Category Archives: Advice

5 Ways To Prepare Your Family For Back To School

At the moment the new school year may seem like weeks away, but it will sneak up on us much quicker than expected! Before you or your child panic about organizing the house and picking up last minute items, here are 5 ways you can prepare your family for going back to school.

  1. Add more storage space for incoming books

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2. Set up an organized work space for homework and projects

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3.  DIY a makeshift mudroom before coats and backpacks start flooding in

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4. Put all their work needs together in a homework caddy or a find place where they can keep their homework organized.

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5. Upgrade their getting-dressed routine for a smoother morning, you don’t want your children to be stressing about clothes 5 minutes before they have to leave!

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Light in the Attic Learning is a  premier tutoring company in Toronto. We offer educational enrichment and remedial programs for students JK to grade 12. Our private instruction is tailored to fit each child’s individual needs and learning style while adhering to the Ontario curriculum.

 

 

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Last Minute Revision Tips

Woman studying at the libraryExams may have already started for most students across the county, even if you haven’t revised as much as you should have, it’s never too late to start. Here are 5 winning revision tips that will help you learn as much as you can in a short amount of time.

Draw up a revision timetable

Research shows that shorter 20-30 minute spells work best, because your concentration is much higher. We therefore recommend taking short, frequent breaks. We also advise to mix the order order of the subjects. Take a look at the proposed timetable:

9.00-9.30 Subject 1
Break 5 mins
9.35-10.05 Subject 1
Break 5 mins
10.10-10.40 Subject 2
Break 5 mins
10.45-11.15 Subject 2
Break 30 mins
11.45-12.15 Subject 3
Break 5 mins
12.20-12.50 Subject 3
Break 1 hour
13.50-14.20 Subject 1
Break 5 mins
14.25-14.55 Subject 2
Break 5 mins
15.00-15.30 Subject 3
Break 5 mins
15.35-16.05 Subject 1

Find a quiet space

This is a pretty obvious one but one that many students forget when they go to a coffee shop to revise. You desperately need a place where you can be uninterrupted for a few hours. Your room, local or your school/university library will work best.

Start in the morning

You have to make a start at some point and doing it sooner rather than later is a very good idea. Research shows that you are more likely to do all the planned work if you start early, because as it gets closer to the evening, there is bigger tendency to get outside.

Make summary notes

We’ve all been there, trying to read the same text book or glancing at past papers and feeling like we’re being productive, when actually we aren’t! Making notes over and over while you’re reading is the best way to memorize information. It may seem tedious but the most successful students make as many as three sets of the same notes in the run up to exams.

Reward yourself

It is not all about the work; you need good breaks too. People who manage to find the right balance between study and leisure are the ones who get the top marks. For instance go to a cinema with friends after a productive day of revision or treat yourself to something sweet. Work hard, play not-quite-as-hard is the motto here.

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3 Reasons Why Your Child Has A Bad Report Card

Image source: Today's Parent

Image source: Today’s Parent

It’s that time of year again: SCHOOL REPORTS. Every parent wants their child to get good grades and to succeed in school, so report day is as nerve racking for the parent as it is for the child. Sometimes parents assume that their child will get great marks, but when they receive a bad report card it can take them completely by surprise. Bad grades usually start showing up around middle school, which is a time of change in a child’s life. It’s key that you talk to your child openly and try to identify what’s causing the bad grades together. It could mean anything from your child needs extra help with certain subjects or they have adopted poor learning habits, the main thing to remember is to not panic and/or get angry at the child. Here’s a list of some of the main reasons which could contribute to your child’s bad report:

Reading Ability

As a child moves from grade to grade emphasis changes from learning to read to reading to learn. If reading abilities are lagging it will affect every subject, even understanding homework instructions will be hard. Our main advice to all parents is to read to your children from a young age and encourage them to read to you as their reading skills develop. If your child is older and isn’t interested in books, try and find something else that they may be interested in. Do they like comics, many comic have a detailed story, what about newspapers and magazines? Sit down with them once a day and read together.

Focusing

We live in a fast-paced tech-driven world, which provides too many distractions for children. It takes children more effort to concentrate on any task compared to children a decade ago. Often your child will be on their cell, playing the playstation or on an iPad instead of dedicating time to homework. We suggest that during the week set out a “no tech time zone” where between the hours of 4 and 6 your child spends time either doing homework or non-tech activities like reading. They may kick up a fuss, but they’ll thank you in the end! Maybe reward them at the end of the week with a pizza night, for example.

