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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

workspace workspace 2

 

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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Learning Games and Activities for Children to do During the Summer Holidays

6a00e55111563088340168e6f3fc88970c-320wiContinuing on from last week’s blog post, we’ve put together a few more activities to do with your children this summer. By keeping their minds activities during these few weeks off, they’ll be fully prepared for school in September.

Money

– Shopping
When shopping look for items that are cheaper than a dollar. Ask your children to pick a couple of items so that the total can be bought for $3.50. They’re rewarded with the items they’ve picked!

– Banks
Give your children piles of 5, 10 and 25 cents to count. If you give them fifteen 5 cent coins, how much is the total?
How many 10 cent coins will they give you to make a dollar?
If you have ten 5 cent coins, ask them how many 10 cent coins will they swap you for them?

– Piggy Bank
Most children like to collect money in a piggy bank, so every time they have earned pocket money give it to them in change.
When the piggy bank is nearly full ask you children to figure out the best way to count all the money. Big coins first? Make 10s? Put all the same values together? Randomly? Start with a few coins then add more, depending on your child’s confidence.
Shape

– 2D Identification
On walks, drives or at home, spot and name any 2D shapes that you see, for example: road signs = triangle and a window = square. Ask you children to draw them and then label them with the name of the shape.

– 2D Cutting
From newspapers/magazines, cut out pictures of 2D shapes to make colourful pictures.

– Shape Make
Use an old food box or greetings card to make a range of 2D shapes. Quadrilaterals and triangles should be easy, as should irregular pentagons, hexagons, heptagons and octagons.

– 2D Drawing
Use accurate ruler skills (or shapes made above) to make a picture using 2D shapes. For example, a house with square windows, rectangular door and circular door handle.

– Right Angle Hunt
Look around you to find lots of right angles (90 degrees). You could play an eye-spy type game (“I spy with my little eye a right angle on something blue and metal.”)

– 3D Identification
Draw and name any 3D shapes that you see at home or on your travels. For example a can = a cylinder, ball = sphere. Ask your children to name them and identify some of their properties.

– 3D Model
Make a model with ‘junk’ using mathematical names for the shapes. Discuss their properties, for example: vertices (corners), edges and faces.

Enjoy! Let us know which ones you try!

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It’s Never Too Early to Engage Children in STEM Education

istock_kids_stemExperts in education throughout the world agree that there is a national imperative to graduate students with an understanding of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). In 2007, a Carnegie Foundation commission concluded that the capacity to innovate and thrive in the modern workforce depends on a foundation of math and science learning.

But what is STEM exactly? STEM is an interdisciplinary and an applied approach to teaching. Rather than teach the four disciplines as separate subjects, STEM integrates them into a cohesive learning paradigm based on real-world applications. STEM can also be described as a philosophy: it’s a way of helping students to think in a more connected and holistic way.

Many parents ask us what age we think it is appropriate to start teaching STEM to children. We believe that it is never too early to start STEM education.

Children are very active learners at 1,2 and 3 years old so you don’t necessarily have to wait until they start kindergarten to engage in STEM activities. The research is quite clear that the best practice in early childhood education is to break away from passive instruction and allow for more play and investigation, and this kind of learning early in life builds skills and interests that serve children throughout their school years, and later in life. Take your children to the park and let them explore, get up and watch a sunrise with them or let them swim in the sea.

Lilian G. Katz, in STEM in the Early Years, lays out a case that the best practice for early education is to allow students to be active, engaged, and take initiative in their own learning. Allowing our children to have the opportunities to take initiative in their own learning is not only good for STEM learning, but for overall long-term academic success.

In a lot of academic instruction children are in a passive or receptive mode instead of being more active. Early childhood education should tap into children’s natural curiosity and give them ample opportunities to be active participants in their own learning. Natural settings offer children almost unlimited opportunities to explore and investigate, helping them build STEM skills that create a solid foundation for future learning.

If you’d like more information about STEM education please get in touch. We over private and group out-of-school classes in Toronto.

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World Autism Awareness Day 2015: Characteristics of Autism

displaymediaWorld Autism Awareness Day takes place every year on April 2nd. The aim of the day is to spread awareness about a neurological disorder called autism. The resolution for World Awareness Day was adopted by the UN in December 2007, and since then countries across the globe have been highlighting the importance of understanding autism.

Did you know that according to the National Autistic Society, Autism is the world’s third most common development disorder? One in every 100 people suffers from autism in the UK and around one in every 68 children in America, but those figures are nothing compared to India: close to 15 million people suffer from autism at present. It’s when we realize that so many people suffer from autism across the world that days like World Autism Awareness Day become so important.

