While we are preparing for in-person summer camp programs of learning and outdoor exploration, we will continue to offer daily virtual programs in Language, Tech, Minecraft: Education Edition and Business. Please follow our website www.focus-learning.ca for updated Summer camp 2021 information.
Shelly Zheng founded Focus Learning in 2010 with a group of passionate educators who shared her perspective on teaching and mentorship. The key approach taken is based in the belief that by sparking curiosity around the core content, rather than just disseminating it, teachers can more meaningfully engage students as active, motivated learners. It’s style of learning that posits students as equals, in an environment of equals. Further, it’s not about marks so much as growing each child's personal relationship with learning. In the years since it began, Focus Learning has grown to comprise a series of afterschool, weekend, and camp programs, offered out of three locations: North York, Don Mills, and Markham. There are courses based in STEM concepts, including robotics and programming, as well as the core curricula, but Zheng was keen also to build out the full range of curricular areas. Some programs, such as BizKids, are unlike any you’ll find elsewhere. All sessions are crafted to offer students opportunities to engage their core talents and interests in an environment that supports and prizes them. Adoption of leading edge programs, such as the Beast Academy math curriculum, is indicative of the desire to continually develop best practices and to use them to full advantage.
Focus Learning Academic Centre - Our Kids Insider Perspective
[00:17] - What is unique about your program? [02:24] - What type of student is successful in this program? [02:50] - What does the program’s daily schedule look like? [03:46] - How do your staff deal with behavioural issues? [04:27] - What do participants value most about their experience in the program? [04:42] - What message do you have for a new participant of the program?
Shelly Zheng, Director / Founder
Today, most kids see school and learning as a burden – a chore that they have to do before being allowed to play with their iPads. I believe that by sparking children's innate curiosity, by channelling their imaginations towards the infinite horizon of possibility, learning can be regarded – not only as fun, but as fundamental.
Fostering life-long learners was the reason I founded Focus Learning. Teaming up with a group of passionate and professional educators, we instituted a series of “Edu-tainment” programs that facilitate substantive learning in a fun and engaging atmosphere. Our small class sizes allow teachers the chance to give individualized attention to each student – allowing for their progress and success.
In all candidness, sometimes I feel as though I have one of the best jobs in the world. Seeing a child's face light up – full of brightness, full of life, full of wonder and curiosity – is not just a reward to educators, but to our global community.
Cost: $150 to $225 /week
|Deposit required with acceptance||Yes|
|Credit card payment||Yes|
|Maximum installments available||2|
|Discount if paid early||$35|
|Discount for 2nd child||$20|
|Discount for 3rd child||$20|
|Discount for 4th child||$20|
Scholarships & awards:
Total annual scholarship fund: $180 CAD
This summer, Focus Learning wanted to create a summer camp filled with learning experiences tailored to our older students and programs that would challenge them to succeed in many areas of education and life. With that, FocusLeaders, our summer program exclusively for 12-15-year-old students, was born. Now that summer is ending, we can safely say that this program was a rousing success!
Our classrooms were buzzing each week with inquisitive minds as the students were given activities and projects that encouraged independent learning and study. Our OCT-certified teachers challenged them to exceed any expectations going into the course, and they absolutely blew us away with their presentations at the end of each week.
The Python Coding classes at our Markham location gave students the skills and ability to not only facilitate innovative problem solving, but also create programs, including their own fully-playable versions of Frogger, Snake and _. Our Python CCC classes improved on these skills to prepare them for coding competitions. Ms. Lisa Hines, the teacher of both Python courses, was continually impressed that “our leaders go from zero to mastery of a specific set of skills”, and she accomplished this by making “every lesson a new adventure!”
The Markham location also housed our Public Speaking & Debate program, where our students learned the art of crafting arguments, engaging spoken language, and performance skills. Through several exercises, including story reading, speech writing, and some ridiculous vocal warmups, the students had to perform an original speech on a contentious issue at the end of the week. Mr. Mike Wisniowski thought teaching the course “was incredibly rewarding, especially seeing these young people properly communicate their point of view to a large group seemingly without struggle. I was proud of every single one of them and learnt so much from their speeches!”
