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Press Releases

Vancouver, Alberta, and Ontario, Here We Come!

We are proud to announce that our Founder, Natacha Beim, is being featured in the January/February 2015 issue of Franchise Canada Magazine!

In 1998 CEFA Early Learning started with a single school aimed at improving the quality of education available for pre school aged children Sixteen eyars later, our network of schools has expanded to 15 locations throughout the Metro Vancouver area. That’s almost one new school every year!

Our amazing growth is both a testament to our leadership in quality education as well as proof that we are committed to providing the best teachers to complement our cutting edge curriculum. Most important of all, we have absolutely no intentions of slowing down!

If you are in Vancouver, Alberta, and/or Ontario,  and you are passionate about education and young children, we would love for you to join us! Learn more about franchising opportunities on our designated website: CEFA Franchise

Franchise Canada 1Franchise Canada 1.2Franchise Canada 2

BTV on Franchising Featuring CEFA

BTV goes on location to provide stories and interviews with emerging companies.

On Sun Oct 20, 2013 - on National TV, BTV-Business Television highlighted CEFA:

BTV takes a franchise fieldtrip to this diverse learning place for young children, one with an enriched curriculum featuring a unique partnership of subjects, providing children with the freedom to learn and grow through play.

U.S. National:

Fox Business News – Sunday, Nov 3 @ 5:30pm EST

America One – Saturday, Oct 19 & Nov 2 @ 10am EST

Biz Television Network – Sat. Oct 19 & Nov 2  @ 12pm & 8pm, Sun. Oct 20 & Nov 3 @ 12:30pm EST, Mon. Oct 21 & Nov 4 @ 8:30am EST, Thurs. Oct 24 & Nov 7 @ 10:30am EST and Fri. Oct 25 & Nov 8 @ 10pm & 1am EST

CEFA Kingsway Students Tackle April’s “I Contribute” Project in the Garden

Vancouver B.C. (April 4th, 2013)  - CEFA Kingsway students will be using three garden plots in the back of their school for their current “Care for the Earth” project.

The kids will work together with their teachers to clear out the 4 x 4 plots, preparing each plot for a different purpose.  One plot will be prepared for harvesting, and be planted with various plants that the kids will tend to during the month. The second un-weeded plot will be planted, but will be littered with “pollution”, or classroom garbage; this plot will neither be watered nor tended to at all.  The third plot will be “planted” with the students ideas about how to help care for earth. Children will draw their ideas and pictures on laminated cards and attach them to popsicle sticks to be stuck in the dirt.

Last week all of the children at CEFA Kingsway participated in the project: the CEFA babies helped dig the plot, the JK1’s dug and tilled, the JK2’s planted flowers in the early stages of growth, and the JK3’s planted seeds. They will continue to hold responsibility for the garden by alternating days in which they are on “watering duty”. With the plots conveniently located by the children’s play space, they will be able to see their garden flourish and the plants grow as they tend to them.

By mid-April there should be thriving plants in one plot and little to no growth in the junky plot. After witnessing the differences, the children will collectively start the cleaning process of the garbage-filled plot by replacing the litter with plants, striving towards two bountiful gardens at the end of May.

“Through this project we hope to show the children what caring for the environment entails. By holding them accountable for their actions, they will see what happens when they respect and nurture it, and what happens when they litter it with garbage. We want to ingrain environmentally friendly actions in to their daily behavior at an young age.”

Selina Prevost

Principal, CEFA Kingsway 

This garden project may just be the beginning of a slew of projects for the children at CEFA Kingsway. With the notion that parks are like expansive gardens, the school may even organize a park cleanup nearby.

Want to learn more about CEFA’s “I Contribute to the World” program? Click here. 

National Study Supports BC’s Junior Kindergarten Program

Canada’s third Early Years Study, released last week, recommends children as young as two be enrolled in early learning programs. The study, which is one of the last works of the late Dr. J Fraser Mustard, a long-time advocate for early learning, showed key brain developments take place before the age of four.

“When children are exposed to a stimulating learning environment in their earliest years, a pattern of wiring is stabilized in their brain,” said Natacha Beim, founder of Core Education & Fine Arts, Canada’s first Junior Kindergarten program. “The study supports what we already know, that children maximize their brain development through guided play before the age of kindergarten.”

Dr. Mustard visited Core Education & Fine Arts in 2006 and concluded the curriculum was what Canada’s early education system is missing. He strongly encouraged Beim to pursue the option of offering the program at a national level. Unlike daycares or preschools, CEFA Junior Kindergarten offers children and infants customized learning curriculums that align with the brain’s stage of development. The curriculum is executed through play.

“There are windows of opportunity to teach children to use their minds most effectively,” said Beim. “Once those windows close, the ability to learn is forever compromised.”

Beim has been advocating for her early learning curriculum to be adopted by Canada’s public education system for more than 15 years. At present, Core Education & Fine Arts operates privately in 10 locations across the Lower Mainland.

Beim hopes the latest report, which shows the return on investment in early education far exceeds investment in primary, secondary, or post secondary education, will encourage government to fundamentally change early education policy. Until that happens Beim will continue to expand CEFA™ one school at a time.

For media enquires please contact the CEFA Marketing Team:

CEFA Educational Systems
3081 Grandview Highway
Vancouver, BC   V5M 2E4

Tel: (604) 708 2332
Fax: (604) 638 0951

Natacha's Articles

Entrepreneur Mom Now Calgary Interview

Entrepreneur Mom Now Calgary interviewed our Founder Natacha Beim when we visited the Calgary Franchise Expo.

Watch the interview here:

Baby, I Have Breast Cancer: Breaking the News to a Child

As a parent, there is nothing more disconcerting than having to take something from your child. I’ve had parents call me late in the evening to ask me to open the school doors so they can recover their child’s blanket. A very guilty parent goes on to tell me how their child is crying inconsolably and won’t go to sleep without it. When a mother is affected by breast cancer, telling her child would take away much more than an object of affection; it would take away her child’s innocence.

This year, an average of 445 Canadian women will be diagnosed with breast cancer each week. Many of these women will be faced with the difficult decision of whether or not to turn their child’s world upside down.

