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Natacha's Articles

Why Only Certain Children Learn From Their Mistakes

An excited 3-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 new study from Michigan State University found that 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 children 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 instead so it won’t fall when I move my arms.”

If it is 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 she 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 he can prevent it from falling next time, ask how he plans to fix the problem and let him 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: LA Parent |

Rejoice Over Spilt Milk

An excited 3-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 toward 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. There are great advantages, however, to teaching your children to learn from their mistakes.

A new 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.

The first step to turn mistakes into learning opportunities 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.

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. 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: OVParent |

Why Some Boys Don’t Like To Read

Boys are raised to fit many stereotypes in western society. They should prefer blue to pink, cars to Barbies, and football to ballet. But does being a boy mean neglecting to read? A study published this year by Dobbs-Oates & Baroody concluded preschool girls show more interest in literacy activities than boys of the same age.

While it’s healthy for boys to have varied interests, literacy is a core competency that no child should miss out on. The reasons pros for reading are insurmountable. To begin, the more a child is interested in books and reading, the less he is likely to suffer from attention deficit, hyperactivity, withdrawal and aggression. Research has also shown that preschoolers’ early literacy skills are related to later reading skills and achievement in elementary school. Furthermore, reading skills in first grade have been linked to reading achievement in secondary school. It’s suffix to say, if pre-school boys don’t develop a healthy interest in reading it can affect their reading success much later, even in their high-school years.

Why Don’t Boys Like to Read?

Of course, many boys enjoy reading, just as many girls don’t. Gender preferences work more like a scale than they do a straight separation. Having said that, there are a few possible explanations for boys being less interested in reading than girls.

The purpose of the book can have a lot to do with it. Girls tend to read for enjoyment whereas boys tend to read more practical non-fiction, to learn about something in particular. When you consider this and the fact that the majority of preschool teachers are female, it makes sense that preschool teachers often choose narrative books that speak more to a female audience.

The themes of preschool books also tend to be nurturing, which in general is more geared towards a girl audience than boy. Boys often are groomed to prefer action-driven books that include super-heroes, pirates, or villains.

How Can I Help My Son Develop a Love for Reading?

The more you cater the reading experience to yours son’s unique interests, the more success you will likely have. Try going to the library together and encourage him to choose a book that interests 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.

Reading as a family can also enhance your son’s interest in books. Children who see their parents reading for pleasure, often pick up the same habit by relating it to a pleasurable activity.

Another great idea is to donate a few good books to your child’s junior kindergarten or pre-school that cater to the interest of your son. This will allow him to share his favourites stories with his classmates. You can also share your child’s literary interests with his teachers, as they are often unaware of what books are best for young boys.

Getting your young child to be interested in books now will have lifelong benefits. It may take some dedication, but once the love of reading is instilled in your child, the rewards will seem well worth it.


Back to School: What Your Kids Really Worry About

Most parents are aware going back to school can be a stressful time for a child. What parents often fail to consider is that the obvious causes of stress such as new teachers, friends and homework, may not be what is actually weighting on their children. Parents get caught up in their own worries of organizing back to school routines, often making assumptions that what they worry about for their child is the root of their child’s concerns. Taking the time to have an earnest chat with your child about their back to school fears might greatly surprise you, and be of great benefit to them.

Every child is different. The best way to find out what’s on your child’s mind is to ask them gentle, non-judgmental, questions about how they feel about returning to school.

Here are a few conversation starters to open up dialogue:

How do you feel about entering a new class?

Most children attach great importance to their social life. The child who has many friends finds it incredibly important to return to the same circle of friends once school begins, or to at least know that some of them will be there. The child who has fewer friends or has difficulty making new friends also finds it very important to be in the same class as her friends. For her, the thought of having no one to relate to can be quite anxiety provoking. By asking your child openly how they feel about entering a new class, you can gauge if this is a concern and talk through possible solutions.

How are you feeling about starting at a new school?

Changing schools or entering into secondary school can be an emotionally tolling transition. Your child will need someone to talk to and reassure her that she will soon get to know new people and begin making new friendships. Avoid dismissing your child’s worries by saying things like “of course you’ll make new friends.” This undermines not only her feelings, but also the value of her friendships.

Instead, listen to your child as you would a friend, and tell her why you believe she will meet new people. Once school starts, be the first to ask how her day was and what her new peers were like. If she has not moved schools, ask her which friends she ended up with this year, and how she feels about it.

What are you going to miss most about summertime?

Having had the entire summer to frolic in the sun, some children stress about having no time to play once school starts. For many, this is the biggest source of stress, and can bring anxiety attacks, loss of appetite, loss of sleep, stomachaches and other symptoms. To help your child cope, sit down together and plan his days in a large calendar, scheduling enough time for play after school. It will be very helpful for your child to be able to have a visual picture, and to work on those issues with you.

Are you worried about fitting in at school?

Children want to feel accepted for who they are. They also want to bring a unique sense of contribution to their group, which gives them a sense of belonging. Ask your child what it means to belong and feel a part of the group. This will allow you to help where you see him struggling. Children often will insist on wearing special clothes to school, getting a new hairstyle, or bringing a special toy or game. These tactics help them associate with their peers and fit in. You can help your child by asking him how he envisions himself on his first day of school. Help him prepare all the things he needs for that special day. For some, shopping for special clothes with you is an excellent mental preparation. For others, simply talking about it is enough. This is also the perfect time to show your child that no matter what he wears or brings to school, he will be appreciated for who he is and for how he treats others.

Are you worried about feeling rushed in the mornings?

