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MARKETPL ACE Etsy Made In Canada September 29, 9am-4pm Kitchener City Hall

Etsy Holiday Market November 24, 10am-5pm RIM Park, Waterloo

*The Holistic Parent is proud to be a sponsor*

Local Typographic Maps & Custom Birth Announcements!

Hand Poured with Natural Soy Wax Canadian Made

The Holistic Parent is thrilled to be working with Etsy Waterloo Region to help promote local makers and their products. If you are a member of EtsyWR or a vendor at an EtsyWR show and would like to be included on this page in a future issue, please contact Elaine Kapogines at

FOOD IN OUR SCHOOLS Where nutrition meets education BY JANE HOBSON


CONTRIBUTORS Meet the people who made this issue awesome PAGE 4

UP FRONT Kid-pleasing, plant-based yumminess PAGE 6

PRODUCTS Fill their backpacks with eco goodness PAGE 8


MIND The Truth About Our Bodies PAGE 10

BODY Battling BFFs PAGE 12

SPIRIT Facing Cancer PAGE 14

MOTHERS OF INFLUENCE Sweet & Wild: Carly Longshaw PAGE 30



Alternative education to promote inclusivity PAGE 21


Nature play in early childhood settings PAGE 25


Building confidence through gentle parenting PAGE 28

ON THE COVER The adorable cover image is an illstration by the team from Made By Emblem.





SHEENA BOUNSANGA ECE | Mindfulness Instructor Sheena is an early childhood educator and mindfulness instructor. She’s worked with hundreds of kids, parents and teachers, both privately and within schools, helping kids find their calm. Her mindfulness workshops can be found across North America. She is also the owner of and the co-creator of You can find her article A School of One’s Own on PAGE 21.

Volume 04, Issue 03 | Fall 2018

PUBLISHER | EDITOR Elaine Kapogines ART DIRECTION Erik Mohr (Creative Director)

TANYA CHURCH Registered Holistic Nutritionist | Entrepreneur

Ian Sullivan Cant (Associate Art Director) Saadia Kardar (Graphic Designer) Sally Tan Soriano (Production)

Tanya is a registered holistic nutritionist who has a passion for educating others on the healing power of whole foods, natural supplements and self care to rebalance their bodies and life their best lives. She is the owner of TLC Holistic (, which creates plant-based meals, snacks and staples using organic, local and non-gmo ingredients available in store and via home delivery. Fill your kiddos’ lunch with Tanya’s delicious recipes, entitled Kid Approved on PAGE 6.

LINDSAY FORD Positive Discipline Expert

Temple Ray Marucci-Campbell (Intern) ADVERTISING DESIGNER



Sheena Bounsanga, Tanya Church, Lindsay Ford, Dr. Jen Forristal, Ryan Hasbury, Natasha Kocher, Carly Longshow, Rashmi Sanjay, Nicole Schiener PROOFREADER

Lesley Wiltshire

Lindsay is certified in Positive Discipline and spends her time helping parents with young children in areas such as tantrums, whining, hitting, sibling rivalry, bedtime hassles, picky eating, or just plain not listening. Through the lens of gentle parenting, she works with clients to find solutions that work for both child and parent. You can find her at To read her article The Shy Kid, check out PAGE 28.



Wiltshire Media The Holistic Parent magazine is published three times per year. All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may be reproduced without the written consent of the publisher © 2018 Copies are available for free at one of our 90+ community partners in the Waterloo Region, Wellington County and surrounding areas. Visit for a list of distributors. ISSN 2368-6790 Publications Mail Agreement No. 42845523

Natasha is the founder of Red River Early Learning Centre (, a nature-centred, Waldorf-inspired childcare program in Waterloo. Ryan has been an integral team member since it opened in 2014. Natasha is an enthusiastic and energetic professional educator with years of experience in emergent curriculum models. Ryan’s background in electronics and engineering has lead to some brilliant, outside-of-the-box learning in the program. The duo co-wrote Fairies, Toads & A Slayed Dragon on PAGE 25.




kid-friendly kitchen sink cookies

KID APPROVED A plant-based twist on some lunchtime classics Recipes by TANYA CHURCH


classic minestrone


Soups are an amazing way to get in a ton of nutrition all in one bowl and are easy to pack for those fall days ahead. The addition of fun pasta shapes (gluten-free if desired) and small diced veggies in a rainbow of colour set the tone for this fun and delicious soup. Heat this soup in the morning, load the thermos, grab a spoon and feel good about sending the little ones off to school with this beautiful one pot homemade meal. Bread cut into fun shapes using simple cookie cutters are a fun side providing a serving of whole sprouted grains and something to dip! Feel very free to use your own stock as a base, but if you are looking for a faster way there are amazing organic options out there that are yeast, gluten and sodium free if desired. 7 CUPS VEGETABLE BROTH OF CHOICE 1 ONION 5 RIBS OF CELERY 2 CARROTS 1 LARGE POTATO OR SWEET POTATO 3 TSP FRESH ROSEMARY 4 CLOVES OF GARLIC, MINCED



In a large stock pot, sautee onion, carrots and celery using in a few tablespoons of water or coconut oil for 3-5 minutes. Add diced potato, rosemary, garlic and bay leaf. Add lentils and the broth and simmer for 15-20 mins. Add the pasta and cabbage and simmer an additional 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add lemon juice and the vinegar and salt to taste. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week and for easy weeknight dinners freeze in single serving containers.



