish their imaginations and enhance their analytical skills.

More, journaling benefits mental health. The act of journaling enables students to express themselves, arrange their thoughts, prioritize their problems and fears, identify and transcribe negative self-talk, and reflect on unhelpful behavioral patterns and unproductive habits.

Another excellent activity for kids to develop their literary skills and imagination is writing stories.

For kids who are unsure what to write about, asking them write about something that interests them outside of school is an effective way of getting them started. For instance, kids who are interested in dinosaurs may wish to write a story about travelling back in time with their friends to the Jurassic period. Kids who are interested in magic may wish to write a story about wizards and warlocks.

Older students may enjoy writing in the vein of their favorite authors.

A great way to overcome writer’s block is to write out, word by word, the opening page of a novel or story and, from there, proceed in an original direction.

The story that students end up writing is not the point. The point is to get them writing about something they’re excited about.

When the writing process is going well, writers enter what psychologists call a “state of flow.” In such a state, writers are so fully immersed in the writing process they lose their sense of time, cease being self-conscious, and experience a feeling of complete control and total concentration.

Creativity is intelligence having fun. By encouraging your kids to write stories, you also teach them to have fun learning.

Math Activities

There are math games tailored for kids of all ages. When trying to figure out math games for your children to play, it helps assess what level your child is at; grade 3 math activities are obviously different from grade 12 math activities.

It also helps to choose a game that fits well with your child’s unique learning style — a kinaesthetic (hands-on) learner is more likely to enjoy a hands-on game that involves lots of movement, whereas a visual leaner is more likely to enjoy a game that involves analyzing and rearranging three-dimensional shapes. If you have any questions about which games are best for your children, certified tutors know which games suit a child best.

One activity for young kids, for example, is Frog Leap. Frog Leap involves two simple steps: first the leap, then the measuring. A kid jumps like a frog (or any other kind of animal), then measures the jump with a measuring tape.

Perhaps one of the best and most stimulating math activities for students of all ages and abilities is chess. Playing chess with a tutor is another first-rate way for students to improve not only their capacities as mathematicians, but also their literacy abilities, memory and problem-solving skills, creativity, and foresight.

Eliminating Distractions

In order for students to engage fully in learning activities this summer, it helps to set up learning environments that are most conducive to their learning styles. Doing so means setting up spaces that are free of the things that distract them.

Limiting time wasted on the internet is also crucial. So too is setting break times, establishing set work hours, and constructing an efficient workplace set up.

Our certified tutors offer consistent and structured learning environments that are free of distractions. They understand what learning activities best suit your children’s learning style and educational goals and work with them accordingly, either online or in person, one-on-one or in learning pods.

Setting students up with a Prep Academy Tutor for the summer will help them stay intellectually engaged and more than ready to return to school in the fall.

The Benefits of Learning French as a Second Language

In Canada, where bilingualism is a lived reality for millions of people and an official federal government policy, the most obvious benefit of learning French as a second language is financial.

Being bilingual in French and English increases your career opportunities and earning potential. Bilingualism is required, or at least preferred, for a substantial number jobs in a variety of fields and industries — and not only in government.

Even if a job doesn’t require its employees to be bilingual, being bilingual never hurts. On the contrary, it increases an applicant’s chances of getting hired.

According to popular opinion, pursuing studies in STEM is the surest way to open up many lucrative career doors. But language, too, is in high demand. Degrees in English, Languages, Communications, and Journalism teach critical thinking and writing skills, which are necessary in many fields.

Students who graduate from post-secondary education with these skills are not only prepared to communicate effectively in the workplace, but they are also trained to analyze information in subjects they didn’t study, such as finance or IT, and communicate this information clearly. This gives them an edge up on students who graduate from STEM or STEM-related postsecondary programs, where communication skills aren’t prioritized.

There are many reasons why it is important build language skills in a bilingual country like Canada — as noted, learning French as a second language increases one’s chances of being hired, and can help you stand out from the competition in a job interview. But in addition to the economic benefits of bilingualism, there are also cognitive and social benefits.

In this article, we will explore all of the benefits of learning a second language, and provide some tips for how tutors can make learning a second language easier.

Cognitive Benefits of Learning a Second Language

In doctoral programs in the humanities, it’s traditional for students to learn a second language. The tradition makes a lot of sense: learning a second language is good for the brain. Bilingual or multilingual students tend to score higher on standardized tests, such as the MCAT, the GRE, or the LSAT.

In addition, learning a second language can improve:

  • Creativity
  • Focus and attention span
  • Memory
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Executive function (e.g. shifting, planning, and updating)
  • Critical thinking
  • Language sensitivity (the ability to distinguish languages you’ve never heard before)
  • Brain growth
  • Flexibility (the ability to shift between different mental states)
  • Ability to multitask
  • Listening skills

Furthermore, once you have finished learning a second language, it becomes easier to learn another. Learning a new language may help prevent cognitive decline in old age. And learning a second language can also improve proficiency in one’s native tongue.

It may seem ironic, but the discipline of mastering French grammar and French vocabulary can help native speakers of English understand their own language better.

Social Benefits of Learning a Second Language

In addition to the practical and cognitive benefits of learning a second language, there are many social benefits of being bilingual as well.

