Archive for the ‘school’ Category

Bob Books iPhone App: Experience Review

You may already be familiar with Bob Books, a reading series designed for the early stages of reading, when kids figure out letters together form words. The small books are leveled based on a child’s ability and include simple, short word sentences with line drawing illustrations to illustrate what’s being said. I actually picked up a few of these books for my 4-year old.

Now your child can enjoy a more interactive experience with the Bob Books Magic of Reading iPhone and iPad app ($1.99). Like the original book series, the app is designed in with built-in levels, enabling kids to progress at their own pace :

  • Level 1 – When you tap the picture, there’s audio to tell you what word your child is working on. The word appears below the image you’ll see letter hints, gravity helps you drop letters in the right place, and you can play letters in any order.
  • Level 2 – Now you have to place letters in left-to-right order. If you try to play a letter out of order it will just bounce out.
  • Level 3 – The letter hints are gone [in the space below each image] and so is gravity. You’ll also have to spell some words from the caption.
  • Level 4 – Now there are extra letters [that appear on-screen] that aren’t actually used in the word. You’ll need to remember how to spell the word to finish the game.

When you start the app, the first story plays. Each story processes to a little harder, adding more words to the caption and more words you have to spell. Each story opens with a black and white line drawing and a caption underneath. Elements in the picture shake inviting the kids to touch. When you touch on one of the pictures you enter into one of the interactive spelling screens. Only the image of what word they are working on appears on-screen and the letter titles used to spell the word are spread over the screen. If the child touches the image, the word is said again as a reminder. Like wise, if they touch the titles, the letter sound is made. In level 1, touching the letter spaces under the picture also makes the letter sound plus it will shake the corresponding tile to help kids find the letter needed. My daughter never touched the spaces under the picture so she never discovered this trick; she went right for the letter tiles and tried working on building the word.

Once a word is spelled out, the word is sounded out, given a visual emphasis on each letter sound. The image then transitions into colour and reappears within the original story. Images not yet in colour will shake to encourage kids to click and spell those words too. Once all the words are done and the whole picture is in colour, a background scene transitions in and a small animation plays supporting the caption below. As this happens, the caption is read out loud, highlighting the words as they are said. This is a great way to reinforce them as the child follows along.

During each story subtle navigational elements appear on the screen allowing you to skip a story to move on to the next story or to go to the story menu. The story menu is like a long film strip with pictures of each story so your child can easily revisit a story they enjoy or move forward if a particular story isn’t challenging enough (the stories increase in difficulty by adding more words, longer words, new words). The story menu also shows what level your child has completed for each story. As I mentioned above, there are 4 levels with each story. You can go through all the stories in level 1 and then repeat them again for the subsequent levels or you can keep repeating a particular story, moving up a level each time. The app remembers what level your child is on and will automatically progress him or her. There is an option of resetting the app to clear any progress you have saved. This is good if you want to start from level 1 again or if you want to share the experience with another child. There are some set-up options to that enable you to determine when music plays during the app, set levels automatically or to a specific level and use letter name or phonics for spelling tiles.

You can see my 4-year old as she experiments with the Bob Books Magic Reading app:

It’s no surprise my daughter was able to figure out how the program worked, without any assistance from me; many kids today have already been exposed to various forms of technology and are quick learners. The Bob Books Magic Reading app is designed to work with your child’s natural inquisitive nature, interacting as they click on things.

Although we do enjoy the Bob Books, the Bob Books Reading Magic app is much more engaging and keeps my daughter interested longer. She still gets excited and proud when she reads a screen on her own. The fact that the app remembers my daughter’s progress and that it’s portability makes it great for the Dr.’s office waiting room, grocery shopping or any other time when my daughter is with me, these elements are things I enjoy about the app as a parent. However there are a few things I’d love to see added to any updates (another great feature of an app, the ability to make updates for those who already own a copy). I would love the option of setting profiles so I don’t have to erase one child’s history so another can use it. Another great feature would be the option to replay the caption again after the audio has played it. Right now it just plays once and it happens at the same time as the animation on the screen. I found my daughter was distracted by the animation and would end up missing the words being highlighted as the narrator read it. To be able to play the caption again and see the highlights would be great, especially if the sentence has a few words and the child is getting muddled; they could play the caption over and over, seeing each word highlighted as it was read.