However, FocusLeaders was not only at our Markham location – we also ran Focus Learning’s YoungTrepeneurs program in North York. In this camp program, students learned the science and stories behind businesses, corporations and products. In one week, students organized their own mock corporations, created a hypothetical original product and presented a pitch to a group of “investors” (otherwise known as parents). This exclusive program, and the work the students put into their projects, impressed so many people, particularly our founder, Shelly Zheng, who reminisced about how “the campers would stay up late to do their homework because they wanted to put forth their best work.”
Although, just because the summer is ending, that does not mean the opportunity to be involved in these programs is over! Throughout the school year, Focus Learning runs extra-curricular evening and weekend classes in a wide variety of subject areas, including Python, Public Speaking and YoungTrepeneurs, however, rather than an intensive, one-week class, students can participate in classes year-round and develop their skills through our robust curriculum in each course. For more information on these classes, and to be the first to hear about our summer camps next year, visit www.focus-learning.ca, and follow us on Instagram: @focuslearning.
Another summer draws to a close, and boy was it a busy one! From the beginning of July until the end of August, Focus Learning ran FocusKids camps in North York for campers ages 6-12, and we made it bigger and better than ever before!
We had so many courses on offer this year, all empowering our students with vital skills in STEM or language related subjects. While some of our campers were building robots, writing code or exploring the infinite possibilities of Minecraft, others were learning how to understand and communicate in a new language, advanced math concepts and presentation skills for public speaking. Needless to say, our presentations at the end of every week with what the students had accomplished in their classes were sensational each time!
Our camp day itself was split into two parts. For one half of the day, our students took classes taught by our team of terrific teachers in their chosen course; in the second half, they would participate in our GRAFT activities: Games, Reading Corner, Arts & Crafts, Fitness & Dance and Technology. These activities, created by our counsellors and staff, varied from week to week, so there was always something new for our campers to participate in, whether it was creating a craft, building a structure or playing games out in the park. It’s pretty obvious why these campers kept coming back every week: there was just so much to do!
All of this was made possible by our incredible staff, teaching and counsellor team, who kept every activity and class running flawlessly across all eight weeks of camp. Camp Director Cindy Wong was amazed at how “their passion and enthusiasm ensured the success of every student, while incorporating fun activities to ensure play-based learning”. Our goal is always to make learning fun and engaging, and with this team, the excitement from the kids about the learning they were doing was electric.
What matters most to our team though is that our students felt that they left camp with a sense of accomplishment and having learnt new skills which they can apply to their further education. As our founder, Shelly Zheng, puts it: “I always feel our work is paid off when I hear parents telling me what a difference we have made to their kids. They are amazed at how a week of academic day camp through Focus Learning can instill so much confidence. One boy in our FocusMath program who, after taking the course, made up his mind to do his math homework from now on; another girl, who was a non-English speaker and was very shy at the beginning of the week, gave an amazing presentation and wished she could stay at the camp forever!”
Luckily for her, and for any parents looking for programming for their children, our camps are only part off how we inspire, engage and empower inquisitive young minds! Throughout the school year, Focus Learning is running extra-curricular evening and weekend classes in a wide variety of subject areas. Rather than an intensive, one-week class, students can participate in classes year-round and develop their skills through our robust curriculum in each course. For more information on these classes, and to be the first to hear about our summer camps next year, visit www.focus-learning.ca, and follow us on Instagram: @focuslearning.
Thank you to all of our students, parents, teachers, counsellors, volunteers and staff for another amazing summer!
A Story About Jacob Zhang
Focus Learning Summer Camp is a wonderful experience for all young learners. We know this professionally – as a leading afterschool centre and effective Summer Camp for over 7 years. On countless arrival days, we
greeted many cautious, apprehensive, and wide-eyed new campers. Nine weeks later, we wave goodbye to confident and happy young students. This summer, Focus Learning had the pleasure of working with numerous international students from all over the globe. One student, in particular, who stayed with us for all nine weeks of summer camp, experienced a remarkable transformation.
