Empowering Student Writing Skills: Strategies for Developing Strong Writers

Developing strong writing skills is vital in today’s education landscape, which places heavy emphasis on written expression in various styles and formats. Whether it’s essays, research papers, creative writing, or everyday communications, solid writing abilities are undeniably essential for academic success, personal growth, and professional opportunities. However, crafting a well-structured and engaging written piece can be a daunting task for many students, who often struggle with organizing their ideas, choosing the appropriate language, or ensuring grammatical accuracy.


In this article, we’ll explore effective strategies that parents, educators, and tutors can employ to help students develop their writing skills and tackle these challenges with confidence. We’ll also discuss practical approaches such as embracing the writing process, incorporating regular writing practice, providing constructive feedback, and teaching essential writing techniques. At Prep Academy Tutors, we are dedicated to fostering academic success and personal growth for students across North America through our personalized, in-home tutoring services, which emphasize the development of essential skills such as writing.


Strong writing abilities not only contribute to academic success but also unlock a world of creativity, expressive capacity, and critical thinking. By guiding students through the process of honing their writing skills, parents, educators, and tutors can equip them with the tools and confidence to succeed in various academic and professional spheres. Also, fostering an appreciation for the power of the written word can inspire a love of writing that lasts a lifetime, shaping students into gifted communicators and empathetic thinkers who can engage with diverse perspectives, beliefs, and experiences.


Empowering Student Writing Skills: Strategies for Developing Strong Writers

To support students in honing their writing skills and fostering confidence in their written expression, we present four practical strategies that parents, educators, and tutors can adopt in their instructional approaches.


1. Embrace the Writing Process

Introducing students to the writing process encourages them to approach writing tasks systematically, ensuring a clear structure, fluid argument, and engaging content.

– Teach students to brainstorm ideas and create outlines before writing, as this helps to organize their thoughts and establish a solid foundation for their piece.

– Discuss the importance of drafting and revising the work, emphasizing that writing is an iterative process that requires multiple drafts to refine ideas and polish prose.

– Encourage the practice of proofreading for grammatical errors and inconsistencies, teaching students to use resources such as dictionaries, thesauri, and grammar guides to perfect their work.


2. Incorporate Regular Writing Practice

Scheduling consistent writing practice allows students to develop their skills, experiment with different styles, and gain confidence in their abilities.

– Assign diverse writing activities that span various formats, such as essays, stories, poems, or journal entries, to familiarize students with different styles and techniques.

– Encourage students to set aside time for free writing, where they can express their thoughts and ideas without the pressure of adhering to specific guidelines or requirements.

– Offer opportunities for students to share their work with peers or family members, fostering a supportive and collaborative learning environment.


3. Provide Constructive Feedback and Guidance

Providing personalized and constructive feedback is essential in fostering students’ writing skills and guiding them toward improvement.

– Focus on the strengths and areas of growth in a student’s writing while offering specific suggestions for improvement, ensuring that feedback is constructive and actionable.

– Encourage students to reflect on feedback, evaluate their work, and make revisions accordingly, promoting a growth mindset.

– Develop a close relationship with your students as a tutor, building trust and rapport that will encourage them to ask questions and seek guidance on their writing development.


4. Teach Essential Writing Techniques

Equipping students with essential writing techniques empowers them with the tools necessary to craft compelling, well-structured, and engaging written pieces.

– Introduce students to prewriting techniques, such as mind mapping and outlining, to help organize their ideas and plan their writing projects.

– Discuss strategies for crafting strong introductions, body paragraphs, and conclusions, emphasizing the importance of clear topic sentences, cohesive arguments, and logical organization.

– Teach students various stylistic devices, including figurative language, imagery, and tone, to enhance their writing and effectively convey their intended message.


The Long-term Benefits of Strong Writing Skills

Cultivating strong writing abilities can lead to numerous benefits in a student’s academic and personal life:


1. Improved Academic Performance

Proficiency in written expression is essential for success in various subjects, as students are required to communicate their ideas in essays, research papers, and other written assignments.


2. Enhanced Communication and Critical Thinking Skills

Strong writing skills foster students’ ability to articulate their thoughts, analyze information, and synthesize diverse perspectives effectively.


