Tuesday | May 17, 2022

How to Foster Lifelong Learning in Your Teen

The brain is rapidly developing in the teenage years.

​We all want our kids to enjoy learning and to make the most of their education. We place value in ensuring they work hard, study for their tests do their homework to the best of their abilities and appreciate the educational opportunities they’ve been giving. A good education truly is a gift.

This sense of curiosity might be even more important than parents realize. Research has shown that curiosity impacts performance as much as hard work. When you’re curious about a subject and study up on it, you tend to retain that information for longer periods. It’s also associated with positive behaviours such as tolerance for uncertainty, humour and out-of-the-box thinking.

​These are all skills associated with happiness, resilience, creativity and intellectual growth.

So how do we foster that sense of lifelong learning in kids? How do we ensure they grow up with a sense of curiosity that will motivate them to want to learn and explore throughout their entire lives? Here are a few tips:

Encourage your children to ask questions. If your child asks a question, don’t brush them off with a simple answer such as “I don’t know.” Don’t simply say “good question.” Go the extra step further and help them find the answer to the question they have asked.

Maybe it’s a matter of going to the library and finding a book that explains the topic. Maybe you can go online together and read the literature. Take them to a museum or help them interview someone who has the answer.

​There are so many methods of learning and ways to find answers. ​What is your child’s preferred method? Maybe they are more hands-on. Maybe they enjoy learning by opening a book. Let them know how much you value their curiosity and reward them by helping them discover the answer. They will enjoy the journey and not hesitate to approach you the next time they are curious.

Talk to your child’s teacher. When you communicate with your son or daughter’s teacher either casually or during more formal parent-teacher interviews, ask if they have noticed whether there is anything in particular your child is curious about. What is their favourite subject? What style of learner are they? Do they seem particularly curious about anything? If not, perhaps they have suggestions for how you can stimulate a sense of wonder. Your teacher will know things about your child that you might not have noticed and their experience in the education field will give them valuable insight into your particular child.

​Let your child’s teacher know how committed you are to being involved and in fostering an appreciation for lifelong learning in your child. You are a team dedicated to furthering your child’s education and you share the same goals. Don’t hesitate to speak openly to your child’s teachers about this topic.

Encourage your teen to do their homework well. If you step in and help your child right away, they might not have the opportunity to assess whether they understand the work. By helping, you deny giving them a chance to see how resourceful they are. You will also give them the chance to realize what questions their homework will spark. They might even discover they don’t understand the homework at all.  You’ll want to make yourself available, of course, to answer questions or suggest ways in which they might find the answers.

If you’re stuck on how to facilitate the process, here are a few suggestions:

  • If your child doesn’t understand what is being asked of them when you’re helping them with an assignment, you might want to read the question together and say, “What do you think the question is asking?”
  • If they don’t understand what they are supposed to do as they work on their homework, try asking them if they have any ideas for how to solve the problem.
  • If your child is unsure of the assignment, suggest calling a friend or reviewing their notes from class. Follow up the next day and make sure they understand or asked for help from the teacher.

Ensure learning happens outside the classroom, too. As much as we prioritize in-class learning, there is so much to be discovered outside of the class as well. The best way to foster additional opportunities is to encourage your child to participate in extra-curricular activities. Perhaps they like sports, music or want to learn a language. Sign them up for a class at the local community centre or in the neighbourhood. If they discover they aren’t interested in that particular activity, try another. Don’t give up. Extra-curricular activities are a great way to make friends, expand their skills, get exercise and figure out what they are interested in and what they aren’t.

Stimulating that sense of curiosity is very important and there are so many ways in which you can help build this sense of wonder in your child. Once you light that spark, there will be no stopping your child in their quest for lifelong learning.

December 6th, 2018

Posted In: Community, Education, Parenting, Technology, Uncategorised

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Sports: Are you Pushing Your Teenager too Much or too Little?

In today’s competitive environment, you want to make sure your kids keep up with the demanding academic schedule while pursuing sports among other extracurricular activities.

