RESPs for Teenagers: The Gold Mine of Unused Grants

As parents, we sometimes feel like our kids grew up overnight! If you never got around to setting up that RESP for your child and now realize the probability of a post-secondary education is only a few years away, you may start to ask yourself if you still have time to open an RESP and save for school. The answer is YES; it’s never too late! Not only can you still benefit from the RESP’s advantages, but you can also catch up on significant unused grant amounts for your child’s education!

 Learning that we missed an opportunity simply because we didn’t have all the facts can be really disappointing. Unfortunately, this is the case for many parents in Quebec, who learn at a later date about the existence of the generous government grants offered to encourage education savings. Rest assured; even if you didn’t know, there’s still time to enjoy the benefits of the RESP!

Who’s eligible for the government grants?

To benefit from the government grants, a registered education savings plan (RESP) must be opened for a child, and contributions must be made to the plan. You don’t have to be the beneficiary’s parent to set up an RESP: uncles, aunts, godparents, grandparents or even family friends can open a plan for a child dear to them.

As soon as children are born in Quebec, both levels of government provide for amounts that may be paid to their RESP’s under the following simple conditions:

  • They must be Canadian residents;
  • An RESP must be opened so the government can pay grants into it; and
  • The grant application forms must be filled out.

And yet, the RESP remains a little-known investment vehicle; only 45.2% of the children in Quebec* eligible to receive government grants are RESP beneficiaries.

What grants are available in Quebec?

The basic Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG) and Quebec Education Savings Incentive (QESI) respectively match 20% and 10%, of the first $2,500 annually contributed into the RESP. Everyone is entitled to the basic grants!

The additional CESG and QESI can respectively increase RESP savings by up to 20% and 10% on the first $500 contributed to a plan annually. These grants are calculated based on your adjusted family net income.

For more information about the government grants offered, visit our page dedicated to this topic on our website at

The important thing to remember is that contributing $2,500 in an RESP every year means your child will receive the maximum grant amounts to which he or she is entitled.

Can I open an RESP for my teenager?

An RESP can be opened for children of all ages, but the biggest advantage of the RESP is the grant money offered for education savings. To be eligible for these grants, you must open an RESP for your child before the end of the calendar year of his or her 15th birthday. As for the grants, these are paid until the end of the calendar year during which the beneficiary reaches the age of 17 years.

So don’t put it off any longer!

For more information on the options available to 16 and 17-year-olds, please refer to the Government of Canada website.

Is it possible to catch up on unused grant money from previous years?

YES, you can catch up on unused grant amounts from previous years! However, this is a gradual process; not all funds are available at once.

As previously explained, each year, both levels of government will pay grants on the first $2,500 contributed in the RESP. If unused grants from previous years are available, it’s possible to recover these, one year at a time.

All in all, it’s possible to contribute up to $5,000 annually in an RESP to receive grants for the year in progress as well as a past year’s worth of unused amounts. This course of action will allow you to maximize the grants for the current year, and to catch up on the grants from a previous one.

To explain this concept more clearly, let’s take the example of a father who opens an RESP for his 4-year-old son. He contributes $5,000 annually over the first 4 years he opens the plan. By doing so, he maximizes the grant amount for these 4 years and recovers the 4 years of grant money he missed before opening the RESP. This represents the hefty sum of $3,000 in maximized grants, plus another $3,000 in unused grants!

Now you have all the facts, take action and get the grants your child is entitled to. Better late than never! Contact a scholarship plan representative today to learn more!





* Source: 2014 CESP Annual Statistical Review

1. The Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG) rate is 20% to 40% based on adjusted family net income. The maximum CESG limits are set by the federal government. The annual limit is set at $600 and the lifetime limit is set at $7,200 per beneficiary. The Quebec Education Savings Incentive (QESI) rate is 10% to 20% based on adjusted family net income. The maximum QESI limits are set by the Government of Quebec. The annual limit is set at $300 and the lifetime limit is set at $3,600 per beneficiary. Certain conditions apply; refer to the prospectus at

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5 Ways to Give Your Child’s RESP a Boost

You’ve decided to open a registered education savings plan (RESP) for your child. First off, congratulations! This savings vehicle is specifically designed to accumulate funds for post-secondary education and is the only financial product that allows your beneficiary to receive government grants totalling up to $12,800* per child.

