20 Questions To Ask Your Child About School

 

 

 

 

 

When you see your child after a day at school, it’s natural to want to know about their day. We spend 6 or more hours away from them, and we want the details. Often our enthusiastic question, “How was school?” is met with a one-word answer (fine!) that ends the school conversation before it starts.

Asking about your child’s day is a meaningful way to gain an understanding of their feelings towards school, academically and socially. As children move into the higher grades, you’ll get less communication from the teachers, so engaging in conversation about school is particularly important.

Our team of tutors shared questions that kids will actually answer about their day, so you can get the information you want without asking over and over again. The trick is to keep the questions open-ended enough to allow for more than a one-word response.

We recommend choosing 1-2 questions a day and working your way through the list.

1. What book did you read at school today?

2. What did you enjoy at lunch time?

3. What was the most exciting part of your day?

4. What was the most challenging part of your day?

5. Tell me about what you did at recess/lunch/gym/library today.

6. When did you do something kind for someone else today?

7. When did someone do something kind for you today?

8. Is there anything you’d like to talk about?

9 How are your preparing for your ______?

10. Are you having a hard time following any of the expectations in class? Is anyone in your class?

11. What do you think your teacher does after school?

12. What are you enjoying the most about recess?

13. Who is annoying you the most at school? What have you done to try to make it better?

14. What would you like to accomplish this year?

15. Tell me about a moment you were proud of yourself.

16. What do you think grade______is like?

17. Who do you wish you could have a playdate with every day?

18. Is there anything I can do to help you with ______ (math/friend/lunch/science etc.)?

19. Tell me what would make a perfect day at school for you.

20.  Did anything funny happen today? I could use a laugh.

Do you have any more questions to add to the list?

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Helping Our Kids To Choose Kind Everyday

Are you familiar with the saying, “Kindness is free, sprinkle that stuff everywhere?” It’s the perfect mantra to share with your kids during this month’s Bullying Awareness and Prevention Week. The week runs from November 19 to 25 and is dedicated to encouraging inclusiveness, empathy, and kindness to others.

Your child’s school may have some initiatives planned to promote a safe learning environment but there are plenty of meaningful things you can do at home and beyond.

Our top suggestion is to read books! Reading stories that offer different perspectives and topics are a wonderful way for children to connect with the characters within to understand that all people are important.

Another reason we recommend reading is that stories can help give children the words they need to express their worries and questions leading to meaningful family discussions around kindness and caring.

One of our favourite bestselling children’s novels, Wonder, with its core message to “Choose Kind” is debuting its major motion picture release on November 17. The film features Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson, and Jacob Tremblay.

While officially recommended to middle school students, Wonder has captured the hearts of readers of all ages.

Wonder (for ages 8-12)

Written in the voices of children, this chapter book follows fifth grader Auggie Pullman who was born with a facial deformity. This story is about his quest to be treated like a regular kid and to fit in to his new school. Although it’s officially recommended for middle-school students, it can be shared and appreciated by multiple audiences. 

The original book makes a fantastic family read-aloud, followed by a trip to see the movie.

There are also three companion books written by author R.J. Palacio that further enhance themes of courage, friendship, and overcoming adversity.

We’re All Wonders (for ages 4-8):

The newest addition to the Wonder franchise has been introduced for younger readers to embrace core messages from the first. Fans will particularly enjoy introducing little ones to this adventure featuring Auggie and his dog Daisy.

365 Days of Wonder: Mr. Browne’s Book of Precepts  (for ages 8-12):

This book has a Chicken Soup for the Soul feel with a goal to inspire readers throughout the calendar year. It’s told in the narrative of Auggie’s English teacher, Mr. Browne and features 365 precepts (described as words to live by). The inspirational quotes are a mix from famous figures, celebrities, characters from Wonder, and over 100 readers who wrote in to the author (including Canadian students).

Auggie & Me: Three Wonder Stories (for ages 8-12):

This collection of short stories is for devotees who want to delve deeper into the complexities of Wonder’s other characters. They were originally published as separate e-books and are told from the perspective of three Wonder personalities. This includes Julian, the “bully,” Christopher the childhood best friend, and Charlotte, one of Auggie’s classmates.

We’ve partnered with Penguin Random House Canada for a “Wonder”ful giveaway, that includes 1 copy of:

Wonder (regular hardcover edition)

Auggie & Me

365 Days of Wonder: Mr. Browne’s Precepts

We’re All Wonders Picture Book

Choose Kind Journal

Wonder Journal

Wonder Activity Set

Wonder Post-it set

Entering is simple. You can win the prize package by entering below! Contest is open to people living in Ontario, and ends November 23rd.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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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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Three Halloween Tips from Julie Cole

 

 

 

 

 

 

With Halloween on the horizon, trick or treating etiquette is on the minds of many families. We consulted Mabel’s Label’s co-founder and parenting expert, Julie Cole, to share her wisdom on the subject. After all, she has six kids between the ages of 8 and 17 who will be trick or treating this year.

Here are three of Julie’s Halloween tips to ensure this evening is safe, inclusive and respectful of all kids.