I have not been diagnosed with breast cancer, but I have coached several mothers and families through the process. I have, however, had to have difficult conversations with my sons when going for two operations, in addition to preparing everyone for the varied outcomes, whether good or bad. As a teacher, researcher, early development expert, parenting coach and, of course, as a mother, I humbly offer you these words of advice:

To Tell or Not to Tell

This is a very personal and circumstantial decision. One of the major factors is age. I recommend telling your child only if he or she is older than two or three. Although it may seem young still, by then a child can already sense a difference in the household and is at threat of internalizing the problem. Children learn to trust you and it’s important for you to be honest with them. Breaking the news will also help the child prepare for the physical changes that may occur and give them time to process the situation.

When Not to Tell

If a child is too young to comprehend what cancer is and how it might affect their mother, the conversation is better reserved for when they’re a bit older. If your child is older, but you truly feel that they can’t emotionally handle the news, I recommend seeing a therapist, but still facing the situation. Likewise, if you’re having a hard time processing the news yourself, it’s not a good time to have a conversation with your child. Wait until you feel stronger, or consult a therapist yourself first. It is very important that you do not alarm your child.

When To Tell

Never tell until your doctor has confirmed your fears, and you have concrete, tangible information to share with your children. Depending on the family dynamics, it can be a good idea to gather everyone together to break the news. It’s important to choose a weekend or another time of leisure so everyone has time to process the information and answer questions as they arise. Pick a time when you’re feeling particularly strong, not emotional. As a mother, they will look to you for support, even during this time.

What to Expect Once You’ve Told

Your child will have a lot of questions and it’s important that you answer them all; if you don’t know the answer you can research together. You may also be surprised to find that many of these questions will pertain to them: “Who will take care of me if something happens to you?” Some questions may seem selfish and hurtful, but they are very important to your child, and they too need an answer.

Your child may feel angry with you but you must not take it personally. Understand these are normal feelings, even when they hurt. Have faith that these feelings will pass in due time.

More than ever your child will need reassurance that they are loved. Do things as a family as much as possible, but expect that your child may withdraw from you. That’s okay, it’s just a way for them to protect themselves. Respect their needs.

How Can I Make it Better?

Your attitude will have a huge impact on your child. Try not to show them your fears, but reassure them that things will get better. If you feel pain, it’s okay to share that with your children, and allow them to help by bringing you medicine, or a pillow and blanket so you can have a nap, for example. Likewise, when you are ready to go to the hospital, let them help as much as possible by picking a nightgown for you to wear during your stay, or drawing a picture to decorate your room. Your partner or a family member can help your children buy a new book for you to bring, or something you will really love. It is really important for your children to take a proactive role during this time, and to help in your recovery. It will be just as beneficial for them as it is for you.

Not Forgetting Yourself

As difficult and unfair as it might seem, you need to take some time for yourself when you feel you need it. Do something you love and do the things that make you happy; you will be better prepared to spend quality time with your children if you take care of your needs and wants. Not only will this help your children, it will tremendously aid in your recovery.

[ Source: The Huffington Post Canada ]

Teaching Your Child To Cook Healthy Meals At Any Age

Having your child prepare a healthy meal for the family seems like an unattainable dream for most parents.

However, if you instil the habit of cooking in your child at an early age, you are providing them with the skills they need to live a healthy life, and having fun while doing it.

When most children are young, there is nothing they want more than to help in the kitchen. While that help is not always needed, with patience and a little direction you can nurture that passion to cook in to a desirable talent. Here are some tips to get you started.

Starting with babies and toddlers

Involve your little one by asking them to measure and mix ingredients, wash fruit and vegetables (never raw meat or eggs), or cut items with a plastic, disposable “party” knife. Discuss the different aromas, colours and textures of the ingredients, inviting your child to taste them along the way. You can also talk about the different items in terms of their health benefits, so that they understand what differentiates healthy food from unhealthy food. Involving your child in the preparation of meals will also help with picky eaters, as children are more likely to eat something that they have helped prepare.

Starting with young children

If your child is naturally interested in cooking, involve them in as many aspects of the meal preparation as you can. You can be more specific about what you need at this age, and give directions that require more reasoning. For example, ask your child to chop three carrots, or one cup of mushrooms, and teach them what foods can be eaten raw and which ones need to be cooked. You an also visit a community garden or plant vegetables at home to educate your child on where food comes from, and how it grows. All of these actions cultivate a healthy lifestyle for your child at an early age.

If your child is not naturally eager to cook or loses interest, don’t give up! Invite them to prepare cookies or decorate a cake together. Try to find recipes that appeal to your child, but remember to always look for healthier options, such as sugar free and gluten free. Ideally you should encourage them to make a fruit salad, some fresh fruit juice, a delicious smoothie, or real fruit “popsicles”. When children view cooking as a fun science experiment, or an opportunity to express their creativity, they are excited to join in.

Starting with older children and teens

One of the most effective ways to entice a reluctant child to cook is to trade cooking for a before or after dinner chore. Simply put, tell your child that if they would like to help you cook, you would be delighted to help set the table. Ask your child how they wish to help, and gradually they will enjoy cooking, gain skills in the kitchen, and require less assistance. Invite your child to look for recipes they would like to try, give them healthy recipe books to look through, or invent recipes together. As they gain more confidence, teach them to read labels and plan balanced meals.

Another skill to foster at this age is the art of entertaining; it can be as simple as preparing something special to eat when friends come over, or as intricate as preparing food for a party. Count on your child at least once a week to prepare a meal for the family. Remember, it’s important to show your child that you trust them in the kitchen and you view them as capable, no matter how simple the meal is.

What to do if you can’t cook

If your culinary skills are less than adequate, why not learn with your child? Buy a simple and nutritious cookbook designed for children, and plan to cook one or two meals together each week. Start with simple dishes and gradually move on to more complex recipes; your child will love your openness to learn, and will be eager to learn with you.

Cooking with your child is a fantastic bonding activity, provided you are open to suggestions and not too focused on teaching a recipe “your way”. It is also an opportunity to express a person’s uniqueness, and a great way to introduce a healthy lifestyle to your child at a young age. More importantly, cooking healthy meals together will ensure your child has the necessary skills to not rely on fast food or other unhealthy choices when they go out on their own.

