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.

How To Pick the Right Summer Camp for Kids

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We’re in the middle of summertime, so it’s probably your last chance to sign up your children for a camp. Determining the best summer camp for your children can be a challenging task. There are many to choose from, and it’s only natural for a parent to want the best experience for their children.

In this article, we give you our favorite tips on how to pick the right summer camp for kids.

Pick the Right Summer Camp for Kids by Observing Their Interests

Determining the right summer camps for your children often requires you to examine what they like. A soccer camp may be a good fit for kids who like athletics but may not be the best choice for children more inclined towards art and vice versa. At the same time, summer camps can be a great way to get your children to explore new things.

Nowadays, summer camps are more than just heading to a generic cabin and lush, green forest where counsellors do crafts and activities with kids, culminating in a final performance for the parents. Summer camps can be one-day events or last several weeks, and they can focus on robotics, martial arts, music, sciences and even entrepreneurialism.

Use Your Children’s Interests To Help Them Grow Over the Summer

One possible way to get your children interested in summer camp and stretch their boundaries is to look for camps with both qualities.

For example, if your kids are interested in science but uncomfortable with athletics, you can enroll them in an exciting STEM summer camp like this one. Your kids will learn all about their favorite Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math subjects like building robots, programming, and cool engineering concepts.

There are likely several themed summer camps you can find locally and abroad if your child is old enough and brave enough to travel independently.

Should we ‘force’ children to go to camp?

It can be difficult to know when we as parents are pushing too hard. Growth doesn’t happen by staying in the comfort zone; however, if you stretch too far, an experience can be quite negative for a child. Unfortunately, there is no magic formula to determine if a child should or shouldn’t go to summer camp. Every child is different. Perhaps the best way is to observe and see if your children have attachment issues when you part with them for shorter periods, like at school or places like after care. Or possibly when a babysitter takes care of them for a few hours before bedtime (when they know they won’t see you until morning).

Check in with camp counsellors to ask them if your kids are exhibiting any symptoms of attachment problems. If it seems like they are getting overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to pull your children out.

Understanding your child can help you make the right decision

But remember, you need to know your child well enough to determine if they are experiencing either discomfort or trauma when attending camp. The discomfort is often necessary for growth, but trauma can be damaging. It’s the latter that you don’t want. Keep this in mind when trying to decide which — or if — summer camp is the right thing for your child.

One final note – if your kids are a bit older, see if they can go to camps as counsellors instead of registrants. It can mean a lot to the younger ones to know they have a ‘big sis’ or ‘big bro’ to be there for them when parents aren’t around. It’ll also teach the teens some great responsibility skills.

Great Tips for Motivating Kids To Complete Their Summer Reading List

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Many kids have a summer reading list to complete before returning to school in the fall, with different books assigned based on their grade level. This summer reading helps keep their brains active and engaged during the break. Here are some ideas to motivate kids to keep up with their reading assignments while actually enjoy books!

1. Get out of the House for Reading Time

Make reading time fun by turning it into an outing! There are plenty of places to read with your kids, and exploring new reading spots can be a great adventure. Bring a blanket to the park and read under the trees, or visit a public library for a quiet environment that helps kids concentrate. High school students might enjoy reading on a university campus to get a feel for college life. Once your kids finish their allotted reading, they can enjoy some free time on the outing. By turning reading time something pleasant, you help them associate reading with fun activities.

2. Use Incentives as Motivation

Some children may need incentives or rewards to motivate them to read. You can create guidelines that include small prizes for short-term goals and a bigger prize for completing the entire reading list. One idea is to match their reading time with an equal amount of TV time. For a final reward, consider a trip to a theme park or a special activity chosen together. This approach can make reading more engaging and rewarding.

3. Set a Good Example by Reading With Your Kids

Want to inspire your kids to love reading? Lead by example! Instead of just telling them to read, grab a book yourself and make it a family affair. Reading together sets a positive tone wile turning it into a fun family activity. Plus, there are tons of awesome adult reading lists out there, so you can enjoy your own book while they dive into theirs. It’s a win-win for everyone!

4. Encourage Thoughtful Reading by Using Reading Journals

Looking to make reading more enjoyable for your kids? Encourage them to dive deeper into their books! Whether it’s discussing the story together or jotting down their thoughts in a summer reading journal, engaging with the material can make all the difference. Why not have them create their own reading response journal? They can write in it after each reading session, helping them remember key details and stay excited about the story!

5. Don’t Stop Once Your Kids Are Finished With Their Summer Reading List

Finished with the summer reading list? Don’t stop there! Let your kids keep the reading momentum going by picking out their own books. Knowing they have the freedom to choose can also be a great incentive to finish the assigned books. Who knows what new adventures they’ll discover next?

Science Lesson: Teach Students About Autumn’s Nature Changes

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Autumn is a great time to observe some of nature’s most fascinating rituals. Leaves fall, squirrels bury their nuts, and birds begin migrating. Plants and wildlife will be getting ready for winter. This is an excellent opportunity to teach students about autumn. There is much to learn about nature this time of year, so we’d recommend turning this into a science lesson for kids!

Observing Neighborhood Wildlife

The great thing about teaching students about wildlife during the fall is that there is so much they can see happening in their own neighborhoods. Assuming your students live in a residential area with some green space (grass, parks, backyards), it’s probably not too hard to find examples of plant and animal life adapting to the changing seasons. Today, we’ve compiled a list of plants and animals often found in neighborhoods as a quick guide to get you started.