This play on our TLC Kitchen Sink Cookies is made over for little hands! Kids see cookies but only you will know the secret of all of the goodness that is hidden inside these nut-free, gluten-free little gems. (Don’t worry, your secret is safe with us!) It can be hard to find snacks that provide whole food nutrition, have kid-approved taste with a serving of cruciferous veggies, are school-friendly, completely organic and are quick and easy to prepare. We think these one bowl wonders fit the bill, and you can play around with your add-ins depending on the likes and needs of your little ones.



Other optional add-ins include dried fruit, raisins, cacao nibs, hemp seeds. Set oven to 350 degrees F and prepare two baking sheets with parchment paper or lightly grease with coconut oil. Mix ground flax with water and set aside for 15 minutes to make your “flax eggs.” Mash the bananas in a large bowl and continue to add all wet ingredients finishing with the flax eggs. Mix well and add dry ingredients. Place evenly apart on prepared baking sheets using a small ice cream scoop. Bake for 13-14 minutes. Let cool on the pan for 10 minutes as they will be quite soft. Transfer to a cooling rack. Store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to five days or keep in freezer for fast snack options for up to three months. Yields approximately 15-18 cookies. BONUS RECIPE! STRAWBERRY SUPREME OVERNIGHT OATS AT WWW.THEHOLISTICPARENT.CA

We are here to help both couples and individuals create the most fulfilling relationships and lives possible! Bliss Counselling is a boutique private practice located in Uptown Waterloo with a specialization in providing evidence-based tailored counselling services to meet your needs. Our skilled associates have extensive experience and training in supporting clients who have a desire to better cope with life’s challenges. At Bliss Counselling our team consists of psychotherapists, clinical social workers, EMDR practitioners, hypnotherapists, sexologists, meditation teachers, and counsellors who represent some of KW’s leading experts in relationship and sex therapy. Psychotherapy and counselling provide a platform to enrich, challenge and motivate one self. With therapeutic guidance and dedicated time to examine patterns, build skills and develop a deeper understanding of your strengths, and how to use them, you can become more effective in your life. You will learn about your relationships, your predictive behaviours and habits, and ultimately what is holding you back from living your best life. In our therapy offices, you will find a comfortable, and relaxed vibe that is non-judgmental and where we all strive to improve ourselves. If you have a relationship, life transition, career or personal stress, anxiety, grief, trauma, or family concern, seeking therapy is the right thing to do. Call or book an appointment online. We look forward to meeting you! 226.647.4123• We are a group of professionally accredited therapists therefore, many Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) and extended health care plans will cover our services.

Bliss is Dedicated to Helping You • Work through challenges of parenthood • Address pregnancy and postpartum concerns • Establish an active sexual life after childbirth • Manage stress and anxiety • Increase self-confidence • Improve body image • Create more fulfilling relationships (intimate, familial and social) • Address feelings of depression/sadness/ emptiness and/or loneliness • Break out of patterns that are causing uninspired sexual ruts or avoidance of sexual interactions • Take steps toward reestablishing trust and intimacy • Communicate more effectively • Learn to better handle conflict, either acute or ongoing • Heal from past trauma • Navigate grief and loss • Inspire personal growth • Identify attachment disorders Fall 2018 THE HOLISTIC PARENT 7

s d i K e i p p i H


Fill their backpacks with all the eco goodness


Dubbawalla Machine-washable, durable and made from an eco-friendly material (neoprene-like eco-sponge), this lunch bag by Dubbawalla will be a hit with both mom and your little school-goer. A range of Dubbawalla products can be found at Waterloo-based Fenigo. $40 |





Upcycled Creations Canada This travel placement includes a cutlery pocket and is especially great for those with allergies to reduce the chance of cross contamination on school tabletops. $35 (includes cutlery) |


Love Child Organics Love Child Organics Oaty Chomps are an organic oat, fruit and veggie bar made with the added goodness of chia seeds. With no added sugar, they are a delicious and nutritious addition to anyone’s snack pack. $3.49-$4.49 |


Buck Naked Soap Company Be prepared for the dry air inside of most schools by tucking Buck Naked’s long-lasting lip butter into your kids’ backpacks. It’s soft, smooth, unscented and vegan. $4 |


Welo Welo’s probiotic cold presses contain an antioxidant tea base, organic fruits and veggies and two days worth of probiotics! With seven flavours to choose from, there’s something for everyone. And will make a great choice for teens and pre-teens on the go! Find these juices locally at J&P Grocery and Chelsea Market.

Fit Cricket Nutrition Fit Cricket provides sustainable protein in the form of bars and powders. The bars contain only eight natural ingredients, 10g of protein, no dairy, soy, gluten, refined sugars or preservatives wrapped in biodegradable packaging. Good for you, good for the planet — and super fun to throw into your kiddos’ lunch bag.

$4.99 |

$24 for a 6-pack sampler |





THE TRUTH ABOUT OUR BODIES Surrender, accept, love and let go by NICOLE SCHIENER


adness still falls over me as I remember how awkward and terrified I felt as my body changed and got bigger during my teen years. I stared at the girls in the magazine wishing I was just like them. But as my flat front grew bustier and everything started to jiggle, I cringed as my large breasts were ogled and became the subject of conversation at school. I felt like an object and wished somehow I could hide. Desperate to stop the widening spare tire around my middle, I started logging my food intake daily. I tried depriving myself of food, but by dinner I was starving. Luckily, I never developed a full eating disorder. Like so many of the young women I have counselled over the years, I struggled to see the beautiful person I was despite my increasing size. Everywhere we look, girls and women are flooded with impossible standards and air-brushed images of perfect complexions and flat stomachs. Sadly, as girls move into womanhood, so many of us get caught in the lies that we are not good enough, pretty enough, skinny enough. And people can be cruel. I vividly remember shame sweeping over me like a tidal wave in the backseat when my grandmother refused the chocolate bar she always gave me. I was heartbroken when she said I was too fat for it. Crushed under the weight of her cruelty, I couldn’t help but think maybe she was right as many of my clothes no longer fit. For years, I felt ashamed to be in a bathing suit. I often insisted on making love with the lights out. It wasn’t until I became pregnant with my son in 2006 that I finally began to love



Fall 2018

take away ...

