Next month will be a year since we took our oldest out of school when he was at the end of his first year of primary school. Since then, we have been doing "homeschooling".
Maybe you already have a bunch of questions in your head, just like I had when my wife and I were going through the pros and cons of moving forward with this.
First, what? Is it possible (and legal) to remove your child from school? Yes, absolutely.
Obviously, the pandemic will have allowed a large number of families to discover this option. It is not something that is discussed or taught in society in general, so it is still rather marginal.
Knowing that this is possible, what does it mean and how does it work? There you have to search. There is the government site, Facebook groups, parent experience blogs, etc.
Let's go back to April 2021, when we were rather desperate as parents. Our boy had difficulty with language development. Even while he was in daycare, this was already a “detected” problem. Luckily, we were able to get speech therapy services at the CPE once a week. He was making some progress, but didn't seem able to really catch up.
This delay was highlighted in first grade, when being able to express oneself clearly became a necessity in the classroom environment. With the pandemic, speech therapist follow-ups were practically without result (forcing the use of masks). With this language problem then came other problems: slower learning, lack of self-esteem, intimidation. Our boy has a positive attitude in general, but you could tell he wasn't happy.
During the months preceding the withdrawal from the school, we had quite a few meetings with specialists and members of the school. Overall, what we were told was that it would take him "more of everything": more speech therapy, more remedial education, more private learning, more, more, more... At this point, we were really confused.
That's when we did: wait a minute. Do we want to give our 6-year-old a chance, or do we want to make him a college graduate next year? Society pushes all children to be at the same level at the same time. But what if that wasn't the right way to go?
During a "summit meeting" where there was the teacher, the speech therapist and the remedial pedagogue in the same room as us, seeing that the discussion was going nowhere, we simply said: "we think to take our child out of school. Of course, general panic ensued, all telling us that this would be the worst thing for our boy.
Almost a year later, this is the best thing we could do for our boy. I remember the last report from the speech therapist mentioning that the number and duration of meetings had to be doubled. Good news: two months after the withdrawal of our boy from school, without speech therapy or other services, his language development has improved exponentially. Truly unbelievable.
There is certainly a lot of good in homeschooling. I would like to add a nuance here. I'm not a teacher, and I don't want to be. We have not taken our child out to do the same thing as school except at home. No, that wouldn't make sense. I don't have the training, I don't have the interest, I don't have the time, and I just don't want to teach a class in my dining room (although it often looks like an art studio, the unorganized and jumble type).
What I just wrote here, I wish I had read when I started researching how homeschooling works. But most of the Facebook groups added a layer of stress to me as I read all those parents worried about figuring out which textbooks to use to teach. If we dwell on wanting to do like at school, yes, then there is certainly something to lose your mind.
Because initially, my wife wanted to do like at school. So she sat down for several hours every morning to teach what can be taught at the primary level in school. But she was getting frustrated with our boy's lack of attention after the first hour. After a few weeks like this, she wanted to put him back in school.
I thought to myself, something is wrong. Is it normal to push children like this to tell the difference between a verb, a subject and a determiner, all day long? I'm an adult and I still confuse some grammar concepts.
So I continued my research into homeschooling techniques. The more I inquired, and the more I prayed for a solution, the more I opened my mind to something else: unschooling.
When I read this, I ran to my wife and said, "That's it! That's exactly what I want to do, unschooling! ". I looked like a kid who just got the Transformers box from his parents for Christmas.
Basically, unschooling is the concept of letting your child learn at their own speed and according to their interests, with the aim of promoting learning autonomy. If the school suggests doing page 24 of the English exercise book, I suggest reading the toy catalog instead. If the school suggests doing the two pages of exercises on fractions, I suggest doing the banana bread recipe instead. You get the idea. Learning is not just in school books, it is everywhere in our daily lives.
You say, "That's nonsense!" My wife said that too at the beginning, certainly with a grain of reason. After all, my wife and I have a long education up to university level, so it is not easy to leave school so deeply embedded in us. For this, we must "rewire" our brain.
The human being is an incredible creature. We are born with the abilities of curiosity, discovery, learning and creation. Babies and toddlers are hyper-creative beings, seeing the funny things they do that amaze us every day. This is why human beings are able to grow and learn. It is innate, the interest to learn.
