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When can I let my Kids Explore on their Own?

This post is written by Ro aged 9 on why you should let your kids roam the outdoors!

Today I will be talking about why parents should let their kids go more places with their friends without supervision.

Parents are always telling their kids go outside and play so you get some fresh air, which is easy understand but i think kids should be aloud go to a near by park or a convenience store. Let them ride  bikes around the block with friends but not always with supervision.

But you should always tell your kids what to do when they get lost or when somebody gets a cut etc. Kids should be taught to stick together.

Yesterday my parents and my friend's parents allowed us to go to the  convenience store by ourselves but first we had to go on google maps (street view) with our parents and review what streets to take and where to go when we see a landmark etc.  

Its always a good idea to let your kids go with  friends because if someone gets hurt the other person can go and get a parent and the third friend can support the person hurt.

Thats why I think parents should let their kids go to places with there friends without supervision.

Top benefits of letting your kids ( please note one the the kids should be at least 9):

- Freedom 
- Leadership
- Responsibility 
- Friendship
- Fresh air
- Independence 

 Written by: Ro | Ro lives in Toronto and loves exploring his neighbourhood and in his spare time is busy with hockey, improv and making movies!

Where to Find Toronto Area Natural Parks and Make the Outdoors Your Active Classroom for Discovery

I am a nature nerd. I came across this post on The Weather Network and wanted to share it. 

We need fresh air people. Get your kids outside for active learning. This is your outdoor classroom.

The lack of nature in today’s wired generation, or Nature Deficient Disorder as coined by American author Richard Louv in his book Last Child in the Woods, has prompted parents and school and park administrators to find ways to encourage kids to reconnect to their environment. So if you’re looking to up your dose of nature, let imaginations (and little legs) run wild in these green spaces.

City parks – Bienenstock Playgrounds, a leader in playground design and construction, helped the City of Toronto re-imagine McClearly Playground. In 2009 they unveiled the city’s first “natural playground.” This east end park incorporates climbing boulders, a slide built into a hill and logs from a fallen elm tree.

Last year Waterfront Toronto turned a former industrial site into Corktown Common, an 18-acre city-run park in the West Don Lands area. Much of its playground and splash pad have been built into the landscape and the space is home to hundreds of trees, thousands of shrubs and plants, and a large marsh where nature-lovers can spot frogs and ducks.

Outdoor classrooms: Schools have also gone greening their outdoor play spaces. Last year, playground design company Earthscape added natural elements at L’école élémentaire La Mosaïque, including a log jam where the school’s children (and the neighbourhood after hours) can balance, climb and hang out.

In the west end, Bienenstock Playgrounds gave students at Kingsway College School in Etobicoke a new place to play. It features a log tunnel, obstacle course and fort, plus sand and water pump.

Children’s Garden: This outdoor space at the Evergreen Brick Works is not your typical playground. Its main elements - rocks, logs, dirt, plants and trees – encourage open-ended play. Children develop an appreciation for the environment as they explore the space, water plants, make mud and build forts.

Pop-up playgrounds: PLAYbynature’s pop-up adventure playgrounds are putting self-directed outdoor play back into the lives of children. Partnering with community events in green spaces across the city, they provide the “stuff” - wood pieces, tools, rope, tires and cardboard - and simply let imagination dictate playtime.

Dirt: Torontonians of all ages come to hang out and play at Trinity Bellwoods Park in the city’s west end. Kids looking to reconnect to the Earth should head north of the conventional playground to the big dirt hill. When city programs are not in session, the mound of sand and mud (depending on the weather) is a hot spot for nature-lovers to climb, dig and just get dirty.

Love the ravines: Toronto has a big playground in its own backyard. The Humber and Don River Valleys are a quick escape into nature. Check out all you can do when you love the ravines:

(Image source)


Source:  The Weather Network  

Mindful Strategies for Reducing Anxiety in Children Starting or Returning to School!

Spending time outside is a great stress reducer!

My close friend Laurel is my "go- to- girl" for advice when it comes creating happy and well adjusted children. She is so fun and laid back that I feel at ease talking to her about my children. She has also survived the preschool and youth phases. This is perfect for me since my kids are only 5 and 9.

Her playful approach will certainly be an asset to her children now that they are well on their way to adulthood.

Recently, Laurel started a business called Meditating Munchkins  dedicated to teaching children and their parents the benefits of practicing Meditation to reduce anxiety.

Here are a few tidbit tips from the video below:

  • Tip 1: Set up an "OM Zone" in your home.  This is a tech free area in your home where everyone can decompress and feel at peace. In this space you would have comfy pillows, maybe some fun crystals etc. It is clutter free and filled with inspiration. You can get your kids involved this fall by creating this family space. This is a place where everyone is invited to go either privately or as a family. 

    : Have a weekly 1 minute family meditation - encouraging this as a great way to deal with individual troubles and stresses - a sure way to calm down when we are frustrated. This weekly event can be a place where positive intentions are shared and possibly  capped off with a family meeting. Here you can you talk about schedules, chores, other important items to be accomplished. Use flip chart paper to record notes and schedules a reference point. 

For more tips check out Laurel's video here: 


Four Fun and Fantastic Apps for Ages 2 - 10

Hello my name is Ronan and today I will be telling you all about some great apps for a variety of ages

Ages 2 to 4: Sago Mini Doodle Cast  Price: $2.99
Sago mini doodlecast is a great game for young kids. They give you templates like a house with no roof and your little one can draw a roof on it but there are tons of different templates to draw with.You can also record what you drew, like if you drew your family you could say this is my family and say there names like this is john this is sarah and so on.  My 4 year old cousin really enjoys this game. 

