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.
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
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.
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,
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
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.
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
- Implement the Solution: This step is about testing and feedback rather than trying to get it ‘perfect’ the
- 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
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
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
Tips For Transitioning Back To Online Learning
With the rise of Omicron cases across the country, it’s possible many schools may be
transitioning to either 100% online learning or a hybrid model, at least for the foreseeable future.
The good news is (a) this will hopefully be a temporary measure with an end date in sight and
(b) since we’ve been through this before, it’s not a complete unknown. Parents and kids are far
more prepared to deal with the daily challenges.
We recognize that the transition will be more difficult for some students than others, especially if
those students didn’t thrive in the online learning environment previously.
We have a few suggestions on how to make that transition easier.
1) Find out how the daily and/or weekly schedule in your school district will work. Will you
be alternating in-person and online days? Or will you have in-person classes for one
portion of the day and online classes for the other portion?
2) Once you learn your school schedule, write it out on a whiteboard or large calendar so
everyone in the family knows where they should be each day.
3) Involve your kids in creating the weekly schedule so they have some control over the
1. If you’ve dismantled your child’s home workspace because they’ve been attending
school in person, now is the time to set it up again. Try to find a space that is away from
the television, other family members (if possible) and any other distractions. Involve
them in the process so the workspace feels like their own.
2. Set up a daily schedule including time for mini-breaks throughout the day.
3. Re-familiarize them with any programs/software they will use for school work and exams.
FOR BOTH ONLINE AND HYBRID
1. Stay in contact with their educators. Maintaining communication can help parents
monitor their child’s progress and keep students informed about virtual/in-class learning
plans. By staying up to date, you can support your child and prepare them for whatever
the next step in their education will be.
2. Hire a tutor: On top of planning and teaching classes, teachers are in many cases
responsible for ensuring a safe classroom environment. Teaching and support staff,
already stretched thin before the pandemic, are not always in a position to offer extra
help. Whether your child needs tools and resources to adapt to online learning again, or
to fill in knowledge gaps, a Prep Academy tutor can help.
Back-to-School Routine Tips After the Break
You conquered back-to-school after the summer break but do you need to set a back-to-school
routine after the winter break? It was only two weeks, right? How bad can it be?
The truth is you definitely need to help your kids get back into a back-to-school-routine. Throughout the
holidays your kids probably had less structure, more visiting with friends and families, more
excitement, and eating and sleeping schedules that deviated from what they are used to. The
holiday break may only be two weeks but it really is like the first day of school all over again.
Here are some easy ways to get them back into a more structured routine:
A few days before going back to school, have your kids go to bed a bit earlier and wake up a bit
earlier. You don’t need to have them wake at the same time as when they go to school but this
transition will help make that first day easier.
Create Intentional Goals Together
It’s the perfect time to start the year strong by creating intentional goals as a family. Give each
person three pieces of paper and title them:
- Things to Learn
- Things to Try
- Things to Improve
Write down everything you can think of and then discuss which goals are attainable for 2022. Once
you’ve narrowed the list to goals that are realistic (sorry, eating every cookie in the world will have to be
crossed off) have them write that list on a fresh piece of paper. Now each time they reach one of their
goals, they can cross it off. This exercise is great for helping to create a growth mindset and have kids
focus on personal goals.
Review Your Homework Rules
After a few weeks with no homework, set the standard by going over your expectations for when and
where homework should be done.
Check your children’s school supplies to ensure they have everything they need, organize messy binders,
and clean out backpacks and lunch bags to start off fresh.
Reinforce The Positives
After two weeks of days spent relaxing in flannel pj’s to going out into cold weather first thing in the
morning, your kids might not be enthusiastic about going back to school. Reinforce the positives like
seeing their friends, sharing stories, getting to tackle their favourite subjects, and how good it feels to be
back into a routine.
Pack Your Patience
It can be more difficult for some kids to return to a back-to-school routine so be patient with them and yourself those
first few weeks.
Tips For Acing That Next Test
Mid-terms can be a stressful time. With a time restraint in place and so much at stake, exams
can cause anxiety for many students.
