How to manage the kids during the school closure due to COVID-19

With the recent outbreak, school closure has been in effect to flatten the curve of the Carona virus pandemic. All the recent changes have gotten families panicked about all the uncertainties that are yet to be discovered.

I’ve put together this video to help send ease to families during this difficult time. It is important now more than ever to show support to one another. I wanted to highlight some important points to consider as you plan your survival plan the following months From a child development and teacher perspective, please remember these considerations and allow room for some processing to happen.

Avoid feeling overwhelmed with all the resources and news. Focus on your self-care as a parent because it is much needed now!

What should you do as a parent?

You Should Set a Daily Routine

It is recommended that parents set daily routines. In this way, children would remain engaged, and it would not affect their health from a physical and mental point of view. Apart from that, a daily routine will prepare young minds for predictably. However, at the same time, it is advised to parents that they should not overload their children with academic scheduling and allow room for coping.

Home Replacing School

It is recommended that parents avoid replacing their children’s teachers. Similarly, parents need not pressure children to maintain a six-hour school schedule. The new emergency learning or distance learning can easily happen with less time, flexibility is key. The remaining time, children need recreational activities.

Activities for families

The kids should be engaged with family activities. The family activities may include cooking, gardening, and watching movies, etc. Apart from this, children can play games with family members. In this way, their development capability will be boosted and nurtured.

Limit Screen Time

It is advised that parents should only allow their children to spend their online classes with supervision and minimize overall watch hours. Should you use screen time, it is best to keep it high quality and somewhat educational in order to support children’s development.

Going Outdoor

Parents can go with their children outdoors for nature walks while maintaining a physical distance from others. It is vital to get fresh air to heal the body and mind in order to best support children through this pandemic.

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Family and Kids Command Centre

Command centre for family. Command centre ideas.

If you are anything like me, you probably repeat yourself 234,000 times for your children to complete their daily tasks. One of the household solutions provided for this problem is to have a family command centre set-up somewhere in your home. It serves as a visual guide toward a productive day for everyone. Here is how I set up our family and kids’ command centre for as little as $40 bucks!

Does this sound familiar?

“Go wash your hands and change your clothes, please.” “Please eat your breakfast and get ready for school” “Did you Brush your teeth yet?”

– Momlife

Generally speaking, people on the internet rave about family and kids’ command centres, but, I didn’t find them useful when my kids were in their toddlers/preschool years. My husband and I just managed our family tasks with apps like Cozi or Google Keep.
But now that our children are school-agers (5&6), I can’t tell you how frustrating it is when they are late for school or when they take ages to get to bed at night!

If they are late, then we are late for everything… basically.”

So earlier this month, I went on Pinterest for some ideas on how to create a family and kids’ command centre and it tempted me to buy all the things I didn’t need.

Side note: Lately, I’ve been trying to pause before purchasing something and really ask, is it a need or a want?

I mean do I need all those glorified Michael’s supplies and crafts to create a Pinterest worthy command centre? Or did I need a functional one that serves my family on a budget? The latter was ultimately true and so I exited those breath-taking family command centre pins on Pinterest.

I rolled up my sleeves and went shopping in my own home first. I found a calendar I had from previous years and I added another one from Staples that was on sale. I have two calendars side by side because one is for school functions and the other is for family stuff. I don’t like having a big calendar with too many to-dos because the sight of it overwhelms me. This way everything is visually manageable. I also picked up a mini stainless steel board that was on sale to jot down any important information/recipes quickly.

Family Command Centre
The frames will be available in my shop soon.

When the weekend arrived, I visited Dollarama because I needed a bin to throw in important school papers and I found a beautiful rose gold metal basket and so I put it up with some hooks. Voila!

Now I can pretend that we were productive as ever because of this family command centre but we weren’t as I hoped. I realized that it didn’t solve my initial problem.

I was still repeating myself plenty of times for the kids to get things done. I recognized that the command centre I put together was meant for adults, not children!

On that note, I went on a hunt for things that were already in my garage, because I didn’t want to spend more money unnecessarily. I wiped out my pocket chart schedule I had from when I ran my preschool summer camp. I picked up a round clock and a whiteboard from Dollarama and created some printable task cards.

Pocket chart Schedule

I wanted the command centre to help them stay on track of their tasks and to also introduce analog clocks. Most importantly, I wanted this kids’ command centre to help them understand the concept of following a schedule independently. I tried to make the clock a bit more colorful and appealing by adding fun number stickers (See above picture).

