Evaluating the Effectiveness of Your Home Learning Plan

In Canada and around the world, parents have faced unprecedented difficulties over the past eight months as they have adjusted to a world of home education and distance learning. And with cases spiking across the country, there seems to be no end in sight.

Fortunately, ordinary people are rising to the challenge and finding creative solutions to education at home. From learning pods to hybrid online-offline education, parents are working hard to ensure that their children have a home set-up that is conducive to learning.

But in order to be truly effective, home learning arrangements need to be tweaked from time to time. It is important to be responsive to the evolving needs of children — particularly young children who may not be able to articulate frustrations with their learning environment in a straightforward way.

To this end, this article will provide a few points to help you figure out whether your home learning set-up is working or not, with some recommendations for giving your children the support that will help them focus at home throughout the coming academic year.

Home Learning Problems: How to Spot the Warning Signs

Even in the early days of the pandemic, it was clear that some students were coping better than others. Every child is different, and in a single family there can be wildly divergent responses to learning from home.

Home Learning Problems

But if a child is struggling to keep up, or isn’t being sufficiently stimulated, or is simply bored of the material, there are generally a few consistent signs that learning isn’t happening. Here are some of the most common:

  1. Non-Attendance: as the pandemic rolls on, a growing number of students are failing to show up for their classes or submit homework. While truancy is often talked about as a disciplinary issue (and can simply reflect a desire to avoid schoolwork), it can also be a sign that kids are in over their heads and feel unable to keep up.
  2. Acting Out: Kids act out in all kinds of ways for all kinds of reasons, but researchers who study learning have found that children having a hard time in school often express it in roundabout ways, through aggression or attention-seeking behaviours.
  3. Listlessness: It’s easy to get into a rut when many of the leisure activities children rely on under normal circumstances are no longer available, but this is often exacerbated when kids are also facing an intellectual block of some kind.
  4. Spending too Much Time on Homework: It might seem counter-intuitive, but sometimes an overly assiduous attitude toward homework can actually be a sign of trouble, especially if this represents a departure from previous patterns of behaviour. If your child is spending hours a day on school-related tasks, this may be because they are completely overwhelmed.

Even under normal circumstances, it can be hard to tell the difference between ordinary frustrations with school and actual learning issues. But if your child is exhibiting any of these four behaviours, you may want to get in touch with their teacher for a second opinion.

How Tutoring can Help

One of the challenges of dealing with learning difficulties under the present conditions is that resources are already spread very thin.

On top of planning and teaching classes, teachers are in many cases responsible for ensuring a safe classroom environment and may have underlying conditions that keep them from being able to fully participate in school life during the pandemic. Teaching and support staff, already stretched thin before the pandemic, are not always in a position to offer extra help.

Unfortunately, in order to engage in effective learning, children really do need at least some one-on-one support from educators who can explain difficult concepts and provide the kind of nuanced feedback they need to make real progress.

For this reason, this might be the time to find your local tutor for subjects like Math, Science, French, and English so your children are able to get supplementary, personalized lessons that will complement what they are learning in the regular curriculum.

Instead of hoping it will all blow over so things can go back to normal soon, it only makes sense to start adapting to this reality now. With no end to the pandemic yet in sight, some education experts are advising that a mix of distanced learning and tutoring may be the future of homeschooling for all children.

Prep Academy Tutors is working hard to connect skilled tutors with children who need one-on-one or small group learning support during the pandemic, so look into the options available in your city for professional online and in-home tutors to see what kind of support may be available for your family.

Even at the best of times, kids struggle to keep up with their lessons and fall behind at times. To some extent this is simply normal for children of all ages, and shouldn’t be stigmatized. But for some children, the pandemic has created a perfect storm of isolation and anxiety that is only compounded by the difficulty of adapting to new learning styles, and in such situations an intervention may be necessary.

Evaluating the effectiveness of your learning plan, and adjusting it based on changing circumstances, is essential if you want to help your children make the best of this difficult time.

In some cases, bringing in added support in the form of tutoring may be one way to provide them with extra educational support. If you are interested in knowing more about how to find out about what tutoring services are available in your area, get in touch with Prep Academy Tutors today.

Keeping Students Focused with Homeschooling

Online learning and homeschooling are our new normal, which is why it’s essential to ensure that students have all the tools and resources they need to thrive in a remote learning environment.

As it stands right now, primary students and their parents are choosing between in-class and online learning. Prep Academy Tutors offers online tutoring services and small group tutoring to help students adjust to this new normal.