Learning a second language such as French increases social flexibility—the ability to adapt to new environments, read social cues, get to know more people, travel and work in more places across the globe, and switch between different social skill sets.

Learning a new language helps you see the world in different ways, from different points of view. Bilinguals, unlike monolinguals, are able to apply concepts and nuances that are unique to one language to another.

Moreover, bilingualism may also increase empathy; bilinguals may be better at suspending their own beliefs and emotions to concentrate on another person’s point of view.

Learning a Second Language Doesn’t Have to Be Difficult

The thought of learning a new language at the secondary level can be intimidating. It’s one thing to learn a language when you’re a child, the thinking goes, and quite another thing to learn a language during adolescence and afterward.

Although there is some truth to this, it’s very possible, and not as difficult as you might think, to master high school French even if you’ve never studied French before.

For anglophones living in Quebec, French tutors in Montreal offer one-on-one lessons, in person and online, and can help unlock the benefits of learning a second language for kids who don’t speak French at home.

Unlike in a typical high school classroom, where French teachers tend to prefer one teaching method over others and assign the same homework to all students, in-person and online tutors in Ontario and Quebec customize their teaching style and assigned work according to students’ particular needs and expectations. Expert language tutors provide a safe learning environment where students can make mistakes and build their confidence without fear of judgment. Tutors understand the pedagogy of linguistics and can incorporate modern methods for language acquisition into private lessons.

Fluency Means More than Academic Success

It’s important for students who understand the value of learning French as a second language to understand the difference between academic success and fluency.

Though academic success in French is valuable, a handle on grammar, vocabulary, and literacy will only get a student so far. Being fluent in French means being able to speak and engage with native French speakers, navigate French places and countries, and understand French customs and social norms.

The best way to become fluent in French is to not only study the language academically, but also to immerse yourself in the language. But it can be quite difficult for native English speakers in Ontario, and even native English speakers in Quebec, to find opportunities to converse in French, but French tutoring in Toronto can help give students the opportunity to converse in French without the fear of making mistakes, with the goal of becoming fluent.

Most people in the world speak more than one language. In North America, however, it’s quite common to speak only one, and Canadian students outside of Quebec are often at a disadvantage when it comes to mastering French as a second language.

The one-on-one support offered by a French tutor can play a crucial role in helping students gain practical fluency, so if you are interested in giving your kids access to the benefits of learning a second language, call Prep Academy Tutors today.

Online Learning Could Be Here to Stay in Ontario

In Ontario, it has been over a year since students started pursuing their education online. But now that more and more people in Canada are being vaccinated and schools at all levels and in all provinces and territories are preparing a return to in-person classes in the fall, it may appear as though the days of online learning are ending.

The more likely result, however, is a hybrid approach that a hybrid approach is the way of the near future. However much parents and students alike might be dreaming of having things go back to normal, online learning might be here to stay in Canada.

In Manitoba, for instance, the government is actively working to enable universities and colleges to develop more sophisticated and engaging remote-learning models with the intent of improving the quality of online learning now and in years to come.

Manitoba recently made public its better education starts today (BEST) document, as well as the contents of the Education Modernization Act, and the K-12 review. BEST is a list of provincial takeaways from the past year, and it looks favourably upon online learning. According to the document, “Expanding access and capacity for high-quality remote learning improves our resilience moving out of the pandemic and provides greater flexibility.”

The hurdles of online learning will be tough, though not impossible, to overcome, and our professional online tutors can help.

The Bumpy Acceleration of Online Learning

This past school year has seen more drop-outs and lower student engagement and performance rates. Not only that, but stress, anxiety, and rates of depression have increased among students and teachers alike. These statistics have much to do, of course, with the pandemic — mental well-being has been hard hit throughout the country — but online-learning on its own is also partly to blame.

If online learning is here to stay, government and school boards will need to devise proactive ways of improving the quality of remote education, and parents need to search out online tutoring tips that can help kids keep learning under remote conditions. Doing so may mean drawing from best practices and solutions outside of Canada.

A case can be made that online learning is an inevitable step in education, and that the COVID-19 pandemic has simply accelerated the move toward online learning models. Student demand for remote learning has greatly increased over the past school year, and a hybrid online and in person learning model will, ideally, combine the benefits of in person learning with the benefits of online learning.

Professional online tutoring in Toronto and other Canadian cities has been one example of this, helping students get the extra help they need from the safety of their own homes.

Can Online and In-Person Education Be Complementary?

The benefits of in person learning are well documented. An in-class environment is far less distracting than an at home learning environment, where students are often free to do what they please.

In-person learning also makes it easier to develop close relationships with teachers. Students can better learn from the body language of a teacher when they share a classroom together. Students in class have easier access to school materials.

Students also benefit socially by interacting with other students in class, doing group projects, and spending time with students at recess and in hallways or the cafeteria. Indeed, the social benefits of in person learning are not to be underestimated.

This may be why students who complete their course in classroom settings do so at a much higher rate than students who learn remotely, and some students feel more comfortable and accustomed to learning in a classroom than elsewhere.

