Teachers on Call

Posts Tagged 'Reading'

How to Build Your Child’s Vocabulary

Child reading a book

Having a strong vocabulary helps students with reading, writing and expressing their thoughts and opinions.

We have reached out to our team of Reading and English tutors to get their advice on successful strategies to build a strong vocabulary.

1) Read Consistently:  Engage your child’s interest by picking topics they are interested in with new learning opportunities.  As you read together with your child, stop when there is a new word and help explain it through pictures, meaning by context or the root of the word.  It can be a casual conversation rather than a lesson.

2) Love the Library: Take advantage of your local library to build your child’s love of reading.  If you are not sure where to start, chat with your local librarian on suggestions based on your child’s interests and reading level.

3) Create a Word Map:  As you learn new words, write them on a post card or post-it note and place them around the room to help remember.

4) Use New Words: Encourage your child to use their expanded vocabulary often and provide positive feedback when they do.

5) Learn about Synonyms:  Expand vocabulary by challenging your child to use synonyms and mix up words.

6) Use Grown-Up Words in Conversations: By using more challenging words, children can be encouraged to ask for clarification and provide a chance to explain new words.

7) Label Items Around the House: For younger kids, this is a wonderful way to learn basic words.  Practice with them how to properly pronounce each word as they learn it.

8) Have Fun:  Play crosswords, word games, Scrabble apps or even a low key family spelling bee.

Posted in: English Tutoring

Leave a Comment (0) →

Kickstart A Lifelong Reading Habit In 15 Minutes A Day

Spending 15 minutes a day enjoying a literacy activity is a great way to reinforce a positive attitude around reading. The more frequently you read as a family, the more your children will gravitate naturally to reading!

Why not kick off a year-long reading habit beginning on Family Literacy Day on January 27th?

Family Literacy Day is an annual literacy event that’s taken place across Canada since 1999. Every year, thousands of schools and other literacy providers host family literacy events to bring parents and children together to encourage 15 minutes of literacy learning fun.

Our team of tutors is often asked by parents how they can help their kids love reading, so in preparation for this year’s Family Literacy Day, we’re sharing five engaging ways to show your children that learning to read is fun.

  1. Sign up for a library card and then get out the family calendar to plan regular visits to stock up on books that reflect your child’s current interests. Once your child signs up for a library card, they can even borrow books digitally!
  2. Reread your child’s favourite books. While you may get tired of reading the same books the repetitive reading helps children’s vocabulary grow and deepens their comprehension.
  3. Don’t stop reading together even when your child can read for themselves. They still benefit from the dedicated time together. Instead, choose a novel and take turns reading aloud a chapter.
  4. Storytelling is a fantastic way to build your child’s oral literacy. They 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!
  5. Over dinner or before bedtime, dedicate 15 minutes of family time to engage in conversation about everyone’s day. Use our list of 20 questions to ask your child about school as a starting point.

Now grab a book and get reading!

Posted in: English Tutoring

Leave a Comment (0) →

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.

Posted in: English Tutoring

Leave a Comment (0) →

Let’s Aim to Always be Reading in 2017

Indigo Giveaway

The beginning of a new year brings with it a swirl of resolutions as we strive to motivate ourselves to live well. We’ve shared many suggestions for educational goals for your child but did you know that reading can contribute to a boost in wellness? As avid bookworms, this gives us even more reason to move reading to the top of our resolutions.

Let’s make 2017 the year we curl up regularly with a good book and as our friends at Indigo suggest, to “Always Be Reading”.

Wellness Reads For Children

Here are a few of the latest wellness reads for children:

Yoga Bunny

For ages: 3-5

This adorable book tells the story of a yoga practicing bunny who wishes his stressed out animal friends could see how yoga may help them slow down and relax. Children will be introduced to beginning yoga poses that may motivate them to try downward dog or tree pose themselves.

What is Peace

For ages: 3-5

Children are exposed to violence and stress in the news, at home or even at school. The illustrations and text will encourage them to think about what peace looks like in their daily life and in the world. This is a wonderful story to focus on emotional wellness by giving children a starting point to discuss the often misunderstood topic of peace.

