WestCoast Families Jan|Feb issue

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wcf annual

education issue

mom Kelly Brock westcoast

jan/feb 2013

family literacy • mindfulness

& Sarah Johns

January/February 2013


families westcoast


• education


top story


on our cover...

Ziyan is a grade two student at Tyee Elementary School whose moms are both teachers, and who enjoys soccer and classing up the classroom with the occasional vest and necktie. Photographed by DylanDoubt | www.dylandoubt.com

Education Beyond the ABCs Teaching emotional intelligence to kids

Education Kids & Science Is science important in the early years?



WCF Feature Go Team! Sports Funding


Education Shopping for Highschools Navigating the options

Education Learning from Home



Education Family Literacy WCF Supports ABC Family Literacy Day

Education Saving for School Savings plan options

Education Teacher Award Profiles




32 mom westcoast

32 WCM Profile Kelly Brock & Sarah Johns 35 WCM Events

from the editor 6 Publisher’s Note 7 WCF Online 9 Modern Home Ec 22 WCF News 24 Geekology Educational Apps & Websites 30 Raising My Family Homeschooled 36 Community Calendar 38 Last Look Ice Cube Fishing

next issue march • Family Travel & Adventure Guide • Spring Break Fun



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January/February 2013


publisher’s note


The New Year brings a sense of renewal and refreshment that’s often needed after the hectic holiday season. The kids are back at school, the decorations put away for another year, and a sense of normalcy settles over the household again.

About 2 weeks ago I was calmly sitting at my desk, and a wave came over me that the New Year also meant kindergarten registration for our 5 year old. How did that sneak up on us so fast? For many parents of young children, school registration is another stressful and busy time – deciding on preschools, looking at kindergarten options, or hoping your child is selected for the elementary school you want. For families with older kids it may be choosing electives in high school or applying to college and university. Growing up there weren’t many choices for us kids, but now the choices are endless for all ages and grades. This issue of WestCoast Families brings it all together in one great read. We’re covering it all - from early learning at home and mindfulness in the classrooms, to high school options and post-secondary savings. We’ve even got some interesting and educational websites and apps to help students and parents learn and grow. Hopefully we’ll help make your school choices just a little bit easier this time around. So sit back with a cup of coffee and a warm blanket, and enjoy.

contest! www.westcoastfamilies.com Visit us online for new contests every issue!

One of two Dinosaur Train Packs Calling all you proto-paleontologists! You can watch for dinosaurs in the Heritage Railway Park this Spring Break! From March 16th to the 30th, you can take a train ride to find your favourite prehistoric creatures, search for fossils, track and investigate their footprints, and get up close to some of your famous TV Dinosaur friends. Families and children are sure to enjoy this adventure-filled train ride with music, stories, Nature Trackers Club guidebook and activities area! Value $100.00 each. www.wcra.org

Enter at www.westcoastfamilies.com Deadline to Enter: February 31, 2012

your thoughts... I just thought I’d let you know that my wife brought home the latest issue of West Coast Families and I was stoked to see your article (I’m Raising My Family Vegetarian, by Krysta Furioso, WCF Nov-Dec 2012). Very well done and well written, congratulations. You did a great job presenting the topic of a vegetarian diet and examining how our values can have an impact not only on our children’s health but they way they view the world and interact with their friends. Way to go! ~ Adrian Nelson


families westcoast



Managing Editor Andrea Vance editor@westcoastfamilies.com Editor Stephanie MacDonald stephanie@westcoastfamilies.com Contributing Editor Jodi Iverson jodi@westcoastfamilies.com Art Director & Layout Krysta Furioso studio@westcoastfamilies.com Administration Jennifer Bruyns admin@westcoastfamilies.com Accounts Receivable & Payable Jennifer Brule finance@westcoastfamilies.com Advertising sales@westcoastfamilies.com 604.249.2866 Published by National Families Network Publisher: Andrea Vance publisher@westcoastfamilies.com For distribution inquiries, please email publisher@westcoastfamilies.com For submissions to our community calendars, please email admin@westcoastfamilies.com To share your feedback, please email editor@westcoastfamilies.com Contributors Stephanie MacDonald, Natacha Biem, Alyssa Schottland-Bauman, Kristy Hill, Amy Woods, Jennifer Bruyns, Andrea Vance, High Touch High Tech All contents copyrighted ©. Written permission from the publisher is required to reproduce, quote, reprint or copy any material from WestCoast Families Mailing address: 1215-C56 St. Box 18057 Delta, BC V4L 2M4 T 604 249 2866 | F 604 676 2802

wcf online WestCoast Families now has an expanded website with great information for our readers.

Community Calendar with even more events added throughout the month

Contests with great prizes each month

Feature Articles on new and relevant topics for Lower Mainland families

WCF Blog featuring great local stories, guest blogs, current events, and cool product reviews

Resource Listings for all kinds of topics like schools, party venues, and camps

Archives with current and previous issues of WestCoast Families online

January/February 2013


westcoast finds Budding Biologist: Am I an Insect? By Kristine Callis-Duehl, illustrated by Katy Castronovo Sometimes it can seem that the only things your child is interested in involve bodily functions and SpongeBob SquarePants, or a combination of the two. This informative and entertaining science book can help you break them out of their rut. The result of many months researching and testing the right words to explain complex ideas, this book clearly explains the characteristics that define an insect, and your kids will be thrilled they can now identify who is carrying away their picnic lunch or fluttering prettily from flower to flower.

$12 on www.amazon.com

Circle Project Music brings people together in a magical way, and for many low-income young people provides a passion and diversion from everyday life. Many musicians, artists and friends have donated their heart, time and art to create “Circle Project”, a 100% non-profit, children’s folk compilation recorded to raise awareness for St. James Music Academy in East Vancouver. This two-disc set is intended for all ages, from the youngest to the wisest. St. James Music Academy, located in the heart of downtown east side, provides low-income families and under-privileged youth with an instrument, healthy after school snack and music mentoring. It is simply a good album for a wonderful cause!

Two albums, $8 each at www.circleproject.bandcamp.com

Guess How I Feel? Games for Children with Autism How do you feel when you ride a rollercoaster... get ice cream... see fighting... say goodbye? Guess each player’s reaction – and have fun sharing yours! Choose from 50 situations, each shown with vivid photographs so no reading skills are needed. Players take turns sharing their reaction on a dry erase magnetic mirror, using magnetic facial expressions and/ or markers. The other players guess what this reaction will be – either by drawing a face or writing on their pads. Guess correctly and choose a band from the Guess Bag – and many other game variations too! Players develop skills in self-expression and empathy, and have fun getting to know each other. Great ice breaker game too! Ages 3 to Adult.

$26 on www.funandfunction.com



Tram Boots for Kids These boots are made for walking… and splashing through puddles, and frolicking in the snow, and sliding in mud, and sloshing in slush… anything a Canadian winter can throw at your kid, Tram Boots are up to the task. Combining 100% waterproof, warm and comfortable flex and resilient neoprene, and durable rubber, TRAM kids’ boots offer refreshing design and graphics that will make your kid look as awesome as his or her dry, warm feet feel, even if it’s minus twelve.

$90 at Jack and Lola Kids in North Vancouver or on www.goasyougrow.ca

Project Treasure Love and support can come in many forms, and when your loved one is far away, sometimes a thoughtful word can make all the difference. Project Treasure allows you to amplify your words or love, encouragement, or support with the thoughts and words from other friends and relatives of the person; all in the form of beautifully printed notes in a keepsake treasure box or an elegant organza bag. The website sends a note to family and friends inviting them to write messages for the recipient which are printed and assembled in a treasure chest for delivery. A beautiful and long-lasting way to send love and reassurance–the box can be revisited anytime they need a pick-me-up.

Boxes from $50, and bags from $40 on www.projecttreasure.com

Perplexus No matter how realistic a computer game is, until we invent holgram-based games (God forbid, Minecraft makes us dizzy enough already), challenge your kids to an actual three-dimensional game that increases their dexterity and hand-eye coordination at the same time. Perplexus is a maze game where players maneuver a small marble around challenging barriers inside a transparent sphere. Unlike traditional flat-surface mazes that are composed of one path, Perplexus houses various challenging tracks with 100 barriers providing a frustrating, thrilling three-dimensional experience.

$25 at Granville Island Toy Co., No Pirates Allowed, The Toy Box, Lely’s Books, It’s All Fun and Games, and many more local retailers

January/February 2013


modern home-ec balanced breakfasts

By Alyssa Schottland-Bauman, Nourished.ca

Mornings are hectic, no doubt, and you may feel that you don’t have time to prepare healthy breakfasts. But consider what studies have shown: Breakfast eaters are likely to achieve higher grades, pay closer attention, participate more in class discussions, and manage more complex academic problems than breakfast skippers. Breakfast skippers are more likely to be inattentive, sluggish, and tend to eat more junk food throughout the day. Children who eat a breakfast containing both complex carbohydrates and proteins in equivalent amounts of calories tend to show better learning and performance than children who eat primarily a high protein or a high carbohydrate breakfast. Breakfasts high in carbohydrates with little protein seem to sedate children rather than stimulate brains to learn.

