Thursday | October 6, 2022

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

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


How to Smooth the Transition From Public to Private School

You have made the decision to put your child in private school.

​Making the transition from one school to another is often challenging, but the transition from public to private school can sometimes add another layer of change.

Often, kids who make the switch will have to figure out a new commute to school, make new friends, adjust to different teachers and establish a new routine. When adjusting to private school, however, other things might change as well. Students might also have a uniform for the first time, the curriculum may be more rigorous, and the academic culture might not be what they are used to.

In time, things will get easier and kids adjust well. If you want to ensure a smooth transition, here are a few tips to make the process easier.

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]                             “Tremendous Opportunity for Success”[/pullquote]

The commute. Your child will likely have attended a public school that was in close proximity to your home. You may even have been able to walk to school. But choosing a private school can sometimes mean a new or further commute. Plan your route in advance. Will you be driving your child or will your child be taking public transportation. Make sure you know how long it will take to get to and from school during rush hour so you allot enough time to get there safely on time. If your child will be taking a bus or train, practice the route in advance so your child can confidently make their way to school. Do you have a safety plan in place so your child can reach you if they get lost or if you’re late. Do they have a key to the house in case they now arrive home before you? Do they have enough snacks in their bag in case their commute is longer and they get home later than they used to? This is a great time to think about the commute and put plans in place as you begin a new school.

Uniforms. Your child might be required to wear a uniform for the first time. Have a positive attitude and discuss the benefits with your child if your child is anxious about the change. A uniform means that they don’t have to labour over what to wear in the morning. Students will be judged by their peers by their ideas, not their shoes. It makes getting ready in the morning faster and easier. Take your child for a fitting and make sure their uniforms fit well. Stock up on essentials so your child has enough clothing to last the next several months. Then on the first day, they will look around and realize they fit right in.

 Academic culture. There is a difference between the culture at private and public schools. This can vary between private schools too, but either way, your child is likely to notice a difference. Things like teacher expectations, smaller class sizes, more rigorous curriculum, greater choice of extra-curricular activities and new travel opportunities can feel overwhelming. Go online and read about your new school in advance so you know what to expect. There may be online content describing what your child is likely to experience at their new school. Talk to other students who attend the school. Be prepared with a list of questions. Is your child curious about how students interact with their teachers when the classes are smaller? Are they worried about whether they might be behind in a certain subject? Do you meed to provide a tutor for your child. Speak to the principal about what supports might be in place to help your child if they need it. Chances are, your new school is more than prepared with answers to any questions you may have.

Mentor opportunities. Don’t be afraid to ask for a mentor if one hasn’t been assigned. Often, private schools have a plan in place to help welcome new students into the fold. They might have networking opportunities for parents to get to know one another in advance. Teachers might plan class trips early in the year to help students get to know one another. Some schools might even assign peer-to-peer mentors to new students. This is a great opportunity to be guided by someone who has experience at the school and can teach your child the ins and outs of being a student in this new environment.

​Personal attention: Smaller class sizes with well qualified and accessible teachers provide unique care for each student in private schools. Individual learning plans are the norm. This supportive environment means students receive tremendous opportunities for success in high school. And there is a wide array of resources and guidance available to help students prepare for university or college.

Starting anything new can be stressful, but it is also an exciting opportunity for your child to spread their wings, grow and develop into mature, responsible, successful adults. If you’re prepared in advance, the transition is sure to be a smooth one for your child.

March 29th, 2018

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

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,


Devices and Your Teen’s Developing Brain

We all know that too much screen time is bad for little kids. This includes time spent using iPhones, iPads, video games and computers. Many studies have exposed that too much screen time for little kids can cause permanent damage to their brains. In fact, it can interfere with a child’s ability to focus, concentrate and communicate as they grow older.

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]                      “over use of social media can lead to anxiety“[/pullquote]

But do high-tech devices have the same impact on our teenager’s brains, or is more screen time okay for teenagers? It seems to all depend.

​Some screen time is important and even essential for teens. Using a computer is a great way to conduct research or type up school assignments. Phones are an important method of communication and have become increasingly important as a way of interacting with peers. Video games and time spent playing on an iPad are fun and can be a great way to unwind with friends.

