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Posts Tagged 'Help We’ve Got Kids'

How to Choose the Right Summer Camp

With one of the coldest winters in recent memory, it is tough to think that summer is just around the corner.   Even though there are several months of school remaining, planning ahead and choosing the right summer camp for your child can take time to do research and ensure the camp’s programs meet your daughter or son’s needs.

Fortunately, we have put together some suggestions to help get you started on the journey of selecting the right camp.

Discuss Your Child’s Interests:  Before doing any research, it is important to understand what your child’s goals and interests are over the summer.   First, gage their feelings and comfort level with going to camp, in particular if you are considering overnight.   Some additional questions and discussion items to consider are around what type of camp they are interested in (ie. sports, arts), what they are looking to accomplish and how long they are interested in attending.

Get Up to Speed:   There are numerous resources to get started on searching for Toronto day camps and overnight camps.   Here are three suggestions:

Help We’ve Got Kids – Summer Camps:  In addition to being an excellent resource for all parent needs and questions, HWGK has a listing of close to 300 summer camps and activities.  Parents can refine their searches in different areas including:  overnight, arts, specialty and sports camps.

Post City Magazines – Camp Guide:  Helpful resource with close to 100 Toronto day and overnight camps listed.   Depending on your child’s interests, refine your search by speciality and camp type.   Don’t miss their special Camp Guide insert in your local Post City Magazine.

Our Kids:  A leading Canadian resource in camps and private schools, Our Kids allows you to search various camps by location, type and sport.   They also have an excellent resource guide for parents with all the key questions and concerns that will likely arise.

Learn More:  Once you have had a chance to understand your child’s interests and get a better understanding of the camps available, it is time to narrow down your research to a smaller list of camps.  As you are considering your options, here are some suggestions to help assist you with your decision:

Follow-Up Questions:  Once you have reviewed a camp’s information online, we would recommend following up with them on any key questions you might have.  Some questions to think about asking are around:  counselor to camper ratio, safety procedures, camp philosophy, ongoing communication process with parents, accreditations, typical day for a camper and policy for child illness / refunds.

Speak with Friends / Family:   These are a very helpful source if their daughter or son has already attended the camp.   Not only learn about the quality of the camp, but also understand whether the camp will be the right fit for your child.   If you are still looking for any references, the camp directors should be more than willing to provide references upon request.

Information Session / Open Houses:  Many camps host an open house or information session outside of the summer months.   This is a great chance to see the facilities, meet the leadership staff and ask about any questions that relate specifically to your child’s needs in person.

Special Needs:  If your child has an allergy, learning disability or other medical condition, inquire what extra support the camp can help assist with special requirements for your child.  There are many camps designed specifically for children with various special needs.

Selecting a Camp:   Once you have narrowed down your options, note all the pros and cons and ask for your child’s input.   Select your top choice and register as early as possible as many camps have limited registration and offer a discount for early signup.

Supporting Your Child:   As the school year comes to an end and camp approaches, it is beneficial to prepare your son or daughter about the camp experience.   This is particularly important if it is their first time at camp in general or attending overnight camp.  Discuss all the exciting activities at camp they will enjoy and how they will meet new friends outside of school.

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Five Ways To Learn And Play Over The Summer Holidays

Preventing the “summer slide”, a loss of learning over the summer, may be on your mind as you plan summer holidays and camps, along with a healthy dose of down time. We have five ways you can easily incorporate learning into summer activities to maximize the fun and the learning!

Play Games

Traditional board games such as Scrabble are great for family fun while developing new vocabulary.  Practice math skills with a new hit, Moby, described by some as the number version of Scrabble. We also enjoy these math board games. You can also make your own version of ‘Go Fish’ by writing number facts or spelling words onto index cards and playing a few rounds a week!

Visit The Library

Many libraries have summer reading programs which encourage children to read throughout the summer with fun incentives like stickers and tracking their reading in notebooks or online. These programs are a wonderful way to introduce new genres and authors to your child especially reluctant tweens and teens readers since they are free from school book lists. Once your child signs up for a library card they can even borrow books digitally!

Make Math Matter

Put your child(ren) in charge of some summer meal planning and give them a budget to spend. Depending on their age, encourage them to take charge from the recipe planning through meal preparation. This will help your child learn valuable life skills while growing their independence and financial literacy.

Road Trip Fun

Increase the fun in the car while driving to your holiday destination by planning some playful learning opportunities. We love the traditional, I Spy Games or spotting License Plates. Read this list to find eight more road trip games to add to your repertoire. Don’t forget to pack a bag of books at your child’s reading level or if they’re not reading yet, choose books you’ve previously read together. If your child gets carsick, download some audiobooks that they whole family will enjoy (Harry Potter, anyone?!)

Learn To Geocache

Geocaching is an adventurous way to have fun as a family wherever you go. Explore new places while using GPS coordinates to find a treasure. Your child will learn navigational skills and feel like a detective as they follow search high and low for the hidden cache. Bring along some simple trinkets to replace the treasure you chose as a memento of your adventure.

Looking for more ways to keep young minds active over the summer holidays? Read our suggestions on Help! We’ve Got Kids.

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Spring Educational Activities in Toronto

After a cold and snowy winter, let’s celebrate that spring is finally here!   With the sun out and the temperature warming up, there are a ton of great educational and fun activities that families can take advantage of in Toronto.

