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Kids 1st Day School

My Kids Are Growing Up Quickly, And I’m Okay With That

“They’re growing up too fast, please slow it down!”

I’m sure I’ve been guilty of uttering a variation of the above phrase at some point in the 10 years I have been a father. I’m also guessing that we’ve all had moments where our children have left us in awe at their budding independence. I used to dread the day when my kids didn’t want to hold my hand anymore while walking to school, but the more they grow, the more I understand their need to blaze their own trail.

As I walked behind them on the way to school the other day, I watched as they excitedly talked about all the friends they were going to see and which classes they hoped they would end up in. If we accomplish nothing else as parents, I will always be happy that my kids genuinely enjoy each other’s company, which may or may not have anything to do with us but I like to think we helped foster that a little bit.

When we arrived at the school, both kids ran in opposite directions to greet the many friends they hadn’t seen all summer, with neither one of them batting an eye in my direction. This may have upset me a few years ago but now I actually enjoy watching their excitement as they pick up right where they left off with their friends. I’m also thankful that they are fortunate enough to have a strong core of friends to come back to.

I stood by myself for awhile, taking in all the sights and sounds, watching the other parents, each with their own 1st day styles and personalities, and hoping my kids would have a great back to school experience. I forced them both to give me a hug before I left because I’m still a dad who needs a little love and validation, but I walked away knowing that my kids would be able to handle anything that comes their way and that they had each others backs, no matter what.

When I picked them up after school that day and asked how their 1st day went, they answered in unison, “Good!”, before running ahead to walk with their friends. Good is better than bad, right? The way I see it, I can spend time stressing out about the kids growing too quickly and potentially hold them back or I can let them grow and explore at their own pace and be there for them when they need me most.

And, hey, every now and then they’ll throw us a bone, like how they’re still cool with our customary 1st day of school pictures!

Kids 1st Day School 4

Back To School With Microsoft Canada

Back-To-School Isn’t Just For The Kids!

With all the focus on the kids for back-to-school season, I’d like to remind you that us adults need some back-to-school love too! We need equipment that can handle school year tasks such as making PTA flyers, photo editing, meal planning, life scheduling, doing kids homework for them and more!

That’s where Microsoft Canada comes in! Their lineup of back-to-school products is second to none doubly important if you have children in high school or heading off to college/university this fall! Have a look below at just a few of the amazing back-to-school picks from Microsoft Canada. Each of the devices is touch capable and includes Windows Ink on Windows 10, allowing students to take advantage of intelligent sticky notes, screen sketches and smart editing!

Surface Pro

Microsoft Surface ProThe Surface Pro gives students the best-in-class laptop, plus the versatility of a studio and tablet. When class is finished, students can pop off the keyboard and use it for catching up on shows or connecting with friends.
• Weighs as little as 1.69 pounds and its 12.3-inch PixelSense display has stunning resolution on a brilliant touchscreen
• Combines the 7th Generation Intel Core m3, i5 and i7 processors and up to 16GB of memory
• Handles your most demanding creative tasks with up to 13.5 hours of battery life
Price: $1,049.00


Surface Pro Type Cover

Microsoft Surface Pro Type CoverThe Surface Pro Type Cover gives students the full-laptop experience with slightly spread-out keys for fast and fluid typing, a two-button trackpad built for precision control, and back lighting for continued working after the lights go out.
• Change your tablet to a laptop in a snap with this extremely thin, light, and stable keyboard optimized for lap use when you’re tired of working at your desk
• Made from premium material that are sturdy yet soft to the touch and is ultra-quiet while typing furiously in class
• Choose from black, blue, bright blue, red, and teal so you can really personalize your Surface device and express your unique style
Price: $129.99


