Teachers on Call

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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2018 Consumer Choice Award Winner – Toronto Tutoring Category

We are pleased to announce that Teachers on Call has been honoured with the Consumer Choice Award for 2018 in the category of Tutoring in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA)

The award marks the second year in a row that we have been recognized for business excellence by the organization.

Each year across Canada, Consumer Choice Award gathers opinions, perceptions and expectations through the responses of thousands of consumers and businesses. All winners have gone through a rigorous selection process conducted by a third party research firm to ensure only the most outstanding service providers are the winners within their respective industry.

To learn more about Teachers on Call, please click on our video below:

Posted in: Toronto Tutoring

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Spring STEM Ideas

Spring STEM Ideas

STEM is becoming a very popular buzz word in education and you may be hearing a lot about it.  So what is STEM and how can it benefit your child?

It stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Exposure to STEM subjects can help students develop important problem solving and critical thinking skills from a young age, and prepare them for school and future careers.

Here are five suggestions to help students get excited from our math and science tutors:

STEM Experiments

Students can try a series of STEM based projects from making their own slime at home to conducting science experiments. If you are looking for a guide check out  Try This! 50 Fun & Safe Experiments for the Mad Scientist in You.

Books

Visit your local library or bookstore to pick out books with STEM content for students of all ages. There is no shortage of books to choose from starting with picture books to older content. Looking for inspiration? A few of our favourites include Charlotte the Scientist is Squished and  Innovation Nation.

Extracurricular Activities

Encourage your child to look into STEM based clubs, extracurricular activities, and after school programming. Tap into STEM related interests like coding and robotics.

STEM Role Models

Know someone in a STEM-related job? Invite them over for coffee or dinner and let your child learn and pick their brain about what they do.

Educational Field Trips

Extracurricular trips are a great opportunity to expose students to new learning experiences. Visit your local science centre, museum or aquarium for some enriching adventures outside of the classroom.

Looking for additional STEM inspiration? Feel free to check out our website and social media for more ideas.

Posted in: Educational Technology, Math Tutoring, Science 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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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

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Top 100 Finalists for Superpower your School Contest

Earth month

Earth Day Canada and Staples Canada have announced the top 100 finalists for their annual Superpower your School contest. Check out the list of 100 eco-conscious finalists from schools across Canada. Is your child’s school one of them?

The final judging, led by a panel of volunteer organizations interested in sustainability, is taking place in the weeks leading up to Earth Month. The ten winners will be announced in early April- five elementary and five secondary schools.

Common themes among last year’s winners include solving a community or environmental issue and environmental activism-view the eco-champions here. Deb Doncaster, President, Earth Day Canada, says, “Through projects and programs like these, we are getting closer to a safer and eco-friendlier environment, which in itself is something to celebrate.”

Winning schools each receive a $20,000 Staples shopping spree for new technology products. David Boone, CEO, Staples Canada says,“It’s a great pleasure for us to award the next generation of environmental leaders with the equipment they need to keep growing and learning to be environmentally responsible.”

We’re looking forward to viewing the winning innovative projects. Stay tuned!

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Homework Help – Tips from Our Tutors

One of the most common requests we receive is for our tutors to help with homework.  It can be anything from learning to read and write, helping with math homework or solving high school biology or chemistry problems.

We have reached our to our team of elementary and high school tutors to get their advice on succeeding with homework.

Here are some of our favourite strategies:

1) Set up a homework friendly area that limits distractions unless it is used as a homework tool.  Examples include cell phones and TVs

2) Stay in touch with your child’s teacher(s): Attend school events such as curriculum night and parent teacher interviews to meet your child’s teacher and know what is expected of them.

3) Make a daily schedule:  Have a regular study time that works well for your child.  Each child works differently and some children prefer to work right after school and others after dinner.  Ensure students take a break after a long day at school to decompress.

4) Prioritize: We find students can have very jam packed schedules with extracurricular activities.  It is important to ensure homework takes priority and students are not exhausted by the time they work on their academic exercises.  We would recommend using a family calendar, so you can work together to track everyone’s obligations and ensure no evening or weekend is too jam packed.

5) Ask for help: We recommend that students start their homework independently and then ask for help when needed.  Homework help can come from tutors, family members, homework clubs and teachers.

6) Try your best:  As students work through their homework, they should not get discouraged with questions they do not understand.  Highlight any areas they do not understand to show they need help.  It is better to attempt a math or science answer versus leaving it blank.