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But there are also many benefits to online learning, especially when supplemented by tutoring in Hamilton or Toronto that gives kids one-on-one learning time with an educator.

With online learning, students who live far away from campus don’t have to spend hours commuting to and from school grounds five days a week. Students with disabilities can sidestep the difficulties inherent to navigating campus facilities, many of which do not adequately meet their needs.

Sick students who by showing up to class risk making other students sick can participate in class (if they’re not too sick) from home. Mature students with jobs or families have an easier time fitting online learning into their busy schedules.

Online learning may benefit students at the post-secondary and post-graduate levels most. One recent study has shown that MBA students benefit from online learning in a variety of ways.

According to a case study in which more than 100 students enrolled in prestigious online MBA programs were asked to share their perceptions and thoughts on the pros and cons of online learning, a commonly shared sentiment among the students was that they highly valued the experience of virtual teaming because it prepares them for today’s global business environment.

Online Learning: A Parent’s Perspective

It’s not only students who recognize the benefits of remote learning, however: parents also see value in online learning — a fact that may come as a surprise for parents who are burned out after a year of Zoom school.

The difficulties of parenting students who learn remotely are well documented. It has been remarkably difficult for parents to provide educational support to their children while working full or part time jobs. However, parenting students who learn remotely does have some benefits.

With online learning, parents have more time to spend with their children; family time has increased. Not only that, but parents — especially parents who help their children build structure and routine — enjoy the pleasure of watching their children develop more confidence in their ability to work alone.

Parents of adolescents enjoy watching how their children’s increased confidence in their learning abilities has in turn helped them discover themselves. More flexibility in their children’s schooling has helped parents better understand how their child’s unique learning styles interact with the curriculum.

Perhaps the hybrid in-person and online learning model of the future will benefit education in ways that were unimaginable before the onset of the COVD-19 pandemic. It is likely, however, that some adjustment will be needed, and tutoring can play a significant role in this process.

If you want to find out more about how tutoring services can help manage the transitions between online and offline learning, get in touch with Prep Academy Tutors today.

Spring Cleaning Your Child’s Digital Learning Space

Before March, 2020, staying organized for school at the K-12 level largely meant keeping papers, textbooks, and school supplies organized in binders, backpacks, lockers, and desks. Now with online schooling, much organizing is done digitally, on computers. To stay prepared for online learning, students must learn how to keep their computers organized and clean.

Healthy (digital) organizational habits are essential for online learning. Such habits keep kids focused and in charge of their studies. Computers can quickly become a disorganized mess of intangible documents that get lost in the digital void.

The sooner a student learns healthy digital habits, the better. These habits will set them up for success now and in the long run, in school and in the workforce. Staying digitally organized can mean the difference between meeting a deadline and missing it by a week.

Organizing PDFs and organizing physical papers are very different endeavours, however. Parents who grew up in an analogue world are sometimes at a loss when it comes to teaching their children healthy digital habits because their children are more familiar with digital devices than they are. To them, laptops and smart phones are second nature.

But here are some of the essential online learning tips and hygiene hacks that will make learning easier and studying less stressful.

Backing Up Your Computer

Anyone familiar with the state of education in Ontario knows that for months students have no choice but to do their schooling online. For students doing online learning at school and/or with one-on-one tutors (many students in Ontario have sought help from tutoring services in Toronto and Mississauga and Hamilton), the first step to ensure an organized computer is to back it up.

Backing up a computer is the digital equivalent of photocopying documents and safely keeping them in storage. Doing so will ensure that if a computer faces problems, its documents and data will be safe.

Those who are at a loss for how to back up a computer can seek help from IT experts online. But learning how to back up a computer on your own isn’t as daunting a task as it may at first appear.

Backing up a Mac is different than backing up a PC. For both, however, there are three primary options:

  1. Back up to an external drive
  2. Back up to the Cloud
  3. Back up over the Internet

Back Up a Computer to an External Drive

Backing up a computer to an external drive requires using a computer’s built-in back up features to upload files to an external USB hard drive.

The process is quick and affordable, but keep in mind that an external USB hard drive is a physical object that, like all other physical objects, can be stolen, lost, or destroyed.

Back Up a Computer to the Cloud

“The Cloud” refers to servers accessible online, as well as the databases and software that run on these servers. Backing up on the Cloud is like backing up the computer to an external USB hard drive. The difference is that the Cloud is a digital thing that can’t get lost or broken.

Backing up a computer to the Cloud is often free if you need to back up only a few gigabytes of space. Backing up a lot of data usually costs money and the process can be more complicated than backing up the same number of gigabytes to an external USB hard drive.

Back up Over the Internet

Different online services are available to those who would prefer to back up their computer to the Internet. These services, which typically require a monthly fee, automatically back up your data and files to the server’s web storage.

The benefits of backing up a computer to the Internet are similar to the benefits of backing up a computer to the Cloud. The downside is that backing up your computer to the internet typically costs money.

If you want to be extra safe, you can protect your files and data by using all three methods.

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How to Neatly Organize a Computer

Beyond backing up a computer, there are simple ways of keeping computers neat and tidy and ideal for online learning or tutoring. There’s no one size fits all method of organizing, but typically developing healthy digital learning habits starts with organizing documents into folders.

