Full day learning in junior kindergarten

by Amanda My son J is turning 5 this month.  This past September brought about a huge change in his life.  He started junior kindergarten (JK).  His school was one of the first to introduce Full Day Learning in JK.  I was concerned at first that this would be too much for such a little person.  I was worried that the afternoon might essentially be a waste because he would be too tired to learn anything since he was used to napping for at least 2 hours in the PMs.  I have been pleasantly surprised.  Maybe for the first month this was the case.  Most of the kids seemed to be falling asleep on the floor during quiet time and so was he, until about mid-October.  Around this time, he stopped napping altogether.  Instead, he was falling asleep in his dinner!  This lasted maybe for a couple of weeks and then it was done.  The nap was gone and he was fully adjusted to going to school full time.

He has come a long way in his learning since starting school.  It has been a really good experience for him.  He had good skills going in, he could identify most of the letters, could count at least to 15, and had no issues with speech and language as a preschooler.  His language developed, in my opinion, normally, once he started talking, there was no way to make him stop!

The curriculum has been very appropriate for him.

They have covered the different seasons:

They have learned the days of the week, months of the year and all major holidays.

They learned about animals and hibernation, migration, and adaptation.

His class learned about a foreign country - Guyana, and students were asked to bring in socks and shoes to donate since those items are not easily accessed in that country.

He is also really enjoying French time.  His articulation is really good and he has an amazing memory, so he is retaining many of the words he has learned.  We have two cats so he is quite fond of the words "chat et lion".

Mon gars, il adore les chansons en français ie."Tête, épaules, genoux, orteilles", et aussi il a bien aimé l'histoire "Petit poulet" que l'éducatrice a racontée.  Their most recent unit was all about fairy tales.  They watched the movie Rapunzel and J particularly enjoyed The Three Little Pigs.  From a science perspective, the kids had a presentation from "Scientists in Schools".  They did their own dinosaur dig, and got to see some experiments done in their classroom.  They watched things change colour and change states of matter.  J was super excited to tell me all about it when he came home that day.

On the social side of things, he has made some friends, loves to play Transformers with his two buddies during recess, he attended one birthday party and will soon be having one of his own.  At this point in time he is an only child, so I am thrilled that he is getting the hang of being around lots of kids and learning to communicate with them and problem-solve their day to day issues.  They have learned about Kelso's Choices, a problem-solving strategy for kids to use.  His teachers are telling me that he is using these strategies when a conflict arises, so I am quite happy about that.

As the end of the school year approaches he is now able to read Level 1 books with only some minor difficulties.  He can write his name not too badly, and is interested now more than ever in making crafts.  Before starting school he definitely did not have the attention span for those kinds of things.

Overall, as a parent, I really think the full day learning has been really good for my son. He was ready to go to school.  He is a like a little sponge and he just takes things and runs with them.  And he remembers what he has learned.  Like any other kid he needs some help and some prompts, but I am really glad to see that he has progressed this far and am very hopeful that SK will bring a similar experience.


Amanda was born and raised in Ottawa where she continues to live with her husband and son “J”. Amanda is bilingual and interests include reading, blogging, socializing, and advocacy on children and teen issues.

Learning through gaming

by Lara Kiernan loves to play video games. On the computer, on the iPad, on the Wii - wherever we'll let him. I try to make sure that he gets a variety of games to play. Sure he can play angry birds and where's the water, but sometimes I want him to play something that challenges him to think a bit more.

Scribblenauts is a game that gets the player to figure out how  to get through the levels by typing in words for items they need or actions they need to do. It takes a lot of thought to figure out what tools are needed and then how to spell the word.

I loved that Kiernan loved this game but the thing is, he can't spell, at all.  So playing this game became "Mommy, how do you spell tree?" "Mommy, how do you spell magic box?" "Mommy, how do you spell green potion?"

So I came up with a plan!  He had to TRY to spell each word three times.  If he couldn't do it, then he would draw a picture in his newly created Pictionary and I would then print the name of the word underneath the photo for future reference.

It made me feel better about letting him play games too much because he was alternating between being creative on paper and being analytical on the iPad.  Seemed like a great mix to me.

What creative ways have you come up with to turn the every day into something educational?

Lara is mom to five year old Kiernan and three year old boy/girl twins Quinn and Juliette. Between the kids and her social media consulting business, she spends most of her time running frazzled.

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Sponsor Giveaway: O.R.E. Hamper Tote {CLOSED}

I can't tell you how happy I get to see my little guy learn new things. From the time he smiled for the first time to recently when we gifted him with his first bike, he's kept up a steady stream of learning that's keeping us on our toes. When Heather at Smart Space Organizing first showed me this hamper tote by O.R.E., I thought it was brilliant! What a fantastic visual way to start teaching your young child how to separate their clothes into the proper place.

And children love helping mom and dad do chores around the house.

Smart Space is one of our generous sponsors here on Kids in the Capital. Heather and Karen often contribute excellent posts with tips and ideas for parents to try when organizing their family lives. Today, we're happy to be able to give away one of these hamper totes so you can start teaching your child how to separate their clothes.


  • Just leave us a comment on this post telling us the one room or place in your house you'd love to get organized. (Mine is my office - it's like the bottomless pit!)
  • You have until 6:00pm Monday, May 21st to enter.
  • We'll  announce the winner in next Tuesday's post.

