With school out for a week, it can be easy to let good routines and habits slide and put learning on the back-burner. But what if the holiday could be spent learning and being productive as well as having fun?
Good news: it can!
Check out our Top Ten Ways to Keep Learning on School Breaks!
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There’s no doubt everyone feels a little sleepy the first few days back to work or school after the holidays. But routines shouldn’t change drastically when school is not in session: keeping similar sleep and wake times can help your child get into the school routine more quickly than those who spend their holidays staying up late and sleeping in every day.
Children don’t only feel lethargic and tired just after holidays though. Many students have difficulty getting up each morning after staying up late watching TV or texting. This can lead to students falling asleep in class, or being awake but not cognitively alert enough to process and store new information from morning classes. This can have a direct effect on your child’s grades, as lack of sleep impairs the brain’s ability to transfer and store information to long-term memory.
Check out our sleep checklist to help determine if your child is getting the right amount of Zzz’s to get those A’s!
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Looking for a way to spend quality time with the family this holiday season? Want to unplug and have some fun? Books and board games are great ways to get your child to put down the cell phone or video game controller and have some family fun while developing skills that can be transferred to the classroom when back-to-school time comes around.
Books can be a great stocking stuffer and give kids the chance to read material that interests them. Even if your child isn’t an avid recreational reader, comic books or magazines can spark their interest and encourage them to spend some quiet time reading. Reading together as a family is a great way to bond and can inspire discussion on different topics that arise as you read. Take turns reading paragraphs, act out scenes, guess what will happen next, and (if the book is also a movie) watch the film version together once you have finished the book. Encouraging your child to read for pleasure will increase their focus and concentration, expand their vocabulary and literacy skills, and is a hobby the whole family can enjoy.
Board games are also a great way to have fun as a family over the holidays. Although online and video games are often preferred by for our tech-savvy kids, board games are a great way to increase learning skills while having fun. Board games enhance skills such as:
- Problem solving
- Quick thinking
- Vocabulary skills
- Identifying patterns
- Decision making
Have some holiday fun with the family this break by dusting off your favourite board game or curling up on the couch with a good book. Who knows, it may even be the start of a great family tradition for the New Year!
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We asked families what their biggest homework issue was and the majority of parents indicated that their children struggle the most with organization.
Organization is actually a very common school issue for many students–it is the cause of procrastination and it leads to frustration and to problems with time management issues.
So, to help, we complied our TOP HOMEWORK ORGANIZATION TIPS:
- Use an agenda every day, and learn to use it like a pro!
- Write the date and class on your notes. Put all loose pages in order in your binder.
- Before finishing homework for the night, double check that you have completed all tasks.
- Look ahead to tomorrow and gather all the supplies that you need for the next day and out them in the book bag.
- Keep all study and homework materials—pens, paper, calculators, dictionaries, whiteout—whatever you need—in a single spot. Get a clear tupperware bin to keep everything easily accessible. Don’t waste time searching for items you need to have at the tips of your fingertips.
- Use a wall calendar to keep track of after-school activities and chores.
- Make daily to-do lists in the agenda and check off items as they are completed.
What tips do you use to keep your family organized and to combat homework struggles? We’d love to hear them!
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Progress reports, report cards. Parent teacher interviews… it’s that time of year for the first formal report of how kids are doing do far this grade.
The first report card can be a stressful time for parents and kids alike. Maybe there might be a few unpleasant surprises, and maybe a few red flags, which can be stressful enough, but then to add to the stress, it’s also time for parent-teacher interviews.
Here’s the thing: parent–teacher interviews don’t have to be stressful!
Check out these tips for de-stressing the meeting-the-teacher process, and helping your kids get on the path to better grades.
Go to the interview. Even if your kid is pulling in straight A’s, going to the interview is a key part in parental involvement in education. Studies show that the more parents are involved in their child’s education, the better grades their child gets. So go, meet the teachers that instruct and test your children, even if it’s just to shake hands and say, “nice to meet you.”
Prepare. Read the report card over before going to the interview. Also, review any returned test or assignments that your child has be given to see if marks on the report card are aligned with marks on homework. Bring examples of your child’s work with you to the interview if you have specific concerns.
Ask Questions. It’s not enough to just show up; parents should go into the interview informed. Have specific questions in mind in order to gain better insight classroom performance. Not sure what to ask? Asking how your child is performing in relation to the other students in the class is always a good conversation starting point. Try to keep the discussion academic. It’s nice to hear that your child is the class charmer, but it doesn’t help help him reach his academic goals.
Set Goals. If your child is getting a C+ and you’d like it to be a B+, then discuss actionable steps that can be taken starting right away to make this goal happen. Take notes, and set the actions in motion immediately—the next report card will be here before you know it! (Need some help setting goals? Download our Academic Action Plan.)
Keep it Short and Friendly. Teachers and parents are on the same team when it comes to education, so being confrontational benefits no one. Also, keep in mind that the teacher has somewhere between 20 and 30 parents to meet with. Your time is short, so maximize it!
