science tutoring toronto

Self-Care Tips for Studying

Whether or not you had a valentine this past Valentine’s Day, HOPEFULLY you noticed that it’s MOST important to be your OWN VALENTINE and LOVE YOURSELF! Although we think it’s SUPER important to love and take care of yourself, this can be extremely difficult – especially while studying! Studying can sometimes overwhelm us, stress us out, and completely take over our lives. To avoid having school-life completely take over, it’s important to practice loving yourself by using different self-care tips. By practicing the following 5 self-care tips you will be able to avoid unnecessary school-related breakdowns, you will be able to keep calm and carry on - trust us.

  1. Take a bubble bath

If work is starting to make you go crazy, STOP whatever you’re doing and pour yourself a warm and luxurious bubble bath. Want a TMG trick? Using lavender soaps and Epsom salts in the tub will help to relax the muscles in your mind AND body. Try spending JUST 15 minutes in the bath soaking your body and quieting your mind - that's all it takes, and it makes a huge diff in terms of how you approach your work after giving yourself some soaking time to chill out!

  1. Write in a journal

Get out ALL thoughts clogging your mind and inhibiting you from doing your schoolwork by writing them down. By getting out all your feelings on paper, it will be easier to compartmentalize the thoughts as they continue to flow through your mind. And who knows, maybe now that you’ve written down all your thoughts they might not come back – at least until after you're done focusing on the work you have to do RIGHT now!

  1. Exercise

Exercising is one of the best ways to focus on something other than schoolwork. While running as fast as you can on the treadmill who even has TIME to think about school? Aren’t you just focused on putting one foot in-front of the other and BREATHING to stay ALIVE? Not only does exercising actually rejuvenate you physically, it actually causes your brain to release endorphins which amps up your mood! Science in action guys!

  1. Take the day off

Sometimes you’ve been working SO hard that you just need a day off to do next to nothing. On your day off do NOT even THINK about doing schoolwork. This day off is COMPLETELY for you! Take time to sleep in, stay in your PJ’s and curl up on your sofa with the latest Netflix releases (or like, read a book - FOR FUN). Sounds like the perfect day, right?!

  1. Plan something to look forward to

Sometimes all we can think about is school, school and MORE school. If you have nothing to look forward to besides school, it can be difficult to be optimistic about the future. To make you excited about something other than all of that homework that lies ahead, plan something to look forward to. Whether it’s a smaller outing like a movie with a friend or a bigger excursion like a vacation, planning events (whether big or small) in the future will allow you NOT to ONLY focus on school work; with events planned you will now have other things to think about and motivate you to get work done!

We never said it was easy to take care of yourself. However, we DO know that it’s EXTREMELY important. So, the next time you’re feeling out of control, like the world is going to end if you don’t ace your math test, try implementing one of these many self-care tips - you've got this, we know you do!

5 Super Awesome Online Resources for Extra Math and Science Help

Do you ever miss what your teacher said in class? Do you ever fail to understand your chicken scratch handwriting and piece together the notes you took? Do you ever completely forget the lesson given? Do you ever need further clarification on concepts explored? Do Youtube?! If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, you could SERIOUSLY benefit from watching online videos that focus on teaching math and science concepts explored in the classroom. By watching online videos after class you can cover the material that you missed, forgot or failed to understand. Not only do online videos help fill the gaps in your knowledge, they help to consolidate and enhance your knowledge too. Math and science websites are information goldmines that can help you in SO many ways BUT can be SUPER overwhelming because there are so many options out there! In order to help you navigate the big wide world of math and science websites, here’s TMG’s guide to some of the best.

1. Khan Academy

Salman Khan, the voice and teacher behind Khan Academy, is simply incredible. Seriously, he’s THE best. Khan explains things SO clearly and concisely while using plain and accessible language - it’s almost impossible to miss what he’s saying. Plus, Khan often uses real-life examples that make the information given relevant.

2. Tyler DeWitt

Super energetic and enthusiastic about all things math and science, Tyler DeWitt’s YouTube channel is actually AMAZING. Covering topics that may seem basic but are actually complex (like significant digits and conversions), DeWitt takes you through these concepts slowly and surely while using extremely appealing visuals. Not only does DeWitt have written visuals, but he films himself doing the problems. This added visual of Tyler DeWitt explaining the problems makes it feel like you’re in a classroom listening to a real-life teacher. How awesome is that?!

