Back to School - Starting the year off right

Kids in the Capital is pleased to welcome back Antonia Cetin to the blog. Antonia is an educator and the author of You’ve Got This, Mom! A Mother’s Guide to Surviving and Thriving in Today’s Modern World. This blog post originally appeared on her website: antoniacetin.com.

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Back to school has always been one of my favourite times of the year:  it’s about fresh pages and new starts. It’s about wondering what we will learn, who we will meet, and who we will become. Everything is new and exciting from our supplies, to possible friendships, to new experiences. In new situations, children can be excited and anxious at the same time. As parents, we can support them by fuelling the excitement and mitigating the anxiety.

When children display anxiety, we can have them talk or draw about their feelings. What is it they are anxious about? Why? When we know what’s bothering them, we can more easily address how to view and handle the situation. For example, if your children are worried about making friends, remind them of the friends they already have to look forward to seeing again; discuss and practice how to introduce yourself to new friends and how to ask friends if they want to play; talk with your children about what makes them good friends so they go into the situation with more confidence. Having these discussions and practices will help your children to feel less anxious and more excited.

Sometimes, children may be anxious because they are not sure what to expect or because they have not yet attained certain skills. In this case, it’s important to remind them that the key word there is YET. Remind them that they are not expected to know everything and be able to do everything before they go to school. That’s what school is for: to learn all those things you don’t know YET. You may not know them now, but with a little work you will. That little word YET opens the door to the possibility of learning. It is the core of a growth mind-set that will ensure your children have the confidence and the right attitude for learning.

One of the biggest indicators for success in school is the attitude students bring with them. If they are ready to learn and motivated to learn, then, they will learn. As a parent, how can you help foster this attitude? If you maintain that school and learning are important, your children will get that message and believe it, too. You can show them how you value education by showing them your excitement for their learning: have a look through some of the curriculum together so you all know what to expect for the grade level, talk about the various subjects your children will be studying and what they find interesting, make a date to get any necessary supplies, and have a tradition for getting ready for the first day of school.

In addition to the importance of learning, talk about the importance of respecting others. At school, your children will be immersed in relationships. Respecting others and learning how to get along with them will help them thrive in this atmosphere. Talk about the importance of teachers: what they do for you, how they help you, how they are there for you. Talk about how to work with other students, even those who have different learning styles or habits from our own. Part of school is learning to get along with others despite our differences, and respect is a great place to begin!

If you can help your children through anxieties about the first day of school and make it exciting, if you promote a growth mind-set and positive attitude, and if you foster respect for others, your children will be in great shape for the start to their year!

For more blogs on travel, parenting, health, or life-balance visit Antonia's website: antoniacetin.com and check out my Facebook Page: @youvegotthismom

School Supplies - The down and dirty on what you really need

Kids in the Capital is pleased to welcome back Antonia Cetin to the blog. Antonia is an educator and the author of You’ve Got This, Mom! A Mother’s Guide to Surviving and Thriving in Today’s Modern World. This post originally appeared here.

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When I think of back to school, I think of pretty colours of magic markers and pencil crayons and notebooks. As a child, I used to love browsing through all of the new and colourful supplies, carefully choosing the treasures I would take on my learning journey. They signalled new beginnings and adventures in paper! Now, shopping for supplies with my son, I still get excited thinking about the adventures waiting for him. School supplies are the tools your children are using on their learning journey to do their job of learning more effectively and joyfully.

Before you even think about going shopping, make sure your children understand the importance of taking care of their school supplies: keeping their materials in their desk so they don’t get mixed up in a fray, putting what belongs in the pencil case back in so they will find it easily, and making sure their pencils or crayons aren’t left on the floor where they are sure to be swept away at the end of the day. If they don’t keep track of their stuff, they won’t have the tools they need the next day. This will slow them down, distract and detract from their learning.

When getting school supplies, your first step starts with what you already have because buying a lot of new school supplies can get costly especially if you have more than one child. Before going out to get new stuff, see what you can reuse and what you already have. Do you really need a new backpack, pencil case and lunch box every year or is the one from last year still in good condition? Do you need a new ruler, geometry set or calculator every year or can you use the one you’ve already got?