Surface Laptop

Microsoft Surface LaptopThe Surface Laptop compliments students’ personal style with a blend of texture, subtle details and clean lines. Notetaking has never been so easy with the luxurious Alcantara covered keyboard – inspired by fabrics found in high-end Italian auto brands – offering an exceptionally comfortable typing experience for those three-hour lectures.
• Enjoy more space for your ideas with the 13.5-inch PixelSense edge-to-edge touchscreen display
• At 2.76 pounds, the device is lightweight but packed with Dolby Audio Premium sound and 14.5 hours of battery life
Price: $1299.00

 


HP Pavilion x360

HP PavilionFor the student that wants an all-in-one device, the HP Pavilion X360 is a convertible PC that can be used four ways – as a laptop, stand, tent, and tablet – thanks to its unique 360-degree hinge.
• A 15.6” full HD touchscreen allows students to zoom, flick, or tap their way through all work and play needs
• Saving content year after year is a breeze with its massive 1TB hard drive and 8GB of memory
• Features an SD card reader, 3 USB ports, HDMI output and running the latest Windows 10 operating system
Price: $999.00

 


HP ENVY x360

HP ENVY x360Students can go full tilt with this super-flexible and supremely stylish HP Envy X360. It delivers laptop productivity, tablet convenience and everything in between on a 360-degree rotating display that flips to the perfect view every time. Performance is solid and smooth with a 6th generation Intel Core i7 processor and 256GB SSD
• An razor-sharp 15.6-inch full HD touchscreen pairs up with nearly 9 hours of battery life to keep going all day in class and into the night at home. Multi-format SD card reader, 3 USB ports and an HDMI output
Price: $1,199.00


HP Spectre x360

HP SpectreThe HP Spectre X360 redefines what is expected from technology. This 8-million-pixel ultra-thin convertible PC allows students to accomplish more than ever before.
• Indulge your creative side by viewing and editing high resolution photos on a 4K display, or sketch and draw with your active pen and Windows Ink
• 16 hours of battery life and HP Fast Charge means uninterrupted all-day performance with a lightning-fast Intel Core i7 processor
• Quad HP speakers, HP Audio Boost, and custom tuning by Bang & Olufsen experts makes entertainment after class come to life with sound you can feel
Price: $1,199.99


Surface Mouse

Surface MouseStand out in class (for all the right reasons) with rapid clicks and silent scrolling with this precision-tuned ultra-quiet Mouse. Sculpted for your hand and designed for a simple work space, Surface Mouse is the perfect partner to your Surface and Keyboard.
• Premium precision pointing and clicking for scalable performance across the screen of any Surface and external monitor
• A clutter-free and reliable experience that works from up to 50 feet away
• Metal scroll wheel that feels solid under your finger while the body fits perfectly in your hand
Price: $64.99

 


Surface Pen

Surface PenSurface Pen lets you create without limits. It’s precision ink, rubber eraser, and tilt for shading means greater sensitive and virtually no lag between documenting your thoughts onto your device.
• A natural writing and drawing tool that writes like pen on paper allowing you to rest your hand on the screen of your Surface device just as you would with a sketchbook
• Sketch, shade and paint with artistic precision and finer control with 4,096 pressure points that respond to the lightest touch
• Available in four colors – platinum, black, burgundy, and cobalt blue
Price: $129.99

 


As you can see, Microsoft Canada has something for everyone in your family to help them get ready for back-to-school! I’ll be getting my hands on a brand new Microsoft Surface Pro soon to help me with all the back-to-school blogging and photo/video editing I’ll be doing this Fall!

Well, are you ready for back-to-school? Which item on this amazing list is the one you would get the most out of? I can’t wait to hear from you!

Also, I hope your kids have a great first week back at school and an amazing year!

Disclosure: I was compensated for my participation in this program.

NELSON Disney Learning

Summertime Doesn’t Mean Kids Have To Stop Learning

We all know that summer is a time for having fun with friends, summer camp and ignoring bed times, but that doesn’t mean that we must completely abandon the lessons our kids have been learning throughout the school year. We still encourage the kids to do some reading every day, usually before bed, but we recently discovered a new learning tool that has the kids asking to do homework. No, I’m serious!

