Progressive Programming and How It Can Benefit Your Child’s Education
What is progressive programming?
Progressive or “inquiry-based” programs attempt to place children’s interests and ideas at the heart of the learning experience. Instead of lessons being driven by predetermined pathways, progressive programming often develops with learning activities shaped by students’ questions. Instead of starting with academic concepts and then tying it to everyday experience, progressive methods begin with everyday experience and work back to an academic lesson. Teachers provide materials, experiences, tools and resources to help students investigate a topic or issue. Students are encouraged to explore, reflect on their findings, and discuss answers or solutions.
What types of Progressive Programming does Junior Academy offer?
Junior Academy offers unique programs which are incorporated into our weekly schedule which enable all of our students to grow and thrive on both socially and academically. These programs include:
FLEX (Friendship, Learning Skills and Executive Functioning)
Our FLEX program combines explicit instruction and situational discovery to help students develop some of the most important skills needed in our rapidly changing 21st century. FLEX promotes social and emotional growth, while incorporating the six key learning skills outlined by the Ontario Curriculum – Responsibility, Organization, Independent Work, Collaboration, Initiative and Self-Regulation. Through discussion, role-play, team building exercises, cooperative games and organizational tasks, students learn how to be respectful, and resilient. This program has been developed by our in-house occupational therapist, Kristen Locklin, and has shown results, with regards to a student’s abilities to make friends and regulate their feeling in an appropriate manner.
LEAP (Learners Actively Engaged in Projects)
Project-based, inquiry learning is the foundation of our LEAP program. The learning during regularly scheduled LEAP periods is student driven, keeping the level of engagement high as they delve in to topics of their own choice. Through this program, teachers observe students to make sure they are hitting all the points in the curriculum, while still giving them the freedom to learn what they want. We feel this has a huge impact on the student’s performance throughout the project and gives them a better sense of independence and pride for their work.
Outdoor Education takes place all year long, across the street from Junior Academy at the Canadian Film Institute. Every 2 weeks, students venture in to the park lands to study science related topics. The river, fields and forest provide the opportunity to spend time in a green space whilst learning curriculum related topics. Students emerge from classes with a better understanding, appreciation and respect for nature. Along with our bi-weekly OE classes, students from grade 5-8 visit Camp Onondaga for 3 days, participating in many leadership and nature activities. We feel our outdoor education program has shown many impactful results ranging from increased engagement in the classroom to decreased stress levels and even an increase in self-reliance. This program allows students to challenge themselves and over overcome situations while still being in a safe environment.
In the primary years, Junior Academy introduces age appropriate technology skills to the students. Using a class set of IPADS, students are taught to use reading and math programs to supplement their learning. Word processing and responsible internet awareness are added to the technology classes as the student approach grade 3 and 4.
In grades 5-8, students work on their own laptops and have technology classes weekly.
At Junior Academy, we feel that the incorporation of technology into the classroom is a vital part in adapting to the changing world. Technology increases student engagement in the classroom and allows for easy collaboration as well as independent learning.
Please visit our blog to find out more information about this topic and much more: https://blog.junioracademy.com/blog/progressive-programming-and-how-they-can-benefit-your-childs-education
Importance of Practicing Mindfulness at School- Mindful Moments
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.
What is Junior Academy doing to practice mindfulness at school?
At Junior Academy, we have incorporated Mindful Moments into each school day. Mindful Moments consist of two 10-minute periods per day. Students can relieve stress and calm themselves by finding a comfortable position with their eyes open or closed and participating in breathing exercises, thinking about feelings as well as focusing on their intentions for the day. Mindful Moments are taught through the teacher or by a mindfulness apps called Headspace and GoNoodle
Why is mindfulness important for my child?
We feel that these mindful moments have a great impact on student on many levels and contribute to their overall happiness. The purpose of teaching mindfulness to our students is:
What benefits are students seeing?
In a class of 12, 9 students reported a positive outcome of Mindful Moment. Below are some testimonials from students who have benefited from participating in Mindful Moments:
“The Headspace program is very helpful to make me feel calm and to feel mindful in the morning. I find it very useful in the morning. It makes me less anxious and nervous.”
“I feel quiet & calm.”
“It makes me feel calmer & safer.”
“Mindfulness makes me calm and relaxed. It helps me control myself when I get angry. Mindfulness makes me less anxious.”
8 Things to Know About Mindfulness:
1) Mindfulness is not obscure or exotic. It’s familiar to us because it’s what we already do, how we already are. It takes many shapes and goes by many names.
2) Mindfulness is not a special added thing we do. We already have the capacity to be present, and it doesn’t require us to change who we are. But we can cultivate these innate qualities with simple practices that are scientifically demonstrated to benefit ourselves, our loved ones, our friends and neighbors, the people we work with, and the institutions and organizations we take part in
3) You don’t need to change. Solutions that ask us to change who we are or become something we’re not have failed us over and over again. Mindfulness recognizes and cultivates the best of who we are as human beings.
4) Mindfulness has the potential to become a transformative social phenomenon. Here’s why:
5) Anyone can do it. Mindfulness practice cultivates universal human qualities and does not require anyone to change their beliefs. Everyone can benefit and it’s easy to learn.
