Teachers on Call

Archive for August, 2013

Back to School Jitters – What Parents Can Do to Help

Featuring: Lindsay Ross, MSW,RSW

As the end of summer quickly approaches, many children start to experience the usual feelings of nervous excitement that come with the impending first day back at school.  Whether it’s the start of kindergarten or the first day of high school, it is normal for kids to worry about the unknowns of a brand new school year.  These worries often include:

1)      Will I like my teacher(s)? Will my teacher(s) like me?

2)      Will my friends still like me after the summer? Will I meet new friends?

3)      What if I get teased or bullied?

4)      Will I achieve academically? Can I manage my course load? Am I taking the right courses?

So how can parents support their children through these last few days of summer and with the transition back to school?  Here are some general strategies that parents can use to help ease their child’s anxiety as they embark on a new school year:


Stay Calm

Children, both young and old, are extremely in-tune with their parent’s emotions.  If you are openly anxious and worried about the transition back to school then your child will most likely pick up on that nervous energy.  They will start believing that if mom and dad are worried then there must be a good reason.  Try and stay calm.


Stay Positive and Normalize their Feelings

A new year often means new challenges and opportunities.  Remind your children of their past successes as well as their skills.  Communicating to your child that you believe in their strengths and capabilities can help boost their confidence and feelings of self-worth.  Explain to your kids that what they are feeling is completely normal.


Visit the School

Familiarizing yourself with your new surroundings can remove a lot of undue stress.  If your child is entering into a new school, go for a tour.  Locate your classroom, gym and cafeteria.  Getting lost on the first day is very common.  If you know where some important landmarks are located, you are already ahead of the game.


Meet with your Teacher(s)

If you know who your teachers will be in advance, it can be helpful to book a meeting with them before the start of the school year.  Have your child prepare some questions that they may want to ask their teacher, for example, how to access extra help if needed or how to let the teacher know if certain academic or social issues arise.  Allowing your child to prepare and ask questions will encourage your child’s building of autonomy and self-confidence.


Meeting with the School Guidance Counsellor

If your child requires special school accommodations, it will be important to meet with the school guidance counsellor to organize a plan, or at least get the ball rolling, prior to the start of school.  Creating a realistic and structured plan can relieve a lot of stress and worry.  If the plan meets the child’s needs, they will feel that they have been taken seriously and supported by their school.


Be Available to Talk to your Kids

You are the expert on your children and the most important support system in their lives.  Frequently reminding your children that you are always available to talk about both the good and the bad opens the door for communication.  Put down your cell phone, turn off your computer and television and make sure that every day you devote some quality time to be with your kids.  They need to know that they are your number one priority.

Lindsay Ross is a clinical social worker working in private practice in Toronto, Ontario.  For more information on her services, please feel free to contact her at (647) 501-7220 or at lindsayross.msw@gmail.com

Posted in: Parent Education Resources, Special Education Tutoring

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Back to School Snacks

As we approach the end of summer, we decided to squeeze in one last educational field trip.    We went to visit the head office of Toronto entrepreneurs Dairylicious to learn about how they make their signature product MooMoo bars.   You may have caught their dynamic appearance on Dragon’s Den.  They are definitely an entrepreneurial bunch!

With a warm welcome we were greeted by General Manager Yaroslav Kats, given a tour of their facility and fed MooMoo bars to our hearts content.

Moomoo bars are a staple in the Teachers on Call office.  They take like cheesecake and come in enticing flavours like double chocolate.  The best part is that they are healthy with only 100 calories, and are nut-free, kosher, gluten free and made with 100% Canadian milk to boot!

Looking for a new back to school snack?  They are also great for study breaks, yet parents may be grabbing for them too when their kids are not looking!   In our opinion, they are the best kept secret.

If you have not tried them yet we hope we have enticed you.  Looking forward to our next visit!

Posted in: Parent Education Resources

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Win the Battle of the Backpack

We have partnered with the KAos Group, a leader in organizational skills to offer tips and strategies around keeping your backpack, papers and homework organized.

Below is a helpful step-by-step guide to organize all the papers, books and supplies that get unpacked and repacked 5 days a week. As you create a place for each section below, put a check mark in the box.

1) Choose a homework spot that remains consistent:

A holding place is helpful to leave homework until your child is ready to sit down to do their work. The place should remain the same, so your child is responsible for packing up their own work that night or in the morning, once completed.

2) Create a place for your child to place notices for review: 

These are the notices for upcoming events that your child will be participating in or where your attention and/or participation is required.  Ie. sports events, ceremonies or after school programs.

3) Calendars:

Your child will have an agenda and parent/guardian will likely have a smartphone or paper day timer.  It is important that the child can review a month at a glance effortlessly and add important dates as necessary.

Tip: The Family Calendar:

A single calendar that everyone can review easily and effortlessly is a resourceful tool in a household.  It is very helpful to refer to the month at a glance as a quick reminder for library day, math tests, weekly activities and family events.  The ‘family calendar’ is also a great stepping stone for children until they learn to use their own agendas as a daily habit.

4) Keepsakes: 

Your child will bring home art work, tests and projects. Consider two areas in your home to distinguish between keepsakes and items to eventually be recycled.

About the KAos Group

KAos Group is in the business of organization. We work closely with clients to help indentify inefficiencies, the cutter and disorganization that prevents progress and personal growth, and help clients streamline their business and personal lives to reduce stress and increase productivity. Visit www.kaosgroup.com for more information.



Posted in: Parent Education Resources, Special Education Tutoring

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Choosing the Right University or College

It is never too early to start planning with your daughter or son to get into the school or program of their choice.