A new collaboration between NELSON and Disney Learning has the kids excited to be working on reading, writing and math so far this summer. When our 7-year-old daughter saw Disney’s Moana on the cover of her new NELSON workbook, she dove in before even asking what it was. Frankly, I’m not even sure she knows she’s learning while working in it because all she does is talk about how much fun it is.

For our son, being 9 years old, I thought it would be a bit of a tougher sell but as soon as his sister bragged that she had already finished 10 pages, he sat right down and got to work until he passed her mark. Oh, the joys of having 2 kids to push each other! The NELSON workbooks are great because we could get specific books for the grades that each child was going into next year and they aren’t too complicated, which gives the kids confidence going into a new grade.

NELSON Disney Learning Math Cards

The workbooks are great but the kids really enjoyed the Math Activity Cards that came with the set. Math is just one of those things that needs to be constantly worked on in order to feel confident in your abilities and the cards are what sets the NELSON learning set apart from the others we’ve tried. I also love that the kids use a dry erase marker on the cards so we can erase the answers and come back to them later.

It’s important to us that the kids keep their minds sharp in between all the summer fun so that when they get back to school the transition isn’t overwhelming. The fact that they are laughing and having a great time with each other while they work on the NELSON learning set makes mom and dad happy campers!

For more information about the NELSON and Disney Learning collaboration sets you can visit nelson.com/disneylearning and if you use code Read10 you can score yourself a discount on your order! You can also follow the hashtag #NELSONLoveOfLearning on both the NELSON Facebook and Twitter pages.

Disclosure: I was compensated for my participation in this program but the kids really did love doing homework in the summer, which truly blew my mind.

kellogg-feed-better-days

Help Put An End To Classroom Hunger This Fall #FeedingBetterDays

I’m happy to be teaming up with Kellogg’s Canada on their #FeedingBetterDays program to help in the fight against kids going to school hungry. As you will see in the video I have created below, trying to focus and learn while dealing with an empty stomach is extremely difficult. Kellogg Canada, in partnership with Breakfast Clubs of Canada, will be donating a portion of the proceeds from every box of cereal sold to their breakfast club partners.

Please take a look at my video below and I’d love it if you would considering sharing it with your friends! You can be the difference maker in a child’s life by providing them with a much needed breakfast to start their day. Whether you buy a box of cereal or donate to the breakfast clubs, hungry children will benefit.

Disclosure: I was compensated for my participation in this program. We received a box filled with various cereals that my daughter and I dropped off to the local food bank.

Hand In Hand

What You Get When You Give {Guest Post}

Today we bring a new era on the blog by welcoming our very first guest post! Please welcome Canadian father, Jamie Schmidt, from the blog A Crock of Schmidt!

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It happens without warning. Usually right about the time I’m rounding up the kids I’m supervising on a field trip in order to get them to a scheduled classroom session, to the designated lunch spot, or to begin the walk back to school. I call out their names, which I’ve hopefully gotten straight by now, and like a kindly but firm drill sergeant, shout their marching orders.

“Alright troops, time to go. Let’s boogie!”

Then it happens. A small hand belonging to someone else’s child, a child I may have just met for the first time that very day, will reach out and take hold of mine in order to walk with me hand-in-hand to wherever we are going. They don’t ask nor do they hesitate, they just do. With a warm smile on their face and happy skip in their step. This simple act of friendship is without a doubt the greatest reward of being a parent volunteer.

This has been a watershed year for me when it comes to involvement in my kids’ lives. Now, hearing me say that might cause the raising of a few eyebrows considering I’ve been a stay-at-home dad for the past eight years, but there is some truth to the statement.

This past September marked the first time that both of my children would attend school full days, a moment I only half cheekily referred to as the greatest day of my life. No longer constrained by having the younger sibling under my care at home, I was finally free to equally avail myself for volunteer opportunities in both my son and daughter’s classrooms. This was a long time in coming, as I’m sure my daughter, the eldest, would swiftly affirm.

