Written by Jenna Srigley with contributions from Julie Diamond
Why not start off by having a family meeting? You can all share your feelings, thoughts and ideas on what you all would like to accomplish during this time off. Giving your kids their own voice to suggest things, and share their thoughts, makes them feel that their opinions are valued. You are working together as a family to help each other accomplish things and create structure for everyone. I like to create daily routines as I find it helps things run smoothly. However, I have learned to accept that things will not always go smoothly especially if everyone is at home and/or feeling anxious. Talk about potential conflicts and discuss ways to communicate and solve them as a family. Here is the schedule that my family and I decided on that might be a useful guide for you over this break:
Have everyone dressed and ready for the day no later than 10am. I know this may seem late but giving your kids that time to ease into the day makes the day go smoother. Your kids may likely be feeling a lot of mixed emotions given the current pandemic so it’s important to give them this time to relax, sleep in and, if they want, some alone time.
10am-12 Learning Time - Use this time to focus on learning. Independent projects on things they are interested in keep them engaged. I had my 12-year-old start a Science project on video games. This link gave me some ideas:
Here are some other resources:
The new website released today by the Ontario government
(for those parents in Ontario): https://www.ontario.ca/page/learn-at-home
12:00-1:00 Lunch - Eat together as a family. Cooking and eating together can be a great opportunity to check in and bond.
1:00-1:30 Get Active - This is super important! Get up and do a workout using YouTube. There are loads of workout for kids. My family and I also use Nike Training App which is a great workout for teens and adults. Or when the weather cooperates, we opt to go for a walk. Break a sweat together and have fun.
1:30:2:00 Mindfulness - Try some activities to ease them into the afternoon after lunch which is an effective way to transition you and your kids into the afternoon. Doing these activities daily, even just 10 minutes, can help your child in so many ways. It teaches them ways to slow down and focus. You can see Julie’s blog below: "The Benefits of Mindfulness and Tips to Teach Your Child at Home" for some ideas. Here is another great link I like to use with my kids:
2:00-2:30pm Writing – This gives them the freedom to have an outlet to let it out. Depending on your child’s interests, you can opt for them to write (I’m currently teaching my kids cursive writing!) or incorporate art into it. Here are some creative journal prompts from Write Shop that I use:
It’s important to incorporate your child’s interests into the activities. My kids love video games (as so many other kids these days) so I had them create their own video game and they made the instructions booklet.
2:30-3:00 Snack - Take a break and fuel up!
3:00-3:30 Chores - My family and I have a chore wheel which switches up the chores and makes it fair across the board. This prevents any arguing.
3:30-4:30 Reading - Wrap up the day by reading a book of their choice. Depending on their ages, you may want to switch up with you reading together, taking turns reading (we like to use different voices), or independent reading. Here is a list of books for different ages: https://k-12readinglist.com/
In the evenings, we have been trying an hour without any devices and playing board games and/or doing other things together. I’ll admit it’s challenging not to look at my phone for a whole hour but I do recommend giving it a try! An hour without checking the news, especially nowadays, has been refreshing.
These are just some examples to ensure this time at home is positive. Creating a routine focused on mental and physical health can go a long way in keeping everyone calm, happy and stress free.
Share in the comments what you’re doing with your kids at home.
by Jenna Srigley, Adminstrative Assistant at Teachers to Go & mom of 2
March break already? What am I supposed to do with the kids to keep them busy? If you’ve opted to have a staycation this March Break, don’t worry we have you covered. Here are some fun and educational ideas to keep everyone happy during this upcoming week:
1. A visit to the sugar bush- If the weather cooperates this is a great way to educate the kids and yourself about how maple syrup is made. They will show you how they tap the trees and collect the syrup. It will get the kids moving and outside for some fresh air.
Maple syrup is a Canadian staple and a tasty part of our history. Check out this resource https://thecanadianhomeschooler.com/maple-syrup/ for some history to teach your kids about maple syrup from the Objiwe and Metis perspectives, fun songs about maple syrup for your little ones, along with maple recipes to use for #2.
2. Baking - They will be measuring, counting and following recipes. Have them double or half the recipe so they have to do a little Math to add, subtract, and divide. Be sure to let them assist in choosing what to bake so it keeps them interested. They will look forward to enjoying the treat after their hard work. Even if the end result is not so tasty, reflect and have a conversation with them about what happened and what they could do differently next time. We learn from our mistakes!
3. Scavenger Hunt - Make a list of things (with visuals for younger children) for them to search for on your nature walk. When creating this checklist, consider all 5 senses. Do they hear birds chirping? Do they smell snow/rain? Do they feel the bark? Do they see maple or pine trees? Do they taste snow?