Canadian Reads For Everyone

This year is an especially exciting time for Canadians as the countdown is on to Canada’s 150th birthday  and this is a great theme for your whole family’s 2017 reading material. Consider looking at books about and by Canadians as part of your reading choices. We really enjoyed reading:

The Darkest Dark

For ages: 3-7

This picture book is inspired by the childhood of Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield. Little readers may be surprised to learn that young Chris was afraid of the dark. Parents will appreciate the lesson about conquering your fears and having big aspirations. Fans of outer space will especially enjoy a collection of photos from his youth and outer space.

And for the adults, check out Oh She Glows Every Day to start your 2017 wellness goals off right. The over 100 plant-based recipes from Canadian author Angela Liddon’s latest cookbook will have your family glowing from the inside out. We love the tips for making the recipes kid and allergy friendly, too!

For The Educator

I Wish My Teacher Knew

Based on the worldwide viral #IWishMyTeacherKnew, third-grade teacher, Kyle Schwartz shares her insights on what happened when she asked her students to fill–in–the–blank in this sentence: “I wish my teacher knew _____.” Her students answers and the resulting reflections are a powerful reminder that the life in the classroom is more than just academics and our children need a safe place to face their daily realities.

And if you want to show your commitment to reading all year long, check out the Read the North line from Indigo which include clothing and an adorable tote for books or lunches. These reading accessories are a lot of fun to encourage and promote the love of learning.

We’re excited to be giving away an #AlwaysBeReading family prize pack from our friends at Indigo.

Entering is easy below and you can win: A Read The North reading tote and a copy of Yoga Bunny, What is Peace, I Wish My Teacher Knew, The Darkest Dark and Oh She Glows Every Day.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Posted in: English Tutoring

Leave a Comment (0) →

Four Books To Battle Bullying

We all have a part to play to create safe and kind learning environments for our children. Books are a great tool to start the conversation about kindness and caring. They help to give children words to express their feelings and deal with their emotions through storytelling. We’re always on the lookout for books that help parents and educators teach our youth courage, compassion and help them battle bullying. Here are four of our must-read books for different age groups:

Hug Machine

Written and Illustrated by Scott Campbell

(For ages: 4-8)

Hug Machine tells the happy tale of a little boy with a passion for hugging – aka the Hug Machine. There’s no hug challenge that can be resisted! A great book for children to read with their families, it will be sure to put a smile on everyone’s faces. Disclaimer: Ensure your arms are free after reading this story – you will want a hug.

The Julian Chapter: A Wonder Story

by R.J. Palacio (For ages: 8 and up)

This e-book follows the best-seller Wonder about Auggie Pullman and his quest to fit into his new school. It’s not to be missed by fans of the first book. In The Julian Chapter, we get to hear a new perspective from the often untold bully’s point of view. The complexity of bullying is revealed in this tale along with many memorable lines. It is up to the reader to decide if this bully can be redeemed and ultimately forgiven. To conclude with a favourite quote, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. –Ian Maclaren.”

Puppy Love: True Stories of Doggie Devotion

Written by Lisa M. Gerry

(For ages: 10+)

For all the dog lovers out there, grab a copy of Puppy Love. This read is reminiscent of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, but with a canine twist. This book covers the stories of 25 VIPs – Very Important Pooches. Young readers will learn about Alfie, Mr. Gibbs and Pudsey, just to name-drop a few. If you were not an animal lover prior to reading this book, you will definitely gain a deeper understanding of those with doggie devotion!

To This Day: For the Bullied and Beautiful

by Shane Koyczan, Illustrated by various artists

(For ages: 11 and up)

Written by anti-bullying champion and spoken word artist Shane Koyczan, who turned his painful experiences of being bullied into poetry. The journey of To This Day began when an animated video of his poem was released and viewed over 12 million times. It is extremely powerful, and if you watch it online, I guarantee it will give you goose bumps. This special poem has now transitioned into a unique book, with a preface by Shane and illustrations by 30 artists worldwide. It has become more than a poem, video and book — it is the core of the anti-bullying movement.

Posted in: English Tutoring, Parent Education Resources

Leave a Comment (0) →

Educational New Year’s Learning Resolutions


With the holiday season approaching, now is the perfect time to reflect on the first half of the school year and to make some educational resolutions for 2016.

It’s a known fact that we start off with the best of intentions, but don’t always follow-through with the resolutions we make. That’s why our team of tutors recommends engaging your children by brainstorming academic goals together, writing them down and tracking them throughout the year.