3. MooMoo Math and Science

Using fun graphics to explain concepts like quadratic equations and the area of an isosceles triangle, MooMoo Math and Science is taught by certified math and science teachers. Geared more towards a younger audience, MooMoo Math and Science has an entire section of their channel dedicated to middle school science teachings.

4. LearnCOACH

Because LearnCOACH is based in New Zealand, the website divides the material featured on their website into 3 levels that correspond with their education system. Despite this difference in the New Zealand schooling system, LearnCOACH covers plenty of math and science topics. From chemistry, biology and physics, LearnCOACH provides you with material that is similar if not the same as what you would be learning in class.


With a section devoted to getting you back on track in school, is the perfect resource for remedial help. Featuring a wide range of material from grade 5 math to college math, can aid you with so many of your math needs no matter the stage of your academic career.

Next time you feel lost in class and need some extra help clarifying topics covered, turn to these amazing resources to get you through the material. Always presented in a way to better help you understand, there’s no chance that after watching these videos you won't understand math just a LITTLE bit the very least!



How to Beat the (Procrastination) Blues!

We’ve all been there. We’ve all done it. We’ve ALL procrastinated at one time or another. But that was then and this is NOW. Now is the time to change, to put the past in the past. Today you can start establishing new and healthy study habits that maximize productivity and decrease procrastination. Sounds impossible, right? Think again! With these five quick and easy tips to beat your old habits, you will be establishing effective routines in no time! Feeling like there’s absolutely NO WAY you can master the information that is about to come your way? Well, that’s because you’re not meant to “master” it all! What we’re asking you to do is read over these tips and try your BEST to implement only SOME of them. At the very least TRY to put some of the tips into place because you want to SUCCEED in school during what can be THE busiest time of the year. So, without any further introduction, presenting to you on this week’s blog: How to Beat the (Procrastination) Blues!


  1. Make a schedule

A sure way to help you combat your procrastination habits is to make yourself a study schedule. When making yourself a schedule, be specific! Commit to working in an environment that you know is effective for you (more on this later) and write down the set amount of time that you will be studying for each subject. By writing down a schedule with set instructions on WHERE to study, WHEN to study, and WHAT to study for, studying becomes hard to avoid!


  1. Hide all electronic distractions

Just do it. I know we’re all addicted to our phones, computers and the social media that comes with these devices BUT the sure fire way to be effective and get work done is to POWER DOWN. Commit to putting your devices away and out of sight for JUST 30 MINUTES! Crazy, right?! TRUST ME ON THIS ONE. If you turn your phone off and put it out of plain sight, you will be able to get SO much more work done! Just TRY it!


  1. Make studying fun!

Hate the quiet in the library? Go to a buzzing coffee shop! Hate studying alone? Make a study group! Studying doesn’t always have to consist of you sitting alone in a library. No! Studying can be fun times spent with friends outside of school. Need someone to quiz your for your upcoming test? Make a game using flash cards to help you prepare. Studying doesn’t need to be as dry as your textbook. Get creative, have fun – studying CAN be good times.  


  1. Know yourself

OK, I know I just told you to have fun while studying and I sincerely mean it. But come on, we can’t have SO much fun that NO work gets done. It’s important to strike a BALANCE when working so that you are PRODUCTIVE. This is where “knowing yourself” really comes into play. If you don’t study well with friends, don’t do it. Instead, make plans to meet up with your friends after you’re done studying alone. Can’t focus when there’s too much background noise? Find a quiet environment that allows you to pay attention to what you’re working on. Don’t know what works for you yet? Don’t worry. Figuring out what kinds of studying techniques are right for you takes time, be PATIENT!


  1. Be kind to yourself

Being patient with yourself brings me to my final piece of advice. At TMG we believe it’s most important to be KIND to yourself. It’s really easy to beat yourself up over your schoolwork. Thoughts and feelings about not doing enough and needing to do more are likely to pass through your brain. Rather than thinking about what you NEED to do and what you HAVEN’T done, think about how much you have already checked off your to do list. Studying and creating effective study habits take time, but trust me, they will come and so will the marks!


New Year, New (Smarter) You!


It’s THAT time of the year again – the time when hope springs eternal and the chance to reinvent yourself into a new (smarter) you seems more possible than ever. But let’s be honest: it’s also that time when many of us feel that we’re screwed, that with half of the school year behind us, there’s no chance of catching up to where we wish we were. Well, I’m here to help you see that educational glass as half full and to help you take 2016 by storm! Here are ten ways in which YOU can turn your academic frown UPSIDE DOWN - Let’s do this!