This is a common stressor for children. Just as adults do, children stress at the thought of missing the school bus, or being late for class. Think back to the previous year and try to remember whether or not you allotted sufficient time in the mornings to get ready, have breakfast and leave for school without feeling extremely rushed. If you remember being constantly in a hurry, set your alarm 10 minutes earlier and ensure you take the time to wake up, have a good breakfast and leave on time. A few organization tips that can help are:

Teach your child to prepare everything in his backpack the day before. If dressing takes a long time, have him prepare his clothes for the following day as well.
Wake your child up five minutes before it is time to get up, and give her five more minutes to get out of bed. We all like to sleep in a little, and demanding that a child jump out of bed in the morning is not always the best approach.
Start going to bed earlier the week before school starts, to get accustomed to the school bedtime hours.
For every child, starting school is both exciting and stressful. Your enthusiasm about the start of the school year will make all the difference to them. Aside from talking to them about their worries, tell them how excited you feel about meeting their new teacher, and getting to know their new friends.

In the first few weeks of school, make sure your child has plenty of time to play, rest and adjust. Help your child organize play dates, so he feels less the change of pace and more the excitement of being reunited with friends.


Children and Technology: Three Steps to Ensure Your Kids are Being Safe and Responsible Online, on the Computer, While Using Social Media

As technology becomes more important in everyone’s lives (parents and kids alike), it is important to know how to limit and restrict a child’s technology usage. Follow these three tips for keeping kids safe as they learn to use technology from cell phones to social media in a responsible way.

Whether you like it or not, technology is present in your child’s life in a very significant way.

As the last generation of parents not having grown up in a technological world, we tend to think of computers as we think of TV for our children: less is the better.

Our children, on the other hand, are completely immersed in technology. They are developing a different way of learning than our own. As a result, children are becoming more visual in their learning, and exercising different reasoning skills. Compare, for instance, a rotary telephone to today’s cell phone and voicemail technology. The cell phone technology is more complex, yet today’s four year olds can effortlessly navigate through making a call, likely faster than an adult can.

Very little goes on in our daily lives, which is not connected somehow to technology. We use a computer for work and often for home organization and communication. We use cell phones and all their applications: electronic calendars, organizers, e-readers, e-mail, etc. Allowing your child the use of a home computer will teach him a great deal of skills he will need. He will familiarize himself with the keyboard; shortcuts and other functions; learning to type (there are also children’s games designed for that purpose); learning to search for information; and develop hand-eyecoordination. When your child is older, he will also be able to use the computer to draw and design, create stories or games, make home videos, and record his daily life (and yours!).

Because some of our schools are still adapting to the advances in technology, they don’t realize children now crave a different type of stimulation. They sometimes have a difficult time learning behind a desk, with less interaction and no opportunity for movement. When they get home, they often turn to videogames or computers to provide the type stimulation they need. Videogames, for instance, provide complex visual stimulation, an opportunity for body movement (which is essential for learning as it transfers data from one brain hemisphere to the other), hand-eye coordination, reasoning, creativity, and quick thinking. Thanks to the internet, technology also connects us to the entire world.

Children also find ways to socialize by using technology. They can connect with their friends when there is no time for a visit, post movies they have created on YouTube, and shareanimation work, recipes, funny thoughts, or anything they want to teach others. It is their way to offer their thoughts to the world.

As wonderful as this sounds, technology has its risks and can expose children in undesirable ways. As a parent, here are three steps to safely becoming technology-friendly:

1. Educate yourself as a parent

What technology is your child interested in using? If it is the computer, what will it be used for? If videogames, what types of videogames is your child interested in? If you are unsure of the content and value, offer to play a few rounds with them before you make your decision. Ask your child, and get specific information. Your child will appreciate your interest and be more understanding of your decision if you can justify it.

2. Set your limits and expectations

Remember that you are the parent, and as such, you are responsible for the safety and well-being of your child. You may find that you do not oppose to your child playing videogames, so long as they are not violent. You should set expectations together with your child with respect to the amount of time your child is allowed to play. You may approve the use of a computer at your home, but not approve your child joining facebook. You might agree your child should have a cell phone, but limit its use to emergencies or calling home. Decide who will pay if any expenses have to be incurred, and establish upfront the consequences of not abiding by the rules you set. If using the computer, it is always safer to keep it in the family room instead of your child’s bedroom.

3. Stay connected

Make sure your child is benefiting from the use of technology. Monitor from time to time to ensure that it is used appropriately. Before purchasing a game, check to see if it is age appropriate, and that you are comfortable with the content. If you have young children, chose games that are more educational, such as the leap pad from leap frog. Play it with your children once or twice to understand the content. Technology is constantly changing, and what you decided upon yesterday, may need to change tomorrow. Stay in tune, and even look for opportunities to invite your child to use technology for enriching opportunities, such as making films, designing programs or models, or researching the world around them.

Choosing the right technology is much like choosing your child’s cereal: The most popular ones are the worst, but if you look hard enough and work together, you will find a healthy option that you and your child both agree on.

| SOURCE: NY Metro Parents |

Teaching Your Baby To Share

We all would love to see our baby share everything from food to toys, without prompting or reminding.

But the truth is that expecting our child to share on demand is unfair, and unrealistic even for an adult.

Think about it, most of us have no problem sharing our meal, or our clothes, with people we know, even with people we don’t know. But would you lend your wedding ring to a stranger you just met randomly in a park? How about the key to your home? Yet we expect our children to do just that: share everything, including their most prized possessions with anyone who asks for them.

Instead of “forcing” your child to share indiscriminately, look at the situation from your child’s point of view first, each time.