Here are five of our favourite New Year’s resolution tips for students:

1) Set Academic Goals

2) Contribute to the Community

3) Read for Pleasure:

4) Manage Time Effectively

5) Get Extracurricular

To read the full list of tips, visit our article at Help We’ve Got Kids


Posted in: Parent Education Resources

Leave a Comment (0) →

Celebrating Reading – Children’s Book Swap @ Evergreen Brick Works

Children's Book Swap

Spring is a wonderful time to mix up your child’s bookshelf to continue to build their love of reading.  However, we know that purchasing new books can be costly for families.

That is why we are thrilled to support and promote Evergreen Brick Works Children’s Book Swap this Sunday from 10am-2pm.   Families will have the opportunity to swap and share their children’s books and get the opportunity to read different and unique stories.   Book donations are also welcome in advance.

“A book swap is a fun and rewarding way for children to discover new stories and adventures. Curious George and the Lorax provide the stories that spark wonder in the children, while the books themselves introduce children to the value of community sharing and to the lifecycle of goods.”  – Michelle Bourbon, Evergreen Brick Works Project Manager

For further event details and swapping guidelines, please visit: http://www.evergreen.ca/whats-on/event-details/11388

Posted in: Community, English Tutoring

Leave a Comment (0) →

5 New Year’s Resolutions for Students

The start of 2014 brings plenty excitement with a fresh slate to start over and is a time to reflect on the past.   Not only can adults have resolutions, but students can as well.  This is a great opportunity to make goals with your son or daughter to make them a better student.

Here are 5 of our favourite resolutions:

1) Organizational Skills: Having great organizational skills is essential for success at school.  That includes using a calendar and places to keep papers and homework.  Our partner the KAos Group has written a wonderful blog with student organizational tips.

2) Volunteer:  Whether it is neighbourhood, community or school supporting, volunteering is a great opportunity for students to develop skills outside of the classroom.    To learn more, read our blog post on Strengthening our Community.

3) Educational Technology:  Tablets and Smartphones have a ton of great English, Math, Science and French apps for children of all ages.  They are also a lot of fun to learn with!  Check out our many Educational Technology articles with some of our favourite apps for learning.

4) Learn Something New: Whether is it how science applies to real life or a word from a new language, making a goal to learn something new every day ensures we constantly have a fresh and well rounded mind.

5) Read for Fun:  Reading is an important part of a child’s development.    One of the most important keys to success is the engage your child with fun and memorable activities.   Here are some of favourite tips for your child to love reading.

What are you and your child’s New Year’s resolutions for education and how do you plan to keep them?

Posted in: Parent Education Resources

Leave a Comment (0) →

Supporting Literacy and Reading

From what began as a house party in 2002, the Scotiabank Giller Light Bash has grown to become a popular cultural event across the country to raise money for Frontier College. The Bash combines a taste of the Scotiabank Giller Prize Gala formalities with a hip-urban twist. Guests watch the broadcast of the Gala on big screen, dance to a live band, enjoy delicious food, enter to win fantastic raffle prizes and mingle with fellow book lovers. The night has traditionally been filled with surprises as Giller winners and authors alike have been known to join the festivities.

This year, the party is held on November 5th concurrently in six Canadian cities: Vancouver, Calgary, Regina, Winnipeg, Toronto and Halifax. Since its inception, the bash has raised over $400,000 for Frontier College. Frontier College runs literacy and reading programs for children, youth and adults across the country. In Toronto, programs include homework clubs for kids, tutoring for youth and literacy upgrading for adults.

Frontier College President Sherry Campbell explains how literacy affects every part of society. “If a mother can’t read a prescription bottle, it can result in a health emergency. If an employee doesn’t understand a safety memo or sign, it can affect the lives of other employees. If a young girl’s parents are unable to help with her homework because they don’t feel comfortable with their ability, that girl can easily fall behind in school, eliminating many options for her future. At Frontier College we’re working with the most vulnerable people in our society, improving their literacy and increasing their opportunities.”

The Toronto party will be held at the CBC Broadcast Centre and is emceed by author and sportscaster Kevin Sylvester. Tickets can be purchased at www.gillerlightbash.ca

Posted in: Community, English Tutoring

Leave a Comment (0) →