Teachers on Call

Archive for 'English Tutoring'

How to Build Your Child’s Vocabulary

Child reading a book

Having a strong vocabulary helps students with reading, writing and expressing their thoughts and opinions.

We have reached out to our team of Reading and English tutors to get their advice on successful strategies to build a strong vocabulary.

1) Read Consistently:  Engage your child’s interest by picking topics they are interested in with new learning opportunities.  As you read together with your child, stop when there is a new word and help explain it through pictures, meaning by context or the root of the word.  It can be a casual conversation rather than a lesson.

2) Love the Library: Take advantage of your local library to build your child’s love of reading.  If you are not sure where to start, chat with your local librarian on suggestions based on your child’s interests and reading level.

3) Create a Word Map:  As you learn new words, write them on a post card or post-it note and place them around the room to help remember.

4) Use New Words: Encourage your child to use their expanded vocabulary often and provide positive feedback when they do.

5) Learn about Synonyms:  Expand vocabulary by challenging your child to use synonyms and mix up words.

6) Use Grown-Up Words in Conversations: By using more challenging words, children can be encouraged to ask for clarification and provide a chance to explain new words.

7) Label Items Around the House: For younger kids, this is a wonderful way to learn basic words.  Practice with them how to properly pronounce each word as they learn it.

8) Have Fun:  Play crosswords, word games, Scrabble apps or even a low key family spelling bee.

Posted in: English Tutoring

Leave a Comment (0) →

What To Do If Your Child Is Struggling with Reading

Kids develop at their own time, so take a deep breath and try to assess the situation. Ask yourself, Does my child just need a little more time? Or is my child struggling with learning to read?

Some children end up reading a little later than others—and sometimes when they do begin reading, it almost seems as though they learned overnight! Other children may require extra support and you’ll need to advocate for them.

These tips will help you navigate this delicate situation, without panicking,  by providing support for your child.

Reduce (some) screen time: Devices can be a wonderful tool to learn but when children are on screens they usually aren’t engaging in conversation. Considering reducing non-educational screen time by using a timer or a schedule—be sure everyone in the family reduces their usage so your child doesn’t feel singled out. 

Be open to different kinds of texts: Introduce a variety of text types— comics, joke books, magazines, and more, are all wonderful options to hook struggling readers. 

Try reading online: Reading apps can help engage children who aren’t yet reading. Several offer learn-to-read activities as well as highlighted text and text-to-speech capabilities. We enjoy Ooka Island and Epic! 

Play games: A family game night with board or card games helps get children talking, asking questions, and using descriptive language. 

Speak to the teacher: Set up an interview with your child’s teacher. They’ll share their observations and assessments, providing further insight into the situation, and if needed, the teacher can take the steps to set up further testing and in-school support. 

Permission to give up: Children need to know that they don’t have to like every book they read. Help them understand the difference between struggling to read the book and giving up from frustration, to putting down a book that they aren’t enjoying. 

Keep up the bedtime stories: Read with your child on a daily basis, if possible. While you may get tired of reading the same books, embrace rereading favourite books. Repetitive reading helps children’s vocabulary grow and deepens their comprehension. 

Ask for further support: Lean on the expertise of others to provide reading support. This help can come from teachers, family members, homework clubs and professional tutors.

Posted in: English Tutoring

Leave a Comment (0) →

11+ Multi-Sensory Ways To Practice Sight Words

Sight words are the most common words found in texts, and for a child who is learning to read, being able to quickly recognize and recall these words is critical to becoming a fluent reader.

When a child can read the words ‘by sight’, they’re more easily able to focus on comprehension as well as applying their decoding strategies to words less frequently encountered.

Finding multisensory ways to learn the sight words, also known as high-frequency words, more easily helps children to learn them.

Our team of Toronto English tutors shared over eleven, fun and effective activities, families can play at home that will help children know these words at a glance.

