Susan Cumberland

Susan is the owner of School is Easy - Greater Vancouver and School is Easy California. She has a Masters of Education in Educational Leadership and Counselling and has won many entrepreneurial awards including 'Entrepreneur of the Year' by the Douglas College Self Employment Program and the Better Business Bureau Marketplace Excellence and 2nd place for People’s Pick. Her company, School is Easy, provides tutors in Vancouver, Burnaby, Richmond, North Vancouver, Surrey and the rest of the Lower Mainland (Greater Vancouver region). School is Easy has Math tutors, Science tutors, English tutors, French tutors and Special Education tutors.

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Help Prevent Bullying in Schools on Valentine’s Day

colorful candy hearts for Valentine's Day
Photo Credit: tonguetyed

Many parents and guardians might not realize, but bullying on Valentine’s Day is a serious issue affecting kids of all ages.

Valentine’s Day bullying is a bit different from bullying on other days. On Valentine’s Day, it’s very hard for students to avoid some form of bullying – like feeling left out, teased, or made fun of. These things can lead to feeling depressed and alone, which is exacerbated by the fact that other kids will be enjoying their fun on this colorful holiday. Although Valentine’s Day has an uptick of bullying, there are also ways we can stop this awful trend.

The source of bullying in schools on Valentine’s Day

For students who do not have a significant other or groups of friends to exchange valentines with, the day can be down right excruciating. And if you think schools make things easier for children, you may be mistaken. In fact, some schools support fundraisers that allow students to buy flowers or sweets for their classmates, making this issue even worse. The Valentines are then presented to the students during class, which makes it obvious to see who did not receive a Valentine. This leaves students who did not receive chocolates or flowers prime targets for bullying.

How can parents and teachers help prevent bullying in schools on Valentine’s Day?

In primary grades, it’s usually expected that everyone in the class gets a Valentine. This helps avoid anyone feeling left out and reduces bullying on Valentine’s Day. However, in secondary schools, students often switch classes throughout the day, so it’s not as easy to give everyone a Valentine. This can make some students feel left out or teased for not getting anything on Valentine’s Day at school. So, what can parents and teachers do to stop bullying in schools on Valentine’s Day?

1. Try to ensure that everyone receives something on Valentine’s Day

If parents are aware of students feeling left out or bullied on Valentine’s Day they can bake treats to pass out in every class their child is in. Teachers can also participate in providing Valentine’s Day treats to all of the students in all of their classes. If some parents and teachers help spread the word to other parents and teachers then hopefully every student will have an opportunity to receive at least one Valentine’s day treat so that they do not feel completely left out.

2. Remove school fundraisers that promote Valentine’s Day gift giving

If schools got rid of the fundraisers that single out certain students, this would help prevent bullying in schools on Valentine’s Day. As an alternative to selling gifts that will be delivered to the students during class students could still buy treats and give them to one another more privately. This at least would get rid of the open displays in classrooms that point out which students have significant others or a lot of friends.

3. Provide support for students who experience bullying

While we may wish to completely eradicate bullying from schools, the reality is that it may still occur on Valentine’s Day. The most effective approach to minimizing bullying is to educate students about its harmful effects. By raising awareness about bullying, students can recognize it and take a stand against it when they witness it or its aftermath. Encouraging students to support those who are bullied or appear to be feeling left out is crucial—they can speak up for them, offer a listening ear, and inform an adult about the situation. Providing ongoing support to individuals who have experienced bullying, both within and outside of school, can help prevent them from falling into depression. All the parties involved (including the bully) should receive the proper support in order to cut down on bullying. For additional tips on how to prevent bullying in schools visit this the stopbullying.gov website.

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5 Fun Literacy Activities for Valentine’s Day

Scrabble pieces that spell "I love you"
Photo Credit: latteda

Tired of the same old Valentine’s Day for your kids? Why not make this Valentine’s Day a new exciting experience for your children by incorporating fun literacy activities to do with your kids throughout the day!

Here are some kid-friendly literacy activities for you to try.

1. Homemade Valentine’s

Instead of buying pre-made valentines, have your children write their own Valentine’s Day cards. They could send a thoughtful Valentine to a parent or grandparent that uses more descriptive adjectives and complex words that explain why they love them. These also extend to their classmates, siblings and friends! Remember, homemade cards ALWAYS mean more to the recipient than store-bought Valentines. 

2. Writing poetry for Valentine’s Day

The classic poem “roses are red, violets are blue, sugar is sweet and so are you…” can be easily adapted to teach kids about rhyming. The last two phrases can be re-written with just about anything that rhymes with blue. You can help your kids write their own Valentine’s Day poetry to give to their friends and family.