Bon Appétit!

| Source: Huffington Post |

Encouraging Your Son To Read – More About Selection Than Gender

A study published by Dobbs-Oates & Baroody concludes that preschool girls show more interest in literacy activities than do boys of the same age range.

So what? You might think – boys have other interests. Well, yes, but an interest in literacy means much more than just that:

  • The more a child is interested in books and in reading, the less he is likely to suffer from attention deficit, hyperactivity, withdrawal and aggression.
  • Research has shown that Preschoolers’ early literacy skills are related to children’s later reading skills and achievement in elementary school.
  • Research also shows that reading skills in first grade are related to reading achievement in secondary school.

If pre-school boys are not interested in reading, they will not have the skills necessary for reading success, and they will must likely be poor readers in high-school.

Why don’t boys like to read?

This of course is an over-generalization. Many boys very much enjoy reading, and many girls don’t. Gender preferences work more like a scale than they do a straight separation. Most children, boys and girls, are not on the white end or the black end, they are a different shade of grey.

Having said that, there are a few possible explanations for boys being less interested in reading than girls:

  • The purpose of the book has a lot to do with it: girls read for enjoyment whereas boys tend to read more non-fiction, practical books (to learn about something in particular).
  • In pre-school, however, teachers are mainly female, and tend to choose books that tell children a story (narrative) and that are more nurturing in nature. These may be less appealing to boys than to girls, and boys may lose interested in reading.
  • The themes of preschool books also may be more nurturing and therefore more geared towards girls than boys, who prefer action-driven (super-heroes), scary (pirates, vilains) or practical books (trucks, dinosaurs).
  • Books available at school or at home for young children may not be the genre that appeals to boys, and therefore, they are less likely to want to read.
  • Parents who believe reading is enjoyable and view their children as capable are more likely to read to them and to provide literacy experiences, which would influence the pre-schooler’s interest in reading.

Helping your son develop a love for reading

The difference in interest between boys and girls may only be due to our choices and expectations as parents and educators. Here are some tips to gain more interest.

Go to the library together and help your child choose books that interest him. If you would like to expose him to better literary choices, you can invite him to choose one book to read, and ask if you could chose a second one. Your son will be delighted to have two stories read to him, and you will be able to choose a good book while at the same time reading the one he chooses.

Read as a family. Read to your child every day and encourage your child to read with you, side by side, each with your own book. Children who see their parents reading for pleasure learn that reading is a pleasurable activity, and become great readers.

Donate a few good books to your child’s junior kindergarten or pre-school that cater to the interest of your son, sharing what you have learned with the teachers. As this is very recent research, many teachers may not be aware of what books are best for young boys.

Literacy skills are also acquired by writing. Encourage your son to invent his own adventure books and write and illustrate them. This will develop his creativity and instill an interest in the written language.

The most important factor in being a lifelong reader is to actually love reading. Continue reading together once your son is able to read by himself.

Getting your young child to be interested in books now will have lifelong repercussions and is well worth the dedication. Happy reading!

|Source: Huffintgon Post|

How To Teach Children To Learn From Their Mistakes

An excited three-year-old grabs a bottle of milk from the table and joyfully shakes it until its contents spill all over the kitchen floor. The child’s mother rushes towards the pool of white liquid spreading across the tiles, looks up at her child and grins.

“What happens now?” she asks enthusiastically. They explore the consequences together. No scolding or words of disapproval are muttered. Sound unlikely? In most North American households this scenario would play out very differently. That’s because too often parents are quick to scorn their children for making mistakes. In reality, however, there are great advantages to teaching your children to learn from their mistakes.

A study from Michigan State University shows people who think they can learn from their mistakes have a different brain reaction to errors than those who don’t. The study demonstrates that people who think they can learn from their mistakes bounce back faster after making one. Furthermore, their brains are more alert to the fact they’ve made a mistake, and subsequently are quicker to correct it. This way of thinking is a pattern that can be developed in childhood.

Children who expect to make mistakes are much more willing to try new things and take on difficult tasks. As a result they’re open to learning more both at school and in other environments.

Parents who feel aversion to making mistakes themselves often pass this burden on to their children. However, once aware, there is a great opportunity to break the cycle. Parents can assure their child’s mistakes are normal, in fact even grown-ups make them. What matters is what we do to correct them.

How to turn mistakes into learning opportunities:

The first step is to acknowledge when your child has made a mistake and explore the outcome. Ask what he learned from the experience, and how he thinks he can improve the next time around. Reiterate as often as you can that making mistakes means learning something new.

Consistency is key. When you are the one making a mistake, make sure you react the same way. For example, if you break a glass you can say, “I made the mistake of leaving it too close to the edge of the table. Next time, I’ll be careful to leave it in the center so it won’t fall when I move my arms.”

If it’s your child who breaks a glass, respond calmly. Telling your child something along the lines of “I told you so,” does not help. Instead, ask questions like, “how did your glass fall?” or “what can you do next time so you don’t make that same mistake?” This allows your child to determine where they went wrong and think of a solution for next time.

The second step is to instill the habit of taking responsibility for one’s mistakes. Many parents rush to fix their children’s mistakes. In doing so they rob their children of the opportunity to shoulder responsibility.

Going back to the broken glass scenario. Once your child has determined why the glass broke and how they can prevent it from falling next time, ask how they plan to fix the problem, and let them clean the mess without assistance. Figuring out how to solve the problem provides an opportunity for your child to learn responsibility and gain confidence in knowing mistakes can be made right, or at least better. Children can gain much pride from knowing they can be trusted to find an adequate solution to a problem they themselves create.

When children learn from their mistakes and are encouraged to find creative solutions, they develop problem-solving skills that last long into the future.

|Source: The Huffington Post|

Is Science Important In The Early Years?

Children are natural born scientists. To nurture this type of learning in children, allow them to explore their environment safely and freely and with plenty of time to investigate new discoveries. Children have an innate sense of wonder and curiosity about the world. They naturally build theories, test them, evaluate what worked and what didn’t, then figure out why. Asking questions is the first step to understanding. Why does water and dirt combine to make mud? Why do some things float in the tub while others sink to the bottom? How do shadows work? Why do caterpillars make cocoons?

When are children ready to learn science?