Organization

Organization is key!! Especially in today’s hectic world where a child has numerous after school clubs, homework, various classes and an array of tech devices. It massively helps to establish a routine early on: same wake up time, breakfast, study time etc. Encourage them to keep an agenda and prioritize activities, obviously studying for test comes ahead of a swimming class, for example. We also recommend that you stay organized, children learn a lot from their parents so if you’re organized it will encourage your child to be too. Also keep an agenda of your child’s activities and test dates so that you can make sure they’re keeping on top of their work.

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Affordable And Natural Ways To Protect Your Kids From Swimming Pool Chemicals

Fun Swimming Over the last few weeks the weather has warmed up considerably and the promise of hot summer days is just around the corner – hurrah! That means outdoor swimming and weekend water park trips… okay maybe we’re getting ahead of ourselves here, but swimming is a super fun activity for children, especially in the summer. Not only is a fun activity but it’s great for exercise and family bonding, the only downside are the health risks connected to swimming pool chemicals, that’s just a buzz kill.

Many parents are a little nervous about sending their children to a place where red eyes, dry itchy skin and green hair are common side effects of going for a dip in the local pool. Doctors like Doctor Joseph Mercola have been talking about the list of serious ailments connected to chlorinated water for many years:

“Your body absorbs more chlorine, and more importantly disinfection byproducts (DBPs) [such as chloramine], by swimming in a chlorinated pool than you would by drinking tap water for one week. Disinfection byproducts are far more serious than chlorine. They form when the chlorine in your pool water reacts with organic matter such as skin and hair.”

While indoor swimming pool chemicals won’t seriously harm your children, there are certainly a number of health problems that are linked to the chlorinated water including:

  • Hormone disruption
  • Asthma and allergies
  • Gut flora imbalance

However there are many cheap and easy ways to help protect your kids against swimming pool chemicals:

1. Swim outdoors

Ventilation, never a bad thing. Also many outdoor pools use salt water, UV or ionization instead of the regular chemicals used to maintain an indoor pool.

2. Rinse before swimming

Did you know that if your kids rinse before they swim it could help to protect them against absorbing the pool chemicals through their skin. A chemical compound called chloramine forms when chlorine reacts with ammonia from sweat. Showering before swimming can remove excess sweat that interacts with chlorine, reducing formation of chloramine on the skin.

3. Coconut Oil

A family favourite for pretty much everything. Putting coconut oil on your child’s body before swimming could provide the skin with an extra layer of protection.

4. Topical Vitamin C

The chemical structure of vitamin c neutralizes chlorine and chloramine. Spray a mixture of powdered vitamin c and water on to your child post swim and rinse in the shower. You can buy topical vitamin c spray online, or make your own.

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When To Get A Math Tutor For Your Child

All parents want to see their children succeed in school. Some children have a natural flare for certain subjects, while others need a little help. Math is one subject where a lot of children need help to understand and build their skills to reach a certain level. One of the best ways to do this is through an out-of-school tutor.

Does Your Child Need a Math Tutor?

Looking at your child’s report card is the first clue to seeing if they could do with extra help. If they are continuously getting low grades even when they are trying their hardest highlights that it may be time to think about hiring a tutor. Does your child understand maths but does not show any enthusiasm for the subject and as a result it’s affecting their grades? Finding a tutor that can bring back that enthusiasm and inject a bit of fun into the lessons so that your child isn’t bored will make a huge difference in how they respond and act in school. Talk to your child’s teacher, find out how your child is responding in class and together figure out which areas of study your child is struggling in.

Don’t wait too long!

Whether you choose to hire a tutor or provide more games and learning opportunities at home, it’s important to identify your child’s signs of needing extra help early on, particularly in math, due to its linear nature. Each math class builds on the previous class, so once your child misses one lesson or doesn’t understand a particular skill, it’s pretty hard to catch up. This can result in him or her slipping further behind, losing confidence and dropping grades.