Not one to inch my way into the deep end of the pool, okay that’s not true but it makes for a good, albeit clichéd, metaphor, I dove headfirst into as many volunteer opportunities as I could. So much so, in fact, that I’m now the room parent for my daughter’s class which means I assist the teacher by finding parent volunteers for various in-school and off-campus activities. It’s the surest way to guarantee I’m always picked for the field trips I want to go on. What, you thought I was it for altruistic reasons?

My new-found vigor in volunteering even extends outside of school as I am also, for the first time ever, a volunteer assistant coach on both my kids’ minor hockey teams. This particular avenue of volunteering (and meddling) in my kids’ lives is one I’ve desperately tried to avoid. I’m all too wise as to the pitfalls of parents coaching kids. I don’t think I’m one of “those” hockey parents, nor were mine, I just know that my kids, like most, myself included, respond to the guidance of non-familial coaches far better than dear old dad. Never let it be said I don’t learn from history. But this year I was asked to help by my son’s coach who urgently needed extra parents on the ice and my son eagerly gave his approval. Of course, once I committed to his team it took but a single forlorn, watery-eyed look from my daughter before I was committed to her team as well.

The results have been exactly as expected and also the complete opposite. Yes, my kids hate when I “coach” them on the ice but we’re all having a blast being out there together. What’s even better is how much I’ve enjoyed bonding with all these other kids I’m now interacting with. I didn’t see that coming. Much like I didn’t see the same thing happening with the other children in my kids’ classes either. It’s not that I dislike youngsters, I just sort of assumed they’d see me as yet another crusty adult enforcing rules and other indignities of childhood.

And yeah, I am also scared of their unceasing energy and tendency to mob any poor sap who mistakenly exhibits a willingness to engage them in play or possess a natural and uncontrollable magnetism that attracts children like cherry stains to picture day attire, but I do like them. Just, you know, in moderate, scientifically approved doses. Hey, don’t judge me; I once licked a kitchen floor to “entertain” a seven year old!

Five months have now passed since that infamous “greatest day of my life” and in a way that great day has never ended. I’ve made enough classroom appearances that all the kids now know who I am. I regularly get friendly hellos at the playground or when passing on their way to the bus taking them home. I’ll even get some mischievous looks followed by playful punches to the gut or a roguishly accusatory pointing of the finger. My kids love this recognition too. They’re the ones with the (reasonably) cool dad. For now, at least, I’m a source of pride to them which is pretty cool too.

And then there’s the hand-holding. Sometimes I’ll even get a hug. One hundred percent initiated by the children, boys and girls alike, with no forethought or reason; just honest, spontaneous demonstrations of kindness and appreciation. The same thing happens at the hockey rink. Except the hand-holding, of course, because, well, it’s hockey. On the ice, kinship is shared via staged fisticuffs and change room ribbing. The means may be different but the message is the same. All are perfect little moments for me. It’s like experiencing the Grinch’s heart growing three sizes each and every time.

So yes, it has been a watershed year for me. An eye-opening one and a heart-warming one as well. In a world drunk with selfishness, intolerance, and ego; where unpleasant people monopolize our attention and the nice ones seem ever fewer in numbers; where our fears too often trump our compassion; and where the simple, human act of physically expressing fondness is wrought with wariness and openly discouraged, I have been fortunate to experience the sweetness of kids. Gentle, honest, terrific kids, not yet sullied by the harsh realities of life or tempted by the darker urges of humanity … well, usually.

I’m lucky to be getting to know them and earning their trust and friendship. They haven’t a clue of the joy they’ve given me this year. All thanks to a simple holding of a hand.