However, many parents find it really difficult to decide whether they’re being too harsh or too lenient in their overall approach.

[pullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Sports can teach your kids about discipline, unity, perseverance, and value of teamwork[/pullquote]

When it comes to sports, there are compelling benefits for your kids. Sports can teach your kids about discipline, unity, perseverance, and value of teamwork, all of which enable them to develop into a successful individual in future.

Before talking about the potential dangers of pushing too hard, it’s important to remember the benefits sports offer to your kids.

 

​​Benefits of Your Teens Playing in Team Sports?

  • According to a survey, teens pursuing sports are a lot less likely to use drugs, smokes, have sex, carry weapons, and have unhealthy eating habits.
  • Research shows teens participating in sports are happier than kids who don’t pursue sports. While sports-oriented boys in the middle school were five times more likely to describe their health as fair/poor, the girls were 30 times more likely.
  • When your teens participate in team sports, they not only learn about the team spirit, stay motivated to work towards a common goal. When they stay in a team, the value of group effort is reinforced every day.
  • Learning to socialize with students from different walks of life during the middle school can be a challenging phase for any teenager. Team sports offer an opportunity to get along with different groups and nurture a sense of belonging.
  • Team sports teach your teenagers the value of cooperation, discipline, commitment, practice and, determination. The value of hard work and achievement is harder to learn in the abstract. Through setting goals and playing like a cohesive unit, your kids learn a lot more naturally.
  • Nothing makes your kids aware of leading a healthy life quite like athletics. Teens participating in active sports know the importance of staying fighting fit. Therefore, they’re more likely to follow an active lifestyle and healthy routine. What’s more, according to a research, kids pursuing sports are likely to avoid obesity and unhealthy eating habits.
  • When Kevin Kniffin, a behavioral science professor at Cornell University, conducted a study, he found kids who played sports in high school make better employees. In fact, the study also found that potential employers tend to favor jobs candidates who played active sports in their school career.

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Encourage your kids to pursue sports for fun and leisure but don’t force them into rigorous and intense training. [/pullquote]

​Are You Pushing Your Kids Too Hard?

As a parent, it’s only natural for you to have high hopes for your kids. You want to them to succeed academically, athletically and otherwise. However, in the process, you might be exerting too much pressure on your kids.

So, how will you know if you’re pushing your kids too hard to pursue multiple activities apart from studies?

According to parenting coach Elaine Taylor-Klaus, kids tend to show signs when they’re overscheduled and stressed. For example, pushing your kids to take up baseball practice, guitar lessons and art classes every alternate day can demotivate them, and even affect their grades.

While some kids express their displeasure openly, more reticent children may act grouchy and irritable.

Therefore, you need to make sure it’s fun for your kid and he/she is enjoying the extra-curricular activities. That’s how they’ll sustain their enthusiasm and pursue those hobbies in the long run as well.

As a matter of fact, Tiger Woods is probably a great example how the element of fun encourages your kids to get better at sports activities. In an interview with Washington Post, Tiger revealed that he fell in love with golf at an early stage, not because his parents pushed him into it but because his dad would keep it fun, light and competitive. He also said he’d be okay if his son Charlie didn’t play golf professionally.

 

​The Dangers of Pushing Your Kids too Hard

When it comes to sports, parents should be aware of the safety threshold for their kids. There are many who push their kids to a point where they become overtrained, stressed and burned out.

According to a national survey, nine out of 10 parents tend to underestimate the length of time their kids should take off from playing any sports during the year.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM) advise that kids should stay 2-3 months (or even a season) away from a specific sport every year. Moreover, it’s recommended that young athletes should take one day off each week from organized activities.

Parents who aggressively push their kids to an unrelenting sports regime, allowing little breaks, may end up harming their kids in the long run.

Fred Fornicola, health coach and fitness professional, warns parents against pushing their kids too hard and advises that they should follow an appropriate athletic program which allows ample scope for safety, progression, and recovery.