Reward system for kids

In addition to the chart and clock, I had to have some sort of a point system for their accomplished tasks and character traits as a positive reinforcement tool. Thankfully I found some letter stickers and some craft stick-on buttons that I placed on a whiteboard. Each coloured button represents a specific action. If they act on any of the written qualities, they get a point. Once we reach the weekend, we count the points earned and they get to choose an experience-oriented reward, i.e: mall, store, activity…

Now let me tell you something….this was a game-changer!

Command centre for kids

My kids no longer need ME to tell them what to do. They just refer back to their schedule as needed. They get a kick out of figuring out the time on the clock and of course, they enjoy not being “reminded” of what to do every waking hour. They feel like independent adults and I get to maintain my sanity. It’s a win-win! And the fact that every hour includes different tasks reinforces good choice making as well!

I hope this family and kids’ command centre system continues to work for us this year! And I hope that it inspires you to ease your organized school life chaos with a similar cost-effective system in place.

Don’t forget to get your cute and FREE daily schedule printable here.

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Ontario Curriculum for Math

Ontario math curriculum for grade 1
Grade One – Overall Expectations for Math Skills

Below is a quick checklist for parents to use as a reference for the Ontario Curriculum math starting from grade one.

There are different learning strands for the Ontario math curriculum, which means your child might excel in some rather than others, and that is absolutely expected! Not all students excel in all learning strands at once. However, over the years, they do strengthen it with practice.

Here we go:


By the end of Grade 1, students will:

• Read, represent, compare, and order whole numbers to 50, and use concrete materials to investigate fractions and money amounts;

• Demonstrate an understanding of magnitude by counting forward to 100 and backward from 20

• Solve problems involving the addition and subtraction of single-digit whole numbers, using a variety of strategies.


  • Estimate, measure, and describe length, area, mass, capacity, time, and temperature, using non-standard units of the same size
  • Compare, describe, and order objects, using attributes measured in non-standard units.


  • Identify common two-dimensional shapes and three-dimensional figures and sort and classify them by their attributes;*
  • Compose and decompose common two-dimensional shapes and three-dimensional figures;
  • Describe the relative locations of objects using positional language.


  • Identify, describe, extend, and create repeating patterns;
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the concept of equality, using concrete materials and addition and subtraction to 10.

Data Management

  • Collect and organize categorical primary data and display the data using concrete graphs and pictographs, without regard to the order of labels on the horizontal axis;
  • Read and describe primary data presented in concrete graphs and pictographs;
  • Describe the likelihood that everyday events will happen.

This post is an excerpt from the Ontario Curriculum Guide

Math and Language are by far the most concerning subjects for parents which is why I’ve put this post together for your own reference.

Reference: Ministry of Education. The Ontario Curriculum Grades 1-8. (Latest Revision 2005).

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Back to School Transition Tips for Children

Back to school transition can sound overwhelming. We all know that children and parents become anxious once they start seeing ‘back to school ads.’ Especially for parents who are starting their school years’ journey for the first time!

Below are some tips for first-time parents/caregivers who may be in the process of back to school transition.

Back to school transition tips for children

1-    Talk. Talk. Talk!

Have a conversation with your little one about how anxious you both are regarding this milestone. The month of August is a great time to start talking about school and the expectations that lie ahead. For example, you can explain how you will have new responsibilities as a parent such as, preparing lunches in the morning and being on time for school, while your child will also have new responsibilities such as getting ready in the morning and sitting down in class for instructional/circle time.

2- Read books about emotions

I know you probably thought that I’d tell you to read school-themed books but you know what’s even better? Talking about different emotions that may surface during the school year and how to cope with them. Start the discussion by talking about your school experience first. Children love it when they can relate to adults. Tell the story about your first day and highlight emotions rather than school rules and regulations (leave that for the teacher).  Explain that they might feel new emotions and it may feel scary. The Feelings Book is a good place to start. Consider coping techniques such as happy thoughts, deep breathing, grounding, or even security items that are kept in their backpacks.

3- Brainstorm routines and set expectations for the home

Once the emotions are vetted, it’s time to set up some new school routines and expectations for the home. We all know things won’t look the same once school starts. There will be early mornings, lunch prep, scheduled bathroom visits, after school snacks, early bedtimes…etc

It’s a good idea to come up with a school routine together so that both of you know what to follow and what to expect from one another. Children thrive on predicting what comes next and routines are extremely helpful for this purpose. Follow up routines with clear expectations. Consider creating a chart that explains what they should expect from you and vice versa. You can take a look at the kids command centre we created here to help with this step.

4- Practice independent washroom visits!

I hate to break it to you but teachers will not help wipe your child’s bottom! Generally speaking, schools have a “no-touch” policy when it comes to this area. I highly encourage you to practice wiping at home with toilet paper as much as you can during the month of August. If you are finding the idea of having children wipe themselves too gross, then you must hop on the bandwagon of scheduled #2 visits. #yesitsathing

I walk you through the steps of independent washroom visits and scheduled #2 visits in this video!