An ideal, nutritious breakfast contains a balance of complex carbohydrates and protein. My favorite balanced breakfasts are: 1. Low-sugar granola cereal, plain yogurt and sliced apple or banana. 2. Scrambled eggs, 100% whole grain toast and sliced orange. 3. Veggie omelet, 100% whole grain toast or wrap and orange juice. 4. Mixed-grain waffles topped with berries and/or plain yogurt, milk. Time Saver for waffles and pancakes: Use Anita’s brand, add chia seeds and make a huge batch and freeze. Pull when you need. 5. Mixed-grain banana pancakes topped with fruit, milk. 6. 100% whole-grain French toast topped with fruit, orange juice or milk. 7. Cheese melted on sprouted grain or rye toast with a piece of fruit. 8. 100% whole-grain bagel topped with mashed up avocado, orange juice. 9. Natural peanut butter or nut butter and banana slices, sprinkled with cinnamon on whole grain wrap or sprouted grain toast, milk. 10. Steel cut oats with banana and berries and nuts sprinkled on top. Time Saver: Make a big batch of steel cut oats (boil with bananas) for the week. Just heat up as needed. 11. Whole-bran muffin, fruit with plain yogurt.

For more amazing recipes to fuel your family’s lives, go to www.nourished.ca

Chocolate Superfood Smoothie A deceptively healthy smoothie that the kids will love as much as you! • • • • • • •

1/2 avocado 1 tbs cacao powder 1 tsp maca powder 3 dates 2 tbs 100% pure agave. (Make sure it is %100 Agave. I like PURA Agave.) 1 1/2 c organic unsweetened almond milk

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Most Perfect Protein Smoothie Filled with detox-supportive fiber, chia seeds, provide Omega-3s that protect your heart, brain, skin, and aid in weight loss. • • • • • • • • •

2 cups unsweetened almond milk or water, or a 50/50 combination 1/4 cup hemp seeds 2 Tbs. chia seeds 1/2 frozen Acai smoothie packet, or 2 Tbs. powder Acai 1/2 cup of frozen blueberries 1 tsp. cinnamon 1 tsp. vanilla extract 3-4 ice cubes honey for sweetness or liquid stevia (optional)

Directions: Add the almond milk and/or water to the blender first, then the other ingredients. Blend until smooth.

January/February 2013



Beyond the ABC’s Teaching emotional intelligence to children By Stephanie MacDonald


lants create energy through photosynthesis. An isosceles triangle has two equal sides. Two plus three equals five. These are the kinds of facts that school teaches children, and the kind of knowledge that can be qualitatively evaluated by testing. But what about the intangibles that can’t necessarily be tested, but have a lasting and important impact on future happiness and success of your child? Is there anything we can do to support our children’s learning in these areas? Two of the most important non-traditional skills we can give our children are mindfulness and empathy, and fortunately there are school programs available to teach these necessary life skills to elementary kids. Mindfulness can be clinically described as “the cognitive propensity to be aware of what is happening in the moment without judgment or attachment to any particular outcome.” Mindfulness is characterized by an ability to pay attention and an ability to control one’s behavior. The Hawn Foundation’s (created by actor Goldie Hawn) signature educational initiative, MindUP is “anchored in current research in cognitive neuroscience, evidence-based classroom pedagogy, best-practices mindful education, precepts of social and emotional learning and guiding principles of positive psychology” according to their website. According to David Epp, a teacher at Nootka Elementary in Vancouver who employs MindUp strategies in the classroom, “After a semester of MindUP with my students, I switched classes with another teacher and they noticed a complete difference with my class”. MindUP promotes a variety of social, emotional, and attentional selfregulatory strategies and skills developed for cultivating well-being and emotional balance. Skills taught to students include focused attention and nonreactive monitoring of experience from moment to moment. Says David, “The school board welcomes it if you frame it as being mindful instead of meditation. In fact, now workshops for teachers are put on by the school board. There’s very little resistance once people see how helpful it is for students”. “Last year I had a student with autism, and while I was working through his challenges, the rest of the class needed to be resilient. We did these exercises three times a day where students listen to a story and focus on their breath. It takes three minutes. There’s a workbook, and a chime that is used to begin and end it. We talk about what is mindful and unmindful, and think about self-regulation actions. Kids learn they have control over their focus. I get them to lie down and visualize calm activities. They started to look forward to these introspective moments. The boy with autism just loved it, and he kept on doing it without prompting. I made it part of the day first thing, after recess and after lunch”. David also utilizes yoga in the classroom. “Yoga can be done in a playful way, animal positions – it’s really just doing stretching. You are bringing your mind into your body. When you are calm you are more peaceful and have more space in your brain to learn.

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Mindfulness is characterized by an ability to pay attention and an ability to control one’s behavior.

Roots of Empathy, as the program name suggests, focuses on building empathy in young children to increase emotional literacy. The program aims to foster the capacity for caring by working with babies. Beginning as a small program in Toronto in 1996, Roots of Empathy is now in every province in Canada, and has a reach of over 450,000 students across the country. The program is also being used in United States, Europe, and New Zealand. In this program, a parent and baby (who is two to four months old at the start of the program) from the community visit a classroom nine times over the course of a school year. A trained Roots of Empathy instructor visits with the family to guide children as they observe the relationship between the baby and his or her parent. The instructor also visits before and after each family visit to reinforce teachings. There are 27 classroom visits in total in a Roots of Empathy program. In the program, the baby is the “teacher.” With each family visit, the instructor leads the children in noticing how the baby is growing and changing over the course of his or her first year of life. The children also watch the loving relationship between the parent and baby and see how the parent responds to the baby’s emotions and meets the baby’s needs. The attachment relationship between a baby and a parent is an ideal model of empathy. Jenny Ivany was one of the mothers who brought her baby into a Vancouver classroom. “I was surprised by the level of enthusiasm shown by the boys (especially for the achievement of his milestones, standing, and walking). For both boys and girls this program is an excellent bridge between their autonomy and the not to distant past of their own vulnerability. The model works really well for anti-bullying initiatives, as each child is reminded that we need to look out for the needs of others, especially those that may be younger than us”.

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Roots of Empathy also strengthens traditional learning as well. Explains Jenny, “As for academic growth in the classroom, the children on several occasions put together a baby board book comprised of their worksheets detailing the life of a baby while relating to their own early childhood memories. This was an excellent platform for creative and journal writing”. With programs like these, kids can build a basis of emotional intelligence and mindfulness that can not only improve their academic performance but also foster effective communication and understanding in all their relationships going forward.

For more information about MindUp and Roots of Empathy, speak to your school councellor and visit www.thehawnfoundation.org and www.rootsofempathy.org.

January/February 2013 13


Kids & Science Is science important in the early years? By Natacha V. Beim


hildren are natural born scientists. To nurture this type of learning in children, allow them to explore their environment safely and freely and with plenty of time to investigate new discoveries.

Children have an innate sense of wonder and curiosity about the world. They naturally build theories, test them, evaluate what worked and what didn’t, then figure out why. Asking questions is the first step to understanding. Why does water and dirt combine to make mud? Why do some things float in the tub while others sink to the bottom? How do shadows work? Why do caterpillars make cocoons?

When are children ready to learn science? Almost all young children “do science” naturally. Most of the time they actively search for new knowledge and experiences in the world around them. They develop theories about what they see and how it works. They are eager to figure out why turning the light on makes everything so bright, or want plug things into electrical sockets. In an effort to keep them safe (and to keep the house a little cleaner), we as parents often stop them from discovering the world around them. Slowly, over the years, many children sadly lose that inquisitive spark they were born with. As a result, creative thinking is compromised. But it is those same creative thinking skills that will help them succeed in the future by enabling them to contribute new ideas or challenge the status quo.

How can I teach science at home? For children, science just happens. You have to ensure, as a parent, that your child’s questions are valued and appreciated. Take the time to listen, and don’t be too quick to give the answer away. Instead, ask questions like “I wonder how we could find out the answer to your question?”By doing this, you are modeling for your child how to learn, and where to look for knowledge. Some days you will look in a book, other times you will look on the computer, ask a friend, or visit a museum, a science center, or a library. It all depends on the question. Working together with your child to discover the answer will get them excited about the process. As your child gets in the habit of looking for the answers with you, he will eventually do it on his own. Once that is established, he will be a lifelong learner. To get started, here are a few activities you could try: • Cooking - Cooking is a live experiment in action. Involve your child in the kitchen when you prepare meals. It may take you a little longer, but you are providing the ideal science lab, teaching your child about food and nutrition, helping them feel appreciated at home and teaching a valuable skill. Start with something easy, like smoothies (with yogurt and fruit), or salad. Increase the complexity as they grow. Teach them to follow a recipe (measure, mix, etc.) and also let them experiment with different ingredients, without the guidance of a recipe. In the kitchen, your child will learn science principles like mixing, measuring, and changing matter.