Ellis Cashmore, a professor of culture, media and sport at Staffordshire University says parents should stop pushing their kids to become sporting heroes as most youngsters will never make it. Warning parents of potential downsides of encouraging teenagers to pursue a rigorous sports routine, he said overdriven kids could resort to performance-enhancing drugs among many other consequences.

 

​Final Thoughts

While sports offer a range of benefits to your kids both in the short and long run, pushing too hard could have potential implications for your young kids. Encourage your kids to pursue sports for fun and leisure but don’t force them into rigorous and intense training. After all, you want to keep your young kids safe from injuries.

May 8th, 2018

Posted In: Athletics, Community, Education, Nutrition, Parenting, Technology, Uncategorised

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Student Summer Jobs

It is problematic as a parent to know whether you’re making the right decisions for your teens. One of the things that begins to plague the minds of parents at this time of year is whether or not their teenager should have a summer job.

There are so many ways to spend a summer. After a tough academic year, your teen might want to chill out and spend time with their friends. They might want to travel, play sports or take a course. Working is a great option as well. But which will be the most beneficial experience for your child and which will universities value?

According to education experts and parenting gurus, holding a job is a great idea and teaches teenagers a variety of valuable lessons—lessons that will weigh heavily in your teen’s favour when it comes time to apply for university.

Here are a few reasons why getting a summer job is a great idea:

Interview skills: There’s no better way to prepare your teen for the road ahead than to have them experience the job application process. Not only will they have to create a winning resume, they will also gain experience looking for work, networking, applying for jobs and interviewing for positions. These skills will come in handy whether they actually get the job for which they’ve applied or they don’t. At some point they will apply for a scholarship or job and they will be that much further prepared than their peers who never experienced the process. It can definitely be nerve wracking and stressful, but the more experience they have the more natural it will become as they get older.

Rejection: Let’s face it: like all of us, our kids are bound to experience rejection at some point or another. They might apply for their first job and get it, or they might be turned down. This in itself is a great experience in building resilience and handling upsetting life lessons. It’s a skill that needs to be learned and managed. The better your teen gets at handling rejection, the easier it will be for them to bounce back and move onto other experiences and opportunities. They might even learn about themselves in the process. Maybe they are stronger, more positive or more independent than they imagined themselves to be. Maybe they will come to appreciate why they didn’t get the job—what experience they are lacking or why an interview went badly—and use it get the next job. Even rejection has its benefits.

Responsibility: When your child does get that first job and enters the workforce for the summer, there are myriad lessons they will learn. The first of which is perhaps responsibility. They will need to learn to arrive on time, to handle difficult situations or people and they will be depended upon to do their job properly. Having a job is also a great way to learn about teamwork, commitment and time management. These are all key life skills that will be required to succeed not only in their first job, but in every other job that follows.

Finances: Earning your first paycheque is a fantastic way to start learning about the value of a dollar. Your teen will quickly come to understand how hard they had to work to earn their first cheque. They might think twice before wasting money in future or be inspired to learn about how to save. Some quick calculations will help them discover how much they might need to work before they can earn the new pair of shoes they’ve been coveting. Perhaps they want to start saving for college or university or to travel after high school. This is a perfect teaching opportunity for parents. Sit down with your child and give them a lesson in managing their money. How much should they save? How much can they spend? Make sure they open a bank account and get a debit card. Teach them financial responsibility. Let them pay for certain things so they can feel proud of what they were able to buy.

Confidence: There’s nothing like being recognized for a job well done to boost a teen’s self esteem. Knowing they worked hard, did a good job and were recognized can make a teenager feel proud and accomplished. They will begin to learn about what they are good at and what skills need to be improved. By doing certain jobs, they will learn about themselves—their likes and dislikes. They will over time grow into themselves, mature and understand who they are and what they want in life.

In short, aside from having less time to lounge around on the couch during the summer, there is very little downside to encouraging your teenager to look for a job this summer. Though working might have its challenges, your teen will definitely have earned a sense of accomplishment by the time school starts again in September.