It’s natural to feel some stress before an exam but one way to combat that is to be prepared.
Below are tips to help you make the grade on your next exam.
Before the Test
Before you even begin studying ensure you are clear on what material will be on the test and
the test format. You will study differently for an in-class essay as opposed to a multiple choice
Prepare Your Time
Don’t attempt to cram all your studying into one long session right before the exam. Space out your work
into shorter periods of time a week or two prior to your exams. Consistency is key.
Study In A Place With No Distractions
Find a space that is away from the television, family members, and any other distractions. Put your
electronics aside and ensure you have all the materials you need on hand.
Hire a Tutor
A good tutor can help your child organize studying time, help identify strengths and weaknesses, and
target their barriers to learning. As well, the personalized feedback can make the studying process
significantly more efficient and help your child attain a firmer grasp on the material.
Get Enough Sleep
Getting enough sleep is crucial to midterm studying. When you’re sleep deprived it makes it difficult to
focus properly and receive information, and memory recall is better when you’re well rested.
The Day Of The Exam
Do a Quick Review
Keep the material fresh in your mind by taking 20 minutes to quickly review what you’ve studied
Set the tone for your test by arriving early and ensuring you’re properly prepared and have all the
materials you need. You can also use this time to ask your teacher any last-minute questions you may
Listen To Instructions
As the teacher is handing out the exam, listen carefully to the instructions so you know what is expected
of you. Don’t be afraid to ask to have the instructions repeated if you don’t fully understand or miss
something that was said.
Take a Deep Breath
If you find you’ve drawn a blank, don’t panic. Take five to ten deep breaths and release the tension in your
body to calm yourself. The more anxious you are, the more difficult it will be to recall the information.
Last but not least, remind yourself that you’ve studied and are prepared for the test you are about to take.
Choosing the right school for your child
If the time has come in your child’s educational journey where you are considering or
committed to finding an independent or private school for them, you’ve come to the
right place. There are many options in and around the Toronto area when choosing a
school. The first consideration is whether or not you are looking for a co-ed or single-sex
school. From there, there are a few more considerations to keep in mind when selecting
the schools you wish to apply to.
1. Zone in on your child’s strengths & needs
When selecting where to apply, two of the most important factors to consider are; do
they have the support my child needs? Do they have the resources (e.g., teams, clubs,
speciality subjects) that will allow my child to explore and grow in their strengths and
interests? Once you’ve narrowed down these areas you will have a better idea of what
school environment you are looking for.
2. Make a list of non-negotiables
This list could be three simple bullet notes, or it could be a longer list. However long your
list is, ensure that the schools meet all this criteria when doing your research. Writing a list
of non-negotiables will keep you in the right direction when considering school
environments. A few examples no more than a 20 minute drive, must have access to
ample outdoor space or opportunities for experiential learning.
3. Think Big Picture
How long will your child attend this school? Are you looking for a school for your child to
go to for K-12, K-8 or is it a bridge school (i.e., is your child going for middle or high
school before post-secondary education)? When you view your school selection in this
lens, you will have a better idea of what you need from the school.
4. Visit the campus
Due to COVID, in-person visits may not be an option but many offer virtual tours or
pre-recorded videos. You and your child should get a feel for the school environment
and if it meets (or exceeds!) your expectations.
5. Bring a list of questions
If you get to the interview portion of the application process, ensure you have a list of
questions to ask the admissions team. Not only does it show your interest in the school,
but shows your commitment to your child’s education.
Whether you are in the midst of the application process or thinking about starting
applications, these are a few areas to consider when selecting a school for your child.
Selecting the right school for your child is one of the best investments you can make for
The school application and interview process can seem daunting at first, but with the
right support in your corner it will become an enjoyable experience. As an educational
consultant, I work with families throughout the school application process and
transitioning into their new school environment. If you’re wondering how my services
can help your family, email firstname.lastname@example.org to book your 15-minute
complimentary discovery call. I would be happy to learn more about your family and
how I can best support you during this exciting time!
– Paige Walker
Owner of Renew Education