• Pets - Children love to observe animals to see the differences in how they communicate and behave. If you’re not ready for a pet, consider an aquarium, and if that is too much of a commitment, visit your garden or a pet store. Snails, butterflies, grasshoppers, worms, stick bugs, crickets, or any kind of insect make for great temporary pets, provided you supply leaves sprayed with a little water, dirt, sand, or pebbles. Figuring out what these insects need to eat and rest is a discovery in itself. • Water - Provide buckets, spoons and other digging utensils so they can mix in sand and dirt, and don’t forget pouring utensils. No need to buy anything fancy. You will find everything you need in your kitchen cupboards. In a pond or in the tub, you can explore with empty bottles, add bubbles, add gears, turkey basters, or anything else they can explore the water with. • A Garden - Invite your child to plant seeds and have an indoor or outdoor garden. You can plant flowers or, better yet, fruits and vegetables. Explore all kinds of seeds and roots: let a potato grow roots, or garlic, or an onion, encourage your child to draw his observations. Put beans in a CD case with wet cotton balls, to see the tiny plant begin to grow before you plant it. Explore what happens to fruits or vegetables as they decay. See what happens when a plant or flower receives water, good soil and sunshine, as opposed to growing in the shade. • Light and shadows - Provide flashlights, translucent materials and a grey wall. You can collect different types of materials to see which ones let the light pass through (translucent) and which don’t (opaque). You can also play with window prisms, and see how the different colours of light are reflected on the floor when the sun hits them. • Tadpoles and butterflies - This is a favorite of early learning schools, but it can also be done at home. Observing a caterpillar building a cocoon, or a tadpole metamorphosing into a frog, is an incredible experience for a child. Provide a camera for your child to take lots of photos he or she can observe later. As your child becomes an avid scientist, he or she will satisfy their curiosity and discover learning is a fun adventure. This will give you plenty of new topics to talk about. Once you see your child blossom through science and develop their ability to think, you will be glad you put up with a few messes here and there. Natacha V. Beim is a writer, speaker, teacher, and the founder or CEFA Early Learning & Junior Kindergarten schools (www.cefa.ca). You can reach her at natacha@cefa.ca

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January/February 2013 15


Shopping for High Schools How can you help your child navigate all the options? By Stephanie MacDonald


t comes as a giant shock to most people: “Yesterday I was feeding her mashed bananas and lugging her around in a Baby Bjorn, and today she’s sighing exasperatedly at everything I say and dreaming about high school.” It comes much quicker than we think, and if your child is interested in any of the exceptional high school specialty programs our region has to offer, grade sixes and even fives should be aware of what programs are out there and what these competitive programs are looking for in applicants. In Vancouver, grade seven students who wish to be considered for a special program must take a District Placement Test in December, as well as write an application, and in many cases submit a portfolio and have an interview. Gino Bondi is the District principal of Special Programs, and himself a dad of a grade seven student facing the application process. “For me, the test part is a bit of a problem, because this standardized test only accounts for a small part of a child’s ability to thrive in a special program. We’re looking for not only good learners, but great thinkers, and sometimes this can’t be expressed by a simple test.” “In Vancouver, we have 20 mini-schools with all different focuses. What our educators want to see is, what else has the student done that shows his or her interest and aptitude in this area? What does their portfolio look like? Some students know how to get A’s but that’s just a skill, we want our students to be creative thinkers and learners.” The VSB website has a comprehensive overview of all secondary programs, along with their specialized requirements. The most competitive programs to get into continue to be the West Side mini schools at Prince of Wales and Point Grey schools, but that should change, according to Gino. “Historically, people associate the affluent areas with better education, but some of our most amazing and innovative mini schools are now at schools once considered inner city, like Brittania and Van Tech.” Here is a brief overview of just some of the VSB’s specialized high school programs: The Britannia Venture Program is an academically challenging program that provides a unique educational experience for motivated students in Grades 8, 9, and 10. Venture 8 - 10 offers students thematic curriculum across subject areas, monthly and extended field studies, overnight outdoor experiences and community involvement with leadership and personal growth workshops. Venture provides invaluable preparation for those wishing further enrichment in Britannia’s world recognized Grade 11 and 12 International Baccalaureate Program. International Baccalaureate Programs The IB Diploma Program (DP) is an academically challenging and balanced program of education with final examinations that prepares students, aged 16 to 19, for success at university and life beyond. The programme has gained recognition and respect from the world’s leading universities. Available at Brittania and Churchill The Byng Arts Mini School program is designed for students who wish to direct their energies and passions towards the fine arts, to work within

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a community of students who share their interest, and to maintain strong academic achievement. ACE IT is a dual-credit program that enables secondary school students to earn high school graduation credits and the opportunity to receive credit for the first level of the technical training in an Industry Training Authority (ITA) program . The Britannia Hockey Academy (BHA) is the Vancouver School Board’s first sport specific academy. The BHA blends regular secondary school coursework and graduation programs with a licensed Hockey Canada Skills Academy (HCSA). CISCO Networking Academy At Killarney Secondary School. Students will be given the opportunity to diversify and enhance their computer knowledge beyond Microsoft Word, PowerPoint software and web design. They will develop skills building a computer, installing software, and connecting the computer to networks and to the Internet. Fashion Design and Technology at Eric Hamber Secondary is a fashion design program. Students build skills and a portfolio, and work in the fashion design field locally and abroad, with companies such as Lululemon, Aritizia and Mac and Jac.

The Hamber Challenge Program now offers two options for students: The Accelerated/ Enriched Humanities Program and the new Challenge Academy. The Humanities Program presents highly-able students in the humanities (English and Social Sciences) with a challenging Grade 8-12 program that encompasses both acceleration and enrichment. The Challenge Academy is a unique opportunity for gifted learners who thrive on learning “outside the box� and who crave the ability to meaningfully influence the pace and content of their academic program. Ideal School is a small, academic alternative school within the Vancouver School Board system. Ideal offers a complete grade 8 to grade 12 academic program in an enriched, small group-learning environment. There are six teachers, one alternative program worker, and approximately 120 students. We emphasize personal responsibility and the development of independence and self-confidence. John Oliver Mini School is seeking students who are entering Grade 8 and have a keen interest in computer technology, are highly motivated, creative, able to think critically and who have a strong desire to become well-rounded global digital citizens. King George Technology Immersion For motivated and creative students entering Grade 8, this challenging program is unique in that it offers both academic and computer enrichment in the core subjects of English, Mathematics, Science and Social Studies. Advanced software is used to support student activities. TREK Program at Prince of Wales Education about the natural environment and sustainability are fundamental components of the TREK Program. The TREK Program introduces each student to a variety of outdoor activities including hiking and backpacking; ocean kayaking; canoeing; rock climbing; cycle touring; back-country (telemark) skiing; cross-country (Nordic) skiing; essential outdoor skills and more. Students complete months accelerated curriculum and five months of TREK. The Vancouver Technical Secondary Flex Humanities The Flex Humanities program encourages students to pursue topics which have personal and social relevance. This will include involvement in Free the Children. Within the program there is a commitment to peer mentoring, peer tutoring, film making, and the development of public speaking skills with all students working together collaboratively in a dynamic learning environment. The Windermere Leadership Program offers active, involved, communityminded students in Grades 8 through 12 a unique opportunity to combine academic, outdoor, service and leadership learning. Athena Arts and Leadership Program at Windermere is an academic mini school program designed for students who have a passion for the arts, have an interest in community involvement, and a desire to work in an enriched environment. Athena offers arts enrichment, while promoting responsibility, community and media awareness, and encouraging creative self-expression in core academic courses. To learn more about specialized high school opportunities in the rest of the Lower Mainland, please visit the website of your local school board. If you would like to advocate for more specialized high school opportunities in your area, contact your district superintendant’s office.

January/February 2013 17


Learning From Home

From Jellybean Park


child’s mind, especially in their early years, is like a sponge. These years are when they are at their most curious, always wondering and questioning the world around them. This is one of the reasons early learning programs can be so beneficial for your child as it helps to enhance this important period of their life. Our Prodigy Program takes advantage of this natural curiosity to prepare them to achieve their best when they start school, parents can also easily introduce some early learning techniques at home to encourage their mental, emotional and social development. Introducing new skills or subjects to your child can sometimes be difficult as they may not be interested or frustrated at a lack of ability to accomplish the task. A great way to get around these issues would be to center what you are teaching around your child’s current interests. If at the moment they are loving everything to do with dinosaurs, use that as a launching point to introduce new activities that will also build on their other skills. An example of this would be to sort dinosaurs into color groups, count with dinosaur figurines, or visit a dinosaur themed exhibit in your area. By tapping into their curiosity, it makes it really easy to get them interested in the activities. And by structuring or setting up the activities in an attractive way, it can help your child to focus on using their imagination, rather than trying to organize themselves. We also encourage parents to actively play one-on-one with their kids as much as they can. By interacting with your child while playing, you can introduce new vocabulary and stimulate critical thinking and imagination by asking your child questions. In addition to the one-on-one play, we find that a key phrase helps toddlers communicate their needs or frustrations. The words, “Help, please” can provide your child with a way to communicate to you any frustration associated with learning new skills – preventing possible temper tantrums. All of these things can be easily introduced at home at help parents promote early learning at home. www.jellybeanpark.com

Family Literacy Day In honour of Family Literacy Day’s 15th year, ABC Life Literacy Canada is encouraging Canadian families to have “15 Minutes of Fun” learning together. Learning can happen at any time. Practicing literacy together for just 15 minutes a day has tremendous benefits for both children and parents. Here are some great ways to get started: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.

