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Toronto ADHD Workshops – Fall 2018

This fall the Springboard Clinic are offering two group resources, with a focus on supporting partners and parents of individuals diagnosed with ADHD.

1) Finding Joy in your ADHD Relationship:  
A Workshop for Partners of Individuals with Focusing Challenges/ADHD

Relationships where one partner has ADHD can be deeply challenging. Join the Springboard Clinic for a supportive evening of discussion to learn about how ADHD symptoms can affect both individuals within a relationship, identify typical relational patterns, and explore effective communication strategies with the goal of decreasing conflict and strengthening connection in your relationship. The workshop offers a space to express and be heard with other individuals who are partners with someone with ADHD, psychoeducation on ADHD and relationships, and an opportunity to consider your own relationship through a new lens.

DATE & TIME: October 16th, 2018  6:30pm – 8:30pm
VENUE: Springboard Clinic, 1055 Yonge Street, Suite 304
FACILITATORS: Patricia Thompson, CPCC, and Emily Kedar, M.Ed, from Springboard Clinic

2) Springboard Online Parent Workshop:
A Two Evening Mini-Series with Laura MacNiven

Springboard Clinic’s Laura MacNiven is hosting a two session online mini-series for parents of ADHD children. In two 60 minute sessions, she will walk you through strategies like “being an ADHD detective, 5 steps to mindful parenting and picking battles before you need to”.

Offering an opportunity to take stock of where you are, and think about where you are going, these two sessions are designed to help you find new energy and a clearer headspace to take back to your everyday parenting. Multiple family members are encouraged to participate, and this content is suitable for parents with children of all ages.

Note: Please set aside 60 minutes to do some reflective work in between the two sessions.

DATE & TIME: Session #1: November 15, 2018  8:00pm; Session #2 : November 22, 2018  8:00pm
VENUE: Online through Ontario Telemedicine Network (www.otn.ca)
FACILITATOR: Springboard’s Director, Laura MacNiven, M. Ed

To learn more about the events, click here

Posted in: Special Education Tutoring

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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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What is Academic Coaching Tutoring?

What is an Academic Coach and how can they help out students?

Academic coaching is support in the following areas to help strengthen students skills and become effective learners.  Building strong skills can help students develop habits to succeed in school and reduce anxiety.  In particular, as students move through middle school and into high school, these skills become increasingly important.

Homework Skills: Our tutors work with students to prioritize homework based on the importance of each assignment and its deadline.  They also help set up a proper work space and routines in order for students to ultimately work independently.

Note Taking: Great note taking skills can help students develop strategies to layout their notes in their own words, formats and summaries.  For further note taking strategies click here.

Organizational Skills: Having strong organization and planning skills is key to ensure students have their papers, notes and other key materials in a convenient and easy to find location as they are studying and / or doing homework.  Also using an agenda or planner is key to a students success.

Time Management: Last minute exam cramming, forgetting homework can cause anxiety and reduced grades for students.  Through developing strong time management skills students can avoid procrastination, priortize, stay organized and on track to timelines.

Test and Exam Preparation: Students learn to study and prepare for specific tests and exams based on the materials.  Through the process they learn to ask the appropriate questions, make study notes and ensure they cover areas they are not familiar with.

Posted in: Special Education Tutoring

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9 Ways To Improve Your Child’s Organizational Skills

Does your child have difficulty following instructions, or become frustrated with tasks that require multiple steps like getting dressed or packing their school bag? There are several ways you can help develop their organization and planning skills at home in a fun way.

Family Games

  • The Rush Hour game requires planning, organization, and spatial skills to clear the traffic jam. It has a variety of levels which makes it a great addition to the family game night.
  • Puzzles let children work on their motor planning while they look for pieces, and try to solve where they go.
  • Connect Four is a classic game that is fun for the young and young at heart. It requires problem-solving as players visually plan their strategy to win.

Paper and Pencil

  • Mazes require visual planning and fine motor control to get through the other side. There are many free mazes available online for printing.
  • Following a checklist for routine tasks helps your child helps your child organize her time and break up activities into smaller steps. Bonus! Checking items off a list helps your child feel accomplished.
  • Show them how to use an agenda and calendar.

Physical Activities 

  • Give your child chores that include planning and sorting, like folding and putting away laundry, and loading or emptying the dishwasher.
  • Practice giving your child verbal cues, using ‘first, then’ language. For example, first put away your shoes, then wash your hands.
  • Embrace the shift to simplicity by regularly decluttering with your child. Teach them how to sort through and give away toys, books, and clothes that are no longer loved or in use.