When you are shopping, use the list specific to your children’s classes from their schools rather than the random store list in order to ensure that you are getting what is really needed rather than what the stores want you to purchase. If you are trying to keep costs down, stick to the list. Sometimes, teachers may make what sounds like a weird request to you, but they are usually well thought out. For example, if specific colours for folders are mentioned, it may be because the teacher is trying to keep organized and in a class of 30, doesn’t want anyone’s folders to get misplaced. If spiral notebooks are discouraged, it may be because they are bulkier and heavier to transport for marking and get caught in your clothes! Just saying. These specific requests are not generally random!

If you are in a position to do so, consider getting extras of some supplies. Every year, there are some kids whose parents can’t afford all of the supplies and every year there are supplies that run out in the middle of the year. Teachers spend a lot of their own personal money on all kinds of classroom supplies, so they always appreciate any contributions you can make. For example, an extra box of tissue never goes to waste in a classroom particularly during cold and flu season!

When getting school supplies together, reviewing the importance of taking care of their belongings with your children, being judicious of what you need and buy, and contributing to the classroom experience for all the children will show your children the value you place, not only on their supplies, but on their education, their classrooms and their teachers.

For more blogs on travel, parenting, health, or life-balance visit Antonia's website: antoniacetin.com and check out my Facebook Page: @youvegotthismom

Flashback: Taking the mourning out of mornings

I just came across this post written by Carly a couple of  years ago. I need these reminders now that we're back in school routines! With the possible and occasional exception of my husband, we're not morning people around here.  I think I've mentioned that a time or ten in the past.  And now that the Little Man is back to being on the school bus every morning at 7:40 am, not to mention being gone for a whole day and therefore needing more crap stuff, I knew I needed to get my bum in gear so that mornings wouldn't be a nightmare.

I've got two and half months before my maternity leave ends and I'm back to work full time.  That means two and half months where my only task in the morning (is it terrible that I shudder a wee bit inside every time I type the word "morning"?) is to get just the Little Man out the door and on the bus, clothed, fed and watered.  Come mid-November I'll have to add myself and the Baby Man into that mix.

Knowing this, I started planning ahead for that eventuality.  I may have a hate-hate relationship with mornings (shudder), but I love me some organizing.  Here's what we're doing . . .

1. Must-Do Posters Inspired by a similar poster designed by Kids in the Capital mom, Kim-Anh, I made these:

They're on the wall between the kitchen and the powder room and the Little Man loves checking them every morning and afternoon to ensure he's crossed his "must-do's" off his daily list.  My personal favourite on this list?  Choosing his clothes for the next day the night before!

2. "Make" Breakfast the Night Before We've all heard of making lunches the night before, which we do around here too, but Mr. Tree was quick to point out how much easier it would be for the Little Man if we set out everything he needs for breakfast before going to bed every night.

Since the Baby Man wakes up at the same time as the Little Man, and still needs a grown-up to feed him, I put out what Jake will need for his breakfast the night before.  Thankfully Jake loves a good, big breakfast but dragging stools or chairs to the necessary cupboard to get everything he needs out in the morning is time consuming and leaves us tripping all over each other.  So his bowl, spoon, cereal and honey are put on the table for him, and the milk is left easily accessible in the fridge.  Whenever possible, I get his fruit and yogurt ready to go as well.

3. Making use of the Powder Room Like most kids, Jake is an easily distracted dawdler.  Imaginary friends can suddenly and unexpectedly pop out of anywhere, urgently needing his attention.  Sending him upstairs to floss and brush his teeth every morning was taking anywhere from 3 to 30 minutes.  So we put a second toothbrush (for everyone in the family), toothpaste and flossers in the powder room on the main floor.  Amid the hustle and bustle of everyone in the family getting ready, Jake finds it easier to stay focused on the task at hand.

No running back upstairs (to get dressed or brush his teeth) also ensures he doesn't get sidetracked by the ALL! THE! AWESOME! LEGO! in his room.

4. No TV in the Morning This was a tough one for Jake, as there's nothing he loves more than chilling on the couch first thing in the morning watching a fifteen minute episode of pretty much anything on Treehouse or Disney Junior.  Like a lot of children (and adults), the Little Man has a hard time focusing on more than one thing at a time.  Even having the news on while he eats is distracting so we're working on limiting TV even for the grown-ups to the first 10-15 minutes after the hour or half hour . . . to catch the weather and traffic.