Welcome all kids – If you decide to participate in Halloween then welcome kids of all ages and hand over the candy. Remember that kids are unique and come in all shapes and sizes. Some children may want to participate, but choose not to wear a costume. Kids with sensory integration issues can’t wear costumes as they are sensitive to the feel of them. We don’t know what issues kids have who come to our doors, and it’s not our job to judge. So just give the candy without judgement!

Consider the Teal Pumpkin Project – Many families are opting to participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project by having a teal-coloured pumpkin and handing out non-food items.  This movement is to acknowledge kids with severe food allergies and to ensure they feel safe and part of Halloween.  Julie advises families who want to participate to get a teal pumpkin at a craft store or to spray paint a pumpkin. Non-food treats like stickers and crayons can be purchased at your local dollar store.

Keep kids safe – Ensure your children are wearing costumes that fit them and visible clothing with reflective gear.  With potential for separation, consider Mabel’s Labels kids’ safety bracelets for this special night and other occasions where your little ones may wander off. These wrist bands can be customized with parents’ cell phones numbers in case kids get excited and lose their way.

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October Giveaway: Tips, Tricks & Essential Items to Ease the After School Transition

After school time can be tricky for families after a long day.

We have a few suggestions and some great items through our October giveaway to make the after school hours happy for the entire family.

Take breaks outside

After a challenging day of school, students require time to refresh prior to tackling homework and assignments. Take advantage of crisp fall weather and suggest students get some fresh air by walking home from school, heading outside to play, or engaging in an outdoor extracurricular activity.

Stay hydrated

Whether on the go or taking a break at home, kids can keep hydrated with a warm or cool beverage with a stainless steel S’IP water bottle.

Educational activities

Consider planning a dedicated time after school for your child to engage in a relaxing activity (that can still be educational) such as reading, drawing, or STEM focused like the Grow N’ Glow Terrarium.

 

We’ve partnered with Indigo for a fall giveaway, with items for both kids and parents. Value approximately $200.

 

For the kids:

2 S’IP water bottles

1 Grow N’ Glow Terrarium

 

For the adults:

1 Voluspa Candle

1 Notebook

2 Boxed Marble Pens: white and black

2 Books: Milk and Honey and The Glass Castle

 

Entering is simple. You can win the Indigo prize package by entering below! Contest is open to people living in Ontario, and ends October 23rd.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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10 Tips for a Successful School Routine

With Back to School in full swing, families are now re-adjusting to daily routines. The start of the academic year can be overwhelming for both students and parents after the entire summer off.

Our team of tutors has rounded up these 10 tips to help your family thrive throughout the year!

  1.  Set up a monthly calendar: Every month carve out time to sit down as a family to plan out schedules. Mark down all extracurricular activities and special events in a monthly calendar, and remember to schedule in homework time too.
  2. Encourage the use of an agenda: Help your child develop good organizational habits by using a traditional agenda or digital tool to record homework assignments and important dates (i.e. projects, tests, exams).
  3. Monitor homework frustrations: It’s normal for students to feel some frustration over their homework. Check in with them early in the evening to avoid late-night surprises. If your child regularly struggles with assignments, encourage them to talk about it with the classroom teacher.
  4. Schedule time to relax: Kids need time for a break before starting homework after a long day of learning. Make sure to incorporate regular downtime and snacks into daily schedules.
  5. Have an electronics policy: Consider setting up a docking station in a central area in your home. Ask your kids to keep all electronics out of sight during homework time to avoid distractions and to leave them docked at bedtime so they can have a proper rest.
  6. Organize a homework area: A dedicated area with good lighting is helpful to store homework and for students to ultimately sit down to tackle work. Keep it stocked with papers, pencils, sharpeners, erasers and any other supplies needed.
  7. Create a place for school notes: The academic year is loaded with notes, reminders, and forms to fill out. Select a space to house them all. One idea is beside the electronic docking station.
  8. Manage the keepsakes: Soon your children’s work will be coming home for you to keep. Planning how you will keep track of these mementos will help you stay organized and reduce clutter. Decide if you will use a file folder, take photos or scan the work for a digital keepsake.
  9. Prepare gear before bedtime: Build knapsack organization into your child’s routine before bedtime. Ask them to fill their bag with an agenda, notes, homework and any other gear needed for the next day. Leave it by the front door unzipped, so it’s ready for the lunch bag to be added in before you all walk out the door.
  10. Ask for help: Draw on the expertise of others to help your child reach their academic goals when needed. This can be in the form of peer tutors, friends, homework clubs, family members, teachers and professional tutors.

We wish your family a successful school year. Which one of these tips will you put into action first?

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How To Encourage Kids Who Are Reluctant To Do Homework

Homework strategies

School’s back and your children have months of learning ahead of them, some of which will happen at home. Homework is an opportunity for children to practice the new skills they are learning at school and consolidate this knowledge. Students in the early years may bring home books to read. As children move into the higher grades, their homework becomes more involved with reports and projects.

Regardless of the type of homework, your child is bringing home, at times they can be quite reluctant to complete it, and the whole family may become frustrated. Take a deep breath-we have seven tips from our team of OCT-certified tutors to help end the homework battles:

Create a calendar: Sit down with your whole family and plan a weekly and monthly schedule that includes their extra curricular activities, free time, homework time and family time. Also, note any upcoming tests or exams to avoid studying at last minute.

