Helpful Tips for Parents and Caregivers of Elementary School Students


A classroom is the best learning environment for children. However, if there should be an interruption in the school year, there are lots of things that caregivers – including parents and guardians – can do to ensure that children continue to learn.

The Ministry of Education and Training has prepared the following tips to help caregivers provide a stimulating learning environment outside the classroom.

Some Points To Consider

Information from the School Board

If you are a parent, contact your local school board and ask for information about contingency plans. Find out whether schools will be open and whether transportation will be available. Ask whether there are homework assignments that can be completed during a break in the school year. Have your children bring home materials and books that they use in their classroom so that you can continue to use those at home.

Learning Resources at Home

Every home has resources (print materials, measuring devices, tools and implements of various kinds) that can be used to devise activities that will further children’s learning in language, mathematics, and science. With younger children, you can turn regular household chores into opportunities for learning. Here are some ideas.

You could ask children to:

  • read recipes, measure ingredients, compare foods, and learn new words such as names of spices;
  • sort items of clothing for the laundry according to colour, read washing instructions, measure detergent, and time wash cycles;
  • write shopping lists, compare prices, make change, and identify and classify food items;
  • sort pictures for photo albums, write labels or captions for each photo, and write a newspaper article about a photo;
  • sort items in a “junk drawer”, label them, and arrange them alphabetically.

Learning Resources in the Community

You may find opportunities for educational activities in your local community. Involve the children in planning activities, including safety measures. You may wish to take the children to visit such places as the following:

  • community centres (to get exercise or to participate in crafts or other classes)
  • the public library (to get books, hear a story, or do research using the Internet or CD-ROMs)
  • museums and historic buildings (to participate in tours, or do research or interviews)
  • parks (to get exercise, find signs of seasonal changes, identify shapes and colours, or gather specimens such as insects or acorns)
  • the neighbourhood (to discover aspects of the history of the neighbourhood, take photos, make sketches, or interview neighbours)

Suggested Learning Activities

Grades 1 to 3

In Grades 1 to 3, children do such things as reading simple written materials, making lists, writing complete sentences, and doing computations with whole numbers. You could help children develop these skills in various ways.

For example, you could ask the children to:

  • read a story aloud;
  • tell the story in their own words;
  • draw a picture illustrating an event in the story, and write a sentence that describes the picture;
  • list new words from the story and explain what they mean, and list other words that mean the same or the opposite;
  • make a puppet representing one of the characters in the story;
  • write a new ending for the story.

You could prepare a shopping list and ask the children to:

  • spell the words on your shopping list by cutting out letters from a newspaper or magazine and gluing them onto a piece of paper;
  • estimate the cost of each item, and then add the prices;
  • draw the items and label them;
  • choose a recipe using the items on your list, and help to make it.

You could also ask the children to:

  • measure the width, length, and height of objects in the house;
  • draw various objects in the house, label them, and write in their measurements;
  • make lists that classify objects in each room.

Grades 4 to 6

In these grades, children do such things as reading fiction and non-fiction materials, writing paragraphs using compound and complex sentences, and adding and subtracting decimal numbers. You could encourage children to continue to develop these skills in many ways. For example, you could ask them to:

  • choose an article in the newspaper, read it, and summarize it in a few sentences;
  • visit the library and choose two storybooks or novels on the same topic by different authors, read the books, identify the main characters, list the major events in sequence, and describe ways in which the two books are similar and different;
  • write a letter to one of the characters in the books they have read;
  • devise and carry out a plan for reorganizing grocery shelves;
  • choose a recipe, write out the list of ingredients, and rewrite the quantities so that the recipe is doubled;
  • measure the perimeter and calculate the area of objects in the house;
  • make a grocery list, estimate the cost of each item, and calculate the total cost and the amount of change they would get back from $50.

Grades 7 and 8

In these grades, children begin to work more independently. You could encourage them to continue to develop their skills in various ways. For example, you could ask them to:

  • read a novel, predict the ending using clues from the story, explain why this ending is possible, and write an alternative ending;
  • choose several different newspaper articles on the same topic, and compare them by stating what is the same and what is different with regard to facts and point of view;
  • choose a newspaper story about an event that took place in another country, and prepare a travel brochure to attract visitors to that country;
  • choose a recipe, determine the nutritional value of the foods used, and rewrite the recipe so that it is halved;
  • sort items in a closet, label and rearrange systematically the items to be kept, and discard unwanted items;
  • find six packages in the house, measure each package and calculate the area and volume, and design a new way of packaging one of the products;
  • choose items from a catalogue and calculate the total cost, including the taxes.

Further Information

If you would like more information, please contact:

Ministry of Education and Training
Mowat Block, 14th Floor
900 Bay Street
Toronto, Ontario M7A 1L2

Telephone: (416) 325-2929 or 1-800-387-5514


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