I decided finally that my body deserved unconditional love and acceptance. I surrendered.

my body. Having felt the agony of miscarrying my first child, my heart overflowed with gratitude for this tiny life growing inside me. Standing in front of the full-length mirror naked, as my skin stretched and grew, I was reminded that this child was thriving. This baby was being gifted to me despite the loss of my first. There was no denying I was going to become a mother, I already was. So in awe of this miracle, staring at my beautiful bump, glowing skin and an even more voluptuous bosom, I decided finally that my body deserved unconditional love and acceptance. I surrendered. There is no way of knowing how our body is going to change after babies. I’m not sure whether to call it a miracle, but between nursing and being more physically active than ever in my life, I feel healthier and sexier now as a mom. Even though, I still have rolls and my arms jiggle, which my son loves to point out, I’m learning to truly love and listen to the wisdom of my body. Daily mindfulness and moving my body regularly for pleasure has led me to give up alcohol and most recently meat and to finally wear a bikini for our 10 year wedding anniversary trip. Letting go of my preoccupation with my weight has been so freeing but it definitely wasn’t easy. I had to bust through the beauty myths. I had to let go of my happiness being so tied up with how I looked or thought I should look. I had to fall into the grace of deepening gratitude for all parts and systems within my body. Now when I look in the mirror, I see beyond the tummy rolls, adult acne and wrinkles. I see kind eyes, an inquisitive mind and a sensitive soul. What can you truly see? NICOLE SCHIENER is a registered psychotherapist, soulful

writer and public speaker. She is the proud mama of two passionate little people, 7 and 10 years old. Find her poetry and inspiration on Facebook at “Peace and Possibility.” Follow along on her conscious parenting journey on Instagram @mindfulmama_nsm.

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BATTLING BFFS What to do about friend drama take away



e know that friendships are critical to our children’s wellbeing, but they can also be the biggest challenge for many kids and make school a place of continuous stress and turmoil. “I felt left out,” “I think they were whispering about me,” and “They said I couldn’t play today” are familiar words for many parents. Frequently it’s not considered bullying, but these small, day-to-day moments dot the landscape of a child’s experience with their peers and slowly grind away at their happiness. Children are especially susceptible to trying coping strategies with short-term rewards. Pouting, manipulating situations, ignoring peers and the like collectively make up the “friend drama” that most children experience at some point. I would love to say this problem is isolated to a brief stage of development, but the reality is that your child is destined to face these relationship bumps many times throughout their lives. As a parent, it can be heartbreaking to watch your child walk through these experiences, but the truth is that these situations can be a normal and important part of development. If navigated properly, these relationships can help your child develop the critical skills and resilience they will need for bigger conflicts down the road. So, while I can’t promise you a drama-free year, here are some steps you can take to turn this otherwise negative situation into something you child will grow from.


Difficulty with peers is a normal part of growing up. By talking to your children in advance about how people have grumpy days, don’t always think of others first, or sometimes make poor choices, you can help them feel less blindsided when it does



Fall 2018


Empowerment is the goal when it comes to interpersonal dynamics. Solving problems for them won’t make them better prepared for next time.

happen. Normalizing the experience in advance will aid your child in understanding that this is something everyone goes through and will help them feel less like a victim when it does. Take a few minutes to support them in thinking through what they can and can’t control. For example, we can’t control if someone is in a bad mood, but we can control our own empathy and think about what might have put them in a bad mood in the first place. A LITTLE EMPATHY GOES A LONG WAY

When your child does come home with a new bit of friend drama to report, be sure to lead with empathy. It may seem silly or blown out of proportion to you, but these are important moments for your child. When we immediately try to boost their self-esteem or talk them out of their feelings, they only have to fight harder to be heard. This can escalate the feeling for them and have the reverse effect of what you were hoping. Make sure you hear and acknowledge their feelings before adding your input. It can be as simple as letting them talk and acknowledging that it must be hard to feel that way. Accepting their feelings as real for them doesn’t mean you have to agree with them, only that you are hearing what they are experiencing. PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT

Provide coaching, encouragement and support that focuses on problem solving, and only get involved when necessary. Overinvolvement from parents can inadvertently give our children the message that we don’t think they can handle these situations. Remind your children that other kids use these hurtful strategies because they want love and attention, just like your child does, it’s just that they’re going about it in a way that’s less than ideal. Empowerment is the goal when it comes to interpersonal dynamics. Solving problems for them won’t make them better prepared for next time. So start this school year by helping your child understand that some conflict is normal and even beneficial. Help them learn to expect these challenges, and then empathetically coach them through as they build the coping skills that will help them navigate the ups and downs of friendship and have happy and empowered relationships. DR. JEN FORRISTAL is a naturopathic doctor specializing in family medicine and pediatrics. She practices at True Wellness Integrative Health Centre by Fiddleheads in Kitchener. Visit her at