4. Nature Art – Taking inspiration from your nature walk, such as fallen leaves, twigs or acorns, have your child create an art piece using these materials. You can even schedule an art gallery walk with the family to showcase your child’s masterpiece.
These are just a few ideas for March Break activities that are inexpensive. As a mom of teens, I know it can be stressful trying to keep them busy at any age but, if you plan and organize, you can have a great week. That is if they aren’t too cool to hang out with you yet!
International Women’s Day is on Sunday. It’s a day that celebrates the many talents and strengths of women. In celebration, we have rounded up some tips to raise an empowered girl. I know we’ve likely missed some points so let us know your experiences and opinions in the comments. Here is our list:
1. Encourage her to voice her opinion and speak for herself. From an early age, it’s important to give your daughter the opportunities to speak about her opinions and feelings. Listen and show her that her opinion is valued. Let your daughter debate hot topics with the adults and, leading by example, teach her how to be assertive in a respectful way.
2. Help her build positive relationships. Disagreements with friends are a normal part of friendships but there is a huge difference between disagreements and verbal abuse. Girls are often taught to be nice, apologize, and consider others first. But it’s important to be kind AND have a strong voice and boundaries. Teach her how to express and own her emotions using certain vocabulary like ‘When you said this it made me feel this way.”
3. Have conversations about body image. This conversation is imperative because society still puts a huge emphasis on how girls look. Instead of commenting on your daughter’s appearance, make one about how she uses her body as an instrument to conquer achievements. ‘Wow, you held that handstand for a long time. You’re so strong.” Also, show her the importance of taking care of her body and being healthy mentally and physically. Take her to a yoga class. Try meditation.
There’s also nothing wrong with make-up and dressing up! But if/when your daughter experiments with fashion, rather than saying ‘You look pretty” try “You are really talented with the eye shadow. You can braid hair really well.” It’s then an expression of their creative side rather than as a tool to enhance their looks. Be mindful of the conversations you have about your body image as well. As parents, make sure you model positive discussions about your body and do not place emphasis on your appearance being the most important thing.
4. Buy her toys that make her think. Embrace the brain teasers and board games, the medical and scientific experiments, things to build towers and locomotives. Give her the tools to explore, think, tinker as well as dress up. Her toys get her thinking and believing in all the possibilities the world has to offer her.
5. Female role models. Learn something new. Make a new friend. Be assertive. Foster positive relationships and a healthy body image. Be the empowered woman you want your daughter to strive to be. Or perhaps you or your partner have females in your families who your daughter could look up to as well. The more examples of strong female role models in her life the more likely she’ll believe in the reality of achieving her goals.
A big part of raising this generation of children is figuring out what role technology plays in their lives. Kids are surrounded by social media to interact with friends and other people. As parents, it’s important to have a conversation with your child about using good judgment and staying safe when using these tools. Here are some important topics to discuss with your child about using social media, and the internet, safely:
1. Set up strict boundaries: It’s up to you as a parent to decide what age is appropriate to open a social media account for your child. When you do, it’s best to discuss the importance of not sharing or posting any personal information on their account. Signing up with a username, not their real name, and setting strict privacy settings is the best option for most people and especially minors. Depending on their age, or your concerns, you may also want to set a boundary where you have access to the account to start in order to monitor their use. Then gradually pull back as you feel more comfortable.
2. The internet is permanent: People seem to forget this and don’t think carefully before they post. Talk to your child about the repercussions and give examples of bad posts so they understand. Everything you share is tied to you now and 10 years from now. Many companies nowadays will conduct a search online and look at social media accounts before hiring someone. Stress the importance of taking a moment to ask themselves that if it’s not something they’d want their future boss to see, then they should probably not post it.
3. Stranger danger: Make this a rule for their safety. If someone they don’t know messages them online, don’t respond. If they ask for personal information, show your child how to block accounts. Social media makes it even easier nowadays for predators to connect with children so it’s important your child understands the risks and protects themselves.
4. Filters and filtering: Explain to your child that social media is not an accurate representation of people’s lives. People have the control to filter what they post so they tend to show the best days or parts of their lives and post photos of themselves edited with filters. As your child grows up in this digital world, it’s hard not to compare themselves to the images they see and think what they see online is real. We as adults can be guilty of doing this too!
Start with these conversations about social media and try to lead by example on your accounts. Set privacy settings on your accounts. Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your boss seeing. Don’t add anyone that you don’t know on your accounts. Even try taking a selfie without filters!
Julie Diamond is a certified teacher in Canada and the founder of Teachers to Go.
Julie Diamond speaking at the OISE conference for Alternative, Innovative and Inspiring Career Paths for Teachers at the University of Toronto.
Jenna Srigley is the administrative assistant/social media co-ordinator at Teachers to Go and offers invaluable insight as a mom of 2 teens.
Fun Fact: Her and Julie (see above) are also sisters :)