Jacob Zhang, a six-year-old newcomer from China, took ESL and Robotics camp programs this summer. Coming from a different culture, Jacob spoke very little English and had-a hard time following instructions. This led to a series of behavioural issues. At the start of the Summer, he was causing so much disruption to the camp that some teachers wanted to dismiss him. When Jacob was told by the principle that his behaviour was leading to a permanent dismissal, his reaction to leaving was sincere and reflective. Jacob did not want-to leave the camp and took steps toward trying his best and following the teacher's instructions.
As camp went on, Jacob spent his days engaged and challenged in a number of play-based activities that led to many positive changes within his character. Jacob's love for baseball and his high energy was centred into Focus Learning's outdoor activity time, where Jacob made new friends and changed physically. His transformation is shared among staff member as-the positive memory and a reminder of the impact Summer Camp makes. Jacob parents inform us that he will be returning to Summer Camp 2019 to expand his love for learning at Focus Learning. We look forward to to-yet another successful year of happiness and growth.
In the beginning of the year, many of our students disliked spelling and dreaded spelling tests in school and at Focus. In November they demonstrated a HUGE transformation by proudly standing in front of their friends and family to participate in the SPELLING BEE at Focus Learning! Win or lose, we are SO proud of all that our students accomplished by preparing for, and competing in, the Spelling Bee. Special thanks to our MPP David Zimmer for preparing an inspirational welcome speech and certificates for our students!!
My name is Lucy. I'm in grade 5. I moved to Canada 6 months ago. I started taking classes at Focus Learning one month after I moved here. I take Art, Science, Robotics, and Writing at Focus Learning. The teachers show me lots of things you can do. I like building robots and making websites. I want to learn more English so it can help me in my future.
The stage is set, the lines are memorized, and everyone is ready to amaze the audience with their performance of the play Little Red Riding Hood! The Focus Learning Drama Production students have prepared every aspect of this show. They have written the script, planned and created the scenery and costumes, and even directed their fellow actors and actresses.
When they began class a few months ago, they were not aware of the many details that contribute to a successful performance of a play. However, last week at their dress rehearsal, I was blown away by not only amazing performances from all the actors and actesses, but also the profressionalism each student had for all the other aspects of the show. Students were putting last minute touches on scenery, while others were helping their fellow classmates with memorizing lines. It was a transformation I, as the director of the play, was extremely pleased to see.
Not only was this class a learning experience of theatre, it was a series of important life skills lessons in teamwork and determination! The students began each class with a team building lesson and game in which they learned strategies for working together. They applied those skills later in our class to create a true masterpiece of a play.
This Saturday, June 13 the students will take the "stage" to show off their hard work, and they will take with them all the memories and lessons learned throuhgout the entire process of Drama Production.
Summer Camp 2013 was truly a time to remember for the staff and campers of Focus Learning. Not only was Toronto under a heat spell, but we were joined by new students from various areas in Toronto and even from across the ocean!
Our camp programs offered students from various ages, backgrounds and countries to express themselves through art, creative writing and engineering.
We had a camper named Jane, who loved drama, writing and drawing, spend her summer with us. She had travelled to Toronto to experience the city and, well take a break from her home town. She spent a month at Focus Learning developing her drawing techniques and fell in love with writing poetry. Jane even debuted on the Focus Learning Theatre's stage performing with her cast mates a rendition of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night.
As the summer winded down and Jane was getting ready to return to school, she said to me that this summer had been her best camp experience and she was so proud and happy of all her accomplishments! And well, so were we! Jane had done some amazing things including inspiring other campers to pursure their artistic ambitions.
The image above is part of a larger comic book concept that Jane worked on while taking our Comic Book Writing Program, as well, I have a left a snippet below from one of her poetic pieces she had submitted to the Focus Learning student archive.
Please Enjoy & We Welcome YOU to Express Yourself at Focus Learning this March Break or Summer!
The Sign Of Springtime Bloom
Golden sunshine creep through the window.
casting a morning light.
Rainbow flowers grow their petals,
the buds say good-bye.
Clear blue streams flow with delight,
fish a blur in sight.
Yes, these are the signs of the springtime bloom.