Monthly Archives: June 2015

Help Your Child Avoid the (Very Real) ‘Summer Slide’

Provided by Calgary Reads

Summer is here! This is the time we often relish end-of-school runs, busy activity schedules, and helping our children with homework and regular reading. However, the potential ‘summer slide’ that refers to summer reading loss is real. This decline in children’s reading development that can occur during summer when children are away from the classroom and not participating in formal literacy programs has been studied extensively.

Researchers have uncovered evidence to suggest that the impact of summer reading loss on students in general – and the impact of summer reading loss on at-risk students in particular – is significant. Typically, children lose one to three months of learning every summer. They lose math and reading skills they worked hard to acquire during the school year. They then have to work even harder to catch up in the Fall.

This summer, help your child stay at their reading level – and perhaps improve their confidence and reading pleasure. This doesn’t need to be an onerous task. There are oodles of fun and easy ways to weave words, books, reading and writing into your family’s summer. In the last issue of +Calgary’s Child Magazine, we suggested setting up inviting outdoor ‘reading places’ to encourage reading together or alone: on your deck, in a tent or while lounging in a hammock. You can build fun games and activities into everything special you do this summer, plus find easy ways to maximize your child’s reading within your daily activities.

In addition, check out Seize the Summer materials: “Reading aloud builds memories, engagement and brains” at four posters, a parent handout and a bookmark with playful summer imagery!

Great ideas for summer reading fun!

  • Read maps and tourist guides together as you explore parks, zoos and nature centres.
  • Visits to shopping centres, farmers’ markets and festivals are filled with things to read too: store signs, price tags and product information.
  • Menus at restaurants or labels on grocery store shelves are an easy way to help build vocabulary.
  • Encourage your children to write letters or emails to family, send postcards to friends or keep a travel journal. They’ll be improving their writing skills as they document their summer adventures.
  • If you are planning a picnic, have your child write the shopping list and then identify the products at the store. If you’re making cookies to take along too, your child can read the recipe as you make them together.
  • Make a chart for summer reading and plan a book swap or share with family and friends. In the chart, include books that parents and children will each read and track everyone’s progress. Take turns reading aloud to each other or sharing book reviews.
  • Help your child make their own joke book by collecting favorites from family and friends.
  • Hide a tiny item in your pocket and then ask your child to write a story about it.
  • Create a ‘round robin’ story together as a family. One person writes the beginning, and then everyone takes a turn to write what happens next until you reach an ending.

Calgary Reads build connections, strengthen networks, champion, involve and innovate because we all have a role to play in creating a thriving community where all children can read with confidence and joy! Visit the website for videos and resources to help you build the joy of reading in your child and download the printable tip sheet ‘Beat the Summer Brain Drain’ for more ideas at

Experience the Joy of the Outdoors with Family Camping

By Josephine Baran

There’s nothing quite like sleeping under the stars, sitting around a campfire and spending quality time with the family. Camping is a great budget-friendly family vacation option that gives you and your kids the chance to disconnect from the daily routine and reconnect with each other. But for first-time family campers, packing up the kids, setting up a tent and living in the outdoors can seem like a daunting task.

With the right gear, planning and organization, family camping can be a fun and enjoyable activity for everyone. Here are a few helpful tips for any camping adventure.

Planning your trip

The most important part of family camping happens when you’re still at home. Here are important points to keep in mind before embarking on your trip:

Get familiar with your gear

  • Whether you bought new gear or are borrowing from a friend, set it up at home before hitting the road. Pitch the tent, light your stove, and test the lantern. Make sure your equipment works and that you’re not forgetting anything!

Plan fast, easy and healthy meals

  • Keep the ingredients simple and consider pre-packing meals for an easy mealtime. For your first adventure, try cooking your food beforehand and freezing it solid so all you have to do it warm it up at your campsite.

Plan for fun

  • Travel size board and card games such as the Outside Inside Roll‑up Campground Magnetic Darts are perfect for when the sun goes down and are a great way to keep the kids around the campsite while dinner is cooking.
  • Remember that camping tasks can be fun for the little ones. Ask for help sweeping the tent, gathering sticks and preparing the meals.

When you get home, remember to air out the tents and sleeping bags before storing them to avoid mold or musty smells. Keep all your gear in one place in large containers with a packing list to eliminate having to check and re-check equipment before your next trip.

Family Camping safety

When away from home, it can be easy for our children to forget household rules and difficult for parents to enforce them. Camping requires us to become creative in parenting to ensure our children remain safe. Here are some tricks I’ve picked up over our many years of camping:

Set the boundaries

  • Assign a boundary for kids to stay inside, such as the perimeter of your campsite. This is also helpful around the cooking area to keep curious hands away from the fire.

Get your children involved

  • Ask for help gathering wood or bringing over the pots to the cooking area. Take along the BioLite BaseCamp Grill for a fire alternative that only requires small branches and twigs so that your children can have an important role.

Calories are your friend

  • Depending on the time of year, it’s important to keep your children well fed to ensure they are staying warm. Being outside and active all day burns more calories, so it’s not a bad idea to bring along the YayLabs! Softshell Ice Cream Ball, make a snack with the Camp Chef Popcorn Popper, or place a chunk of butter in their hot chocolate.