Folders

Making folders to separate schoolwork is always a good first step. To separate schoolwork or online learning from everything else, create a folder called “School,” and organize this folder into subfolders according to course and semester, for instance. Then further organize each course according to week and/or assignment.

School à 2021 Spring Semester à English à Week 8 à Midterm paper à 2nd draft

Doing this will ensure that kids never lose track of assignments, and makes it easier for you to keep tabs on their progress.

Avoid Clutter

Avoiding clutter on your computer starts with sorting documents of all kinds into their proper folders. It also means keeping your desktop screen clean. Doing so demands organized digital instincts and knee-jerk reactions that may take some effort to cultivate.

Rather than unthinkingly dragging a PDF that you download from an email onto your already cluttered desktop, for instance, immediately drag the PDF into its proper folder upon downloading it. Leave only a few, if any, items on your desktop screen.

Organize the Web

Keeping a clean computer involves more than just keeping a clean desktop and a simple folder filing system. It also means bookmarking websites according to their purpose.

If a student visits one website for school, another for sports updates, and another for their part-time job, for instance, they’re best off sorting these websites into corresponding bookmarks: School, Sports, Job.

Keep the Computer Physically Clean

Computers themselves are physical objects, and physical objects get dirty. Unlike a car, however, you can’t clean a computer with soap or water. Instead, you can treat it with cleaning products designed for computers (as well as tablets and smart phones).

Make sure you check a cleaning product to see if it’s computer-friendly before using it on a computer. Treating a computer with products not meant for computers can cause serious damage.

And don’t forget to sanitize the keys. Research done by the University of Arizona found that the average desktop has 400 times more bacteria than the average toilet seat. Cleaning the keys with the right tools not only benefits the computer, it also can prevent you from getting sick.

How to Prepare Kids for Future School Closures

Due to the pandemic, many students have fallen behind, lost interest, or even left school altogether, and despite the herculean efforts of parents and education professionals, grades and attendance have gone down while drop-out rates have gone up.

But the situation is not all doom and gloom. With more and more vaccinations becoming available, and new strategies for reopening schools, there appears to be a bit of light at the end of the tunnel: many schools either have partly reopened or are set to partly reopen soon.

Doing so may not be as dangerous as one thinks. Recent studies indicate that countries where schools have remained closed have not had more success at reducing the spread of COVID than countries where schools have opened.

If reopening schools proves to be relatively safe, the return to the classroom will mark the end of a uniquely difficult period in history and the beginning of a new era — the “new normal” — that will ideally empower children to catch up in school and excel.

What Will Schools Look Like in the New Normal?

It’s tough to predict what the new normal will look like for education, but experts recommend cautious optimism. Given the slow rollout of the vaccine, the fact that children are last to be vaccinated, and the new strains of the virus that are emerging across the globe, the new normal may not be as different as one would hope. And even if the most optimistic forecasts are true, students will still struggle with catching up.

Schools will have to go the extra mile to get their students back on track. Post-pandemic strategies at the K-12 may include spending extra time on complex areas, homing in on essential parts of the curriculum while abandoning others, and combining more than one subject into one class.

Different schools will have different strategies, of course, but all will share the same goal: make up for what has been missed.

One thing that is certain is schools will adhere to strict health policies designed to prevent health risks. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has put forward these guidelines for preventing community spread:

  • Prepare
  • Teach and reinforce healthy hygiene
  • Develop information sharing systems
  • Intensify cleaning and disinfectants
  • Monitor for absenteeism
  • Assess group gatherings and events—consider postponing non-critical gatherings and events
  • Require sick students and staff stay home
  • Establish procedures for someone becoming sick at school

This means that masks and social distancing procedures will probably remain in effect, and classrooms and hallways will likely be equipped with hand-washing stations. Students won’t share as many supplies as they did before the pandemic, and recess, lunchtime, and gym will be subject to restrictions. Classrooms and resources will have to be sanitized throughout the day.

School-based meals will become a more common resource. Students will have to remain socially distant inside and outside. To prevent overcrowding, students and staff will take turns coming to school and staying home. Students’ physical health will of course be monitored closely — so, too, will their mental health.

If all goes well, kindergarteners will no longer need to learn phonetics online, high school seniors will get to tour universities and colleges in person, and teachers will have the privilege of getting to know their students face-to-face, without a screen between them.

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How Parents Can Get Their Children Back on Track

Still, adjusting to the pandemic has required incredible fortitude and sacrifice. Parents have needed to be more proactive about their kids’ education than ever before. Without the routine offered by in-person schooling, they have had to ensure their kids adhere to a productive schedule, and they have had to minimize distractions without depriving their kids of enjoyment.

Many have had to do all of this (and more) while simultaneously working full or part time jobs and taking care of other family members as well as their own health both physical and mental.

The new normal may lessen the burden on parents who throughout the pandemic have struggled to get by, but extra resources will still be necessary. The online learning support resources that Prep Academy Tutors has made available will continue to be there to help, including our online tutoring in Ontario and in other Canadian provinces.

The vaccination process in the United States has been significantly faster than it has in Canada, and we have endeavored to keep pace with these developments through our tutoring services in New York by allowing for in-person tutoring and learning pods in communities where it is safe to do so.

