Teachers on Call

Archive for September, 2016

5 Ways To Foster Your Child’s Interest In STEM

Science, technology, engineering, and math, also known as STEM is an educational topic you will be hearing more and more about in the coming years as schools aim to give children the skills needed for our digital world. STEM is a philosophy of developing hands-on problem-solving skills through gathering evidence, research and making sense of data and information. We’re sharing five ways you can foster your child’s interest in STEM at home:

  1. Download educational apps that support inquiry. The paid TinyBop apps are an amazing place to start for curious children in the early years. They’ve created a series of apps that align with many themes in the curriculum and help children understand more about how things work (e.g., the human body, skyscrapers, machines, etc.). In particular, the Plants app stood out because children may record notes to each other to share their thinking and ask questions.

  2. Play Minecraft. This game lets children invent and build their own worlds, and if you download a Minecraft mod, children can even begin to start building code into the game!

  3. Create a home ‘Maker Space’. A maker space consists of an area in your home (it could even be a box) with a variety of tools and materials that are appropriate for your child’s age yet offer a challenge. Batteries, wires, gears, wood, tools, paper, pencils….the possibilities are endless. The purpose of such a space is to encourage children to create and experiment and make, similar to engineers, scientists, and entrepreneurs! If possible, provide access to tech for your child to document their work.

  4. Read fun books about boys and girls who love to build and create. We enjoy the growing series from illustrator David Shannon that celebrates STEM:  Iggy Peck, Architect, Rosie Revere, Rosie Revere, Engineer, and the latest, Ada Twist, Scientist.

  5. Listen to a podcast. One to start with is Tumble, a science podcast for kids between 8-12 that explains how science works and talks about scientific discovery. They cover a variety of interesting topics in an engaging way that makes science accessible for the whole family!


Posted in: Educational Technology

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What Is The Purpose Of Homework?

School has been back for a few weeks now, and it’s likely that homework has begun to come home with your child. As you’re busy setting up a homework space and trying to juggle a schedule with time for learning and extracurriculars, you may be wondering what the purpose of homework is?

Most often homework is used to help children gain further practice with learning at school. In the early years, the practice may look like nightly reading of developmentally appropriate books or play-based math games. Reading ‘just-right’ books helps children build their fluency and expression because they can practice reading the story without working too hard at decoding.

As children get older, homework can provide opportunities to dive deeper into a subject with projects.

On occasion, homework can also include completion of work not done during the school day to help a child stay up to date. It’s important to note that if your child often has completion homework, aim to get in contact with their classroom teacher. A discussion will help you find out what may be interfering with your child’s ability to finish in-class work and collaborate with the teacher to make a plan to support your child.

Now that we’ve addressed some reasons why students have homework, we have four tips from our OCT-certified tutors to help make homework time successful and less stressful:

  1. Find the right balance of supporting your child with their work. Doing the work for them won’t allow your child to develop new skills and learn from their mistakes. Their teacher also won’t know what they found difficult, thus making it hard to provide some more supportive instruction.

  2. Help your child develop good organizational habits by making use of the school agenda where they can write down their homework assignments and add important dates (i.e., projects, tests, exams). Plan to check it daily and as early in the evening as possible to avoid any surprises, set a notification on your smartphone to help you remember.

  3. If you notice your child is regularly having difficulty completing their homework, including not remembering the material or becoming very frustrated, encourage them to speak with their teacher. We recommend you contact the teacher as well.

  4. Try to break homework up into small sessions of time, especially in the elementary years. If your child is taking a long time to complete their homework, let their classroom teacher know. They may differentiate the amount or type of homework your child gets to make it more manageable.

Need more homework help? Read our five tips to create a smooth homework time.

Posted in: Parent Education Resources, Toronto Tutoring

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