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FIGHING WITH FAITH Faith and the battle for happiness Story by RASHMI SANJAY


was no stranger to heartbreak. I have been broken, endured loss and grieved. After four years of trying to get pregnant and four miscarriages later, my husband, Sanjay, and I were told we could never have kids. But life had other ideas. When I found out I was pregnant for a fifth time, I was sure that my body would reject this pregnancy as well, but as the weeks and months went by, things got real and we were blessed with a beautiful daughter, Rhea, in 2008, and 21 months later my son, Eshan, in 2010. My gynecologist asked me, “How did this happen? How is this possible?” I know exactly how, I said with a smile. My trust in faith just grew stronger. So only seven short years later, to hear my children ask “You will never be able to read us bedtime stories or play with us?” and “You will never be able to hug us anymore?” I was shattered all over again. My heart broke into a million pieces. I had been diagnosed with a rare tumor on my spinal cord and was scheduled for surgery. My prognosis meant I would end up a quadriplegic and/or on a ventilator permanently. After living through years of tragic loss of one child after another, I was not willing to accept that my fate was to live unhappily ever after with my tumor prognosis. This was going to be my biggest fight yet, not just for me but for my family. My surgery took place on September 27, 2017, and lasted 6.5 hrs. I was moved into the ICU after surgery, and woke up able to move my fingers and toes, which was the extent of the movement in my entire body. I couldn’t see clearly and was in excruciating pain. Pumped up with high doses of pain killers, I was hallucinating. I could see myself outside my own body. I saw people around me — my mom, Sanjay, doctors and nurses — but I couldn’t hear anything they said or feel my body.



take away ...

I was not willing to accept that my fate was to live unhappily ever after with my tumor prognosis.

The nurses came by every hour to check my vitals and poked my body with a needle, but I couldn’t feel a thing on my left arm. I had pins and needles in my back and scalp, and was told my sensory nerves were damaged from the surgery. But I slowly started to realize what was happening around me, and Sanjay said it was the first time I’d actually responded correctly to the nurse’s questions. I asked him how many hours had passed since my surgery — he said it had been three days. On day four, my body went into shock, my lungs started to collapse because of the high doses of medications given directly into my blood stream and I was put on oxygen immediately. On day five, with the help of three hospital staff, they tried to get me up to sit — I barely lasted for a few minutes. I couldn’t use my legs and arms, and was told I had partial paralysis, also known as palsy, loss of motor function that affects one or more muscles in the body. On day eight, I was transported to West Park Neuro Rehab in Toronto as an inpatient. The very first day Sanjay put up cards the kids had made and some pictures of our family in my room — a consent reminder of my goal. Today, 10 months since my surgery, having completed eight months of physiotherapy and occupational therapy at the neuro rehab centre and at home with my family, I’m so grateful to be able to walk, talk and breathe on my own — life’s most precious gifts we all take for granted. Throughout my fight, I kept hearing about a “positive attitude,” but what is it really? I was upset and angry at the diagnosis. Why me? How was I supposed to stay positive with news like this? I soon realized that the only thing certain was the uncertainty of it all, and once I accepted that, everything just fell in place. I started to focus on what I could do better to help myself come out of this situation, like continuing my yoga and meditation practice, and focusing on my children to help motivate me. They taught me — and continue to teach me — to enrich every moment, to be more open and communicate, to be patient and find joy in simple things, to just laugh out loud and never take life for granted, to love deeply and to keep my priorities in perspective, and most importantly, to keep my faith. RASHMI SANJAY is a Kitchener-based mom who’s

inspiring story has been covered by major media outlets including CBC and CTV. She is also a yoga and Bollywood dance instructor. To read more about her story, visit

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Where nutrition meets education Story By JANE HOBSON


ll parents have a goal to raise happy, healthy children. In recent years, there’s been a buzz around conversations involving food in schools. Schools have implemented policies to promote healthy eating that encourage parents to pack nutritional, healthy food to sustain their child throughout the school day. Some of these policies include asking students to eat their treat foods last and encouraging them to finish their entire lunch before going out to play at recess. Many parents feel that schools have become too involved in what children have in their lunchboxes. Some parents have even received notes home from the school criticizing the lunch they packed. Others have heard stories about kids being too nervous to bring grandma’s cookies to school for fear they will be seen as “unhealthy.” Healthcare professionals worry that school’s well-intentioned food policies could be doing more harm than good, resulting in issues with body-confidence and disordered eating habits.

With so many differing opinions about what a healthy diet for children should look like, and the role that schools should play when it comes to healthy lunches, food in our schools is in a seriously delicate state. “Your relationship with food is established when you’re a child and carries out through your life,” says Kelly Forster, a registered dietitian working for Canadian Mental Health Association Waterloo Wellington. “We need to be very mindful about this when talking to children about food.” Schools currently tend to teach students about food by discussing it in an oversimplified good-bad dichotomy that encompasses ideas such as healthy versus unhealthy and sugary versus non-sugary. Forster says this dichotomy can be very damaging to vulnerable children and has the potential to cause serious problems into adulthood. “Teaching nutrition to kids this way introduces the idea that there’s something wrong with them for wanting

food that’s considered ‘bad,’” Forster explains. Encouraging students to eat treat foods last seems harmless and reasonable on the surface, but it reinforces the idea of good versus bad. “Sometimes it can cause kids to want more which can lead to sneaking and bingeing behaviours. It can cause them to start restricting what they decide to eat or to resent other foods.” As a mom herself, Forster decided to create a curriculum-based nutrition program as a resource for teachers. The program, called Eating Well and Enjoying Food, provides information about how to teach students about nutrition without fear and judgment. “Of course schools always intend to do what’s best for students, but sometimes they don’t have all the knowledge and information they need,” Forster says. “The program provides a dialogue for nutrition in schools that wasn’t previously there. It’s something often already believed [by the teachers] but didn’t know how to express.”