Hiring a Tutor

By the time your child has reached second grade, it will be pretty clear whether a tutor would be helpful. Once you decide to find a tutor, take your search seriously. You want someone who is properly trained, will assess your child correctly, has a good reputation, and will provide lessons that are age appropriate. Here at Light In The Attic Learning we have partnered with a numeracy program devised by JUMP math to provide our students with cutting edge materials and an approach to learning that works alongside the Ontario curriculum. Whether basic arithmetic or trigonometry, our tutors, who are specially trained to deliver the JUMP math program, will help your child overcome any math phobia they may have and give them the foundation they need to build on.

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6 Alternatives To “Time-Out” Disciplining

700Over the years “time-out” has become a popular way of disciplining our children, but recent studies have shown that it is more beneficial for our children if we skip the “time-out” and other traditional punishments in favour of alternative positive treatments. These alternative scenarios give parents and children a chance to address situations with the intention of maintaining a positive, peaceful and respective relationship.

  1. Time-in

If you find your child is being disruptive or making unsafe choices like hitting a playmate, for example, take them away from the situation for 5 minutes. Find a quiet space and sit down with them and listen to what your child is saying and try to understand their feelings, then make the appropriate decision as to whether they should continue their play date or not.

  1. Second chances

Adults often make mistakes just as much as children, granted our mistakes are not along the same lines as putting glue all of the table, but have you ever felt relieved to have a second chance or a do-over? Children deserve the same treatment, so instead of taking the glue off them, ask them if they want to have some paper or would they like to do something else instead.

  1. Read a story

A great way to help children understand how to make better choices is by reading stories with characters that are making mistakes, having big feelings or needing help to make better choices. Also, reading together can be a really positive way to reconnect and direct our attention to our child.

  1. Give two choices

Let’s say your child is doing something completely unacceptable. Provide her with two alternatives that are safe, respectful and acceptable, and let her choose what she will do from there. By receiving two choices, the child can keep some control over her decisions while still learning about boundaries.

  1. Listen to a song

Sometimes taking a fun break to release some tension and connect is all that children need to return to making better choices and all that parents need to loosen up a bit and let go of some stress. Listen to a song or take a dance break!

  1. Go outside

Changing locations often gives us parents a chance to redirect behavior to something more appropriate. “I cannot let you scale the bookshelf. You CAN climb on the monkey bars. Let’s go outside and practice that instead!”

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Tips On How to Encourage Your Teens to Apply for College Scholarships

education-graduation-scholarshipSports, homework, jobs, social lives, and college visits… Teens these days are busier than ever and high school students are especially busy as college approaches and they reach the peaks of their high school careers. As busy as students are, their parents are equally as busy worrying about how to come up with the thousands of dollars necessary to afford college tuition and all the extra fees associated with the university experience. What’s a parent to do when they expect their students to apply for college scholarships and these busy teens declare they have no time? Here are three encouraging tips to sway teens to jump on the scholarship bandwagon and get applying:

1. Figure out the cost per hour for each scholarship won. If a scholarship award is $1000 and a student spends four hours working on the application and essay, he or she has just made $250/hour. To a student making minimum wage, numbers like that speak volumes!

2. Ask for 15 minutes a day spent working on scholarships, setting a timer if needed. Even the busiest student can’t say no to 15 minutes. Once they have settled in and are committed to the 15 minutes, you will be amazed at how that time will be voluntarily increased as students realize that applying for college scholarships is not as daunting as they thought it was. For example, essays can be used for multiple applications (mind word count and adjust, if necessary) and one scholarship resume can fulfill the task of repeatedly listing extracurricular activities.

3. Partner with teens in the scholarship process and assure them they are not alone. Parents can play a huge role in helping students apply for college scholarships, from finding and printing each application, to keeping track of letters of recommendation needed and deadlines to follow. Organizing the process is a way to allow teens to apply for many more scholarships, as this keeps them on track and focused.
If the college scholarship searching and applying process is started early, students will be able to apply for more awards and have a much greater chance of winning scholarship money.

I suggest starting as early as freshman year, but don’t lose hope if you have a high school senior or even a current college student. Start NOW where you are and use these three tips to encourage your teen to apply for as many scholarships as they possibly can. The money IS out there and the most persistent students and parents will find it!