Almost all young children “do science” naturally. Most of the time they actively search for new knowledge and experiences in the world around

them. They develop theories about what they see and how it works. They are eager to figure out why turning the light on makes everything so bright, or want plug things into electrical sockets. In an effort to keep them safe (and to keep the house a little cleaner), we as parents often stop them from discovering the world around them. Slowly, over the years, many children sadly lose that inquisitive spark they were born with. As a result, creative thinking is compromised. But it is those same creative thinking skills that will help them succeed in the future by enabling them to contribute new ideas or challenge the status quo.

How can I teach science at home?

For children, science just happens. You have to ensure, as a parent, that your child’s questions are valued and appreciated. Take the time to listen, and don’t be too quick to give the answer away. Instead, ask questions like “I wonder how we could find out the answer to your question?” By doing this, you are modeling for your child how to learn, and where to look for knowledge. Some days you will look in a book, other times you will look on the computer, ask a friend, or visit a museum, a science center, or a library. It all depends on the question.

Working together with your child to discover the answer will get them excited about the process. As your child gets in the habit of looking for the answers with you, he will eventually do it on his own. Once that is established, he will be a lifelong learner. To get started, here are a few activities you could try:


Cooking is a live experiment in action. Involve your child in the kitchen when you prepare meals. It may take you a little longer, but you are providing the ideal science lab, teaching your child about food and nutrition, helping them feel appreciated at home and teaching a valuable skill. Start with something easy, like smoothies (with yogurt and fruit), or salad. Increase the complexity as they grow. Teach them to follow a recipe (measure, mix, etc.) and also let them experiment with different ingredients, without the guidance of a recipe. In the kitchen, your child will learn science principles like mixing, measuring, and changing matter.


Children love to observe animals to see the differences in how they communicate and behave. If you’re not ready for a pet, consider an aquarium, and if that is too much of a commitment, visit your garden or a pet store. Snails, butterflies, grasshoppers, worms, stick bugs, crickets, or any kind of insect make for great temporary pets, provided you supply leaves sprayed with a little water, dirt, sand, or pebbles. Figuring out what these insects need to eat and rest is a discovery in itself.

Water – Provide buckets, spoons and other digging utensils so they can mix in sand and dirt, and don’t forget pouring utensils. No need to buy anything fancy. You will find everything you need in your kitchen cupboards. In a pond or in the tub, you can explore with empty bottles, add bubbles, add gears, turkey basters, or anything else they can explore the water with.

A Garden

Invite your child to plant seeds and have an indoor or outdoor garden. You can plant flowers or, better yet, fruits and vegetables. Explore all kinds of seeds and roots: let a potato grow roots, or garlic, or an onion, encourage your child to draw his observations. Put beans in a CD case with wet cotton balls, to see the tiny plant begin to grow before you plant it. Explore what happens to fruits or vegetables as they decay. See what happens when a plant or flower receives water, good soil and sunshine, as opposed to growing in the shade.

Light and Shadows

Provide flashlights, translucent materials and a grey wall. You can collect different types of materials to see which ones let the light pass through (translucent) and which don’t (opaque). You can also play with window prisms, and see how the different colours of light are reflected on the floor when the sun hits them.

Tadpoles and butterflies

This is a favorite of early learning schools, but it can also be done at home. Observing a caterpillar building a cocoon, or a tadpole metamorphosing into a frog, is an incredible experience for a child. Provide a camera for your child to take lots of photos he or she can observe later.

As your child becomes an avid scientist, he or she will satisfy their curiosity and discover learning is a fun adventure. This will give you plenty of new topics to talk about. Once you see your child blossom through science and develop their ability to think, you will be glad you put up with a few messes here and there.

|Source: Westcoast Families|

Ten Ways to Help Your Child be an Excellent Reader

Reading is the most important habit to instil in children. It increases their vocabulary, which directly increases their performance at school.

Reading will expand their knowledge in every other area, and open their minds to so many possibilities. Because children are often learning the actual phonetic combinations at school, and exploring reading more on a practical side, the love of reading is best fostered at home, and supported by you, the parent.

When children are little, take the time to read to them every night, and delight in the stories you discover together. To make that time even more special, here are ten tips you can use:

1. Take the time to look at the images together

Instead of just reading the book, look at the images with your child and see what they tell you. This will teach your child to look for clues in the images that tell them what is about to happen in the book. Using this strategy will help the child increase their vocabulary by enabling them to “guess” what a new word means, just by understanding its context.

2.Use different voices for different characters in a book

By making a special voice for the ogre of the story, then for the little girl they meet, and all the other characters, you help your child imagine the story, bringing it to life. Once your child begins to read, even when they are not reading out loud, they will in turn adopt the habit of giving book characters their own voice, their own life, which will greatly increase their reading comprehension skills and work with their imagination.

3. Follow with your finger

If your child is just learning to read or is an inexperienced reader, it helps when you follow with your finger as you tell the story. This will show them that, in the English language, we read from left to right. It will also help your child discover that every word you are reading is there, on the book, and they will start visually recognizing whole words. This is like watching a movie with subtitles. You don’t need to read the subtitles if you understand the language, but you tend to want to read them anyway.

4. After reading to your child, read with your child

When your child is beginning to read alone, still be sure to make this a great bonding experience, by spending time with them while they read. Many parents put a lot of effort in teaching their children to read, and reading to them every night until they learn to do it alone, but then stop once the child can read. Remember, even though the child can now read, they will miss that time with you and will not feel the same encouragement. Your job is now to show them how great it is to read. Read them stories still, from time to time, and other times just sit by them and read your own book while they reads theirs. This will not only show that you like reading, it will give the two of you time to bond and allow them to share their reading experience with you.

5. Go out with your child to buy a special book

Make it a time you spend together, just the two of you. Take your child to the bookstore and tell them you would like to buy them a book, one that they will choose. Bookstores are a wonderful place to spend a little time just browsing. Your child will later associate the happy experience when they read their book at home. If you like, instead of visiting a bookstore, you can spend time together at the library, and borrow a book instead.

6. Refer back to the stories you read together

Casually in your conversations, refer back to the stories you read together. Make comments like, “It’s like the rabbit we read about, who couldn’t get out of his home. Remember?” This will help make the reading experience more valuable, and teach them to enrich their personal life with the things they learned about, or experienced through the book.