Create your own comic strip about your family. Invent two new endings to your favourite book. Make up a new recipe together and post it online. Tell knock-knock jokes together while doing the dishes. Sing five songs really, really loud! Invent a new game while playing at the park. Read a story to your pet (or favourite toy). Make a paper fortune teller with eight fortunes.

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9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15.

Write a silly poem and tell it to your family at dinner. Log on to your favourite word game - can you beat your best score? Create your family tree. Play rhyming “I Spy” - “I spy something that rhymes with...” Play a board game together. Text your friend and tell them about your holiday. Find 15 things that begin with the letter “S”.

Source: www.abclifeliteracy.ca

January/February 2013 19

wcf feature

Go Team! Getting past the financial difficulty and enrolling your children in organized sports by Kristy Hill


et’s race, Daddy!” “Look at my cartwheel!”

“I’m going to see how far I can throw the football.” It’s hard to match the energy level of a threeyear-old, five-year-old or even a 10-year-old. Remember when running was just fun? For children so full of energy, it’s a joyous activity, not just a cardio exercise to stay physically fit. So it makes sense that once given the opportunity, many children will ask to join an organized sport. Children who participate in team sports learn essential life skills, such as hard work, patience, empathy, and how to deal with winning some and losing some. But what if you can’t afford to enrol your child in the local soccer league, or the gymnastics team your daughter can’t stop talking about, or the hockey team your son has been dying to get up at five in the morning to join? Many families are still struggling to bounce back from the recession, cost of living in BC is rising — salaries aren’t, and the cost of organized sports fees and registration are always increasing. No child should be just a spectator. It’s important that all children have the opportunity to enhance their physical and emotional well-being through an organized sport. Unfortunately, due to financial barriers, more than one third of Canadian children cannot participate in sports or recreational activities. Ensuring that all children to have access to any sport they desire to join, there are multiple programs in B.C. that provide funding for children of families with great financial difficulties, such as families living on social assistance and single-parent families. These programs help cover the registration fees, cost of uniforms and other expenses. Read below for more information on funding resources available. If you don’t qualify for the programs available below, there are creative options to lower the cost of organized sports and ensure that your whole family is active!

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It’s important that all children have the opportunity to enhance their physical and emotional well-being through an organized sport.

• Join with your neighbours to play a game every week at the park (soccer, volleyball, street hockey) • Programs at your local recreational centre are more affordable than a community league team, and are great for when your children are still trying to discover what their favourite sport is.

• Arrange with a local gym for your children and their friends to form their own group or class. • Often, if a parent is able to volunteer or assist with coaching, or sit on a Board, the organization is able to offer a discounted rate.

FUNDING RESOURCES Athletics 4 kids - The support of A4K is available province-wide for children ages five to 18 currently enrolled in school. Basic registration fees are paid for a multitude of approved sports, up to an annual maximum of $600 per child. www.a4k.ca BC Sport Agency - BC Sport Agency has a number of programs that support community sport participation such as the Sport Participation Program, Local Sport Development Fund, and Aboriginal sport grants. www.BCSportAgency.com Everybody Gets to Play - This program is a Canada-wide initiative led by the Canadian Parks and Recreation Association (CPRA) to make recreation more accessible for low-income children and their families. www.everybodygetstoplay.ca Fitness Tax Credit - The Children’s Fitness Credit and the Children’s Arts Credit allows families to claim up to $500 in eligible expenses—per child, per credit, per year—for any eligible sports or arts programs. That means a family with three children can claim up to $1,500 a year, assuming each child is involved in a sports or arts programs outside the school system. When combined with the federal government’s Children’s Fitness Credit and the Children’s Arts Credit, families can receive up to $100 per child, per credit, per year off their tax payable. www.cra-arc.gc.ca/fitness JumpStart, Canadian Tire - Canadian Tire Jumpstart is a national charitable program that helps financially disadvantaged children participate in organized sport and recreation. Jumpstart helps cover registration, equipment and/or transportation costs. www.jumpstart.canadiantire.ca Kid Sport Canada - KidSport™ Canada is a national not-for-profit organization providing financial assistance for registration fees and equipment to children aged 18 and under. Through a confidential application process Kid Sport Canada provides grants so children can play a season of sport.


&adventure travel

In the next issue of WestCoast Families magazine, it’s our annual Family Travel & Adventure Guide. This is a great time to start planning your spring break vacation or summer travel plans – whether it’s close to home, or across the country.

www.kidsportcanada.ca Right to Play “Level the Field” - Right To Play is a global organization using the transformative power of play to educate and empower children facing adversity. Through spor ts and games, Right to Play wor ks in the most disadvantaged areas engaging gir ls, persons with disabilities, children affected by HIV/AIDS, homeless children, former child combatants and refugees. www.righttoplay.com/canada Community Centres - Contact your local recreational centre for grants and bursaries for various sports and programs for low income families.

We’ll feature great weekend and longdistance getaways, and our favourite attractions and places to visit on a family stay-cation.

To advertise in this fun issue and reach more than 112,000 families in the Lower Mainland, call us at 604-249-2866 or email sales@westcoastfamilies.com

Hockey associations - Many hockey leagues and associations have waivers for families who can’t afford the registration fee. January/February 2013 21

wcf news

Writers’ Exchange >> The Writers’ Exchange makes literacy exciting and accessible for inner-city kids through free mentoring and creative writing projects. Their vision is that every child will have the literacy skills necessary to access a world where anything is possible. Opened in 2011 as the KidSafe Writers’ Room, The Writers’ Exchange was originally a project of the KidSafe Project Society www.kidsafe.ca . With a lot of hard work, a dingy, old classroom at Queen Alexandra Elementary School transformed into our Writers’ Room, a beautiful, safe space where kids come after school to complete their homework and creative writing projects with volunteer mentors. During KidSafe’s winter, spring and summer break programs, they worked with more than 400 at-risk kids from six inner-city schools to boost their literacy skills and self-esteem through fun, free literacy games, crafts and activities. In September 2012, Writer’s Exchange became a project of Tides Canada Initiatives, and changed the name to the Writers’ Exchange. With the help of more than 150 volunteer mentors, Writers’ Exchange still run their Writers’ Room program at Queen Alexandra in partnership with the Van Tech Community School Team www.vsb.bc.ca/communityschoolteams , and are now expanding to help teachers at other inner-city schools run creative writing projects in their classrooms. Coming soon is a new space in East Vancouver that will be the home of writing workshops, family literacy programs and even more after-school fun, so stay tuned for more great writing and more great adventures! Please visit www.vancouverwe.com www.vancouverwe.com for more information!

>> Kids Get Chance to Become Published E-Book Authors - Ripple Digital Publishing calls for stories for kids by kids Know of a child who aspires to be the next J.K. Rowling or Robert Munsch? If someone ages 6 to 12 in your life loves to tell stories, here is an opportunity to share with them. Ripple Digital Publishing is announcing its new initiative called Kids Write 4 Kids. Children in grades one to six can submit their own original stories (and images) for their chance to become a published e-book author. “This is a wonderful opportunity for aspiring authors as well as a great classroom activity,” commented Ivy Wong, President of Ripple Digital Publishing. “We want to support and encourage children in their reading and writing development by giving them the chance to share their unique stories with other children around the world.” Submissions are divided into three age categories with stories selected from each category for inclusion in an e-book. All submissions must be original works and will be reviewed by a panel comprised of teachers, editors and established authors. Selected submissions will then be included in e-books by Ripple Digital Publishing and be available for sale from the Apple iBookstore and Amazon’s Kindle store with net proceeds donated to First Book Canada, a charitable organization providing access to books for children in need. The entry deadline for all submissions is March 31st, 2013, full submission rules area available atwww.ripplepublishing.ca/ kids-write-for-kids/ Stories must be typed and submitted in English and can be about any topic or theme. A minimum of five images must accompany each story and can be provided in a variety of mediums including hand drawings or original photography. Selected authors will be contacted by Ripple Digital Publishing prior to publication in Summer 2013. For additional contest information and submission guidelines visit www.ripplepublishing.ca

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>> A Record 296,645 British Columbians Speak French: 2011 Census Report The 2011 Census released yesterday morning might surprise most British Columbians. Of the 4.4 million people living in BC in 2011, 296,645 self-identified as having knowledge of both French & English. This makes French one of the top most commonly spoken languages in BC after English. This represents a 10% increase from 2001 when 269,360 indicated to be able to speak both Official Languages. Punjabi was the mother tongue of 182,915 British Columbians. French is the mother tongue of 70,760 British Columbians. In addition to these native-French speakers are, among others, immigrants and 34 years of graduates from very popular French second language programs like French immersion, and core French. “French immersion enrolment has been increasing in British Columbia for 14 consecutive years,” said Debra Pool, President of Canadian Parents for French BC & Yukon. “What Wednesday’s census report shows is that French second language education has been a real success story here in Canada’s most western province.” “We are very proud to celebrate this increase in numbers, it is clear that immersion schools play a crucial role in strengthening our community” adds Ms Sotteau, executive director of Fédération des Francophones de la Colombie-Britannique. As of 2012, there are over 275,000 students enrolled in French immersion, Intensive French, or French as a subject in BC and the Yukon in the public school system. This fall comes on the heels of the 14th straight year of enrolment growth in the French immersion program in B.C.; 8.1% of the entire public school student population—or 46,800 students—are now registered in the French immersion program.