But if you want to give your savings an extra boost, here are some tips on how to manage your RESP!

1- Make Monthly Contributions

The best way to ensure your RESP funds grow is to maintain some self-discipline to save. A good option is to commit to contributing the same amount each month. Pick a realistic amount that you know you’ll be able to save; whether you contribute $20, $50, $100 or more, the important thing is to establish an amount suited to your financial situation. It’s better to make small contributions, but to do so regularly. The group RESP is a product that can help you develop this savings discipline.

2- Ask your Family and Friends to Chip In!

It may seem a little embarrassing to ask your family or friends to contribute to your child’s RESP, but it really shouldn’t. Tell yourself you’re making their gift shopping a lot easier. Instead of searching for a present that often just becomes clutter in the house, you’re offering them an original and meaningful alternative: to make a small contribution to your child’s RESP and offer a gift that will last a lifetime.

They can also choose to offer a gift certificate specifically intended for RESPs. They’ll likely be very happy to contribute to your little one’s future education. Remember to keep a record of these contributions in a notebook; you can give it to your teenager when he or she undertakes a post-secondary education. This small token will surely trigger your child’s recognition for the value of this gift and a genuine appreciation for it.

If they wish to, your family and friends can also open their own RESP for your child; ask your representative about this option!

3- Teach your Kids Money-Smart Habits

Why not initiate your kids to saving by encouraging them to contribute to their RESP? As soon as they make their academic debut in kindergarten, explain to them that you are saving for their education in a “big school” later on so they choose to do whatever they want in life. This will be a great way to bring your children to reflect on their future while encouraging school perseverance. If you give your children an allowance, suggest that they save a small part in their RESPs. When they get older and get summer jobs, encourage them to increase their contribution.

4- A Piggy Bank For Education Savings

Leave a piggy bank for school in a visible spot. Whenever you have some pocket change, drop your coins in the piggy bank and empty it regularly to make additional contributions to your child’s RESP. Over several years, these small contributions (plus the government grants to which they entitle) will increase your child’s educational assistance payments (EAPs) significantly.

5- Garage Sales = Extra Funds

Got anything gathering dust on shelves or cluttering your home? Have a garage sale and invest the profits in your child’s RESP! If your child is old enough, ask him to help organize the sale by cleaning and sorting out items, making price tags, greeting clients, etc. You’ll have a great family day, mingle with your neighbours and gain additional funds to contribute to your child’s RESP.

An article by Universitas



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5 Tricks to Make the Transition to High School Easier

The transition from grade school to high school is an important step that brings with it worries and uncertainties in many children. Going from “oldest in the school” to “youngest in the school” can be offsetting and some children are apprehensive in the face of this change. So, how can you prepare them for this, and how can you prepare yourself? Here are a few tricks that can help you get through this change.

High school, the great unknown: identify the fears in order to better management them

Given that our imagination often makes us apprehensive about the worst scenarios, the unknown during times of change can be scary! Because of this, starting high school can be intimidating and can make your child hesitant about the idea of facing it, without really knowing why they are afraid. The best option is to listen to them in order to help better identify their fears. Keep open communication and speak to them on equal terms in order to show them your support. Here are a few common concerns before the start of high school:

  • Being separated from their friends
  • Not being able to make new friends
  • Having to get to school on their own
  • Getting lost at school
  • Forgetting their locker combination
  • Arriving late

Even if you believe that they are making too big of a deal about the nothing and that their fears are unjustified, avoid trivializing their worries. In fact, it is best to keep a positive approach by recognizing that they are going through an important change. Being available and having an open mind will make all the difference! Once certain worries have been identified and that you have established how to overcome them, avoid constantly bringing up the subject: this will have the opposite effects and will only feed their anxieties instead of diminishing them.

Their integration, your implication!