To get started with the below activities, first, you’ll need to find the sight words. Your child’s teacher may have provided a list during the school year, otherwise, download the Fry or Dolch list as a helpful starting point.

Then, starting with twenty words at a time, write down each sight word on an index card. Do this twice so you have a pair of cards for each word. Shuffle the cards and choose a different activity every day to build early literacy skills.

  1. Play Go Fish using the sight word cards. Make it a family affair!
  2. Visit the Dollar Store to pick up a magnetic alphabet set.
  3. Grab the chalk and head outdoors for a sidewalk spelling bee.
  4. Bend pipe cleaners to form letters and combine to make words.
  5. Write a sight word on a piece of paper. Take turns tracing it over with different coloured markers or crayons.
  6. Spell words aloud in silly voices (e.g., Spell ‘said’ in a silly voice)
  7. Draw a hopscotch grid outside. Fill in each square with a sight word.
  8. Fill a bin with dried beans. Toss in the set of alphabet letters. Choose a sight word card and then hunt through the bin for the correct letters.
  9. Form body words. Use arms and legs to make each letter.
  10. Write a sight word on an index card. Cut it up so the letters are separate. Mix them up and try to spell the word.
  11. Roll out playdough-it’s the perfect material for building a sight word vocabulary:
    1. Golf tees and toothpicks easily carve out words
    2. Stamp magnetic alphabet letters down into the playdough
    3. Create a pile of thin strips of playdough. Use each strip to form a letter and build words

Posted in: English Tutoring

Leave a Comment (0) →

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

Leave a Comment (0) →

Spring – Fun & Educational Activities

Spring Educational Activities

With the weather getting warmer and the days longer, spring is a wonderful time to get outside and incorporate nature into education.

If you are planning to plant flowers & herbs and watch the leaves bloom, there are plenty of educational moments to take advantage of.

Here are some of our favourites:

English:

Use a journal or diary to track how the flowers, plants and trees are blooming and write daily about how rain, sun, insects are affecting their growth.  At the end of the spring look back at the diary to see what made the garden, plants or trees grow successfully for next year.

Math:

Use planting and gardening to learn about counting and how many seeds you need to plant.  As you plant the seeds, use this as an opportunity to learn measurement around the area of the garden and how you can space the seeds out.  If you don’t happen to have a garden, visit a park and a pick a favourite tree to count the leaves and try to measure it’s height and width.

Art:

Help make arts and crafts using springtime ideas such as flowers, trees, fruits and vegetables.  Some ideas could including painting, taking pictures and making paper shapes.

Science:

Grow your own plant or vegetables using seeds.  Learn about how and why it grows with light, water and other nutrients.

What are your favourite springtime educational activities?

 

 

Posted in: English Tutoring, Math Tutoring, Science Tutoring

Leave a Comment (0) →

7 reasons to attend Reading For The Love Of It

Reading for the Love of It 

Every year the Teachers on Call team looks forward to attending the annual Reading For The Love Of It (RFTLOI) language arts conference in downtown Toronto. This is a longstanding reading convention and celebration of books that is geared towards the education community. This February will mark the 42nd year.

Here are our top 7 reasons to check out this year’s Reading For The Love Of It:

  1. Keynotes from your favourite authors and literacy advocates…like Laura Numeroff and Humble the Poet!
  2. Step away from the classroom for professional learning of your choice. There are workshop sessions covering various levels of literacy from kindergarten through secondary school.
  3. A chance to check out exciting exhibitor displays, and the latest children’s books and novels from an array of book publishers and stores.
  4. Engage in important discussions and learning around important topics like fake news, mindfulness, STEAM and more.
  5. Network with other educators from across Canada.
  6. Be a fan. Get your books signed from renowned authors and illustrators like Vikki VanSickle and Barbara Reid. Your students will love this!
  7. Walk away with strategies and ideas to inspire you throughout the rest of the school year.