Encouraging students to eat certain foods first is about giving them the opportunity to make educated decisions, explains Jordan Eastway, an early childhood educator at Preston Public School in Cambridge who is also a mom of two. “We talk [to students] about how food makes them feel. We explain what foods do for them. We talk about the energy the food will give them and we let them decide what to eat.” The problem schools face is that they are often unaware that this teachable-moment approach to food can make mealtime feel tense and judgmental for students. “If kids are told they can’t eat that now, or this has too much sugar, or that’s unhealthy, then eating becomes stressful and that’s where things have the potential to go wrong,” says Suzanne Dietrich, a mother of two and a non-diet registered dietitian in Waterloo Region. “Kids should be taught to explore food rather than to be given warnings.” Her practice focuses on helping people move away from disordered eating to develop a healthy relationship with food and with the body. She says some of her clients are as



young as grade-school-aged. Dietrich and Forster agree that a healthy relationship with food is one that is curious and free of judgment. It includes trying new foods, having treats and eating “healthy” foods, all without commenting. And it starts at home. Parents and teachers must become more aware of their own relationship with food, what they say about themselves and how they feel about their bodies. The attitude of guilt and self-judgment related to eating is rampant in our society and kids pick up on those mentalities. To discredit the superficial link that food is the sole influence on weight, and that weight is an important indicator of health Dietrich says parents and teachers should be promoting health-enhancing behaviours, such as physical activity, adequate sleep, self-compassion and body respect. In addition that body-shape diversity is genetically predetermined. “Nutrition isn’t just about food. Nutrition is also about cultural traditions of eating, which includes what we put in our mouths, when and how we consume this food. This may mean eating with our

fingers or chopsticks, on the ground or enjoying homemade cured meats. We’re part of a generation that actually cares about how we treat ourselves and how we move our bodies — that’s a good thing to pass on to our children, but let’s approach it with welcome curiosity, rather than judgement.” The Region of Waterloo Public Health website states that childcare providers must “let children decide which foods to eat and how much to eat.” This means parents and teachers need to trust that children will eat enough, Dietrich says, adding that each key stakeholder must honour their respective roles. “Parents are responsible for deciding what to pack in the lunch; children are responsible for deciding whether they will eat and how much they will eat; schools are responsible for deciding when and where students will eat; Public Health is responsible for providing schools with sciencebased knowledge about nutrition, learning and health,” Dietrich explains, quoting author Ellyn Sutter, an internationally recognized authority on eating and feeding.


“If kids are told they can’t eat that now, or this has too much sugar, or that’s unhealthy, then eating becomes stressful and that’s where things have the potential to go wrong.”

Muddying-up these roles is problematic for everyone involved. “Disordered eating starts when people use only external sources to figure out what they will or will not put in their bodies, instead of trusting the internal [hunger and fullness] cues.” Ignoring natural hunger cues impacts mood, patience and the ability to concentrate. For this reason, Eastway explains, her school has an open-ended snack-time program. This means students are allowed to get up and eat a nutritious snack even if it’s not a designated eating time. “We want all the students to do their best, so we allow them to eat whenever they need to,” Eastway says. “We realize that parents are constantly doing their best with what they have. We always take a step back from personal ideas of what a lunch should look like [at school],” she adds. For students who arrive at school without snacks or lunch, there are programs like Nutrition for Learning. “We’re trying to get to kids at ground level to teach them that no matter the circumstances, not to go all day without food,” says Mary D’Alton, the

executive director at Nutrition for Learning, a volunteer-based program that supplies nutritious foods to more than 120 schools in Waterloo Region from Elmira to Cambridge. Many socio-economic factors affect parents’ ability to access food for their children, D’Alton acknowledges. The goal of the Nutrition for Learning is to eliminate that factor for students. “We are contributing to the well-being of students, which means we’ll have a better community as a whole,” D’Alton says. “We never want hunger to be the reason a student does not succeed.” Dietrich and Forster say a successful future means a more positive food environment at home and in schools. They say schools should implement body-acceptance classes where students learn not to link how they see themselves with what they decide to eat. An actionable way to encourage this is to have pizza days and hot dog days and salad days at schools without judging one as better than the other. “Body size shouldn’t be discussed at school except for talking about the fact that all body sizes are normal and great,” says Forster. “The resulting idea

is that you accept yourself and the way that you look because you’re happy with your lifestyle, how you exercise, how you feel about your body, and that lifestyle looks absolutely different for everyone.” Dietrich, Forster, Eastway and D’Alton agree that teaching children where food comes from, how to grow it and how to prepare it is key to the future of food in schools. The full-circle process reinforces that food is something to celebrate rather than something to fear. A garden and a kitchen in every school is a dream they all hope becomes reality. “We’re trying to get back to basics for food in schools so we can focus on all the amazing things kids are learning.” Eastway says. “Seeing children hit milestones, like zipping up a jacket, is what keeps me in this field.” Physical activity, a positive food environment and body confidence are all part of the narrative that will grow happy, healthy children in the future — but it’s something that won’t happen unless everyone involved is on the same page.



