Saturday | December 3, 2022

How to Smooth the Transition From Public to Private School

You have made the decision to put your child in private school.

​Making the transition from one school to another is often challenging, but the transition from public to private school can sometimes add another layer of change.

Often, kids who make the switch will have to figure out a new commute to school, make new friends, adjust to different teachers and establish a new routine. When adjusting to private school, however, other things might change as well. Students might also have a uniform for the first time, the curriculum may be more rigorous, and the academic culture might not be what they are used to.

In time, things will get easier and kids adjust well. If you want to ensure a smooth transition, here are a few tips to make the process easier.

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]                             “Tremendous Opportunity for Success”[/pullquote]

The commute. Your child will likely have attended a public school that was in close proximity to your home. You may even have been able to walk to school. But choosing a private school can sometimes mean a new or further commute. Plan your route in advance. Will you be driving your child or will your child be taking public transportation. Make sure you know how long it will take to get to and from school during rush hour so you allot enough time to get there safely on time. If your child will be taking a bus or train, practice the route in advance so your child can confidently make their way to school. Do you have a safety plan in place so your child can reach you if they get lost or if you’re late. Do they have a key to the house in case they now arrive home before you? Do they have enough snacks in their bag in case their commute is longer and they get home later than they used to? This is a great time to think about the commute and put plans in place as you begin a new school.

Uniforms. Your child might be required to wear a uniform for the first time. Have a positive attitude and discuss the benefits with your child if your child is anxious about the change. A uniform means that they don’t have to labour over what to wear in the morning. Students will be judged by their peers by their ideas, not their shoes. It makes getting ready in the morning faster and easier. Take your child for a fitting and make sure their uniforms fit well. Stock up on essentials so your child has enough clothing to last the next several months. Then on the first day, they will look around and realize they fit right in.

 Academic culture. There is a difference between the culture at private and public schools. This can vary between private schools too, but either way, your child is likely to notice a difference. Things like teacher expectations, smaller class sizes, more rigorous curriculum, greater choice of extra-curricular activities and new travel opportunities can feel overwhelming. Go online and read about your new school in advance so you know what to expect. There may be online content describing what your child is likely to experience at their new school. Talk to other students who attend the school. Be prepared with a list of questions. Is your child curious about how students interact with their teachers when the classes are smaller? Are they worried about whether they might be behind in a certain subject? Do you meed to provide a tutor for your child. Speak to the principal about what supports might be in place to help your child if they need it. Chances are, your new school is more than prepared with answers to any questions you may have.

Mentor opportunities. Don’t be afraid to ask for a mentor if one hasn’t been assigned. Often, private schools have a plan in place to help welcome new students into the fold. They might have networking opportunities for parents to get to know one another in advance. Teachers might plan class trips early in the year to help students get to know one another. Some schools might even assign peer-to-peer mentors to new students. This is a great opportunity to be guided by someone who has experience at the school and can teach your child the ins and outs of being a student in this new environment.

​Personal attention: Smaller class sizes with well qualified and accessible teachers provide unique care for each student in private schools. Individual learning plans are the norm. This supportive environment means students receive tremendous opportunities for success in high school. And there is a wide array of resources and guidance available to help students prepare for university or college.

Starting anything new can be stressful, but it is also an exciting opportunity for your child to spread their wings, grow and develop into mature, responsible, successful adults. If you’re prepared in advance, the transition is sure to be a smooth one for your child.

March 29th, 2018

Posted In: Community, Education, Parenting, Technology, Uncategorised

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Devices and Your Teen’s Developing Brain

We all know that too much screen time is bad for little kids. This includes time spent using iPhones, iPads, video games and computers. Many studies have exposed that too much screen time for little kids can cause permanent damage to their brains. In fact, it can interfere with a child’s ability to focus, concentrate and communicate as they grow older.

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]                      “over use of social media can lead to anxiety“[/pullquote]

But do high-tech devices have the same impact on our teenager’s brains, or is more screen time okay for teenagers? It seems to all depend.