When I Grow Up

When I Grow Up I Want To Be…

Each year before the kids go off to their first day of school, we take the same picture of them out front of the house, as parents do. We ask them what they think they want to be when they grow up and we write it on the sign and snap the picture. The first couple years we got the standard responses of policewoman, doctor or firefighter, which are excellent choices by the way, but we noticed this past year that the kids are really starting to give the question some thought.

Instead of doctor, our daughter has narrowed down her field of choice to veterinarian, which, judging by the way she takes care of her stuffed animals, is an excellent choice. My son, on the other hand, has bounced between policeman and firefighter the last couple years but this year he too narrowed his choice down to working in forensics, just like daddy, as he put it.

While I realize there is a very good chance that my children will not work in these fields, I’m excited that they are already thinking about what it is they would like to do in the future. I spent a lot of time focusing on sports as a kid and then flaked out in high school, despite my parents encouragement to strive for more. So as I sit here still wondering what I want to do with the rest of my life, I’m hopeful that my kids will continue to dream big and not let anything get in their way. At their young ages there is truly nothing they can’t accomplish and I can’t wait to see what they do with their lives.

I mean, who knows, my daughter might still change her mind back to skateboarding princess, which would be absolutely rad! Plus, if she ever stumbles for career ideas, she can look no further than the Barbie collection she plays with almost every single day. Fun fact: Barbie has had over 155 different careers in her lifetime and although that makes her sound like a terrible employee, I can assure you it’s just because she never ever ages…

Giveaway

To celebrate the new Barbie “You Can Be Anything” campaign, I am giving away a very cool Barbie Prize Pack to one luck reader. Just enter as many options as you would like on the Rafflecopter form below and I’ll select a winner on the weekend! Giveaway is open to residents of Canada, excluding Quebec, and includes the Barbie™ Careers Eye Doctor Playset and two Barbie™ Fashionista dolls. Good Luck!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post, however I do think skateboard princess is the coolest job you could ever hope for!

1st Day of School

School Life is Much Easier When You Have Great Teachers

My daughter started in school for the first time this year and my wife and I weren’t sure how she was going to do with the transition from home life to full day Kindergarten. The playground is a busy place with a lot of kids and it can be an intimidating sight for a newcomer. We were pleasantly surprised when on her first day, she strode into the playground, head high and confident, and never looked back.

The sigh of relief was short lived, however, as the next day’s drop off didn’t go exactly according to plan. The day after that was no better as I was forced to walk away while my daughter clenched the fence, crying and screaming, “No, Daddy! Don’t go!!!” It took every ounce of strength I had to not turn around and go back to her but I managed to make it out of the schoolyard. Unfortunately, against all conventional wisdom, I decided to hide behind a plant to make sure she was alright before I left. In my tunnel visioned state, I didn’t notice that I had been spotted by one of my daughter’s teachers, who calmly smiled at me and assured me that she was in good hands.

Later that day, we got an email from her main teacher, letting us know that she was doing really well and that she was smiling and playing with all her new friends. These are just two examples of the amazing teachers we have had the pleasure of dealing with since our children have been in school and we feel very lucky to have them. Something as simple as an email or a letter home to relay how things are going goes a long way towards putting us at ease as parents.

On top of having great teachers, my wife and I like to stay up to date on what’s going on in the world of education by hanging out on the Ontario College of Teachers website. I realize that this may not sound like your idea of a rockin’ good time but their newsletter, The Standard, is an amazing resource that talks about everything from special programs to trends in education.

The College’s website itself is a great resource as well that has things such as a Find a Teacher, the College’s Public Register, that allows you to search for your child’s teacher to see their schooling and previous experience, including certification as all teachers must be certified to teach in Ontario’s publicly funded primary and secondary schools. The website also has a Public Awareness Initiative to raise awareness of the free resources the College provides to parents.

At minimum, I would recommend subscribing to College’s ‘The Standard’ newsletter and then taking it from there. I have always believed in “The More You Know” philosophy and there is a ton of very practical information on the Ontario College of Teachers website. You can also catch up with them on their Facebook and Twitter pages.