The Bob Books Reading Magic app was created by Learning Touch, the makers of the best-selling First Words series of learning-to-read apps. It marries First Words’ breakthrough learning-to-read interface with the beloved characters and stores of Bob Books. The app includes twelve scenes for a total of 32 words. For game levels provide increasing challenges to children as they play.

I want to thank the folks at Bob Books and Hopscotch Consulting for providing me with the app so we could experience it and share it with you.

Write a Review Wednesday: Dora’s World School Day Adventure

Welcome to another Write a Review Wednesday, a meme started by Tara Lazar as a way to show support to authors of kids literature. Last week we reviewed Zombiekins. This week we take an adventure with Dora in Simon and Schuster‘s World School Day Adventure (age 3-7), written by Shakira. I have to thank Anneliese at Simon and Schuster Canada for my review copy.

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Dora the Explorer is excited about celebrating World School Day with her classmates and children around the world. As the kids are getting ready they discover students in distant schools haven’t received their supplies. To ensure all the kids can participate in the planned World School Day activities, Dora and Boots set out to help the other schools. But will they be able to help in time. Shakira, the Grammy award-winning artist, cameos in the book to help Dora and her friends get ready to celebrate .

I have to say I’m personally not a fan of books based on TV show personalities, like Dora, but my 3-year old was ecstatic when this book arrived. She is a huge Dora fan; unlike my other 2 kids my 3-year old actually talks to Dora on TV and in books. So a book that gets my daughter excited can’t be all bad. And really it wasn’t.

I don’t mean to give Dora a hard time; she does show kids they can accomplish many things on their own with the right tools and friends, being kind and sharing always ends up better in the end. World School Day Adventure follows the same pattern, with Dora taking it upon herself, somewhat unrealistically, to help the kids in need. Each mission starts with a double-page spread depicting a map showing Dora and Boots leaving their destination and heading off to a foreign country to help that school. The maps are a great way segway into discussion about the different countries and schools and way of life and they sort keep in tune with Dora and her Map she uses when on any adventure. My kids especially loved how the kids in different countries had different styles of school, not traditional bricks and mortar buildings.

In the end, as expected, all the kids get their supplies and are able to join in the World School Day celebration.

My 3-year old enjoyed this book very much and has been found ‘reading it’ on her own many times. I even found her playing World School Day with her dolls one morning.

World School Day Adventure was written by Shakira in support of the nonprofit, nongovernmental organization Barefoot Foundation, for which she is the founder. The Barefoot Foundation is dedicated to ensuring that every child can exercise his or her basic right to a quality education. In celebration of this book, Nickelodeon has made a donation to Shakira’s Barefoot Foundation.

To add a copy of Dora’s World School Day Adventure to your personal library, visit your local bookstore or Simon and Schuster Canada. For other great books for kids, read through some of the previous Write a Review Wednesday posts.

Kindergarten and My Baby

We had a busy and fun summer but my kids were excited to be heading back to school. This is a big year for us: my 8-year old is entering grade 3, the first year where standardize testing takes place; my 6-year old is moving into grade 1, full-day school, lunch away from home and a step toward a more structured classroom environment; my 3-year old is starting school for the first time, venturing on her own and leaving me without any kids in the afternoon.

My two oldest were great. They headed into the school yard without even a glance back. My 3-year old, who attends school in the afternoon, was disappointed that she couldn’t go into school with her siblings; she wanted to start school now.

When my two older kids entered school I wasn’t too worried about how they’d adjust; they are both outgoing like their dad. My 3-year old is more like me, content to be on her own and somewhat overwhelmed by new people and new environments. I sort of expected that her first day of school would be one of those stereotypical crying and fussing about leaving me but then she went to summer camp. My shy, introverted little girl spent 5 days, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. for 4 weeks at camp without me. She loved it.