We believe that these resources have proved to be beneficial to students, parents, and teachers over the past year, and we hope they will continue to provide vital support as schools reopen.

Cautious Optimism Going Forward

With the onset of the new normal, parents and children have every right to breathe a collective sigh of relief. But there are reasons why experts are advising caution.

Despite the comprehensive safety measures and guidelines the CDC and other health organizations have put forward, there is a chance that reopening schools will increase the spread of COVID-19, in which case schools will close again and parents and kids will return to the same position they’ve been in for the past year.

To prepare kids for the possibility of future school closures, it’s important that parents talk to them about what closure will entail, and how they can best prepare.

Preparing for the Possibility of School Closure

Last March, when schools and offices were just beginning to close and public health policies designed to prevent the spread of COVID took effect, it was impossible to predict how long the pandemic would take or what it would mean for education. No one was prepared for the many challenges lockdowns would pose to day-to-day life.

Since then, parents have learned how to provide their children an education in spite of the difficulties. This means that, if schools do close again, parents and kids are far more prepared to deal with the consequences than they were one year ago.

Tutors have been lifesavers for students of all ages. Canadian parents who’ve sought help from Toronto tutors as well as Americans who’ve sought help from similar resources in the States, are by now quite familiar with how beneficial these resources are.

Resources like learning pods will remain available in the short- and long-term future, regardless of whether or not schools open or close again. Parents can help their children understand that in a world with an uncertain future these resources are a constant they can count on.

The future of school is up in the air, but tutors will always be at the ready. If you want to find out more about the tutoring options in your city, or to learn more about our approach to tutoring, get in touch with Prep Academy Tutors today.

What are the Different Types of Learners?

Everyone learns differently. Students tend to excel at one type of learning more than others, and each type of learning comes with its advantages and disadvantages.

Certain styles of teaching suit different types of learners. At Prep Academy, we understand that for every students’ learning type, there is an ideal tutor. We play matchmaker to ensure your child is paired with a certified tutor who meets your child’s type of learning and allows your child to feel comfortable enough to take risks and flourish.

Challenges Different Learners Face Today

Pairing your child with the right tutor according to their learning type is even more important now than in recent years. Given the pandemic, teachers have been forced to deliver classes online, where they are less likely to identify what type of learner their students are.

As a result, students are not doing as well as they were last school year. The statistics are worrying. In Ontario, online attendance rates have decreased; so, too, have test scores. The Ontario School Board has reported that failure rates in courses are at 16% — nearly twice what they were last year. In Quebec, the statistics are even worse. Failure rates are three times higher than they were in 2019-2020.

Increased failure rates mean students are less likely to achieve high marks or the credits they need to graduate on time, and although school boards and teachers are making heroic efforts to adapt to the new normal as best as possible, students’ needs are not being met. The situation likely won’t improve until schools return to business as usual.

Our Certified Tutors Meet Today’s Challenges

Our certified tutors have the privilege of engaging with our students one-on-one, whether through online tutoring or in-person, and tailoring lessons according to our students’ type of learning.

Whereas school boards teach one size fits all curriculums, which inevitably benefit some types of learners more than others, our tutors help each pupil engage with schoolwork according to their highly individual learning needs.

In this way our certified provide tutors provide our students with a quality of education that schools, on their own, cannot.

The Four Types of Learners

As noted earlier, each student has their own unique way of engaging with and mastering a subject. Whereas one student is more likely to memorize a poem by turning it into song, for instance, another student is better off writing out the poem multiple times.

That being said, generally speaking there are four main types of learners:

  1. Auditory learners
  2. Visual (or spatial) learners
  3. Kinesthetic (or hands-on) learners
  4. Writing and reading learners

Auditory learners learn most about a subject by hearing someone speaking about it, and by speaking about it themselves (especially in groups). Visual learners, by contrast, prefer diagrams, graphs, and other visual aids. Kinesthetic learners learn by doing. And writing and reading learners learn by writing and reading (typically on their own).

There’s more to the story, of course; learning isn’t that simple. Auditory learners, for instance, don’t only learn most about a subject through speech. Auditory learners also tend to be linear thinkers and sociable people. Group projects and presentations are especially helpful, as is reading aloud.

Writing and reading learners, by contrast, tend to be more introverted and better suited to individual projects. This makes them particularly well-suited to traditional pedagogical approaches. A book, some paper, a dictionary, and a quiet room constitute a writing and reading learner’s basic learning needs.

at home tutors

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Identifying What Type of Learner You Are

If you’re not sure what type of learner your child is, consider having your child take a National Learning Style Assessment.

It’s important that you understand what type of learner your child is. Doing so can increase your child’s learning potential, improve the ways your child studies, help them better understand who they are, and raise their confidence and grades.

Moreover, understanding what type of learner your child is should play a role in deciding what subject or field of study to pursue, as each learning style has its advantages and disadvantages. Writing and reading learners are often better off pursuing English literature or law, while kinesthetic learners are drawn more toward hands-on fields of study such as engineering or biology, or any subject that involves lab work or exercise.