As a parent, there are many ways to get involved in your child’s school life:

  • Schools often organize open houses, which could be an interesting way of getting to know how the school works
  • At the start of the school year, and even before the first report card, you can start meeting the teachers
  • If you wish to get involved in a more concrete manner, you can also join the school’s parent association

It is important to remember that no matter the capacity in which you get yourself involved, the interest you show in your child’s school life will be gratifying in itself.

A new routine and new responsibilities requires an adaptation period

A new schedule broken up into separate subjects, changing classrooms multiple times per day, and being taught by different teachers that do not all teach the same way are just a few examples of the changes that your child will be facing.  Their daily routine will be completely different and it is very normal that this will require some time getting used to! It will therefore be important that you help them manage and integrate their new responsibilities. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Before the start of school, ideally before the end of the previous year, go visit their future school while it is still full of students in order to familiarize them with the new environment. Use the school plan in order to pinpoint key areas in the school (secretary, bathrooms, lockers, etc.)
  • Similarly, if they will need to get to school on their own (on foot, by bus, or metro), do the route with them a few times in order to establish a few landmarks and determine how long it will take. This way, they will know what time to leave home everyday
  • During the summer, give them daily tasks at home that they will have to manage alone. This way, they will learn to better manage their time and become more responsible.
  • For the first weeks of school, help them organize their agenda while at the same time taking note of everything they will need for each class, the classroom number, their teacher’s name, etc.

At first glance, these tricks may seem trivial to them and they may be opposed to them, but you must remember that every step will have a direct impact on their stress level and the state in which they integrate themselves into their new environment. By being well prepared, they will have peace of mind and will be better able to manage the new schedule!

A time of self-discovery

Your child is going through many changes in environment and routine, but preadolescence is also a period of self-identification and independence. Your child will have new experiences and will certainly disobey a few rules through changes in appearance or new tastes in music amongst other things. But don’t worry; these are normal behaviors that are common for most children of this age. These behaviors will allow them to assert themselves and define themselves as individuals. Obviously, keep an eye open, and continue giving your child support in order to prevent them to become overwhelmed, but the best approach is to practice a bit of laissez-faire,without panicking!

After-school activities, a good way to make new friends

For some children, adapting to a new social environment can be difficult. In order to facilitate their integration, suggest to them that they look into the after-school activities offered. Be it an improvisation team, a theater group, or a chess club, these group activities will allow them to socialize while sharing similar interests with classmates. In such a situation, it is easier for a shy child to break the ice: having similar interest is a great conversation starter!

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5 Tricks That Will Help your Child Get Homework Done (without it being a big deal every time)

Every night it’s the same problem. Is there any way to get your child to do homework without it being overly dramatic? Here are a few efficient tricks that will help reduce the drama!


A well deserved break!

Upon returning home from school, after a long day of having been sitting and concentrating, it is important to let them relax a little bit. Letting them take the time to have a snack, to watch a little bit of television or play on the computer will allow them to take their minds of school and will be beneficial for them. In fact, since this relaxation period will allow them to disconnect in order to better apply themselves, there is no point in imposing homework as soon as they arrive home.

Creating a homework time-schedule and environment favorable to schoolwork eliminates distractions!

If there is a time for rest, there is also a time for work! Make things clear and establish a specific time for doing homework while respecting the start and end time of the homework period every evening. This way, you will be able to establish a daily routine. In the long run, it could become a reflex and you will not have to fight them on it constantly! As we know, distractions are abundant at home: television, game consoles, chats, text messages… you don’t need to look far for ways of loosing their attention! We have to eliminate these sources of distraction because peace and quiet while doing homework is essential to a child’s concentration. It is important to remember that an appropriate study space must be quiet and well lit in order to allow them to read easily.

Having fun while learning, learning while having fun: giving new meaning to learning “by heart”!

Since homework time is inevitable, why not make it a pleasant experience? First of all, you must approach the situation with enthusiasm and most importantly with sincerity; avoid being forceful, invest yourself fully, and follow your heart! As with your child, give yourself a break when arriving home. In a more relaxed state of mind, you will not get as easily discouraged in the face of resistance. Also, your good humor will likely be contagious!

