EDUCATIONAL TOOLS

No, we’re not talking about all the interesting, pushy (and rude) people you’ll surely encounter as you endeavor to parent your child, we’re talking about helping you find the best educational videos, websites, workbooks and more to prepare both you and your child for the next stage(s) in his or her development. From the kindergarten interview to college prep we’ve got the best resources for every important step.

KIDVILLE - PLAYPLACE AND PARENTING CLASSES -NOW IN CANADA

 

As parents of a toddler, my wife and I are always looking for a great place to do things on the weekends with our little girl. And sure, there are a lot of great play places around, but it would be nice to have one with more than just a place for her to run around and tire herself out. So I was happy to hear the Kidville was opening up a local in Toronto. Kidville offers some pretty fun classes that you can take with the kids – cooking, dance, music and more. They also offer camp for kids, a preschool alternative (Kidville University), and an awesome place to hold a birthday party. I took a tour and I have to say, I was thoroughly impressed with the layout, and the themes, and the overall feel of the place. Personally, it made me want to be a kid again. And parents will love it too. I really liked The Wiggle room, where I could play on the floor with the baby while my daughter sat around a table with other kids making Play-Doh animals. They also offer the typical play place, parenting classes, and an amazing mini gym to tire out even the most terrible of toddlers (my daughter beat me at a game of HORSE). Heck, I can keep my little girl occupied for years in this place (up to six), and there are also great programs to do with my little guy too. In short, Kidville is awesome and it’s certainly the place to be (I asked if I could live there).
 
Image Courtesy of Yummymummy.caCheck it out; locations are popping up all over the U.S. (this is the first one in Canada with more plans for expansion). Plan a party. Find great extra-curricular activities and have fun in a place that is safe, and clean, and really well-organized.

The Kidsville Grand Opening in Toronto is Today (August 24th) and tomorrow (August 25th), and is open from 11-3. Stop by and have a look around and enjoy the House Band, Face painting and free reign over the indoor gym (my daughter liked the balance beam, parallel bars and ball pit).

Have fun. Hope to see you there.

www.kidville.ca

EDUCATION: TOOL OF THE WEEK 


OFF THE CHARTS
- A GREAT WAY TO BOND WITH YOUR BABY

It's not every day a company asks a relatively new dad blogger, especially one with my rather unique approach, to review one of their products. Usually that honor would go to the moms. But for some reason The Victoria Chart Company saw something in the ramblings of a new dad just trying to figure out this thing called fatherhood, and thought this might be the guy to put their product to the test.

Was their product in good hands? They didn't know they were giving their product to a former marketing and psychology major. They didn’t know they were giving their product to someone with a keen understanding of retail and online product sales. They didn’t know they were giving their product to a pessimist that is not easily separated from his money. They gave their product to a dad, and it’s as a dad that I am happy to tell you that- after reviewing their product- I'm a big fan of The Victoria Chart Company. And I’m an even bigger fan of their array of colorful, easy to use reward charts that give every dad (and mom) the opportunity to interact with their child in a meaningful, fun way- every day- as they develop and grow in to a little person you can be proud of.

Developed by Victoria Ballard, a recognized expert in the field of positive development in children, these charts employ a simple philosophy based on encouragement and praise. Each chart helps to build a child’s self-esteem and confidence while instilling them with a sense of pride for each new accomplishment. And, as a parent, who wouldn’t want to give that to their child?

But, that’s not to say I took my assignment lightly. I put this product through its paces. I gave it time. After all, learning is a process, and I wanted to make sure my daughter got the full benefit from what this product had to offer. I wanted to make sure it lived up to its promise. 

Here’s the chart we reviewed...

Now, I don’t want to say I have a problem child by any means, but she has her dad’s stubbornness.  And we all know a toddler coming up on the Terrible Twos can be a handful at times- and my child is no different. But, over the almost six months that we have utilized this chart, I have noticed a few key changes in her behavior: 1) She listens, 2) She thinks before she acts, and 3) she understands the satisfaction that comes from a job well done.

Now, you may think every child should be well-behaved at bedtime, or mealtime, or playtime. But try explaining that to an 18-month-old.  I’m sure we’d all like our children to share nicely, or show bravery when faced with an inoculation, or say their P’s and Q’s- but it doesn’t work without some kind of cooperation on their part. Rewards help, but I’m not talking about food, or toys, or money – I’m talking about the self-satisfaction that comes from cooperation and conquering new tasks. We were having a miserable time trying to get my daughter not to hit or bite, but once we put it down in that blank space on the Big Star Chart, we’ve had fewer and fewer incidences, as my daughter knows her bad behaviour will not be rewarded with a gold star, but her self-restraint will.

Most importantly, though, this chart allowed me, a dad, to learn as much about myself as I learned about my daughter. I learned patience as I allowed her to choose from the many colors of smiley faces herself so she could personalize her chart, her way. I learned self-restraint as I let her attempt to place gold stars where she thought they belonged. I learned the value of repetition and having a ritual to follow each and every night. I learned to be strict, as I didn’t let her get away with claiming to have completed a task she had not. And I learned that learning was not about telling your daughter how to do things; it was about giving her the opportunity to try to do better with each attempt.

Did I like the Big Star Chart from The Victoria Chart Company? Do I like a well-behaved child? Do I like a child that gets a sense of pride and self-satisfaction from doing what is asked of her? You bet I do. Do I like that is gives me an opportunity to take a moment out of my day to stop and evaluate both my child’s progress and my own as a parent? It’s one of the highlights of my day. Would I recommend this product to other dads (and moms) looking for a fun, rewarding way to teach their child about responsibility? I’d say that’s a pretty accurate assessment. And you can be sure when my wife and I begin that most important of parenting assignments- potty training- a Victoria Chart Company chart will be on the wall to help us along the way. It's that helpful.

 

PARENTING WEBSITES: PBS KIDS.ORG A GREAT SITE 4 EDUCATIONAL GAMES


Searching for educational games for the younger learner?  Try www.pbskids.org/games/. There are hundreds of free educational games for the younger set on this site, all starring familiar characters from your kid’s favorite books and television shows. There are math games, alphabet games, shape games, even super hero games for them to test their skills on.
 
This site is great! I learned how to measure with Clifford the Dog, how to tell the difference between a square and a circle with Curious George, and how to rhyme with Elmo. There are literally hundreds of fun learning games on this site. Sure, many of them are for a preschool level, and they’re not very complicated, but that’s the point!

We loved this site, and we know your little learner will too. But, hey, if he doesn’t here’s a few more you can try courtesy of Angela Watson, creator of The Corner Stone for Teachers.Com, a fantastic resource for teachers and parents alike:

•    Top 10 free educational game websites for kids

And that’s this week’s education in fun, free educational game websites for kids. Check ‘em out, and make sure to let us know what you think.  -F4F