Does your child excel at some subjects more than others? If so, this may indicate what type of learner your child is.

Understanding what type of learner your child is can also help him or her improve at a subject they struggle with by understanding the best ways for them to study it and providing the educational support they need to approach the material.

If your child is a visual learner, for example, having them highlight their notes with different colours can help them commit information to memory. Visual learners also tend to learn more in class when they sit near the front, where they can see their teacher better and not be distracted by other students in the room.

If your child is a kinesthetic learner, an uncomfortable chair can interfere with their studying more so than loud noises or people walking in and out of the room. Kinesthetic learners, unlike visual learners, are often better off sitting in the back of the class, where it’s more acceptable for them to move around.

A student’s learning type also depends to some degree on the subject they’re engaging with. Reading and writing learners may learn more about a piece of music by listening to it than they would by reading and writing about it. Auditory learners may learn more about the location of a country by seeing it on a map than by listening to a lecture about its geographical coordinates.

At Prep Academy Tutors, we understand how important finding the right fit is, which is why our tutoring services are designed to work with different types of learners to achieve the educational objectives outlined in the curriculum.

Our Tutors Meet Your Child’s Learning Type

Every student can learn with the right approach, and our math and English tutors in Toronto understand how important it is to understand your child’s learning type and employ a style of tutoring best suited to it.

Some of our English tutors employ Wilson Reading System, while others teach the Direct Instruction Reading Masters program, in order to improve reading comprehension for children of different ages. Some of our math tutors are schooled in JUMP Math, while others are trained in the Singapore Math philosophy. Our tutoring services offer the educational support your child needs.

Because everyone learns differently, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach, we approach tutoring with a personalized touch. Our certified tutors build personal bonds with your kids according to their unique needs. What matters most is that your child receives the best education possible, which is what our certified tutors do their best to provide.

If you want to learn about how our tutoring service helps different types of learners excel, get in touch with Prep Academy Tutors to find out more.

Calgary Education Options and What They Mean for Students

Due to the pandemic and the shift from in-person to online teaching methods, teachers now in Calgary lack the proper resources and time to properly educate students in reading and writing. Budget cuts to the Calgary Board of Education, combined with the pandemic, have delivered a double blow to teachers and students.

Classroom resources have decreased, while the average class size has increased by two or more students across the system. Meanwhile, school fee support and per-capita funding based on annual enrolment has gone up.

The ramifications of the double blow are worrying. Schools have less money, many classes have moved online, and parents and teachers alike are struggling to provide kids with the right resources and means for them to keep up and not fall behind.

The Crisis of Pandemic Learning

It makes sense that kids in Calgary, even the most studious and disciplined, are falling behind. At home, sitting in front of their computer, distractions are everywhere. And without the support of their peers, and cut off from shared daily routines, it can be hard to stay focused.

Imagine being thirteen years old and having to study for an English exam online, at home, with the internet at your fingertips! If American adults on average can’t help but check their phones over 90 times per day, how are kids in Calgary supposed to avoid distractions?

Although the long-term effects of the pandemic on students at all levels in Calgary are difficult to quantify, it appears that the pandemic has decreased students’ performance rates and lowered their interest in learning. They feel alienated from their teachers and their peers, from their assignments and the very purpose of an education. Without the personable attention a classroom provides, and without anyone to monitor their progress and look over their shoulders, students are left at sea.

Research done by the University of Alberta has shown that standardized reading assessment scores in Edmonton have gone down among students in grades one and two. Across the country, test scores as well as participation rates have decreased, while dropout rates have gone up.

Arithmetic rates, along with attendance rates, have gone down in Alberta, as well as the rest of Canada. In some cases, students have fallen behind as much as a full year. In Edmonton, students in grades 1 and 2 are now on average one year behind on reading tests. In Alberta, the reading ability of students in grades one through three are lower than before (the learning losses amount to six to eight months). Students all over the country now require more instruction, particularly in literacy.

online learning

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Academic Success Means More than Just Graduating on Time

Given these decreases, schools have had to adjust their expectations for student performance. The bar is lower than before. In Calgary and in other many schools across Canada, students are expected to do less work than they were before the pandemic struck. What matters, at bottom, is that they get through the semester and graduate on time.

But to get into a good post-secondary institution, of course, students must do more than graduate on time: they must meet certain baselines in academic achievement. The pandemic’s impact on schooling is particularly damaging to students in grades 11 and 12, whose grades determine which schools they can get into.

In the United States, universities including Cornell and Harvard have responded to the problem by making SAT scores no longer mandatory for admission. It’s yet to be seen how Canadian universities will adapt their admission requirements.

Fortunately, however, the situation in Calgary isn’t all doom and gloom: tutors in Calgary can step into the breach where the education system hasn’t been able to deliver.

English Tutors in Calgary

Literacy is key for excelling in school and in the workforce. It’s virtually impossible to get by without a strong ability to read and write, and the better your child is at reading and writing, the more opportunities they will have to succeed.

Without in-person attention from a teacher in a classroom, how are students supposed to improve their ability to read and write?

For better or worse, online learning is the new normal. So, it’s imperative that parents and children adjust as best they can. This is where our private online tutors in Calgary come in.