Another thing to keep in mind is that in order to share, your baby first has to form the concept of ownership, which doesn’t happen until sometime after their first birthday. At first, they can’t recognize the difference between what belongs to them, and what belongs to others. Once that is learned, they still have to understand the difference between sharing and giving. This will make sharing much easier, because your child will realize that when they share a toy with someone, it doesn’t mean that they will never see it again.

Still, there are many things that you can do with your baby to help them learn to share.

Sharing tricks and tips for beginners:
Model by example: share everything you can with your baby, saying the words as you do it “I like to share [my necklace] with you”. This helps them begin to understand what sharing means.
Start by asking your baby to share her food: young children love to feed their parents, and they will willingly take part in this activity!
When sharing your things, ask for them back, this will help your baby understand that when they share, they also get their things back. Simply say “I shared it with you, now I would like it back”.
Keep it simple – only use the word “share”, not borrow, lend, return, or any of the other many words associated with the act of sharing and returning. This way, you reinforce the concept clearly, which helps your child learn quickly and easily.
Begin with short sharing episodes: ask your baby to share their toy, play with it, then give it back within less than one minute. You can slowly, over the next few weeks, extend that time, but still keep it under 5 minutes, so your baby realizes that when you say “share” it always means that you will return it.
Reinforce your baby’s efforts positively, simply say “thank you for sharing with me, it makes me happy!” Don’t say “nice boy” or “nice girl”, which implies that they are not nice if they are unwilling to share at a particular time. Children should share not because they are afraid of being a bad person, but because they find pleasure in making you happy, and in sharing. Remember to teach the value, not just obtain a desired result.
Once your toddler is comfortable with the concept of sharing, you can practice sharing in social settings, with other children, like in the park.

Tricks and tips for sharing with others:
Bring plenty of toys so your child can share and not have to wait for a turn to play.
Leave all of your child’s favorite possessions at home, to avoid forcing your child to share them.
Play alongside your child, to demonstrate how it’s done and to reinforce and encourage them: “thank you for sharing your pail with me”; “your new friend is very happy that you’re sharing with him! He likes to play with you!” – this also helps your child understand that sharing is a good way to make friends.
Know when to leave: if your child feels overwhelmed, calmly and discretely leave the playgroup, without reprimanding your child. Talk about the experience: “it’s hard sometimes to share our toys with people we don’t know, isn’t it?”
Respecting their needs: if they are playing with a toy and another child wants it, don’t force your child to share. Instead, support your child and model the correct behavior: “Sam is playing with his toy right now, but he can share it with you later” or “he brought other toys that you can play with”. Your child will then have the skills to share, while respecting his own needs.

|Source: Huffington Post|

Does Early Education Mean a Brighter Future?

Early Education: Does it Really Make Kids Smarter?

Most parents who send their children to preschool are very happy with their decision. Some say it is a great way for children to meet friends, some find it an essential step for them to learn to socialize, and some even notice that their children learn a great deal. But few of these parents believe deep down that thanks to those preschool years, their children will be, well, smarter.

How can that be? After all, the academic knowledge given to the child during those years is not so unique compared to elementary school. Does it really matter if a child can read at age three or at age six? Is it really that important to know all the numbers before kindergarten? Why not just let them play and enjoy life?

The Right Amount of Stimulation

The secret ingredient in education is not in the academic component itself. Children who attend early education programs are better equipped to learn because they have received the right type and the right amount of stimulation at the right time. This, in turn, implies they are exposed to a great academic program!

What most of us don’t realize as adults is that for children, learning is enjoyable. Take newborn babies, for instance. When they are not sleeping, they are constantly learning. They learn to recognize our voices, their environment, the patterns of their mobiles and the many things we are excited to bring closer to them. One and two year olds are discovering language, and figuring out their role in the household. They even have their own scientific agenda, which they carry out quite well by experimenting on everything they can find (electrical outlets included). They are constantly asking us questions! The world is a fascinating place for a young child. Once they gain a greater understanding of their environment, they need a higher level of reasoning and intellectual stimulation.

Birth to Age Six

From birth until about age six, a child’s brain is forming all the pathways it will use during adult life. This process slows down considerably after that age. Those pathways can only be formed through adequate stimulation, which explains why young children are constantly looking to learn. This means that what the child learns early on in life will determine how much he or she can learn as an adult. You can compare this process to the child’s physical growth. A one year old is so much more developed than a one day old, but it is harder to see the difference between a seven year old and an eight year old.

As parents, we pay special importance to what our children eat, because we know that it will impact them for life. If they do not grow at that age, they will certainly not start growing in their thirties (at least most of us have given up hope by then). Similarly, what you “feed” your child’s brain during the first years of life determines how easily you child will be able to learn, for life. Since school officially starts at age five, early education is not only a good idea: it is essential for the proper intellectual development of your child.

Education can be Enjoyable

A good preschool program is very enjoyable for children. It enables them to keep pursuing their interests at a much more stimulating level. Of course, not any program will do. A good school will stimulate your child at just the right level, and in many different ways. Simply providing a nice atmosphere to socialize and a craft project for the day is great fun, but it is not the level of stimulation that your child needs in order to develop adequately. Instead, look for a program that offers activities that take into consideration each child’s interests and level of understanding. It should also be varied in nature – music and arts are just as important at that age as reading or science.

Early education does not mean that your two year old will be sitting at a desk, pen and paper in hand. Good programs are very creative in their approach to learning, and “disguise” the projects and concepts taught as games and fun activities where your child is always an active participant. Look for a program that can present a challenge as well as a fun, magical environment.