​Some screen time is important and even essential for teens. Using a computer is a great way to conduct research or type up school assignments. Phones are an important method of communication and have become increasingly important as a way of interacting with peers. Video games and time spent playing on an iPad are fun and can be a great way to unwind with friends.

But moderation is the key. This is especially important since a person’s brain isn’t fully developed until age 25. This means that too much screen time can definitely negatively affect a teenager’s developing brain. Here’s how:

Too much screen time can lead to dangerous addiction. According to one 2013 study, addiction is linked with depression, impulsiveness and traits associated with autism. It occurs when addicts turn to technology to experience a rush, which is what happens when dopamine floods the brain. The need for this pleasurable sensation fights with the brain’s ability to think rationally and use restraint.

Though you might not think getting a rush from technology is a particular problem, it can actually be deadly. What happens when a teenager is so addicted to their phone that it interferes with their ability to drive safely? They might text and drive or check their phone while behind the wheel, which is dangerous. It can also be illegal depending on where you live.

Technology is not only addictive to the teenaged brain, but over use of social media can lead to anxiety, depression and a loss of interest in socializing face-to-face. Experts have seen an alarming rise in tech-related mental health issues. Parents are being called upon to limit their teen’s time spent on social media, to enforce tech-free family time and eliminate phones from their teenager’s bedrooms at night. It’s all in an effort to ensure their teenager has a healthy balance of socializing, exercise and interaction outside of the virtual world.

Too much screen time can also affect a teen’s ability to sleep. Sleeping and dreaming are essential to developing and maintaining long-term memory. When a teenager is on their phone late into the night, they aren’t getting the sleep they need for their brains to properly function.

In addition to its impact on the brain, over use of technology can have negative physical side effects as well. Too much screen time can lead to eye strain, headaches, tendonitis of the wrist and pain in the neck, shoulders and back.

While technology can have negative impacts on the developing teenager’s brain, we must also recognize it’s an important part of life today. In fact, we can’t live without it. The key is to ensure our teens have balance in their lives. It’s important they socialize with friends, interact with real people, get enough sleep, and not let technology interfere with their physical safety and mental well being.

February 19th, 2018

Posted In: Community, Education, Parenting, Technology, Uncategorised

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Helping Older Kids Understand Extreme Cold Weather Conditions

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]It does not take long for intense cold weather to negatively affect your children when outside.[/pullquote]

The winter can be a fun season.

There’s so much to do outdoors, like skiing, tobogganing and ice skating. But extreme cold weather can mean risks to your health and safety. Often, parents worry about cold weather as it relates to little children. We bundle them up warmly and know they’re protected from the elements.

It’s easy to assume older children will know how to dress themselves warmly and appropriately for cold weather, but it’s not always the case. Not only are snow pants for teenagers sometimes seen as “uncool,” but older kids might either not check the forecast or underestimate the dangers of -20 degree Celsius weather.

That’s why it’s especially important for parents and older kids to develop an awareness of extreme cold weather conditions—what it means, the dangers it presents and how to prevent things like frostbite and hypothermia.

An Extreme Cold Weather Alert is issued when Environment Canada predicts a forecast of -20 degrees Celsius or colder or a wind chill of -30 degrees. Whether your kids walk to school or go outside at lunch or recess, exposure to cold weather can lead to respiratory illnesses like colds and flu, frostbite and hypothermia. Some of these conditions will require immediate medical attention.

To limit illness and exposure to the elements, you’ll want to ensure your older kids know how to stay warm and dry. A few things to note:

Check the forecast. When you get up in the morning, put on the news or check a weather app on your phone. What will the temperature be throughout the day? Will it be a dry day or does the forecast call for precipitation? What is the temperature with the windchill factored in?

Dress in layers. Wool and fleece hold heat better than cotton and make great inner layers. Top inner layers with waterproof and windproof outer layers and warm, waterproof boots. If you’re planning to spend any time doing outdoor activities, wear thermal leggings, warm socks and snow pants. You can even buy special mitten and boot inserts at sporting goods stores to warm your hands and feet if you’re going to be skiing or skating, for instance.