Fungi – Cooler temperatures and more moisture mean that fungi (mushrooms) will start to grow. Fungi are fantastic organisms that come in all shapes and sizes, from tiny yeasts to giant mushrooms. Fungi play a crucial role in nature by breaking down dead material and recycling nutrients into the ecosystem. Plus, they can be found almost everywhere— in soil, on plants, and even in our favorite foods like bread and cheese!

An excellent place to start is by taking your students to a park because you won’t have to look too far to find fungi. To help you explore the wide world of mushrooms, the USDA created the “Field Guide to Common Macrofungi in Eastern Forests and Their Ecosystem Functions,” which breaks down everything you need to know about mushrooms.  However, while exploring, please be cautious around mushrooms, as some can be very harmful despite their intriguing appearance!

Squirrels – Not only are squirrels found all over the world in abundance, but they are perhaps one of the most fascinating animals to watch during this time of year. This is because they are incredibly active during fall, as they will be busy sprinting all over the landscape, stashing nuts and acorns in trees or in the ground. This activity is essential for their survival, as the food will be retrieved later in times of scarcity, such as during winter.

Although many mammals, including ground squirrels, avoid “stashing away” food through hibernation, one of the most commonly seen squirrels, the grey squirrel, doesn’t hibernate during the winter because it can’t retain high body fat. That’s why many of the squirrels you see this time store nuts before the winter — they need a steady food supply.

Annuals and Perennials – As Mother Nature slowly fades in time for winter, now is a perfect time to teach kids the difference between annual and perennial plants. Annuals die off within a year. On the other hand, perennials tend to live for years because they have specialized structures such as bulbs or thick bark that allow them to withstand the cold.

See if you can help kids point out the different types of annual and perennial plants! For example, trees are perennial, while many gorgeous (but not all) flowering plants, such as marigolds, are annual.

Take Your Children on a Field Trip!

For students who may not have direct access to the plant and wildlife in their neighborhoods, a field trip to a place like a local, national park or reserve can be a transformative experience. This wooded area offers a safe and enjoyable environment for children to immerse themselves in nature. The park provides a hands-on learning experience with guided tours and activities, allowing children to explore the plant and animal life we’ve discussed more tangibly.

Autumn is a beautiful time to engage students with nature’s captivating changes, from observing squirrels’ bustling preparations to exploring the diverse world of fungi and understanding the lifecycle of annual and perennial plants. This season offers a unique opportunity to turn these observations into enriching science lessons, sparking curiosity and a deeper appreciation for the environment.

To support your child’s learning journey and make the most of these educational moments, consider reaching out to School is Easy for more tips, resources, and personalized tutoring solutions tailored to inspiring young minds throughout the school year and beyond.

Temple Grandin: An Example of How To Teach Kids Based on Their Way of Thinking

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In her popular TED Talk, Temple Grandin, a person born with autism who succeeded in life, presents her learning experience with autism. We’ll spend this article learning about her central beliefs on teaching children with autism and how to apply them to your own kids.

First and foremost, it is empowering to truly understand your student. Grasping how your child thinks and learns will revolutionize your approach to teaching them. This goes beyond just their social skills. It’s about being attuned to any sensory issues they may have, as this will shape their learning environment. For instance, they might be sensitive to certain lighting or sounds. But most importantly, what kind of thinker are they? Temple Grandin’s insights on the three thinking styles prevalent in children with autism can be a powerful tool in your hands.

1. Visual Thinkers

Photo-realistic visual thinkers, as Temple calls them, are learners who can think in detailed pictures. Temple recounts her own experience of being asked to picture a church steeple. While most people would picture a fairly standard generic steeple, she sees a specific steeple on a particular church and has a detailed image in her head. These kinds of thinkers place sensory-based information into specific categories.

2. Pattern Thinkers

Although Grandin talks extensively about visual thinkers, she points out that “not every autistic kid is going to be a visual thinker” (5:01 of TED Talk). Pattern thinkers are those who have minds geared toward Math or Music. They may have trouble reading or writing but excel in seeing patterns of numbers. One thing Grandin noticed is their ability to create intricate origami.

3. Verbal Thinkers

Finally, there are the minds that are word-based. These thinkers can memorize facts about nearly anything and often make excellent journalists. In addition, Temple mentions that many children with autism who are verbal thinkers are good actors, due to their learning social skills like being in a play.

Once you’ve gained a deeper understanding of your learner’s thinking style, you can guide them to develop their interests. For instance, a pattern thinker with a passion for planes can be taught math through the lens of aviation. Harness their interests or fixations to motivate their learning. And don’t forget the power of mentors, tutors, or experts in their field of interest. These individuals can ignite the spark of curiosity and passion in your students, making learning a truly inspiring journey.

We’ve written about examples on this blog, including:

Teaching kids math with cars

Teaching kids math with baseball

Teaching kids math with bowling

Teaching kids math and meteorology with barometers

Teaching kids history and science with tea

When different, specific minds like these work together, they can complement each other’s abilities to solve a problem in a thorough way. But it all starts with understanding your learner and how they think. This knowledge can be the key to sparking their interest and guiding them towards their potential.

 

Kid’s Health: Helping Kids With Colour Blindness

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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.