The reality is that parents are at different comfort levels when it comes to sending their students back to school, and more are turning to learning pods and other homeschooling alternatives to help continue their child’s educational journey.


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Addressing the Question of Distractions

Distractions are not exclusive to home learning, as students can get distracted both in-class and at-home. Distractions are everywhere, which is why we provide personalized tutoring services. Our tutors teach students in a way that they will understand and provide them with the tools they need to set and reach their academic goals.

It’s a common misconception that homeschooling or online learning is ineffective due to home distractions. The reality is that all students learn differently, and many can thrive learning in a more flexible, remote environment.


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Common Distractions

While there are distractions everywhere, the home does pose some unique distractions for students. The good news is that, with the help of parents, teachers, and tutors, students can learn to focus and stay on task despite these environmental factors.

Some of the common distraction’s students experience learning from home include:

electronics icon Electronics: Students have more access to technology when learning at home. It’s important to monitor access to technology and set boundaries.

people icon People: Having everyone at home —parents, grandparents, and siblings alike — can distract students who want to spend time with their family or find it hard to focus when others are around.

procrastination icon Procrastination: When students procrastinate, even leaving a room to get a glass of water can be a distraction. When procrastinating, students will use everything as a reason not to tackle the task at hand

noise icon Noise: While some students may learn well with background noise, others can get distracted by noise from the television, room chatter, or general bustling. Consider the ways you can accommodate for the noise level that your student requires to be productive. 


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Limiting Your Student’s Distractions

The good news is that long time homeschooled students, and remote workers alike, have learned how to best combat the common distractions experienced at home to maximize their productivity.

With the right tools, students can thrive by learning at home. A CCHE study revealed that homeschooled students score 15 to 30 percentile points higher than public school students on standardized academic achievement tests.


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Technology Limitations:

Technology is becoming essential to students’ everyday learning due to the new normal of online education. That said, being on the computer can cause a student’s attention to waver.

The good news is that there are a few ways you can limit this distraction. Depending on how your student learns best, you can either block certain websites for specific periods or allot break times so that your child can look forward to 10 to 15 minutes of free time on the internet at certain hours.

It is up to you how you limit your child’s internet usage. There is no one-size-fits-all approach, so work with your child to identify the most effective solution for them.

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Setting Break Times:

According to Edutopia, breaks can help to improve your child’s focus. A 2016 study revealed that while young students struggled to stay on task, shorter lessons kept their attention high. Ultimately, students can focus better during shorter pieces of time offset by breaks.

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Establish Set Working Hours:

A lack of structure can be distracting and make it hard for students to focus on a task. Allotting specific hours to work can help students better focus, as they will know to dedicate the time to schoolwork.

Setting this schedule can also help other family members to better plan their routines.

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Establish a Workplace Set-Up:

One of the best ways to prepare your student for online learning and uninterrupted homeschooling is to ensure they have everything they need at their desk.

Consistently leaving a work area to find resources like textbooks, calculators, or water, can be distracting and hard for students to sit and dive into their work. Establish a workstation away from common areas with all the resources your student needs to work and be productive.

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Private Tutoring:

The adjustment to what education and learning are looking like in our new normal can be daunting and, in many ways, distracting for students.

Working with a private tutor like Prep Academy Tutors can help provide your student with the resources they need to fill in any gaps in their knowledge, form good habits for learning at home, and help them better adjust.

We offer flexible and personalized tutoring that caters to the needs of your student. We like to act as a smart friend who can relate with your student and explain things in a way they will understand.


Prep Academy Tutors Private Tutoring Services

Prep Academy Tutors is your source for professional private tutoring services across Canada. We know that the transition to remote learning is challenging for students, which is why we offer personalized tutoring services to ensure that every student is getting the tools and resources they need to succeed academically and maintain confidence in their abilities.

Remote learning offers ample flexibility. Our tutors work with your schedule to ensure that your student is getting the educational support they need when they need it — including tools to adapt to our new normal.

We accommodate your needs and can provide either online tutoring or small group tutoring based on your schedule. Consider how private tutoring can help your student succeed in a remote online learning or homeschooling environment.

Get in touch with Prep Academy Tutors today to get paired with any of our experienced tutors. Our tutors are certified teachers and subject matter specialists who teach based on the current curriculum.


How Students in Ontario Can Master High School French

Because Canada is a bilingual country, acquiring a high level of French fluency while in high school can be an essential stepping stone toward careers in politics, public service, academia, law, and medicine — not to mention unlocking incredible opportunities for travel and personal development outside of work. 