When September arrived my concerns about my 3-year old adjusting to school subsided. Even her first day of school, with both me and her dad there to see her off, she was in the school without a second thought. Yes! This last trip through kindergarten will be much smoother than I thought.

Famous last words.

Day two. A completely different story. My 3-year old was fine when we arrived before the bell, she even played hopscotch with some of the other girls, but when the bell rang and the kids were lining up she didn’t want to line-up with them. As all the other kids walked in my 3-year old stood behind me, gripping on my leg. Eventually her teacher was able to lure her in with the promise of a new smelly markers in the writing center.

Day three. The morning was great but as we sat down to lunch my daughter confessed she didn’t want to go to school. In the playground she relaxed a little when she recognized some of her friends but as soon as the bell rang the leg grabbing started again. This time I was able to persuade her to go into the class, walking in with her friend.

Day four. This was the hardest day. My daughter was fine in the school yard though I couldn’t convince her to play with the kids at all. The bell rang and her little hands wrapped around my legs but this time she wouldn’t let go. Her teacher and the teaching assistant couldn’t get her in without prying her off of me. I left with her crying and pleading not to go. It was awful. Even writing about it now upsets me so.

I may have lamented in the past about my two older kids venturing off into the next stage of their lives without so much as a tear or glance back. But now that I’ve experienced that reluctance, I still felt sad, a gut wrenching sadness. I would rather feel the mom sadness you feel as your child moves on without your assistance over the sadness you feel because your child is unhappy.

At the end of school she was fine. Her teacher said she was fine the first few minutes she entered the classroom. I expected that much; that’s the only reason I could walk away from her with tears in her eyes earlier that day. I hope, for both her sake and mine, things get easier; I’m sure I won’t feel this way at the time, but right now I look forward to the day when my daughter rushes into the playground to join her friends and I’m a second thought.

I knew having kids would be hard but I guess ignorantly I thought it would get easier after three kids, easier as they get older. The opposite seems to be true.

Today is another school day. Only time will tell if it starts off with tears or smiles. I’ll probably be sad either way.

Teaching Life Lessons Can be Rough

My 8-year old is a lot like her dad in many ways, but there is one thing she takes after me on. Night time. Like me, my oldest daughter is a bit of a night owl. She seems to get a second wind when the sun goes down. This will come in handy when she enter post secondary and has to spend countless nights working on assignments (I turned in some of my best work at 2 a.m.).

But being a night owl means you’re not much of a morning person. This can work against you when it’s a school day and you need to get up and ready and out the door by 8:30 a.m. That being said you can understand how my usually happy and chipper daughter is a little unresponsive and very unco-operative in the morning. I should realize this but when I have 3 kids to get ready and fed and out the door my perspective (and patience) is a little warped.

One morning this week I had enough of the pouting and argumentative behaviour. My daughter was annoyed with something I had asked her to do and to teach me a lesson she decided not to come down for breakfast, that she wasn’t going to eat breakfast that morning.

This isn’t the first time this has happened. In the past I’ve cajoled and convinced her, albeit reluctantly, to come join us for breakfast. Usually after eating her mood has brightened and the day continues fine. But this morning, in my tired frustrated mindset (I told you I’m a night owl too) I didn’t go see her. I was tired of fighting in the morning and using breakfast as the rope we tug back and forth. This time I decided if she didn’t want breakfast then fine, I wasn’t going to push her.

I continued our morning routine getting the other 2 kids ready. When it was time to go I told my 8-year old to come down and get ready for the van. Of course she never believed I wouldn’t let her go to school without breakfast so she moaned and groaned and cried about needing something to eat. I gave her a larger morning snack for her to eat at recess but that didn’t help.

At this point I was debating if I had made the right choice, letting her skip breakfast, but it was too late to change anything, we had to go. We just made it to school with my 8-year old in such a state of tears about being hungry. After dropping my son off I took my daughter to the bathroom and had her splash water on her face to try to calm herself down.