Posted in: Parent Education Resources

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6 Tips to Help Study for Math Tests

 

 

 

 

 

Your daughter or son has a math test coming up next week.   How can you help them build the right Academic Coaching skills to study and practice properly?

We asked our team of math tutors for their advice on building the right math study skills.   Here are some of their tips:

1) Start Studying Early: Plan ahead is a sure way to succeed when studying for any test.  Studies show that spacing studying sessions apart is far more effective than cramming the day before.  Break up the different math topics in the test into different study sessions.  This approach also builds a foundation for review closer to exam time.

2) Know Your Math Vocabulary:  Make sure your child knows all the key terms so when they read the test questions they are able to distinguish what type of problem it is.  For example they should be able to identify the difference between questions for a sum versus a product.

3) Understand and Practice the Format of the Test: Although students may know the math content, sometimes the format of the test can throw them off.  For example if the test has longer problems, work on practicing the steps required to answer the question.   For multiple choice, learn the process of elimination to get to the more likely answers.   Also practice in advance reading the directions of each question or section on the test.

4) Homework: Doing your homework regularly helps a student become familiar with basic math concepts and build a foundation for future grades.  It also helps in test situations where there is a time limit.

5) Practice Notation: Sloppy handwriting can lead to the wrong number reviewed by the teacher.  Be sure that your that a 9 does not look like a 4. Also when doing adding, subtraction, division and multiple practice lining up digits so they do not become misaligned.  For longer math problems, ensure the steps are neatly laid out and show the logic of how you got to your answer.

5) Be Well Rested and Healthy:  Eat well, have a good sleep and most important go into the test with a positive attitude!

Posted in: Math Tutoring

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STEM Education Over March Break to Keep Learning Fun

With the March Break coming up fast, it’s time to start planning activities to keep your child engaged over the short break.

One of the best ways to pack some education into the spring break fun is to try STEM-related activities. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and focuses on combining these four areas into a powerful learning that connects to real-world experiences.

Our friends at Indigo make it easy to foster your child’s interest in STEM during March Break with blocks, books, and DIY activities that open up possibilities to budding inventors and engineers. We’ve gathered a few of our favourite choices, and Indigo is offering them all to one of our lucky readers!

LEGO BOOST Creative Toolbox

With the LEGO BOOST Creative Toolbox kids can customize and build their own talking robot friend named Vernie. An extra neat feature is that Vernie responds to voice with facial expressions that directly correlate to it’s mood. The LEGO BOOST is a great way to encourage your children to participate in STEM, as they complete fun activities and code their own robot friend.

Ultimate Slime DIY Tutorials

Making slime is all the rage these days, and this book that includes over 100 Slime recipes, that don’t use Bora, won’t disappoint sticky-loving kids. Creating slime is an amazing STEM activity that allows children to explore chemical reactions, different properties and perform tests. The Ultimate Slime DIY Tutorials book offers so much fun for over the March Break.

Ada Twist, Scientist

This wonderful book is about the inquiring minds of children and is a direct celebration of STEM. Follow along as Ada Twist and classmates open the conversation about gender roles and bring a very welcome perspective into women and science.

Klutz: Make Your Own Bath Bombs

Kids can scientifically transform their bathtime by learning the science associated with creating the best fizz-including chemical reactions. Using different molds, children can mix together ingredients to create colourful bath bombs.

Gumball Machine: Build a Machine that Really Works

Little engineers with a sweet tooth will enjoy the freedom to create their own working gumball machine using easy-to-follow instructions that show kids how parts work together to create a machine.

Iggy Peck’s Big Project Book for Amazing Architects

This is the ultimate STEM book for kids, with over 40 fun design and STEM projects, from doodling and drafting to blueprints and building. Iggy Peck takes little readers on a fun adventure with a unique mix of art skills, science and technology to create some stable structures. This activity book will give children the chance to invent new gizmos, design dwellings, imagine a new cityscape and more.

We’ve partnered with Indigo for #KidsBreak this year, with an #IndigoKidsBreak prize pack to keep kids having fun while they are off school. Value approximately $325.


Entering is simple. You can win the Indigo prize package of all our favourite items  by entering below! Contest is open to people living in Ontario, and ends March 8th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Posted in: Math Tutoring, Science Tutoring

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