But for parents raising kids in heavily Anglophone parts of the country, like Western Ontario, it can be hard to know how to make dreams of bilingualism a reality.

After all, the nature of Canada’s education system is such that the resources available in some areas — French immersion programs and robust community support for language learning — simply aren’t available in others.

If you want to help your high schooler get the most out of their French curriculum and achieve the kind of fluency that will prepare them for success in university and the workplace, here are four ways you can help them tap into their full language-learning potential.

1. Get Extra Support

Probably the first thing you need to understand about your child’s high school French curriculum is that it is not really designed to produce students who are able to communicate like native French speakers. Instead, it is meant to provide a strong foundation in the kind of skills students can learn most easily outside a French-speaking context — grammar and writing being the most significant.

This means that helping students really master French is generally going to require doing additional language-learning outside of school.

This isn’t always easy: in Toronto’s downtown core, there is significant access to French language cultural institutions that can help you enhance your child’s education prospects, but in other parts of the GTA they are not so readily available. 

For this reason, you may need to consider engaging private help to provide the educational boost that one-on-one conversation and grammar work with a French expert can provide.

A private tutor can provide many benefits for people learning French as a second language, including but not limited to:

  • Targeted support that deals with individual learning obstacles
  • One-on-one help that lets students move at their own pace
  • A safe environment where students can make mistakes and build their confidence without fear of judgement
  • Expert education help that understands the pedagogy of linguistics and can incorporate modern methods for language acquisition into private lessons. 

Fortunately, if you are looking for a French tutor in Mississauga we can put you in touch with highly qualified instructors who can help your child get the extra support they need.

2. Understand the Difference Between Academic Success and Fluency

In Ontario, most students who are not from Francophone families will first encounter French when they start school. While access to primary and secondary education in the French language is one of the key benefits of living in a bilingual country, the downside is that young students quickly come to think of French as a subject of study rather than a mode of communication.

While it is certainly true that academic success in French is extremely important — and language acquisition unquestionably relies on intensive, rigorous study — a language is a living thing, and simply memorizing vocabulary and conjugation patterns will never get you to full fluency.

This is why it is important to find opportunities for more creative language use outside of school. This could mean getting involved in an extra-curricular language club, or it could mean finding a pen-pall to communicate with via social media.

One of the major advantages of learning French in the twenty-first century is that it is easier than it has ever been to find authentic French language resources on the internet, and to gain exposure to French film, television, and news outlets online, no matter where you live.

If you want to augment your school’s language curriculum and go beyond academic mastery of the language, here are a few helpful tips for engaging with French on your own time:

  • Public screenings of French films (or watching French movies online)
  • Following French language accounts on social media
  • Reading national news stories in both languages
  • Reading French translations of your favourite books

A good education plan will involve both tips to improve your SSAT scores and maximize your chances for getting into a good post-secondary program and providing you with the tools you need to communicate effectively with native speakers.

3. Make it Social

Unless you’re studying a dead language like Latin or Ancient Greek, you will never be able to attain fluency on your own. Languages are inherently social, and language acquisition relies on a number of social factors — not least of which being a student’s opportunities to engage with other people who speak the language they are trying to learn.

Students now have an unprecedented number of options for learning not just French, but any major language they have an interest in. Education apps like Duolingo and Busuu make it possible to study your language of choice in engaging and stimulating ways whenever you want, wherever you want.

But while these apps can play an important role in increasing exposure and helping you master new vocabulary, without regular interactions with other language students or native speakers, there is a hard ceiling limiting how far you can go if these are your only language-learning tools.

This can pose a problem, especially for students who don’t have the option of spending summers in a French-speaking environment or attending French-language summer camps. As many experts have noted, because of the social interactions that come with it, immersion plays an outsized role in helping students become confident and practiced in a new language.

Without opportunities for immersion, it can be extremely difficult to truly attain fluency. So what should people with limited options to use French in their daily lives do to overcome this obstacle? 

There are no easy answers to this question, but it is important to remember that fluency and academic success is a team game — and if you’re going to succeed, you need to find a team. Tutoring is helpful not just because it gives kids an opportunity to correct their mistakes and practice their speaking, but also because it can help them plug into a wider network of language learners who can help them find out about French language speaking opportunities that exist in their own communities.

Languages are social tools, so building a community of language learners who will help you use that tool in social ways is essential if meaningful language acquisition is actually to take place.

4. Do a Little Every Day

Probably the best piece of practical advice for language learners is also the simplest: do a little bit of work every day. Time and time again, research has shown that there is simply no substitute for steady, incremental progress in language learning, which is why it is so important that students practice their French every day — even if it is only for fifteen minutes to half an hour.