3. Love-themed word games

This one is surprisingly easy: simply use the letters from your Scrabble game to arrange love messages – you can even use square bits of paper to substitute for Scrabble pieces. You can make up your own rules for what to do with the letters. For example you could set a timer and try to assemble 5 words that begin with the letter “L” for “love” or “V” for valentine within the allotted time. You could also work together to use all of the letters to build a crossword of words that are all connected.

4. I “LOVE” the alphabet

Children who know their ABC’s and have a basic understanding of letter sounds will love this entry. The way to play is to say a word that begins with the letter “a.” For a Valentine’s Day theme you could start the game with the word “adore” and the next person could say “beautiful” then “cute,” “darling,” “envelope,” “friends,” etc. See if you can make it all the way to the letter “z” and if you need to get creative and stretch the rules a bit, that’s okay! The letter “x” can be a difficult one, but you could use the symbol for hugs and kisses “xoxo,” which is perfect for Valentine’s Day! To make the game more complex you can also repeat all of the previous words from “a” up to the current word. This causes kids to not only be creative with words but also remember up to 26 words in a row!

5. First Letter, Last Letter (Valentine’s Day themed)

This activity is simple, and the best part? Like entry 4, it does not require any props or pieces. The game starts when someone says a word related to Valentine’s Day. The next person has to say a love related word that begins with the last letter of that word. For example if the game begins with the word “kiss” then next word could be “swoon” and then next word could be “nice” and so on. This literacy activity is great for kids in grade 3 and up, or who can read and are comfortable spelling words on their own.

Valentine’s Day doesn’t just have to be about candy, it can be a wonderful opportunity to work with words and even expand your children’s vocabularies! Hopefully, you can try out some of these fun literacy activities this Valentine’s Day!

Kid’s Health: Helping Kids With Colour Blindness

colour blindness in kids article featured image of a colour swatch set

As parents, we have to understand that there are a variety of hurdles children face in school, and one of these potential obstacles in the classroom is colour blindness. While it might not be as high-profile in the media as learning challenges such as autism or attention deficit disorder, colour blindness can be a problem that parents and teachers should be aware of. So today, we’ll discuss some ideas on how to help kids with colour blindness.

Why should we be concerned if our child is colour blind?

We often don’t notice it because we take it for granted, but colours are often a key tool used for learning in the classroom. Many images, notes and charts often have a colour key or use different shades of colour to demonstrate a lesson. For example, subjects such as biology can be quite reliant on using diagrams to communicate complex concepts. A task as simple as creating labels for a science project can become a daunting and complex exercise for someone who is colourblind. If children are following along with a set of colour-coded instructions, they can easily fall behind if they cannot differentiate between colours; that is why it is a good idea to lend an extra hand to kids with colour blindness.

It’s wise to receive training that will help you spot kids with colour blindness

That’s because you may be the only one on the lookout for this condition. According to colourblindawareness.org, most teachers do not receive any training to spot colour-blind children. In fact, the same article says it is probable at least one child per classroom in the United Kingdom is colourblind, averaging about 450,000 students in that country.

How to spot colour blindness in children

Try examining the areas in which your children might be struggling. For example, if you notice that one of your kids seems to always be behind in a class that is heavily reliant on visual learning, you may want to observe him or her more closely. As a quick side note, we’ve covered learning styles before in this blog, so you can check that out if you want to know exactly what we mean by visual learning.

Also, keep in mind that there are different types of colourblindness, which you should be familiar with. We suggest reading the above article to get familiar with the different ‘families’ of this condition which include — but may not be limited to — red-green colourblindness, blue-yellow colourblindness, and complete colourblindness. This knowledge will help you understand that depending on the colours being shown, your child may or may not exhibit signs of colourblindness.

There are also online tests which can help you figure what, if any, type of colourblindness your child may have. However, please keep in mind that these tools are not intended to replace professional advice from a family doctor or optometrist. If you suspect your child has this condition, do not diagnose him or her yourself. See a professional.

What are the next steps if your kids have colourblindness?

If you have children diagnosed with this condition, it would probably be best to consult with the school they are attending. For instance, on their website, the provincial government suggests asking teachers to seat students who are colourblind in glare-free spots in the classroom. Another idea suggested by the site is to use chalk that will ‘stand out’ better to a person with colour blindness. Perhaps most important is to realize that the difficulties that colourblind kids encounter can be alleviated by adapting their environments. For example, written instead of colour-coded labels would be of better use to a colourblind child.