Call Oxford Learning. Confused by report card jargon? Worried about poor grades? Concerned that your child is not being challenged enough? Call Oxford Learning to schedule a free report card consultation. We can help you make sense of the report card! And, we’re a valuable part of your child’s academic support team.
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Is your family up to the challenge of going Internet-free?
How much does your family use technology for entertainment? How many hours are spent killing time surfing the web, playing video games, watching YouTube videos?
Some studies show that kids are using technology up to 7 hours a day. While this might suggest that kids would be more reluctant than their parents to unplug, a recent “technology abstinence” experiment in a Chicago school showed that 90% of sixth graders chose to go technology-free for the experiment.
The students weren’t completely restricted however—they could access some technology … whatever technology was available in 1983 when their teacher was in 6th grade.
- No smartphones
- No internet
- No laptops
- No Twitter or Facebook
- No iPods
- No handheld devices of any sort
Both parents and students rediscovered love of technology-free time. They spent more time doing crafts, reading, exercising, and simply engaging in good old-fashioned conversation.
While kids need to be techno-competent for school, they also need time away from technology to engage their brains in different ways. In fact, studies show that technology usage in the hours before bed can disrupt sleep patterns, which in turn can have a negative impact in the ability to learn.
Despite the UN declaring Internet access a basic human right (or maybe because of it), groups are springing up to help people deal with “media addiction.”
Will you participate? Let us know!
Thanks to Good.Is for the great idea!
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According to an article on CNN, recent study is showing that too much online time can actually change brain structure.
The study looked at college students who spent about 10 hours a day online in comparison to those who spent less than two hours a day. The study showed that the heavy Internet users actually had different brain structures in the “thinking” part of the brain.
Research says that the constant online stimulation can activate pleasure centres in the brain, and that the brain is wired to crave the instantaneous pleasures that online multitasking can give. But, the brain also needs the downtime—the slower pace of being offline—to process and rest.
Not so surprisingly, a surplus of online time didn’t just have cognitive implications— social ramifications of spending too much time online were observed, such as not being able to properly identify the emotions of people in stories.
While it can be difficult to cut back online time, the article offers tip to help heavy online multitaskers reduce their reliance on technology, which is important for parents and children alike. These guidelines can go a long way to helping establish Online Guidelines in your home that everyone can follow.
- Keep track of how many hours a day that you are online. Some studies show that students are online up to 7 hours a day! What websites do you visit? What takes up the most time?
- Set some time limits—balance is key. The article suggests no more than two hours online at a time.
- Train your brain to slow down. Stare out the window, and daydream. Pay attention to what your brain is thinking about. Try to focus on a single subject for a period of time. If you get off track, pull yourself back to the subject that you are supposed to be thinking about.
- Have offline time. Set a rule in your house to have offline time where everyone puts away the gadgets and powers down. Other studies show that being offline in the hours before bed can improve sleep.
- Get some exercise. Find an activity to do that takes you away from all electronics and gets your blood pumping.
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When spring is in the air, it’s natural to start thinking about what summer will bring. Our Spring Newsletter can help! It’s packed with tips to help make spring great, and get your family ready to have a great summer!
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There was an article the other day about how video games are actually good for your brain. They make it work better, improve hand-eye coordination, and help you make decisions. Take that, Dad!
I know that this doesn’t mean that sitting in front of the TV or computer for six hours a day is good, but a little gaming every day is okay. I like playing video games because they are relaxing, and challenging. I can that tell my brain is working. I like solving the puzzles, and learning new stuff, and video games help with that. I also really, really enjoy killing zombies, and where else can I do that but on my PS3?
About me: I go to South Secondary School in London, ON and I have two younger siblings. I have always been a movie guy. But movies aren’t the only thing I enjoy. In the summer I love to bike with my friends down to the Thames River and ride along the trails. The sights and the entire ride are always beautiful. Anyway, hopefully you’ll enjoy my posts! Remember to leave feedback and comments at the bottom! – Dylan.
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We already know why it’s important to make learning part of your holidays, so, we’ve compiled 12 ideas to keep your kids mentally engaged over the holiday season. Check in often for new ideas, and if you have your own idea, we’d love to hear it!
Day 10. Send Holiday Thank You Cards.
Everybody sends cards before the holidays, so why not start a new tradition of sending holiday thank you cards after the holidays? Make a list of recipients and their addresses. For younger kids, have them decide what they want to say and write it out for them on a sheet of paper that they can use for reference. Then grab the pens and get writing! It’s a great way to practice penmanship and try out some new vocabulary words!
Try to incorporate some of the words from this Christmas vocabulary list.
Tip 1: Get Crafty Together
Tip 2: Snuggle Up With a Book
Tip 3: Take a Hike
Tip 4: Play Video Games
Tip 5: Roll the Dice
Tip 6: Use Your School Agenda
Tip 7: Go to the Library
Tip 8: Keep a Holiday Journal
Tip 9: Go Online
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