When you learn a second language, you are essentially reprogramming your brain, and this takes time. Apps and services that promise to help you become fluent in a matter of weeks are making an impossible pitch, for the simple reason that it takes most of us years to be able to meaningfully communicate in our own language, let alone a second one.

This shouldn’t be discouraging: like physical fitness, the key is to make language learning part of your routine, so it becomes as familiar and comfortable as the drive to school. Just like exercise, problems tend to come when the routine is disrupted.

One of the reasons why tutoring has proven to be such an effective method for helping people learn new languages is that tutoring builds language learning into the schedule of every week, increasingly the likelihood that students will keep up with their homework and continue to learn a little bit every day.

If you want to learn more about us and how our approach can help your kids improve their French, and even achieve fluency by the time they graduate, get in touch with us today to find out how our unique, hand’s-on approach helps students build confidence and master the studying techniques that will help them become independent learners.

More than simply increasing earning potential or giving students a shot at getting into better schools, learning a second language is one of the great intellectual pleasures of a fulfilled life — a good that is worth pursuing for its own sake.

If you want to give the gift of bilingualism to your children but are worried that you don’t have the necessary skills or tools, call Prep Academy Tutors today!

Why Calgary Parents Should Get Their Children Extra Help with English

If you live in Calgary and have children in the public school system, there is a good chance you have already heard about the recent government cuts that will be hitting the Calgary Board of Education starting in 2020.

Many teachers have already warned that these cuts could have a negative effect on the quality of education Calgary schools are able to offer, and while the education system as a whole will likely be able to absorb this unforeseen budgetary shortfall, individual students may be seriously impacted.

This is likely to be a special concern for people with children at critical stages of development, who are trying to master vital skills like literacy.

As recent reports out of Ontario have shown, provincial education systems across the country are struggling to impart basic life skills like literacy and numeracy, and employers are starting to worry that even students coming out of higher education institutions like universities and colleges often struggle to read and write at a sufficiently high level to achieve success in the workplace.

So what can parents do to make sure their kids don’t fall behind? English is a bedrock skill for Canadian students, one they will rely on every day of their personal and professional lives, and it is important to make sure literacy development is not impeded by budget cuts.

Here are just a few reasons Calgary parents should consider getting extra literacy help for their kids during this difficult time.

1. Literacy is a Gateway Skill

Imagine to yourself, if you will, what your daily routine would be like if you couldn’t read or write. Think about the thousands of small transactions and interactions that are only possible for you because you are able to read street signs, follow directions, and understand menus.

Now think about what your knowledge of the world would be like if you couldn’t read books or understand written text.

Without the ability to read and write at a reasonably high level, it is very difficult to attain a whole range of other skills and knowledge bases. Even in our media-saturate twenty-first century world, being able to understand the written word is fundamental.

Making sure your kids learn English at an early age can prime them for greater academic success later on, as it will empower them to follow their interests by reading books and web articles and exploring the world through the texts they encounter.

For this reason, you may want to engage an English tutor in Calgary if you want to ensure that your kids are getting the literacy help they need during critical stages of their development.

2. Learning to Read and Write can be Difficult

As anyone who has ever worked with a child learning to read or write knows, these tasks which come so naturally to us as adults actually take a good deal of time to learn as children. This is in part because the human brain is not hard-wired to read the way it is hard-wired to listen and speak.

Most children learn to read around the age of six, but there is a huge range of variance within what can be considered normal: some children are reading as young as four, but it isn’t unusual for seven- or eight-year-olds to struggle to understand basic texts.

Literacy is simply not something that comes naturally to every child, and one of the fundamental purposes of a primary education should be to help make sure that even kids who find reading extremely difficult have the opportunity to master reading and writing.

A great deal of research has gone into understanding how humans learn to read and write, and one of the reasons literacy rates are so high is because modern pedagogues have an unparalleled grasp on how to make literacy education effective and efficient.

Unfortunately, this requires that teachers have the time and resources to pay proper attention to each individual child, and this is something that becomes exponentially harder to do with each addition student who is added to the class.

Uniform education solutions simply don’t work when it comes to helping kids overcome personal barriers to learning, and as funding gets tight for Calgary schools, many of them will have fewer resources to offer the hands-on help children need.

One of the reasons why hiring a tutor to help your child improve their literacy skills is because tutors work with students on a one-on-one basis and provide the kind of personalized help that most children struggling to learn to read or write need.