Posted in: Parent Education Resources, Special Education Tutoring

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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

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Study Skills: How to Avoid Procrastination

Girl Studying

With the summer approaching, it is easy for students to find a million other things to do besides homework, studying and exam prep.   Delaying challenging course work can feel rewarding in the short-term, but will only increase student’s stress and anxiety as they get closer to test or exam time.

Developing strong study skills might not come naturally and take work and time to develop.  Here are some ways to learn effective study habits and avoid procrastination.

Plan, Plan Plan: Make a plan for studying with the following items.

i) Calendar:  Use the calendar to mark down all the upcoming assignments, tests, exams and projects.  If you like being creative, pick a different colour for each subject to differentiate.

ii) Make a Weekly Plan: Narrow the calendar down to make a study plan for each week and ensure there is time to complete each of the key items due.   You can also create a checklist to keep track of the items outstanding and what is remaining to be completed.

Location: Work in a quiet area with limited interruptions, traffic and distractions that has good lighting.  Remove anything you don’t need to study like TV, smartphone, music, etc that could cause distractions.

Keep Materials Organized:  Make a plan to keep the study area organized with school supplies available and in one place.  Ensure you have a spot for each subject to ensure papers don’t get loose or lost.

Expectations: Having a firm grasp of expectations and what is expected is key to ensure studying and homework is done successfully and on time.  If you are unclear about any expectations, we would recommend students and parents approach teachers to understand what is expected of them and make a plan.

Be Positive:  Being in the right mindset can make a huge difference to stay on top of work and avoid procrastination.  Parents can encourage their child to stay positive heading into exams and avoid negative thinking.  Help turn negative statements into positive ones by encouraging strong study habits.

Posted in: Parent Education Resources, Special Education Tutoring

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The Connection Between Speaking and Literacy

Featuring: Haley Libman, S-LP(C), Speech StarsSpeech-Language Pathologist

Early verbal skills are linked to reading, spelling and academic achievement.  Children with weaker verbal abilities are more likely to experience difficulties learning to read and write. There are many ways you can stimulate your child’s verbal skills at home.

Strategies to Stimulate Early Literacy Skills:

(1)     Play with Words

  • Rhyming
    • Identify words that “sound the same at the end”
    • Sing nursery rhymes and talk about the words that rhyme
    • Create lists of words that rhyme for example, “let’s think of words that rhyme with hat….bat, mat, pat.”
  • Clap/ stomp/ hop out syllables in words
  • Blend sounds into words.  For example, “/b/, /a/, /t/ make bat”
  • Identifying first sounds in words and last sounds in words
    • For example, “mouse starts with the /m/ sound”
    • Play I spy and focus on words that begin with different sounds. For example, “I spy something that starts with the /m/ sound”
    • Talk about the sounds at the beginning of words.  For example, “teddy starts with the t-t-t sound, let’s think of other words that start with the /t/ sound, “tummy, tall, tail, team….”

(2)     Alphabet Knowledge

  • Sing the alphabet song
  • Talk about the letters in your child’s name, and look for the letters in your environment

(3)     Expose your child to print:

  • Play with alphabet magnets on your fridge, talk about the letters and their sounds
  • Read books (not just your I-phone) in front of your child
  • Read with your child, and track the words with your finger
  • Create shopping lists with your child, and let your child hold the list when you shop together
  • Point out street signs
  • Point out familiar signs like Starbucks and McDonalds
  • Visit your library

You Can Do These Activities Anywhere:

  • Many of these activities are talking games – they can be done anywhere!
  • You can play rhyming games in the car, or on the way to soccer practice.  You can talk about your shopping list as you are shopping with your child.  You can point out signs as you walk to the park.

Make it fun and enjoy.


About Haley Libman, S-LP(C), Founder of Speech Stars

Haley is a registered Speech-Language Pathologist who received her Master of Clinical Sciences Degree in Speech-Language Pathology from the University of Western Ontario.  She is registered with the College of Audiologists and Speech-Language Pathologists of Ontario (CASLPO) as well as Speech-Language and Audiology Canada (SAC). Haley has worked at The Hospital for Sick Children (Sick Kids), The Speech and Stuttering Institute and within various schools.  Clients range in age from infancy to adulthood. Haley is an enthusiastic clinical educator for students in the profession and has lectured about stuttering to speech-language pathology students at The University of Toronto.

Follow Speech Stars on Facebook


Reference: Anderson,N., and Shames, G. Human Communication Disorders. An Introduction. Seventh Edition. Boston: Pearson Education, Inc., 2006. Print.