7. Write a special message

When giving your child a book as a gift, write a special message on the inside, sharing with them how much you look forward to sharing this book with them, or how proud you are that they’re reading so much. This will strengthen the bond between the two of you, and make the habit of reading even more enjoyable.

8. Read in front of your child

Children learn by example. If you enjoy reading, they will learn to enjoy reading just by watching you. Take the time to cozy up at home with a book you really enjoy. Children will see reading as a part of home life, and often will start to do the same.

9. Share with them what you learned from reading

During dinner time, or at any time throughout the day, share the things you read about in your books. Offer insights such as, “This book really made be think about the importance of appreciating what you have,” or “I loved reading the part where the woman was faced with a life-changing decision, it reminded me of a time when I was young.” When sharing preface your comment by saying, “I read today,” so your children see other positive examples of how reading enriches your life. Likewise, tell your family about what you read in the newspaper, or what you learned from a magazine or blog.

10. Read your children’s books

Imagine a day when your 10-year-old child finishes reading a 400-page novel, passes it to you and says, “you should read this Mom, I’m sure you’ll love it. It has a really emotional part in it.” This can happen. When you spend years reading together and talking about books with your child, you will develop a bond and common interest. Your children will begin to know what books appeal to you and vice versa. Reading creates confidence in children and sets the foundation for them to read more complex stories as they mature.

Literacy is one of the most important skills you can teach your child. Take the time to foster this skill at home in a way that is fun and appealing. Following these ten steps will help your child take pleasure in books, rather than viewing reading as a chore.

Happy reading!

|Source: Huffington Post|

Should You Opt for Learning or Play in the Early Years?

Many parents struggle with whether or not to enroll their children in activities and courses before kindergarten, or to simply let kids be kids. On one hand, pushing your child to succeed academically before kindergarten can seem unnecessary, and even unhealthy at times. However when you see other parents focused on preparing their children for kindergarten, you can’t help but wonder if your child will be left behind.

Fear of falling behind is NOT a good reason to send your child to school early. With that said, leaving your child at home to allow him or her plenty of time to play, is not necessarily the best option either.

The reason why parents and teachers feel forced to choose between learning and play is because they are not aware that doing one doesn’t necessarily mean ignoring the other. Many parents and early learning centres have focused solely on free play or strict school-like lessons. The reality is, you can choose a hybrid of both. By this I don’t mean a few strict lessons intertwined with free play. I mean creating an environment (whether it be at home or school) in which children can play, discover, make friends, laugh and express themselves, while receiving the stimulation they need to develop their brains to the fullest potential. Children rarely reach their fullest potential playing alone. By creating a play environment rich in language and allowing your child interactions with teachers and other children, you are nurturing your child’s natural curiosity and stimulating their brain development at a critical age.

Research shows that a child’s brain is in its most formative years before the age of six. This is a prime time for a child to learn as the impact is thought to be greater than all the years of elementary education combined. For this reason, I always recommend that parents expose their children to as much learning as possible before the age of six.

I caution you, however, to choose a program that is respectful of your child’s interests and needs. If keeping your child at home is your best option, remember that children benefit tremendously from socializing with other children. So do your best to provide social experiences for your children in an environment where they can also begin to develop a variety of skills from reasoning to experimenting to reading, art and everything in between.

As long as your child receives the stimulation and socialization needed, the way you achieve this is not as important.

The other thing I would like to caution you of, is over-booking your child with activities. Parents who enroll their children in various activities each and every day may actually be depriving them of one essential component: the freedom to think independently. Always following instructions from teachers limits a child’s critical thinking skills. Allow your child to spend longer amounts of time with friends as opposed to always enrolling them in highly structured music or dance classes. Let them play what they want to play. Too many activities and social settings for your child can cause unnecessary stress.

Children also need plenty of idle time. One of the biggest misconceptions in our society is that children must be busy all the time. Children need to take their time, spend time alone, and become involved in nothing in particular. This is how they develop their imaginations and actually learn from their environment.

An ideal early learning program should respect a child’s interest and desire to participate (or not) in a variety of activities. Thankfully for Canadian parents, there are wonderful programs available for young children, which vary from only a few days a week to full-time.

To enhance your child’s daily learning at home, try taking your time before, during and after your scheduled activities. Next time you walk to the park, notice how many things your child stops to explore, from a tiny bug to a colorful sign. Adults are more goal-oriented and want to get from point A to point B as fast as possible. Remember, for a child, everything is new. They may never have seen an insect climbing a leaf in a garden. They are learning so much about the way it moves, eats, and lives.

Learning about the world around them, classifying and interpreting that knowledge is how young children learn. You may think the park is fun for them, but absorbing their surroundings on the way there is just as interesting for them. All you have to do to provide these learning experiences is leave home with plenty of time and patience so your child is not rushed and can explore at ease. Similarly, when you go to the supermarket, take time to chat with them about the fruits and vegetables. Explore the different shapes, colours, and textures.

I wish you the very best in this wonderful journey. And I especially hope you take the time to enjoy it together, and talk about your wonderful experiences as a family!

|Source: Huffington Post|

The Skill of Caring – 6 Easy Ways to Teach Your Child Empathy

A four-year-old girl walks into a classroom for the first time. She does not speak English, and she knows no one, except her father who is lovingly dropping her off. The children are playing and only one boy notices her by the door from the other side of the room.

He gets up, walks towards her and reaches for her hand. He doesn’t say a word, but when he looks at her, she knows he understands exactly how she feels, and she feels safe.

Children who are empathetic are better able to deal with their emotions and those of others during conflict or even in everyday situations. This also allows them to “read” social cues, such as when a person wants to play and when they prefer to be left alone, or when it’s ok to give someone a hug. This will help your child make friends easier, have deeper and more meaningful relationships, and even have better grades at school.

Every child has the innate ability to understand another person’s circumstances, thoughts and feelings, which is described as empathy.

As parents, all we need to do is cultivate it. Here are six tips to teach your child empathy:

1. Help your child recognize different feelings.

Help your baby recognize different basic emotions and begin identifying them with words. Start with basic feelings, like “angry”, “happy” or “sad” and evolve to more subtle ones like “proud” or “disappointed”. This is the first lesson in teaching empathy and emotional intelligence. You can draw how you feel, talk about it, express it with movement, but don’t forget the most important prop: a mirror. Show your child their facial expression for each emotion, and explore it together.