3. Expanded Personal and Professional Opportunities

The capacity to communicate effectively through writing is valuable in various professional fields, opening doors to a wide range of career prospects.


4. Boosted Confidence and Independence

As students develop their writing skills, they gain confidence in their ability to express themselves, share their ideas, and engage with others in an effective and meaningful way.



Developing strong writing skills is an essential aspect of a successful academic journey and a cornerstone for personal growth and professional opportunities. By implementing the strategies discussed in this article, parents, educators, and tutors can effectively guide students in honing their writing abilities and cultivating confidence in their written expression. At Prep Academy Tutors, our team of private home tutors is committed to helping students across North America excel in their studies through our personalized, in-home tutoring services tailored to address each student’s unique needs, including fostering the mastery of essential writing skills. By nurturing gifted writers, we can shape students into creative, critical, and empathetic thinkers who can communicate effectively and engage with the world around them.

Sneak In Summer Learning

Our last blog post was about Summer Learning Loss and how parents can combat it. One way to avoid this setback is to sneak in summer learning. Hiring a tutor is an excellent way to provide structure and support throughout the summer so your child retains what they have learned during the past school year however, there are many easy ways to sneak summer learning into your child’s day-to-day activities throughout July and August.



Sneak In Summer Learning: MATH

As discussed previously, on average, students can lose approximately 2.6 months of math learning over the summer, which can take up to six weeks of re-learning old material to make up for the loss. But math is also one of the most accessible subjects to sneak in summer learning, with opportunities to practice basic skills daily.


Host a Yard Sale:

Your kids will need to analyze what they are selling to set a price, be able to calculate change, and offer percentage or dollar discounts.


Get Cooking:

Having your kids help in the kitchen teaches them life skills and is an easy way to sneak in math, specifically when it comes to measurements. As your kids go through each recipe step, have them convert a measurement. For instance, if the recipe calls for three tablespoons, ask them how many teaspoons that would be.


Math Games for The Family:

Nothing sneaks in summer learning like family game night! Some of the best games that focus on math are:








Sneak In Summer Learning: SCIENCE

The wonderful thing about science is that even simple hands-on experiments requiring only a few materials can spark an interest in the subject for the upcoming school year.


You can create your own experiments or get inspiration here. This Prep Academy article also has three boredom-busting science experiments that will keep your kids engaged using basic household items you likely already have lying around.



Sneak In Summer Learning: READING/WRITING


Summer Scrapbook:

Have your child delve into their creative side by making a scrapbook where they journal their summer adventures. Use everything you have on hand –  magazine clippings, stickers, markers, and construction paper – the sky is the limit! Have your kids incorporate creative storytelling for a fun way to practice writing that also makes a memory book they can look back on in the fall.


Garage Sales:

Build up your kids’ home library by hitting local garage sales and having them choose and buy books they would like to read.


Rethink Screen Time:

While you don’t want your kids to be in front of a screen for an entire summer, you can turn television time into reading time by simply turning on the closed captioning when they are watching their favourite shows.


Sneak In Summer Learning: GEOGRAPHY


Latitude/Longitude Part 1:

Whenever your child reads a book, magazine or newspaper article, have them find the latitude and longitude of the location where the focus of the article takes place and find it on a map.


Latitude/Longitude Part 2:

Have your child find their birthday latitude and longitude on a map. Use the month for latitude and day for longitude. If the birthday is October 18, the coordinates could be 10°N, 18°E or 10°S, 18°W. To expand on this, have them find out facts about the area they found.


Take a Virtual Tour of the World

Google Virtual Tours allows you to visit thirty historic landmarks worldwide, including the Taj Mahal, Great Sphinx of Giza and Stonehenge.



On a final note, summer learning loss is not inevitable. A combination of at-home learning and working with our certified tutors will help your child retain what they’ve already learned and confidently start the school year.









How To Combat Summer Learning Loss

Summer is upon us, which means many children go from a structured school routine to a more
relaxed daily schedule. While downtime in the summer is great, the two-month gap in learning
can cause summer learning loss, also referred to as the summer slide, brain drain, and the
summer setback. This can be frustrating for parents. After watching their child struggle to
master vital skills like writing and math over the course of the school year, summer comes along
and seems to wipe the memory clean.  In this post we will cover some tips on how to combat summer learning loss.