Remember that learning can be done in other ways than through memorizing the subject matter systematically. In this case, don’t be afraid to explore outside the conventional ways by incorporating a bit of fantasy in the work. We can use our imagination in order to make the experience more pleasant and positive. Here are a few simple tricks:

  • Spark their interest by giving them problems to solve;
  • Make them recite notes using a fun and catchy rhythm, in order and in disorder (try using their favorite song!);
  • Make them do readings out loud and then ask them questions about what they just read in order to get them to interact;
  • Recreate a television quiz where you are the animator and they are the participant;
  • Give them a dictation of the recipe for supper and get them to help with supper in order for them to practice additions, subtractions, and divisions

Find a method that suits them

Whether it is conscious or not, every child develops their own tricks that help them remember subject matter and this is often through association: making links between elements is the best method that the brain has to store information and memorize it. Also, the student will, for example, create shortcuts in order not to have to learn entire multiplication tables. Obviously, with this type of technique, we save a lot of time and we simplify what we find complex. However, it is not a way of being lazy in order to save time and avoid the workload, but it is instead a personal strategy that gives them certain aptitudes for other concepts in order subjects. Therefore, we have to take the time to figure out what methods suits them the best and to encourage them to apply it properly. Targeting and encouraging that personal strategy for learning and for doing homework will give them more confidence in themselves generally and in their methods specifically.

Knowing how to recognize and harness their strengths

Following the same idea as above, instead of targeting what doesn’t work, it is always preferable to highlight the good points in order to encourage and gratify your child. Also, by identify the concepts that are already well established, the magnitude of the tasks will seem reduced: go over what is already understood and congratulate them for it, go step-by-step, and most importantly, do not see it as a hurdle to overcome, but instead as small successes that have been achieved. A mountain is, after all, but a series of pillars we climb one at a time. Looking at is this way, it is much more satisfying once at the summit to see the road that has been traveled!

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Éléonore’s account of her experience as a student at School Success

Marilou, tutor at School Success, had a great idea for her student Éléonore. In order to learn more about students’ experiences at School Success, we asked Marilou to help Éléonore write a short text about her tutoring experience and what it means to her. The whole team was touched by her account! She has shown us that tutoring can make all the difference and that her tutor, thanks to all the confidence she had in her student, has allowed her to improve at school and continues to do so. Congratulations to Éléonore for this great text, and to Marilou for her help!


My name is Éléonore L., I am 12 years old and I have had the pleasure of being a student at School Success for the last two years. Before starting the tutoring sessions, I had a lot of trouble at school, especially in French and math. Also, I was too shy to ask questions in class, therefore I would understand less and less. I had lost confidence in myself because I could see my classmates getting good grades whereas I was failing.

My parents sign me up for School Success in order to help me improve. Before my first meeting, I was worried because I didn’t know if tutoring would help me. However, the meeting went really well! Marilou, my tutor, was great, but what made the difference was that I felt that she had confidence in me because she would keep encouraging me. With her, I am no longer afraid to ask questions, I feel free to ask for what I need without the fear of being judged. She is able to understand me, and now she knows when I do not understand, without me even having to tell her. She can explain a problem to me in many different ways until I understand it.

If I had to describe my tutor to you, I would tell you that she is funny, friendly, always smiling and most importantly… she has given me back my confidence and continues to have confidence in me! She helps me with my homework when I don’t understand it, she gives me extra assignments in order for me to improve, but most importantly, we have fun together!

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Frequency, duration and number of hours of tutoring: is there a secret formula?

When a parent first contacts us, they often ask what method is recommend to begin the tutoring sessions. How often per week should we have sessions? How many hours should it last? Is there an ideal location where they should take place? Here is an overview of these main points, with recommendations from School Success!

Frequency, duration and number of hours of tutoring: is there a secret formula?

Frequency of meetings

Should the meetings be once or many times a week? Should they be close together or spaced out?