I didn’t take her home, although she asked not to go because she was so upset; I made her stay in school. I didn’t want her to think her behaviour was a way to get what she wanted. I didn’t see her until the end of school at 3:30 p.m. She was back to her old self and didn’t seem to have any issues in the classroom. We both gave each other a big hug and apologized, both of us.

Did I do the right thing? If I had followed my old pattern and made her come downstairs and eat, like I’m sure most moms would have done, the morning drive to school would have been uneventful but we’d probably have the same issue with breakfast the next day. Did I push the lesson too far by sending her to school without breakfast and so very distraught? Maybe. I don’t know. Will my daughter pull the breakfast strike again knowing that I won’t cave in? Only time will tell.

Sometimes the best lessons to learn are the ones you experience yourself. I think my daughter and I both learned something from this experience. Hopefully we’ll remember and handle things without so many tears. I hate those lessons.

For the (lack of ) Love of Playdates

So school has started up again. That means waking up early, making lunches the night before (or at least planning on doing that and then rushing around first thing in the morning actually doing it), helping with homework and…dun dun dun dun…those dreaded playdates.

There’s something about the start of school that drives everyone into a playdate frenzy. We step into the school yard and my 8-year old is bombarded with requests for playdates. I realize she hasn’t seen many of her friends all summer and everyone is excited to get together but I sweat over the thought of the playdate question.

Many parents do it; some are organized enough to have scheduled dates with the same kids every week. How they do it is another story, not the scheduling part but the physical kids over to their house or over to a friend’s house act. Who has time? I know school has just started but here’s what happened when I relented to my 8-year old having a playdate:

  • 3:30 – 4:00 pick-up at school and negotiate the whole playdate plan (where, when, who, including having to explain to the 6 and 3-year old that they can’t partake). Walking home the very distraught siblings and playing some sort of negotiation game on when they can have their own playdate.
  • 4:00-4:15 provide a quick snack to try to subdued the distraught siblings. And since one of the distraught siblings is a 3-year old you know there’s nothing quick about anything. She changed her mind 6 times before reluctantly eating a quarter of something and complaining later how she’s starving.
  • 4:15-5:00 work on any homework assignments and reading skills all while trying to distract and entertain (read ‘try not to kill’) the tantrum tossing 3-year old in the background. This makes it hard for the 6-year old to get his homework done and he makes that very clear with big sighs and saying loudly ‘I can’t concentrate’
  • 5:00 realize that I’m suppose to be at the playdate house to pick my 8-year old daughter up and we’re still in mid-homework kerfuffle.
  • 5:00-5:15 (though it sure felt like it was much longer than that) try go shove a pair of shoes on my reluctant 3-year old for our walk to the playdate house. I explain for the 800th time why we can’t drive there and have to walk. I’m forced to pull out the old stroller from the backroom since that’s the only way I’m sure we’ll get to the playdate house before school tomorrow.
  • 5:15-5:30 We make the long walk with the tired 6 and 3-year old fighting for most of the way there. I can’t be bothered to stop the squabbling and tune it out to the joy of my neighhbours and those walking by (Mother of the Year award nomination flushed down the toilet at this point).
  • 5:30-5:40 Work hard to extract my 8-year old daughter and her friend from each other so we can make the walk back home.
  • 5:40-5:55 Explain over and over (and over) again why we will no longer be having playdates during the school year.

And with every playdate at a friend’s house you know you’re expected to return the favour. It may not be said out right, but you know the thought is lurking in the back of the parents head. I know because I’ve been there, hosting one particular friend many times and never receiving the invitation in return.

Nope the whole playdate thing is way over-rated in my book; they’re stressful, time-consuming and extra work that I just don’t need. My kids may think I’m a terrible mother for not allowing them out on playdates but believe me it’s better than dealing with me when I get stressed out about the whole ordeal.

Am I the only one who feels this way?