 

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Cyber bullying tips for teens

cyberbullyingThis blog post follows on from our last blog post, tips on how to deal with the school bully, but this time focusing on cyber bullying. After talking to many children and parents we realised that the most common form of bullying now takes place online, it has become too prevalent especially if you are a teenager who is online. Last week we sat down and discussed different ways which teenagers can deal with this form of harassment, so that they can put it behind them.

The first thing we would suggest is to block the bullies. If anyone is writing mean things about you or anyone else, block or unfriend them immediately. Even if their animosity isn’t aimed at you, you don’t know when or if they will turn their attention to you.

Document the bullying! If someone is bullying you online, take screen shots of it, you never know if you will need proof, especially if the situation escalates and you have to get the authorities involved. You don’t want it to be your word against theirs and run the risk of them avoiding punishment.

Once you have taken the screen shots of the cyber bullying incidents, delete/hide/block them so that you can’t see them. When someone has been that horrible to you or a friend, the last thing you want is a constant reminder of the unkind words and images. It’s important to remember that most bullies pick on people because they have issues or problems and are just projecting them on to other people, so delete the content from your computer and forget about it.

If you feel the cyber bullying is getting out of control and you feel it’s something you can’t deal with on your own, get an adult involved. The adult can listen to your concerns, give advice and step in to put a stop to the bulling.

Spend less time on the internet! It’s often easy to forget that not everything we do has to be online, spend time away from social networks and spend more time with friends and family. Remember you can’t be cyber bullied if you’re not online.

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Tips on how to deal with the school bully

bulliesSadly bullying is still a major problem in many schools, despite worldwide anti bullying campaigns and school run initiatives. Although it’s impossible to eradicate bullying in its entirety, there are many “bullying prevention skills” which can protect and help kids from certain types of bullying. Increasing your child’s confidence and helping them to develop positive peer relationships are two steps will hell help ensure their well being at school.    

If you find out that your child is being bullied, the first thing you should do is to assure them that they are not to blame. Kids often internalize things, believing they somehow provoked or deserved it. They need to know that you will work with them to make the situation stop, not make it worse, it’s often a kid’s fear that the parent is going to go knocking on the bully’s front door. However this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t talk to your child’s teacher, you’ll want the teacher to keep an eye on the situation and to reprimand the bully if needed. 

Explain that countering bullying with retaliation is never effective; it only serves to amplify conflict. Many parents want to teach their kid to ‘stand up’ to a bully, but we know this doesn’t help.

Tell your child to appear unruffled, even though they will feel it inside. The lesson here is to not let the bully engage you or get your goat, instead, practice peaceful, non-engagement tactics.

Bullying tends to happen when the target child is isolated, so be strategic encourage you child to take friends with them when they go to the washroom, walk between classes in a group and eat with friends.

No matter how angry you are at the bully for tormenting your child, it’s important to feel empathy and understanding towards to bully as well. You don’t know the bully’s situation: they may have troubles at home, suffer from an illness or are bullied themselves. It’s an important trait to teach your little ones: greater awareness of others’ feelings not only allows kids to treat each other with respect and kindness, it also makes them more likely to intervene when necessary. Kids with good perspective-taking skills are less likely to be physically, verbally, and indirectly aggressive to peers because they are better able to manage social situations and make the right decisions about their behavior. Empathic concern toward peers makes bystanders more likely to intervene to stop bullying, and those with perspective-taking skills are more likely to offer emotional support to others.

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Discipline Tactics for your Children

There are many ways to discipline your children but it’s important to remember that yelling and grounding your kids isn’t necessarily always the answer. Here are some alternative happier options which could (hopefully) result in smiles rather than arguments:

Children crave recognition from their parents, so they are often likely to “act up” if that’s the main source of attention. Next time your kid is misbehaving try and see their behaviour as a cry for attention, talk to them and hug them in an attempt to put them in a better mood. Give them plenty of praise when you’re pleased with their actions, even if it’s something very small like picking a toy up off the floor.

Most young children aren’t able to remember rules, so distraction is key. If your kid is playing with your iPhone wire, distract them with building blocks. Don’t overly use the word “no” as they will associate it with items and places out of reach – they will always indulge their natural curiosity and attempt to do the opposite of what you want them to do. Explain to them why you’re moving the wire without encouraging them to play with it again in the future.

Set up a schedule! Do you find your kids have the biggest meltdowns at bedtime? With consistent routines, children are more likely to feel they have control over what happens to them which can reduce outbursts and provide a sense of security.