Depending on how much catching up is needed and the overall work required (homework, review, exam preparation, etc.), the frequency at the beginning might be quite variable. Nevertheless, in order to establish a good routine and give the tutor the opportunity to do a proper follow up at the beginning, we suggest a minimum of once a week.

If the student is significantly behind and has a lot of catching up to do, you can also start with many meetings close together. Once this “urgency” has been met, you can, with the tutor, reevaluate the necessity of continuing this way or maybe space the meetings out more.

The time period when the tutoring begins may also influence the frequency. At the beginning of the school year, the meetings can be more spaced out then when end of term exams are around the corner. At this time, the number of meetings per week can increase.

Homework help can also be more frequent and can take place during the week or on the weekend. This way, the tutor can do a proper review of what has been seen in class, targeted to the notions that were not well understood, and will help prepare the student for the notions to be covered the following week.

Length of sessions

Is one hour enough? Is it too much? How long should a tutoring session last?

One hour of tutoring often goes by quickly: by the time everybody gets set up, books are opened, and progress is checked, new problems or concerns are addressed, etc. Also, with the preparation and the travelling that the tutor must do, less than an hour is not really worth their time when it’s a tutoring session at your home.

During the week, after school, or in the early evening, one hour sessions and often enough, especially for grade school students. You must consider that a full day of school can already have been demanding for your child and that asking him or her to concentrate longer can be difficult. Students in high school or Cégep can stay concentrated longer, therefore you can discuss with them and with the tutor what the best approach would be.

Meetings can, however, be longer on the weekend: based on our experience, we have often noticed that students are more receptive and better rested. Their ability to concentrate is therefore greater.

Preferred locations for sessions

Is it preferable to have the meetings at home or at school? At the library or at the coffee shop on the corner? Online?

Between sports practice, art classes, or extracurricular activities, why not avoid more moving around? Meetings at the student’s home are the most popular method and we have some good tips on how to set up an efficient study space.

At times, in order to develop the child’s autonomy, some parents prefer to have the meetings outside of their home. For the Montreal region, we often suggest our learning center in Côte-des-Neiges, which is available to students and tutors during the week after school and on weekends.

Otherwise, with permission from the principal, it is at times possible to have the meetings at school. However, it is important that an appropriate location is made available to you and that the opening hours permit it.

Similarly, a library is a good place to have the meetings. It is a calm location favorable to studying. However, you must make sure you have access to an area for studying that is slightly apart from other visitors so as not to disturb them. Also, before planning a meeting, make sure to check the library’s schedule: some libraries close early or are simply closed on certain days.

Online meetings are another option to consider, which may be used as a compliment to the other meetings. Using our virtual classroom, the web-cam sessions offer live interactions and are often quite useful. In fact, if a meeting in person is not possible because of a transportation problem, do not hesitate to use our interactive platform!

As you can see, there are many factors to consider for individual tutoring. Since every case is unique and requires a particular follow-up, the secret formula requires many different ingredients! First of all, keep in mind that you must be well prepared ahead of time, communication properly throughout the sessions, and don’t forget that the main goal is the success of your child. We will be here to be part of the winning solution!

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Interview with Michèle, a previous student of ours, and now a tutor with School Success!

Now this is an unusual story, and we would love to share it with you: Michèle, previously a student who benefited from our tutoring services, is now a tutor with us! We are happy to introduce her to you through this interview we recently had with her!

Interview with Michèle, a previous student of ours, and now a tutor with School Success

What was your situation at school before beginning tutoring sessions?

In general, aside from physical education, I always got good grades at school. However, once I reached secondary 4, math got a lot harder. Also, I had to keep an average of 76% or higher in math in order to stay in my high school’s science program the following year. I lacked structure in my study techniques, and the idea of failing, or not reaching my objectives made me anxious.

Were you apprehensive about your first meeting with your tutor, and what would you recommend to a student beginning their sessions?