>> February is Heart Month in Canada. So while you’re planning that romantic outing for Valentine’s Day, make sure you give some attention to keeping your heart healthy, too. According to Vancouver dietitian Gloria Tsang, founder of nutrition network HealthCastle.com and author of Go UnDiet: 50 Small Actions for Lasting Weight Loss, people tend to get most excited about the potential heart health benefits of chocolate and red wine, but these may not be the most practical foods to incorporate into the diet in large amounts on a regular basis. “The most practical heart healthy foods are not as glamorous,” Tsang says. “But they offer real benefits for your heart and can easily become a part of your day-to-day eating habits.” Here are HealthCastle.com’s top 5 super foods to reduce cholesterol and protect your heart: 1. Whole grains (especially oats and barley): Beta-glucan soluble fiber lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol, and both these whole grains are rich sources. The FDA has authorized a heart disease reduction claim for oats and barley. 2. Fish: The omega-3 fatty acids in fish lower LDL cholesterol and raise HDL (good) cholesterol. The American Heart Association recommends eating at least two servings of fish per week. 3. Nuts: These tasty snacks pack in fiber, phytonutrients, antioxidants, plant sterols, and mono- and polyunsaturated fats, all of which have been shown to lower LDL cholesterol. The FDA has approved a heart health claim for almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, some pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts. 4. Garlic: Garlic has been shown to lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and contains several powerful phytonutrients. It can also help manage blood pressure. 5. Berries: Berries are full of fiber, phytonutrients, and antioxidants. Researchers from Harvard Medical School found that strawberries may offer heart disease protection by lowering inflammation in the blood vessels. A sensible heart smart diet also includes at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, as well as leaner meats and low-fat dairy, and avoids both saturated fats and trans fat. More simple, small achievable actions to reclaim health are available at www.HealthCastle.com.

January/February 2013 23


educational apps & websites

Most kids spend at least a portion of their day on a computer. These innovative apps and websites will help them harness their computer time into activities that will activate their curiosity, learn new things, and help them manage their time.

Mathletics from 3P Learning This website offers school groups and individuals online access to an interactive website. Covers all aspects of math, and gives instant feedback to students. Worldwide access. Real-time games and activities, with regular reports sent to teachers or parents. www.mathletics.ca

The IMums

Brush of Truth

Interesting name, interesting site! This website is from four Moms, from all different parts of the world who do the leg work for us. They review apps and websites for kids of all ages, in all categories, to find the best and the worst. With eleven kids between them, they are more than qualified to give us their opinions. This site also offers news, interviews, and links to great free apps too.

The Brush of Truth was created from a mom’s vision to get tweens to read. The app tells the story of two tweens who find an enchanted paintbrush made by a medieval sorcerer. A cross between an eBook and a game, the app lets the user choose what happens next in the story. Brush of Truth has 125 pages of story and illustrations, with 65 decision points and 20 possible endings.



Star Walk Download this app to your iPhone or iPad and point it to the sky. This interactive map displays constellations, stars, planets, satellites, and galaxies in the sky above you. It works from anywhere on earth with no internet connection required. This app is great for amateurs and professionals alike – perfect for students of all ages. www.vitotechnology.com

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Re-energy from Green Learning Students of all ages use construction plans provided to built environmentally friendly power sources like a solar Oven, Wind Turbine, or Hydro Generator. The projects incorporate biology, chemistry and physics to apply science and technology to some of the most important environmental issues. www.re-energy.ca

3D Brain For older students interested in science, this application allows you to use your touch screen to rotate and zoom around the brain. Discover each region and hot is functions as well as what happens in brain injuries. Each structure of the brain includes details on its function, potential damage, disorders and more. www.g2conline.org/2022

Kno Textbooks (App)

TED-Ed Lessons Worth sharing. TED-Ed aims to “capture and amplify the voices of the world’s greatest educators”. The famous series of TED conferences and speakers has now produced an online library of educational videos of nominated educators’ lessons, paired up with fantastic animators to help visualize. The videos may then be used by teachers to create interactive quizzes and lessons. The lessons can also be distributed and tracked for a class or an individual student. ed.ted.com

Download and read secondary, college, and university textbooks at 30-50% off regular bookstore prices. Create flashcards automatically, write notes directly into your textbook, search for answers instantly. The e-books even allow you to do a fast highlight review before exams or crucial classes.

For high school , college, and university students, myHomework tracks your homework, classes, projects and tests. You can also sync to your smart phone and receive due date reminders. $1.99/year




The Social Express This website and app was developed for children with autism, Asperger’s and ADHD, teaching them how to think about and manage social situations. The video modelling shows them how to build emotional and social skills and develop relationships. The lessons are interactive and can be used by parents, educators, therapists, and other professionals. www.thesocialexpress.com

Daily Art This app delivers a piece of classic art to your smart phone each day to wake you up culturally. You can view the art piece, and read a little background on the artist and the art. Makes for great coffee conversation at the office. www.moiseum.com

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wcf feature

Family Literacy WestCoast Families is happy to support the ABC Family Literacy Day again this year on January 27, 2013. ABC Life Literacy Canada offers these tips to encourage reading as a family • Ensure your child knows that how well they read or write has nothing to do with their intelligence. Every person is intelligent in their own way and each person is unique and needs to learn in the way that best suits them. With practice, your child will become a good reader. • The television can be used as a tool. After your child watches a television show or an episode, talk to them about it. Ask them questions like, “What was your favourite part?” or “What was the episode trying to teach the audience?” This reinforces media literacy skills, a medium that is encompassing our lives today. • Don’t lose sight of the fact that children model behaviour they see. Ensure that your child sees you reading, whether it’s the newspaper, the mail or a recipe. This shows your child how important it is to read. • While reading a story to your child, pause to ask them what they predict will happen next or have them summarize what has happened in the story thus far. Good readers think about what they are reading and this will reinforce critical thinking skills. • Today’s children, particularly teens, are influenced by music. Have your child read the lyrics to their favourite song. When your child hears the song, the will visualize the lyrics they read. Visualization is a reading skill and this helps develop the skill. • All reading is good reading. If your child is a reluctant reader, allow them to read comics, a graphic novel, a magazine or an instruction manual for their favourite sport. They will be introduced to new words, sentence structure, and they will engage their brains with new ideas and information. • Families that spend a lot of time in the car can play an audio book and have children follow along with the written book in their hands. You will be surprised how many pages your child can get through in a five-minute car ride. Many libraries have a large collection of audio books.

• The reading process needs to be enjoyable so select books that represent your child’s reading ability and not the reading level your child “should” be at. If your child feels like every time they read, they are going to fail or be criticized, they will resist reading. • Reading aloud helps children develop pace and voice. Have your child read to the family dog, teddy bear or their younger sibling. These are nonthreatening audiences that will help develop your child’s confidence. Developing literacy skills is a task that requires a lot of patience from the parents and the literacy learner. As such, making the process enjoyable for everyone involved can go a long way in alleviating anxiety and opening the doors to developing lifelong literacy skills. www.lookunderlearn.ca www.abclifeliteracy.ca

Did You Know? • Establishing a culture of learning encourages an exchange of ideas, enriches family relationships, and bolsters confidence and independent thinking. • Children aged 2 to 3 who are read to several times a day do substantially better in kindergarten at the age of 4 and 5 than youngsters who are read to only a few times a week or less • Simple things like reading and telling stories to a child at 18 months are powerful stimuli for brain development in the early years

• Parents should pay careful attention to three potential reading slump times that can hinder a child’s reading development: when a child enters kindergarten; at grade 4; and when a child enters high school • Having a parent or other caring person read aloud with their children helps children learn listening skills, vocabulary and language skills, as well as develop imagination and creativity • Quality of life for families, including income levels and employment status, is directly related to the literacy levels of parents Source: www.abclifeliteracy.ca

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January/February 2013 27


Saving for School Navigating savings plan options for your children’s education


hough Canada’s post-secondary education system functions at a relatively low cost compared to the United States, gone are the days where a student could be expected to hold down a full course load and a couple of part-time jobs and get by. If you want your child to have all the educational opportunities possible, without graduating under an insurmountable load of debt, it’s a good idea to start putting away some money for them now. Fortunately there are a few options that help families plan for their children’s future, while getting tax breaks and additional funds from the government. The main ones are the RESP, the Tax-Free Savings Account, the Canada Education Savings Grant, and the Canada Learning Bond.

RESP “RESP” stands for Registered Education Savings Plan. This is an account registered with the federal government to help you save for a child’s post-secondary education. When the child enters a qualified educational program at the post-secondary level, he or she can start drawing on the accumulated savings. Only the child will pay taxes on the money he or she withdraws. Since many students have little or no other income, they usually don’t have to pay much, if any, tax.

Some key features of RESPs: • Anyone can open an RESP for a child - parents, grandparents, guardians, and other relatives and friends. Both the contributor and the beneficiary both need to have a Social Insurance Number. • When you contribute to an RESP you become eligible for government grants that can amount to thousands of dollars of free money towards a child’s post-secondary education. • Money in the RESP grows tax free.

