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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.

Posted in: Math Tutoring

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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.

Posted in: English Tutoring

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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.

 

Posted in: Parent Education Resources

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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.

Posted in: Parent Education Resources

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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.

Posted in: French Tutoring

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Toronto Summer STEM Field Trips

STEM

Summer is approaching.  The holiday break and warm weather doesn’t mean that learning has to stop.

There are numerous activities and places to visit around Toronto that are fun and promote STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) learning.   Here are some of our favourites for families of all ages:

Ontario Science Centre:  The Science Centre features over 500 exhibits, live demonstrations, Toronto’s only public planetarium and IMAX® films in the dome theatre. The AstraZeneca Human Edge is a new exhibition hall that explores all the wonders of the human body. Bring your little ones to KidSpark, a unique discovery playground and learning space for children age 1-8.

Canada’s Wonderland:  How does an amusement park teach us about science?  At Canada’s Wonderland with all the excitement of roller coasters, there is a ton of science behind building all of the structures.   Consider all of the measurement, motion, gravity, speed and acceleration that teaches children about science and physics.

Lego Land Discovery Centre: Looking for a STEM activity on a rainy summer day?  Look no further than the Lego Land Discovery Centre a family experience with over 3 million bricks under one roof. There are Rides, a 4D cinema, Master Model Builder workshops and more! You can also see Toronto’s iconic attractions made out of LEGO in MINILAND.

Ripley’s Aquarium: Experience  one of Toronto’s newest and most exciting attractions. Containing over 5.7 million litres of water, the 12,500 square metre (135,000 square foot) interactive aquarium immerses guests in a thrilling underwater adventure that showcases more than 16,000 marine animals

Staycation: After a busy couple of weeks, why not bring the activities home.  Click here for some fun science experiments for kids do with you at home.  These activities have a Canadian bend to it to celebrate Canada 150.

 

 

Posted in: Educational Technology

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Avoid Spring Distractions and Finish the School Year Strong

Finish the School Year Strong

Victoria Day weekend is approaching, the sun is out and the days are getting longer.   There are only weeks left of school.

However, with summer coming soon, students can often step back and lose focus.  With exams around the corner and report cards following shortly, it is important for students to finish the school year strong and avoid distractions.

With several weeks left, students have time to make improvements through end of year assignments, tests, homework and final exams to bring up their marks.

Here are some tips to stay focused and finish the school year strong:

Celebrate Success: Look back through your agenda, binders and notebooks to remind your child of all the great things they have accomplished this year.   With the opportunity to be distracted from other things, it may help renew their drive to succeed.

Set Goals: With several weeks remaining, set goals for the remainder of the school year and make a realistic plan to achieve them.  This will also encourage students to start thinking about next school year and help avoid the summer slide.

Use the Weather to Your Advantage: The nice weather can be a distraction, but there is nothing wrong with getting fresh air while continuing to study.

Ask for Help: With projects due and exams coming up, don’t be afraid to ask your teacher or a tutor for help.

Posted in: Parent Education Resources

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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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Math Word Problems: How to Overcome Anxiety

math word problems

Students are increasingly being challenged with word-based math problems.   Focusing on teaching math with word problems, allows teachers to take the concepts learned in class and apply them to everyday life.  It also helps strengthen students’ analytical thinking skills and ability to problem solve.

However, the transition to learning math and doing homework can be challenging for students.   Here are some strategies for students and parents to overcome anxiety and succeed with math word problems.

Show How Math Relates to the Real World:   Show your children how important addition, subtraction, multiplication and division is to every day life.   Next time you go grocery shopping, add up the items before the register.   If you are going to the bank, learn about financial literacy and count your savings or withdrawals.   Cooking or baking is a great time to learn about measurement.   Any driving trip can be a lesson in distance, time and counting.

Understand Key Math Terms: Before starting problem solving it is important for any student to have a strong grasp of of key words that can show up in problems like i) greater than / less than, ii) factor of (division), iii) AND versus OR, etc.

Make a Plan:  With any math word problem, have your child read over the problem several times and ensure they understand the question and what is being asked.   There are strategies to get comfort with the problem, depending on your learning style.  For visual learners, draw a diagram or picture of the question.  For auditory learners, talk the question out loud into parts.   Next define the focus of the question and what is needed.  Also identify which information is irrelevant and can be ignored.  Finally, look for any patterns.  Once your child has a good grasp of the problem, have them work through it in a logical manner and reflect on how they got to the answer.

Check Your Work:  Nobody is perfect, so going back and checking your numbers and logic is a great habit to keep.

Practice Makes Perfect: Once your child has a good grasp and strategy to answer math word problems – practice, practice, practice.

Posted in: Math Tutoring

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5 End of Year Teacher Gifts That They Will Love

End of year teacher gifts

With the end of school rapidly approaching, you may be starting to think about a gift for your child’s teacher to thank them for a wonderful year. Why not make this an educational activity and involve your little learner in the process?

We have five gift ideas that will help you and your child show your appreciation without breaking the bank.

Gift cards: You can’t go wrong with gift cards. If you are not quite sure what to choose, Indigo and Staples are always good choices, as teachers love to the chance to add more children’s books to their library or stock up on supplies. A Starbucks gift card is always popular-they can go towards a teacher’s coffee run.

Donate to a cause: Looking for inspiration for a teacher who always shows their students that kindness and caring come first? Consider pooling resources with other families and look at UNICEF Survival Gifts. They have many educational options that directly help teachers and students across the globe.

Personal item tracker: Between extracurriculars, assemblies, meetings, yard duty and the classroom, teachers are always on the go. It can be easy for them to misplace things like their classroom keys or phone. Gift your child’s teacher a techie gadget with Tile, a personal item tracker that will ensure they can find always find the most important items. Since STEM is all the rage in the education world, this cool gift might even spark an interesting class discussion.

Personalized labels: Have you ever seen your child’s classroom library? Then you’ll know that teachers have tons of precious items that are shared with many. To help them keep their books from disappearing, what better gift can there be than Adult Labels from Mabel’s Labels?

A class memory book: Collaborate with your child’s classmates to create a special book for the teacher. Each child can write one page and draw a picture of their favourite moment from the school year. Bind it together with the dedication page signed by all the students. Parents can even add in pages! This gift will be sure to have a place honour in the teacher’s life long after the students graduate.

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