Write a Review Wednesday: How to Be a Genius

Welcome to another Write a Review Wednesday, a meme started by Tara Lazar as a way to show support to authors of kids literature. Last week we reviewed Theodore Boone. Kid Lawyer. This week we’re looking at DK Canada’s How to be a Genius: Your Brain and How to Train It (age 10-17). I have to thank Chris at DK Canada for my review copy.

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Maybe it’s the thought that school’s starting soon or maybe I’m just suffering from summer brain mush but I’ve been spending a few days with my nose stuck in DK Canada‘s book How to be a Genius: Your Brain and How to Train it.

At first I thought this book would be great for my 8-year old daughter. She loves math and puzzles (like me, well the puzzle part anyway) so I thought this would be a fun read. I always think it’s nice to toss some non-fiction into the mix and this would be fun non-fiction.

How to be a Genius starts off by giving you some information on your brain, including the senses, the differences between the left and right brain and even the physical parts of the brain. The book moves into other areas like the senses, memory, problem solving, language, creativity, plus how your brain makes you who you are and how it continues to develop and evolve.

Now a book about the brain may sound boring but not How to be a Genius. The content is broken out into easily digestible chunks and the pages are eye-catching with unique layouts and typography and a mix of photography and illustration. This book reminds me a lot of DK Canada‘s Pick Me Up (another favourite of ours), in structure not content.

Learning about the brain and how it functions and makes you who you are is interesting (at least to me) but the best part of the book are the brain games. The end of each section includes a few pages of brain games to help illustrate the points made and ‘train your brain’. I’m a big fan of brain games but I think the structure of How to be a Genius offers so much more than just a game to flex your brain matter. The content included with and before the brain game pages explain why your mind functions a certain way, why you may view things differently than others and how to adjust your thinking. This adds so much more to the experience.

Although I seem to have taken over the book, my 8-year old daughter has also spent time with it. She likes to pick an area that interests her, like creativity, and read that section and How to be a Genius is flexible enough to work that way. You don’t need to read the whole book to get some enjoyment (and learning) out of it. I have found my daughter sitting in her room working on the puzzles as an afternoon distraction.

Will How to be a Genius really make me a genius? Probably not but knowing how and why I think a different way then my kids or colleagues has been really helpful. And my 8-year old loves the problem solving, putting her brain matter through the paces. She says after reading How to be a Genius: Your Brain and How to Train It, she’s more than ready for grade 3. We’ll see.

You can add a copy of How to be a Genius: Your Brain and How to Train It to your personal library by visiting your independent bookstore or DK Canada. Looking for other great books for kids? Read through the past Write a Review Wednesday posts.

LeapFrog Event

I’ll admit it, I love tech gadgets. My love doesn’t end at just me. Gadgets for kids are just as cool, sometimes cooler. And when they sneak in a little learning, even better. That’s probably one reason we own a number of LeapFrog products. The kids love the products and I love that they’re playing games to help their reading or math.

Recently we were invited to a LeapFrog event, giving the kids a chance to play with some of their new products. My kids could hardly contain themselves when we entered the room. The room was set-up in three areas: the infant and preschool toys, Tag reading tools, and the new Leapster Explorer.

My youngest loved LeapFrog‘s My Own Laptop (age 24 months to 4 years). She played alphabet games, helping her not only recognize the letters but also the placement on a keyboard. The laptop also has other features once you hook it up to the Internet but she was just playing with it on its own. It’s a nice compact size too, with a built-in handle making it easy to carry around.

At the reading table the kids played with the Tag and the Tag Junior. We own both of these and the kids love them (see our review on the Tag and the Tag Junior). My son and youngest daughter were interested in some of the new books, like Star Wars: Clone WarsSponge Bob and Toy Story 3.

LeapFrog makes great early education products but most of them lean toward the younger toddler/preschooler aged child. My oldest, now 8, loves the Tag system and still enjoys using it though it’s really designed to aid early readers. She loves the interactive aspect of the reading system, with games and activities built into a story. So when we saw the new Tag Map System, both my daughter and I were intrigued. This is a fold out, double-sided map that works with the Tag pen and helps kids with geography. There’s a United States map as well as a World map.

