Apps to Prevent the Summer Slide

Preventing-the-Summer-Slide

Summer is a wonderful time to spend with family and friends and enjoy the beautiful weather after a busy school year.  Unfortunately, studies show that between June and September, students can lose around 2 months of learning and have trouble adjusting for the fall.

Fortunately, there are plenty of fun ways for students to keep learning over the summer.   Outside of full programs, there are a ton of fun apps out there, many of which students don’t even realize that they are learning.

Here are three great apps that help stop your kid’s summer slide:

App for Math: Splash Math for Grades 1-5

Splash Math is an educational program that provides comprehensive coverage of the curriculum with over 300 skills for Grades K-5. The use of animations, graphics and games make children master the basic math concepts like Addition, Subtraction, Division, Multiplication, Algebra and Geometry in a fun and interactive way.

App for Reading: Endless Reader

Endless Reader introduces “sight words”, the most commonly used words in school, library, and children’s books. Kids need to recognize these words by sight in order to achieve reading fluency. Recognizing sight words is advantageous for beginning readers because many of these words have unusual spelling, cannot be sounded out using phonics knowledge, and often cannot be represented using pictures. Kids will have a blast learning sight words and their context and usage with the adorable Endless monsters. Each word features an interactive word puzzle with letters that come alive, and then a sentence puzzle with words that become what they describe. See the word “dog” as a barking dog, and the word “up” reach for the sky!

App for Science: KidScience

Unleash your inner scientist with KidScience, the app that puts a science lab at your fingertips. Kids, parents, grandparents and babysitters can search for experiments based on ingredients on hand, kids’ ages (2 to 92), time available, or type of science. Simple recipes, combined with photos and watch-and-do videos, make science easy for everyone. Explanations of the science behind the fun are includes with each project, and new experiments are added regularly.

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Summer Rainy Day Educational Activities

boy playing in fort

With school over for the year, the summer is a wonderful time to enjoy the fresh air with family, friends or at camp. Unfortunately from time to time, the weather doesn’t cooperate and we go inside for a rainy day.

While we always hope for nice weather over the summer, a rainy day is a wonderful opportunity to play indoor educational games and work on avoiding the summer slide.

Don’t let a rainy day spoil the fun – here are 7 educational games and activities to play indoors:

1) Make a Collages:  Find old magazines, newspapers and catalogs and work with your kids to find pictures of animals, food, sites and other fun items.  Give them safety scissors and glue to make a collage book.

2) Create a Story: Work with your child to create a short about anything s/he is interested in.  Then one of you provides an opening line and you take turns to write sentences.   After you have both written the sentences, read the story out load together.

3) Scavenger Hunt: Make a list of items to either i) find around the house or ii) research in books, magazines or online.  Once your child has found all the items, present him or her a prize at the end.

4) Play a Family Board Game:  Board games are a wonderful way to bring the family together to spend time and remove everyone from technology.   They also teach counting, memory, logic and vocabulary development.  Here are some great recommendations from Parents Magazine.

5) Pick a Country and Learn About It:  If you have a globe, spin it around and see where your finger lands.  Learn about the language (hello / goodbye), popular food and even try to write a few letters.

6) Read a New Book Together:  Keep up your reading from the school year and learn new vocabulary and more complicated story lines.

7) Try a New Craft Project:  Pinterest has wonderful craft ideas for kids.  Scroll through the hundreds of photos and see which one you like best!

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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.

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Fun Early Learning Activities to Combat the Summer Slide

summer early learning activities

Summer learning doesn’t need to be boring! Although including some element of a learning routine into summer plans is a great way to prevent the summer slide, it’s possible to have fun, be outdoors and foster academic skills, too. We have four early learning activities for the little learner in your household:

Create a maker space in your backyard. Go on a hunt through your house for any materials that could be used outdoors to create a maker space for your children. This space promotes learning through play as children experiment, create, invent and learn using ase a variety of  tools and materials in a safe manner (e.g., batteries, wires, gears, wood, tools, paper etc).

Write lists. Asking your child to write a whole letter or story can be overwhelming at the best of times but in the summer it may lead to some moaning. Writing a list is a simple way to get children to write frequently. Encourage your child to start each day with a list of things to do including any academic work or chores you want them to accomplish. This will give them a purposeful agenda to their day that will keep them from saying they’re bored and help them practice time management.

Introduce DEAR time. Many children will be used to the DEAR, Drop Everything and Read, acronym from school. This is a time each day where the child stops whatever they are doing and reads for a designated amount of time. At school, the teachers often also join in the reading fun to be a reading role model. Choose a specific time each day or surprise your child by calling out DEAR time. After all, reading everyday is one of the best ways to prevent the summer slide. Make the transition to DEAR time easy by keeping a selection of books in different areas of the house so they always have something to read. Consider making an outdoor reading space using a tent and pillows a reality, too.

Stock up on sidewalk chalk. Sidewalk chalk can be used for tons of outdoor learning.

  • Write about the letters of the alphabet and have your child hop on them and say their name aloud
  • Call out math facts and have your child write the answers
  • Write rhyming words on the fence and encourage your child to draw the pictures that go along with them

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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.

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Algebra Help – Strategies to Solve Problems

Algebra Help

Help with Algebra is one of the most common math tutoring requests we receive.

Algebra does not have to be as challenging as it looks.    And the good news is for every problem there is always a solution.

Here are some strategies for students to succeed when they start to learn this topic:

1) Ensure you are strong with the math basics like adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing.

2) Know your math order of operations with BEDMAS (B-brackets. E-exponents. DM-multiply or divide)

3) Understand the difference and impact of negative numbers with arithmetic.