5. No Dishes in the Morning If it doesn't go in the dishwasher (we prefer to wash some of our kid-friendly dishes by hand), it gets left neatly in the sink to be washed later.  Right now I'm doing those dishes once Jake is on the bus, but I plan on teaching my recovering perfectionist self to just leave them there until I get home from work.  Sure it's not always fun to walk in the door to a sink full of dirty dishes, but since mornings and I already struggle to get along, this works for me.

And one of the very important reasons I'm choosing not to do dishes is because I want us to have . . .

6. Ten Minutes to Hang as a Family As I write this we're only on the second day of school and so we're still working on this one.  I'm trying to make sure we're setting aside ten minutes in the morning to just touch base as a family.  Ten minutes for Jake to sit on the floor and be goofy with Noah.  Ten minutes to read a short story.  Ten minutes to express our hopes for the day ahead or just talk about a crazy dream we had last night.

I'm a night owl at heart so I'm always interested in what works for other families.  What do you do to make mornings less mournful?

Carly has red hair and occasionally the temper to match.  She loves potatoes, rainy nights, photography, her husband, and her sons Jacob and Noah.  Probably in reverse order.

What To Do If Full-Day Kindergarten Isn't Right For Your Child

This is a post from our sponsor Bells Corners Cooperative Nursery School. I've heard amazing things about their school, so check them out! September will mark the final year of Ontario’s roll out for full day junior and senior kindergarten, meaning kids as young as three will be heading off to school for at least 6 hours a day, 5 days a week. Though this new programming may feel like a financial and logistical blessing for dual income families, a vast majority of parents are left feeling uncomfortable with their children’s ability or readiness to cope with institutional care for such long hours in their young life.

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While the actual benefits of full day kindergarden are being publicly and feverishly debated, these parents are still left on the sidelines scrambling to find alternatives - alternatives that will not only meet (or better, exceed) the educational milestones of the mainstream kindergarten curriculum, but nurture their child’s innate curiosity, instil a love of learning and celebrate their unique little personalities.

Bells Corners Co-operative Nursery School (BCCNS) provides an exceptional alternative or supplement to full-day kindergarten. Based on a core belief that every child and family has a right to a quality early years education and experience, BCCNS provides a unique and caring program that fosters hands on “learning through play” experiences specifically focused on developing self confident, life-long learners.

The program is staffed by experienced, passionate and educated teachers. “We maintain a cap of 16 students per 2 teachers to ensure adequate one on one time with each of the students on a daily basis.” says Chelsea Coe, Program Director at BCCNS. “The small class sizes also allows us to conduct special projects, exercises and experiments that would otherwise not be possible with a larger group of students. This means we are not only able to fulfill the curriculum standards set by the Ontario Ministry of Education, but we go above and beyond those requirements.”

If you live in the area and are looking at alternative care, contact BCCNS today!

 

Back to School (or, what to buy if you DO have money!)

My post from last week was all about Back to School on a budget. Well, I recognize that many of you probably enjoy spending money on new products, and thought it was time to share some of the stuff I would love to buy from my favourite stores!  

Mastermind Toys

Owl Bixbee Bag

This backpack from Bixbee is adorable! I love that it's a horizontal design for little ones, and with every backpack purchase, Bixbee will donate a schoolbag with supplies for a child in need!

Bento Box

We love our Bento Box! This stack of colourful containers provides a fun, practical way to pack on-the-go meals . Stack them directly into your lunch bag or use them inside your bento box. The extra large container is perfect for salads, sandwiches, and leftovers.

Me to We: Staples

MetoWe Portfolio

This year Me to We is partnering with Staples and ACCO Brands to launch its first line of eco-friendly school supplies. Each purchase gives back by helping a child in a developing community with things like healthy school lunches, notebooks and pencils. I love this portfolio design with "hello" in several different languages!

Well.ca

I do have to say that Well.ca is one of my favourite places to shop online! I love that shipping is free over $25, and they carry all of my favourite eco-friendly brands. And with weekly sales, I always manage to save on household and beauty products (pssst....Green Beaver products are 20% off this week!)

KeepLeaf Welldotca

 

I'm loving this tote from Keep Leaf!

 

Terra20

Kids in the Capital really appreciates Terra20's focus on a healthy environment and community. I recently read their blog post on Sling Sisters - we own some of their snack bags, and I love them! They're super easy to clean out, and are great for anything from fruit/veggies, to crackers and cheese.Sling Sisters

Where are you shopping for back to school?