The CN Tower lit up blue last year for World Autism Awareness Day

The CN Tower was lit up blue last year for World Autism Awareness Day

What is autism?

Autism Speaks describes autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism as “a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors. With the May 2013 publication of the DSM-5 diagnostic manual, all autism disorders were merged into one umbrella diagnosis of ASD. Previously, they were recognized as distinct subtypes, including autistic disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) and Asperger syndrome.

ASD can be associated with intellectual disability, difficulties in motor coordination and attention and physical health issues such as sleep and gastrointestinal disturbances. Some persons with ASD excel in visual skills, music, math and art.”

The most obvious signs of autism tend to emerge between two and three years of ages, highlighting that autism has roots in early brain development.

Characteristics

When we first started researching and trying to understand autism, one of the most important things that we discovered is the fact that every autistic person is different and they have their own idiosyncratic characteristics.

This means that a child’s senses and development of skills are not in sync, this may lead to a situation where a child may have developed cognitive skills while language, social or motor skills may lag behind, for example. Some children become sensitive to noise, light or smell while others may find social interaction challenging. These are some of the not-so-subtle signs that all parents needs to look out for.

People with autism often suffer from restricted behaviour and establish an affinity towards routine and find it difficult to accept change.

An autistic child may show signs of finding it difficult to make sense of the world around them and communicating their feelings. This includes establishing relationships with people, being able to express themselves, understanding metaphors or associating symbols with language.

We have briefly described autism and some of the systems to look out for, so it’s definitely worth doing your research to find out more. Even if you don’t know anyone who suffers from autism, spreading the word about the disorder can only better our communities.

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Easter Weekend in Toronto, Canada, 2015 – Family Events

EasterParadeI don’t know about you, but our little ones are counting down the days until next weekend, when we celebrate Easter! Our children love Easter for many reasons including the chocolate easter eggs, goodies, arts and crafts at school and easter egg hunts. But our children love Easter for another reason too, we spend the whole long weekend exploring the city and attend events and festivals. Here are some of our favourite events happening next weekend! Make sure to register in advance!

  • Easter Traditions at Colborne Lodge
    March 21, 2015 to April 5, 2015 – 12:00 pm until 4:00 pm
    Visit inside Colborne Lodge and learn about 19th century Easter traditions. Families will tour the museum and spot Easter treasures hidden in the restored rooms. Children dye their own eggs using natural dyes. Last tour at 3:15 pm.
  • Kidnetix Annual Easter Egg Hunt
    April 3, 2015 – 9:30 am until 4:00 pm
    A fun filled Egg-citing Easter Egg Hunt! 3 hunts to choose from: 9:30 am to 11:00 am, 12:00 pm to 1:30 pm, and 2:30 pm to 4:00 pm. Includes: indoor playground fun, crafts, Hunny the Easter bunny, tattoos and face painting, Easter egg hunt, Easter basket giveaway, free play passes, and lots more surprises! 2 locations: Brampton and Toronto.
  • Brooks Farms Easter Fest Egg Hunt
    April 3, 2015 to April 5, 2015
    Events includes: Train or wagon ride, barnyard playland, maple sugar bush tours and meet and greet with the mascots! Take part in an Easter Egg Hunt (1 to 6 years) and a Scavenger Hunt (7 to 12 years). Easter weekend 2015 overlaps with the Maple Sugar Festival, which means the Sugar Bush tours will be included with admission to the Easter Festival. Weather permitting.
  • Canadian Pet Expo
    April 3, 2015 to April 5, 2015
    The Canadian Pet Expo is a true pet lover’s and pet family experience focusing on promoting responsible pet ownership with interactive events, demonstrations, vendor support, and workshops. Kids can take part in special Easter activities on April 5.
  • Easter Egg Hunt at Alpha’s Discovery Club Indoor Playground
    April 4, 2015 – 10:00 am until 12:00 pm
    Alpha’s Discovery Club Indoor Playground in Mississauga is holding its annual Easter Egg Hunt with the Easter bunny. The children will make an Easter theme craft and hunt for Easter eggs hidden around the indoor playground. Space is limited so reserve your tickets!
  • Community Easter Egg Hunt at Adventure Valley!
    April 4, 2015 – 10:00 am until 4:00 pm
    Adventure Valley welcomes all families in the community to the Community Easter Family Fun Event! There will be entertainment, food, Easter egg hunting, arts and crafts, and more. Set on a country club-like setting, conveniently located right at Leslie and Steeles.
  • Easter Sweets & Chocolate Tour
    April 5, 2015 – 11:30 am until 1:30 pm
    Treat yourself and your loved ones to a sweet Easter on Toronto’s only sweets tour, eat your way through the colourful neighbourhood of Kensington Market. What to expect: guided tour on the history of sweets, introduction to 6 sweet stores, samples from each location, discounts at select merchants, fun yum times for all! The tour is from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm. Adult $35 – Children $20. At Ding Dong Pastries & Cafe.
  • Toronto Beaches Lions Club Easter Parade
    April 5, 2015 – 2:00 pm
    Over the years the Toronto Beaches Lions Club Easter Parade has grown into an event that the entire city enjoys. It attracts more than 50,000 spectators of all faiths, religions, and cultures. This is a very important event to the Beaches Lions Club, our community and the charitable organizations they serve. It begins at 2:00 pm sharp and runs for approximately two hours. It will begin the parade on Queen Street at Munro Park and proceed west along Queen Street ending at Woodbine Ave.