Figuring out what works best for your family is the best way to keep them safe. You know your family best and can come up with great ideas to keep them safe and happy during your family camping adventure.

About Josephine

Josephine is an Outreach Coordinator at Canada’s leading outdoor retailer, MEC, at the Edmonton store. She has been camping for over 35 years and has 15 years of experience camping with her three children. When she is not at MEC, she can be found running or skiing with her kids and dog in tow.

A Feast for Father’s Day


by Nanica Brown

Whether it’s the heat of the grill, or just the heat of the moment, it’s time to turn up the heat on breakfast this Father’s Day! These five recipes are sure fire ways to please dad…well. maybe after a well earned sleep in:

  1. Julie Van Rosendaal knows that brunch is a great way to get together with family and friends and reconnect with your bare feet in the grass – and if you cook the whole thing on the grill, no one will be stuck inside in the kitchen. Try making her BBQ French Toast for your dad!
  2. Make Mancakes! This sweet & savory hybrid from Food Wishes is made with bacon, green onion, and cheddar corn. These are the perfect pancake for a Father’s Day Brunch or even breakfast for dinner!
  3. Who doesn’t want cake for breakfast? A Pretty Life in the Suburbs combines all the best parts of summer and parties with this moist, delicious and easy to make Blueberry Breakfast Cake.
  4. Hearty and comforting this Berry Lemon Baked Oatmeal from Home to Heather would be a the star on it’s own, but add bacon and eggs you have a fantastic family brunch to share with Dad.
  5. There is nothing more manly that Chicken N Waffles. Invest some time on Father’s Day to make Grandbaby-Cakes salty, the sweet and the flavorful dish for your dad.

And, if you’re really not down for making breakfast you can book brunch at one of the amazing places around town. Happy Father’s Day everyone!

Shopping with children, oh what fun!

by Elizabeth Pantley

Does your child hate to go shopping with you? Does your little one usually end up begging for candy, cookies or toys? And then, when you say no, is there fussing, crying or tantrums in the store? Let’s talk shopping – and how to have a pleasant outing.

p80-Annoyingthingstheydo[1]Why do kids hate shopping?
Often it’s not actually shopping that young children object to, but the stressful, business-like approach that parents adopt when running errands. In addition to that, many adult events are uninteresting to children, and the length of most shopping excursions tends to exceed a child’s limited amount of patience.

Change your point of view
It helps to treat shopping trips as events rather than an errands.This is a great time to achieve two things at once: get your shopping done and have some quality time with your child. If you are a busy, multi-tasking parent you’ll find this change in mindset helps you have a more patient, pleasant attitude which will easily rub off on your child.

Allow extra time to shop.
When you don’t push things – when you aren’t in a rush, you and your child will be more relaxed and have a more pleasant time. On days when you are in a hurry, make a list in advance and stick to it. Roaming the store (or a bunch of stores!) for random purchases makes it a much longer trip.

Engage your child.
Most children love to be helpers at the store. They can carry things to the car, choose produce, and find items on the shelves. Children who can read might enjoy having their own short list of items to find.

Ask him for input.
When you can, pick two similar items ask your child which one you should buy. Having a say in what you put in the cart is very exciting and empowering for children.

Acknowledge your child’s desires.  
Are there things that you like but can’t have? Of course there are! Kids are people too, and they like and want stuff! Children will learn over time that you can desire things, but that doesn’t mean you’ll get them. So acknowledge those desires: “Wow! That is a very cool truck!” Follow this with a statement of why you’ll not be buying it, without sounding reproving, such as, “But we’re not buying any toys today, we have to find some apples, can you help me?”

Create a written or an imaginary wish list.
Whenever your child says, “I want this” tell him that you’ll write it down so that you’ll remember that he likes it. You can jot it down on paper and call it his ‘wish list.’

Prevent the gimmees.
Let your child know in advance what you will or will not be buying that day, before you even enter the store. If you can allow him to choose one treat to put in the basket each time you shop he will know not to ask for an endless list of things. Having to decide on his one thing also gives a purpose to the trip.

Have consistent rules.
If you shop frequently it will help to write out the top five or six shopping rules and put the note card in the car or in your bag. Review the rules each time before you shop.

What not to do

Don’t take a hungry child food shopping.
You might not intentionally plan this, but it happens. If it has been an hour or two since your child last ate, the first item on your list should be a snack your child can eat as you shop. A box of crackers, a bag of pretzels or a bag of apple slices can work wonders to take the edge off. (Just remember to pay for it – even if it’s an empty bag.)

Don’t take a tired child shopping.
Avoid scheduling shopping trips too close to nap time or bed time. Tired children are absolutely more fussy and impatient.

Don’t shop at the store’s busiest hours.
When possible schedule your shopping times to avoid the biggest crowds. More people in the store mean longer lines and more complications. A quiet, less-populated store will also help you feel less stressed. A cashier or manager can recommend good shopping times.

Excerpted with permission by McGraw-Hill Publishing from The No-Cry Discipline Solution (McGraw-Hill) by Elizabeth Pantley