As they grow older, use more complex vocabulary to help them understand how they feel: “It surprised you to see dad arrive so early today.” To enhance this learning, make sure you share with your child how you are feeling as well, by using feeling words yourself.

2. Be aware of others’ feelings.

As you go through the day, demonstrate empathetic behaviour by observing other people’s state of mind. Invite your child to participate in this observation by including it as part of your daily conversations. For instance, “That baby is laughing, she must feel so happy!” or “Look at the puppy in the car, it must be feeling lonely”. This will help your child recognize feelings in others.

3. Walk your talk.

The best way to teach your child empathy is to be empathetic as parents. Respond to your newborn’s needs with empathy and kindness, don’t keep him crying or waiting and you will teach him that you care. As they grow older, listen to them and let them know they are loved and understood.

They will learn that even being there for someone provides comfort. If your child sees you holding the door for strangers, or giving up your seat for someone who needs it more, it will teach your child not only to understand how others are feeling, but to know that they have the ability to make people feel better.

4. Help your child understand others.

Your child covers his ears when he hears another child cry very loudly. His first reaction is to feel bothered by the child. You take the time to look, then quietly comment to your child “That boy seems very upset, I see he is also holding his leg, he must have fallen and hurt himself. How can we help?”

As your child gains more practice, choose situations that are progressively more subtle or complex: “I noticed that Sam had his head down and was walking slowly after school today, I wonder if he had a chance to play with anyone at recess? Do you know if he might be feeling left out?”. Try also to help your child understand why a person may be affected by something that does not seem so obvious to them “Your sister is not upset with you, she is upset because she did not do very well on her test. She just needs a little time alone until it passes and she can think about it without getting emotional.”

5. Show your child how to make others feel good.

It is incredibly rewarding to make someone else happy. Give your child ample opportunity to care for you (they can make you a tea, for instance, or save you a piece of their chocolate bar), for siblings (“What do you think we could prepare for dinner that would make your brother feel special?”), for others (“it was really nice of you to hold the door for that man at the supermarket, especially because he looked so tired”. Once your children receive an allowance, teach them to set aside the amount they choose to help someone else. They can choose to help someone in need, or raise funds for something they believe in, like saving endangered species.

6. Praise empathy in your child.

When you see your little one demonstrating empathy, concern, or care for others, be quick to compliment her on her actions. “It was very nice of you to share your bucket at the park. How did you know this child wanted to play with it?” or “You made grandma very happy by giving her such a big hug. She misses you so much when she doesn’t see you!” Children who are empathetic feel much happier and more fulfilled. They also have a much higher level of understanding and acceptance for other cultures, and embrace different people and experiences regardless of how different they are from their own. They have more respect for animals, insects, and the environment, and have the qualities needed to be a true leader, an example for others. The next lesson will be to ensure that they treat themselves with the same kindness and respect as they treat others. The same way you taught your child to discover his feelings first before being able to understand how others feel, teach him that unless he feels happy and his needs are met, he won’t have much to give. A lesson as parents we also should learn!


| SOURCE: West Coast Families |

5 Steps to Keeping the Romance Alive After Baby is Born

For couples with a new baby, learning to parent, share their home and even their bedroom make up the bulk of their time during first few months of parenthood. There are more books to read, laundry and chores to do, and there is much less time. Baby needs constant attention. Nights are busy with multiple feedings and mornings start early, very early.

So how do couples adjust to these new demands and still find time to nurture their own bond – sans baby?

Below are five simple steps you and your spouse can take to keep the romance alive, after you have a child

1. Make a date and stick to it

Chances are your schedules were busy before baby was born. Now you’re taking turns working, napping, cleaning, feeding and caring for your little one. This means time spent as a couple is sacrificed. By setting a date to spend some quality time with your partner, you’re instilling a habit, which will have great benefits for both you, your partner and your child. This may start as a simple coffee date down the street on Saturdays in between feedings when your babysitter or relative can stop by. Eventually, when you’re able to leave your child for a couple hours, your date can evolve into dinner or a movie. If you can’t leave your children, plan for a special dinner once a week after they go to bed. Set a beautiful table and take turns cooking for each other or together. The idea is to make alone time with your partner a regular occurrence, one that is prioritized and doesn’t get bumped aside.

2. Take a romantic stroll during your child’s nap

Turn your child’s naptime into a romantic walk for you and your partner. The fresh air is good for your child while he is sleeping in the stroller, and you and your partner can enjoy a scenic stroll while having an opportunity to talk. Children sleep much better outdoors, and this can buy you up to two hours with your partner. Make sure the setting is natural so your child is not disturbed by high traffic noises or the lights and sounds of a busy mall.

3. Show your affection, “just because”

Remember when you used to call each other just to say, “hi?” That doesn’t need to stop. Nor do the love notes or text messages or showing your love, just because. Experiment with doing something loving for your partner once a week. This could be leaving a love note on the bathroom mirror or hiding a favorite treat in your spouse’s coat pocket. These acts of love and kindness don’t take a lot of effort or time, but they do show your partner you love him and you care.

4. Give your partner the day off

Okay so a whole day may be out of the question, but surely you can give your partner an afternoon to spend time with his friends or even just to have a nap, while you take care of baby. If your partner is home and you can tell he’s run down, offer to run him a warm bubble bath and surprise him with champagne and strawberries or a new book. These acts of service show your partner that you consider his time and needs important. More likely than not, he will return the favor.

5. Take five minutes to connect each day

It’s easy to lose track of what’s going on in your partner’s world outside of the home, when your child is born. Conversations and attention tend to revolve around your children and not your spouse. Take at least five minutes each day to ask your spouse about his day and have him ask about yours. Make a habit of doing this at a time when you can give each other your undivided attention. Really listen without judgment when your partner is talking and try to put yourself in his shoes. You’ll be surprised at how a little empathy can go along way in keeping you both connected.