It’s the old adage of ‘use it or lose it’ come to life. Without regular practice, new skills and
knowledge fade. What’s even more worrisome is that these dips in learning can be even more
dramatic as kids enter middle school.

One area that is hit particularly hard is math. On average, students can lose approximately 2.6
months of math learning over the summer. These setbacks can take up to six weeks of
re-learning old material to make up for summer learning loss.

How Do You Combat Summer Learning Loss?

July and August are a chance for 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.

Bring Play Into Learning

Since math is an area with the most significant summer learning loss, one of the most important
roles you can play in how to combat summer learning loss, is modelling interest in the value of math. Instead of thinking about math as a
chore, connect it to your child’s real-life experiences.

Find something your child is already passionate about, then draw out the mathematical
features. It’s a great way to help your kids see that math touches everything. If they like to draw,
you can find books or videos to teach them the importance of ratios, scaling, and angles. If
they’re interested in sports, use the hockey rink, football field, or soccer pitch to show the
importance of fractions.

Games like Yahtzee, Monopoly, and Sequence utilize basic math skills such as counting, adding,
and categorizing.

Hire a Tutor

A tutor can provide structure and support so your child will not only retain what they have
learned throughout the school year but can also improve their knowledge in advance of the
year to come. It’s also an opportunity to help your child overcome personal learning challenges
in a safe environment.

Make Reading An Everyday Activity

The results of a 2004 study suggest that the effect of reading four to five booksis potentially
large enough to prevent a decline in reading achievement scores from the spring to the fall.
Furthermore, children who reported easy access to books also read more books.
A few things you can do to make books more accessible are:

  • Take a trip to your local library and allow your child to choose books of interest to them.
  • Bring books on car rides or when you go to the park or beach
  • Implement a quiet reading hour once a day
  • Create a summer reading challenge


Literacy Activities


Journaling is an excellent activity for kids to develop as readers, writers, and communicators.
Have them write whatever comes to mind, whatever is bothering them, whatever they’re
curious about, or whatever they want to remember.

The Neverending Story:
This is a fun activity for middle-school children. In a notebook, write the line “Once Upon A
Each family member then adds a short paragraph to the story every day, with the next person
adding on to what was previously written. Not only does this help with writing, but it also helps
to inspire your child’s creativity and nourishes their imagination.

Word Jar:
Write down vocabulary words on slips of paper appropriate for your child’s age/grade and have
them choose one word each day. The challenge is for both of you to use that word in
conversation (using the proper context) as many times as you can that day.
Summer learning loss is not inevitable. By incorporating math skills into daily life, reading
regularly, and encouraging your children to write and journal, you are setting them up for a
successful school year ahead.

If you want to explore the possibility of tutoring this summer, contact us to learn more.





How To React To Your Child’s Report Card

How To React To Your Child’s Report Card

The end of the school year is near, which means final report cards will be coming home. This can be stressful for kids, especially if they feel like they haven’t lived up to expectations. How parents react to bad grades on a report card is important as it can affect your child’s future approach to studying and attitude towards learning.

According to parenting expert Alyson Schafer, “When report cards come home, your child knows full well that they are being measured. They will be thinking, “Am I good enough?” Your answers and facial expressions need to convey that they are already everything they need to be, and a report card doesn’t say a wit about them.”

No parent wants to see poor grades on their child’s report card, but if you do, don’t react instantly while your emotions are running high. Poor grades aren’t a measure of your child’s worth or your parenting skills. Once you have had time to calm yourself, use this as an opportunity to communicate with your son/daughter and determine a path for future academic enrichment.

If your child does bring home a report card with unsatisfactory grades, here’s what you can do:

Focus on the Positive

Imagine going to work, and your boss only points out everything you do wrong. It would be defeating and unmotivating, not to mention a very stressful environment. It’s the same for your child. Yes, you want the grades to improve, but your child also needs to know what they are doing right. Starting on a positive note helps them understand that you care about all their accomplishments, not just the areas that need improvement. Involve them in the discussion and ask questions like which grade they are proudest of and why.

Listen To Your Child

Your child can give you good insight as to why they are struggling. Ask open-ended questions about what they think happened. Was the work too difficult? Is the subject being taught too fast for them to keep up? Are they asking questions when problems arise?