Unfortunately, once put into school, this interest slowly wanes. Why? Because we are told what to do. We put up walls and we are shown the path to follow. There is no longer the aspect of discovery, or at least, it is much less present. The creative child gives way to the passive child. There comes a point where when the child does not learn something in school, he will not learn it on his own.
Unschooling is the opposite concept: let's not force the child and let him discover for himself according to his interests. Curiosity and creativity will do the rest of the work.
Do you doubt? Alright here. Our second boy is kindergarten level. He learns to write words on his own, according to his interests, for example by looking at books on Mario Bros games. Sometimes I show him the letters and some sounds, but he learns quietly without us even realizing it. One moment he arrives and he reads a note, to our amazement. "How did you learn that?" He shrugs, smiling. Truly unbelievable.
Here we are in the 11th month of homeschooling. Obviously, there is much more than that to discuss, for example the place of the government in all this, because we have certain "accounts to render". Topics for next time.
From our personal experience, I can say that it has been very positive for us. It is certainly not for everyone, it is already necessary to have certain flexibility at the work level for example. But if you can afford it and you hesitate, I invite you to think about it because there are many possibilities. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to comment or write to me, I will make another post inspired by your interests.
During this period of containment, Nintendo's latest console, the Switch, has enjoyed immense success. It is quite possible that your child plays with it regularly.
So we have put together a list of games that we particularly like and which can make a great gift idea for your child. Some of these games are currently offered at a discount of up to 60%.
1) Yoshi's Crafted World ($49, a 40% discount)
Who does not know Yoshi, this friendly character from the environment of Mario Bros. In this original looking game, your child explores attractive and colorful environments in order to reach the finish line. A concept of double-sided levels makes the gameplay interesting and very challenging.
2) Mario Tennis Aces ($49, a 40% discount)
This is the ultimate sports game to have fun with your children. Use the Switch controller to hit the tennis ball virtually like a racket. Your child, regardless of age, will have fun!
3) Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker ($49)
This original puzzle-style game promises hours of fun as you complete each level with increasing difficulty. A colorful and imaginative game for everyone.
4) Splatoon 2 ($49, a 40% discount)
A shooter for ages 10 and up, Splatoon 2 is more popular because it allows people to play online with others. By using color to determine their territory, your child will develop their reflexes!
5) Minecraft ($29)
Another very popular game, which will appeal to slightly older children. This game allows you to develop your creative spirit in the Lego way by building virtual structures in a world full of surprises.
6) Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle ($29, 60% discount, 10 years +)
A game created by Ubisoft including a mix of Rabbids and Mario Bros. This strategy game will require reflection to face the situations offered and is recommended for children aged 10 and over. At less than $30, this game is currently a great deal.
7) The Lego Movie 2 Videogame ($29, 10yrs +)
For young fans of Lego and the latest movie in the name, this game offers the exploration of magical Lego worlds. Recommended for ages 10 and up.
Monopoly was our quintessential family game when "little". In fact, the popular board game is relatively complex for young children. So it was a little older that we were playing.
But did you know that there is a "Junior" version for ages 5 and up? This is a significantly reduced version of the standard version. Thus, 2 to 4 players (children with or without adults) share the game board of 24 squares. The currency (Monopoly dollars) is simply denominations of $1. Have you come across the Pizzaria? The purchase price is $1. Are you buying Promenade? Get out your big $5!
Also, the concept of houses/hotels has been simplified. So, when buying land, we just need to deposit a token representing our pawn. When a player stops on our land, the amount of the invoice is the same as the purchase price. Ouch! This ensures that the games end quickly and last about twenty minutes.
Only “Chance” cards exist to enhance the game and sometimes help the less fortunate. But beware: it is still possible to fall on the “Prison” box!
We tried Monopoly Junior with a 4 year old and he quickly understood the rules. So don't hesitate to introduce your child to the interesting concepts that this game offers. It makes a great family activity and the game costs around $20.
This game exists in different themes: regular, Frozen, Disney Princess, etc. A good gift idea at a low price. This game is one of our favorites!
Radon is an odorless, colorless and radioactive gas. It is carcinogenic and kills 3000 people each year in Canada. According to studies, radon is the number one cause of lung cancer in non-smokers. Note that all homes may contain radon, especially newer homes.