Time is precious when you become a parent. Your personal life suddenly seems non-existence and often you’re too tired to think of planning anything beyond your child’s next play date. However, making a habit of connecting with your partner on a regular basis can actually lesson the load and make the journey of being a parent much more enjoyable. Not only that, but your children are exposed to parents who are affectionate with each other, happy to be together and very much in love from a young age. This ensures that they have a good foundation and a model to build their own relationships in the future.

| SOURCE: Working Mother |

CEFA's Articles

The lasting benefits of early learning

This September, toddlers across the North Shore will be forced to put down colouring books and plush incarnations of beloved TV characters and take those first uncertain steps toward preschool.

Some will cling to a parents’ leg while others clamber to toys and future best friends, but for each child, the process will likely be a crucial stage for their emotional and social development.

“When children are encouraged to explore, learn, discover and play during the early years, they are forming connections between their brain cells, and strengthening the brain,” said Natacha Beim, founder of The Core Education and Fine Arts junior kindergarten program. “Children need to move and be active. The environment should respect that need. . . . They need to dance, twirl, run, and even roar! That is all normal.”

Beim made a decision to specialize in early learning after working as an elementary school teacher.

“I decided that teaching could really use a different approach, much more fun and child-centered, while still challenging,” she said.

Among the benefits of early learning programs: they help prevent learning difficulties once children reach school age, said Beim, who expounded on the issue in an email to the North Shore News. Children evidencing difficulties with fine motor skills, a lack of comprehension, or troubles with numbers or letters have a better likelihood of getting meaningful help if their problems are detected early.

“The great news is that many of these issues can be treated with therapy,” Beim said. “In my opinion, as long as it is not stressful for the child, and as long as no medication is involved and no labels are given, it is always better to consult with a specialist sooner rather then later.” Beim cautions that learning disabilities cannot be properly diagnosed until the child is in Grade 3.

The CEFA program advocates easing a child into school.

“We have a gradual entry process where the parent attends with the child for the first while, and gradually shortens the time they spend in the classroom, until the child is comfortable to attend on their own,” Beim explains.

The nature of early learning is constantly evolving, according to Beim.

“A teacher who has not changed her curriculum in 30 years is equivalent to a doctor who has not learned anything new in that same time,” she said.

In North Vancouver, Grand Boulevard Parent Participation Preschool puts a similar emphasis on learning and socializing through play. The program for three and four-year-old children encourages parental involvement to help youngsters feel physically safe and psychologically secure.

Putting an emphasis on play fosters both physical and cognitive development, according to the tenets of the Early Learning Foundation.

The ELF is the product of early childhood educators and the North Vancouver School District, and is utilized by nine preschools in North Vancouver. Periods of physical play are alternated with quiet activities. The environment is intended to allow preschoolers to develop theories and to test them.

“Children need to have opportunities to make sense of their experiences and at the same time have opportunities to extend and expand their learning,” according to the Grand Boulevard preschool website.

Grand Boulevard stresses the importance of school readiness.

“Readiness is determined by a child’s physical, social, emotional, language and cognitive development. It encompasses the development of self-control, respect for others, a sense of confidence and competence, which is vital for success in kindergarten,” according to Grand Boulevard PPP.

| SOURCE: North Shore News |

Salvation Army: Giving is better

Kids and their parents are helping the less fortunate with a lot of clothing donations

Salvation Army: Giving is better

Some pre-school aged children at Core Education and Fine Arts have learned that lesson early, having donated more than 50 boxes of clothing to the Salvation Army. Councillor Michelle Sparrow joined staff and students last week.

Before Christmas, students were asked to bring in used clothes for donation.

The staff set aside four boxes loaned by the firm It’s Your Move, but principal Nichole Moore said she was “amazed” at how much arrived, and how quickly they ran out of space to store it.

It’s Your Move got several phone calls from the school as the donations piled up.

“We’ve had to phone them three times and ask them for more,” said Rebecca Medeiros, the vice principal.

The school has now filled more than 50 boxes with clothing, shoes, blankets, books, and some adult clothing for good measure.

“It’s a short period of time,” Moore said, noting that everything has arrived since early December.

Everything will be hauled over to the Salvation Army in the near future.

| SOURCE: Langley Advance |

Pre-kindergarten students help food bank

Pre-kindergarten students help food bank

South Surrey junior kindergarten students received a lesson in compassion last month.

The children at Core Education and Fine Arts (CEFA) in South Surrey and Abbotsford collected more than 42 formula tins, 83 jars of baby food, 23 boxes of cereal, tons of peanut butter and crackers, pasta, rice, macaroni and cheese and 1,000 diapers for the Surrey Food Bank.

Accompanying their donations was a personalized message from each child, extending well-wishes to the families receiving the donated items.

| SOURCE: Peace Arch News |

Kids get a lesson in kindness

Local kids attending Core Education & Fine Arts are collecting toys for families in need.

Children ages one to five who attend the junior kindergarten school in New Westminster scoured their toy chests for items to donate to local families.

“When children learn the importance of gratitude, compassion and kindness at an early age, it extends into adulthood,” said CEFA founder Natacha Beim in a press release. “Lessons in compassion and kindness are as important as lessons in math or reading.”

Each child is also writing a personalized message of gratitude. The note, which will accompany their donation, will extend well wishes to the families receiving their items.

The donations will be given to the New Westminster Christmas Bureau, which is operated by the Salvation Army.

| SOURCE: The Record |

Local preschoolers donate to earthquake

A Vancouver preschool class is learning a holiday lesson in kindness and compassion. Children aged one to five from Core Education and Fine Arts Junior kindergarten are sending hat’s, scarves, and gloves from their own closets to victims of this year’s Fukushima earthquake in Japan and to local families in need via Union Gospel Mission.


CEFA Richmond school donates to Richmond Christmas Fund

Richmond’s junior kindergarten school, Core Education and Fine Arts, have brought donations from home to create a food and gift hamper for the Richmond Christmas Fund.

The fund has paired the school with a local family in need.

| SOURCE: Richmond News |

Students on board with new teaching technology

Students at a junior kindergarten school in South Surrey have a new – and very fun – addition to their curriculum with an interactive white board.

According to vice-principal Aron Veen, the school purchased a Smart Board this month to help equip their students with the knowledge and skills to use technology.

The board can be used for digital notes and for teaching a lesson, but for the students at cefa in Rosemary Heights, the best part about the board is getting to play educational games, said teacher Kim Slemko.