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Toronto’s Easter Parade is one of the city’s oldest traditions, starting in the early 1900’s along the waterfront at Sunnyside Park.

  • Easter Chocolate Workshop
    April 5, 2015 – 4:30 pm until 6:00 pm
    A fun and interactive afternoon for parents and children playing with chocolate! Learn about chocolate history and tasting, then get creative making your own vanilla chocolate truffles and lollipops with the host chocolatier Odile (Odile Chocolat). What to expect: taste and learn about different chocolates, roll your own vanilla chocolate truffles, for the children, create chocolate lollipops, take home your handmade treats, happy times for all! Adult $49 – Children $39. At Odile Chocolate.
  • Easter Brunch at Casa Loma
    April 5, 2015
    Join CasaLoma to celebrate Easter with a spectacular Easter Brunch. This unique buffet brunch will feature a delectable array of traditional brunch classics and signature dishes. The complete menu can be viewed on the website. Reservations are required.

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St. Patrick’s Day Joint Activities for Parents and Children

St-Patricks-Day-Kids-3St. Patrick’s Day is a chance for everyone to celebrate Irish culture and heritage. We’ve put together a fun list of activities and facts for your children, with a cheeky Irish themed cocktail recipe at the end for parents!

1. Grow your own Shamrocks

The weather has been so nice over the last couple of days here in Toronto, if it continues you could head out into your garden with your children. Plant some shamrock seeds and talk about the importance of gardening: you could mention anything from the source of food to looking after the environment. Alternative you can by little pots and plant your shamrock seeds indoors, either way your kids get to make a bit of a mess with a spade and you’re broadening their minds at the same time!

2. History

St Patricks Day history for kids doesn’t have to be all about drawing rainbows and wearing green. We’ve always enjoyed teaching our children the real history behind holidays and events. In this list we’ve include some of the popular stories and legends as well as the actual facts about the holiday, take note of the ones your children show interest in, you should follow up on them. There’s a ton of information online or head to your local library. Here’s a brief rundown of St. Patrick’s history:

  • St. Patrick’s Day is the feast day of the patron saint of Ireland named St. Patrick. Patrick wasn’t born Irish, he was brought to Ireland as a slave after he was kidnapped. He managed to escaped back to Britain to be with his family but while there, a voice told him to go back to Ireland. He was ordained as a priest and spent the rest of his life working to bring Christianity to Ireland. St. Patrick’s Day is the national holiday of Ireland and we celebrate it each year on March 17 because this is the day he is rumored to have died.
  • People search for four leaf clovers which are very rare, finding one is supposed to be very lucky. A shamrock is actually a three leaf clover like plant. Legend has it that St. Patrick used the shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit).
  • The colour of St. Patrick’s Day is green. Ireland is known for it’s green shades of grass and the shamrock is green as well.
  • Traditionally people eat corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day although we enjoy it all year.
  • Some people claim that St. Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland. However, science has proven that there never were any snakes in Ireland because of the cold climate. It is thought that the word snakes in this legend actually represent driving out the pagan ways when he introduced Christianity.
  • Irish legend says that there is a small Irish fairy called the leprechaun. He wears pointed shoes, a hat and a leather apron. According to the legend, he’s very unfriendly and lives alone in the forest guarding his pots of gold. The story says that if you find a leprechaun, he will have to tell you where is gold is hidden. If you look away for even one second, the leprechaun will disappear along with all his gold.

3. Cooking

Corned beef is a traditional Irish meal eaten throughout the year, but it’s a favourite on St. Patricks day. If you have time, spend an hour or so making it from scratch with help from your children. Not only is it a lot healthier to make a homemade version compared to the processed store bought alternatives, you’re setting a good example for your children (to eat healthy) and you’re bonding over the simpler things in life rather than games and tv.