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5 Pros and Cons of Social Media in the Classroom

Social media is an increasingly prevalent part of modern society, especially for kids and teens. In most schools, phones and mobile devices have been banned from being used during the school day, and social media websites like Twitter and Facebook have been blocked on school computers. However, a new question has emerged: should social media be allowed in school? Some schools are beginning to take a different approach by introducing social media into the educational system itself. Here are some pros and cons of social media in the classroom and how it is being used for educational purposes.

5 Pros of Using Social Media in the Classroom

1. Social media sites can increase student collaboration

Social media sites provide an avenue for students to easily contact one another regarding school projects, group assignments or for help on homework assignments.

2. Using social media in the classroom can encourage more participation

Students who do not participate regularly in class may feel they can express their thoughts through social media.  Although this should not completely replace in class participation it can help build the students’ confidence and encourage them to find their voice and be able to participate in class.

3. Social media sites can be useful for homework help

When students have questions about a class assignment they can easily post a message asking if anyone can help. They can also write a specific question to the teacher on a wall that other students can see. This allows the whole class to have access to the feedback from the teacher.

4. Share resources quickly when using social media in the classroom

If the teacher needs to direct students to a particular online resource they can easily share the site through social media sites like twitter. If the teacher wants the class to visit a particular site all they have to do is tweet the website and the entire class can view it with one click.

5. Social media helps keep parents, teachers and students all on the same page

It is very useful for teachers to be able to post on social media sites about class activities, homework assignments and even school events This helps the teachers, parents and students all stay on the same page about what is going on at school. Sites like Facebook also allow teachers to easily communicate through private messages to parents and students without having to leave phone messages and wait for a call back.

5 Cons of Having Social Media in the Classroom

1. Social media can be a distraction in class

The first concern that comes to mind when using social media in the classroom is how it will be a major distraction to the students during lessons. Students could easily be sidetracked from an assignment and it could be difficult for teachers to tell who is paying attention or not.

2. Improper use of social media in the classroom

Students might take advantage of being able to access social media in the classroom and use it for personal interactions instead of for school related activities. If students are not closely monitored it will be hard to know how if they are using social media properly during class time.

3. Using social media in the classroom can detract from human interaction

If students are motivated to engage in class discussions via social media platforms, it may affect their aptitude for face-to-face interactions. In this technologically advanced era, it is essential for students to develop the skill of having conversations with individuals, despite the prevalent use of modern technology. This highlights one of the disadvantages of social media in education, as it potentially hampers students’ ability to navigate real-life interpersonal communication.

4. Cyber bullying on social media websites

Some students have experienced cyber bullying through social media websites. If social media is allowed in schools this could increase cyber bullying where students write hurtful messages targeting other students.

5. Posting inappropriate content on social media websites

One of the reasons social media sites are prohibited in schools is due to the inherent challenge in monitoring students’ activities on these platforms. Students might post inappropriate content, including pornography or offensive language, which can be both disruptive and harmful to their peers. Such content poses significant challenges in monitoring and can have distracting and damaging effects on students’ learning experiences. This highlights some of the disadvantages of social media in education.

So, Should Schools Use Social Media?

The integration of social media into the classroom prompts us to consider both its benefits and drawbacks. This raises a significant question: “Should social media be allowed in schools?”

While there are valid concerns about potential disadvantages, educators are exploring innovative ways to leverage social media for educational purposes while ensuring a safe and productive learning environment. This debate centers around the role of social media in education, its value as a learning tool, and how to mitigate associated risks.

3 Key strategies for supporting kids’ academic language skills

words on chalkboard - academic language support article image

If your child is learning another language, it usually takes time for them to go from participating in simple conversations to utilizing academic language in a meaningful way. However, providing extra support for language is not only helpful for English language learners and other second language learners. All learners can benefit from purposeful language activities. Here are 3 significant language teaching strategies to use in the classroom or at home: [Read more…]

What is the theory of multiple intelligences and why is it important when teaching?

camera, images, candle on table - picture for article on theory of multiple intelligences

In the past, we’ve written about the different types of learning styles. That is one theory which posits we should be teaching based on how our students like to learn, or how they learn best.

But there is another theory that, while sounding similar, is not. It brings about another opinion on how we should view our human ‘smart-ness.’ It says we should be viewing many forms of aptitude as ‘intelligent’ and thus, teach by recognizing a person’s core strengths. We’ll unpack that in a bit. [Read more…]