I wasn’t apprehensive at all, but I had a lot of expectations. I needed help finding study strategies in math and I depended a lot on my tutor to help me find them. I was ready to put a lot of effort into reaching my objectives, and I hoped that my tutor would be at the height of my expectations. I was not disappointed! I believe that a tutor has a role in the success of their student, but that, without continuous effort on the part of the latter, it is much harder to reach the desired goal. I ask students not to be afraid to admit that they need help and accept the help that is offered to them with all the effort that is required.

Did tutoring influence your results, your self-esteem or your study methods?

Thanks to the help my tutor gave me, I felt safer during my exams and my grades shot up like an arrow. I even got a 95% in my ministry of education exam, and, on the transcript, it said that only 4% of students in secondary 5 in Quebec got a better grade than me! Did I ever feel proud! Also, I had a final overall average above 76% in math and I was able to get into my school’s science program the following year. My tutor helped me a lot, if only for the positive encouragement he gave me, or the simplistic and clear approach he used compared to the one my teacher used with the group. He made me practice a lot and thanks to that, exams no longer scared me.

In your opinion, as a student, what is a good tutor?

If I base myself on the experience I had as a student, a good tutor is someone who is creative and can adapt his or her teaching strategies to the needs and abilities of each student. It’s someone who believes in his or her student’s success and takes an active role in it.

What motivated you to become a tutor?

Since I’m studying to become a special education counselor, I told myself that tutoring would be the best way to become familiar with the role of helper as a teacher or special needs counselor. Also, it is interesting to get to know the parents’ point of view about the services provided by the school, and to be able to observe and identify where the student may be falling behind and help make up what’s lacking.

Is there a particular reason that motivated you to collaborate with School Success, and in your opinion, what are the advantages of using School Success instead of providing the services yourself?

As I am now studying to become a teacher, I told myself that collaborating with School Success could allow me to gain relevant experience with respect to my future profession. Also, the schedule is rather flexible and it was a lot simpler, for the moment, to manage my own schedule rather than find a part-time job. The experience I had with School Success made a big different for me, and it is what I wish to provide my students with while working with them. Working with School Success is a lot simpler for me than offering the services myself. For example, I don’t have to advertise, they regularly offer me students that live near me and that have similar availabilities as I do, etc.

As a tutor, what is a good student?

A good student, for me, is someone who wishes to succeed and who’s ready to apply all the efforts necessary to reach the objectives from the beginning, with their tutor.

What would be the best advice to give a tutor to help them establish good contact with the student and their family?

I think that the best way to establish a good relationship with a student’s family is to plan a meeting where everybody shares their expectations, before taking the student under your wing. Also, it is important to respect certain courtesies (ex: arriving on time, taking the time to say hello when arriving, etc.) and provide them with concrete results about their child’s progress. As for the relationship with the student, I think it’s important to take into account each student’s ability to learn at every session and be able to adapt accordingly. You have to display an interest in him or her and not forget to highlight their achievements. You mustn’t hesitate to take the time for discussion and to teach them things that do not necessarily relate to the subject matter you are learning. This makes the meetings lighter and the student is more likely to do the task at hand.

Can you share with us the strongest point of your experience as a tutor?

Though I do not consider that I have gained a lot of experience as a tutor, I have already had some memorable experiences. First of all, I loved being part of the Pour 3 point project, because it matches my values. Working as a tutor allows us to meet a lot of great people that enrich our work at every session. I think there is nothing more rewarding than to see the positive impact of our work, and to see our students’ progress and reach the desired objectives.

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“A victory, big or small, heals many wounds” anecdote provided by Francis, tutor at School Success

Raphaël, secondary 5, is a shy guy who lives in a far-away town in Saint-Mathieu in a small modest home. It wasn’t the warmest relationship at first. He was doing secondary 4 math, and it’s wasn’t easy! I had to go over many concepts with him dealing with fractions and signs seen in secondary 1 and 2. From one week to the next, he’s motivation seemed to disappear and he would forget what we saw the previous week.

Then, slowly, after a few weeks, a bond began to form between us as we started chatting about things other than math; school, travels, becoming a cook (his dream job), teachers, friends, fake friends, gangs, girls, etc.