4. Shamrock math race!

We really like this simple math game for kindergarteners from Coffee Cups and Crayons.

5. Pot of Gold cocktail for parents

Serves 2
-2 tbsp fresh pear juice mix (see below)
-2 tbsp Michael Collins Irish whiskey
-Sparkling wine or Champagne of your choice
-Lemon twist for garnish

Mix the pear juice and the whiskey together in a liquid measuring cup or some other cup that has a spout, which will make it easier to pour. Divide the mixture equally between two Champagne flutes. Slowly top with bubbly, then garnish with a lemon twist. Enjoy!

For the pear juice mix:
-2 ripe d’anjou pears, peeled, cored, and diced
-4 tbsp water
-2 tsp fresh lemon juice

Place all the ingredients into a food processor and run the machine until the mixture is pureed. You may need to stop and scrape down the sides a few times to get the mixture smooth. Place a fine mesh strainer or sieve over a non-reactive bowl, then pour the mixture in. Allow the juice to drain out, stirring the puree gently to help the process along. Serve right away!

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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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Family Day Activities in Toronto

family-day-2Thankfully, winter this year has been considerably kinder to us in comparison to last year’s polar vortex winter. However, that doesn’t mean that we aren’t all looking forward to an extra day off this weekend, a much welcome break during the long winter months.

Family Day is one of our favourite holidays; spending quality time with our family, having fun and being thankful for the people who are around us, what could be better. We’ve put together a list of some of the best events happening this weekend, let us know which ones you’ll be attending!

  1. Kids Fest

Running all weekend, Kids Fest features the largest indoor inflatable road show for kids. Located in Mississauga, head there this weekend for a great family outing day of fun.

  1. Ski Dagmar

Exercise and fun? If you and your family don’t often get the chance to leave the city to explore Ontario’s beautiful countryside now is the time, and it’s not even that far out of the city!

  1. Toronto’s historic sites

Maybe don’t tell your children that you’re going to look at old historic sites, it’ll sound more like a history class than a fun day out, unless they really like history class. Tell them about Fort York, where they can sample freshly baked goods made on a hearth, for example, or learn Irish dancing and listen to stories at Montgomery’s Inn.

  1. Hockey Hall of Fame

If you and your family are big hockey fans, the Hockey Hall of Fame is bound to be an interesting and informative few hours for you and your children. Why not dust off your skates and head to your local ice rink afterwards for a family game of hockey? If your family is large enough you could get into teams!

  1. Winter Stations

Five lifeguard stations along the Toronto Beaches are transformed into art installations. Chosen from among 200 different submissions, these installations will be open to the public to view and experience for six weeks, so no rush, but it could be a nice walk on Monday afternoon if it’s not too cold.

Also, how lucky are we to live in a country where we’re given a day off work to spend time with our families, just another reason why we love Canada.

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Halloween in Toronto 2014

PumpkinsHalloween is one of the most exciting times of the year for kids. From halloween costumes and jack o’ lanterns to haunted houses, it is a day that fuels kids’ imaginations. Although it is primarily a day of fun for the family, as it should be, it doesn’t hurt to capitalize on you kids interest with these educational activities.

What better time to read stories to your younger children, or to suggest a novel or two to your teenagers. Everyone enjoys a ghost story, monster tale or horror novel around halloween, these are our recommended books for the entire family which are guaranteed to be halloween hits.

  • The Witches by Roald Dahl
  • The Legend of West Fork by J.T Lewis
  • The Raven and Other Poems by Edgar Allen Poe
  • The Shining by Stephen King
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  • Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice
  • Dracula by Bram Stoker
  • The Host by Stephanie Meyer

There are some really fun (educational/cultural) events happening around Toronto this weekend that will be a fun day out for the whole family:

Boo at Toronto Zoo!

Up to two kids in costume (12 and under) get in free when accompanied by an adult. All kids are eligible to take part in the “Critters and Costumes Parade” at 11:40 am and 2:40 pm daily, departing from the Waterside Theatre. Also on hand for the Boo fun is My Little Pony who will be at the Zoo’s Courtyard Stage. Kids can also drop by the Play-Doh Play Centre next to the Courtyard Stage to create their very own Zoo animal or Halloween creation. Check out Zoo animals receiving festive pumpkins throughout the day.

Symphonic Spooks – Toronto Symphony Orchestra

Delight in hair-raising, spine-chilling classical music, as creatures of all kinds come to haunt the concert hall. Perfect for trick-or-treaters of all ages, well-known spooky works, including Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera Overture, selections from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and Symphony fantastique will be heard echoing throughout the hall.