4) Keep word problems organized with these strategies

5) Look for non-number symbols like x,y,z, etc, which are called variables.   Although they look scary, variables are mainly a way to show numbers where the value is unknown.  Try to visualize that some number is in the variable’s place and your goal is to solve it.   Other variables like pi (π) are constants.

6) If a variable appears multiple times, try to simplify it like they are numbers.  For example: y + y = 2y.  The only caveat is you do not combine variables that are different.  For example A + B does not equal 2AB.

7) Try to isolate the variable as best as possible through adding or subtracting similar numbers to both sides of an equation.

8) Use checks to ensure your work is correct.  The best way to do this is plug the answers for your variables into the initial equation(s) and see if all of the equations equal each other.  If not, review your problem again to see where you may have made an error.

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Read the North to Celebrate Canada’s 150

Read the North - Canada 150

The countdown is on to Canada’s big birthday celebration and we can’t think of a better way to celebrate than choosing to #ReadtheNorth everyday with Canadian books from Indigo.

Since the weather is warming up, why not gather your favourite books and then head outdoors? Create a cozy space by setting up a tent and fill it with blankets, pillows and of course, books! Whether it’s a rainy afternoon or a sunny day, designate a time every day to head to the tent for reading.

As a child, our President, Joanne Sallay, reached for Anne of Green Gables, set in Prince Edward Island, over and over again. It’s a Canadian classic novel series by L.M. Montgomery.

Thanks to Indigo, we’re excited to be giving it away along with four more books by Canadian authors. Everyone in the family will have something to read from this collection!

1 x The World Needs More Canada

1 x Life of Pi

1 x Anne of Green Gables

1 x Canada ABC

1 x Who Goes Moo?

Entering is simple. You can win the #ReadTheNorth summer package by entering below! We’ll announce the winner on June 9th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

After you enter to win, check out four more suggestions to maximize the Canada 150 fun and learning all summer long.

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Summer Enrichment – Strategies From Our Tutors

Summer Enrichment Tutors

Summer is almost here!   With the warm weather, vacations and fun activities, learning loss can be an issue over the summer.  Some research has suggested that students may lose one month of knowledge over the summer break.

However, the summer break does not have to be boring  and completely focused on learning.  There is an opportunity to enjoy the summer break while continuing to keep up knowledge and learning from the school year.

We have reached out to our tutors for their advice on summer enrichment and how to avoid the summer slide:

1) Read every day: Make the reading fun with fiction, non-fiction, newspapers, apps, poetry on topics your daughter or son is interested in.

2) Summer Camps: There are a ton of education based summer camps in Toronto that focus on STEM and arts.  Check out Our Kids camp resource to review different options.

3) Vacations: Make your vacation a learning experience.  On any trip there are a ton of opportunities to learn about geography (location and maps), history (site and their background), science (physics of driving, weather, different climates) and math (distance, speed). Here are also some fun educational games for road trips.

4) Educational Field Trip:  Toronto has tons of exciting places to visit for educational field trips.  Here are some of our recommendations.

5) Make Math Fun:  Math does not have to be only worksheets and tests.  There are ton of real world examples, games and apps to work on over the summer.   For more ideas click here.

6) Summer Scrapbook:  If your child is interested in arts, encourage them to take pictures over the summer and create a summer scrapbook.

7) Learn a New Word Each Week

8) Cook with Your Child:  Cooking helps teach your child math skills, nutrition, directions, critical thinking, measurement, cultural awareness, creativity, and sensory awareness.

 

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Transitioning from Elementary to Middle School

Transitioning to middle school can be a big leap for many students and parents.  With less support and a more challenging curriculum, planning ahead to ensure a successful transition is important.

Here is a list of things to do between the end of the school year and back to school in the fall:

1) Touch base with your child’s current elementary school teacher to better understand their strengths and weaknesses heading into middle school.   Here is a list of 8 questions to ask your child’s teacher before year-end.

2) Speak with your new middle school guidance counsellor to better understand the courses for the year ahead and what is expected of your child.

3) Review the curriculum.  Here is the Ontario curriculum for Grades 6, Grade 7 and Grade 8.

4) Avoid the Summer Slide with these tips.

5) Transitioning to a locker: practice using a combination lock

6) Visit the school in advance.  Most schools will have an orientation for new students during springtime.  However, some students need extra time to get comfortable with new surroundings.   Don’t hesitate to contact your child’s new school for additional tours.

7) Be proactive and communicate:  Unlike elementary school, your child’s teacher will not communicate with you as often.  It is important as parents to be proactive and communicate with your child’s teacher and school to ensure they are on track and you have no surprises at report card time.

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How to Prepare Your Child for French Immersion

french-immersion

Starting school can be a challenging transition for any family.   For students going into French Immersion, it can be even more challenging learning a second language.

Fortunately, we asked our Toronto French tutors for their advice on strategies and tips for parents transitioning to French Immersion in September.

1) Engage Your Child: Talk with your child that they will be learning a new language and that it can be fun.  Having a positive attitude about French Immersion is critical to support your child.  If your child has any concerns, try to go through them in advance and mention that the teacher will assist them with the transition.

2) Make French Part of Everyday Life:  Incorporating French into everyday life will help smooth the transition for your child.   For example, during meal time, pick a couple of food items and learn them in French.  If there is a number, colour, letter they see, work to try to say it in French. For each morning, ask what day of the week it is in French.

3) Sing Along: Singing French at home or in the car can make it fun. Check out singers including Charlotte Diamond for great songs.  Here is an example of one to learn about pizza in French.

4) Watch French TV:  Did you know that many of your child’s favourite shows are also in French?  Try your channel guide, but also look on YouTube or the Netflix French option.  There are also tons of fun and popular shows created in French like Caillou, which your child will love.

5) Learn in Advance: There are a ton of French Apps for students to get ahead of school and learn words, counting and eventually areas like verb conjugation.

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