Stay knowledgeable, my friends!

Disclosure: I was compensated for my participation in this program.

A Moment In Time

Amidst the chaos in the fenced off kindergarten playground, I watched him quietly shovel sand into his bucket. If there has even been a time where I could ignore my surroundings and focus on a singular event like he was, I certainly can’t remember it. I realized today that I am lucky to have had the opportunity to hang around to watch him play and interact with potential new friends. Next year he will be thrust into the real world that is grade 1, where his school life will truly begin.

One of the most important things that being a parent has taught me is how to stop and enjoy a moment in time. This was going to be one of the last times that I would be able to watch him interact in the school yard and I was going to soak up every last second of it. At one point he glances over and flashes a smile my way. I played it totally cool, while my emotions raced with a thousand memories of his youth. It’s a lot harder to let go than I imagined it would be. He’s sheltered right now, with kids his own age, oblivious to what awaits beyond the steel gates of the kindergarten sanctuary. Soon he will learn about bullies, girls, structure and peer pressure, and I worry about whether I given him all the tools he needs to make the right decisions. Time will tell, I guess.

What I do know, is that I still have four months left with my kindergartner and I have no intention of rushing through that time. We’ll worry about bigger kids and heartbreak when we get to it, but for now, we’ve got some memories to create.

Some Of The Best Moments Go Uncaptured

It was April Fools Day yesterday, and while I am not someone who partakes in any of the festivities, my son’s class put together a fun little prank for the kids to play on the parents after school was done. All the children giggled and joked about fish on their way out of the school, as us parents went about our busy day’s, oblivious to the inside jokes. Upon arriving home, I felt a tap on my back and realized it was just my son dishing out some random hugs, as he is prone to do. Being the amateur prankster that he is, his giggling started almost immediately and I knew something was up. I reached for my back and pulled off the paper fish, shown above, as he quickly yelled, “Happy Fools!”, not fully understanding its meaning. The laughter that ensued was infectious and heartwarming. It was one of those moments that you wish you could capture in a bottle and keep forever.

We quickly tried to get him to try it again, this time with my wife filming his reaction, before realizing that it wasn’t going to be the same the second time around. In this age of digital devices and advanced technology, we often try to capture moments as they happen, sometimes at the expense of enjoying the actual moment itself. That’s not to say that we are bad parents for wanting to capture as many moments as we can, but while I was enjoying the original moment with my son, the thought of grabbing my phone hadn’t crossed my mind and that is something I have been striving for. I may not remember that moment forever but I know that I enjoyed every second of it while it was happening and I plan on doing much more of that in the years to come.

Side note, the video we took of my son recreating the April Fools moment was actually pretty funny in itself and I’m still kind of glad we did it.

How Tim Hortons Gave One Classroom The Gift Of Creativity

The list of traits I want to pass on to my children is extremely long. Near the top of that list, however, is that I want my kids to be able to express themselves creatively. That said, I was excited to find out that my son’s kindergarten class had decided to re-arrange their play area, and was even more excited to find out that they had voted to turn it into a Tim Hortons drive-thru station. If you have been reading this blog for any length of time, you will know about my love for everything Tim Hortons.

In essence, what this did was combine two of my favourite things, in creativity and Tim Hortons coffee! I decided to reach out to my local Tim’s restaurant to see if there was anything they could do to help out and I was pleasantly surprised with not only how quickly they said yes, but also with the amount of stuff they contributed to the kids’ new play station. There were hats, toques, balloons, Tim cards, cups, carry trays and even name tags that read “Owner”, which my kids loved.

The kids all had a blast with their new Tim Hortons drive-thru and one of the parents even told me that it was her son’s favourite part of the whole year so far because of all the cool stuff in there. With that, I would like to extend a huge thank you to the management and staff at the Tim Hortons on Carling Avenue for making these kids’ lives a little more exciting and a lot more creative!

Tims1

Tim Hortons Drive Thru