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Alternative education to promote inclusivity Story by SHEENA BOUNSANGA

“Education is a fundamental human right.” This is a recognized statement by many reputable organizations, including the Canadian Human Rights Commission. This really should be the end of this article, and yet it’s not. If this statement was truly embedded into our society, then why do some parents have to fight so damned hard for this so-called fundamental human right? This is our story; separate and yet collective, parallel in so many ways. Our truth, our angst, our frustration, our hope, and our success.




The Truth

The Frustration

Meg Lagrotta and I first met in 2011. Her son was in senior kindergarten, and my son was in junior kindergarten. They weren’t in the same class, but they shared the same amazing kindergarten teacher. In fact, it was this amazing teacher that introduced Meg and I to each other. Neither of our boys fall under the “neurotypical” label — they are brilliant and energetic boys, who love big and play hard. We were fast friends, and seven years later, we’re now colleagues. We’re fierce mama bears, and passionate educators.

So, remember Meg’s energetic, spirited little guy? And remember how amazing kindergarten was for him? Let’s just say, it didn’t go so well the following year. This is where her frustration began. “Apparently, his energy was too big to contain,” she recalls. “The transition to grade one was difficult and within the first few weeks he was on a modified schedule. By October, he was segregated from his peers. By December, his schedule was modified so drastically that he was only physically in the school for two hours a day. I was doing more at home than he was gaining at school. I was unable to work (two-hour work days are generally frowned upon), and with little to no resources available to my son, we were forced to make the decision to homeschool.” But this was only a temporary band-aid, what Meg really wanted for her son was a school — a school that would truly see him for the amazing being that he is; a school with an environment that not only accommodated his energy but celebrated it too; a school with an environment so evolved that her son would not only bloom, but flourish and thrive! And that’s exactly what she found.

The Angst In a recent article published by the Canadian Press, an education advocacy organization stated, “Students that have special needs are increasingly being asked to stay home from school in Ontario rather than remain in class with their peers.” They also noted that this is a request that is most commonly asked of children with behavioural issues. There’s a buzz around the concept of behavioural issues and children, and many professionals would agree that these issues seem to be on the rise, leaving many to question, what is the cause of this increase? Some believe that it’s caused by the rise in mental health illnesses in children, others argue it’s a reflection of poor parenting, and then there’s the opinion that it’s caused by violent TV shows and video games. But perhaps, it has more to do with society’s need for conformity, the need to place children into a nice rigid (and completely unrealistic) box that we call the education system. The need that these misunderstood square-pegged children can and should be pushed to fit into the round holes that society has deemed “ideal.” Regardless of the cause, in a world that is forever evolving, and a society that is becoming more and more neuro-diverse, wouldn’t it make sense to adjust our environment accordingly? A few popular quotes come to mind: “If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we teach the way they learn.” “When a flower doesn’t bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower.” Let’s change our environment, let’s change the way we teach, let’s celebrate neuro-diversity and demand that the education system evolves along with our children.



solving and social/emotional growth. Microschools recognize that growth mindset attributes are just as important, if not more important, in a society and workforce that is rapidly changing. AIM Learning Community is one of the newest microschools in the Waterloo Region. AIM (Alternative, Innovative, MicroSchool) is changing the face of education for many children within the region. Their enrolment has more than tripled since opening their doors in 2016.Founders Aleith Cole and Chantelle Aguilar started AIM with a common goal: to create a learning environment that was innovative with personalized education for each student to be successful. They created a classroom that was safe and unique to each child. The curriculum is adapted to real-life situations and learning is flexible to each student’s aptitudes and abilities.

“When a flower doesn’t bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower.”

The Hope A microschool is a small learning environment that integrates multiple ages and abilities in the classroom, flexible schedules, student-centred learning and curriculum. Class sizes are small and intimate, allowing for maximum engagement for all types of learners. Microschools have been around for years, however, just recently are becoming more popular in the face of evolving education. They have been gaining popularity in many countries, including the UK, US and in Canada. These micro environments set each child up for success by using multileveled, interest-based projects as the key foundation to learning. These learning environments go far beyond academics — there’s a large focus on critical thinking, problem

The Success “We found a school that truly honours my son as a person and a learner,” says Meg. “He found his place in the classroom, and I guess you could say that I did too!” That’s right, Meg and I both work at AIM. I’m the director of the lower elementary program, and Meg is the director of specialized programming. And I’m happy to report that her son is absolutely thriving as a full-time senior student at AIM! My son visits AIM every so often. He loves the school, but he also loves his public school, which he has been attending since kindergarten. And just because we work at AIM, doesn’t mean we are anti-mainstream; it just means we’re incredibly passionate about education for all children — square-pegged children, outside-of-the-box children, and especially fall-through-the-cracks children. It’s clear that there has been a shift, and it’s time the education system makes some swift changes in order to catch up, because if education truly is a fundamental human right, then that fundamental right should apply to all humans, regardless of neurodiversity and psych-ed evaluations.