Attend Events:   There is no shortage family-friendly activities in Toronto.   Here are some of our favourites:

TIFF Kids digiPlay Space:   At TIFF Kids digiPlaySpace, kids can engage with emerging creative media technologies and share innovative artistic experiences.

Sugarbush Maple Syrup Festival:  Tap into spring and visit the Kortright Centre in Woodbridge or Bruce’s Mill in Stouffville to enjoy great maple syrup and fun crafts and family activities.

Sesame Street Presents: The Body: An amazing educational attraction featuring Elmo, Oscar, Grover and the rest of your Sesame Street friends.  This interactive exhibition teaches students how their bodies work and how to keep them healthy as they hop, jump, run and play their way through this hands-on Sesame Street adventure.

Sign-up for Programs:   Whether it is the arts, sports or personal hobbies, there is an activity for every child in Toronto.   Consider which activities are right for your child’s interests, schedule and personality.  There are many great resource sites in Toronto with a listing of activities including: Help We’ve Got Kids, The Kid Scoop and Toronto4Kids.    

Enjoy Nature:  With the leaves returning on trees, flowers blooming and animals out from hibernation, the spring season presents fantastic learning opportunities.   The best to learn about nature is to enjoy the outdoors go on a nature walk in a Toronto Park.  To truly capture the experience, bring a note pad and pencil to gather observations, crayons or coloured pencils to draw pictures and a camera to make a scrapbook.     Also don’t miss Earth Day on April 22 to learn about the importance of the environment and protecting our planet.

Learn About the Science of Sports:  The Baseball season opens in late March.  Not only is attending baseball game a fun time to spend with your daughter or son, it also present numerous learning opportunities.   Think about geometry with the layout of the field, gravity with the ball going up and down, friction with the different types of pitches, momentum with the contact of the ball and statistics to measure players performance, to name a few.

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March Break Activities and Camps in Toronto

March Break is a great time for Toronto families to take a break after the winter and two months of school.   To help support parents, we have created two helpful lists. The first list has fun and educational activities that you and your kids will love over the vacation week.   The second is March Break camps for children eager to focus on full week of one type of activity or parents unable to work out childcare arrangements over March Break.


March Break Activities

Disney on Ice:  Let’s Celebrate is on tour at the Rogers Centre from March 12 – 16.  This is the first time audiences see Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen from the just-released film, Walt Disney Pictures’ The Princess and the Frog, live on ice.

Sesame Street Presents: The Body:  This interactive Ontario Science Centre exhibit all about the human body.  Children can discover everything about the human body from fingers to toes and everything in between.

TIFF:  The TIFF Lightbox theatre is an excellent of family-friendly matinees.

Toronto Public Library: Great classes and programs designed for a variety of ages that are interactive, entertaining and completely free.

Sledding:  There is nothing better than a winter day sledding with the family.  Help We’ve Got Kids has prepared an excellent list of the best Toronto hills.


March Break Camps

Avenue Road Arts School: Join ARAS for a Night at the Museum to learn about Natural History through drawing, painting and sculpting projects along with drama and music activities.  Choose from a half-day or full-day camp.

Sportplay: Sportplay Multi-sport March Break Camp offers a full-day or half day programs for children ages 3-7.  Kids will learn 8 different sports and develop their gross motor and athletic skills during their week at camp.

Art Gallery of Ontario:  Designed for children ages 6 to 13, the AGO has an innovative day camp that encourages exciting connections between art, culture, and ideas.  Taught by experienced artist-instructors, our camps are designed to develop technical skills, build confidence and nurture each child’s creative imagination.

Mad Science: Mad Science camps are fun, exciting, hands-on and entertaining for science enthusiasts.  Half-day and full-day programs are available children 4-12 in multiple Toronto locations.

ROM: Discover hidden treasures and natural wonders through exciting hands-on activities in the ROM’s galleries, studio and labs.

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Toronto Mom Resources We Love

Being a Mom is one of the most rewarding and toughest jobs there is.  A typical list includes supporting children with school, homework activities, sports and a list of numerous other parenting items.  And that does not even include often working a full time job.

The good news is there is a ton of great resources available with advice to help support Moms.  We put together this helpful list of some of our favourite Toronto Mom Resources and Blogs to access advice in a positive and fun way.


Help We’ve Got Kids:   This is an excellent online directory to help parents and caregivers find everything from birthday party Ideas, to afterschool activities to lists of Toronto day and overnight camps.   Along with Executive Publisher, Tracie Wagman, their articles are written by Toronto’s experts about the latest topics of importance to parents.


Yummy Mummy Club: Created and published by Erica Ehm, this award winning website and blog has articles written by moms for moms on family, style, health, food, culture, home and life.  Erica and her team add humour and personal insights to some of parent’s greatest challenges!


Today’s Parent:  For 30 years, Today’s Parent had been a leading Toronto and Canadian magazine and online resource for parents.   Their trusted and insightful articles on health, education, behavior are written specifically for children by age group in a fun and engaging manner.  Plus they share easy, delicious and nutritious recipes for any family.


The Kid Scoop:   With a local feel across major Canada cities, The Kid Scoop has an excellent directory of activities along with local contests and fun family events throughout the year.    Also check out their Scoop Cafe blog with great articles and insight from local parenting experts.



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