Date & Time: Thursday, February 22 & Friday, February 23

Location: Sheraton Centre Hotel, Toronto, ON

Register: Save your ticket

Posted in: English Tutoring

Leave a Comment (0) →

Kickstart A Lifelong Reading Habit In 15 Minutes A Day

Spending 15 minutes a day enjoying a literacy activity is a great way to reinforce a positive attitude around reading. The more frequently you read as a family, the more your children will gravitate naturally to reading!

Why not kick off a year-long reading habit beginning on Family Literacy Day on January 27th?

Family Literacy Day is an annual literacy event that’s taken place across Canada since 1999. Every year, thousands of schools and other literacy providers host family literacy events to bring parents and children together to encourage 15 minutes of literacy learning fun.

Our team of tutors is often asked by parents how they can help their kids love reading, so in preparation for this year’s Family Literacy Day, we’re sharing five engaging ways to show your children that learning to read is fun.

  1. Sign up for a library card and then get out the family calendar to plan regular visits to stock up on books that reflect your child’s current interests. Once your child signs up for a library card, they can even borrow books digitally!
  2. Reread your child’s favourite books. While you may get tired of reading the same books the repetitive reading helps children’s vocabulary grow and deepens their comprehension.
  3. Don’t stop reading together even when your child can read for themselves. They still benefit from the dedicated time together. Instead, choose a novel and take turns reading aloud a chapter.
  4. Storytelling is a fantastic way to build your child’s oral literacy. They rely on playing with tone and volume to help evoke the power of emotions. As children learn to tell stories, they’ll naturally bring what they learn to their reading and writing. Get cozy and sit around making up silly stories or retell old favourites!
  5. Over dinner or before bedtime, dedicate 15 minutes of family time to engage in conversation about everyone’s day. Use our list of 20 questions to ask your child about school as a starting point.

Now grab a book and get reading!

Posted in: English Tutoring

Leave a Comment (0) →

Note Taking Strategies for a Successful Start to High School

Note taking strategies

Great note-taking skills can help you do well at school, preparing you for classes, essays, and exams. It’s a skill that will serve you all of your life, yet it rarely gets taught.

We’re here to help with fourteen strategies to incorporate into your note-taking routine to maximize your academic results this school year:

Add the date and title: You’ve been told this trick for years, but it’s worth a reminder. Never lose track of which class your notes belong to with a date and the title of the course.

Leave space: Leave space to add in more information whether you ask a question in class.

Get decorative: Use doodles, boxes, drawings, different coloured pens, and highlighters to make important points stand out.

Take notes in your own words: Whether listening in class or reading a text, write down the text in your own words.

Add examples: Especially helpful for math and science subjects, write down the example the teacher shares in class and label all the steps; this will be an invaluable reference when studying.

Pay attention to what’s on the board: If your teacher wrote something on the board, you could be sure it means they want you to take notice. Write it down and highlight it in some way. 

Review your notes: The day or weekend after class spend 20-30 minutes reviewing your notes and take note of any questions you have remaining.

Rewrite your notes: For some people rewriting notes into a Word Doc or in Google Docs helps them to organize their thinking, note areas of difficulty and have easy to read study notes.

Mnemonic devices: These are helpful for remembering the tricky material. Remember BEDMAS (brackets, exponents, divide/multiply, addition/subtraction) from middle school? Make up your own mnemonic device to memorize.

Write down all your formulas: Highlight these in your notes. Write them down first when studying and do this during an exam, too.

Make a study guide: Will your notes be used for a test? Take the time to combine your in-class notes and any reading into one document.

Add important dates to your agenda: Use your notes to help you plan how much time you will need to prep for a test. Add in dates to review and consolidate your notes in an agenda.

Use sticky notes: Did you come across some relevant information but run out of room on your paper? Write or draw down the new info on a sticky note and put it on top of the section of your notes it belongs too.

Figure out your method: As the year progresses, you’ll start to see a pattern emerge for how you like to take notes. The best way to take them is in a way that works for you! Keep it up!