6) It’s a way of living. Mindfulness is more than just a practice. It brings awareness and caring into everything we do—and it cuts down needless stress. Even a little makes our lives better.
7) It’s evidence-based. We don’t have to take mindfulness on faith. Both science and experience demonstrate its positive benefits for our health, happiness, work, and relationships.
8) It sparks innovation. As we deal with our world’s increasing complexity and uncertainty, mindfulness can lead us to effective, resilient, low-cost responses to seemingly intransigent problems.
How to Pick the Right Private School for Your Child
If you are a parent that is considering sending your child to private school, you know that it is not just as easy as picking the school closes to your home or work. There are many factors that you must take into account before making your decision.
Starting the process
As a new parent, applying to a private school can seem like a very daunting process but it’s important to start early, meet people in person, and find a school that fits your child’s personality, not the other way around. One of the biggest benefits to choosing a private school, is the amount of choice you have. Different schools have made choices about what they believe is the best approach to teaching and learning and not ever one is going to line up with your believes
Canada has roughly 1,935 independent schools which educate over 368,717 students from kindergarten to Grade 12, according to a 2016 Fraser Institute report. Within those numbers, half have a religious orientation, and a third are specialty schools due to their curriculum (arts, athletics, science) or teaching style (Montessori, Waldorf, International Baccalaureate). There are also single-gender schools, boarding options and different funding models (independent, private). The best place to start is by figuring out what suits you and your child’s life.
Looking at your options
While school websites are a obvious starting point, you can move quickly beyond them once you understand the philosophy, as you cannot really understand the feel of the school until you visit. BE sure to talk to as many people as possible! Ultimately, it’s about a relationship your family and your child has with the institution and with specific people within it. This is a big decision and will impact your child’s life, so don’t be shy call the school and ask about opportunities to see the school in action or to talk to current families who attend the school. Parents need to have a chance to ask questions and meet some of the teachers. At Junior Academy, we offer a one or two day classroom visit for all incoming students. This allow are both the parents and the child to understand and experience what a regular day would be like at JA.
Admissions process and finances
While making a decision, parents should contact school admissions offices, since each application process is a bit different. Many applications now start online, some requiring fees. Some involve visiting for a day, a digital portfolio or personal interviews. Many schools have intakes at specific grade levels, while others admit to every grade. Application deadlines vary: Many are in January and some schools have rolling deadlines. Acceptances are often sent out a couple of months after application.
The annual tuition is also a big factor to consider as school can range from less than $4,000 to more than $50,000 for schools that include accommodation. During the investigation process it is important to ask up front about what is included in the tuition, such as sports programs, tutoring or lunches. Other costs can include registration fees, technology or book fees, school trips, uniforms and transportation. Financial assistance can be available for family that need it. This usually need to be started well before the decision deadline.
Making the decision
In the end, it all comes back to if the school is a fit for your family and if your child is comfortable in the environment.
Scientific studies have shown that kindness has a great number of physical and emotional benefits, and that children require a healthy dose of the warm and fuzzies in order to flourish as health, happy, well-rounded individuals.
Patty O’Grady, PhD, is an expert in the area of neuroscience, emotional learning, and positive psychology with special attention to the educational arena. She believes that “kindness changes the brain by the experience of kindness. Children and adolescents do not learn kindness by only thinking about it and talking about it. Kindness is best learned by feeling it so that they can reproduce it. Kindness is an emotion that students feel and empathy is a strength that they share.”
A great number of benefits have been reported to support the theory of teaching kindness in schools:
1. Happy Children: Science explains that the good feelings we experience when being kind are produced by endorphins that activate areas of the brain that are associated with pleasure, social connection and trust, and it’s proven that these feelings of joyfulness are contagious, encouraging more kind behaviour by the giver and recipient.
2. Increased Peer Acceptance: Research on the subject has determined that kindness increases our ability to form meaningful connections with others. Studies show that kind, happy children enjoy greater peer acceptance because they are well-liked and that better than average mental health is reported in classrooms that practice more inclusive behaviour due to an even distribution of popularity.
3. Improved Health and Less Stress: It’s widely documented that being kind can trigger a release of the hormone oxytocin which has a number of physical and mental health benefits as it can significantly increase a person’s level of happiness and reduce stress. More recently though, it’s been found it plays a significant role in the cardiovascular system, helping protect the heart by lowering blood pressure and reducing free radicals and inflammation, which incidentally speed up the aging process.
4. Greater Sense of Belonging and Improved Self Esteem: Studies show that people experience a ‘helpers high’ when they do a good deed, a rush of endorphins that creates a lasting sense of pride, well being and an enriched sense of belonging. Even small acts of kindness are reported to heighten our sense of well being, increase energy and give a wonderful feeling of optimism and self worth.
5. Increased Feelings of Gratitude: When children are part of projects that help others less fortunate than themselves, it provides them with a real sense of perspective and helps them appreciate the good things in their own lives.
6. Better Concentration and Improved Results: As it increases serotonin, which plays an important part in learning, memory, mood, sleep, health and digestion, kindness is a key ingredient that helps children feel good. Having a positive outlook allows them greater attentions spans and enables more creative thinking to produce better results at school.