Cover exposed skin. Wear a hat that covers your ears, warm mittens (instead of gloves) and a scarf or neck warmer to prevent wind from touching your skin. Make sure to zip up your jacket and cover your face against the biting wind to prevent skin from painful frostbite.

Change wet clothing. If you’re wet or have been sweating, you’ll want to change into warm, dry clothes as soon as possible to prevent developing hypothermia.

Reschedule outdoor activities. If extreme cold weather is forecasted, your school might reschedule that ski trip you were looking forward to. You should also consider rescheduling other outdoor activities, like skating with friends, and plan to do something indoors, such as see a movie instead. An indoor activity would be a much safer idea on days like these. You might also want to take public transportation or ask for a ride rather than walk to school or your friend’s house if the weather is expected to be extremely cold.

Know the signs. Frostbite can occur when skin is exposed to extreme cold. Skin will freeze and die when temperatures are so cold that blood can no longer circulate. It can affect any area of skin, including cheeks, nose, hands and feet. Skin will turn yellowish and feel stinging or numbness. The condition requires medical attention, but there are things you can do in the meantime. You’ll need to remove tight clothing or jewellery and warm your hands in your armpits, which retains heat. Get inside immediately. You can even immerse frozen fingers and toes in warm water.

​Hypothermia, another cold-weather-related condition, occurs when the body’s temperature drops below 35 degrees. Symptoms include shivering and confusion and, if untreated, can result in organ failure and death. Warning signs for kids include bright red, cold skin and very little energy. Seek medical attention immediately. While waiting for medical help, replace wet clothing with dry, get indoors, wrap the body with warm blankets and drink warm liquids.

It does not take long for intense cold weather to negatively affect your children when outside. Just take a variety of precautions to help them understand how to reduce their chances of overexposure.

 

January 9th, 2018

Posted In: Community, Education, Nutrition, Parenting, Uncategorised

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Are school uniforms beneficial to learning?

There is much debate in the education community surrounding school uniform policies. Are uniforms a great way to improve focus, level the socioeconomic playing field and create a sense of school citizenship, or are they an expensive way to curb students’ creativity and diminish their sense of individuality?

Of course, there are arguments to be made on both sides. Those who do not support policies requiring students to wear certain colours or specific pants, skirts and tops often site the expense. Indeed, uniforms can appear expensive as parents may be required to purchase a year’s worth of clothes at once. Others point to uniformity as a way to diminish a student’s individuality. How can a child express themselves in a creative way if their wardrobe choices are limited to the same outfit as their peers?

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]                              clothes can’t serve as a distraction[/pullquote]

Proponents of uniforms find the pros outweigh the cons. Of course, there are safety arguments. If everyone in the student body is dressed the same, it’s easy to identify intruders and know who belongs to the student body.

​Others in support of uniforms have found that implementing a uniform policy can reduce theft. Since uniforms have an equalizing factor, students aren’t permitted to come to school wearing labels or flashy clothes. There is less competition, peer pressure or a sense of wanting clothing items their more privileged peers are wearing. In this way, uniforms reduce or even eradicate theft as there is no advantage to stealing. In some schools, the use of uniforms even reduces violence, as groups or gangs can no longer identify themselves by wearing certain clothes or colours.

Uniforms can even improve a student’s grades. Since there is no need to keep up with the latest fashions, clothes can’t serve as a distraction, which enables students to focus on learning. Nobody can show too much skin, inappropriately expose their bodies or make clothing choices in an attempt to attract attention. Rather, students are in a better position to concentrate on their studies and build relationships with one another based on substance.

Practically speaking, many parents find it’s easier to dress their children in the morning when their child is required to wear a uniform. There is no delay as children debate what to wear—something that can often be a time-consuming process, especially as students mature into teenagers. There are no arguments about what constitutes an appropriate outfit as items such as spaghetti straps, torn jeans and short skirts aren’t options.