1. Go tech free. Okay relax - I don't mean forEVER! But seriously, turning off your phone, laptop, whatever, for even an HOUR, can make a huge difference to your productivity - and to your state of mind in general. Okay I get it, your phone’s on silent – DOESN’T MATTER! Just KNOWING that your phone is potentially buzzing with messages is enough to distract you from focusing 100% on what's in front of you. Set aside one hour each night, and vow to dedicate it to just you and your textbook – no technology allowed.

2. Set tangible goals. It's easy to say that you want to be a 'better' student, do 'more' homework, or get 'higher' grades - but what do those things actually mean? Setting goals you can actually measure doesn't only mean that you have something to strive for, but that you'll have something to celebrate. Try "I want my math mark to increase by 5% this semester" instead of "I want my math mark to increase," or "I want to start studying for my tests 1 week in advance" instead of "I want to stop cramming last minute."

3. Get an agenda that you love - and use it. Ahhhh the crux of every students' educational success: time management! Okay listen - time management is hard for most of the population, but the key is mastering it as soon as humanly possible so that you never have to struggle with it again. Trust me.The first step is realizing that everyone finds organization overwhelming and that that's totally fine. So chill. The second step is embracing it as a challenge, and being determined to JUST DO IT. The third step is getting the tools you need to make it happen.

I always loved the physical agenda - a beautiful, new-smelling book with fresh pages waiting for a smooth pen to mark them up with dates and plans and promises. I always found that the agendas my school gave me were wayyyy too small and it seriously stressed me out having to cram all that info into each tiny space, so I always made a point of getting a giant agenda from a pretty bookstore. BUT even I will admit that now, I'm totally tech - I like to have everything on my phone so that I can access my plans super easily, and change things without having to white them out. There are a TON of apps to help keep you organized, such as My Homework App - this thing is genius, and guaranteed to kickstart your time management process! My absolute fave, and the one I use, is good ol' Google Calendar - can't go wrong with that. The key to all of these tools though - is to use them! Become addicted to entering, refining and re-checking when you're supposed to be doing everything - soon that in itself will become therapeutic instead of overwhelming!

4. Stop procrastinating. Like you haven’t vowed to do this a million times before, right? But seriously, make this time different. Be mindful of when you’re procrastinating, what you’re even DOING when you’re procrastinating, and why you’re procrastinating. These three things alone will make a HUGE difference. Just starting to identify moments of procrastination instead of pleading ignorance, is the first step in making yourself stop!

5. Make mornings matter. Mornings are like this secret treasure trove that often goes overlooked. Hitting snooze a billion times, eventually dragging yourself out of bed, missing breakfast, and throwing yourself into your period 1 class just in time for the bell to ring – well, that sucks! Morning is my favourite time. Nothing has happened yet, the whole day lies ahead, it’s like bonus time. Try waking up 30 minutes earlier than usual, making a cup of tea, lighting a candle, and writing down three goals for your day. Or three things that are going to make today awesome. Or simply writing your morning thoughts. I know it sounds cheesy – but systematically starting your mornings this way could be the biggest game changer ever! For more magical morning game changers, check out Forbes' 10 Morning Habits Successful People Swear By!

6. Tell yourself you're awesome. Okay so you’ve set your goals, you’ve obtained a shiny new agenda, you’re waking up bright and early every morning, and you’re waiting for magic to happen. It’s easy to get discouraged – that’s the whole thing with resolutions – people go hard the first week, and then start slacking when they don’t see immediate results. But you’re not going to be one of those people – RIGHT?! The key is to remember that good things come to those who wait – and to those who persevere. You need to legit tell yourself, every day, that you are AWESOME for sticking to your resolutions, and even MORE awesome for doing so EVEN THOUGH you haven’t seen results yet. Look in that mirror, and tell yourself that you ROCK. EVERY DAY.

7. Pick ONE bad habit to get rid of. If you can actually get rid of ONE bad habit this year – how incredible would that be?! Pick something, anything. Maybe you ALWAYS wait until the last minute to study; maybe you always go to bed later than you should; maybe you always stuff your worksheets into your bag instead of putting them into your binder; maybe you never check your answers when you do your homework; maybe you NEVER DO YOUR HOMEWORK! Whatever it is, write it down, and vow to obliterate it THIS YEAR!

8. Get to know your teacher. Half the year has gone by and what do you REALLY know about your teacher? I’m not saying you need to become full-on BFF, but start getting to know what they look for when grading your tests and assignments, when they’re around for extra help, and what resources they can provide to help you gain higher grades and a better understanding of course material. Most of your teachers WANT to help you – they’re just waiting for you to ask. You will be shocked at how much you’ve been missing!