• Individual plan - For a single beneficiary, who does not have to be a blood relative of the subscriber (the person who opens the plan).

• There is a lifetime limit of $50,000 per child • A child can be named the beneficiary of more than one RESP. But the combined total of the two RESPs could not be more than $50,000. • You can open an RESP at most financial institutions. • If your child does not continue education after high school, you can transfer the money to a Registered Retirement Savings Plan to help you save for retirement. Or you can withdraw your contribution tax-free.

What are the different types of plans? You can choose from three types of plans:

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• Family plan - For multiple beneficiaries, all of whom must be connected by blood or adoption to the subscriber. A government grant paid into an RESP may be shared among all the beneficiaries. If one beneficiary decides not to continue studies after high school, the other beneficiaries can still use the money. • Group plan - Your savings are pooled with those of other people. The money your child receives is based on the amount of money in the pool and the total number of students of the same age who are in school that year.

OTHER OPTIONS Tax-Free Savings Account Another option to help you save for your child’s post-secondary education is a Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA). However, with a TFSA, you aren’t eligible for the government grants (that can amount to thousands of dollars) that you are with RESPs. If you’ve reached the maximum value of the government grants that you are eligible for with an RESP, then a TFSA could be a good alternative to putting money away for your children’s education.

CANADA EDUCATION SAVINGS GRANT (CESG) The Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG) boosts your own savings in a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) for your children’s education. The Government of Canada will give 20% of the amount you contribute to the RESP, up to a maximum grant of $500 per year for each child identified as a beneficiary of the RESP. To receive the maximum $500 grant annually, you would need to contribute $2,500 to your RESP each year. If you can’t contribute that much, you can still receive 20% of the amount you do contribute. The lifetime maximum CESG you can receive is $7,200 per child. You must apply each year to receive the CESG. Often, the company with which you have set up the RESP will apply on your behalf, but check to confirm if they do.

CANADA LEARNING BOND The Canada Learning Bond (CLB) is money the Government of Canada puts into an RESP – Registered Education Savings Plan, to help you start saving early for your child’s education after high school. You don’t have to put any of your own money into an RESP to get the CLB! The money you could receive includes: $500 NOW to help you start saving early; an extra $100 each year up to age 15; an extra $25 to help cover the cost of opening an RESP. The Canada Learning Bond is available to: • Children born after December 31, 2003; • Children’s families who receive the National Child Benefit Supplement (NCBS) also known as “family allowance” or “baby bonus”.

SCHOLARSHIPS AND GRANTS Go to www.studentawards.com/canlearn to search for awards that you may be eligible for.

More information www.fcac-acfc.gc.ca/eng/consumers/lifeevents/secondeduc www.canlearn.ca

January/February 2013 29

i’m raising my family...

homeschooled l By Amy Woods

ife can be a formula, and this formula has always scared me. Hello. My name is Amy. I am the mother of two. Story, my son, is the oldest at seven. He likes to watch the world unfold from a distance until he is sure and ready of what to expect. Rashelle, my daughter, is five. She likes to watch people. She is a beautiful mystery. I started to wonder what would happen when they became school aged. Then they did. Story didn’t want to go. Rashelle couldn’t wait.

We have been self-employed for ten years. We have no boss and we have no set schedule. With the onset of school, we feared a Monday to Friday, nine to five lifestyle that would suddenly dictate the rhythm of our time...our time apart... and our time together. I felt we would have a boss and a system to answer to. Pressures and expectations, not only of the children, but of us as parents, and of course the possibility of failure. The choice to homeschool might have been ours subconsciously, and I remember the day we said it aloud. The relief we felt of staying in a place we already understood, a place where we got to write the rules. I began to read about the laws of schooling your children in B.C. The different curriculum a family could follow, all the way to the extreme of unschooling where there is no formal education beyond learning what they want, when they want, and allowing them to develop as they do. I like the freedom and trust of believing that they would learn—that ultimately they would understand how they learn, so that they can teach themselves—and unschooling became, in my mind, our choice. Homeschooling the kids is a family affair. Though I write this from my perspective, my husband is very much involved. I found a program called the New Westminster Homelearners. Your family is assigned a teacher who supports your educational ideas and monitors progress. Then they report on your behalf to the government. They offer optional classes twice a week. It’s “school” like: I drop them off, they go to different classes and have friends and lunch boxes, and two days is plenty. It leaves time for the family; it leaves time for them and leaves time for their extra curricular. We are not rushed. Everything is optional. They have choices, and they usually make great and interesting ones.

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I maintain still to this day that if my children ever ask to go to school, I would certainly let them. In fact, for a moment when we were visiting the school down the road to apply for an arts program for Rashelle, I found myself daydreaming that Story would want to go too. While my friends and their children move into this next phase of life, I am still at home with the kids. Just when I could get some freedom and time to develop the things in life that fuel me, I am still dedicating the majority to them. I never wanted to be a teacher, and here I was responsible for my children’s education–sometimes at the sacrifice of my own interests. Then I imagined how little time we even have together, and how much I would miss them if they were at school all day, and I teach them my needs are important too. Even though my memories of school were good ones, there are things about the public education system that I started to scrutinize. Individuality is minimized, as it is impossible for one teacher to adhere to every child’s personality and learning style. The rules, the homework, and the quantity of questions that go unanswered - I can barely keep up with them all, and I have only two brains to contend with. I would be sad about the loss of knowledge, of what they were up to each day, which becomes the majority of their lives without you. Are they happy? Truly happy? From the moment our children are born we have begun the slow process of losing them. This process can’t be stopped, and shouldn’t be stopped. But it also doesn’t need to be accelerated. I don’t believe our choice to homeschool will make our children superior. They will turn thirty and they will know how to read. They will understand relative math, and the changes of all the seasons will make sense to them. They will have responsibilities and relationships, but they will struggle too. Maybe to communicate, maybe with money, and most definitely with loss and hurt. I believe everyone does the best they can with what they’ve got. And what we have is time. We are lucky...and we have chosen to spend it together.

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ayla and Veronica love to dress up and sing their hearts out, like many five-year-old girls, and they do it pretty well, too. But these two, born just one week apart, have some serious knee-high boots to fill when it comes to being show-stopping performers. Their moms, Sarah Johns and Kelly Brock, have been the two female lead singers of the legendary Vancouver house band Dr. Strangelove for almost two decades, and are showing no signs of giving up the spotlight anytime soon. Like many moms, Kayla and Veronica’s do mom-ish things like school pickups and dance lesson drop-offs. They make snacks, read stories and set up play dates. Like many moms, Sarah experiences the joys and challenges of a child on the autism spectrum (Veronica’s wonderful big brother, Hank, who is eight). Unlike most moms though, instead of passing out in front of American Idol after the kids go to bed, these moms get dressed up in hot matching outfits, jump on a stage

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Kelly Brock & Sarah Johns Dr. Strangelove

By Stephanie MacDonald | Photo by Taran Rai

with their band mates, and exuberantly sing, dance, and entertain hundreds of people until the wee hours. After fourteen years playing up to four nights a week at the famous Vancouver landmark The Roxy Nightclub, the band was ready for a change. Since leaving the Roxy seven years ago, they have focused on doing more corporate parties, casino shows, and exciting events for organizations like the Canucks, the Cloverdale Rodeo, The Molson Indy, and the Heart and Stroke Foundation Gala; but they haven’t lost momentum, despite adding to their families. “It had a lot to do with the fact that all of a sudden The Roxy was open until three a.m., and that was just way too exhausting to keep on forever,” says Sarah, who already had Hank by then. “Between sets I would actually run six blocks home, in costume, to nurse the baby, and then run back for the next set.”

“We just have so much fun onstage, it’s amazing we make a living doing this.” Consummate professionals, when asked what the band did while they were both pregnant with the girls, Sarah laughs. “Um, we just kept on playing!”“It was kind of crazy being pregnant at the same time,” says Kelly, “People would look up and see Sarah and say ‘Oh isn’t that cute, Sarah’s pregnant,’ and then they would go ‘Hmmm, the other one is very large too!” The fact that they’ve kept up this pace for twenty years would be amazing even if they weren’t now parents, but if anything, Dr. Strangelove is heating up, not slowing down. “It’s nice to have a variety of events to work at, the casino is a full-on fun rock show, while corporate events aren’t quite as crazy.” When not rocking out with Dr. Strangelove, Kelly and Sarah do voiceover work, and Kelly has a number of side projects going on with a jazz duo, and a four-piece band that often plays at lounges and casinos on the weeknights. Coming up on the horizon for the band are two big events, one celebrating the past and one looking forward to the future. Foremost in their minds at the

moment is the huge 20th Anniversary of Dr. Strangelove at the Roxy on January 17th. “With this anniversary party, I think this is going to open even more doors for us,” says Kelly, “when people realize, wow, they are still together!” Tickets for this sure-to-be-epic show are still on sale, and anyone who wants to avoid The Roxy’s equally epic line-up situation are advised to pick them up now on the band’s website. “And in breaking news,” says Sarah, “we are just finalizing plans to play regularly at The Fan Club, a great new dinner and live music lounge on Granville Street”. Located by the old Yale Hotel, the venue promises delicious local food, and live performances nightly. Explains Sarah. “I think the Fan Club could really latch onto something in Vancouver, a place where you can grab a bite to eat and then dance to some live music. Right now I really think we’re lacking a place like that.” Kelly laughs, “We’ve finally found ourselves back on Granville Street, after seven years.”The same band that roused the Roxy for so long is back, undiminished by time and enlivened by new family members. “We just have so much fun onstage,” says Sarah, “It’s amazing we make a living doing this.” January/February 2013 33


