Program aims to develop critical thinking

A former teacher leads Zoom sessions with topics that include global warming, children’s rights, and how social media affects our daily lives

Founded in August, BK Learning is an online, after-school enrichment program for students in Grades 4 to 7. The goal is to go beyond a child’s regular schooling and focus on world issues and critical thinking while improving English and math skills, says founder Brad Kaplin, a former teacher.

Kaplin says developing critical thinking skills helps children analyze facts on a topic and form an opinion. Some of the topics will include global warming, children’s rights, deforestation in the Amazon, and how social media affects our daily lives.

Each session comprises four, weekly lessons – each one hour via Zoom with different topics. For example, one lesson is about The Story of Greta Thunberg. The students will learn about her life, how she became an activist and how she became recognized around the world. Students will be learning figurative language by picking apart her speech to the United Nations and looking for, and analyzing, personification, metaphor, and hyperbole.

In session two, students will learn why deforestation is happening and how it affects their world. Math skills will be honed by interpreting graphs and data related to the topic.

The lessons will be interactive, not lecture-style. The first 15 minutes will be Kaplin teaching and introducing the topic, and the rest of the time is reserved for discussion, writing responses or solving math problems. Homework is not obligatory but optional assignments will be given to the students. For example, in the lesson about Greta Thunberg, students will have reading comprehension exercises where they will be encouraged to read extra news articles about her and see what they can understand from them.

“I think students will gain a lot in terms of understanding important issues happening in their world,” Kaplin says. “I’ve always been very impressed with the discussions and answers you can get from students when you just give them a chance to talk about real (life) topics, not just kiddy subjects.”

The BK Learning program is offered to any student from English or French schools, across Canada. Kaplin says he already has students from Montreal, Halifax, Calgary and Toronto.

A new session begins Oct.11 and runs to Nov. 6 then Nov. 8 to Dec. 11. Other sessions will take place in the winter and spring of 2021. Each week, the lessons take place on Sundays, Mondays or Tuesdays from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m, or on Wednesday or Thursdays from 5:15 p.m. to 6:15 p.m.

Each lesson costs $15 per student and parents can pay per lesson or per session. Class sizes can range, but there will be a maximum of 15 students per lesson. Parents can register their kids online.

For more information, visit bklearning.com.