Posted in: Special Education Tutoring

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Toronto ADHD Spring 2016 Workshops

Student with ADHD

We are pleased to partner with the Springboard Clinic to share two upcoming programs.

Finding Joy in your ADHD Relationship: A workshop for Partners of Individuals with Focusing Difficulties/ADHD

Date: Thursday, March 31, 2016
Time: 6:30 to 8:30 pm

We understand how exciting but challenging it can be to be in a relationship with someone who has an ADHD-style brain. Come out and meet other partners, while learning more about ADHD and its impact on relationships. Find community and an opportunity to learn strategies and explore solutions in a safe and caring environment.

Facilitated by Dr. Diana Mandeleew, C. Psych. & Patricia Thompson, CPCC


Springboard Adult Group

Dates: Thursday, April 7, 14, 21, 28
Time: 7:00 to 8:30 pm

Running for four evenings, this group will help you learn more about ADHD and it’s impact on your life. You will brainstorm strategies to help you move forward in a collaborative and supportive environment.

As a bonus, you will also connect with other adults with ADHD who have shared similar experiences.

Facilitated by Tara Boulden, M. Ed, and Sandy Spence, OT

To learn more visit the Springboard Clinic: Group Coaching

Posted in: Special Education Tutoring

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School Support For Students With ADHD

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a very popular term to use when describing children but it’s often misunderstood and misused. After all, how many of us put things off and sometimes have trouble focusing?

The Centre for ADHD Awareness, Canada (CADDAC) describes the disorder as “One of the most common disorders in Canada, and it doesn’t discriminate. It impacts people from all walks of life and backgrounds. It affects more than a million Canadian men, women, boys and girls of all ages.”

Once an ADHD diagnosis has been made, families and students with ADHD need support. Joanne, our Director, reached out to Laura MacNiven, Director of Health Education at Springboard Clinic for her recommendations on how to build an action plan that encourages home-school communication.

Here are three of Laura’s tips to help parents to effectively communicate with their child’s teacher and school team:

1. Be a step ahead: Set up an appointment with your child’s school team at the beginning of the school year. Bring examples that have worked in the past, and take the time to connect as early as possible.

2. Bring your knowledge: It can feel like a tough decision to share personal information with the school. While it’s not a straight-forward answer, open dialogue between home and school can help families feel engaged and empowered. The more information you can provide the school, the better they can support your child. If appropriate, have a psycho-educational assessment, meet with your child’s doctor, or spend time asking their tutor what works best for your child.

3. Create a sustainable plan to check back in: With experimentation and change, there are often steps forward, and often steps backward. Getting the right strategies takes time, so try to meet regularly for shorter periods of time. It sets everyone up for more success.

A version of this post first appeared on Dr. Dina.

Posted in: Special Education Tutoring

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5 Tips To Make Homework Time Less Stressful

Homework time can present anxiety for learners. You’re not alone if you’re looking for ways to help your kids stay focused and on task, feel motivated to start and complete their coursework, as well as find a balance between extracurricular activities, assignments, and family commitments. A well-planned and executed after-school and evening routine can be the answer.

We polled our team of seasoned tutors at Teachers on Call for the inside scoop on how to tackle this topic. Following are 5 expert tips from our tutors that can help you and your kids leave the stress behind and create a smooth homework routine.

1. Decompress and relax.

After a long day at school, kids need time for a break and snack before tackling homework.

2. Prioritize and use family calendars.

Elementary and high-school students can have jam-packed schedules filled with extracurricular activities and commitments. Homework needs to be made a priority with students encouraged to complete all academic exercises while they are fresh and not exhausted. A family calendar can help make homework less stressful with the organization by tracking all obligations and ensuring playdates aren’t on nights when students have heavy workloads.

3. Put away the distractions.

All electronics should be put away and out of sight unless used as a homework tool. TV, cell phones, and computers create many temptations for kids.

4. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Students should not get discouraged or catch up with questions they don’t understand. A trick is to highlight or mark an asterisk next to the unknown to signify that help is needed, and the concept needs revisiting. Encourage kids to try their best and attempt a solution versus leaving a blank answer.

5. Ask for help.

The recommendation is that students start schoolwork independently, then draw on the expertise of others when needed. Help can be in the form of peer tutors, friends, homework clubs, family members, professional tutors and teachers.

Students will get a boost to their self-esteem and confidence when they feel good about the work they hand in.

Want more tips for a stress-free homework routine? Visit at Help! We’ve Got Kids for five more tips. 

Posted in: Parent Education Resources, Special Education Tutoring

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