Bake it Up - Tasty Treats for Healthier School Bake Sales

by Maxine
Posted January 8 2012 05:08pm
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Inside, you will find recipes for healthier baked goods that comply with the Ministry of Education's School Food and Beverage Policy.

Bake It Up! can also be promoted to staff, students and parents who wish to make healthier baked goods for school events or classroom celebrations, or to enjoy at home.

View the PDF and spread the word about this wonderful resource.




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Two languages at home with your preschooler

by Maxine
Posted January 3 2012 04:30pm
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We often hear that children are like “sponges”, and that they can learn any language easily while they are young. This is true, but only when they have lots of exposure to the language. Children can only absorb as much as they are given. This means that for your child to develop his or her ability to use both languages equally well, your child must hear and eventually speak both languages often.

In some communities, this can happen naturally if both languages have equal status and the child is exposed to various people, in the family and beyond, who speak one language or the other (or both). In other cases, raising a bilingual child requires conscious planning and effort. Both parents will need to agree on their strategies for making this happen.

If one of you speaks English and the other parent speaks a minority language, like French in many parts of Canada, or any other language that is not widely used in your community, it is important to create opportunities for the child to be exposed to that language. Children understand from a young age that one of their languages is not used very much outside their home, and because they naturally have more opportunities to hear and speak English, their ability to use the other language may lag. This can lead to a situation where the child understands the other language, but does not speak it.

Here are some tips to help your child be bilingual:

Speak your own native language to your child. You are a better model for your child when you use the language you know best.

Develop a social network that includes both languages. Attending friendly gatherings, community events and doing other activities with people who speak each language provide opportunities to practice, and reinforce the message that both languages are useful and valued.

Ensure that your child develops a strong foundation in the minority language from a young age by enrolling him or her, if possible, in a child care or preschool where the minority language is the primary or only language spoken.

Research and create a list of services available in the minority language, and give them a preference (e.g. health professionals like doctors and dentists, as well as libraries, movie theatres, community centres, etc). This may involve planning ahead, or driving a little further, but your efforts will greatly benefit your child.

Make sure you have books, videos/DVDs and music in both languages in your home, and that your child is exposed to them. This reinforces your child’s language skills and strengthens your child’s appreciation of each of your cultures.

Arrange visits to and from family members who speak the minority language. Stays abroad or visits from extended family can give a boost to the language that tends to be neglected.

Depending on the languages you speak and the community where you live, some of these options may not be available. The important thing is to create as much balance as possible between the two languages, and to start doing this as early as possible in your child’s life.

Do you speak more than one language in your home? Do you encourage and provide your child with the tools he needs to speak both? Share your experiences below by leaving a comment.

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Dissuading your preschooler from lying

by Maxine
Posted December 20 2010 11:06am
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Preschoolers are notorious for "stretching the truth." They are not being defiant, they are not being bad - they are being preschoolers and they'll grow out of this stage once they understand the difference between fantasy and reality.

Parents often worry when their young children don't tell the truth, concerned that this behaviour somehow reflects on their child's character. Relax! Preschoolers are notorious for "stretching the truth." They are not being defiant, they are not being bad - but they are being preschoolers. And they will gradually grow out of this stage once they come to understand the difference between fantasy and reality, and begin to develop a sense of right and wrong. 

As a parent, it's important to see lies for what they are, and to treat them not as signs of trouble, but rather as opportunities to teach. Telling the truth is something that children gradually learn over the years, not something they know how to do from birth.

Here are some "teaching moments" that you can use to encourage your child to tell the truth.

Whenever possible, help your child understand the difference between truth and fantasy. For example, "I can see that you can make up great stories. We should write them down and make a book out of them."

Show your child that you understand that some lies are wishes. If your child says that he didn't break the window, when you know he did, gently acknowledge "I know that you wish it didn't happen, and I'm sure that you didn't mean to break the window, but you did break it."

Focus on finding a solution instead of simply laying blame. "Now that the window is broken, what are we going to do about it?"

Explain why telling the truth is important to you. "When people tell the truth, it helps us to trust them." Ask your child how she would feel if someone told her something that wasn't true. Stating family values and explaining the reasons for them helps children come to adopt these values over time.

Notice the times when your child does tell the truth, especially when you know it must have been difficult for her to do so, and let her know how pleased you are that she was honest. Children at this age desperately want to please their parents, and lies are often told to avoid upsetting their parents. If your child learns that truth pleases you more than the broken vase annoys you, the truth will win out.

Finally, try to set a good example. That 'little white lie' you told when the phone rang and you whispered "Tell him I'm not here," can seem awfully confusing to a young child who has just been told by you that lying is wrong.

Remember, helping children to be truthful is something that will happen over time, not all at once. So, be patient. Take it in stride when he lies, and treat each new situation as an opportunity to teach your child in a calm and constructive manner.

What do you do to dissuade your preschooler from lying? Have you tried any of our strategies? How did they work for you? Leave a comment below and share your story.


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Preschoolers and learning to empathize

by Maxine
Posted December 22 2010 06:37pm
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The ability for a preschool child to sympathize and empathize with others is influenced by a child's experiences - how she is treated by those around her, world events that she may hear about, and by the behaviour she observes toward others. A simple definition of empathy is the ability to recognize the emotions that another person is experiencing. Sympathy builds from empathy as a person will be moved to show concern or sadness in response to someone's emotional state. 

For example, following many world disasters we often hear about young children demonstrating in many touching ways their capacity to empathize and sympathize with others in need.

As this capacity develops in your child, you may find your child:

  1. Asks more questions about how certain events or experiences make others feel. 
  2. Asks you specifically how certain things make you feel. 
  3. Begins to make some conclusions about how others might feel in certain situations. 
  4. Begins to show both empathic and sympathetic behaviours during pretend play with a doll or playmate, e.g., says "Don't cry baby. Mommy will make it better." 
  5. Begins to comfort and express concern for another individual. 

Such behaviours are to be celebrated in children. This capacity is fundamental if we want our children to be caring, respectful and generous individuals. While recent world disasters have brought to our attention to warm-hearted examples of preschoolers who have created pictures to raise money for other children, parents need to be aware how this growing ability influences the different areas of a child's immediate world. The ability to empathize and sympathize affects:

  • A child's interactions and reactions to others 
  • A child's belief about his /her ability to make a change on someone's behalf 
  • A child's network of relationships 
  • A child's current and future personality 

Our ability as parents to support the development of this capacity is profound. Parents, who show sensitivity and responsiveness to their infants' and toddlers' needs, have preschoolers who are more secure and pro-social in their relationships with other children. Here are some other parenting behaviours that contribute to building a child's capacity for empathy and sympathy:

  • Talk to children about how their behaviour makes other children feel, e.g., if a child hurts another child. Offer suggestions how to rectify the emotional situation; 
  • Model caring behaviour toward others so that children can see how it makes other people feel; 
  • Take time to discuss emotions and feelings associated with problems or situations; and 
  • Take every opportunity to let children know they have the power to make another individual happy by showing them an act of kindness. 


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