The Haunted Walk of Toronto

From the old military town of York to the metropolitan city of today, discover Toronto’s ghost stories and darker history.  Hear of the city’s  haunted theatres, public hangings and the terrifying encounters at Mackenzie House.  Definitely not for young children!

We hope you have a lovely halloween week, let us know what you get up to! We’d love to see pictures of everyone dressed up! 

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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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Nelson Mandela Day, a global movement that all families should be aware of.

nelson-mandela-dayOn July 18 more than 100 countries are set to join South Africa in its commemoration of Nelson Mandela International Day. The day was launched in recognition of Mandela’s birthday via unanimous decision of the UN General Assembly.

The day was inspired by a call Nelson Mandela made in 2008, for the next generation to take on the burden of leadership in addressing the world’s social injustices when he said that “it is in your hands now”. 

Our children are this next generation, and educating and celebrating his life and legacy will hopefully have a positive effect on the youth of today. This global movement not only honours his life’s work but it encourages adults and children alike to act to change the world for the better. 

This year marks the first time the day has been celebrated without the icon, however more than 1000 worldwide events are set to be held this year, more than any other year. 

In recognition of his legacy and of this day, the City of Toronto is planning to honour Nelson Mandela with a dedication of a city street, which is yet to be announced. Also, back in June the president of the Toronto Raptors, Masai Ujiri, organized and event to honour Nelson Mandela. Joined by a number of celebrities and business leaders the event raised significant funds for Giants of Africa and the Nelson Mandela Foundation. 

There are many small simple things we can do as families that doesn’t involve donating large sums of money but the gesture means just as much: 

Why not ask your child to donate a toy? Explaining that there are many children who aren’t lucky enough to have the same privileges. 

What about encouraging your children to ride their bikes more? Then sign up for a cycle challenge and raise some money for charity. 

Or what about using your shoppers points to buy a gift card and giving it to someone who cannot afford to buy food? 

As Nelson Mandela said: “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”

 

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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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Make Dad proud this Fathers Day with thoughtful gifts and fun events

A simple but nice idea is to make a “Jar Full Of Love” for Dad. Encourage your little ones to write down a bunch of messages that tells their Dad just how much he means to them. Not only is it extremely thoughtful but it will help with your child’s writing skills!

Why not take Dad to a ball game? What we love about baseball is that it’s an extremely sociable sport. Enjoy some nachos and let Dad explain the rules, plus it’s a team sport so you can show your children way being a part of a team is often important.

Another cute crafty idea is to make notepad that Dad can take to work. Wrap a rubber band around a notepad cube and using a large felt tip pen help your children to write messages on the sides. Remove band and tie with a ribbon! 

Dads + Cars = A good day out. The Yorkville exotic car show takes place from 12-5 on Father’s Day, where you can see over 12 examples of classic and exotic cars. Fun game: see how many types of cars your children can remember.

Let us know what you guys get up to this Father’s Day and we hope you have fun!

 

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10 alternative activities to do in Toronto this summer

It’s always nice to do something a little different with your family, especially in the beautiful weather. We’ve researched a bunch of “out of the norm” activities for you to do during June and these were our favourite.

Camp without leaving the city

Have you ever wanted to go camping but you don’t have the time to travel a long distance. Or have you ever wanted just one night to sleep under the stars instead of in your condo? Toronto’s only camping spot, the Glen Rouge Campground, is easy to reach from highways and is on the banks of the Rouge River. With hiking trails and beaches near by, you don’t even need to leave the city for that one moment of tranquility. 

Music Festival

The free Waterfront Blues Festival this year promises to be fun for the whole family. There will be a kids fun zone so that you can enjoy a glass of wine while watching the Juno and Grammy awarded artists!

Gourmet picnic

Enjoy food from different parts of the city with the Culinary Adventure Co. They organise gourmet picnics on The Island and food walking tours around the different neighbourhoods!

Summerlicious

Take your family to a restaurant that you normally wouldn’t go to with Summerlicious. Expensive and exclusive restaurants will offer prix fixes at a low cost for 2 weeks this summer. 

Make homemade popsicles

Did you know that most popsicles contain high fructose corn syrup laden with red and blue dyes? Definitely not a healthy treat for your children, we suggest making them from scratch with fresh fruit! If you’ve never made them before here is a great article to get you started. 

Go for a bike ride in the Don Valley

There are some beautiful paths that run through the Don Valley which are great for all levels of ability. 

Cherry Beach

Cherry Beach is a popular beach linking the Outer Harbour to Toronto’s Portlands. It can get super busy here but if you’re able to go during the week it’s definitely worth a visit, especially if you have a dog! 