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FAIRIES, TOADS AND A SLAYED DRAGON Nature play in early childhood settings Story By NATASHA KOCHER & RYAN HASBURY


he forest is alive with laughter and joyful little voices as the children make their way down the path and into the trees. Huge logs quickly become balance beams and climbing structures to the imaginative explorers. Shoes are discarded, tossed with haphazard enthusiasm, to feel the squishy mud between their toes. “Look a bug! He’s huge!” cries

an excited preschooler. “I wonder where he lives?” There are always new opportunities for wonder in this magical place. A toddler nearby has discovered a stick that is perfect for scratching marks into the earth while another child lines up smooth stones from largest to smallest at the serene edge of a stream. An infant, the youngest of the group, babbles happily

as he freely explores leaves and twigs on the forest floor with chubby baby fingers. Tummy time at its finest! Mark making, early math and literacy skills, observation, experimentation, risk taking and messy play; there are so many learning opportunities in this natural space. This is a snapshot of nature-based education. Play in nature is truly one of




the best ways for children to learn. It’s unhurried and messy, and sparks the imagination because there are so many materials freely accessible to use. When contrasted with the asphalt playgrounds of some schools and childcare facilities, play in green, natural spaces is more engaging and exciting because it is always different. Even if you return to the same physical location or just use an unmanicured green space in your play yard, the changes with the seasons and weather can make it feel like a new place. In the forest, or any other natural space, you have to rediscover the landscape with each visit. The children must build a relationship with these places, taking time to learn their nooks and secret spaces, and there are always new discoveries to be made. With this in mind, many early learning programs are beginning to embrace nature play as an important element in their curriculum and this choice has had huge benefits for children. “Children are happier and healthier! They have less stress. They learn to manage risk. They have opportunities for adventure! They are fitter and leaner. They have better eyesight,” says Diane Kashin, author and nature-play advocate. “Childhood is increasingly becoming an indoor culture. Never before in history has this been the case. The implications are scary.” Kashin adds, “Children need to learn to love nature so that they can take care of it — they need to become stewards of the environment. It is important to them and it is important to us and it is important to the planet. Teachers can be leaders to reverse this trend.” As educators in early learning and care, we must advocate for nature play. We must become enthusiastic explorers, eager co-learners, wondering and discovering and playing with our students. Don’t shrink away from spiders; don’t shy away from mud; and most importantly don’t say no when you can say yes! Yes, you can splash in the puddle! Yes, you can play in the mud! Yes, you can search for fairies among the mushrooms and flowers! Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder, writes “We have such a brief opportunity to pass on to our children our love for this Earth, and to tell our stories. These are the moments when the world is made whole.” Teach the children in your care to find



Fall 2018

We have “such a brief opportunity to pass on to our children our love for this Earth, and to tell our stories. These are the moments when the world is made whole.


beauty in the warty, old toad, and to bask in the welcoming shade of ancient trees, to follow their wonder wherever it leads them, take risks and learn with hearts filled to the brim with joy. As our time in the forest draws to a close, I watch my young students splashing in the stream, clothes dripping and damp, smiles wide and eyes bright, and I hope that I have given them a glimpse of the splendour all around us — the splendour that they are an important part of. I hope that I have taught them to love the little creatures, to care for the little plants and for each other. I hope that one day they will be the stewards of the

environment, driven in part by the memories of this special place. We gather our things and slowly begin our journey back home. No one is ever eager to leave the forest, but naptime is calling us and everyone is ready for a rest. Well, almost everyone. A preschooler, who never seems to tire, dashes ahead of the group as we make our way down the path. They’ve found a stick-sword to slay a fallen tree that they’ve imagined in to a fearsome dragon. One last adventure before we return to sleep at our little school. “Can we come back again soon?” a very sleepy child asks, rubbing their eyes with dirt smudged fists. Of course we can.

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Building confidence through gentle parenting Story By LINDSAY FORD


was the “shy kid” — the one who would never raise her hand in class; the one who was terrified of class presentations; the one who always insisted her parents order for her at a restaurant. I remember participation marks being my worst nightmare. As a straight-A student, I would often forego these “easy” marks, preferring to whisper the answers to my best friend as she raised her hand and confidently blurted out my answer. I remember my grade nine teacher telling me I needed to practice my presentation skills because I might need it for my job one day. I swore in that moment that I’d never have a job that required public speaking. Fast forward many years later and I now do quite a bit of public speaking, sometimes standing up in front of 100+ people with no problem. The funny thing is that I actually look forward to this now. My worst nightmare has become a welcome norm. Everything changed for me in university. I was required to do a five-minute presentation — the content didn’t matter, just the speaking. Amazingly, I scored perfect marks. These marks forced me to question the “I can’t do presentations” script I’d been repeating in my head for so long — maybe I could actually be good at this. Another game-changer for me in



Fall 2018

university was something called “crits,” which required me to post my design creations on the wall in front of our class while a professor or guest critiqued it. A terrifying experience in first year, it became a welcome opportunity for great feedback by third year that I actually looked forward to. From the girl who was too afraid to speak to a waitress as a kid (I’d seriously rather not eat) to someone who’s comfortable speaking to crowds and being criticized in front of others, I’ve come a long way. Now, as a mother, I have the uncomfortable privilege of watching my kids struggle with shyness and guiding them through it. Perhaps unlike some other moms, I know the discomfort they’re experiencing, and I also know it’s something they can work through. It’s not a terminal illness. I refuse to call my kids “shy.” This label has done some damage to me. You’re either shy or you’re not. There’s no sliding scale where you can measure progress toward becoming outgoing and confident. Plus, when you’re labelled a specific way (and this applies to all labels, not just shy), it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you’re shy, why would you act any differently? It’s what’s expected. It’s a defined parameter in which you have to exist. It