Another great learning toy coming from LeapFrog this summer is the Leapster Explorer. This looks similar to the original Leapster 2 but offers a larger screen, new titles and the ability to connect and interact within a new online world. All 3 of my kids were mesmerized by this, but especially my older two. With my kids’ increasing interest in handheld gaming devices (and they are great for road trips), it’s nice to see one that offers educational fun.

I’m looking forward to trying out some of these new LeapFrog items first hand (well, actually my kids are looking forward to it) and sharing our thoughts and reviews right here.

Write a Review Wednesday: Emily’s First Day of School, Helping Hand Books

Welcome to another Write a Review Wednesday, a meme started by Tara Lazar as a way to show support to authors of kids literature. Last week we reviewed Charlesbridge’s Ace Lacewing Bug Detective: The Big Swat (age 5-8). With my youngest starting school this fall, I thought we’d look at Emily’s First Day of School (age 5-7), written by Sarah, Dutchess of York and illustrated by Ian Cunliffe. I have to thank Derry at Sterling Kids Publishing for my review copy.

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My 3-year-old received a welcome postcard from her new school today though school doesn’t start for another month. My daughter has been talking about school and even playing school games with her dolls and older sister, but sometimes pretend play can be different from the real thing.

Sterling Publishing‘s delivery of Emily’s First Day of School was timed perfectly for us. Part of the Helping Hand Books series by Sarah, Duchess of York, Emily’s First Day of School deals with Emily’s adjustment from staying at home with her mom to being in school all day. I like how Emily is a little apprehensive about school, excited but nervous. I think most kids feel that way, unsure of the unknown. I know my daughter does.

The book takes a brief look at the first day of school, more like a top line approach. Emily makes friends and keeps busy during her day and can’t wait to tell her mom all about it. The book, like all the Helping Hand Books, are designed to address new experiences young kids may face. The Helping Hand Books are meant for parent and child to read together, to open discussion and dialog on the subject being read. At the back of each book there are some Helpful Hints for parents, to help make the adjustment easier for the child.

In Emily’s First Day of School, the hints talk about how to prepare your child, how to help your child express their feelings and ensure the first day of school goes well for everyone. Although most of the tips are familiar, after having two kids already in the school system, they are a great reminder that it’s still the first day of school for my youngest.

My daughter loved Emily in the book. As we read the story, my daughter was all about doing what Emily was doing: drawing pictures, playing in the playground, making new friends. The book was a great way to talk about how my daughter felt and what will happen at school this Fall.

The following books are also part of the Helping Hand Books series: Ashley Learns about Strangers, Matthew and the Bullies and Michael and his New Baby Brother.

You can add Emily’s First Day of School to your own personal library by visiting your local independent bookstore. For other great book recommendations for kids, read through the past Write a Review Wednesday posts.

How are you preparing your kids for the first day of school? Any books you’ve been reading?

Summer Camp makes Me Sad

This is a big summer in our house this year. Yesterday we took our oldest 8-year-old daughter to the bus drop-off for camp. She’s off to sleep away camp for the week, 7 days! This isn’t the first time my daughter has been away from home; she did go away for a weekend with her Brownie troop in May (Mother’s Day weekend I might add). I had some difficulty dealing with that too. But this camp, she’ll be away for a whole week, at a camp, where she doesn’t know anyone.

The days leading up to camp I helped my daughter label and pack everything. I was trying to stay upbeat and excited for her. I mean this is exciting stuff, going away to sleep in a cabin, rock climbing, camp fires, lake swimming. It all sounded great. It would be great. I told her it was okay to be nervous or a little scared about a new adventure, other girls would be experiencing the same feelings. Her response to me was ‘Nervous? I’m not nervous. I wish I was already there.’ I’m glad she’s not scared but I must admit the response wasn’t one I was ready to hear.