Teacher Award Profiles Congratulations to Mr. David Epp for being a Teacher of Excellence! Mr. Epp Nootka Elementary, Vancouver Grade 2 Nominated by: Michael, Helen Young, Tara Agate, Jenny Ivany, Dwight Ivany, Claire Fogal, Karen Unger-Strickland, Linda Helme, Molly Eitzen With a background in theatre David is a natural fit as the theatre specialist at Nootka Elementary, which hosts the Vancouver School Boards Fine Arts program. On top of his sharing his passion for theatre, David also enjoys fostering a healthy classroom environment by helping children lean selfawareness through yoga and other self-regulatory strategies cultivating well-being and emotional balance. Students respond to Mr. Epp’s creative, dynamic style by developing and exploring their own creative projects. As one student put it “Mr. Epp makes everything fun, like a game…even Math!”

Comments from students and parents’ nominations: • “He is grounded and gentle. I have seen a vast difference in our daughter - she feels guided by him”. • “He’s awesome for hard work, responsible & spend lot of time & effort on kids. Most important, my son likes him as a super teacher”. • “David Epp is one of the teachers you hope your child has the privilege of learning from during their lives. David encourages individuality and constantly celebrates it with each of his students”. • “Mr. Epp truly sees the potential in every child. After watching Mr. Epp in action it is very apparent he knows his role goes beyond education. He is process driven and that translates into a life skill far greater than immediate achievements. You know that you have an outstanding teacher when your child looks forward to Mondays and runs to school each day!” • “A wonderfully creative teacher. Genuinely considers the student as a whole during parent teacher reviews. He provided great goals and insight, and teaches whole life skills as well as the curriculum”. • “Teaches yoga and Mind Up in the classroom; genuinely passionate about learning; a kind, sensitive, intelligent teacher”. • “The most important thing is that my daughter wants AND enjoys going to school. She is happy...that is all that matters to me, and she is learning even though she has a learning challenge. • “He is always so positive and encouraging with the kids. He is a very dedicated teacher who works a lot of extra hours in prepping for them”. • “He is a an attentive and energetic teacher who recognizes strengths in students who up until meeting him may have only be viewed as challenging. He takes the time to talk to parents and let them know how their child is doing in the classroom”. Mr Livingston Quilchena Elementary School, Richmond, Grade 7 Nominated by: Ric Pearce “Andrew is a vibrant and dynamic teacher who constantly engages his students in hands on current issues. He has worked hard at acquiring funds to enlarge the Community Garden that surrounds Quilchena Elementary. This Spring his students will be building and planting five more plots”. Mr. I Place Des Arts, Coquitlam, Music Teacher – Grades Preschool-3 Nominated by: Angie Padovano “Mr. I is patient, gentle, and inspiring. He gets kids and all of their needs. He never forgets to give the children a physical break that he has naturally built into his routine. Children love him and parents admire him for all that he gives. His program teaches about kindness, the world and music! My son has been inspired to learn so much about music thanks to Mr. I”.

Got to www.westcoastfamilies.com to see more teachers nominated for their excellence!

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momevents westcoast

Adult Events for the Hip Mom Around Town! The Gluten Free Expo in Vancouver Vancouver Convention & Exhibition Centre January 13 Learn about gluten free products and cooking with over 100 vendors both sampling and selling their products. There will also be a public stage with sessions pertaining to gluten free living throughout the day. Tickets $12 at the door, $9 online. www.glutenfreeexpo.ca BYOB : Bring Your Own Baby Book Club Vancouver Public Library, Harvey Southam Room January 15, 10:30am-12noon Are you the parent or caregiver of a child under two? Love to read books? Want to join a book club and meet in a baby friendly setting? Then this is the book club for you. Free. Registration required. www.vpl.ca Dr. Strangelove 20-year Anniversary Party The Roxy Nightclub, Vancouver January 17, doors open at 7pm There will be lots of music, a fun jam with all of the Strangelove alumni, tons of cake and some special guests on stage for a night of dancing, fun and laughter. Please bring a non-perishable food item for the Vancouver food bank. Strangelove will perform at 8:30pm. www.drstrangeloveband.com

A Celebration of Robbie Burns Dinner & Concert Place des Arts January 19, Scottish Dinner: 6pm, Concert: 7:30pm Come early and enjoy a Scottish dinner with all the trimmings-including haggis, and stay on for the concert with music celebrating Robbie Burns! www.placedesarts.ca 21st Century Flea Market Croatian Cultural Centre January 20, 10am-3pm With 175 different vendors offering everything from shabby chic to 50’s kitsch, collectibles and memorabilia to vintage kitchenalia, this popular European-style collectors market is a must-see. Cost: $5 604.980.3159 | 21cprmotions.com Understanding and Treating Childhood Anxiety Disorders University Women’s Club at Hycroft January 22, 7–9pm Discuss a number of common anxiety disorders common to childhood (OCD, Panic Attacks, Social Phobia, etc.). Pathways for developing anxiety will be examined and specific interventions will be outlined. Learn practical, hands-on suggestions that will include Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. Cost: $30 www.edutalksseminars.com

Earthquake Preparedness Workshop: Be Prepared, Not Scared Kerrisdale Community Centre January 22, 7pm Learn more about to prepare yourself, your family, and your pets for an emergency. Sign up for a free City of Vancouver emergency planning workshop. Learn to prepare for, respond to, and recover from earthquakes, hurricanes, and other disasters. 604.257.8100 Safe Baby Workshop AFABC, Burnaby Wednesdays in February, 7-9:30pm This course is for families planning to adopt a baby or toddler, locally or internationally, especially valuable to families open to children with prenatal exposure to drugs or alcohol. Includes certified infant/child CPR training. $125 for AFABC members, $135 for non-members. Pre-registration is required. www.bcadoption.com 54∙40 in Concert Surrey Arts Centre February 16, 8pm As one of the most important popular music groups to emerge from Canada, 54∙40 needs little introduction. Buy tickets online, by phone or in person at the Box Office. All seats $47.50 604.501.5566 | www.surrey.ca

Meet the Doula Evening The Birch Tree Family Wellness Center, Ladner February 2 Have you wondered how the services of a doula can benefit you? Would you like to meet several doulas all in one place? Meet other moms and moms-to-be, win fabulous door prizes and enjoy delicious goodies. This free event is open to all; you don’t need to be a midwifery client or live in Ladner. Pre-registration is required. 604.551.8604 www.bestbeginningsdoula.ca Children: How They Sleep and How They Dream West Vancouver Memorial Library February 12, 7-8:45pm Join Capilano University’s Jennifer Garden, who is actively involved in sleep research, for a seminar that will provide useful information & discuss the latest research on sleep and dreaming for infants and toddlers. Also, learn the importance of sleep for children; provide tips to help children sleep better, and the opportunity to ask questions. www.nvdpl.ca

Swan Lake Queen Elizabeth Theatre February 27-March 2, 8pm The National Ballet of China has created a unique fusion between western classical ballet and Chinese culture by developing many of its own works that represent the varied characteristics of China. Presented by Ballet BC. www.balletbc.com


Children’s Kingdom Montessori Centre Preschool & Kindergarten Register Now! September and January Enrollment Mandarin, Art & Music classes are included 4720 Elgin St. Vancouver (near Knight & 31st Ave.)

Tel : (604) 872-8898

The Children’s Party Specialists Face painting, balloon animals, arts and crafts, and more.