Tutors, especially nowadays, are invaluable resources. By working with students one-on-one, Prep Academy Tutors certified instructors provide the kind of English help in Calgary that the Calgary Board of Education is having an understandably hard time delivering.

At Prep Academy Tutors, our certified and experienced tutors work with students to ensure they receive an enriching education and learning experience that’s tailored to their unique needs and learning types, so that they can achieve success with online learning rather than falling behind.

The prospect of setting up your child with the right tutor can seem daunting. We work to pair your child with the tutor best suited to your child’s needs and learning type. Our certified English tutors are specialists in literacy who have the pedagogical knowledge to help kids overcome learning obstacles.

The right tutor will create a comfortable, low-pressure, one-on-one environment with your child that build’s your child’s literacy abilities and empowers your child to build confidence and accomplish academic goals.

Learning Pods

Another option for your child is enrolling in a learning pod.

A learning pod is a small group of students, typically between three to five, who meet with a certified tutor anywhere from two to four hours, three to five times per week.

A learning pod is more social than working with one-on-one tutors, so auditory learners, who tend to learn best in groups small and large, might benefit more with learning pods than with one-on-one tutors.

Our learning pods are safe, controlled, and consistent environments. Prep Academy English tutors in Calgary offer online literacy learning pods that, like our one-on-one tutors, match your child’s needs as well as your educational preferences.

If you’re interested in enrolling your child in a literacy learning pod, the first step is to create your own pod (groups of three to five students). The next step is for students to opt into the “online learning” option through their current school boards. Our certified teachers will then work to supplement the local curriculum materials with further explanations and reviews, in addition to what’s being delivered by the online teacher.

If you want to ensure your children get the education they deserve during this difficult time, get in touch with Prep Academy Tutors today!

Why Tutoring is More Important than Ever for New York Students

The coronavirus pandemic has been interrupting American life for a full year now, and exhaustion with the restrictions set in long ago. But it isn’t just the restrictions and lockdowns that are so frustrating — it is also the constantly changes around what is allowed and what isn’t.

Education is a prime example of this, and the one that most parents of school-aged children are having the hardest time with: when New York City announced at the beginning of January that schools would once again be moving classes online, it didn’t take long for hashtags criticizing the decision to start circulating online.

While opinion remains divided as to how New York State should strike the right balance between public safety and the needs of students, parents, and teachers, it is clear that the coming semester will be a rocky one. Even outside of New York City proper, suburban counties like Westchester are locked in a delicate dance around school closures and re-openings based on COVID-19 outbreaks.

This is why it is all the more important for parents to start exploring alternative ways of making sure their children don’t fall behind in their schooling due to zoom fatigue or lack of stimulation. Currently, one of the biggest issues with the state of education in New York is that students are having a much harder time accessing the learning supports that play such a big role in helping those who are struggling in their classes.

Because after-school study groups and educational extracurriculars have been curtailed, kids who need a more hands-on approach in order to master difficult subjects have been left to fend for themselves — which is why certified online tutors can be such a big help.

If you want to make sure that the chaos of this school year doesn’t do long-term damage to your children’s education, here are some of the ways private tutors are helping New York families get through the pandemic, and some of the things you should look for in a private tutor.

Tutoring: An Essential Learning Supplement for New York Students

Over the past months, school closures in New York have been followed by New York school reopenings and the promise of a return to something like normalcy. With the latest round of school closures, many students are finding it exceptionally difficult to get back into the rhythm of distance learning.

This is in part because remote learning requires a greater degree of discipline from students, one that has been severely eroded by coronavirus fatigue. Tutoring doesn’t require the same degree of mental effort because the tutors work on a one-on-one basis, meeting students where they are emotionally and psychologically.

Unlike a teacher trying to engage a twenty-person class over zoom, a tutor can:

  • Check in with a student about their wellbeing and the personal learning challenges they are facing
  • Provide affirmation and coaching
  • Discuss lessons and concepts in a back-and-forth way, so that the student can work through problems in their own words
  • Help develop personalized learning strategies that build off students’ strengths and account for areas of weakness
  • Act not as an authority figure but as a knowledgeable peer who empathizes with the student’s unique challenges and helps them work through course material in their own way and at their own pace

For most students, learning is most effective when it is a dialogical process. Exploring ideas, trying to find words to explain difficult concepts, having space to make mistakes — these things are all much easier when the student has a knowledgeable interlocutor to help them.

One of the reasons tutoring in Westchester NY can be such an important supplement to regular classes is that it puts the student and their needs at the center of the educational process, empowering them to focus on their unique challenges.

Find a Tutoring Service that Fits Your Life

The challenges of pandemic schooling have been aggravated by the fact that many parents don’t have the time to monitor their children’s schooling.

Working from home is already a stressful experience, and when you’re juggling your own zoom calls with cooking, housework, and shopping, you aren’t always able to check in to make sure your kids are paying attention to their lessons.

Finding a tutor who is flexible enough to work around your schedule and the schedules of your children is essential, which is why Prep Academy Tutors has expanded service options to help families get the educational support they need.