Thanks to social media, it’s easy for parents to connect to find solutions to address the cost of uniforms. For instance, online message boards and community groups can be used to arrange clothing exchanges. This means that bigger ticket items such as blazers can be handed down from one student who outgrew it to another who needs it. Parents can save money by buying these clothing pieces second-hand, rather than buying new. Parents have also been known to voice their opinions with respect to selecting lower cost uniform suppliers. In some cases, they have banded together to request suppliers who meet certain ethical or environmental standards.

​Some schools, in turn, are adapting uniform policies to include plain white button-down shirts or navy blue pants, for example. These kinds of clothing pieces can be purchased at retail stores like The Gap or Old Navy, some of which have uniform sections in their stores and online. These clothes can be easily purchased at affordable prices throughout the year and be worn year-round.

Uniforms are an important piece of the education puzzle and one that can contribute to enhanced learning and discussion.

November 21st, 2017

Posted In: Community, Education, Parenting, Uncategorised

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How to Write an Essay

Writing an essay can be a daunting task. This is especially the case for those who don’t enjoy writing or who don’t have much practice writing essays often.

Help is on the way! There are a few things students can do to make the essay assignment easier and even enjoyable.

[pullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]The first thing to do is plan backward.[/pullquote]

When is your deadline? How much time will it take you to research, write and polish the essay? Do you have other projects and deadlines as well? Those who procrastinate and leave essays until the last minute tend not to do as well as those who ensure they leave ample time to complete the project well. It’s also much less stressful when you plan ahead. Some essays requiring extensive research can take weeks to complete well, while personal essays or those shorter in length might not require as much time to complete. Figure out what else you have to work on, prioritize, and leave enough time complete each assignment, even if it means starting your essay well in advance of the actual deadline.

Next, you’ll want to ensure you understand the assignment. Read the instructions again and again. Ask your classmates or teacher for clarification if you have any questions. That way you don’t waste time working on an assignment only to find out you didn’t understand it properly to begin with.

Some essays require research. Now is the time to begin researching. Read as much as you can about the topic so you can understand the issues and make some informed decisions about what research you’re looking for. Do you need primary sources? Secondary? At this stage, you’ll want to “get all your ducks in a row,” so to speak. You might want to take notes by hand or use your computer to document what information you’re finding and where each piece of information has come from. Failing to document your sources, even accidentally, is considered plagiarism. Make sure you’re keeping careful notes so you can create footnotes or a bibliography at the end of your essay, should that be required. Even make note of information found online, not just facts that came from books or journals.

When you’re ready to sit down and write, you’ll need to begin with an introduction. An introduction lays out the issue at hand, or essentially states what your essay is about. It should also include your thesis, or the point you’ll be making throughout the essay.

In the body of the essay, you will put your research to work. You will use whatever information you’ve collected to prove your thesis. It’s usually advised that you choose three separate arguments within the body that prove your point. You’ll be citing sources and information pertinent to your case. It’s also wise to state current beliefs and then prove them wrong using your research. Make sure to reference your thesis and organize your thoughts in a clear and logical way.

Finally, you’ll need to write the conclusion. This sums up your essay, restates your thesis and, briefly, the points you’ve made in your argument. Essentially, your conclusion wraps things up and lets readers know your essay has come to an end.

You might need to include a bibliography, or all the sources you used to complete your essay. Often teachers will grade this as well. You will want to make sure you’re listing your sources correctly, so go online for a template or ask your teacher about the standard format.

Though you might be done your first draft, you’re not ready to hand in the assignment yet. Read it over for grammatical and spelling errors. You might want to reorganize the information in your body paragraphs or tweak the introduction or conclusion. Have someone else proofread your essay. Ask them whether there are any errors, if your sentences make sense and if you’ve proven your point. Once you’ve made any corrections and read it over again, you’ll be ready to hand in your assignment.

Essays can be a lot of work, but once you’ve done one, you’ll be prepared to write many more in your high school or university career.

November 8th, 2017

Posted In: Community, Education, Parenting

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