Below are some tips you may find helpful when planning for University or College.

Prior to Applying

  • Discuss what they would like to do after high school and research the applicable programs
  • Visit University or College websites to learn about courses needed for specific programs
  • Engage their guidance counsellor in reviewing the courses they have taken and what prerequisites are outstanding for their programs of interest
  • Build on any extracurricular activities that grow their leadership and character – some schools consider extracurricular experience when evaluating applications
  • Begin researching about potential scholarship opportunities
  • Register for the SAT, if there is an interest in U.S. schools.  Visit www.collegeboard.org for more information.
  • Support them in developing a resume or portfolio if they are planning to apply for scholarships and/or are required to submit supplemental applications


Application Process

  • Finalize their choice of program and understand the application process and deadlines
    • For Ontario applications – visit www.ouac.on.ca for more information
  • Attend the individual University information sessions and/or University and College fairs
    • The Ontario Universities’ Fair takes place at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre from Friday September 27th to Sunday September 29th.  Visit www.ouf.ca for more information
  • Submit any scholarship and / or supplemental applications
    • If these applications require references, provide these individuals plenty of time to write letters of recommendation


After Applying

  • Continue to monitor University, College or centralized sites (ie. OUAC) about the application process
    • Depending on when you applied, letters of admission begin to arrive in early Spring
  • During March break schools generally have open houses and scheduled tours to visit campus
  • If you have been accepted, review your offer of admission and read through all the material provided in the package
    • Let schools know of your decision as soon as possible as course selection and / or housing can potentially be on a first-come, first-served basis


Posted in: Parent Education Resources

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Summer in Toronto – Educational Activities

There is no shortage of fun and activities in Toronto over the summer.   With numerous festivals, parks, museums and places to take trips, there is something for everyone to do.

Below are some great educational ideas and activities for you and your family to do during the summer in Toronto.

Visit Historical Sites:  Toronto has many historical sites, all with unique and exciting stories.  Take a field trip around the city and learn about its past. 

Learn about Science:  The Ontario Science Centre has a ton of great programs over the summer including a Science day camp.

ROM Walks: The ROM museum offers free guided tours of Toronto’s historical and architectural neighbourhoods.    For schedules and additional information, click on the following link. 

Attend a Cultural Festival:  There are numerous festivals to learn and appreciate local cultures, often with excellent food and shows.   Taste of the Danforth from August 9 – 11 is among the largest of these festivals in Toronto.

TD Summer Reading Club:  Toronto program that encourages children from all backgrounds to build their confidence, skills and excitement about reading during the summer months.

Toronto Zoo:  Learn and see over 5,000 different animals and 500 different species in a variety of exhibits from different areas around the world.

Posted in: Parent Education Resources

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Be Green – Back-to-School Supplies

With less than a month until school starts, we are starting to see our favourite back-to-school commercials on TV, online and in print.   Shopping for school supplies can be expensive and time consuming.

Before you rush to buy new pens, paper, notebooks and textbooks, we wanted to share a couple of ideas to limit your impact on environment and make green choices.   The good news is today parents and students have more options than ever to find environmentally friendly back-to-school supplies.

Recycled Paper:  Retailers now carry 100% recycled paper and printer paper.   Look for labels that show the paper is acid-free and from 100% recycled content.

Lunch Boxes:   Lunch boxes aren’t only for elementary school kids.  Companies now make a variety of styles for all ages.  Avoid using paper or plastic bags and purchase a reusable lunchbox and even utensils like Bamboo Cutlery.

Re-Binders:   There are now recycled binders and folders available.  Look for items from companies like Guided at your local school supply stores.

Pens and Pencils:   With the trend to green back-to-school supplies, many companies are beginning to sell pens and pencils made from biodegradable and recycled materials.

Reusable Water Bottles:   Avoid plastic water bottles and look for a BPA-Free, phthalate free, 100% recycled aluminum water bottle.

Other Odds and Ends:  As you complete your shopping, look in your cart and see if there are any other products that can be switched for recycled ones or if there are other opportunities to reduce landfill waste through re-using existing products or utilizing computers or tablets versus paper.

Posted in: Parent Education Resources

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Summer Math Games

The summer is a great time for your children to spend with friends and family along with enjoying the fun Toronto activities.

However, with a two month break from school, students can often forget some of their math skills from the prior school year.  Below are some fun math games to play with your daughter or son over the summer to prepare them for the fall:


Math Games l PBS Kids:  The PBS network has a great list of close to 100 games that cover topics like: measurement, geometry, shapes, counting, patterns, graphs and fractions.


What Coins Do I Have:  This is a great game for students to begin to understand the variables for algebra.  Mention you have 3 coins in your pocket that are worth a certain value.  Ask your child what three coins you have.  For example: There are three coins in my hand that total 16 cents.  What 3 coins do I have?  (a dime, a nickel, a penny).


Motion Math Games:  Creator of fun math games that can be downloaded as apps to your tablet.   The games are designed for a variety of grade levels and students with different math skill levels.


Math Play – Online Games:  A ton of fun online math games designed for elementary and middle school grade levels.


Bounce Count:  This is a great game for younger elementary school students to play as a group.  Have children sit in a circle.   The first child bounces the ball to another child and counts how many bounces there were.  The second child bounces the ball back and either adds or subtracts to the initial count.   


Number of the Week:  This is a great game for elementary students to practice numeracy.  For each week of the summer pick a Number of the Week.  Make a set of questions on cue cards (example: divide by 2) and have your child answer the question with their number of the week.

Posted in: Math Tutoring

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