In-Home Activities for a Productive and Fun Winter Break

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mother and daughter cooking Christmas biscuits

By engaging your child in activities that have learning and skill development as a goal, you not only help your child do better in school, but you teach them that learning and homework are not a chore or punishment. Instead of fighting your child’s boredom with more screen time, use these activities to further develop your child as a life-long learner.

Get Your Child Writing

For young children, letters to Santa are a great way to get them writing. If a letter to Santa has already been written, you can have your child fill in thank-you cards to the people who purchased them gifts (or even Santa himself). Another idea is to have your child write about something they would like to do the next year using their 5 senses. It doesn’t really matter what they write about: they could talk about going to a Jays game or even going tobogganing. What is important, however, is that they use the 5 senses in their writing to heighten the level of description used.

Science Experiments

Teach your child the fun side of science by showing them some cool science experiments! For a holiday-themed experiment, here are some instructions on how to make snow:

You can even make slime with your children if that’s more appealing to them:

Cooking and Baking

Preparing food involves many different scholastic skills. Reading recipes, following directions and taking measurements are just the tip of the iceberg in the essential skills your child will use. Even though it will probably slow your process, I guarantee both you and your child will benefit from the time spent together in the kitchen. For some inspiration, the BBC has a great website filled with children friendly recipes:

Donating Clothing and Old Toys

Teaching your child the value of the things they no longer use is essential to helping your child appreciate and understand money. Have a donation day in your house where you clear out old closets and bins together. Create three piles: keep, discard and donate. Your child should sort through their toys or clothes. Bring your child to the donation centre and, if possible, get them to talk to staff about why donation is important.


Reading should be an everyday activity. I believe the most effective way a parent can engage their child is by taking turns reading. Building this habit early is essential. Holiday reading should be fun and should help develop a love of reading. ReadWriteThink ( has a plethora of resources to help any parent help their child with reading.

However, if your child is struggling to read, more intensive intervention might be necessary. Reading problems must be dealt with as soon as they are noticed to prevent any longer term delays.

Are You Asking Your Child’s Teacher the Right Questions?

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Senior teacher at desk talking to adult education students
Senior teacher at desk talking to adult education students

Communicating effectively with your child’s teacher is both difficult and necessary. They spend a considerable amount of time with your child each week. Understanding your child as a learner now, can help you help your child in the future.

These questions are designed to help you make the most of the time you have with your child’s teacher. These questions are suitable for parent/teacher interviews, or anytime throughout the year if your child is struggling.

1) “What learning skill or work habit does my child do best? Which learning skill do they struggle the most with?”

This gives the teacher a chance to talk about your child’s day-to-day behaviour, which can be hard to characterize in a report card comment. It also signals to the teacher that you are open to hearing about the areas your child struggles with in a constructive way.

2) “What can I be doing at home to help my child succeed at school?”

Sometimes, a teacher can identify roadblocks at home which are impacting your child’s learning. Often, it is something simple like making sure there are school supplies at home to complete homework and assignments with. Another, for instance, might be encouraging your child to read more difficult books.

3) “What upcoming concepts or units do you believe might be difficult for my child?”

This helps you, as a parent, prepare for some of the harder units. A tutor can help ready your child for those units to mitigate the difficulty for your child.

4) “Does my child have healthy friendships?”

Having friends is important – but as a parent, you also want to know that these friendships are healthy. Bullying can happen within a peer group, and knowing certain dynamics (and having this communication with your child’s teacher) can help you talk to your child about friendships.

5) “Is there anything else you want me to know about my child?”

Report card comments are generic and are approved by the Principal. Therefore, teachers are often overly cautious about what they write. Asking this question gives the teacher an opportunity to cover anything you haven’t already spoken about.

Why is Homework Crucial for Children with Learning Disabilities?