Talk To The Teacher

Since this is the last report card of the year, you may ask yourself why bother speaking with the teacher. However, this is the perfect opportunity to learn more about your child’s behaviour, habits, and performance in the classroom, which will ultimately help you develop a plan to improve your child’s academic performance.

Come Up With a Plan

Help your child set realistic and attainable goals for the coming year. Hiring a tutor for the summer months marks a chance for your child to combat learning loss and stay academically motivated so that, when they return to school in the fall, they’ll be more than prepared.

Last but not least, emphasize the importance of always trying their best and focusing on a love of life-long learning, not simply getting straight A’s.





Teaching Kids Problem Solving Skills At Home

As parents and educators, one of the greatest things we can do is provide our children with the skills to
solve problems by themselves. Kids of all ages face issues daily, and teaching them the process to solve
these problems will help them become confident, independent individuals.

If your child is struggling with a problem at home, you can do specific things to help.

Teach Your Child The Sequence To Solve a Problem

  • Define the Problem: Defining the problem establishes a goal for what you want to achieve.
  • Brainstorm Solutions: Create a list of possible solutions.
  • Evaluate and Choose a Solution: The ideal solution will meet the goal, is efficient, and has the fewest
    side effects.
  • Implement the Solution: This step is about testing and feedback rather than trying to get it ‘perfect’ the
    first time.
  • Review the Results: Review what worked and what didn’t work.

Other ways you can teach your children problem-solving skills:

Model Problem Solving Behaviour
Problem-solving is often done in steps that can be slow and sometimes tedious. Model patience and
perseverance as well as how to follow a structured method.

Ask For Advice
When you face a problem, ask your kids for advice. This helps them develop problem-solving skills and
learn that everyone encounters challenges.

Learn From The Past
Oftentimes children will have encountered a similar situation previously. Have them think about a
comparable problem they have experienced in the past and how they were able to solve the issue. Teach
them that it’s okay to re-use strategies.

Ask Open-Ended Questions
While the easiest solution would be to give your child the answer, it doesn’t help him develop the skills
he needs to problem solve when you aren’t around. Instead, ask open-ended questions to help him
elaborate on his thoughts and provide a more descriptive response. Open-ended questions typically
begin with words like ‘why’ or ‘how’. A few examples of open-ended questions are:

What do you think would work best in this situation?
Why do you think this solution is the one that will work?
What will you do differently next time?

Emphasize the Process, Not The End Result
When you emphasize the process, it helps your child improve their problem-solving skills through effort
and practice and encourages a growth mindset. It also teaches them that the first solution may not
always be the best, and that’s okay.

What To Do When Your Child is Feeling Unmotivated To Learn

The second half of the school year is when many students often feel unmotivated to learn,
especially this past year with the back-and-forth of online and in-person learning. If your child is
feeling unmotivated, the first thing to do is let them know it’s normal to feel this way sometimes,
and that feeling unmotivated is something they will deal with throughout life. The good news is,
you can change it!

Have Your Kids Visualize Their Goals:

A study done in 2011 at the Pamplin College of Business at Virginia Tech showed the easier a
goal is to see, the closer it seems. For instance, if your child has a goal of reading a certain
number of books before the end of the school year, you can create a poster with the title of each
book that they can cross off when it’s done. If they are striving to get a certain grade in a
subject, create a chart where they can document the results of their exams and projects in that

Change Up Your Environment:

There are some things you can change and some things you can’t – like homework. If you can’t
change your to-do list, change where you get things done. Something as simple as finding a
new place you can study even if it’s just for one session can help your child feel more
motivated. Some ideas include:

  • Moving to a new area in your home
  • Take your homework outside to a local park or even just to your backyard or balcony
    The local library.

Organize Workspace Both At Home and In School

Clutter affects not just your workspace but your mind as well. Our brains actually like order, and
if you are surrounded by clutter it drains your cognitive resources, reducing the ability to focus.
Go through both your at-home workspace and in-school workspace (including lockers) to get rid
of anything you don’t need and organize what is left. This is also a good time to create a
calendar on a device or utilize a planner to keep track of deadlines in each of your child’s

Teach Them To Take Care of Basic Needs

Kids are humans and it’s important that they are taking care of their needs like getting enough
sleep, eating well, staying hydrated, getting physical activity, and socializing. It’s hard to be
motivated to learn if you’re falling asleep in class, or can’t concentrate because you didn’t drink
enough water.