April 20th, 2018

Posted In: Community, Education, Parenting, Technology, Uncategorised

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Fun Things to Do in Toronto This April

As another winter transitions into spring, the occasional snow squall drops in to remind Torontonians they live in The Great White North. Many years have passed since the army was called in to dig out the city. Though much of Canada has mostly forgotten Toronto’s inability to survive a snow storm, Ontarians just up Highway 400 aren’t quite sure if “The 6ix” even experiences winter any more.

Winters vary in intensity, and sometimes it seems Mother Nature skips spring in Toronto, and transitions right into summer. Regardless of the weather, the Greater Toronto Area seems to wake from a long slumber in the spring, and there are many great events to see, and places to go.

If you need help shaking off the winter blahs, here are ten GTA experiences you’ll want to be a part of.

Toronto Blue Jays Home Opener

Most Torontonians would love to watch the Maple Leafs compete in the NHL playoffs each spring, yet fate hasn’t been kind to “The Buds” for many years. Catching the Blue Jays in their season debut in the Rogers Centre gives the city new hope, excitement and optimism. In April, hot dogs taste their juiciest, baseball bats sound their loudest and mini donuts smell their sweetest. OK, Blue Jays, let’s play ball!

Hot Docs Film Festival

Though it lacks the star power of the Toronto International Film Festival in the fall, the Hot Docs Film Festival brings great documentaries to Canada’s largest city. From late April, to early May, reality film makers from around the world descend on Toronto to promote their productions. The Annex region of Toronto plays host to films on topics like:

  • Culture & Creativity
  • Stories from Around the World
  • People and Perspectives
  • Ideas and Issues

These topics leave a lot to the imagination, though the films are real, the crowds are real, and rookie filmmakers are hopeful Hot Docs will launch their career skyward. Spring may have sprung, though Torontonians do like to spend time in dark theatres!

Other Toronto spring film festivals include:

  • TIFF Kids Film Festival
  • Inside Out Film Festival
  • Canadian Film Fest
  • Human Rights Watch Film Festival

Running and Climbing

For Torontonians and tourists who need to get moving in spring, there are lots of opportunities to get off the couch, and raise your heart rate:

  • Good Life Marathon – This challenging run is on May 1st, is a qualifier for the Boston Marathoners and starts in Nathan Phillips Square
  • CN Tower Climb – On April 16th, hordes of charitable Torontonians run up 1,776 steps in support of the World Wildlife Fund. Teams and individuals
  • Harry Rosen Spring Runoff – Early April brings this run in support of the fight against prostate cancer. 5k and 8k runs for all ages

Just as dogs, bears and cats shed their winter coats in the spring, many Torontonians join these events, or take to the streets to walk, jog, cycle and run right past the gym they joined in January.

A Food Festival for Every Palate

To build enough energy to participate in the fitness challenges above, you need fuel right? Toronto offers a broad spectrum of global cuisine year round, and in the spring there are food festivals including:

  • The Raw and Vegan Festival – Or stay home and have a salad
  • Curry Fest – Probably best after the CN Tower Climb, not before
  • Toronto Life’s Best Restaurants Event – 15 top restaurants, showcasing their wares
  • Feast on St. Clair – Get your eat on at multiple purveyors of food

There are a number of events showcasing adult beverages. This is a family blog, so we’ll stick to delicious eats here.

Bursting into Bloom in T-Dot

Every year’s first blooms depend on when Mother Nature is ready to bring flowers to Toronto parks, however when it’s time, you’ll find them exploding into view here:

  • Casa Loma
  • Toronto Botanical Gardens
  • High Park Hillside Gardens
  • Spadina Museum
  • High Park cherry trees
  • Hopefully, your back yard

Torontonians love their gardens, and not just when Frankie Flowers is in town. April showers, some topsoil and some hard work in mid-to late Mays should restore the grey and brown city to match the colours in the vibrant new Toronto sign.

The DVP Isn’t the Only Zoo in Toronto!