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No child is ever truly excited to have work leftover at the end of the school day. I know parents dread the nightly chore that homework can be. Some schools have even banned homework, citing little evidence to support the benefit that homework brings to a child’s learning and development. However, given the proper guidance and instruction, homework can be a critical component in helping students with learning disabilities bridge the learning gap in five key areas (Cooper and Nye, 1994; Rosenberg, 1989).iStock_000041913482_XXXLargeb

1) Guided Practice is Essential. Children with learning disabilities may need more practice to master a skill. For example, understanding multiplication is critical to make connections as math skills progress. Yet, many students with a variety of learning profiles need extra drilling to master these essential skills. Guided practice is important because it allows the parent or tutor to identify and rectify common mistakes the child makes while practicing.

2) Reviewing Notes. In most homes, studying takes place the night before the test or quiz. Yet, research has shown repeatedly that brief, daily reviews lead to better test results. Studying for a bit each day allows the parent or tutor to address any weaknesses or lack of understanding prior to an assessment. Correcting these errors in a timely manner can be the difference between succeeding on a test and barely passing!

3) Reading Helps A Multitude of Skills. Daily reading is not just to help improve your child’s overall reading skills. In fact, reading is such a layered skill that by reading frequently, we help build other skills as well. For example, the best way to improve spelling is to increase the amount of times you read something (Johnson, 2013). Similarly, frequent reading also improves you child’s writing ability (Graham & Hebert, 2010).

4) The Classroom Isn’t Always the Best Place to Learn. One of the benefits of tutoring, especially individualized programming, is that we can re-teach essential skills at home in a noise-controlled environment. Our students can ask as many questions as they want and be vulnerable enough to make mistakes. Often, students will be too afraid to make errors in the classroom so, instead, they will do nothing. In-home tutoring, however, provides your child with another opportunity to learn the skills and lessons that they missed during the in-school lesson.
Getting your child to complete their homework every night could be essential to their success in the classroom. For homework to be helpful, it must be guided and be designed to address any issues your child is facing. Tutoring is often an effective way of optimizing the time your child spends completing homework. If children with learning disabilities truly have unique needs, they will likewise need unique approaches to their learning.



How Tutoring Helps Your Child Succeed

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Tutors provide one-on-one attention
As class sizes get bigger, your kids are placed in class of 25-30 other students. Teachers cannot provide their students with quality one on one instruction, even if the students are struggling. Without this type of attention your child may miss out on important concepts. With one on one attention, the tutor can make sure your child learns all of the essential concepts, even if the class has moved on. Tutors are able available to answer any question at any time during the session and can keep going through topics until your child has mastered them. Furthermore, as your child’s tutor learns more about your child’s individual learning profile, they can adapt teaching methods to help your child learn more effectively.

A tutor can help set goals to help your child improve quicker
If your child is struggling in school, it can be difficult to figure out how to help them improve. Tutors can create a plan to help develop your child’s weaknesses and enrich his or her strengths. This leads to quicker gains and more confidence for your child.

Eliminates the Parent-Child Homework Wars

Every child wants to impress their parent. To learn children needs to be vulnerable and willing to make mistakes. It is often very hard for children to do this in front of his or her parent. Tutoring can provide a safe environment for children to learn comfortably and push through difficult concepts.

Also, instead of nagging your child to sit down and get his or her homework done, the tutor can provide the structure to avoid this tension. Simply, having tutoring scheduled in your family’s calendar can reduce stress within the home.

Helps Strengthen and Maintain Acquired Skills During the Summer
Tutoring can be the perfect opportunity for your child to close the gap between their achievement and his or her peers. Concepts that need extra attention can be covered over the summer and mastered. In addition, the tutor can preview difficult parts of the curriculum from the year ahead so that your child is well prepared for the year ahead.


Pupils Studying At Desks In Classroom

Welcome To Our Blog

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Welcome to our blog. I’m Carolyn Boutin, co-founder and head tutor at Concierge Tutoring. This blog is a place to find resources to help you with your child. Empowering parents with more information about education and learning disabilities is own of our goals. Please share any of our posts if it helped you or if you connected with it.