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.
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.
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.
Helping Your Child Understand the Difference Between Median, Mean, and Range
In 2017, The Globe and Mail made waves by publishing a story reporting that half of all Grade 6 students in Ontario failed to meet provincial math standards as measured by the Education Quality and Accountability Office. These statistics showed a general decrease in math literacy across a range of different cohorts, and confirmed what many parents and educators already feared: that today’s children are falling behind when it comes to basic skills.
While it is hard to ascribe any single cause to such a notable dip in education outcomes, it is clear that the students of today are suffering from cuts to education and an increasingly sharp divide between schools that have adequate resources and those that don’t.
When you factor in the challenges many students already deal with when it comes to mastering the math curriculum (math anxiety is a problem that continues to affect a significant percentage of students), it is perhaps unsurprising that performance in math is starting to slip.
And while there are things you can do if you want to know how to overcome math anxiety or help your child engage with the math curriculum in more productive ways, improving your child’s math skills requires more than just exposure therapy: it requires intense one-on-one support that can help get your math questions answered so your child can learn to apply basic arithmetical concepts.
Tips for Teaching Median, Mean, and Range
One particular concept younger children are most likely to struggle with is the difference between median, mean, and range. One of the expectations set up by the Ontario math curriculum is that by the end of Grade 5, students will be able to calculate the mean, and understand how it relates to the median and range of a set of numbers. Not only is this a key part of the Grade 5 curriculum, it also features on the Grade 6 EQAO assessment of reading, writing, and mathematics.
Helping your child understand what these terms mean and how to apply them to problem solving is essential for their academic success, so if you they are having a hard time grasping these concepts, here are a few ways you can help them understand the difference between them.
For most of us, the concept of the mean, or “average,” is so familiar that it needs little explaining. But the concept of the mean isn’t nearly as intuitive for children, and helping them learn not just how to calculate the mean, but to understand the underlying principle, can take some work.
For example, if you have a set of six numbers (8, 12, 16, 14, 19, 7), you calculate the mean by adding these numbers up and then dividing by six. This will give you the average of the six values, 12.66. Children are often confused by the fact that this number is not part of the original set, which is why it is important, when teaching the mean, to stress that the average may be a seventh number that doesn’t appear in the original set of six.
In some ways, the median is easier to understand, as it takes fewer steps to arrive at the median than to calculate the mean. The median is simply the middle value in a sorted list of numbers, so to find the median all you need to do is arrange the numbers in order from smallest to greatest, add up the total number of numbers, and count up to find the middle number.
The challenge when teaching median is often more about helping kids focus in school than it is about particular difficulties with understanding the topic. It is common for children to confuse mean with median simply because the sound similar, so remind you child that the mean is the “mean old average” while the median is the mid-point.
Simply put, the range of a set of numbers is the difference between the highest number and the lowest, and can be found by putting the numbers in order and subtracting the smallest value from the greatest.
When teaching the range, it is often easiest to compare it to a “window.” The numbers in the range are what you can see out of the window, and the range is the size of the window.
The Role of Tutoring in Improving Competence in Arithmetic
Concepts like mean, median, and range are foundational tools for understanding mathematics, and if your child is going to be able to keep apace with their curriculum, they will need to be able to master them early on.
Unfortunately, the most effective way to lock these concepts into long-term memory is by repeated exposure. While math tends to be a skill that relies heavily on logical thinking, understanding the terminology of math is a matter of memorization, and tutors can play a helpful role in providing your child with extra help in fully understanding the ideas behind mean, median, and range.
Because tutoring allows children to encounter concepts on their own terms, without the fear of looking foolish for getting a question wrong, it can play an important role in helping children come to grips with difficult material. And if you learn about our educational philosophy you will know that we encourage our tutors to see themselves as smart friends coming alongside students to help them learn at their own pace and in their own way.
Math is one of those skills that your child is going to use every day of their life, and basic numeracy is as important as literacy in terms of helping your child land a good job. Students who excel at math have a head start in the job market, and according to one study undertaken by researches at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody School, mastery of arithmetical concepts early on is a major predictor of success later in life.
If you want to make sure your child is able to buck the trend of declining math scores, call Prep Academy Tutors today to make sure they have the support needed to master their curriculum.