Consider Getting a Tutor

If your child is unmotivated to learn and homework has become a battle, consider hiring a tutor.
A tutor can turn homework and study into a positive experience by applying lessons in a way
that works with your child’s strengths while also teaching him/her time management and
learning skills.

The Power of Play in Your Child’s Learning

We often think of academics and play as two separate entities but study
after study shows us that play is an integral component in a child’s learning.  Play is, in fact, so powerful, it can
be used as an intervention to close achievement gaps between children ages 3 to 6. Learning is
not simply cognitive and academic but is broad, interconnected, and dynamic.

Did you know that play is so important to optimal child development that it has been recognized
by the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights as a right of every child? Play allows
children to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity, and physical,
cognitive, and emotional development. And as children master their world, play helps them to
develop new competencies which lead to enhanced confidence and resiliency. Our tutors often
see this boost in confidence when students grasp concepts that they were struggling with

What Play Can Do:

0 – 3 Years: Play at this age is about responsive social interactions that help children build
healthy brain connections.
3 – 12 Years: At this age, skills and concepts learned at school are deepened through play.
12+: Play helps kids to collaborate and problem-solve.

In addition to play being an integral component in a child’s learning, parents are an integral part of the tutoring process as well.   How you reinforce the lessons your children
are learning through real-world practice is just as important as the learning itself. This doesn’t
necessarily mean printing out math sheets or having your kids write essays. A lesson on
fractions can be reinforced by baking cookies together. Playing a game of UNO with your kids
teaches them to strategize and match colours and numbers. What they learn with us, is
strengthened at home with you.

So this Family Day long weekend, don’t feel guilty about taking the time off to play. You’re helping to improve
their education.

What Parents Need to Know About Learning Pods

The school year is fast approaching, and teachers and parents alike have some important decisions to make about what education and learning will look like for their students this year.

While high school students can expect a balance of blended learning in the new school year — a mixture of both in class and at home education — primary and junior students under grade 8 are being asked to choose between in person or online learning .

With students all having different learning styles and parents having differing comfort levels with sending kids back to school, many are opting for alternative education through learning pods at this time.

Learning pods — which some refer to as pandemic pods — refer to small groups of students learning in a controlled environment. With the future of education changing rapidly, parents are opting to establish learning pods to ensure consistent learning. More often than not, these pods get facilitated through small-group tutoring, as parents and private tutors like Prep Academy Tutors are working together to create a safe, contained, and consistent learning environment.

At Prep Academy Tutors, we offer both online tutoring services and small group tutoring services to meet the varying needs and educational preferences of parents and students across Canada, and in areas of the US.

Image of children in a classroom setting with a teacher at a desk helping a student to illustrate learning pods.

What Are Learning Pods?

CNBC describes learning pods as “small, in-person groups of students learning together with the help of an in-person tutor or teacher.”

This education and learning method is the growing preference of parents looking to opt for remote learning in the coming year. Learning pods help maintain flexibility, safety, socialization, and a sense of normalcy in a more controlled environment, all while still having a professional educator’s leadership.

When you opt for Prep Academy Tutors’ group tutoring services, you can have peace of mind knowing that our tutors are certified teachers and subject area experts.

Where Are They Happening?

Learning pods are happening all over the world as parents, teachers, and school boards worldwide are making changes to adapt to a new learning situation.

The History of Learning Pods

While learning pods have risen in popularity in response to our new normal, the concept of small group learning is not new. In 2019, Maureen O’Shaughnessy, Ed.D., published a book about this learning style titled Creating Micro-Schools for Colorful Mismatched Kids. O’Shaughnessy is a founder of the Micro-School Coalition, and states that micro-schools and learning pods should “reflect the values of the community that they serve.”

Child sitting at desk with a pencil in their hand writing in a book

The Benefits of Learning Pods


Flexible with Virtual Learning Icon

Flexible with Virtual Learning

If you are opting to continue with virtual learning this year, you can establish learning pods with select students at the times that work best for you. The flexibility and consistency can help you enforce a schedule and routine for your child to maintain the upward trajectory of their education.

