The Art of Procrastination


As adults, we are all too aware of the struggles of procrastination. We are tempted by the pull of instant gratification, making it easier to choose the small, easy or fun task(s) first. It is much more satisfying to see the results of a quick tidy up rather than be content in knowing you have scrubbed every surface in a full spring-clean, especially when you would rather be BBQing, reading, or spending time with your loved ones. I sense some of our students are currently trying to manage similar struggles regarding their school work. In fact, one of our middle schoolers showed me this interesting TEDtalk that she stumbled upon, ironically while she was procrastinating. It is much easier for us to tell our children/students the importance of paying attention to school and staying current with their coursework, than it is for them to avoid the distractions of working from home.

With the YMCA Academy online classes taking place in the morning, students essentially have the whole afternoon to try to manage their time wisely for completing any additional or outstanding assignments. There is of course the 1pm-2pm help session available, and students can book time with staff to work 1:1 on assignments. Below, I have also compiled some tips that may help avoid distractions and procrastination for other parts of their day:

  • Turn off notifications on devices
    This may be a challenge for some students, but setting their devices to “Do Not Disturb”, Airplane Mode or turning off notifications can be a huge benefit to their attention span during class times/additional work sessions.
  • Leaving devices in another room
    Even with notifications turned off, it can be tempting to check for messages or scroll through social media sites. Leaving your cell phone or tablet, etc, in another room (or across the same room) can make it easier to ignore the urges to check a device.
  • Pomodoro Technique
    This is a technique that is designed to break large tasks down into smaller ones. It essentially requires 25 minutes of focused work, with a 5 minute break, repeated four times until you take an extended 20 minute break. This is a long time to expect most of our students to sit and focus, however this same concept can be used in smaller time frames.
  • Set a deadline/timeframe
    This transition into online learning has understandably been a challenge for many students. Setting a deadline or timeframe for school work each day can help students avoid feeling overwhelmed with course content.
  • Create a schedule
    Creating and using a schedule can be a great way for your child to learn how to manage and prioritize their time, a skill that will help them throughout their lives. We are happy to assist any student with making a schedule that suits their needs.

This is a generic list of tips and tools available, and may not be suited to each student. As always, we are happy to work with students who are struggling and have many supports in place to assist all of our students. If you have any concerns about your student, please feel free to contact us!

The Academy Show!

Again this year, the afternoon of the last day of classes in December features an exciting annual tradition: the Academy Show! Students were once again encouraged to pair up or collaborate in groups, and in total, twelve acts shared their passions and talents with the school community. From popular songs to dance performances to original spooky Christmas stories, and even a Shakespearan monologue, the performers’ courage and creativity was a delight to witness.

Our student MCs — Ali, Alex, and Dot — not only introduced the performers, but also kept us entertained with jokes and skits between acts. There was even a special performance by Brandon and Todd, who had been rehearsing their rendition of “I Do” from Bob’s Burgers, all week.

We hope that seeing their peers (and teachers) get up on the makeshift stage inspires even more students to sign up next year!

Check out more photos from this event on our Facebook page!

Academy partners with Digital Literacy + Coding pilot!

The YMCA Academy has always leveraged computer technology in the service of student learning. Laptop-based assistive technologies are at the heart of the supports we provide to a wide range of learning styles. Thus, when we had an opportunity to partner with the Brookfield Institute in their “Digital Literacy + Coding” pilot project“, we jumped at the chance.

The Academy has committed to running eight 12-week sessions to introduce youth in the GTA to the logic and practice of coding. We see this pilot as providing our students with additional expertise and knowledge that will be hugely important in the job markets they will face when they graduate. These sessions are free of charge, and laptops are provided.

By introducing Digital Literacy + Coding to a wide variety of youth, including youth who are underrepresented in this growing field, The Academy hopes to help shape the future.

The program will introduce youth to a variety of activities leading to a final project that each participant has chosen. They will be “remixing” websites, games, and other web-based applications to get a better understanding of how they work, and how elements of the code affect the final product.

The Digital Literacy + Coding pilot will focus on several languages, particularly HTML, CSS, and a brief introduction to JavaScript. These are the languages that are the backbone to complex and engaging web pages. This program is an excellent way to help youth begin the journey of sparking passion for STEM-related fields by learning the basics of the coding languages of the web.


2017 Graduation & End of Year Ceremony

Among the many amazing things about a YMCA Academy graduation, the one that stands out for me is the sense of shared celebration. We are members of a close and inclusive community of learners, who support one another socially and academically. Many of our students come to the school with little hope of success based on their experience within the education system; in their admissions interviews with me prior to enrolment, many of their parents and guardians express their sense of hopelessness for their children’s academic and life success.

So, the sense of celebration, of having achieved beyond their expectations, of heading off to new challenges well-equipped for success — this is what is behind the entirely positive vibe of the night! The fact that this was our largest graduating class to date only added to the energy of the evening.

Each member of The Academy is fully invested in the success of our students, and we all experience with them the sense of accomplishment and excitement for what comes next. That this is a shared experience is clear from every conversation I have that evening. It’s clear as well from what was shared on various social media.

Have a look here:

I am so proud of my youngest daughter Emma. In spite of all the challenges the world through at her, she persevered and…
Posted by Ben Mair on Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Such an amazing Graduation Evening last night. Many thanks to Don Adams, the teachers, and staff. YMCA Academy is a…
Posted by Jules Steele Clyde on Thursday, June 29, 2017

As we move into a new academic year, I keep the graduation in my mind as motivation. See you next year!

Check out more photos from this event on our Facebook page!

Tokens 4 Change: Youth Helping Youth

Once again YMCA Academy students participated in Tokens 4 Change, an annual event which raises funds for Youth Without Shelter, a youth shelter in Etobicoke that gives a home to 1,000 homeless youth a year.

In January, the entire school participated in a workshop led by Youth Without Shelter, that opened their eyes to the reality of youth homelessness. They learned about the diverse reasons that youth find themselves without a home. Many were surprised to realize that you cannot tell if someone is homeless from their appearance. This workshop had a lasting impact on students and inspired many of them to sign up for Tokens 4 Change.

On Friday, February 3rd, 10 Academy students canvassed at St. Andrew’s station, covering the busy 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. shift. They were loud, energetic and creative in their messaging, encouraging commuters to reach into their pockets and make change for Toronto’s homeless youth. Thanks to their help St. Andrew’s was the second high producing station this year. This one day event raised almost $100,000 which will go directly to supporting youth transit costs and fund essential, empowering programs at Youth Without Shelter.