becomes what you believe about yourself. A couple of years ago, I mentioned to my boss that I can completely relate to a shy co-worker’s struggles because I’m shy too. He stopped and looked at me in shocked disbelief, “You’re one of the most outgoing people I know.” It was my turn to be shocked. Clearly our assessments were completely different. If I’m honest with myself, I’m not sure I’ll ever perceive myself as anything different than shy. And I really hate that. So, when my one-and-a-half-year-old son hides behind my legs, or my fouryear-old daughter responds to a stranger’s question at inaudible levels, I don’t excuse their behaviour by calling them shy. Instead, I’ll tell the person that my son will warm up to them in a few minutes or if it’s a complete stranger, I’ll just smile and shrug my shoulders. I’ll encourage my daughter to speak louder and if she doesn’t want to then I tell her that it’s OK. She can answer when she’s ready. I resist the urge to answer for her. The protective motherly instinct in me makes this tough. I want to help her. I don’t want to see her struggle. The polite person in me also doesn’t want to be rude by not answering. However, I know that if I continue to answer for her, she’ll continue to act shy. She’ll know she doesn’t have to speak, that I’ll do it for her. So I don’t answer for her and I also never force her to speak. Trying to force the issue becomes a power struggle. It becomes more about winning than learning. Instead, I may tell the person that she’s not ready to answer and either shrug my shoulders or change the subject. When I’m alone with my daughter, removed from the situation we’ll talk about what happened — “I notice that you don’t speak when people ask you questions. Is this because you want them to leave you alone or maybe you’re a little nervous? Next time, perhaps if you aren’t ready to answer you can tell them that you don’t want to answer their question right now. Shall we practice?” Working with her “off camera” helps her practice in a comfortable setting and prepares her for the next time she gets a bit nervous. Showing my kids quiet encouragement, guiding them through what to do when they’re not quite ready, and avoiding the shy label (at all costs) is helping them develop confidence and the experience to know that they are capable.

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SWEET & WILD Meet Carly Longshaw

Carly Longshaw is the owner of the Kitchenerbased home business, Wilderly Bakery. In only a year and a half since its inception, Wilderly has amassed a massive 16,000+ followers on Instagram, and has caught the eye of major influencers in the baking world for Carly’s innovative designs, beautiful instructional videos and mind-blowing attention to detail. Carly has been named as our first-ever Mother of Influence, for obvious reasons! 1. The essentials I’m Carly and I run my home bakery while being a stayat-home mom to Everly, 3, and Wilder, 4. I met my husband Chris university in Peterborough in 2005, got married in 2012 and now we live in Kitchener. I own Wilderly Bakery, where I specialize in sugar cookies custom decorated with royal icing. The name comes from my two kids, Wilder + Everly, who also inspired the business tagline: One part sweet to two parts wild.

entire YouTube channel of decorating tutorials, I decided to try it for myself. That September, I decorated my first set of cookies. I started my Instagram on New Year’s Day 2017, just as a place to keep pictures of my cookie experiments. Later that month, a family-friend asked me if she could order six dozen Pokemonthemed cookies for a birthday party. It was a major “go big or go home” moment, so I decided to go for it. I bought my first mixer and decided to open a business.

2. How did you get started? In the summer of 2016, I came across a cookie decorating video by the super-talented SweetAmbs, which was my firstever introduction to the world of royal icing. At this point in my life, I had never baked a cookie before, but after watching her

3. You’re obviously making waves on social media, can you tell me about your success online? The first game-changer that happened for me was just four months into my business, when the influential Wilton Cakes reposted some of my



work on their page to over a million followers. That was wildly unexpected and exciting for a tiny start-up like me. Incredibly, Wilton actually went on to repost two more of my videos later that year. One of which ended up popularizing the dreamcatcher cookie that I made, after which a custom cookie cutter was made out of my original design, for people to buy, and now I teach classes on how to make it. Amazing things start small! 4. How do you feel about the attention on Instagram? It’s up and down. Of course it’s appreciated and rewarding when your work is recognized on a wide scale, but when you put yourself out there, it opens you up, and some days it feels like everyone just wants to bring you down. For example, someone recently reposted a simple video I made of flooding a cookie with icing, and it went viral, being viewed almost 1.8 million times. The video posts were barraged with criticism, mocking the way my hand moved as I outlined the cookie, going so far as to ask if I had Parkinson’s disease or was having a seizure. Some days I just have to log out and walk away. Of course, as annoying as that useless commentary is,

the negative is far outweighed by the positive, as the cookie community is largely made up of the most supportive, generous and talented people I’ve ever met. For example, a cookier recently traveled all the way from California in order to take my class, which was an incredible experience and honour! I’m super-grateful for the power of Instagram connecting me with so many amazing people. 5. What does the future hold? In a year from now, when both my kids are in school, that will be a revolution of time management. I can’t imagine what it would be like to solely focus on my business during daylight hours, but the prospect excites me! In five years, I’m looking forward to just be done with diapers and nap schedules and tantrums, just doing fun stuff and having adventures together as a family. I’d also like to be teaching more decorating classes, maybe even travelling to do so, and maybe by then my kids will be helping me! TO READ CARLY’S FULL INTERVIEW, CHECK OUT THE HOLISTIC PARENT’S NEW BLOG SPACE AT WWW.THEHOLISTICPARENT.CA

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The Holistic Parent - Fall 2018  

The 3rd Annual Education Issue featuring articles on Food in Our Schools, Nature-based Learning, Microschools and the "Shy" Kid.

The Holistic Parent - Fall 2018  

The 3rd Annual Education Issue featuring articles on Food in Our Schools, Nature-based Learning, Microschools and the "Shy" Kid.


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