Early education is an essential step in your child’s life, and one to welcome. You may never be able to measure how much it impacted your child, but you can trust that it did, and as much or more than those meals you prepare with such love and care! And, if nothing else, at least you can say that it is a great way for children to meet friends!

Does your child attend preschool or another early education program? What benefits does he or she receive from it? And what do you look for in a preschool?


Life Lessons: Natacha Beim

Founder and CEO of Core Education & Fine Arts Early Learning and Junior Kindergarten Schools. Tackle business goals as a team.

Natacha Beim knows all about goal setting. At two years old, she’d already decided to become a teacher. By the time she started school, she was taking meticulous notes and saving all her notebooks, assuming that one day she’d want them as a teaching resource.

As a young adult, she established rigorous goal-setting routines that she continues today.

“Every year I go on a retreat by myself for two or three days, and I put down what kind of a person do I want to be, what kind of a mother, what kind of a leader, what kind of a business owner, what kind of everything,” she explained.

But Beim, who opened her first school when she was 22, said she’s only recently learned to apply her goal-setting approach to her group of companies, which includes several schools and Canadian and U.S. franchising companies.

“For almost 15 years I’ve been resisting the idea of treating my schools like a business,” she said. “You think, ‘It’s not a business, it’s a school,’ and as long as you can pay the bills, things are good.”

This year, however, Beim decided to involve her employees in setting company goals – and holding each other accountable for delivering on them. Beim said the process involved setting two-week targets and publicly posting everyone’s contributions over those intervals.

“I can’t even explain how much that changed things.”

Beim said that the exercise has dramatically raised performance and accountability. Underperformers have been quickly exposed and, uncomfortable with peer scrutiny, have opted to leave the company. Beim added that the move has also improved cash flow. Previously, she said, she treated her companies’ finances as a whole, with more profitable businesses subsidizing less-profitable companies. Through the goal-setting process, she said, each company was required to stand on its own – and now does.

Beim said her new goal-setting scheme is continuing to propel her companies forward.

|Source: Business In Vancouver|

Making Sense of Your Child’s Learning Style

If you’re a parent, chances are you’ve encountered a child who attempts to talk at an impressively young age. Similarly, some children seem to have an uncanny eye for reading and identifying facial expressions. How children choose to explore the world, is indicative of what their preferred learning style is.

A great body of research has been dedicated to understanding different learning styles. Although most children learn by doing, in general children tend to gravitate more towards one of three learning styles: visual, auditory or kinesthetic. Understanding your child’s preferred learning style will give you insight into how you can best nurture their educational and social curiosities.

A great way to determine your child’s preferred learning style is to observe them while they are playing with others.

Children who have an auditory learning style often begin talking at an early age, have a wide vocabulary, and are quite talkative. During the early years, they delight in hearing songs and singing. They have a wonderful imagination and love dramatic play, both at home and at school. They make friends with children who share similar interests, and prefer to play with one friend at a time. Their interactions are rich in content, and they often make deep friendships, taking time to share stories about themselves and listening to others. They are not necessarily as active as kinesthetic learners.

Auditory babies love to be taked to, and often babble constantly. When reading books, they follow the story more so than the illustrations, and they have great comprehension skills. They love music, although it can bother them when it is constant or too loud.

To get an auditory child’s attention, it is really effective to ask them to “put on their listening ears.” They will enjoy pretending to put on their imaginary ears and carefully listen to what you tell them.

Kinesthetic children love to touch and be touched. They like playing in groups, and tend to hug and express feelings physically. If your child has a more kinesthetic learning style, they will enjoy active and social settings like school and play groups, and will also prefer activities where they gets to use their body, like dance or sports.

For kinesthetic babies, it is important to let them touch and mouth objects. This is how babies learn in general, but it is especially important for kinesthetic babies. They will also like to be held more, and require extra hugs and rough and tumble play. They like soft and comfortable clothing, and may be particularly bothered by tags on clothing, or anything itchy or tight.

To get your kinesthetic child’s attention, bring yourself to your child’s eye level and either affectionately touch their arm or lightly hold their hand while speaking. That physical contact will grab and retain their attention.

Children with visual learning styles tend to be quite meticulous about their belongings. They spend hours arranging their toys, or choosing their clothes. They do not like it when others “mess up” their toys, or use them in different ways. Visual children can easily entertain themselves. They sometimes can seem bothered by friends, but it is because they are a little more peculiar about how things should look. They are often very strong readers, excellent with visual arts, and quite detail-oriented.

Visual babies like toys that are visually stimulating, like mirrors, patterns, and colours. As infants, they will enjoy looking at you and exploring your features, as well as their own.

Visual children love books, especially ones with beautiful or complex illustrations. They will often diverge from the story to talk about the image, which is something parents should encourage.

For visual learners, it is best when parents talk to them at their eye level, and look at them as they speak.

Although learning styles are good to keep in mind when choosing toys and activities for your child, it is important to provide sensorial stimulation of every type to your little one. This ensures essential connections in the brain are made and reinforced in more than one way. Only focusing on one type of learning would be equal to teaching a child one subject just because they are good at it, and ignore everything else. Children form their strongest connections when an experience calls to all of their senses.

|Source: Huffington Post|

CEFA's Articles

Junior Kindergarten celebrates grand opening

More than 100 people attended the ribbon cutting ceremony for Core Education & Fine Arts’ new South Surrey facility earlier this month.

Mayor Dianne Watts was on hand for the March 13th celebration, which included a parachute show, face paining and balloon making.