Before the pandemic began, our approach was built around offering home tutoring services that give children the freedom to learn in a safe and comfortable environment, and we continue to offer this service when and where it is appropriate to do so. In situations where safety measures make in-home tutoring impossible, out tutors offer personalized, in-depth lessons online.

We also provide our students with the option of learning pods so that children who prefer a more engaging and social learning environment can study alongside their friends and peers.

With pandemic life already a complicated balancing act between work, life maintenance, and self-care, we believe effective tutoring should not create added stress for students or parents, which is why our tutors do everything they can to tailor their approach to your scheduling needs.

Children and teenagers cannot afford to lose an entire year of their education to unengaging zoom lectures and experiments in remote learning that many experts believe are ineffective ways of delivering education outcomes.

For New York students to keep up during this difficult time, it is essential that they have hands-on help from tutors who can provide stimulating instruction, homework help, personalized feedback, and support that can actually empower them to keep learning.

Whether you’re looking for a private English tutor or the best math tutor Westchester NY has to offer, get in touch with Prep Academy Tutors to learn more about the services we offer today.

5 Tips for Preparing Students for Online Tests

Test-taking has always been one of the most stressful parts of being a student. With so much at stake and only a limited amount of time to complete the task, it’s no wonder that tests are a significant cause of mental health problems for secondary and post-secondary students.

These anxieties have, in many cases, only been heightened with the shift to online schooling. After having put years into basic test-taking skills, many students have had to adapt on the fly to a completely new format, adding one more brick to the wall of social isolation and anxiety that large numbers of young people already feel trapped behind.

Unfortunately, with the pandemic still raging and vaccinations for the general population still months away, it is likely that students can expect to take most of this semester’s exams and tests in person — a matter of particular concern for those in their final year of studies, when scores will likely determine university or college admissions.

To help maximize the efficiency of your study time, here are five tips that can help students sharpen their online test-taking skills and approach their upcoming exams with a greater degree of confidence.

1. Understand the Difference Between Online and Paper Tests

Over the past year, students and teachers have been confronted with the fact that moving classes online isn’t as simple as it might sound. Things are possible in a classroom setting that just don’t work over zoom, and this is true of test-taking as well.

Different school boards have different approaches to monitoring and proctoring online tests, so at the beginning of the semester it is a good idea to find out exactly how online tests will be administered so you can get your child ready for online tutoring that is geared toward the new testing format.

2. Familiarize Yourself with the Guidelines

One of the most common pitfalls for students unfamiliar with online test-taking formats has less to do with the test itself and more to do with figuring out how to properly use the software and make sure their work is actually registered by the system.

While some progress has been made in communicating to students what steps they must take if they are to successfully complete an online test, students and teachers alike are still acclimatizing themselves to this very different approach to sitting a test or exam.

In order to reduce anxiety and improve confidence before an online exam, students should make sure they understand how the software works and what is expected of them so they can focus on studying the course material itself.

3. Identify Strengths and Weaknesses

In some ways, of course, online tests are not significantly different from paper tests, and preparing for a unit test or exam should follow similar studying patterns.

One important aspect of this is identifying strengths and weaknesses so that you can get a private tutor in Calgary (if you live in Alberta) or an online tutor in Mississauga (if you live in the GTA) to help students master the parts of the curriculum they struggle with the most.

This goes beyond simply hiring the best English tutor in Toronto if a student is having a hard time with their English grades; it also means targeting the actual barriers to learning. For example, some students have an easy time understanding the concepts they are studying, but struggle to communicate them effectively in writing — understanding the significance of the play-within-a-play in Hamlet is not the same as being able to write a cogent five-paragraph essay about it.

A good English tutor can figure out what is holding a student back from achieving their full potential, and then teach them how to develop the concrete writing and critical thinking skills they need for long-term success.

4. Take Advantage of Test-Prep Resources

Education experts have long acknowledged that knowing how to take a test is just as important as understanding the material you are being tested on.

Test-taking is its own skill, and a student who knows the course material inside-out won’t necessarily get top marks if they aren’t also familiar with how tests work. This is especially true when students are switching to an online test, where it is easier to be distracted and lose track of time.

One of the best ways students can reap the benefits of online tutoring is by spending time on practice tests and then going over their results with a tutor who can identify where they went wrong and help them gain a better understanding of how the test works. This in turn will help them develop the distinct online test-taking skills they will need when exam season comes around.

5. Get Tutoring Help

Finally, one of the best things students struggling with particular subjects or topics can do is turn to online tutoring services for targeted support.

Tutors who have a strong knowledge of subjects like English, Math, or French and the pedagogical tools needed to help students overcome their learning obstacles can be a lifeline in the weeks leading up to an important exam.

Because tutors can provide personalized feedback, they make the studying process significantly more efficient, and can help students develop their online test-taking skills. Not only will this help them attain a firmer grasp on the material, it will also help them become confident enough to vanquish their exam anxiety.

Many education experts believe that the coronavirus pandemic will dramatically re-shape how schooling functions in the future, and it is likely that online testing is here to stay. This makes it all the more important to master essential online testing skills now, so students are prepared for a future in which taking exams on their laptop is the norm rather than the exception.

If you don’t want to make academic success a matter of trial and error, invest in professional test preparation training from Prep Academy Tutors today.