End of Summer Activities to Get The Brain Churning Again!

By: Farheen Khan, Content Contributor

In the summer, we can do all the things we dreamt about doing all winter. For kids that means being able to play outside for longer; hiking, camping, boating, tag, man-hunt, jump-rope, biking, going to the park, basketball, soccer, badminton, tennis . . . the list goes on. Take this time to play with your children and spend some quality time with them; it is extremely important for their growth and development as empathetic and active individuals. But in the midst of all this family fun, we entreat you to not forget that academic goals can also be pursued in this free time. It won’t be easy, but we recommend designating about an hour in the morning for studying that which your child struggled with during the school year. Sit down with him/her and discuss the pros and cons of the last school year and glean what his or her strengths and interests are as well as insecurities and deficiencies. Whether it be reading, writing, math or science take some time out to address the issues and plan for them.

Additionally, try to encourage academic pursuits in fun ways. One idea is to make a bird feeder by coating a pinecone in peanut butter and then covering it with seeds to make a rudimentary bird feeder. Then, ask your children to observe the different kinds of birds that come and perhaps documenting them by drawing them and then using print and online resources to find out more about them. Or what about encouraging them to make a picture book for the home book collection? And if you travel somewhere then take a notebook and pencil along and show them how to write a travelogue. These are just a few ideas and you can even design a few yourself that are tailored to your child’s interests and way of learning.

In short, enjoy the rest of summer while it lasts and take advantage of all that this time offers.

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Trying to Cultivate a Bookworm

By Farheen, Viva Learn Content Contributor

I suppose one of the great problems of this day and age, for parents anyways, is trying to cultivate a bookworm; or, at least, a child who doesn’t see books as the last avenue people resort to when life has seemingly been leached of all colour and happiness. And that is understandable: reading sometimes requires patience and the ability to become a breathing, beating corpse for a number of hours.

As one who has observed this issue in my own household, the one thing I can say with absolute certainty is that simply telling, ordering, demanding, or begging your kids to read will not make them lifelong readers. Setting an example, on the other hand, will.

It’s a simple case of “monkey see, monkey do”. I myself come from a family in which I am the sole possessor of an obsession for books. I visit libraries and bookstores as often as I can, and am the keeper of a sizeable collection of books at home; many are gifts, many I’ve bought myself and a few I’ve filched from my uncle’s collection. My three younger siblings don’t remotely display the same passion for mere words on thinly sliced trees as I do, but what I’ve noticed over the years is that if I escape into a book, they will follow suit. While I read Anna Karenina my little brother will dive into another one of Captain Underpants’ adventures and my baby sister will flip through Kevin Henkes’ “Chrysanthemum”. My other sister, to whom even vacuuming is preferable over reading, will even condescend to sniff at the next book in The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer.

The bottom line, dear parents, is that you must create an example and an atmosphere if you want your children to adopt certain habits, whether it be reading or something else. In the case of cultivating a bookworm, keep books around the house, make weekly trips to the library and designate a certain time for reading alone, in which both you and your child read. We are all products of our environment; as parents you have the power to shape and control your child’s environment but what you mustn’t forget is that you are as much part of the setting as a creator of it.

Tip from a Teacher: Learning Skills – A Big Focus in Term One

Part of an effective education is not just about learning the content, but the positive life skills and habits we form in the process. The development of learning skills that help us succeed in both school and life, begins at an early age. As students move through the grades, they develop learning skills and habits in preparation for further education and life as a grown up.

TIP: Now is the perfect time for your child to step-up and shine in the classroom by applying some learning skills. Below are goals for each learning skill as outlined by the Ontario Ministry of Education. Review these with your child and encourage them to demonstrate at least one or two of them in the classroom in the coming weeks.

  • Responsibility: student shows participation during class discussions, manages time and completes work, knows the difference between appropriate and inappropriate behaviour
  • Independent work: student shows motivation, stays on task, follows routine reminders
  • Initiative: student positively receives new ideas and suggestions, is willing to try new things, can reflect on his/her own
  • Self regulation: student acts on feedback from teachers, knows when to ask for help, tries their best
  • Collaboration: student contributes and takes turns when working with others

– By Abi Sharma (M.S.Ed)