“I find a lot of children are more visual. Rather than sitting them down with a worksheet, which they can get bored with, I use this and when they see this they get very excited,” said Slemko. “I find with this they are very excited to learn, they want to come up and learn and they are learning very fast.”

The feedback from parents has been positive as well, said Slemko. Many are happy that the kids will be more comfortable using technology as they move on to elementary school.

“We’ve had great feedback from the parents – the parents are loving it and eventually we are hoping that every classroom in this school will have one,” said Slemko.

Despite it only being at the school for a short time, Veen says she sees the longevity in a piece of technology like the Smart Board.

“We’ve barely scratched the surface so far, there are so many games that will help them learn and build on skills,” she said.

| SOURCE: Peace Arch News |

Children helping children

Artwork created by students at South Surrey’s Core Education & Fine Arts (cefa) will be auctioned off at a gala and fundraiser later this month in support of children with special needs.

The April 30 event is to be held at White Rock Community Centre on Russell Avenue from 7 to 10 p.m., and include hors d’oeuvres, a cash bar, wine tasting and music.

Proceeds are to benefit the Centre for Child Development, which has been providing services to children with special needs and their families in the Lower Mainland for more than 50 years.

According to a prepared statement, CEFA classes have been putting together a fairy-tale collection that will be published and sold to raise money for the centre, as well large canvas art pieces and collections for a silent auction the night of the event.

“Our students have been busy creating great art for the purpose of making our world better,” the release states.

The silent auction is to also include donations from local businesses and parents.

Tickets ($55) will be available to the public April 18.

The early years are key

“Children are the world’s most valuable resource and its best hope for the future.”
John F. Kennedy

An education is more than a report card that evaluates a child’s progress in math, reading, and arts.

It involves, particularly in the early years, nurturing individual curiosities and empowering each child to embrace their unique gifts and contribute to the world around them. This is a key belief of Natacha Beim, the founder of Core Education and Fine Arts.

Beim is a renowned writer, speaker and educational leader. Born in Uruguay and raised in Montréal, Canada, she has travelled extensively and studied educational systems around the world. As a pioneer in the field of modern education, Beim continually pursues studies in the field developmental psychology, focusing on the early years.

“I always wanted to be a teacher, to help others find their passion in life,” said Beim. “Through Core Education and Fine Arts, I know that children have an incredible opportunity to not only explore and learn, but to discover how they can contribute to the world.”

Beim opened the doors to the first CEFA school on the North Shore nearly 15 years ago. Her goal was to provide a curriculum that would meet and in many cases exceed the international standard for junior kindergarten education. She did so with the knowledge that stimulating the mind during the brain’s most formative years — before the age of six — was critical.

Beim designed the methodology as an open learning source, meaning leading educators continually contribute to it, allowing the most creative, up-to-date and advanced philosophies to be incorporated. She also hired teachers who were great thinkers and trained to question “what and why” they teach their students.

They felt empowered to adapt the curriculum to meet the unique needs of each student.

This approach proved effective, enabling Beim to open 10 locations across the Lower Mainland, with plans for 250 locations across Canada and the U.S. in the next two years. Beim also continues to lobby the government for a standardized junior kindergarten program that is accessible to all children across the country.

This year she is working towards publishing both a parenting book and a reading program. She also hopes to make more time for her other passions — writing and designing educational toys.

Above all, Beim aspires to maintain the healthy balance she’s achieved in her life, which allows her lots of time with her husband and two sons. She strives to always find time to appreciate her passions in both life and work.

That’s the ultimate test.

| SOURCE: North Shore News |

The roots of learning

She asks parents to heed that crucial phase for learning and brain development.“If you’re not building this structure, the roots, the branches, by age six, you’re not going to have much to build your connections with during elementary school. You’re going to have a smaller, weaker tree.”

Beim has been an educator for 18 years, and her Core Education & Fine Arts (cefa) schools offer classes for children as young as one and up to five years old.

But don’t call it a nursery school – or a daycare – she says.

Beim’s schools offer junior kindergarten programs, standardized early education for kids who aren’t yet school-aged. She opened her first school at Park Royal in 1998. Last month she opened her eighth location, adding to her empire that spans the North Shore to White Rock, a total of 1,100 spots for little learners around the Lower Mainland.

“In the beginning when we opened up, people said, ‘How can that (formal, full-day education in the preschool years) be right? It can’t be good. Otherwise everyone would be doing it.’”

Other countries have offered those programs, she says, for years, pointing to schools in Europe that focus on values and experiences before test scores. But Beim says many Canadian parents still wonder if kids should start formal education before kindergarten.

“People think, ‘Well, we don’t want to see them (children) sitting in desks at age three.’ That’s not what we do (at cefa). The issue is not if they should learn at age three. The issue is how they should learn.”

Beim says her schools aim to foster curiosity, so kids decide what they want to explore in an environment that follows a curriculum but isn’t structured like elementary schools. Kids play, ask questions, develop motor skills and most importantly grow what she calls “a really great confidence in themselves . . . the image of yourself from day one is so important. What you believe you can do is what you can do.”

As an example, she uses her Haiti relief project, also a math unit for kids in each of her cefa locations.

Children brought clothes to donate to Haitian orphans after the major earthquake that decimated the country in January. They helped wash, sort and fold the clothes to understand quantity and comparisons, key curriculum milestones for early elementary kids at Beim’s schools.

“With math, it’s really important there’s always something they can touch,” she says.

“This is the time they’re learning to make sense of the world… Who cares if they can count to 100? The important thing is if they know the difference between three or 37.”

The students wrote notes to the Haitian children and wrapped the clothing like presents. “We could have put a bin out in the front of the school and just drove it there (to the donation depot),” says Beim. “That would have meant something to the parents, but nothing to the children.”

Beim said the unit is part of her “I contribute to the world” series of social learning experiences for kids. “They (children) are citizens, too,” she says. “If you share the classroom with them … it’s incredible what they will do.”

Next up, Beim has plans to open new schools in Burnaby and the Tri-Cities, possibly some time this summer. In the meantime, she plans to spend one day a week in the classrooms, tweaking her math and music programs.

“We’re not done yet,” she says. “I love what I do.”

| SOURCE: North Shore Outlook |