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Back To School Tips For Teens

Back to schoolIt only seems like yesterday that the final school bell rang for the last day of term. Students racing out through the classrooms eager to begin their much awaited break, a break that seems like such a long period of time that it couldn’t possibly come to an end. Alas the time has come to prepare for another school year, but don’t worry it’s not all doom and gloom there’s a lot to look forward to, like catching up with old friends, making new friends and making plans for the year ahead.

However school isn’t alllllllll about socializing, follow our tips to make sure you have a successful school year in the classroom too!

1. Try your best

Not everyone can get all A’s, there are some subjects that not every student can excel in. The most important thing is that you’re trying your best, whatever you do don’t give up! If you feel like you do need some extra help in a particular subject, have a look at out of school programs like Light in the Attic Learning – talk to your teachers and parents about it.

2. That leads us on to… don’t sleep in class

What more can we say? Never a good idea. You’re definitely not trying your best if you’re sleeping at the back of the class! Try and get anything from 7 – 10 hours of sleep a night, this is definitely doable if you’re not playing your playstation late at night or talking on the phone!

3. Don’t backchat the teacher

Remember, the teachers are there to help you succeed, to make sure that you do the best you possibly can in your studies. They are not your enemies! Having a good relationship with your teacher will bode well for later on in the schooling year, will you need a reference from them in order to get into college?

4. Get to class on time

You never know what vital exam related information you’re missing by turning up half way through the lesson.

5. Be nice

Treat your fellow students and teachers how you would like to be treated. Just be yourself and be nice to the people in your class, not only will you be happier but you’ll notice that the people around you will enjoy your company too.

6. Stay organized

School can get frustrating especially when the homework is piling on from various classes. The most important thing is not to stress and to stay organized. Keep a diary that highlights when homework is due and keep a separate binder for each class so that your notes don’t get mixed up!

7. If you’re absent from school

Sometimes it simply can’t be helped. Make sure you catch up on the work you missed, and no that doesn’t mean copying the notes your friend made (which could have numerous mistakes), it means asking the teacher (remember that good relationship you’re meant to have with your teacher?!).

8. No drama

Don’t let yourself become dragged into arguments, especially if they don’t involve you personally. When there’s an awkward atmosphere at school, you’ll dread going, which is not a good start to the day.  When you’re worrying about a situation or person, it will be the only thing you’ll be able focus on throughout the day and it will take your attention away from your work.

9. Do your homework

Enough said.

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Back to school preparation for parents

Back to schoolThe beginning of September can be a stressful time for parents, whether it’s your child’s first day of school or if they’re returning students, making sure that they are fully prepared for the term ahead takes organization.

Children take their cue from their parents so it’s important to plan ahead, not only for your own piece of mind but to set an example for your children too. Stay calm, reassure your children if they’re feeling nervous and offer support. You want your children to look forward to the term ahead, not dread it!

Here are some tips to make sure your children are prepared for the first day of term:

1. Shop in advance

Last minute shopping is stressful at any time, remember last year’s panic Christmas shopping dash? Don’t make the same mistake when it come to shopping for school supplies, especially with uniform or any other dress code that the school requires your children to abide by. Children want to fit in, so if you can’t get them the correct material and clothing on time, it will only add to their first day worries.

2. Visit the school

Is your child attending a new school? If they are, try to visit the school before term starts. This way your child will become familiar with the layout of the school including classrooms and important offices. When your child arrives on the first day a new school will seem daunting, especially with hundreds of other students there. By visiting the school a week in advance your child won’t have to worry about getting lost or feeling too overwhelmed by the general size of the school.

3. Buddy system

Do you know any other parents who are sending their child to the same school? If you do organize a system where the children can travel to school together or meet outside the gates for the first week. It will make the transition into a new school much easier, know that someone else is doing it with them, plus your child will have a new friend.

4. Become an active parent

Get to know your child’s teachers before term starts, show your interest in the school and join the PTA. By becoming an active member in the school’s community, you can help to make the schooling environment the best it can be.

5. Routine

If your child does not have a regular bed time or an organized routine, the first few weeks of school are going to be rough. Ideally you should try and encourage your child to go to sleep at the same time every night (around 10pm) and to wake up in time to get ready for school (around 7.30am), a couple of weeks before term starts. Remember cranky tired children means they won’t focus in class!