Go fishin’

Did you know you could go fishing in Toronto? Check out Ashbridges Bay Park and Rouge Park

Spend a night on a boat

What could be better than a boat bread and breakfast?! The Making Wave Boatel is open from May until September and offers a great family vacation or a romantic weekend away while the kids are at camp!

 

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Earth Day 2014

April 22 is one of the most important days in the calendar year, Earth Day. Celebrated every year in Canada since 1990, it is the largest environmental event in the world. Did you know that according to Earth Day Canada more than six million Canadians participate in Earth Day activities in their communities each year? This includes nearly every school-aged child throughout the country. 

Toronto is a great city for getting involved with Earth Day events, and each year the council organizes “the city’s annual spring clean-up.” Friends, families, co-workers and classmates are encouraged to clean a park, lane way or any space that needs a bit of TLC. The ultimate goal of the clean up is to eliminate litter, stop graffiti vandalism and just to, in general, keep Toronto clean and green. Events are scheduled from April 22 – 27, but the community clean up days are scheduled on the 26 and 27. Thousands of families throughout Toronto will do their part to keep their neighbourhoods clean and green, including Light in the Attic Learning. You can register an area near you here, it’s a great opportunity to teach your children about the importance of looking after one’s environment. 

Discussing and showing your children ways they can help the environment from a young age will hopefully impact their behaviour as adults for the better. If you find that your children get bored easily and you’re struggling to educate them about Earth Day, there’s a super fun website called ecokids.ca where your children can play informative games. These educational activities delve into topics such as wildlife, energy, climate change and waste.

Last year NASA released a video for Earth Month in an effort to raise awareness of the agency’s Earth observation programs. As most children love space related shows and activities, it may be a fun to research NASA’s programs over the last few years. This video for example, features a variety of big-picture imagery, including true-colour satellite photos, data visualizations, computer models and time-lapse footage from the International Space Station.

There are many events happening around the city next week from clothing swaps to discovery walks. It promises to be a jam packed informative week for the whole family, something which will hopefully continue indefinitely.  

 

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What do your children know about Easter?

For many people, Easter is all about the long weekend but what many families forget is that Easter is the most important festival in the Christian calendar. It celebrates the resurrection of Jesus, three days after he was executed. Even if your family are not of the Christian faith, it’s important to educated children on the beliefs of others.

The week leading up to the Easter weekend is known as Holy Week. The sunday before Easter Sunday is called Palm Sunday and it is the first day of Holy Week. It is believed that this is when Jesus arrived in Jerusalem riding on a donkey. Often small crosses made from palm leaves will be given out as a reminder of Jesus’ entrance in Jerusalem and his death on the cross. 

The Thursday before the Easter weekend is commonly known as Maundy Thursday. This is when Jesus ate the Passover meal with his disciples, also called the Last Supper. Christians remember this every Sunday during Mass where they share bread and wine. 

Good Friday is the Friday before Easter Sunday. It commemorates the execution of Jesus by crucifixion. In some countries, there are special Good Friday processions, or re-enactments of the Crucifixion.

Easter Sunday marks Jesus’ resurrection. Christians believe that Jesus overcame death and sin, and if they follow his teachings they too will have eternal life in heaven. 

There are many ways to celebrate and learn about Easter in Toronto over the next couple of weeks. Families can buy or make chocolate Easter eggs and give them as gifts to one another. It is a nice gesture as traditionally they are a symbol of new life. 

There are various events being held throughout Toronto over the next couple of weeks, including Easter egg hunts, which will be fun for the little ones! One thing that shouldn’t be missed is the Toronto Beaches Lions Annual Easter Parade which has been held every year since 1966. 

You can educate your children further about Easter with some of these fun activities curtsy of ABC Teach

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When was the last time you read a poem?

In 1999 the UN announced that March 21 would now be known as World Poetry Day. This was in an attempt to give a fresh perspective of international poetry movements with the premise “that poetry reaffirms our common humanity by revealing to us that individuals, everywhere in the world, share the same questions and feelings.” 

One of the main goals of the day is to “support linguistic diversity through poetic expression,” encouraging youth and adults to be heard within their communities. This can be done through the traditional poetry recitals or through more contemporary arts such as online media, dance and painting. As a tutor in Toronto, I feel that we need to show the young how fun and meaningful the art of poetry can be, so that it isn’t considered an outdated art form, but a comfortable medium where individuals can show their identities and speak about topics they are passionate about. 

