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Archive for May, 2018

Five Strategies For Accessing Quality Summer Reading Materials

One of the factors contributing to the summer slide is that students don’t read as much over the summer. Reading less may be partially caused by a less structured schedule and camp activities, but there’s another critical reason: access. During the school year, students can get reading materials from the school library or their classroom teacher, but over the summer they lose this easy access to a steady flow of quality reading materials.

We polled our team of Toronto tutors to ask for their strategies for finding quality reading materials to enjoy all summer long.

Visit The Local Libraries: Toronto has many branches across the city with several having storytimes and summer reading programs. Sign up for a library card and then pull out your family calendar to plan biweekly outings to exchange books. And if visiting the library is difficult, with a library card, your whole family can even borrow books digitally!

Organize A Book Swap: Purchasing new books can add up quickly, but a book swap is a free way for children to find new reading materials that come recommended by their friends. There are a few options to make this as easy as possible: Invite your children’s classmates over for a pre-summer book swap or work with your child’s teacher to host one in the classroom. Another low-key possibility would be to place a box at the school and have students bring in their pre-loved books in exchange for another.

Go Book Shopping: Celebrate the end of the school year with an outing to the book store. Be prepared with a list in mind; consider buying the next book or two in your child’s favourite series. And before you leave the store, browse through famous family classic’s, we love Harry Potter, for a family read-aloud that’ll take the summer to enjoy.

Explore Your Bookshelves: Often when we ‘shop’ our bookshelves we’ll find several never been read books and ones that are worth rereading. Use the end of the school year as a good time to tidy the shelves, gather books that are no longer loved (but in excellent condition) for swapping or donation, and rediscover what’s already available.

Visit The Children’s Book Bank: Located in downtown Toronto, the Children’s Book Bank’s mission is to improve literacy in low-income communities by providing free books to children living in these neighbourhoods. It’s a warm and welcoming space, much like your favourite bookstore or library, which invites children to choose books and keep them, for free. They also provide regular programming and are open all summer long.

Posted in: English Tutoring

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How To Help Your Child Prepare For Year-End Tests

As the school year winds down, the season of test-taking begins. EQAO tests are happening soon, and high-schoolers are preparing for exams. These exams feel like high-stakes situations leaving children feeling anxiety and stress around both the result and the actual testing experience. Fortunately, whether your child is in elementary or secondary school, there’s plenty you can do to support them.

Talk about the actual test: Discuss the purpose of the test with your child and if appropriate, how it directly impacts them (e.g., gathering useful information about their knowledge vs. a percentage of grade).

Discuss strategies for calming nerves: Learning how to slow down and focus on your breathing is a proven strategy relax and reduce anxiety. With practice (follow these tips), children can do this during stressful situations to bring on more relaxation and reduction of tension.

Practice test-taking strategies: Highlighting important words or numbers, writing down formulas, and skipping the question to revisit it later are helpful tips to practice with your child in advance.

Schedule time to review material: Take out the family calendar and work with your child to block out extra time to prepare. If possible, plan on reducing additional commitments during this period. Being ready for a test and exam goes a long way towards feeling confident about the results. 

Prepare necessary tools: Talk with your child about what they need and are allowed to bring to their test. Pencils, erasers, pencil sharpeners, calculators and water bottles are relatively standard equipment for tests. Elementary students doing EQAO are often allowed to bring in books, magazines, and drawing paper to use if they finish before their peers.

Maintain a healthy sleep schedule: Sleep helps your brain function and increases energy levels and focus. A proper bedtime routine including plenty of before bed screen-free time will help your child have a good night’s rest.

Show empathy and support: Taking exams and tests is hard and so is being a student. Sharing your own experiences and words of encouragement can help your child feel supported.

Posted in: Parent Education Resources

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Springboard’s Top 5 tips for Focusing on Exams – When Focusing is not Your Forte

When you struggle with focusing challenges, exam writing can be seriously frustrating. We often hear stories of students feeling like they studied hard, knew their stuff, but when it came to getting it all down- they didn’t perform their best. Having a strategy for exam writing can help you take control, reduce stress, and be set up to “show all that you know!”

At Springboard, we work with individuals with focusing issues of all ages. We know how stressful it can be heading into those big exams. As this season is upon us, we are sharing our top 5 tips. And remember, you don’t have to be formally diagnosed with an attention issue to take advantage of these great ideas!:

  1. Study strategically: When studying, try to “practice for your exam”. Don’t just read and take notes, or highlight. Prepare by simulating exam questions as much as possible. Ask for past exams or sample practice questions from your teacher.
  2. Show up in the zone: Come up with a pre-test taking ritual that helps you get in the zone – listen to music to block out the stress chatter of other students, have the right type of snacks that make you feel at your best, or even try doing a little exercise to wake up your prefrontal cortex and increase your alertness
  3. Don’t arrive without BRAIN food!: Eat breakfast or lunch before writing your exam, but make sure the meal isn’t too heavy – you need some blood to go to your brain too and you don’t want to be fighting fatigue while writing. (And remember a water bottle too)
  4. Arrive and dump your thoughts! If there’s anything that had to be memorized, and you are worried you’ll forget it- write it down anywhere on the exam paper as soon as the exam starts. This will help free your brain to concentrate on the questions in front of you. Also, if a question comes up later where you need that information, it will be ready and at your fingertips.
  5. Chunk it up: Exams can feel overwhelming, and stress can make it hard for you to do your best work. Start by bringing in a watch, and planning out your time per section. That way you can keep an eye on your pace and try to relax in each section. Cover up other questions, so you can give your full attention to what is in front of you. And try re-reading each question before moving on to the next one, so you don’t feel daunted about checking over the whole exam at the end!

By managing your head space and ritualizing the exam writing experience, you can feel more in control (no matter what gets thrown at you!). Wishing you a successful exam season from our team!

Laura MacNiven is the Director of Clinical Services at Springboard Clinic- a multidisciplinary resource that assesses and treats ADHD across the lifespan. Anne Bailey is a Clinical Psychologist and Manager of Treatment Services at Springboard Clinic. Their treatment team collaborated to put together this great set of tips.

Posted in: Special Education Tutoring

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