6. Safety

Make sure your children know their name, their address, telephone number and your name. Always see your children safely to the school gate or school bus, you don’t need to wave them off if it will embarrass them, just make sure they arrive safely from a distance.

7. Talk

Talk to your children about how they’re feeling and how their first few days of school are going. Anything they are unhappy about? Anything they love? Are the feeling nervous about attending school? Why? Encourage them to share their thoughts and feelings with you without embarrassing them or forcing your opinions on them.

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Applying to university doesn’t have to be stressful with our 4 step guide

UniIf you want to attend university next year, now is the time to start thinking about applying. It may seem early, but you’ll thank us later down the road when everyone is panic applying and scrambling to get together all of the relevant information. However, even if you apply extremely early, the process is always a little stressful. Follow our tips for an easy application process!!

1. Research

There are a lot of things to consider when trying to decide which university attend. When you’ve decided on a few locations research the Universities or Colleges in that area by reading resource books, ordering prospectus’ and searching their websites. Remember the universities your friends apply to may not be the right options for you. Some questions to ask yourself when looking at various campus’:

Do they offer a course that interests you?

Are you able to get the grades in order to be accepted?

What’s the atmosphere like there?

Do you like the location?

Is financial support available? Or are you able to afford the fees?

Write down pros and cons for each university, you’ll be able whittle your list down quite quickly.

2. Preparation

Once you have decided on the schools you wish to apply to, create a chart to keep on top of the process. On this chart note application due dates, requirements (grade scores), essay requirements (with topics and work counts) and open days (when you can visit the school). Know in advance how much time you’ll need and over what time scale.

3. Submit before the due dates

Chances are everyone applying to school will be applying right before the deadline. As most applications are now done online, there is always a possibility that the website might crash, especially if thousands of prospective students are all applying at once. Bear this is mind and apply a week early! 

4. Over sharing

Don’t feel like you have to tell anyone about your applications other than your family. It may be tempting to say or post on social media that you’re applying to an Ivy League University, but you’re setting yourself up further pressure. People like to discuss who’s going where and who didn’t get in to their top choice. In reality you may be suited to a different school.

Good luck with the applications!

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Turn your little couch potato into a happy active kid!

ActiveAs you probably already know, we often give tips to help children succeed in school, but in order for that to be achieved your children need a solid base of healthy food and daily exercise.

If your children don’t get enough nutrients and constantly snack on processed food they are likely to lack in energy and fall asleep during class. Combine that with a void of exercise and they could develop a weight problem. 

Roughly one-third of children in the US are overweight which puts them at risk for numerous medical problems, including asthma, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer, not to mention low self-esteem and low self-confidence.

As a parent there are many things you can do to encourage your kids to lead an active lifestyle and  to help them to make the most of their youth.

Alternative sports

Not every kid is into organized sports like hockey and football, look for other activities that your children will enjoy. Solo sports like track or tennis might invoke more enthusiasm.

Taking the family on a long walk or a hike is an activity everyone will appreciate. Set goals so that your children look forward to reaching their destination: “If we walk this far we’ll reach a beach where you can build sand castles!”

What about riding a bike or rollerblading on local trails?

Limit screen time

Did you know that the American Academy of Paediatrics recommends that kids get no more than one to two hours of screen time a day? That includes watching TVTV, surfing the internet and playing computer games. 

This can be difficult especially if you’re busy during the week with work, so you could suggest that they play some simple games like shooting hoops in the garden or playing tag with a friend. Alternatively if you have a dog you should walk it together in the evenings and head to the park.

Rewards

It’s important to remember not to reward your children with unhealthy/artificial foods once they have exercised, consider giving them natural snacks such as nuts and kale crisps. If you feel they’ve worked extremely hard over a period of time, think about items that help with their fitness quest or new favourite sport like fitness shoes, a baseball glove or music player.

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Healthy brain power foods for kids

Easter and Christmas are the two times in the year where the entire family enjoys ample amounts of chocolate. By now, the kids must’ve polished off the last of the easter eggs but they will continue to crave sugary snacks. Why not substitute them with one of these healthy alternatives? They are proven to boost brain power too!