A great example of this is shown through Fujiwara Dance Inventions, a group of Toronto based dancers. They have taken a traditional poem by Christian Bok and have created a dance production. In Bok’s Eunoia, each chapter is constrained to the use of a single vowel, yet he still creates the illusion of various fascinating worlds. In the dance adaptation the dances also follow these formal rules which allows them to transform the choreography. “The result is a witty and absorbing monument to human expression.”

Although it is important to show our children the modern creativity of poetry, they have to know the influences and the original work in order to fully understand the new interpretations. Here’s a list of my favourite influential poets of the Twentieth Century that everyone, not just youth, should own a copy of their works. 

  • Edgar Allan Poe
  • William Shakespeare
  • Walt
  • Whitman
  • Oscar Wilde
  • Sylvia Plath
  • Seamus Heaney
  • Dylan Thomas

As it is World Poetry Day why not head to a bookstore, pick up a copy, and immerse your family in the beautiful world of poetry. 

On a side note, if you want your child to become a whizz at grammar, spelling and linguistics, we offer various after school tutoring lessons in Toronto that will help your kids read complicated works like Shakespeare much easier. 

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All things Pi!

pi dayMarch 14 (that is, 3/14) is the day when teachers show and engage students in the study of mathematics through fun activities revolved around Pi. It’s the perfect time for educators to show students who don’t enjoy the subject just how fun maths can be.

Here at Light in the Attic Learning, we try and make maths as exciting and interesting as possible everyday in order to help students meet their maximum potential.

The official Pi Day website describes perfectly why Pi is extremely important and has major impact on most aspect of mathematics:

“Pi (π) is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. Pi is a constant number, meaning that for all circles of any size, Pi will be the same. The diameter of a circle is the distance from edge to edge, measuring straight through the centre. The circumference of a circle is the distance around.”

Pi is the one number that captivates teachers and students alike as its digits go on infinitely without any pattern in the numbers. For example the first digits are 3.14159 and are the most commonly used digits, but on Pi Day students are inspired to memorize thousands of digits or use them to create art, music and poetry! The Guinness World Record for memorizing pi is held by a Chinese student who recited 67,890 digits correctly!!

Of course, we all need to eat at least one slice of pie to mark the occasion. In downtown Toronto Ryerson University will be giving out desserts at the Sears Atrium all day, followed by talk by math professor Pawel Pralat who will focus on the history, advancement and appearances of pi in pop culture!

If you haven’t had enough pie by this evening Wanda’s Pie in the Sky is hosting a pie showdown. They will be making special square pies, hosting pi trivia, throwing pie catapults and just in general having a fun messy evening.

Today is also Albert Einstein’s birthday, if nothing else, that’s an excuse for all the parents to have a glass of wine!

Happy Pi Day everyone!

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Rainy day activities!

March break is just around the corner, and with the sudden dip in weather, there’s good chance that it’s going to be super cold. Can you believe that it was minus 50 in some parts of Canada last week??! It’s best to plan ahead for these situations, so we’ve found a few activities that will keep your little ones busy indoors during the break.

1. City play mat from a shower curtain

I found this activity on My Little Gems, I like it because it’s not going to break the bank and it will help bring out young children’s creative streaks. All you need is a shower curtain from a dollar store, some permanent and fabric markers. Draw on the curtain with the permanent markers, then your kids can colour in the simple images you have drawn or add to them.

2.  Dr. Seuss day

If your children haven’t read Dr. Seuss yet, now is the time. I love that the creators of the blog All For The Boys, have found a whole afternoon’s worth of activities based on two of the Dr. Seuss books. Once you and your little ones have read One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish why not make fish origami? Next read Cat In The Hat and make pop up cats and themed muffins!

3. Board games

When I was growing up Monopoly and Scrabble were two staple board games played most weekends. Playing games with your children is a fun way to spend some quality time together whilst teaching them about following the rules, fairness, sportsmanship and much more. Sites like Amazon have a section called “educational board games” which is always a good place to start when looking for a new game.

4. Baking

One of the best things about cooking with children is when you see their excitement when the finished product comes out of the oven. Look at this amazing digger themed cake, it is really easy to make! When you cook with your children, it’s the perfect time to teach them about healthy eating.

5. Building shapes

A simple yet effective way of teaching your kids about the different types of shapes used in school. You can easily make coloured sticks out of cardboard, colour coordinate them and label them with the number of sides each shape has. The children will choose a colour and build the matching coloured shape from the sticks! Great for budding mathematicians!! Thanks for the idea A B C Preschool.

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March Break madness tutoring promotion!!

Our own version of March Break Madness – Take advantage of this great offer and help your special student get ahead over March Break.