Ages 5 to 6: Sonic and All Star Racing Transformed Price: free
This game is a very fun game where you can turn into different characters and race in different cars which have different special powers. There are different cups to race that have different events in them. My five year brother loves this game.

 Ages 6 to 7: Toca Boca Hair Salon 2  Price: $2.99

This game is a lot of fun, you get to style people's hair using different tools and give them unique styles. You can comb. iron, curl and dye their hair and much more. Once you finish styling their hair there is still more work to do! Put on different items like hats, earrings, bow ties and more. Then take a picture of them and move on to the next customer.

Ages 8 to 10: Cartoon Network Soccer Price: 2.99
Be a soccer player and one of your favourite cartoon network characters at the same this game! It is lots of fun.

Thank you for reading my article on app ages.  Let me know what you think of these games and if your family like them!

Bring on the Colour!!

What does your child love to do in the summer?  (or anytime really!)
What draws them in?  What makes them excited to get started on something?  

Do they love to colour? paint? take pictures? make videos?
Do they like to be in videos? act? play sports?
Whatever it is...tap into it!

Summer is a great time to tap into these creative or active parts of your child in a free and unstructured way that allows them to express themselves.  

Through the activities they love, your child can tap into their talents, abilities and strengths!

Watch how they respond to fun summer activities, and be as much a part of them as you can.
You might notice things like:
They can focus on the activity for hours...
They are able to recall details that normally they are unable to...
They seem to complete the activity effortlessly whereas others are lagging behind...

Whatever details you observe...let them know!

Tell them:
You focus on every detail that I don’t even see!
You can select the best colours to put together.
Your images are colourful and fun -- they draw me in and make me think about summer!
You are so fast and graceful when you are swimming.
You just seem to know how to put things together.
You create such funny stories when you put together your plays!
You really know how to comfort your friend when they are hurt.

This isn’t  just telling your child “sweet encouraging words”-- because honestly, they know when you are “just being nice” to them!  

This is you telling them what you see that comes ‘naturally’ to them -- WHAT they are really good at -- and WHY they are really good at it.  

You are helping them learn their strengths!  You are highlighting what makes them UNIQUE.  What makes them….THEM.

And when they know what they are good at,  then they can accept what they are not good at.  

This knowledge of strengths is so important.  WE, as parents, have the ability to offer insight into this, so our children can start to tap into these strengths NOW.  Your child can only do this when they REALLY realize what their strengths are ...and that these strengths can sometimes go unnoticed because they come easily to them.   But with your eyes, you can help them see their abilities.  

And doesn’t every child (and person!) need to know what they are really good at?!

Susan A Schenk

Susan Schenk's company "Technology & Tools for kids" offers resources and support for parents and professionals -- so they can help kids gain skills at home and school in a step-by-step approach. Visit her at

You can also find her on: 

Girls, Leadership and Summer Camp

As I sit writing this blog entry, I am reflecting on where the last 10 years have just gone for my eldest daughter, Eirinn.  She has just begun her last year as a camper at Glen Bernard Camp.  But this year is different.  This year she is enrolled in the Pacer Program at GBC where they follow the Ontario Curriculum and earn a high school credit in Leadership and Peer Support.   Not only will she come away from her time at camp with a Grade 11 credit, she will leave camp with skills that will carry her well into the future.  The mentorship to which she is being exposed will allow her to be a next generation staff person at GBC.  Eventually, it will be her turn to mentor a younger Pacer and give back to another girl. 

What does leadership look like at camp?  

It can be loud, wild and usually disguised in a crazy costume.  It can be found through encouragement of another camper.  It can be quiet too.  Gentle leadership might be seen in a counsellor helping a camper to work through missing home at night by sitting on her bed and reading to her.  Leadership, in all its forms, is celebrated in a camp community.  Have you seen that great TED talk in which Derek Sivers highlighted his case that a leader isn't always the first person to do something?  Often it is the first person to follow because in many instances, the first person to follow starts the movement.  I love that because my type of leadership comes in the background, not the foreground.  In my years as a GBC camper and staff member, I was a more subdued leader.  I did not seek out the spotlight.  I was happy to be the first follower.   I can't begin to describe the feeling of watching my daughter begin to embark on her time as a staff member.  As mothers, we question ourselves daily about decisions we make for our children.  Camp is one decision I have never questioned.   Sending your daughter away to camp can be one of the hardest things we do.  Why?  Because we have to relegate control of our children to others. In my case, I must admit, the GBC staff over the years have had an enormous influence on my daughter, all for the better.  I'm sure in some instances her counsellor was a better mother than I could have been.  Leadership is about team work.  A camp community is the best example of team work  ever seen. 

After all the recent media coverage about Peter McKay's comments concerning mother's roles,  I thought perhaps we should invite him to see how young women campers and staff help shape and mould the next generation of leaders without male influence.  The GBC staff are well positioned to be Canada's next leaders in fields such as Engineering, Psychiatry, Education and Business to name a few.  The campers they are shaping are well positioned to follow in their footsteps. 

I would be remised to tell you about Glen Bernard and not invite you to see it for yourself.  On July 5th, 2014, GBC is pleased to offer a one day introduction to camp.  You can hop on the GBC Express in Toronto, spend the day with your future leader taking part in camp activities and after a delicious camp dinner, hop on the bus and head home. I'd love to show you our GBC girls in action, doing what they do best.  Being themselves.   Contact me at kim@gbcamp.com if you would like a seat on the GBC Express.  Cheers! 

Visit Glen Bernard Camp Here