Early Years: Grades 1-3
Whether a child is heading to class for the very first time or a seasoned veteran of the third grade, the summer break is a great chance to introduce or keep a young student familiar with the type of structure that they encounter in the classroom.
- Read books together at a set time everyday
- Ask questions and have a discussion about readings
- Introduce fun workbooks that cover classroom subjects such as math and reading
- Set routines such as bedtime and reading times and stick to them
Middle Years: Grades 4-8
Children are growing rapidly both physically and mentally during this time. It’s a very busy time frame for children—they have a lot coming at them, from school to increasing family and social obligations. Summer represents a great opportunity for them to synthesize all the information that they have learned during the school year. Summer is the time for students to have those “A-HA” moments that can translate school year book learning into experiences that sink in. Here’s how
- Visit museums
- Take nature walks and discuss trees/plants/wildlife
- Take up a new hobby such as painting or gardening
- Research a favorite subject from school
Teen Years: High School
The summer break during the high school years is almost as important as the school year itself. At the high school level the curriculum moves along at an impressive speed—even a single missed school day can result in a major skill gap. But the pace doesn’t slow down for missed skills; usually the first real break that high school students get is the summer. That’s why the summer is a great opportunity for high school students—they can catch up and fill in any skills gaps.
Whether it is summer school, a private tutor, an education company such as Oxford Learning, or simply a focused desire to read and write more, teens can make the most of the extra time in the summer to improve grades—after all, it’s not too often that highschoolers have extra time, so why not make the most of it?
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May and June have been busy months. Here’s a look at some of the events happening at Oxford Learning.
Customer Appreciation Day
We think everyone had a great time at the 2009 Barrhaven Customer Appreciation Day! Thank you to all who came out!
Celebrity Server Night
The staff at the Barrhaven location had a great time at the Celebrity Server Night at Boston Pizza! Thank you to all who came out!
Little Readers Graduation 2009
Fun in the Park
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Children don’t have to be in a classroom to be learning! In fact, some of the most important lessons in life are learned outside of school.
That’s one of the positives about summer and time off from school—it’s a great opportunity to gather plenty of life experiences. In the summer, life experiences are almost free for the taking! In fact, the opportunity to learn and grow as a person during the summer is one of the best things about summer vacation.
The trick is to know how to harness the learning opportunities that are happening all around, and how to turn those experiences into valuable, useable summer learning that challenges the brain.
Learning doesn’t have to be formal to be rewarding—even the simplest summer activity can be a “learning moment.”
- Read. Active reading—think about the story, the words, and the meaning. Don’t just move your eyes over the page. This keeps the mind sharp and helps develop vocabulary.
- Write a little every day. Keep a journal, create a scrapbook, or write a short story.
- Play games. Games like Sudoku, crossword puzzles, or word games like Boggle, Scrabble, and Upwords are great to challenge the mind. Discuss any strategies used to reach a solution.
- Play a memory game. Gather up a random assortment of items, anything collected from around the house or yard will do, study them for a short time, then cover them up and try to remember the most items. Develop a strategy to help with recall like grouping items by color, or category.
- Recite Alphabet Game. Select a category (e.g. fruits and vegetables) and begin listing items according to the alphabet. The first person gets A (apple), the second B (beets), and so on. Try not to be the first one who can’t think of anything.
- Plant and Grow. Take advantage of the warm weather and plant some seedlings and watch them grow. Create a chart and track their growth schedule.
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The last bell of the school year has rung—before the book bag is put away for the summer, take a few moments to take stock of this past school year.
Did your child encounter any academic obstacles? Were there trouble spots? Unfinished projects? Homework issues?
Summer is the perfect time to catch up in any problem areas. Your student even has the ability to get ahead this summer.
Studies have shown time and again that on average, students lose approximately 2.6 months of grade-level equivalency in mathematical computational skills during the summer months. This means that when students head back to school in the fall, they spend about 6 weeks reviewing and simply getting back into the swing of things rather than learning new material.