Promotion

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Top 10 family activities to do in Toronto during the March break

March break is just around the corner, allowing families to spend some quality time together. We’ve found some activities taking place in the GTA that are educational and entertaining, activities that parents can also enjoy. They are all affordable and will keep the kids away from the television! Have fun!

1. Hands in the bowl

Join Evergreen Brickworks chef, Nyle Johnston for a cooking workshop designed for children between the ages of 4-7.

Children learn about the different tastes and textures of key ingredients used in day to day cooking. A hands-on program, it encourages participants to mix, grate and mash using only their hands.

For more information click here.

2. Where the Wild Things Are stage production

Maurice Sendak’s children’s book, Where the Wild Things Are, is still just as popular as it was 50 years ago. The recent movie adaptation of the novel, proved popular with adults and children alike, so why not go to the stage production version during the March break. Produced by Presentation House Theatre, it’s showing at the Young People’s Theatre on Front Street east. You never know, it may encourage your child to read the book too!

For more information click here.

3. Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament

Does your son or daughter love history? This could be a fun activity for the whole family, while fuelling your child’s love of history and all things medieval. Guests enjoy a 4 course banquet whilst watching an authentic jousting tournament. It links modern society to the past and teaches the young about valour, glory and chivalry.

For more information click here.

4. Sugarbush Maple Syrup Festival

What kid doesn’t love maple syrup? Head over to this festival to learn all about the history of Canada’s world famous syrup, there will be plenty of free samples!

There are numerous maple syrup festivals happening throughout March, have a look online to see which one is closest to you.

For more information about Sugarbush Maple Syrup Festival click here.

5. Ripley’s Aquarium

Ripley’s Aquarium is the largest aquarium in North American, it house 15,000 animals including sharks. Walk your children through/under/above Canadian waters, the rainbow reef and the dangerous lagoon. With plenty to read, touch and see at each station, your children will become knowledgeable about all things under the sea.

For more information click here.

6. Hockey Hall of Fame

Is your son or daughter a budding sports star? Teach them the ways of sportsmanship at the Hockey Hall of Fame this March. As Canada’s national sport, looking back at the influential players could provide inspiration and determination to do well during gym class!

For more information click here.

7. Toronto Comicon

Do your children love comics, video games and fantasy television shows? This is the place to take them then. Attendees are able to participate in a Q&A session with various celebrities from hit television shows and  there will be numerous workshops and seminars. The best bit…costumes are encourage!

For more information click here.

8. Sneaking Around

The Bata Shoe Museum is holding a spy-themed event during March break. There promises to be lots of spy-themed arts, crafts and activities!

For more information click here.

9. ROM’s Dinosaur Gallery

From Jurassic Part to Ice Age, dinosaurs and mammals are used as a constant source of entertainment for families in films, so why not bring them to life at the Royal Ontario Museum. The gallery is home to 750 specimens including nearly complete dinosaur skeletons and fossil mammal skeletons.

For more information click here.

10. Toronto Zoo

Finally, if it’s a nice sunny day why not head to the zoo? There are over 5000 animals 460 species to see, all based on geographical locations.

For more information click here.

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Why Jump Math?

Jump MathI don’t think it’s a secret that here at Light in the Attic Learning we love and trust the JUMP math program. JUMP math was created by our hero John Migthon and brings excitement to learning mathematics. The program holds students attention by turning them into active learners seeking out how to solve problems, instead of being passive learners who are taught a method.

While the program does turn the student into an active learner, it does not bombard them with too much information. Its slow burn approach really allows them to grasp the information at their own pace. Here at Light in The Attic Learning we provide personalized tutors and programs in order to help your child learn, and not memorize the material at their own, unique pace. JUMP really facilitates this way of learning and that’s why I love it.

Another reason I love JUMP is because unlike many curriculum’ word problem approach to math (which seeks to teach key concepts through contextualized word problems), JUMP uses a building block approach, which makes sense when you acknowledge that math is a subject that builds on prior knowledge.  This building block approach to math, strips down every aspect of a math equation and teaches the basic concept in a step-by-step fashion. By providing basic concepts or the building blocks, students will always have the tools and confidence to solve any mathematical problem they face.

Also, by focusing on steps (or building blocks) our tutors can identify the specific concept that is at the source of any blockage and focus on explaining that specific step.

Overall, as an educator and parent I love to engage the people around me and help them gain the essential skills to succeed in all their endeavors. JUMP math works in coordination to this belief. That is why JUMP is effective and a staple of Light in the Attic Learning.

Do you have any questions about the JUMP Math Program? Click the email button below and send me an email! I’ll get back to you ASAP.

All the best,
David

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