3 Literacy Challenges and How You Can Help Your Child Overcome Them
Few skills are as essential for a child’s development and success as literacy. Learning to read and write is one of the foundational building blocks of the modern education system, and students who fall behind in literacy are almost guaranteed to fall behind in most of their other subjects as well. After all, without reading and writing skills, how can children master subjects like history, geography, and social studies, which require strong reading comprehension and the ability to communicate one’s thoughts through writing?
While most parents would consider literacy to be one of the most essential aspects of a primary school education, however, evidence shows that in Canada, literacy is declining.
In 2017, the OECD international surveys of adult skills reported that despite having one of the largest working-age populations with tertiary education in the world, Canada’s literacy rate is dropping. This decline in practical reading and writing abilities among Canadians is a major concern, and speaks to a disconnection between levels of formal education and actual mastery of basic skills.
If you are worried about declining literacy rates and want to ensure that your child has the tools they need to become competent readers and writers, Prep Academy Tutors is here for you — we have extensive experience teaching a wide range of subjects, and will be happy to connect you with a tutor who can meet your child where they are and help them meet their learning objectives.
The good news is that, while learning to read and write is an area that many children struggle with, with these three tips for improving literacy skills and the help of a skilled tutor, it is one that is well within reach of everyone.
1. Ground Literacy in Everyday Tasks
Learning to read and write effectively involves developing a lot of distinct skills, and it is common for educators in the early stages to focus on discrete building blocks of literacy like phonics and the alphabet.
But this focus on formal aspects of language acquisition should be supplemented with exposure to the practical dimension of language-use. Literacy is about more than just knowledge: it is about a capacity to accomplish language-related tasks, and this requires an approach that roots reading and writing in everyday experiences.
One of the things you can do to help your child improve their literacy skills at home is by integrating practical reading and writing skills into the daily routine. For example, having younger children help with practical tasks like making shopping lists and reading recipe directions helps children engage with reading and writing in a way that is directly related to the world around them, and helps to instil a sense of the value of literacy.
2. Provide Personalized Help
As with any skill, on the path the literacy children are likely to meet regular plateaus. In situations like this, it can be important for them to have access to personalized, one-on-one help to overcome the obstacles they are facing. Unfortunately, this kind of individual attention is often not available in the classroom, which is why children may need extra help at home.
This can be difficult to do as a parent, and one reason you might want to find a tutor near you is because a tutor can provide the kind of targeted literacy support children who are struggling to get to the next level in their reading and writing.
3. Make Reading a Part of Life
Like all skills, literacy is something that can only be developed through practice. If a child is struggling with reading comprehension, the most effective way to help them improve is by encouraging them to read more. Unfortunately, according to the latest statistics from First Book Canada, an organization that works with educators and other partners to remove barriers to learning by creating equal access to education for children in need, a staggering twenty-five percent of Canadian households don’t have a single book.
This means that at least one in every four children are trying to develop reading and writing skills without having the basic tool needed to do so — books. And even parents who do read often struggle to pass the habit on to their children.
With so many entertainment options available, from Netflix shows to YouTube to video games to sports and other extracurricular activities, it can be hard to convince children that reading can be an equally rewarding activity, especially if they find reading difficult and uninteresting.
While there are no sure-fire ways to get kids to start reading more, here are a few things parents can do to help encourage children to make reading a regular activity:
Read to Your Child
One of the best ways to normalize reading when your children are young is by reading to them. This will not only help get them interested in stories, but it will also help establish reading as a worthwhile activity.
Follow their Interests
What a child is reading is less important than the fact that they are reading, so let your child follow their interests when picking reading materials. For example, if they are interested in sports, a biography of an athlete that is appropriate for their reading level may be a good way to get them engaged.
Go to the Library
If your child doesn’t seem interested in any of the reading materials you have recommended, taking them to a library and telling them to pick out five books is a creative way to delegate the exploration to them.
Get them Interested in a Series or Author
plenty of non-readers have been turned on to literature because they fell in love with Harry Potter or The Hunger Games. If your children like these films, use that as a springboard to get them interested in the books.
Ask their Teacher or Tutor for Tips
Teachers and tutors have a lot of experience helping children learn, so asking for their advice on what you can do to encourage literacy in the home is always a good idea.
Reading and writing are skills that most children will struggle with at one point or another. Indeed, many people will continue to develop as readers and writers throughout their lives, adding new words to their vocabularies and becoming more proficient written communicators.