The junior kindergarten program, located at 15300 Croydon Dr., aims to introduce academics to children through fun and games at the age of two. Cefa is now accepting applications for limited space at the Peninsula location. Parents who are interested can learn more by visiting

| SOURCE: Peace Arch News |

Lessons in caring

Kids attending a local junior kindergarten program received a lesson in compassion this Christmas. Core Education & Fine Arts (cefa) collected children’s clothing at its eight Lower Mainland schools, including New Westminster.

The items will be donated to a family resource centre in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver that provides support to more than 300 single mothers, parents and children daily. “When children learn the importance of gratitude, compassion and kindness at an early age it extends into adulthood,” said Natacha Beim, founder of Core Education & Fine Arts, the junior kindergarten program behind the clothing drive. “Lessons in compassion and kindness are as important as math or reading.”

Kids have been asked to scour their closets and donate their favourite old clothing to a child in need. Each child participating in the clothing drive has been asked to write a personalized message on each piece of clothing, extending well wishes to the child who is receiving it.

Core Education & Fine Arts launched its New Westminster program on Carnarvon Street almost a year ago.

| SOURCE: The Record |

Local kids getting an early lesson

Children and youth in Burnaby have been a busy lot of late.

At Core Education & Fine Arts (cefa), a Burnaby child care centre, children ranging in age from two to five years old have been bringing in food and favourite pieces of old clothing to be donated to Crabtree Corner, a family resource centre in the Downtown Eastside.

Teachers have been talking about the project with their charges, and parents have been encouraged to discuss it with their kids at home.

“We teach children empathy,” said cefa Burnaby’s vice principal Carla Anderson, giving as an example kids offering sympathy when friends fall down or hurt themselves. “We’re teaching that at a very young age. Now we want to extend that out to the community.”

With most of cefa’s children coming from higher-income families, it’s an opportunity to teach them that there are people who are less fortunate that need help.

Teacher Christine Ciresi said the children took to the project right away.

“Once I told them what it was for, they went home and told their parents.”

As the collection of donations has grown, so has their pride at what they’ve accomplished.

| SOURCE: Burnaby News Leader |

Peninsula toddlers to get a head start

Yoga, science, drama and physical education are all part of the curriculum at Core Education & Fine Arts, which will be coming to South Surrey later this year.

Unlike regular schools, however, cefa studends are toddlers. Based around the premise that the brain’s most formative years happen before the age of six, the junior kindergarten program aims to introduce academics to children through fun and games at the age of two. Tots continue the program for three years, before starting kindergarten as usual at five years old.

There are seven cefa schools around the Lower Mainland, with the newest one set to open in November at 15300 Croydon Dr. It will have eight classrooms, 26 teachers and up to 250 young scholars.

CEO and founder Natacha Beim said the school gives Peninsula families an opportunity to introduce their children to a system already implemented in other parts of the world.

“Most other countries have junior kindergarten. They all have different ways of teaching it,” she said. “White Rock is a community that’s very focused on education. I think cefa is very much what they’re looking for.”

Beim, who was born in Montreal and taught junior kindergarten in France, recognized a gap in the Canadian education system for children under five upon returning to the country.

“It’s funny how here we don’t start school until the brain is developed,” she said. “Children are so curious and I find often we leave them to do nothing with that time.”

So, Beim designed her own junior kindergarten program.

“It was a hard decision because it would’ve been much easier to teach (elementary school),” she said, noting she then considered the future. “I thought, wow, when my children are here, what will they do? If it isn’t there and we can provide it, let’s provide it.”

She opened her first school 11 years ago in West Vancouver.

Now, about 150 teachers are employed through the organization.

There are full- and part-time schedules, ranging from two to five days a week, and children are asked to attend for a maximum of eight hours a day during school hours, 7:45 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Beim said cefa is child-centred versus teacher-centred, and lessons are taught through games.

With 12 to 16 students per classroom, toddlers engage in art – working with collages, clay and paint – as well as physical education, where they play various sports.

Reading is introduced with puppetry, and math is used to encourage children to reason and problem-solve.

Classes perform experiments together during science lessons, and learn about other countries in a culture-immersion program.

“You can play with children and you can set up the environment so they’re stimulating the brain,” Beim said. “We try to have them discover things rather than teaching them. Now you have an environment where children are free to explore.

“The child wouldn’t notice we’re trying to teach them long division.”

Beim said cefa is comparable in price to local daycare, and each location has an onsite chef who prepares breakfast, lunch and a snack.

Beim created a one-year training program for cefa teachers, which they take on top of their early-childhood education degree.

“Without that training, they wouldn’t be able to function in that kind of environment,” she said, noting 50 people went through the training last year.

Her next project is to offer the South Surrey community free parenting seminars out of the new school.

In the meantime, Beim is taking on a much larger initiative.

After years of advocating for junior kindergarten to be included in the school system, Beim is now working more closely with the provincial government to make that possible. Earlier this year, voluntary all-day kindergarten for five-year-olds by this September was delayed due to current economic circumstances, the need to develop appropriate space and the time to recruit qualified educators.

However, a commitment to “meet that need as soon as possible” was included in last February’s Throne Speech.

| SOURCE: Peace Arch News |

Junior kindergarten prepares for lunch

Richmond’s first private junior kindergarten is set to open its doors at the end of summer.

Due to an increasing demand from parents, Core Education & Fine Arts (cefa) will kick off the new school year in a new 150-student capacity premises on No. 4 Road on Steveston Highway.

Cefa, which has eight similar privately-run and funded junior kindergartens across the province, said it had been receiving requests for a number of years now from Richmond parents for a facility in their city.