1. Eggs

Choline is a nutrient necessary for brain development and function which can be found in large quantities in eggs. What kid doesn’t love egg soldiers? 

2. Berries

Berries contain antioxidants which are essential for memory power, plus they also contain vitamin c which will keep your child’s immune system healthy. Mix a few in with the cereal in the mornings! 

3. Whole grains

If your kid lacks in energy and doesn’t seem to have a very long attention span, it could mean that they aren’t getting enough whole grains. Whole grains will help your kids sustain an even glucose level throughout the day. Say goodbye to white bread and semolina pasta.

4. Fish

Essential fatty acids are not made by the body and must be obtained through diet. They are essential for healthy brain function especially when they are obtained through natural sources like oily fish. Salmon and mackerel are two that don’t break the bank at the supermarket.

5. Seeds

Seeds, especially pumpkin seeds, are a great snack to have during the day. Not only because they will fill up your kids but because they contain zinc which is vital for enhancing memory. 

6. Broccoli 

It may contain a vitamin that you’ve never heard of – vitamin k, but it is known to improve brainpower, an excellent addition to the traditional sunday dinner. 

 

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Key signs of reading problems

Girl readingAs children head back to school for the winter semester, parents want to give their children the best opportunity to succeed. Even with the best intentions, parents sometimes let one of the most glaring problems slip their attention. I’m of course referencing reading problems. Reading is an essential skill that every child must learn and falling behind in reading comprehension is a major detriment to a child’s academic and regular life.

Being such a detriment, figuring out the signs of reading problems is very important for both the parents and the students. In order to help you out, I’ve organized, by grade, some key signs that your child might be having reading problems.

1. Before School, Preschool and Kindergarden
At this time a child’s vocabulary begins to expand. They should be learning new words and sounds. If your child is struggling to understand new words and sounds, and their vocabulary seems stunted, your child might be experiencing the first signs of reading difficulty.

Here are two examples to help identify this problem. The first example is when your child is learning their ABCs. If they have trouble learning or skip certain letters your child might have trouble understanding sounds.

The second example is with nursery rhymes. Nursery rhymes are a great way to measure a child’s ability to understand sounds. Your child disliking nursery rhymes and/or having difficulty to understand the rhymes even after hearing the nursery multiple times might also be an indicator that they will have trouble reading in the future. Overall, these are some keys ways in which you can tell if your young child might or is developing reading problems.

2. First Grade
I believe the first grade is the quintessential grade in developing strong reading skills. The reason first grade is so important is because it is the time where students begin to learn many key words. In fact, if your child currently in first grade has not learned at least 100 words by this point (mid way point of the year) they are having trouble with their reading comprehension skills.

Another way to really tell if your first grader is reading well is to hear them read (crazy right?)  Here are some indicators that they are having trouble reading:

  1. Skip words when reading.
  2. Guesses words they don’t know.
  3. Has trouble remembering words

I like to end today’s blog by saying that these signs are not guarantees that your child is having trouble reading. So take everything in stride and if you need help identifying if there is problem, we are here to help!

Thanks and all the best,
David

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Books every child should read