Even when we took her to the bus (we could drive her right to camp but she insisted on riding the bus and singing songs and making friends right away), she was eager to say goodbye and find her seat. It was us, her parents, who kept going on and off the bus to give her that one last kiss, again and again. We waited in the hot sun until the bus pulled away and watched it enter the highway.

I’m sure she’ll be fine. She’s a lot like her dad in that she likes meeting new people. My oldest daughter has always had the gift of finding people who are shy or new or nervous and drawing them in, making them feel at ease and comfortable. I mean the whole bus was practically empty and where does she choose to sit, right beside another first time camp girl. Before the bus had even pulled out of the parking lot the two girls were absorbed in my daughter’s Worst Case Scenario Book: The Weird Edition.

This is my daughter’s first real summer camp experience; this is our first real summer camp experience. I don’t think it’s uncommon for any parent to wish the best for their children. Last night, with tears in my eyes, I laid in bed thinking about my daughter, hoping she would have cabin mates she would enjoy hanging out with, that she wouldn’t be excluded or encounter any bullies, that she would enjoy every aspect of every camp day from when she wakes up to when she closes her eyes.

I’m sure when we pick her up next Saturday she’ll be disapointed to leave camp but will be brimming with stories.

As if dealing with my oldest daughter being away for a week wasn’t enough, my 5-year-old and 3-year-old started day camp today. My son is moving into the big kid camp and he’s thrilled. He’s always been very independent; even as a baby he slept on his own at 2 months and enjoyed it that way. It was no surprise to see him say goodbye and march into camp on his own, not a worry or care.

Then it was time for my youngest, my baby, to go to her camp. This is the first year the city has increased the camp hours for the 3 to 5 year old group. It use to be a half-day but now it’s a full day. My 3-year-old has spent all her time with me, no preschool, no other programs with the exception of swimming class. I’ve always thought of my youngest to be more like me, shy and introverted. If anyone would have issues with separating from me, trying new things, it would be my youngest. But she proved me wrong today. She was quick to say goodbye and head up the ramp to her camp. There was no running back for a last minute hug and kiss, no tears, not fighting and pleading for me to come in with her or stay for just a little bit. Nope, she’s been looking forward to this and she was gone.

As I walked home, alone, I couldn’t help but start crying. Don’t get me wrong, I am very happy for my kids to experience summer camp. I’m thrilled that they are adventerous and comfortable with themselves to take these steps without me. So why am I so sad? Why am I crying right now as I write this? And I’m not a big crier (though I did cry when my son graduated from Kindergarten this year and even when I watched and reviewed the new Toy Story 3 movie).

Working from home it’s kind of nice to not have the fightening in the next room or to run to the school for lunch pick-up. But it’s also so quiet that I’m having a hard time concentrating. I miss hearing their voices, even if it’s a dispute over Lego. All this independence my kids are showing is great and is a sign that they’re growing up. I guess I’m just not ready for that yet. So bear with me if I breakout into uncontrollable tears this summer. At least I’ll get lots of practice in before my 3-year-old starts school for the first time this Fall.

Summer is about…Reading

There are many signs that summer is upon us, like starting summer camp or enjoying that lazy afternoon ice cream, but in our house summer is also greeted with books. My kids, all 3 of them, enjoy participating in the Toronto Public Library‘s Summer Reading Club program. They participated last year and had a great time (including an end of season party).

Today was the first day of sign-up though you can sign-up at any time during the summer. My kids wanted to get a jump on collecting their stickers to we signed-up today. The kids each received their poster (where to place their stickers) and an activity book full of puzzles and colouring and even recipes based on this year’s jungle theme. The activity guide also recommends some great jungle themed books the kids can read but you don’t have to stick to the jungle. The whole point is getting the kids reading. And with each book they read, and report on to the librarian, they get a sticker for their poster.

It can be hard to find something to occupy the kids during the summer, but the Toronto Summer Reading Club program keeps them entertained and reading and it’s FREE.