Critics argue that a junior kindergarten school is glorified pre-school for one to five year olds but cefa lays claim to the ‘junior kindergarten’ tag as, according to the organization, it conforms to international junior kindergarten standards, with an emphasis on education rather than play. Cefa founder Natacha Beim cited many distinctions which separate her organization from pre-school programs.

“We actually have a specific curriculum, much more like the school system. It has an international standard,” said Beim, who was raised in Montreal before training as an elementary teacher in France and then specializing in junior kindergarten.

“In Canada, we don’t have this as part of our system. Our staff are more like teachers, while preschools have early childhood educators. Cefa teachers are trained to challenge a child’s natural interest in areas like math, reading, art, science, yoga, drama and sports.”

“At pre-school there are no expectations of what the children should be reading or learning.”

Beim said she chose Richmond as the next location for a cefa school because she’d receive so many calls over the years from parents who wanted their children to be better prepared to enter the school system. According to Beim, it’s vital for children under the age of six to be stimulated.

And she said she was shocked when returning to Canada from France to realize there was no formal pre-school education.

“When I came back here, I couldn’t believe how lacking the system was here. I was horrified that I couldn’t work with children at this age.” she said. “A child’s brain is developing so fast before the age of six. By the time they get to school age, they’ll have the brain they’re going to have for the rest of their lives.

“I believe we need to provide an environment so the child can be stimulated in all kinds of different ways.” Beim said a one-year-old child is radically different, physically, from a two-year-old.

The difference, she said is even greater in a child’s mind where new connections are being formed everyday. “Pre-school children crave stimulation, but society often thinks they are too young for it,” she added.

“We should be asking them what they want to know instead and help feed that curiosity.”

Beim said in Europe, and many other countries, children are being stimulated to a high school standard before they go to school. “To me, having seen what children at this age can do, it’s really hard to sit back and accept that this country simply doesn’t do anything,” she added.

Beim cites a recent early development instrument study, which shows 29 percent of B.C.’s children are developmentally vulnerable when they enter kindergarten.

To that end, she has been lobbying the provincial government for many years to make junior kindergarten accessible to all.

“The next step is to get the government on board,” she said. “It’s really hard to get anywhere as there are so many people to go through.

“There has been a favorable response, but there’s simply no funding at the moment. Perhaps in 10 years or so, it will take a lot of time to get there, but I’m convinced we will get there”

At cefa’s new Richmond school parents can choose between one and five days a week, for any age group. Many children go full-time, while others go two or three days a week.

Even if your child hasn’t had the benefit of such a pre-school experience, Beim said there are many ways you can prepare them for kindergarten over the summer holidays. “What I recommend, above all, for children of any age, is signing up with your local library for the summer,” she said.

They have a reading passport which challenges children to read as many books as possible over the summer, and write it down in their reading passport.”

Kids explore their creativity

When her two-year-old son started junior kindergarten, Vivian Young notices a big bust in his creativity.

Nicholas went from being cautious and reserved to being more imaginitaive and free with his artwork.

It was one of the most pronounced and immediate benefits Young saw in her young son. Another benefit: Nicolas loved the French lessons at his junior kindergarten school in Burnaby, called Core Education & Fine Arts (cefa). He enjoyed learning the second language so much that when it came time for him to register for public school.

Young, a Coquitlam mother of three, loved the cefa environment and program so much that she decided to open a cefa location, along with business partner Karyn Gert, in New Westminster, adding the number of cefa schools to six. The Carnarvon Street centre, situated beside Douglas College, will offer 80 junior kindergarten spaces for children age one to five.

The space, slated to open next month, will be more than 8,00 square feet on two floors, with two playgrounds. City staff has been very supportive of the application, says Young.

“New Westminster welcomed us with open arms,” she says “They’ve been with us all the way.”

Cefa founder Natacha V. Beim agrees. “I’ve helped open all of the schools and I’ve never seen a response like New Westminster,” she says.

For Young, the career shift from working as a manager at an environmental consulting firm to the operator of a junior kindergarten came as naturally as motherhood. “I’ve always wanted to start my own business…I love being around kids,” she says. “This is a great long-term commitment for me.”

In his throne speech last spring, Premier Gordon Campbell said his government would look into the possibility of offering day-long kindergarten at public schools.

A feasibility study followed almost immediately after his announcement – at a breakneck pace that means he’s likely to make a big announcement before next year’s election.

Beim, who created and franchised her for-profit junior kindergarten, isn’t worried about the government cornering the junior kindergarten market.

In fact, she welcomes it, and she would love to offer further advisement on the concept.

The province has already consulted with Beim about approach, she says.

It seems likely that cefa students to wear uniforms (yes, even the one-year-olds), would still appeal to man parents, even if they had the option of publicly funded junior kindergarten.

Beim developed her technique after she returned to Canada from France, where she worked as a teacher. Many European countries offer junior kindergarten in public schools.

Realizing that there was nothing like that in Canada, Beim took the disciplined learning –approach she taught to toddlers and youngsters overseas and added some Canadiana to her technique.

Beim saw that in Canada, children were treated more respectfully than in Europe. By merging the best of both worlds, she has devised an approach that she says makes learning fun and engaging for little ones.

“Children are designed to explore and understand, and what we are doing is setting up an environment for a child to do that,” says Beim.
Cefa is different than daycare in the same way that Grade 1 classes aren’t the same as after-school care, Beim says.

“(Junior kindergarten) is not about learning faster or adding three more years of school, it’s about stimulating the child at the right level with the appropriate concepts and the right curriculum. “You should always encourage a higher level of learning,” adds Beim, who started her first junior kindergarten in West Vancouver in 1998.

Cefa programs range from two to five days weekly and half days for some junior kindergarten programs.The school teaches math, science, music, writing, reading, drama and visual art.