Sure, kids deserve a break after the school year (we all do), but from an educational standpoint, these numbers are quite scary.
There is good news though. Summer learning losses can easily be prevented with just a few hours a week of summer learning. Now consider how much more prepared for success your child will be after a summer of mentally stimulating activity.
It’s easy to keep the brain stimulated—a few hours a week is all it takes!
Tip: Don’t exclude summer school from your summer planning because of any stereotypes you may hold. Summer school is a great opportunity. There is typically less pressure, and your child can get the individual attention that he or she may not be getting during the school year.
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According to just released results, almost a quarter of high school students in Ontario are not passing the standardized literacy tests that are given in grade 10.
While that may seem like a shocking figure, if you look at it another way, more than three quarters of all high school students are passing literacy tests on their first attempt.
Literacy tests assess student’s familiarity with reading and writing skills, as well as general familiarity with the standards of the English language, up to the grade-nine level (in Ontario.)
Students that don’t pass the test on their first attempt are given a second, and even third, attempt to write the test.
What is worrying is that a portion of the students that re-take the test are not passing, even on their second attempt.
Given that literacy is a foundational skill that is very important to everyday life, it is no wonder that it causes some concern when high school students at the tenth grade level are not functioning at a consistent fluency.
Aside from obvious reasons such as learning disabilities or non-native English speakers, one of the major reasons could be that the formal rules of English grammar are not taught beyond the early elementary grades.
While students use grammar in their everyday life, by the time that students reach high school, the rules are no longer familiar. Their language is second nature, so when students are asked to draw on rules that they were taught, five or so grades previously, it can be challenging.
That’s why all students, not just those who find grammar challenging, should take a refresher course—Oxford Learning has a great program to help students hone their grammar, improve their writing, become critical thinkers, and get test-taking tips to boot.
For students entering the 10th grade, the summer presents a perfect opportunity to tune-up grammar skills before taking the standardized literacy test.
Like with any test, preparation is key. Students who take the time to review and prepare before a test will perform better and with less stress than those who are not prepared.
Consider an Oxford Learning program for your teen. It will mean better marks on not just the standardized literacy tests, but on all tests. Better marks equal happier students, happier parents, and happier school boards. It’s win-win-win.
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By Michelle Brennan-Mann
Q: Report cards are almost here and I’m worried that it might be too late to get my son on track. I don’t want to get upset about his report card, but I’m worried about his future!
It’s natural to be stressed about reports cards—after all, report card time is recognized as one of the most stressful times for families. For parents, poor grades are a source of concern and worry—is their child facing an educational roadblock that could put dreams and plans for the future on hold? Or even worse, eliminate the future possibilities altogether?
Before you let report card stress take over, remember these five things:
- Make sense of what the report card is really telling you. Read the comments written by the teacher. These comments can give you a better idea of how your child is performing overall.
- Attend the Parent-Teacher Conference. The teacher has spent hours a day observing your child in the classroom. Often, they can paint a better picture of where your child is headed academically.
- Put it in context. Some school years are more challenging than others. Certain grades are transition years, and are more challenging for students.
- Talk it over. Have a report card chat with your child. But first, take some time to read the report card by yourself. Identify the subjects that are the biggest concern and address those concerns when you sit down together and go over the report card. Remember to remain calm—you and your child are allies in education, not enemies.
- Take Action Now. A bad report card can be a serious roadblock to opportunities for the future. But it doesn’t have to be. Just because the school year is out doesn’t mean that you have to wait to get help. The summer is a fantastic opportunity to make impressive academic gains and get back on track.
Thanks to contributing author Michelle Brennan-Mann. Michelle has been working as part of the management team at the Barrhaven Oxford Learning Center in Ottawa for the past 6 years. Her background is in special education and her passion lies in helping kids see success. For more information about report cards, or about how we can help your child reach their highest potential please call 613-823-1300.
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