Learning pods also present the opportunity for children to socialize, which they may not get when learning remotely. In learning pods, the ratios are also smaller, which allows teachers to provide more personalized education.

Group Selection Icon

Group Selection

Parents are coming together to encourage their students to continue learning with others who can help support their educational journey. After selecting a small group of students, they hire private tutors to lead these pods. Prep Academy Tutors offers small group tutoring to bring small groups of students together to guide their education and encourage them to learn from one another.

Smaller Ratios Icon

Smaller Ratios

The trend of overwhelming class sizes often leaves teachers overwhelmed, and students without access to personalized education. Learning pods allow teachers to work closely with a much smaller group of students and cater to their learning styles.

Prep Academy Tutors maintains the educational philosophy that every student learns differently and is capable of learning. This is why our tutors approach education with a personalized approach and create small groups to ensure students get the level of education they need to reach confidence and academic success.

Safer Setting Icon

Safer Setting

In this new normal, we are looking to minimize our exposure to others. Learning pods with the same small group of individuals allows students to build a bubble to maintain education and safety and socialization for a sense of normalcy.

Socialization Icon


There are various ways that the new normal has impacted the mental health of our students. Not having that support, encouragement, socialization, and relatability can be challenging, especially for students who thrive from collaborative learning.  By creating a learning pod and engaging in small group tutoring, you can help your child connect with other students in a safe and comfortable environment for all.

Sense of Normalcy Icon

Sense of Normalcy

In many ways, learning pods signify what our new standard will be for the considerable future. This learning style allows us to facilitate routine and socialization at a smaller scale to help students slowly regain a sense of normalcy.

Accommodating Icon


Pods offer flexibility as they may accommodate for different ages, levels of learning, and schedules. This flexibility also makes the small group tutoring ideal for both parents with kids at home learning virtually, and parents with kids returning to the classroom.

Location Icon


The location of learning pods and group tutoring can be flexible based on the needs of the group. They can be held indoors, in backyards, parks, etc. It depends on the convenience and preference of the parents involved.

Picture of two kids sitting at a table playing with blocks and toys smiling

Prep Academy Tutors Small Group Learning

Prep Academy Tutors offer small group tutoring for groups of 3-5 kids at a time. These groups can facilitate the collaborative learning of siblings, friends, and students with similar needs. We work with you to establish a group that suits your needs and will match you with the perfect tutor to lead the group.

You can have peace of mind knowing that, when you opt for private group tutoring with Prep Academy Tutors, your child will receive an education based on the current curriculum. We provide curriculum-based learning to ensure your child is learning based on existing standards, and so that we can help fill any gaps in their knowledge with personalized explanation and guidance.

We are committed to the health and safety of your child and work with you to create an educational atmosphere that is sustainable and comfortable for all involved. Our tutors keep in contact with parents to discuss progress and accommodate changing needs.

What Families Need to Know About School Reopening in New York State

On Monday July 13, Governor Cuomo released guidance for school districts to reopen K-12 facilities in New York State.  Based on these guidelines, your school must submit a reopening plan to the state by July 31. Schools will be allowed to reopen if their region has entered Phase Four and if the daily infection rate in that region (averaged over a two-week period) does not exceed 5%.

What your school will be required to provide in the fall:

  • A mix of in-person and virtual learning
  • Social distancing and 50% capacity of any space
  • Increase distancing to twelve feet during activities like singing, playing band instruments and gym class
  • Utilize face coverings and provide them to students without masks
  • Post health instruction signage throughout school
  • Limit the use of shared objects like workstations or tool
  • Provide sanitizing stations & training on proper hand & respiratory hygiene
  • Frequently clean and disinfect shared areas
  • Hold mandatory health screenings including temperature checks of students, staff, contractors & visitors
  • Immediately send home any student or staff member who becomes symptomatic
  • Notify state and local health departments of any positive test results
  • Have plans to assist in contact tracing
  • Expand social distancing, disinfecting and face-covering protocols to school buses

Schools are also encouraged to:

  • Expand their physical footprint if necessary
  • Stagger arrival/departure times and altered schedules
  • Build “cohorts,” or small groups of students who learn together to minimize cross contamination
  • Use “one-way” traffic lanes in hallways