5- Practice self-feeding

The number one complaint I get from parents as a teacher is about FOOD! Unfortunately, eating times are scheduled during school hours, which means your child cannot munch slowly on their food forever. The best thing you can do is to make fun self-feeding games by timing how long it takes them to eat a snack or lunch by using a cool kitchen timer. Try to refrain from helping them as much as you can. Explain that in school, they are responsible to finish their food all on their own. It’s even better if you pack them a snack or lunch during your summer outings to practice this concept and for you to get an idea of their progress.

I walk you through steps and strategies on how to help your child with their school lunch in this video from a teacher perspective.

Inhale and Exhale – You got this!

Finally, please don’t go out and buy all the things! I understand this is an exciting time for you and your child but most cool gadgets out there are useless. Nonetheless, I do encourage allowing your children to make their own backpack choices to foster confidence and independence as they start their school journey.

I took the liberty to prepare a practical back to school must-haves list that will ease your transition even further. Grab your copy here.

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Ontario Curriculum for Language

Ontario curriculum for language grade one
Grade One – Overall Expectations for Language Skills

Below is a quick look into the Ontario curriculum for language arts, I’ve put together for parents. It is a good idea to go over this checklist before or throughout the school months to see where your child stands. The complete curriculum can be found here.

Oral Communication

By the end of Grade 1, students will:

  • Listen in order to understand and respond appropriately in a variety of situations for a variety of purposes.
  • Use speaking skills and strategies appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.
  • 3. Reflect on and identify their strengths as listeners and speakers, areas for improvement, and the strategies they found most helpful in oral communication situations


By the end of Grade 1, students will:

  • Read and demonstrate an understanding of a variety of literary, graphic, and informational texts, using a range of strategies to construct meaning;
  • Recognize a variety of text forms, text features, and stylistic elements and demonstrate an understanding of how they help communicate meaning;
  • Use knowledge of words and cueing systems to read fluently
  • Reflect on and identify their strengths as readers, areas for improvement, and the strategies they found most helpful before, during, and after reading.


By the end of Grade 1, students will:

  • Generate, gather, and organize ideas and information to write for an intended purpose and audience
  • Draft and revise their writing, using a variety of informational, literary, and graphic forms and stylistic elements appropriate for the purpose and audience
  • Use editing, proofreading, and publishing skills and strategies, and knowledge of language conventions, to correct errors, refine expression, and present their work effectively
  • Reflect on and identify their strengths as writers, areas for improvement, and the strategies they found most helpful at different stages in the writing process

Media Literacy

By the end of Grade 1, students will:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of a variety of media texts
  • Identify some media forms and explain how the conventions and techniques associated with them are used to create meaning
  • Create a variety of media texts for different purposes and audiences, using appropriate forms, conventions, and techniques
  • Effect on and identify their strengths as media interpreters and creators, areas for improvement, and the strategies they found most helpful in understanding and creating media texts.

This is a snippet from the Ontario Curriculum. It was meant to ease the process of reference for the Ontario curriculum language guide for fellow parents.

Reference: Mystery of Education. The Ontario Curriculum
Grades 1-8. (Latest Revision 2009).

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Chocolate Milk or Green Smoothie? Helping Children Make Good Choices

how to get children to make good choices.

If you know me, you know that I love to give kids choices. I am the kind of parent/teacher who will ask the kids if they’d prefer a green smoothie over chocolate milk. 


‘Duh! Of course, children will choose chocolate milk! ‘

Okay… hear me out. I offer choices for a purpose. I like to give my kids/students choices so that I can provoke critical thinking and practice making good choices. 

Generally speaking, I like to compare choices to think deeply about what we are dealing with.

Our conversation might go something like this:

“Chocolate milk is DELICIOUS … but

a) It increases cavities – ouch!

b) It affects your sleep – hello tired you

c) It is unhealthy because it has so too much ‘bad’ sugar

Whereas a green smoothie

a) strengthens your teeth against cavities – wow

b) helps your brain and body grow – neat!

c) It is healthy because it has a ‘good’ kind of sugar from fruits and veggies

I’d be lying if I told you that a child’s first choice will be a green smoothie. I am not here to portray a false sense of parenting, but I want to share that children need to practice how to make good choices. And we can’t make good choices if we cannot think critically beyond the surface. 

Truthfully as parents and educators, we cannot foster such skills if we keep our eye on the end result (the final answer). Going back to the above scenario, I really wouldn’t mind what choice they made as long as they thought through their choices critically.

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