Most cefa facilities have wait-lists; New Westminster still had a few spaces available at press time.

Cefa’s rates range from $720 to $1,395 a month, depending on the number of days the child attends and his or her age. The rates are higher than the average daycare facility, but Beim says the costs can offset additional fees that parents would pay for evening art, music, dance and/or drama classes. Also the fees include, lunch and snacks.

| SOURCE: Burnaby Now |

Tots hop to it for a great cause

Children from the Walnut Grove Family Daycare Group including (left to right) Megan Shepherd, Morgan Ward, Ava Shepherd (with pacifier) and Jaxon Wood of Munchkin Central Family Daycare hopped for Muscular Dystrophy Canada Tuesday at Telegraph Trail Park.

Proceeds raised through Hop for Muscular Dystrophy will find research, programs and medical equipment for BCers living with a muscular disorder.

Core Education & Fine Arts, a junior kindergarten school for children from 10 months to pre-kindergaretn age, collected pledges for Muscular Dystrophy, and then hopped for the cure.

Each month, the school focuses on an ‘I Contribute’ theme, where each classroom takes a turn organizing an event or awareness that gives back to society.

This month the focus was on Muscular Dystrophy. The school raised more than 42,000 and one child, two-year-old Sophia Catroppa (right) raised $1000 herself.

| SOURCE: Langley Advance |

Junior Kindergarten Opens

Langley’s youngest residents will soon have access to specialized and exclusive education before beginning elementary school. On Saturday, Sept. 30, Linda Reid, Minister of State for Childcare, will be part of ceremonies to officially open a CEFA “junior kindergarten” facility in Walnut Grove.

Cefa (Core Education & Fine Arts) is a privately-run early education system which educates from the premise that all children have a deep and natural curiosity about the world. Open Monday to Friday to preschool age children on a part- or full-time basis, the program features specially-trained teachers, an art room, playgrounds, a private chef and a cinema. Motivated by huge demand among cefa’s Burnaby and West Vancouver junior kindergarten schools — wait lists are as long as two years — the organization is set to open schools in North and downtown Vancouver, as well as Langley.

According to Natacha Beim, cefa founder, Canada and the U.S. are lagging behind most other first-world countries in terms of education for pre-school age children.

“When I came back to Canada,” says Beim, who’s originally from Montreal, “I found a big gap in how children are educated here in comparison with other parts of the world.”

Beim says many countries, such as France, England and most of Asia, have a form of junior kindergarten as part of their education system.

Dr. Fraser Mustard, UBC researcher and an advocate for providing massive support for children from birth to age six, has been quoted as saying: “Any people who get a bad early start will never get their full potential,” and “the ability to cope with school is preset before a child even goes to school.”

Beim, who has studied with Dr. Mustard, agrees and says that while research shows that childcare in Canada is safe and caring, it also demonstrates a lack of opportunity for education. She argues that intentional opportunities to learn should be available to children before they reach Kindergarten.

“Children below the age of six are still forming their brain quite rapidly,” says the Grade 4 and 5 elementary school teacher.  “This slows down as children get older.”

At cefa, each child has a unique learning plan, depending on his or her specific interests. Students are placed in small classes with cefa-trained early childhood educators, according to methods that seek to challenge and stimulate the children in a variety of areas such as reading, writing, math, science, computers, music, arts, French, sports, drama, yoga and dance.

“Children are not sitting behind a desk,” says Beim. “The whole program revolves around specifically planned games. For example we will ask them,:‘Who wants to play hide-and-go-seek?’ and the children need to find hidden things that add up to a given number.”

According to Beim, since its inception 10 years ago, cefa junior kindergarten has proven its value. “A lot of schools find the children very well prepared,” she says. “We don’t recommend it, but we have some cases where children have been put directly into grade 1 and seen successful outcomes.”

Beim, a mother of two, has explored opening a Langley school for a while. “It was just a matter of finding the right location and getting the right building,” she says. “When we had an opportunity to design our own building, we took it.”

The newly-constructed 12,000 square foot building is located at 100-19950 88 Ave. The open house and ribbon cutting ceremony takes place on Saturday, Sept. 30, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

| SOURCE: Langley Times |


First Foot Forward: Early Childhood Education

As first looks become looks of recognition, first words become conversations, and first steps become sprints across the soccer field, the years between the ages of two and five years between the ages of two and five are a dynamic and impressionable time for every young child.

New perspectives on Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) are emerging that emphasizes the importance of the preschool period to a child’s intellectual, emotional and social readiness for later years of education, and of life.

A recent UBC-led study revealed that 38 percent of young children in Vancouver are at risk of falling behind developmentally by
the time they enter kindergarten.

Amongst the reasons cited for this statistic are lack of proper funding for ECEC programs in Vancouver and inconsistent parental knowledge and understanding of early childhood development (

Although Canada has yet to follow in the footsteps of much of Europe, South America and Asia by establishing a publicly funded junior kindergarten system, Canadian parents are not left without alternatives.

“I refuse to convey the idea that Canada is not at par,” says Natacha V. Beim, founder of Core Education and Fine Arts (CEFA), a private junior kindergarten program with several locations in the Lower Mainland. “There are options out there, and they deal with children in a uniquely Canadian way in that they respect the child and what they are capable of at this age.”

When she founded CEFA in 1998. Beim’s goal was to create a nurturing environment where children are provided with the stimulation and motivation they deserve.

“We underestimate how far children can go at this age.” Says Beim. “So many other countries in the world recognize the years between two and five as the most crucial learning years. In Canada, there is no real learning stimulus for young children until they go to kindergarten, when they go straight from nothing to learning everything.”