Be sure to follow @smart_spaces on Twitter and like their Facebook page  to get tons of great tips for organizing and simplifying your life!

Music In Your Heart And A Song In Your Step

by Jenn Parents always love to dish out advice or recommendations to other parents. I think that's part of the job description. Most of the time I'm sure it feels like you're spinning your wheels trying to solve some parenting "problem". When we finally find something that works, usually by accident, we want to share it and spare others the learning process we went through. It's only natural to want to share our experiences. It builds community and a sense of I'm not alone in this.

I've mentioned in the past that when I had my first daughter I was reluctant to leave my comfort zone. My comfort zone being my house. However, my daughter was shy and nervous around others, so I felt we needed to get out and socialize. I didn't want her to be a shy wallflower forever. It's no fun. The best way, in my mind, to overcome something is to just do it. So we signed up for a host of Mommy and Me type classes and thrust ourselves into the outside world. Yikes! It was one of the best parenting decisions I've made thus far. Hopefully I'll have another one before she's a teenager.

This is the sharing part. One of the classes I signed her up for was called Making Music Meaningful. This is an amazing class for both parent and child. Actually, lots of grandparents take their grand kids too. The program includes children from four months up to four years. Classes are divided into different age groups all with music, songs and activities appropriate for that group. The kids get to explore and have fun with instruments like maracas, drums, and bells. There are lots of songs and nursery rhymes accompanied with bounces, dancing and skipping. They also listen to music played on the guitar, flute and xylophone. Often when the kids are older they find their way into the circle to clap and dance along with the music.

I started taking my oldest daughter when she was fourteen months old. For the first term she was quiet, taking everything in, but enjoying it all the same. By the next term she surprised me. She wandered into the circle by herself and danced and bopped to the music! She only became more outgoing and happy as time went on. It was something that we both really enjoyed and looked forward to attending together. She stayed in the class until she was two and a half and loved every minute of it. Now my second daughter attends the same program. She's been going since she was three months old along with her sister. Music is in her blood. It calms her when she's sad or stressed and it makes her smile more broadly when she's happy. She's fourteen months now and claps and bops to the music when she's there. It's made a huge impact on my kids and for the better. Now songs and music are part of our lives everyday. If you're looking for an activity to share with your kids I highly recommend it to everyone. If you want to learn more, check out the Making Music Meaningful page.


Jenn is a mom to 3-year-old and 1-year-old girls. She says that talking to herself would just be crazy; so she has a blog instead.

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Oh the Lessons They'll Learn

by Frank
It's that time of year again. As home-parents are falling back into their no-kids-during-the-day routines, the kids are back at school. Summer memories slowly being shoved out of the way to make room for science, math, geography and verbs. And that's just what they'll be tackling in school "A". It's the stuff they learn in school "B" that'll make or break them." What's school "B"?" you ask. We've all been to school "B". It's where you learn the big subjects; Courage,betrayal,friendship,fear,despair...and the list goes on. School "B" is known by many names, but for us today, we'll call it the School Yard.
Think about that for a second. What lesson from your childhood do you still carry with you and use on a daily basis? Is it the long devision, what Zr is on the periodic table of elements, what the capital of Botswana is? Or, is how to deal with someone pushing you around, playing fair with others or dealing with a broken heart more inline with what we do daily? The lessons we learn in the school yard are huge and they're the situations that we will continuously deal with for the rest of our lives. Wether you're in the school yard or at the office, dealing with a bully or knowing how to console someone when they're hurt are pretty handy skills to have.

The problem is it's not being talked about enough. Kids will go out to recess and experience stuff that they will remember for the rest of their lives. I can remember vividly a dodgeball game in the second grade (over 30 years ago) when I was the last man standing on my team facing 8 opponents. I was sure to lose. A crowd had gathered to watch me be destroyed. So when I picked-off the last one, everyone cheered and my team rushed me to pat me on the back. Pure awesomeness. Of course I also remember being so ashamed at being picked last for a game that I started to quietly cry and slinked away un-noticed. Not so awesome. These emotions can be tricky to handle as adults much less as children. What I would like to see is an hour, every day, of in-class time dedicated to talking about social situations. You might say that's a bit much, but I don't think so. I know the guy who cut accross four lanes of traffic this morning just to get a coffee could have used some lessons on playing nice with others or a quick lesson on not being such a (fill in your own expletive here). If it isn't being talked about at school, then it's us parents who need to pick up the slack, because the lessons learned in the school yard are the ones that matter most. I don't care how smart Billy is. If he gets to the school yard and kicks around kids smaller than him or if he spends the whole time sitting alone, wishing he were someone else...knowing what the chemical structure of water looks like isn't worth too much.
Need some ideas or a place to start? Check out this handy site on bullying: www.bullyingcanada.ca
Kids need to learn how to deal with everyday situations and emotions. These lessons are the ones we build on and shape who we will be as adults. Play nice with others? That's a good lesson. I use that one every day. It's been 21 years since I've used a long devision. I'm just saying.
So, which life lessons did you learn in the school yard?
Frank Burelle is a Husband, Father, Cartoonist and Photographer from Cornwall Ontario. www.frankburelle.ca twitter@frankburelle
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