604-318-1261 • www.partyarts.ca January/February 2013 35

community Fire and Ice Show Skier’s Plaza at the base of Whistler Mountain Sundays until March 31, 6:30pm Watch world-class athletes flipping and twisting through a burning ring of fire and finish with a first class fireworks display. This free show is open to everyone! www.whistler.com/christmas Family Day at PdA! Place des Arts January 13, 1:30pm Tour the current exhibitions: Edible Art, tapestry weaving; Unruly Lines, acrylic on canvas; Capturing the Vibrancy of Nature, multiple media by the Passionate Outdoor Painters. Then participate in a variety of all-ages, drop-in workshops. Admission is by donation. www.placedesarts.ca 6th Annual Russian Christmas in Vancouver Russian Community Center January 13, 1-5pm Get a chance to taste the best of Russian: culture, gourmet cuisine, real Russian vodka, while the kids will be entertained by the Russian traditional Christmas characters. This is a unique family fun experience with various entertainment for every taste. 604.763.1462 | www.palmetheatre.com Early Years Fair John Braithwaite Community Centre, North Vancouver January 19, 10am-1pm Preschools, daycares, community agencies and other business providers will be on site to let you know how they can be of help. There will be fun activities for the whole family, so bring the kids. Free raffle and Vancouver Coastal Health vision and dental screenings will be on site. 604.982.8313 The TechTrek Saturday Workshop UBC Point Grey Campus January 19, February 9 & March 9, 10am-12noon Grade 8-12 students & parents can come for a half-day of computer-science activities, and listen to real industry professionals and university experts talk about the cutting edge of technology- all in a fun, friendly environment! www.techtrek.ca

36 WestCoastFamilies.com

16th Annual Kids Stuff Swap n’ Sell Douglas Recreation Centre, Langley January 19, 9am-1pm Save money by buying new and used infant, preschool and children’s items. Admission is free. 604.514.2865 West Coast Chamber Music- Soar with Four Unitarian Church of Vancouver January 20, 3pm 2013 will mark the 20th anniversary of West Coast Chamber Music. Help celebrate at this concert featuring two exquisitely crafted piano quartets for piano, violin, viola and cello. Tickets start at $8-$18 www.westcoastchambermusic.com Cinema Musica-Music and Film: A Live Conversation Goldcorp Centre for the Arts SFU, Burnaby January 20, 2 & 8pm Enjoy an innovative evening of live musical performance and film including work by some of the leading experimental filmmakers of the past. Tickets $35/$33/$10 www.turningpointensemble.ca

Birds of a Feather Stanley Park Nature House January 27, 9-11am Enjoy the birds of winter and discover how many species call the park home during the chilly months. Participate in this 2 hour easy walking exploration to learn about bird identification and behaviour. By donation. Please pre register. 604.257.8544 Modern Mama North Shore Launch Party Cover Kid Contest at Gymboree! Gymboree, North Shore January 27, 10am-3pm Come to Modern Mama North Shore’s Launch Party for the chance to have your child appear on the cover of WestCoast Families magazine Every child receives a digital image & families can stay to enjoy the play gym, bubble & parachute games, photo ops with Cloud B‘s giant Gentle Giraffe, snacks, coffee & tons of amazing door prizes! www.modernmama.com

StoryTales Capilano & Parkgate Branch Libraries, North Vancouver January 21-March 11, Thursdays, 10:30–11am For children aged 3–5 years old. Join in for a half hour of longer stories, songs and rhymes. Story times are drop-in sessions, free and no registration is required. www.nvdpl.ca

Year of the Snake Expo 2013 BC Place January 31–February 3, check for times Come indulge in multicultural authentic cuisines, shop for specialty items, and experience live performances when you step into this cultural district. There will be lots of prizes to be won and Chinese New Year lucky charm giveaways every day. www.asianexpovancouver.com

Ballet BC: Encore Queen Elizabeth Theatre January 24-26, check for times Six dancers bring choreographic wow to the gorgeous Sibelius violin concerto which seems to interrupt the dancers’ silence, creating a wonderful unison of freshness. www.balletbc.com

YOUnique Britannia Community Service Centre, Vancouver February 2, 9am-5pm A youth conference focused on bullying prevention, self esteem and relationship development. A variety of speakers will engage young people in interactive workshops. Human Rights values will be taught through Play it Fair and Speaking Rights projects. www.britanniacentre.com

Huge Kids Swap Meet Cloverdale Fairgrounds January 26, 9am-12:30pm New and gently used kids items for sale at this well established swap meet. Come out to shop! 604.588.9919

calendar Dance 4U Centennial Theatre, North Vancouver February 2, 7:30pm Showcasing a variety of dance styles presented by RNB Dance & Theatre Arts Society Adults $19 & Students/Children $11 604.984.4484 | www.centennialtheatre.com Vancouver International Boat Show BC Place Stadium & Granville Island Maritime Market and Marina February 7-11 Spend the first Family Day in BC discovering boating at two locations. Meet BC’s finest craftsmen at the Wooden Boat Alley, win fabulous prizes, explore the Kids Zone, and check out the latest and most innovative products on the market. Adults $12 in advance, Kids under 17 free. www.vancouverboatshow.ca Chutzpah! Festival Various venues February 7- March 3, check for times This Festival is a dynamic, multi-disciplinary performing arts festival which takes place over a four-week period, embracing a broad spectrum of high-caliber programming in dance, theatre and music. www.chutzpahfestival.com Discovery Day Surrey Nature Centre February 8, 10am–3pm Check out the heritage exhibit, create an eco-craft, and learn something new with the interactive Exploration Boxes and Discovery Backpacks. Bring a lunch and enjoy your selfguided experience through the special places. Drop in, free. 604.502.6065 | www.surrey.ca Professor Blastoff with Tig Notaro & Friends Vancouver Playhouse February 8, 7-8:30pm A hilarious comedy show whose topics range from science to philosophy or theology. www.vancouverplayhouse.com

9th Annual Jan Ken Pon! Rock Paper Scissors Family Games Day Nikkei Place, Burnaby February 9, 1-4pm Experience over 20 traditional Japanese heritage games and toys at the 9th Annual Jan Ken Pon! Family Games Day. Play with colourful tops and a Japanese style cup & ball, make your own sumo wrestlers and beanbags, and run around and burn off some energy! The highlight of the day is a rock-paper-scissors tournament with prizes. Old Japanese heritage toys will also be on display. Adults $4, Child $5. Under 2 free. www.nikkeiplace.org VSO Kids’ Koncerts: The Listener Orpheum Theatre February 10, 2-3:10pm Award-winning children’s entertainers Magic Circle Mime perform The Listener, a fun and educational show about the art of listening that sees the conductor interrupted by a tap dancing ballerina and a trumpet-playing mime! www.vancouversymphony.ca Children’s Arts Festival Richmond Cultural Centre February 11, 10am-4pm A full day of interactive art and literacy activities for children (12 and under).Register for a Creativity Class and work side-by-side inspiring professional artists for just $5 dollars more. Adults & children two & under are free. www.richmond.ca/artscentre BC Family Day Skate Minoru Arenas February 11, 11-3pm Skate together as a family at Minoru Arenas on BC’s first Family Day.$3.65/per person www.richmond.ca

Viking Invasion 2013 Surrey Museum February 16, 1-4pm Join in the Norse fun with crafts, music and games and visit the Viking Village Encampment, complete with tents, filled with costumed members of the Reik Felag Norse Culture Recreation Society practicing traditional arts and crafts. All ages, drop-in, by donation 604.592.6956 | www.surrey.ca Chinese New Year – Year of the Snake Temple Fair Dr. Sun Yat Sen Chinese Garden, Vancouver February 17, 10am-4pm A lively public festival that celebrates the lunar New Year, the most exciting and colourful holiday of the Chinese calendar. Families and individuals come together to wish each other fortune, prosperity and good health. Entrance by donation. Suggested: $5. All welcome. www.vancouverchinesegarden.com Talking Stick Festival Various Venues February 19-March 3, check for times This festival provides a stage for extraordinary Aboriginal Artists, established and emerging, featuring live music, dance, theatre, multimedia, storytelling and performance art. Tickets range from $12-$25 www.fullcircle.ca Kokoma African Heritage Ensemble Scotiabank Dance Centre February 28, 12noon The high-energy dances, powerful drum rhythms and ancient traditions of West Africa are showcased in the next edition of The Dance Centre’s popular Discover Dance! noon series. Tickets start at $10 604.606.6400 | www.thedancecentre.ca

Visit www.westcoastfamilies.com/events_calendar for more family friendly events in June! To have your event included in the WestCoast Families community calendar, please email your details to admin@westcoastfamilies.com.

If you’d like WestCoast Families magazine delivered to your event free of charge, please email your request to publisher@westcoastfamilies.com. January/February 2013 37

last look Ice Cube Fishing From HighTouch HighTech

It’s wintertime! When the temperature starts to drop we love to experiment and go ice fishing. Here is a fun experiment to try out with the family. Warning: You will want to have your camera ready as the kids will be impressed with what they catch!


make it!

• Cup of Ice cubes


Step 1 Fill a cup 3/4 with ice

• Piece of Cotton String (approximately 20 cm)

Step 2 Lay the middle of the string over the ice cubes, with the ends of the string coming out the sides of the cup.

• Table Salt

the science Salt lowers the freezing point of water; therefore, the ice began to melt. As the ice melted it became colder and the string froze to the ice. Have fun with this experiment we’d love to see the pictures of what you caught fishing!

Step 3 Fill the rest of the cup with ice cubes (making sure your string stays in place). Step 4 Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of salt over ice cubes & string. Step 5 Count to 30 and listen carefully to the chemical reaction taking place.


Step 6 Carefully lift your string.


4 3

For more fun science experiments or a science camp near you on spring break check out www.ScienceMadeFunBC.net.

38 WestCoastFamilies.com

g n i r p s reak b

Winter is still here, but the kids are already counting down the days to Spring Break. It’s just around the corner and we’ll have all the info to get your prepared. Whether you’re heading out for a family vacation, enjoying a stay-cation close to home, or enrolling your kids in one of the many great Spring Break camps, we’ve got it covered. If you offer a Spring Break camp or program, or a great getaway for families, we can help you reach more than 112,000 families in the Lower Mainland.

To advertise in this great issue for March, call us at 604-249-2866 or email sales@westcoastfamilies.com.

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