Participate in the homework routine: Even if your child doesn’t need help with their homework, sitting down near or beside them can help your child to feel supported or at least not like everyone else is having fun while they work. Use this time as an opportunity to see what they are learning in class and their understanding of the material.

Set time limits: A visual timer can work well to help motivate students who are reluctant or feeling frustrated about their homework. They can see how much time they have to spend on the work rather than feel like it might go on forever.

Use the agenda: Another way to modify the time spent on homework is to try breaking it up into smaller sessions of time over the week. Sit down with your child and schedule out sessions in their agenda to get their homework done. Not only will a plan help alleviate some frustrations, but this will also assist them to develop organization skills, too.

Connect with the teacher: If you notice your child is struggling with their homework regularly, it may be time to touch base with their teacher. Set up a meeting to tell them what is happening at home. Your child’s teacher may have some strategies to help or may be able to modify some of the homework for your child.

Talk with your child: Sometimes children may be able to explain why they are avoiding their homework or why it leaves them feeling frustrated. Talk with your child to see if they can articulate their feelings. Perhaps they are tired and homework time could start earlier in the evening? Or maybe they feel like they don’t have enough free time during the week and you can address the family calendar together to see what can change.

Consider getting help: Homework help can happen in many different ways. You might engage the support of a family member or neighbour. Sometimes schools offer homework clubs, and in the older grades, many teachers have specific times during the week they are available to provide extra help to their students.

Posted in: Parent Education Resources, Toronto 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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Four Back-to-School Trends To Rule The School Year

Back to School

After a long summer away from the classroom, the shift to back-to-school can be a stressful time for families. It’s tricky to change pace and step back into a routine, but a smooth transition is achievable through planning, talking with children about their feelings, and of course, shopping for essential supplies.

Here are 4 of the latest school trends that will get everyone in the family prepared for a successful school year.

Litterless Lunches

Reusable containers continue to rule for back to school lunches. Families who choose to use eco-friendly lunch containers have so many choices that are great for the environment and their wallets.  Among our favourites are colourful lunch totes, stainless steel insulated water bottles, and bento boxes that make packing healthy lunches simple.

Supplies with a social conscious

Staples carries ME to WE school supplies which are perfect for the socially minded child, letting them see the educational impact of each purpose using a unique tracking code. This collection includes binders, lunch bags, and backpacks.

Canadian-themed products

Canada’s big birthday isn’t over yet! Students can continue to celebrate Canada 150 all through the school year. Staples has patriotic products including animal and lumber jack 150th-anniversary pencil pouches,  Hilroy moose themed planners, and Merangue Canada beaver pens.

Tech tools that rule

Technology in the classroom is here to stay with schools embracing STEM learning, Makerspaces, and some even adopting bring your own device programs. There are so many neat tech tools and apps that support student learning, but one of our current favourites is Tile, the personal item tracker. Students can use it for locating all their lunch boxes, sports gear and even cell phones.

What’s more, fun that shopping for back to school?  A giveaway from Staples for a back-to-school product bag, valued at approximately $300, full of the coolest trends and essential supplies PLUS a $50 Staples gift card.

Teachers on Call Back To School Giveaway

The bag will include over 25 items including: Maxwell Action Kids Headphones, Whoosh webcam cover, Avery Emoji Binder, Merangue Emoji Pen, Sistema Ice Rod and Snack Attack Container, Elmers Slime Glue Set, Mr. Sketch Scented Markers, Staedtler Wopex Eco-Friendly Pencils, Crayola Doodle Scents Markers, Staples 2 Port Wall Charger and much, much more!

Entering is simple. You can win the Staples back-to-school package and gift card by entering below! We’ll announce the winner on August 25th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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5 Tips to Prepare for the First Day of Kindergarten

Back to School Kindergarten

Time flies and your child is finally ready to go to kindergarten.   You’ve spent the last couple of years practicing reading and counting along with learning about colours, letters and playing with other children.

While your child is taking a big step forward in their growth, it is also important to ensure they feel comfortable and are ready for kindergarten.  Here are five tips to prepare for a successful transition to kindergarten:

Get Comfortable: We would recommend to tour the school in advance and make driving past the school part of your summer routine.  Some parents may ever want to practice going to do school in advance.

Listen: Discuss with your child what he or she is looking forward to about kindergarten and where they might have challenges.  If your child is nervous about something,  listen to their tone or see their expressions.   Be encouraging and support them where needed.

Make a Routine:  Start to build a back to school routine and adjust bedtimes and other schedules several weeks in advance.  That way the first day of school is not a sudden transition for your family.  The night before the first day, lay clothes out in advance, have lunches packed and allow for plenty of extra time.

Be Organized: Understand the school year calendar and policies in advance.  For example, what forms do I need to fill out and are their any food policies.   Finally, have your child’s items labelled.  Mabels Labels sells excellent products.

Stay Positive: Most importantly relax and be positive.  Show excitement about this wonderful milestone and don’t make drop off too big of a deal.

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