Beim feels that Canadian parents are not in the habit of thinking preschool years as a time to focus on learning.

“People often use preschool as a stepping stone for socializing their children.” She explains, “or are forced to rely on it because they have to work. A daycare does not have the responsibility to teach children-it only has the responsibility to care for them.”

With CEFA, Beim bring learning to the forefront trough a creative mix of learning activities, from alphabet puppet shows to yoga, The CEFA method also encourages children to be resourceful when it comes to learning from their environment.

“We teach kids that there isn’t just one way to learn,” says Beim. “We encourage them to learn by themselves, from other children and from our teachers.”

Perspectives in learning

Paul Larocque, Senior Director of Programming for Vancouver’s Arts Umbrella visual and performing arts institute also believes in the importance of early learning environment for children.

He has developed several programs designed to increase self-awareness and self-confidence through exploration and creativity.

“In our preschool classes, children as young as two are being introduced to various media, such as paint, pastels and clay.” Explains Larocque. “Children are discovering the importance of colour, shapes and textures and are building their self-confidence through the exploration of themes like music and movement.”

Like Beim, Larocque supports the idea that the preschool years are of fundamental importance to a child’s future development. “Ultimately, it’s about developing the whole child and creating a child who is inspired and confident.” He says. “What’s learned at this age really does ready kids for their involvement and performance in later years.”

Although Martha Friendly, Coordinator of the Childcare Resource and Research Unit at the University of Toronto acknowledges the importance of preschool years, she warns again viewing what happens in these years as the sole factors that set the stage for later years of life.

“Human development is much more complex than it’s often portrayed to be, and the way in which this idea-that “the years before the five last the rest of their lives”-has been popularized is really quite simplistic.” That said, Friendly agrees that a child can certainly benefit from an early learning environment.

“Children who are in groups with other children and adults who provide good resources for play, exploration, imagination, learning cooperation and empathy, and who are exposed to language, physical activity, ideas, art and music certainly gain from their experiences,” she says. “And these experiences and facilities build a platform upon which later development builds.”

Regardless of whether your child is already enrolled in an established ECEC program, or you are entertaining this option for the first time, there is a standard to consider when determining which type of program will benefit your child most.

“Positive effects of ECEC are linked to the quality of the program. This is they key” Friendly emphasizes, “when you ask whether ECEC programs are good for children.”

| SOURCE: WestCoast Families |

Kids headed to class at pre-kindergarten

The first junior kindergarten in Langley will open this fall.

It sounds a bit aristocratic, but Langley has finally evolved to the point where its first junior kindergarten school is opening later this month.

Last-minute work is currently under way on the new, 12,000-square-foot school that was constructed next to King George Storage at 88th Ave. and 200th St., alongside the freeway and kitty corner to Colossus.

Once completed, the new digs will become home for the third Core Education & Fine Arts (cefa) facility in the Lower Mainland.

It will provide eight classrooms for this community’s youngest students – more than 100 full and part-time students ranging in age from one to five years old, explained founder Natacha Beim.

While attempting to avoid over simplification, Beim said that children are naturally curious and like sponges absorb so much of their knowledge and habits at a young age.

The key, she said, is to stimulate them in different ways, to optimise the natural development of their brains.

And based on that premise, junior kindergartens have been a fixture in the education system of countries such as France, Britain, Italy, Asia, and South American for decades.

Beim spent the first half of her 15-year career travelling the world, teaching and in turn learning from young children. She saw first-hand the benefits of the junior kindergarten system.

“With the younger children, you give them so much of yourself,” she said. “At that age, your impact is huge. You can change the outlook of their views on learning. They pickup on your excitement about learning. It’s very magical.”

Engrossed by her own desire to understand how children learn, she has combined her hands-on experience in teaching at junior kindergartens and private schools, with years of research into early childhood educational methods to develop the foundation for cefa.

Actually, when Beim and her husband Alex first settled in North Vancouver, she thought about going to work in a day care or preschool. She even tossed around the idea of opening her own private elementary school.

But after careful consideration, she opted to open a new educational centre aimed at the youngest of young students.

The outcome: She’s developed her own play or game-based curriculum and opened her first junior kindergarten in West Vancouver in 1998.

“I developed an incredible curriculum and a very different way of educating young children, which includes curricular activities (all taught with specific material designed by us to be fun and exciting for children) and classes of dance, yoga, drama, sports and more,” Beim said, not reluctant to boast.

She believes that, by making education fun at an early age, she’s helping foster a child’s instinctive desire to learn.

“It’s not a typical school, where they’re behind desks all day,” Beim said. Kids are learning about science by doing chemistry experiments, learning how to read with puppets and learning to count with the aid of animals.

“Since then, the program itself has attracted many research groups, and has gained the hearts of many families, who register their children at birth in order to get in,” said Beim.

After opening her first cefa school with 10 students, one of her teachers and a parent developed the first cefa franchise about two years ago. And there are currently about 170 students enrolled in those two schools.

About the same time the Burnaby school was opening, another parent approached her about opening a school in Langley.

Beim was quickly convinced that Langley and the rest of the Fraser Valley was ripe for such a facility. And when the newest school opens Sept. 18, Beim will start not only with 20 teachers, 10 support staff, and a chef, but another 112 young students.

It’s her projection that the new Langley school will have 200 kids enrolled within the year.

The public is invited to attend a special grand opening ceremony at the new CEFA school on Saturday, Sept. 30 from 3 to 6 p.m.

But people are asked to RSVP in advance at 604-539-2338.

| SOURCE: Langley Advance |