booksI hope you and your child had a great day reading on Sunday’s Family Literacy Day! Did your child by chance run out of books? Or maybe you’re interested in updating your child’s reading library. Whatever the case, I got you covered with what I believe to be some “must own” books that every child should read.
For Children in Early Elementary School (Junior Kindergarden to Grade 2)
  • A Light in the Attic by ShelSilverstein: This classic collection of poems is interesting, easy to read and a really a great starting book for any child. Plus, the rhyming scheme used in the poems helps children recognize the connection between how a word is spelled and that word’s pronunciation. With so many benefits you see why Shel Silverstein’s book was the inspiration for our tutoring center!
  • Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak: Another must own classic. Where the Wild Things Are’s beautiful pictures really bring the story to life and keeps children coming back for more. I swear, when most children pick up this book they can’t put it down.
  • Madeline by Ludwig Bemelans: This book maybe better for an advanced Grade 2 student, but with that in mind, if your child can handle it I say let them read it. This is a classic, more realistic story that every child should have the pleasure to read.
For Children in Late Elementary School (Grade 3 to Grade 6)
  • The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein: Another Shel Silverstein book (yes, we love him) for more advanced readers. The reason I categorized this book in the more advanced section is because it deals with many important, more mature issues, such as love, self-sacrifice and environmental conservation. A little more maturity that comes with age might be needed to fully grasp and understand this book.
  • Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White: Arguably the most classic book in all of literature, Charlotte’s Web has survived the test of time. For myself, the well mapped out characters really bring this book to life and make it a necessity for every person to read.
  • Early Harry Potter Series By J.K. Rowling (Sorcerer’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets): Has your child read the Harry Potter series yet? They should! They’re great books that tap and allow your child to grow their imagination. However, due to the more mature and darker content in the later books, I can only recommend the first two books in the series for younger children.
For Children in Middle School   
  • Later Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling: Just like the first two books in the Harry Potter series, the final five books in the series are amazing. However, these books are more mature so it might be better for a middle schooler to read it.
  • Hatchet by Gary Paulsen: The ultimate survival adventure story. This book is intense, adventurous and good for any boy or girl. Hard to really describe the book without ruining it. All I can say is your child should read it!
For Children in High School
  • The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank: The Holocaust will be discussed frequently during your child’s high school education. Before beginning grade nine, I believe an introduction to the emotional and complex time period should be given. This book by Anne Frank, a young girl and victim of the Holocaust, really puts the entire situation into context. However, just a warning, expect many questions about the Holocaust after your child reads this book.
  • How To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee: If there is one novel that will stay with a child for the rest of their life this is the book. The book is extremely emotional and really a good lesson on why people act in certain ways. Mature content is why I believe this book is only appropriate for students in grade 11 and 12.
  • Macbeth and/or Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare: Shakespeare is hard to read. Some children might have an easier time with it, but for most of us, his style of writing is simply outdated. Even if his style of writing is outdated, his stories themes and characters are timeless. With Shakespeare’s impeccable storytelling ability, he is a must for any child to read. However, due to the difficult and vocabulary in the books I recommend buying your child a copy with some modern day of phrases translations in the footnotes.
 This is a small list of the thousands of books your child could read. What is your or your child’s favourite book to read? Tell me in the comments below!
All the best,
David

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Tips for picking your child’s next school!

Saint Michael's SchoolFor many children the second semester of school has just begun. This is beginning of the countdown until summer and the end of the school year. However, for some children this is the beginning of the end of their life at a certain school. Whether that child is beginning school, in grade 6, grade 8, or grade 12 you and your child have to make a decision on what school they will attend next year. This can become a difficult decision and I want to provide some tips in order to smooth out the process.

1.Word of Mouth
Have any friends or family who has a child who has already made this decision? Maybe their child is currently attending the school your child is looking to attend? Whatever the case, speaking to other parents about their child’s experience is a great way to get feel for the strengths and weaknesses of that school.

2. Look Into What Makes School Unique
This point is best directed to those children graduating middle or high school, but does apply to some elementary school graduates. I’m of course talking about unique programs in each school. Yes, every public school has a general curriculum that they must follow, however some schools have special and unique programs. For example, Northern Secondary School has a fantastic gifted program. Anyways, the point is, you should figure out your child’s strengths (our evaluation can help with that) and find a special program that may help utilize their strengths.

3. Read About It
There are many magazines and journals, such as Macleans, that rank schools on a variety of categories. These categories range from academics to campus life. Overall, I found these lists a helpful tools for students looking at secondary education because it is one of the easiest ways to compare almost every college and university across Canada.

4. Visit The School
Almost every university and college offers campus tours that you and your child could attend. For schools in Toronto, one day tour would be enough. As schools in other cities, I recommend choosing a weekend and going up with your child to see the school. Wherever you attend, your child should be with you. It is them attending the school and they must feel comfortable on campus.

To attend an elementary, middle, or high schools it is a little more difficult. I recommend calling the school before you attend to ask their procedural for visiting their school. Listen to what they say and don’t break the rules. Once again, it is vital for your child to be with you, because they need to feel at home in order to learn properly.

5. Where Are Their Friends Going?
You’ve done everything I’ve listed above and you’re still stuck? Well for some students, especially those going into high school, having a core of friends joining them in their journey is important to make sure they are happy. Obviously, this is different for every child, but that type o safety net really could help your child achieve a smooth transition to the new school.

That’s the list. I hope it works for you and your child finds the school that is right for them!

Cheers,
David

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