Raphaël had other much greater preoccupations than simultaneous linear equations. For the most part, this explained his incapacity to concentrate thoroughly on a problem.

In math, you have to dive into a problem as if you were entering a dark room full of strange objects. Slowly, your eyes adjust to the obscurity and you begin to recognize objects. You begin to put together what you learn easily and establish connections, and you end up figuring out what you will have to find at the end of the problem, and then, which path you want to take to get there. The last step is to jump right in, use the right screwdriver at the right moment and don’t second-guess which way to turn it (basic algebraic functions).

This being said, such an introspective approach requires a lot of what I like to call peace of mind. The smallest torment can prevent us from seeing clearly in the dark, or make us forget the science behind screwdrivers, to follow my previous analogy. 

The solution? Put your life on hold for a moment and stop worrying to give yourself time for one calculation, or two, or three… And I think that realizing you are not along in asking yourself important life questions lightens the feeling of insecurity.

Also, Raphaël had to accept the fact that his greatest weaknesses went back to grade 5 math. That’s hard on the ego. June was approaching, and I had to make him understand the urgency of the situation, without humiliating him. That was a great challenge. If he failed math, his self-confidence would fall to the lowest level, and it would be even more difficult to catch-up.

Once he was in the right state of mind: “forget everything else, I will do math like crazy until the final exam”, he improved one thousand times faster and his competence in math finally reached the desired level. His class notes became clear and well structured. So, the home stretch was the easiest part, or at least the part he was the most confidant about. I was absent during those last two weeks (I started working for “Les Débrouillard”). He got there on his own. And I don’t think my absence was a bad thing.

At the end of June, I was informed that, against all odds, he had passed math!

I won’t forget him. And I don’t think he will either. A victory, big or small, heals many wounds.

Francis, tutor at School Success

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Interview with Marichelle, tutor at School Success!

Marichelle has been a tutor with us for almost two years now, and not unlike her colleague Guillaume, she offers her tutoring services in the Montreal region and at our learning center in Côte-des-Neiges. Here is an interview we conducted with her in order for you to get to know what of our tutors!

Interview with Marichelle, tutor at School Success

Hello Marichelle. First of all, a crucial question, were good at school?

I was rather good, yes. In grade school, I always finished my work quickly and I would get bored in class. In grade three, I had a great teacher who suggested that I help other students who were having trouble in my class, and also the younger students at school. Now that motivated me! I still remember a board game I created to help with verb conjugations!

And how did you become a tutor?

In secondary five, I was working in a café, and honestly, there isn’t much work on Saturday afternoons. My boss’ daughter would do her homework there and ask me questions occasionally. Little by little, I got in the habit of finishing by work related tasks in order to go help her! When the café shut down, I lost my job as a waitress, but I won my first tutoring contract!

In your opinion, what should be the main quality of a good tutor?

Listening. Listening to what we’re being told, but especially what we are not being told. Tutors who listen are constantly adapting to their students and creating a crucial bond with their students.

What was your favourite subject at school?

English classes! I had been placed in “English Language Arts”, which means we didn’t do any grammar, but literature analyses instead. I had amazing teachers who pricked my interest. I still remember how I felt while analysing a song by Tom Waits and understanding the references to biblical myths! That’s when I realized that words were not only a means of communicating. It is in part thanks to these teachers that today I study French literature!

And the one you liked the least?

In my time (I always feel so old when I say that, because of the reform I suspect), we had a carpentry class in secondary three. I don’t remember the exact name of the class; I do believe my memory is particularly selective. It was absolutely pathetic. I probably passed that class because the teacher had pity on me.

What was your best tutoring experience?

There are a lot. Many students bring a little ray of sunshine with them. But I must say that there was one experience that was particularly pleasant. It took place last year with a student I had been meeting regularly for at least one year. For a period of three weeks, I went to his house every afternoon to prepare him for his 6th year of grade school. I must say we were really comfortable, set-up on the balcony with books, tropical juices and pistachio nuts! To reward ourselves on a job well-done we would take a break, and go buy ourselves an ice-cream or iced-cappuccinos!

