The ‘Boro House (Art Table): Creativity for Kids

by Alanna

I came across a gem. You know how friends like pages on FB and you sometimes check them out? Well I did just that. “The ‘Boro House – what could that be,” I wondered. Low and behold it is a creative program for children and adults.

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DING! DING! JUST what I was looking for. My incredibly creative 7 year-old had been looking for a summer camp to go to. I wasn’t looking for a cookie cutter program that would actually stifle her creativity with their rules. I wanted a place where I knew she could experiment, play and create. I signed her up immediately.

I knew I was in for a “Mama, please stay” when we got there. We were greeted by the owner Kelly who instantly won over my daughter. My little girl quickly shooed me off on my way. (Insert stunned look here) When I returned to pick her up 7 hours later, there she was – as happy as a clam. She pulled me over to see all that she had created, in the same breath asking if she could come back. I needed to know more about this program!

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The ‘Boro House AKA The Art table has been in existence for 10years. Nestled at 560 Churchill Ave. in the heart of Westboro, the program is run by Kelly Hotte – professional photographer with a background in ECE. According to Kelly, “we believe that creativity is brought to life through the expression of our unique and hidden talents.”

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My daughter and I would agree. Each child is given a high quality drawing book to use as they wish. Kelly provides the materials and the encouragement. Experts are brought in from the community. Everything from cooking with a real chef to doing yoga with a yoga teacher.

Kelly explains that “our program draws on the creativity of local artists as leaders who add knowledge and excitement to our workshops and regular programming. This practice creates a wonderful sense of meaningful community with the children and staff.”

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As an Early childhood Specialist I could not agree more. This type of education will inspire children and support their learning. The positive self-esteem that grows from being provided with real life experiences and opportunities is priceless. This is more than your average everyday creative experience. This is a lifelong learning opportunity. Oh, and did I mention she does Adult classes as well?

Alanna lives in Richmond with her husband, two children and four cats. She is an Early Childhood Educator and Algonquin College Professor.

Bill 10 (formerly known as Bill C143) and Why it Matters To You

By Salina Sunderland

Your first question is probably “What is Bill 10?” perhaps followed by “Ugh…politics…not interested!” But before you skip by this post in favour of something more exciting and glamorous, let me fill you in on why you should be very concerned with this bill as a parent of young children.

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Bill 10, the Childcare Modernization Act, is a bill that has been introduced by the Minister of Education, Liz Sandals, in the name of making your child’s daycare safer and better whether you have your child in a daycare centre, in an agency affiliated home daycare, or a private home daycare. Here are some highlights as pertain to private home daycare (there are changes for daycare centres and agency home daycares as well that I won’t go into here):

1) Currently, a private home daycare provider may have 5 daycare children at any one time in addition to her own children of any ages.
Bill 10 would force the provider to count her own children under the age of 6 in her total of 5 kids, even though her children are most likely in school full-time at the age of 4.
2) Currently there are no age ratio restrictions for private caregivers and it is left to a daycare providers own discretion as to which ages to accept into her/his daycare depending on the caregivers own abilities, strengths, and programming. Bill 10 would make it so that private home daycares would be allowed no more than 2 kids under the age of 2.

Now, you might be saying “This is great! My kids will be safer!” However, considering that 80% of children in Ontario are cared for in unlicensed home daycares, this bill has the potential to severely disrupt childcare availability and rates. As a private home daycare provider, I receive many enquiries for care every month. 99% of those enquiries are for babies around the 12 month mark when their moms or dads return to work. Considering children now start school full-time at 3.5-4 years of age, we are left with children aged 1-3 to care for. Many of us actually prefer having a group of little ones close in age as they grow and learn together and it is much easier to cater to their needs when they are all in a similar stage.

If this bill is put into law, many home daycare providers will be forced to close as they will not be able to survive on the 2-3 kids they will be allowed to care (having to count their own children as well as find kids to fit the ratios). Those that stay in business will almost certainly raise their rates significantly, especially for the under 2 spaces. All of this adds up to less spaces available and higher costs for parents.

Now, if all of this was really in the cause of keeping children safer, I would say “It’s worth it! Let’s all suck it up and do this for the kids!” However, the problem is that the daycares that are currently running illegally (with too many kids) are not following the current laws; they are not going to suddenly decide to follow the new law. These are the daycares in which children are in danger and this law will do nothing to stop them. If the Ministry of Education would do their job and follow up on complaints, inspect daycares with complaints against them, and shut down the unsafe ones, we would all be better off.

Bill 10 is now in second reading in the Ontario Legislature. Once it passes through second reading it will go to Committee, where we hope that some amendments will be made. After it is discussed in Committee, it will be passed into law. The Liberal party has said that they would like to have it passed before Christmas.

You can find out more at this Facebook Page: Ontario Families and Home Childcare Providers Against Bill 143
Or: Coalition of Independent Childcare Providers of Ontario

If you are concerned, please write to Education Minister Liz Sandals (lsandals.mpp@liberal.ola.org) as well as your local MPs (follow this link to find them.) Act now before it’s too late; let the government know how this bill will affect you!

CBC’s Will Stroet: CD Review and Giveaway!

Many offers land in my inbox here at Kids in the Capital. My favourite ones are those that ask me to review a book or a CD. Music is one of my passions, and I’ve been sure to introduce a wide range of music to my children. Unfortunately, some children’s music is not only terrible, but insufferable!

That’s why I’m so happy to be reviewing Will Stroet’s new CD “Just Imagine.” It’s a breath of fresh air for parents who can’t take another rendition of “Do Your Ears Hang Low.”

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You may recognize Will’s name from Will’s Jams, which air on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays on Kids CBC. The songs are catchy and educational, covering a wide range of topics (eating your veggies, getting exercise, and creativity).

Will Stroet is embarking on a cross-Ontario tour this Fall, and you’ll have a chance to win tickets to see him play at the Bronson Centre on November 23rd. Make sure to follow our Facebook page for details of the contest!

When I received the CD in the mail, I immediately popped it in our player and my girls started dancing around the room. The first track – Chuggada Choo – is reminiscent of Johnny Cash, and super catchy! Same goes for the Brazilian “Mama Samba,” and I found myself humming “My mama loves to dance, she’s gonna do the mama samba” for the rest of the day. The girls, of course, loved to see me attempt the Samba :)

Will and his Backstreet Band (Elliot Langford and Kevin Romain) show their musical chops with  a wide range of influences – bluegrass, blues, folk, rock and so much more. Each song is very different, so you don’t run the risk of getting totally and utterly bored as a parent listening to this CD.

And it’s clear that Will is a devoted father of his own two girls (Ella, 4 and June, 4 months), as evident in the final track on the CD – Daddy’s Lullaby. Very sweet!

If you’re looking for some new music to pop in the CD player while driving your car, then I would definitely suggest purchasing Just Imagine. You can buy Will’s CDs from his website and also give him a follow on his Facebook page.

And if you’re looking for a fun family outing, don’t forget he’s playing at the Bronson Centre on November 23rd.  Here’s the link to purchase your tickets!

Disclosure: Kids in the Capital was compensated for this review, but all opinions are my own.