Posted in: English Tutoring, History Tutoring, Parent Education Resources, Special Education Tutoring

Leave a Comment (0) →

4 Ways to Set up Your Child for Reading Success

Reading success

Children who come to school with rich experiences in oral language are better equipped to manage the complex skills needed for reading and writing. While all children can benefit from oral language experiences, they are especially important for children in the early elementary years or those beginning kindergarten in the fall.

Here are 4 ways to improve your child’s oral language skills this summer:

Modify screen time. We know that screen time has a place in both learning and fun but when are children are on screens they aren’t engaging in conversation. In the summer, it’s easy to lose track of time and be more flexible with the routines of the school year. Consider limiting screen time or chunking up the time throughout the day by using a timer or creating a screen time schedule.

Tell stories. Storytelling is a wonderful way to build your child’s oral literacy. Oral stories rely on playing with tone and volume to help evoke the power of emotions. As children learn to tell stories, they’ll naturally bring what they learn to their reading and writing. Get cozy and sit around making up silly stories or retell old favourites!

Play I-Spy. This classic game is perfect for road trips or just to fill a few moments with fun. Children love to try to stump their siblings and parents by choosing challenging items for them to find. I-Spy is a no-fuss way to get children talking, asking questions, and using descriptive language.

Play Charades. Charades is another game that all generations can enjoy. Keep it simple and give children the category before you start acting out your clues. This game encourages conversation, enhances questioning skills and is old-fashioned fun.

Have you noticed a theme to our oral language tips? Growing this skill is all about engaging children in conversation with a variety of opportunities to speak.

Posted in: English Tutoring

Leave a Comment (0) →

The Ultimate Summer Booklist for Elementary Kids

Summer Reading

Reading is the best way to prevent the summer slide and with the countdown on to the holidays, it’s time to make a book list with your child. Head to the bookstore to fill up your bookshelves now or take a trip to the local library to reserve your choices.

Here are some of the books that are on our summer booklist for elementary school kids including a family read-aloud:

Ready, Set, Go!

Written by Robert Munsch, Illustrated by Michael Martchenko

For ages: 4-8

Fans of Robert Munsch will be delighted to discover a new book to add to their collection. This athletic adventure is perfect for the months ahead when families participate in for charity walks, races, and marathons. Follow Miranda as she unintentionally enters the big race while trying to help her dad.

This Book Stinks! Gross Garbage, Rotten Rubbish, and the Science of Trash

Written by Sarah Wassner Flynn, Illustrated by National Geographic Kids

For ages: 8–12

This clever resource from National Geographic Kids is perfect for the child who loves learning fascinating facts. They can read about the world of waste with tons of stinky statistics and stories that will be sure to educate and entertain. It may even inspire your child to become a planet champion by reducing their rubbish.

Toronto ABC

Written and Illustrated by Paul Covello

For Ages: Baby-5

This book may be written with the youngest Torontonians in mind but we think all city kids will love this book about their very own city. A is for AGO, B is for Blue Jays, C is for Casa Loma, and the list goes on. This book might just be all the inspiration you need to plan family field trips all summer long.

Reading aloud benefits children even after they can read on their own. They strengthen their listening comprehension with the added benefit of bonding with you over a good book.

Our choice for a family read aloud this summer is, Wonder by R.J. Palacio (For ages: 8 and up). This beautiful novel about a fifth grader Auggie Pullman, born with facial differences and his quest to fit into his new school. This story is centred on themes of bullying, compassion and kindness. It will touch your soul and stimulate meaningful dialogue and conversation at the same time. Read it before it comes out in theatres in the fall.

While you getting books for your child, don’t forget to pick up ones for yourself. Let your child see the joy that reading brings by being a reading role model by enjoying books, magazines, and newspapers.

Posted in: English Tutoring

Leave a Comment (0) →
Page 1 of 3 123