But moderation is the key. This is especially important since a person’s brain isn’t fully developed until age 25. This means that too much screen time can definitely negatively affect a teenager’s developing brain. Here’s how:

Too much screen time can lead to dangerous addiction. According to one 2013 study, addiction is linked with depression, impulsiveness and traits associated with autism. It occurs when addicts turn to technology to experience a rush, which is what happens when dopamine floods the brain. The need for this pleasurable sensation fights with the brain’s ability to think rationally and use restraint.

Though you might not think getting a rush from technology is a particular problem, it can actually be deadly. What happens when a teenager is so addicted to their phone that it interferes with their ability to drive safely? They might text and drive or check their phone while behind the wheel, which is dangerous. It can also be illegal depending on where you live.

Technology is not only addictive to the teenaged brain, but over use of social media can lead to anxiety, depression and a loss of interest in socializing face-to-face. Experts have seen an alarming rise in tech-related mental health issues. Parents are being called upon to limit their teen’s time spent on social media, to enforce tech-free family time and eliminate phones from their teenager’s bedrooms at night. It’s all in an effort to ensure their teenager has a healthy balance of socializing, exercise and interaction outside of the virtual world.

Too much screen time can also affect a teen’s ability to sleep. Sleeping and dreaming are essential to developing and maintaining long-term memory. When a teenager is on their phone late into the night, they aren’t getting the sleep they need for their brains to properly function.

In addition to its impact on the brain, over use of technology can have negative physical side effects as well. Too much screen time can lead to eye strain, headaches, tendonitis of the wrist and pain in the neck, shoulders and back.

While technology can have negative impacts on the developing teenager’s brain, we must also recognize it’s an important part of life today. In fact, we can’t live without it. The key is to ensure our teens have balance in their lives. It’s important they socialize with friends, interact with real people, get enough sleep, and not let technology interfere with their physical safety and mental well being.

February 19th, 2018

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

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Helping Older Kids Understand Extreme Cold Weather Conditions

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]It does not take long for intense cold weather to negatively affect your children when outside.[/pullquote]

The winter can be a fun season.

There’s so much to do outdoors, like skiing, tobogganing and ice skating. But extreme cold weather can mean risks to your health and safety. Often, parents worry about cold weather as it relates to little children. We bundle them up warmly and know they’re protected from the elements.

It’s easy to assume older children will know how to dress themselves warmly and appropriately for cold weather, but it’s not always the case. Not only are snow pants for teenagers sometimes seen as “uncool,” but older kids might either not check the forecast or underestimate the dangers of -20 degree Celsius weather.

That’s why it’s especially important for parents and older kids to develop an awareness of extreme cold weather conditions—what it means, the dangers it presents and how to prevent things like frostbite and hypothermia.

An Extreme Cold Weather Alert is issued when Environment Canada predicts a forecast of -20 degrees Celsius or colder or a wind chill of -30 degrees. Whether your kids walk to school or go outside at lunch or recess, exposure to cold weather can lead to respiratory illnesses like colds and flu, frostbite and hypothermia. Some of these conditions will require immediate medical attention.

To limit illness and exposure to the elements, you’ll want to ensure your older kids know how to stay warm and dry. A few things to note:

Check the forecast. When you get up in the morning, put on the news or check a weather app on your phone. What will the temperature be throughout the day? Will it be a dry day or does the forecast call for precipitation? What is the temperature with the windchill factored in?

Dress in layers. Wool and fleece hold heat better than cotton and make great inner layers. Top inner layers with waterproof and windproof outer layers and warm, waterproof boots. If you’re planning to spend any time doing outdoor activities, wear thermal leggings, warm socks and snow pants. You can even buy special mitten and boot inserts at sporting goods stores to warm your hands and feet if you’re going to be skiing or skating, for instance.

Cover exposed skin. Wear a hat that covers your ears, warm mittens (instead of gloves) and a scarf or neck warmer to prevent wind from touching your skin. Make sure to zip up your jacket and cover your face against the biting wind to prevent skin from painful frostbite.

Change wet clothing. If you’re wet or have been sweating, you’ll want to change into warm, dry clothes as soon as possible to prevent developing hypothermia.

Reschedule outdoor activities. If extreme cold weather is forecasted, your school might reschedule that ski trip you were looking forward to. You should also consider rescheduling other outdoor activities, like skating with friends, and plan to do something indoors, such as see a movie instead. An indoor activity would be a much safer idea on days like these. You might also want to take public transportation or ask for a ride rather than walk to school or your friend’s house if the weather is expected to be extremely cold.