9. Be realistic. Guys, remember - Rome wasn’t built in a day. You’re not going to go full on “She’s all that” makeover overnight, and you really don’t need to. Even though you’re setting goals to change a number of things, there are a BUNCH of things you don’t NEED to change! That’s because there are a ton of things that you’re doing RIGHT – remember that. It’s easy to focus on everything you’re doing wrong, but don’t succumb to that trap – remember that you rock – and that setting resolutions is just a way to fine-tune your already well-oiled machine!

10. If at first you don’t succeed…CHILL OUT. So you sleep in late one morning, get a crappy test mark, forget to do your homework – that doesn’t mean you throw the entire plan out the window! It means you re-set your alarm, re-jig your agenda, and get back on track tomorrow morning. There’s always a new month, a new week, a new day, a new minute – a new chance for a new - smarter - YOU!

Got any advice on how to make – and keep – educational resolutions?! Share your words of wisdom in the comments section below, would love to hear from you!

Study Skills That Actually Work!


"I studied SO hard for my math test, knew everything, and still BOMBED it - what gives?!" Sound familiar? It does to me! Being in the tutoring business, I hear many of the same things over and over again - and that's what gives me insight into what our tutors need to tackle with students. Test taking - a huge one!

It's been one month since school started, which is about the time is takes for teachers to assign their first major test - aka FREAKOUT TIME!

Sure, learning the actual math and science curriculum is a given when it comes to tutoring, but there is often a lot more than meets the eye when it comes to getting good grades at school. Knowing the material is half the battle - but the OTHER half is a combination of things, one being the development of study skills...that ACTUALLY work. I say it this way because many of our students 'study'...they just don't study effectively. This often results in frustration and a lack of confidence that goes on to negatively affect their math marks and even their attitude towards school, which totally sucks.

I was recently on Global's The Morning Show talking about how choosing the right strategies to study effectively can be daunting, especially because there are so so many to choose from, and their effectiveness really does depend on the individual. So let's start here, with a list of study techniques that might REALLY work for you!

1. Choose your work space wisely!

When I was in high school, I could NOT stand working in a quiet space. Libraries? Forget it. Kitchen table? No way. It made me restless and lonely and I just felt like studying SUCKED when I was all alone. The best thing for me was to set up at a cozy coffee shop and study for hours - I loved it. The buzz around me was bustling enough to make me feel like I was part of something, but not loud and distinct enough to distract me from what I was doing. To this day, my favourite places to write, study or do work are coffee shops! Plus, if you need a snack break, you don't have to even go anywhere - perfection.

That being said, the "coffee shop strategy" won't work for just anyone. Some people get distracted by ANYthing and really do need to be sequestered, alone, somewhere. If that's you, it's important to have a designated space to study - your kitchen, den, bedroom - whatever it is, make it THE place you study, and have everything you might possibly need in that space so that when you're ready for it, it's ready for you.

2. Skimming doesn't equal studying!

Reading over your math notes in NO way replaces actual practice. This is one of the biggest ways in which students misuse their studying time! The best way to study for a math or science test is to go over past problems you've done in class, in previous quizzes, or in your homework. Do them ALL over again and make sure you get them right the second time around!

3. Your teacher gives you freebies - you just need to listen!

If you're short on time and wondering which questions to focus on while studying, always start with the questions your teacher covered in class! Chances are, those are the ones they think are the most important!

4. Study before you actually HAVE to study!

We all know that cramming isn't exactly the best way to study for a test - and there's an easy way to avoid it! In addition to doing your homework at night, take a few minutes to go through the notes you took in class, fill in any gaps, and make sure you understand them. If there's anything that you don't fully get, address it with your teacher the next day. By the time you get assigned a test, you at least know that you get the gist of the subject matter - now you just have to fully nail it down!