7. Less Bullying: Two Penn State Harrisburg faculty researchers, Shanetia Clark and Barbara Marinak say, “unlike previous generations, today’s adolescents are victimizing each other at alarming rates.” They argue adolescent bullying and youth violence can be confronted through in-school programs that integrate “kindness — the antithesis of victimization.” Many traditional anti-bullying programs focus on the negative actions that cause children anxiety and often with little impact. Teaching kindness and compassion in schools, not only fosters the positive behaviour that creates warm and inclusive school environments, but helps children feel that they belong. It’s documented that the effects of bullying can be significantly reduced by integrating kindness based programs in schools.
8. Reduced Depression: Dr. Wayne Dyer, internationally renowned author and speaker, says research has discovered that an act of kindness increases levels of serotonin (a natural chemical responsible for improving mood) in the brain. It’s also found that serotonin levels are increased in both the giver and receiver of an act of kindness, as well as anyone who witnesses that kindness, making it a wonderful natural antidepressant..
Kindness can be taught, and it is a defining aspect of civilized human life. It belongs in every home, school, neighborhood, and society.” It’s become quite clear that modern education must encompass more than just academics, that in order for children to develop into happy, confident, well-rounded individuals, matters of the heart must be taken seriously and nurtured as a matter of priority.
All students learn differently. This is a principal of inclusive education. One key teaching strategy is to break students into small groups. By using small groups, teaching can be tailored to the way each student learns best. This is known as differentiated instruction.
Teachers meet everyone’s needs by presenting lessons in different ways. For example, they may use multisensory instruction. In math, that may mean using visual aids and manipulatives like cubes or colored chips to help kids learn new concepts.
Some classrooms may have an interactive whiteboard. On it, kids can use their fingers to write, erase and move images around on the large screen. This teaching tool can also be used to turn students’ work into a video, which can be exciting for kids and help keep them engaged.
In an inclusive classroom, teachers weave in specially designed instruction and support that can help students make progress. Kids may be given opportunities to move around or use fidgets. And teachers often put positive behavioral interventions and supports in place.
These strategies are helpful for all students—not only for students with learning and attention issues.
Inclusive classrooms are filled with diverse learners. This lets kids talk about how everyone learns in their own way. They may find that they have more in common with other kids than they thought. This can go a long way in reducing stigma for kids with learning and attention issues. It can also help kids build and maintain friendships.
In more traditional special education settings, many kids are “pulled out” for related services, like occupational therapy or for other specialized instruction. An inclusion class often brings occupational therapist, reading specialists and other service providers into the classroom.
These professionals can provide information and suggestions to help all students as well as work directly with the teacher to implement long term strategies. If your child isn’t eligible for special education, but still needs some extra support, it can provide him with some informal support.
If your child has an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or as we call it at Junior Academy, a Student Success Plan (SSP), their goals should be based on the academic standards for your province. Those standards lay out what all students are expected to learn in math, reading, science and other subjects by the end of the school year.
Differentiated instruction and co-teaching in a general education classroom make it easier for students with standards-based IEPs to be taught the same material as their classmates
To help parents and students start the school year strong, we’ve compiled eight tips–four for parents and four for students–to keep in mind as summer winds down and the school year begins.
Four things parents can do to help their children achieve better academic results:
1. Impose the two-week rule. With later bedtimes over the summer, children need to ease back into their school routine rather than having a sudden change their first day of school. Using the last two weeks of summer to re-introduce a school year bedtime routine will make waking up on that first day a lot easier.
2. Reintroduce regular meal times. During summer months, kids tend to grab a snack several times during the day. Parents can start reminding students to get back into a three-meal-a-day schedule in order to regulate their system into the back-to-school mode. Nutrition is an important factor in academic performance, and eating a healthy, balanced breakfast and lunch keeps kids alert throughout the day.
3. Create a family calendar. Time management is tricky for everyone, especially kids and teens, but planning is an important way to save everyone’s sanity. Having major deadlines, due dates, events and extracurricular activities in one place helps kids visualize their week, manage their time and stay on track.
4. Don’t ditch good habits. If you and your child have established a good summer learning routine, when school starts try not to forsake all of the fun reading, writing and art activities that kept your child engaged all summer
Four important things that students can do to improve the academic quality of the school year, starting on day one:
1. Get organized. Organization is not overrated. Keeping notes, projects and reading materials in logical order helps students find what they need right away, cutting down on time spent tracking things down, and allowing more time for actual studying.
2. Take good notes. Yes, it does matter. Taking good notes helps keep kids’ grades up, especially in middle school. To boost note-taking skills, students should practice picking out the “main ideas” in conversations, news reports, or magazine articles.
3. Concentrate. Staying focused is easier for some kids than others. Students need to do their best to avoid distractions in class. This means keeping cell phones tucked away and being vocal if a chatty classmate is too distracting.
4. Speak up. Students often can get tripped up by homework or test instructions. Students should know it’s OK to speak up if they don’t understand testing or homework directions. Students should also listen carefully and spend plenty of time reading directions.