With COVID-19, we spend a lot of time in our homes. The government therefore recommends testing our homes to detect the level of radon emitted. You may have received a notice in the mail to this effect or visited the Takeactionradon.ca site.
Fortunately, testing for radon at home is easy. Here are the required steps:
Buy a screening kit. Health Canada recommends a long-term test for radon in the air. The AccuStar Canada Alpha Track AT100 test is one of those approved. It costs $39.95 CAD (you can buy 2 tests for $59.95). Your test will arrive with instructions for use and an envelope ready for return.
You will receive the alpha trace dosimeter test in a sealed bag. You must identify a room to leave the test. For example, the family room, living room or bedrooms are good choices because we spend more time there. Do not test the kitchen, bathrooms or wardrobes.
Open the sealed bag and set up the test in the room of your choice, following the directions in the instructions. We chose to put the test on a nursery dresser. Leave the dosimeter on for 91 to 365 days.
In a few months, you will need to mail the test using the return envelope in order to get the lab results.
According to Health Canada, upon achieving a radon level of 200 Bq/m3 (Becquerel of radon per cubic meter of air) or higher, you should install a radon level abatement system. Hopefully, it won't and your test will stay below that value.
Having said that, it is a test we should all do at least once in our home to ensure the health of our families. We will sleep better afterwards!
It is normal for a toddler to wet the bed. However, by the age of 5, if this problem persists, we should start paying attention. It should still be put in context that 9% of children between 5 and 10 years old have nocturnal enuresis.
Tip 1: Don't lose patience!
As parents, we must not lose patience with this problem and not blame our child. Rather, we need to help him get through this period when self-esteem can be affected.
Tip 2: anxiety or fear
Is the bedroom or hallway to the toilet too dark for your child to get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom? Does your child have anxiety or nightmares? You have to be attentive to the needs and state of mind which may have a connection with the problem.
Tip 3: Reduce fluids at night
Obviously, drinking more fluids during the day and less in the evening is essential.
Tip 4: Empower your child
A pee in the night? No problem. Ask your child to help you help wash the pajamas and bed sheets the next day.
Tip 5: Wake him up at night
Wake your child up at a specific time when you know they should urinate normally. But if your child is sleeping soundly, don't push it.
Tip 6: Use a "wet stop" (wet alarm)
Sometimes your child does not feel the urge to urinate. There are small devices that detect the first drops and emit sounds to wake up the child. This has been shown to have positive effects in allowing a better understanding of the needs of the body. You still have to be patient, but after a few weeks of use you can already see improved results.
For example, we tested the Wet-Stop3 alarm. This small device works with 2 AAA batteries. It is possible to put in vibration, sound or vibration-sound modes. The sound is loud and the child wakes up every time. A cable with a liquid detector is attached to your child's panties. It should be placed on the front of the panties in order to detect urine early on. A button on the side silences the alarm.
The Wet-Stop3 comes in three colors: blue, green or pink. It retails for $66.99 CAD. It was designed by a pediatric urologist and is suitable for both boys and girls.
Tip 7: Motivation
It is good to find a system to motivate our child during successes, for example a calendar with stickers and maybe a small reward after a few days without pee.
For example, why not give your child some new panties according to their current taste?
This is a great gift idea for the whole family, especially for us parents who grew up with Super Mario Bros in our living room. Nintendo has just launched a new Game & Watch-type handheld console, 30 years after the last of its kind: the Game & Watch Super Marios Bros. This retro-looking console comes with the “Super Mario Bros 1” and “2: The Lost Levels” games, as once found on the original NES console, as well as the classic 1980 Ball Game.
This pocket console is indeed very small. Compared with another vintage Donkey Kong 3 console from 1984 (see photos), it is the smallest we have tested. It is still of good quality with sound and a screen allowing you to play for a long time! It also offers other surprises such as an animated clock display. It comes with a USB wire for charging.
Like other systems that Nintendo makes in limited supply, the Nintendo Game & Watch Super Mario Bros might be running out very quickly. If you are a Nintendo fan or want to introduce your children to the classic games of your youth, this is a great opportunity to seize. It retails for $69.99 CAD.
Don't wait too long, this one will quickly become a collector's item!
Bouge Petit is a café and physical activity center for parents with babies and young children located at 6546 avenue Papineau, Montreal.