Quick Fix: Do's and Don'ts to Studying Effectively

  • DON'T have your phone ANYWHERE NEAR YOU. It literally cannot benefit you in any way - trust me! Take a ten minute phone break every hour if you absolutely need your instagram fix;)
  • DO get organized from day one - get a binder for every subject and make sure that it's organized on a daily basis! That way when it comes to study time, you have everything ready to go!
  • DON'T "borrow your friend's calculator"! Every calculator is different and you want your very own that you can get to know and master before test time strikes!
  • DO study with friends - as long as they don't distract you! Make sure you all study independently, even if you're in the same place - that way you're still getting actual studying in, but have someone to ask for help if you're totally stumped on something!
  • DON'T stay up all night! All-nighters are one of the worst things that can happen to your brain - check out this article for the sordid details - ew!
  • DO take breaks! Your brain needs to rest and rejuvenate, so take a ten minute break every hour. If you want to get really hardcore, use that ten minutes for exercise - 100 jumping jacks go a long way towards rejuvenating your brain AND getting your blood flowing after staring at a textbook for an hour!

Craving more knowledge? Check out ASAP SCIENCE'S quick video on the 9 best scientific study tips - it's one of our favourites!

Cheers and happy studying!



Why Peace. Love. Pi.?


Well, as the sweet scent of September soars in the air (along with the equally sweet scent of those school supply stacked Staples aisles), I figure it's time to do what I should have done LAST September: Start a blog!!! Hold up, we're moving too fast. Let's start at the beginning:) Hello, my name is Vanessa. I am the founder/director of learning and inspiration of The Math Guru, a boutique math and science tutoring studio in uptown Toronto which I started almost four years ago! Why did I decide to do such a thing you ask? Well, when I was in high school, I actually failed Grade Eleven math twice. Twice! Like many people who haven't found their educational guru, I hated math; until one day, I found mine.

My parents weren't too pleased with my whole "I'm just not a math person" thing and so they decided it was time for an educational switch. So, in Grade Twelve I headed to another school - and found my mathematical guru. Not only did my new teacher speak to me in words that made sense, but she inspired me to find the 'math person' within - the one that lies within us all. Most importantly, I learned that even though some things don't come easy, that with enough perseverance and perspective that those things do come - one way or another.

I couldn't believe that I had wasted such a huge chunk of my teenage life convinced that math just wasn't something that I was ever going to 'get', that this wonderful world of mathematics was simply off limits to some one like me. Totally insane, right?!

I became totally obsessed with the fact that there are a TON of people out there who just THINK that - believe that there's this type of person out there, with mathematical powers or something. Where do people get this idea in the first place? Why did I, for example, think that I didn't belong to this group of people?! Was it because I didn't fit the mathematical stereotype? Because I was artsy? Because I didn't have glasses and a pocket protector?! Because I totally didn't know the first thing about video games?! I was obsessed. So, I decided to get a closer look at the STEM fields (Science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and the way that those fields intersect with teenage culture - or don't! Pretty cool, I know. I ended up publishing a paper titled Imagining a World Where Paris Hilton Loves Mathematics and becoming an expert on the ridiculous ways that the media generates and enforces stereotypes of what it means to be a mathematician!

So back to the whole tutoring centre thing. After all that, I decided that my goal in life was to rid math & science of their bad reputation - to salvage those intricately beautiful bodies of knowledge from the clutches of media-induced stereotyping: To make math and science cool. That's right. Believe it! But first, I wanted to make sure that I did whatever I could to make sure that no one ever ever went through life thinking that they simply weren't 'a math person.' And so...I started The Math Guru, a super chill boutique math and science tutoring studio! TMG is a safe space where tutors are people too, where learning takes place with tea lattes in hand, and where anyone and everyone can learn to love math and science!

Over the years, I have seen an amazing number of math-haters convert to math-lovers, have watched countless teens change their view of what it means to love math, and have had the absolute pleasure of watching those who think that math and science are totally beyond them eventually get their dream job - you know, the one you imagine you'll have when you're a kid and you haven't learned that society views math and science as the domain of a chosen few.

Most amazingly though, I have seen countless teens experience what I experienced when my world was rocked by an awesome math teacher: not just that "I can do anything" feeling, but that "I can do anything and I want you to feel the same way too" feeling.  It's not just me that wants to make math and science accessible to everyone - it's all of the wonderful kids and adults that walk through our doors. How cool is that?!

So, what's the deal with this blog? Well, this is where you will find my musings on a variety of things including (but not limited to!) math and science education, teenage culture, our education system, STEM, and well, the way all of those things intersect - or often don't. You won't just be hearing from me - but from guest bloggers as well. You know what they say: It takes a village!

If there's a particular topic that you're interested in reading about, if you've got ideas on how to begin to unravel the tightly wound STEM stereotypes out there, if you get your hands on something I absolutely have to see/share, or if you want to write for The Math Guru, get in touch - I would love to hear from you!

The ocean can do what the drop cannot - let's DO THIS!

peace. love. pi.