Though the Toronto Zoo is famous for its baby pandas, there are many places around the city to spot some of our fine furry friends in the spring:

  • High Park Zoo
  • Reptilia (what says spring better than lizards?)
  • Brooks Farm
  • Far Enough Farm
  • Riverdale Farm
  • Pingle’s Farm Market

If you’ve enjoyed getting out of the city for your maple syrup fix, and plan to spend some quality time in the city, here are some other events you should consider:

  • Doors Open Toronto
  • Fashion Week
  • Toronto Music Week
  • Toronto Spring Bike Show
  • Toronto Spring Fishing Show
  • The Spring Boat, RV, and Motorcycle Shows

If you’re still stuck for ideas on things to do in Toronto this spring, you just haven’t paid attention. The warm weather is on the way, so if you have some time on your hands, do some spring cleaning around your house, or stroll Toronto’s streets and enjoy the rebirth of our city!

April 9th, 2018

Posted In: Community, Education, Parenting, Uncategorised

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Crestwood Gives – Providing for Families in Need

December is often a month filled with paradox ­

  • Warm spirits in cold weather
  • Extreme loneliness hidden among celebrations of love and friendship
  • Lean poverty amid bountiful generosity
  • Hunger and sorrow overshadowed by feasting and celebration

Though many of these challenges face Canadian families all year round, they usually come to the forefront of our minds around the holidays. Charitable organizations have but four to six weeks to capture the hearts, minds and wallets of those more fortunate.

Give from More than Your Wallet

It takes more than just donations to organizations like the Salvation Army, Daily Bread Food Bank or the The Hospital for Sick Kids Foundation. It takes activism, volunteering and advocacy from all Canadians. Working on a build for a local Habitat for Humanity, or spending time with seniors at a nursing home can be inspiring all year

Making a pledge to dedicate yourself to a cause at this time of year is good for the heart. Keeping that pledge will be good for your soul.

All too often, we pass a mother and her child in a grocery store, and we don’t know she could barely gather enough money for a few days worth of food.

Maybe you and your children meet someone who has just received long term disability status. They could have been denied insurance coverage, or can no longer work because of pain, or injury. Reaching out with support to people in crisis extends beyond that individual to their loved ones.

These people in need, and many others in dire circumstances, may be calling out for help, though we miss their calls. We are often distracted by stories in the media about celebrities, our own material pursuits, or we’re distracted by other trivial matters which seem important at the time.

How to Make a Difference

There are many examples of people paying their good fortune forward which we hear about every day. Small gestures from children can bring joy to an elderly person’s life. Forgiveness between loved ones or friends. Giving of your time, in circumstances like working with special needs children or adults can go just as far as financial donations, in the right spirit.

Communities like Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Canada not only helps boys and girls by providing role models. They, like all organizations that care for children, provide needed respite for mothers and fathers who need time to work, rest, or learn better ways of parenting. Volunteer as a Big Brother, Big Sister or even for a Junior Achievement class and make a difference in a young person’s life, and that of their family.

It Takes a Village

As the saying goes, it takes more than just a mother and a father to raise a child to adulthood. Providing moral guidance and support, not judgement, is in the best interest of a person growing up.

You won’t likely find many legitimate opportunities to help families on your own. Crestwood has partnered with a number of service groups and charities which cater to the well being, safety and security of the most vulnerable Ontario families among us.

Talk to your child about the benefits of being active in their community, and the role of Crestwood in it.

Encourage your children to learn about power of activism such as:

  • Volunteering for charities which focus on family
  • Donations of food, clothing, toys or other goods which would benefit their less fortunate peers
  • Befriending someone at school who has trouble fitting in, is new to the school or just needs a companion
  • Participating in groups that keep the city safe, clean and free of bullying

The opportunity to learn about helping others when a child is young can translate to a lifetime of service, support of community, and engagement in making Canada a better place to work, live and play in. Together with Crestwood, let’s help families in Toronto, and across Canada.

 

April 9th, 2018

Posted In: Community, Education, Nutrition, Parenting, Technology, Uncategorised

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