Tell us of an anecdote that happened to you as a tutor

I was asked for my hand in marriage! After a meeting, a young student of mine brought together his father, mother and younger brother in the hallway. His 7-year-old self valiantly declared that he intended to marry his tutor!

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

I would like to have a clinic for adolescents. I would combine services in special education, psychology, guidance counselling, legal aid, and medicine. I would like it to be a place where teenagers feel comfortable to come ask for advice or receive services.

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How to prepare for your first meeting with your tutor

Before a first meeting, we often encounter the same issue, even though we have a vague idea of how the session will take place, we never really know exactly what to expect! We mostly hope that everything will go smoothly and everybody will get along well. Here we give you a few useful tips that will help you break the ice between your tutor, your child, and yourself!

How to prepare for your first meeting with your tutor

Before the meeting

Address the main person concerned. Before the first meeting, it is already possible for you to prepare the field. You can start by asking your child how he or she envisions the tutoring sessions. Is your child insecure about his bad grades? Is your child motivated to do well? If you child is feeling reluctant about seeing a tutor, be reassuring by explaining that the tutoring will serve as an accompaniment to help better understand the subject matter and help you child succeed in his or her studies.

Facilitate communication between the various parties. Getting in touch with the teacher beforehand would also be very useful for the tutor: you can invite the teacher to an eventual meeting with the tutor, which could ensure a better follow up and better academic support. We can also have the teacher fill out an evaluation form, which draws up a portrait or your child’s academic situation and will be given to the tutor.

Bring together all available academic documents. To the best of your abilities, prepare all pertinent documents useful for the tutor: school report cards from the current year, homework, exams, and previous assessments (from former tutors, teachers, special educators, etc.). These documents will allow your tutor to have an overall idea of the subject matter that has been discussed in class, and the tutor will also be able to target you child’s main difficulties, in order to draw up a better portrait of the situation.

Decide on an adequate time slot for the sessions. Making the right choice of when to have these sessions is an important element. If the meetings are after school or in the evenings on weekdays, you must consider your child’s ability to concentrate. For example, planning a session after a long day of school or after training for a sport may not be very productive and may reduce the effort made by your child. Weekend meetings can be very efficient since the students are more rested and therefore more receptive. The weekend also provides the opportunity for the tutor to review all subject matter seen during the week and concentrate on what was less well understood.

Choosing the location of the session. The location where the session will take place should not be chosen randomly. You would like to do the meetings at home? Here are a few suggestions for creating a workspace. If you would like the sessions to take place in a more neutral area, we suggest a public library near you, a quite café in your neighbourhood, or our learning center in Côte-des-Neiges.

During the meeting

Get acquainted. At their arrival, take a moment to get to know the tutor. Before jumping into the work, it is normal for the tutor to want to break the ice, as much to get to know your child as to lighten the mood. Good chemistry is desirable for the tutor to be efficient, and let them get to know each other before getting into the thick of things.

Instil calmness in the house. During the meeting, avoid all sources of distraction and noise: television, loud music, animated conservations, etc. As much as possible, it is best that your household remains quiet during the sessions to favour your child’s concentration.

After the meeting

As needed, organise a game plan for future sessions. Once the meeting is finished, discuss with the tutor whether or not it is necessary to establish objectives or an action plan to ensure a smooth progression of the sessions. This is also the time to plan the next session and reassess if the frequency and duration of the meetings are appropriate.

Ensure follow-up between meetings. During the week, between two meetings, make sure your child is doing his work properly and verify whether he or she is applying the methods suggested by the tutor. This is a good way to ensure there is a progression in your child’s results. Then, share with the tutor the successes and difficulties encountered.

What to do if there is no chemistry between your child and the tutor? At times, personalities can in fact not be compatible. You would have to first consult both sides, your child on the one hand and the tutor on the other, in order to have a full assessment of the situation. Afterwards, contact School Success, and we will quickly find a solution to the problem. A good relationship is essential to fully benefit from tutoring; we will accommodate you to find a tutor whose approach and personality meet the needs of your child. 

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