Know the signs. Frostbite can occur when skin is exposed to extreme cold. Skin will freeze and die when temperatures are so cold that blood can no longer circulate. It can affect any area of skin, including cheeks, nose, hands and feet. Skin will turn yellowish and feel stinging or numbness. The condition requires medical attention, but there are things you can do in the meantime. You’ll need to remove tight clothing or jewellery and warm your hands in your armpits, which retains heat. Get inside immediately. You can even immerse frozen fingers and toes in warm water.

​Hypothermia, another cold-weather-related condition, occurs when the body’s temperature drops below 35 degrees. Symptoms include shivering and confusion and, if untreated, can result in organ failure and death. Warning signs for kids include bright red, cold skin and very little energy. Seek medical attention immediately. While waiting for medical help, replace wet clothing with dry, get indoors, wrap the body with warm blankets and drink warm liquids.

It does not take long for intense cold weather to negatively affect your children when outside. Just take a variety of precautions to help them understand how to reduce their chances of overexposure.

 

January 9th, 2018

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

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Moving to Toronto

Toronto is a great city. In fact, it’s consistently ranked one of the best and most livable cities. With a population of 2.79 million people and 5.5 million in the Greater Toronto Area, it’s Canada’s largest city and one of the most multicultural on the planet.

If you’re moving to Toronto, it can be overwhelming and exciting at the same time. Here are a few things you should know:

Toronto is one of the safest large cities in the world. You can ride the subway and walk around, even at night, without worrying. But there are still some areas that are safer than others. Make sure you know where you’re going before you end up in the wrong part of town. How can you learn more about where to go and not go? Torontonians are friendly—ask someone for help if you’re lost or need directions. Pick up a local paper for recommendations on where to go and things to do. Toronto Life magazine, Toronto Star and Metronews (a free paper) are great places to start. They won’t steer you wrong. There are also lots of websites, such as toronto.com or tripadvisor.ca you can visit and books to read that will offer you advice about the best places to see—and the places to avoid.

Toronto is very multicultural—and cultural. That means there are lots of neighbourhoods to explore and festivals to attend. The summer is an especially good time to check out all the culture Toronto has to offer. There’s Pride festivities, Taste of the Danforth, food truck festivals and jazz and arts celebrations. Visit the Beaches, Queen Street West, Yorkville and Harbourfront, to name a few popular destinations. There is so much amazing food to eat and things to see, so whatever you’re craving, Toronto is a haven for culture. No matter who you are or where you’re from, everyone is welcome in Toronto.

Ride the Rocket. You’ve probably heard that traffic in Toronto is atrocious. Whomever told you that is right. Learn to ride the TTC subway system and use the bus routes. You can get a student rate on a Metropass or pay the regular fare, which is $3.25. The TTC’s website (ttc.ca) has lots of information to help you get where you need to go. More above-ground routes are being planned to make the city even more accessible. You can even take a train directly from Union Station to Pearson International airport. If you enjoy biking, there are lots of bike lanes in the downtown core. Or you can always take a taxi or hop in an Uber. If you’re driving, look for Green P parking or other paid lots. Pay attention to parking signs or you could end up with a ticket. And don’t text and drive or drink and drive. The police are always monitoring to ensure drivers are driving safely and obeying the laws of the road.

The city is expensive. There’s no way to sugar coat it. Housing is especially costly—the average detached home is now more than $1 million. Rent can also be high, but the good news is there are lots of condos and apartments for rent in every part of the city. Do you know where you want to live? Do you have a roommate to share the cost? Is student housing available to you? Do your research and find some place convenient and affordable. While housing prices are high, other things can be found on the cheap. Get recommendations from foodies to find delicious, affordable places to eat. There’s lots to be found. “Street meat” (hot dogs sold by vendors on street corners) is tasty and cheap.

Make friends. Toronto is a big city and it can be overwhelming when you first arrive. You’ll want to do your best to meet people. While it can be scary at first, this is a great opportunity to explore new interests and get involved. Join a gym, sign up for a class, volunteer or participate in a local student group. There are no shortage of ways to meet people. You will quickly find that Toronto is home.

June 28th, 2017

Posted In: Community, Uncategorised

Tags: , , , , , , , ,


« Previous Page