The most important thing to instil young learners with is an appreciation for the importance of the written word, and the habit of reading for information and pleasure. It might not be possible to turn your child into a voracious reader overnight, but by grounding literacy in everyday tasks, providing personalized help, and encouraging a love of reading to take root, you can prepare your child for a life of continuous learning.
4 Ways Tutoring Can Help Your Child Get Into the Right University
Who doesn’t want their child to get into a good university or college? Getting into a top school can transform a student’s life, providing them with incredible resources and much better chances of success in their chosen career path.
But as any parent who has participated in the process themselves knows, admissions to top-tier universities is competitive. With tens of thousands of candidates and only a few spaces to fill, your child needs to be among the best of the best if they want to make the grade (Harvard’s admission rate, for example, is 6.5%). This means your child needs to be in the top ten percent if they even want to be considered, and will have to be better than 93.5% of their peers if they are to receive admittance.
Given how stiff the competition is, the students who get into elite universities often do so because they have started preparing for their application years in advance. Grades need to be consistently strong, extra-curricular activities need to be chosen strategically, and students need to be able to show that they can perform at the highest levels academically.
For this reason, it can be useful the hire Prep Academy Tutors to provide your child with bespoke tutoring options that can help them prepare for the rigours of university admissions. We meet students where they are, and our tutors work alongside them to help them meet their learning goals. If you want to know more about how hiring a tutor can give your child an edge, here are four ways tutoring can help your child ace their university admissions.
1. Tutoring is Both Rigorous and Personal
Tutoring isn’t just about passing on information; it is about engaging students intellectually to help them internalize what they are learning so they can build on this knowledge over the course of their academic life. The best tutors don’t just know the material well, they also know how to help a student master it on their own terms.
Expert teachers are at the heart of how our tutoring services work because we understand that effective tutoring requires the same kind of methodical, strategic approach that teachers use in the classroom. At the same time, a tutor isn’t just teaching to a class of one: tutors take advantage of the more informal, personal dynamic a one-on-one lesson allows to help students build confidence and develop their own problem-solving skills.
2. Tutoring can be Tailored to Each Student’s Needs
Every student is different, and every student has slightly different needs. One of the reasons children struggle in school is because the size and format of the typical public school classroom privileges a certain learning style. While Howard Gardner’s theory of Multiple Intelligences has achieved widespread support among educators, budgetary and logistical restrictions still conspire to give students with linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligence an edge.
Because tutors can use a one-on-one approach, they are able to help your child learn the material and prepare for standardized tests in a way that plays to their strengths. If you want to know more about our tutoring philosophy, check this out to learn about how our tutors turn pedagogical insights into tools like gamification to maximize educational outcomes.
3. In-Home Tutoring Provides Flexible Options
Universities are increasingly looking for students who aren’t just book-smart, but who also have a commitment to service and an interest in extra-curricular activities. This means that students angling to get into a good college or university should also be taking their involvement in organized sports, arts programmes, science fairs, and community volunteering seriously.
This puts a lot of students in a catch-22 situation: they need strong grades to even be considered for top schools, but they also need to prove that they have a well-rounded personality. When are they going to find time for all of this?
Private tutoring is a flexible alternative to the after-school tutoring offered by many high schools. When students are juggling dozens of commitments a week, tutoring needs to be adapted to the student’s individual schedule, even if that schedule changes week by week. Scheduling tutoring sessions for when your child is free ensures they can work on their grades while also working to strengthen other parts of their university application.
4. Don’t Just Learn the Material, Learn the Test
If your child is applying to study outside Canada, they will need to take one of the standard American admissions tests: the SAT or the ACT. Both of these tests are extremely demanding, and will play a major role in determining whether or not a student will be admitted to the university of their choice.
Both are designed to test a student’s general academic knowledge, but it is a well-known fact that studying strategies for taking the test is an important part of doing well on it. If you are considering any international schools it is important to find your local tutor early so they have adequate time to help your child prepare for the gruelling process of taking one of these standardized entrance exams.
When it comes to preparing your child for the rigours of university, there simply aren’t any shortcuts. If you want them to get into a top tier institution, you need to start preparing them for the hard work ahead now.
Because tutors meet students at their own level, tailor their approach to the student’s needs, and have the expertise to help not only with particular subjects, but with standardized tests themselves, they can play a vital role in helping your child achieve admission to the school of their choice.