The holidays are officially over… but if you’re a Stay at Home Mom/Dad, that just means that many of the regular programs you rely on to keep your little one stimulated are up and running again. Don’t forget to check out the list of Weekly Programs for Kids and take advantage of the educational opportunities below. There are a few events on this week too, never fear.
The Man in the Moon – Library fun for Dads (or male caregivers) and babies up to 18 months
Where and when: This on-going program begins this week and continues for 8 weeks. There are four libraries offering this program:
- Central (Children’s) Library: Tuesdays 6:30 – 7:30
- Britannia Branch: Saturdays 3:30 – 4:30
- Kitsilano Branch: Saturdays 10:15 – 11:15
- Terry Salman Branch: Sundays 10:30 – 11:30
(See branch locations and contact info here if you are uncertain about where your closest library is.)
What: Although I wrote about the Man in the Moon already when I explained How the Library Saved my Sanity, it’s such a nice bonding session for Monita and her Dad that I couldn’t resist mentioning that it is starting up again for the Winter session. They learned so much together during Man in the Moon in the fall that there is never a dull moment with Daddy these days. He now has an arsenal of songs and tickling games to mix in during the moments when Monita allows herself to be detached from my body. During these hour-long programs, Dads/Grandfathers/Male caregivers get together with their 0-18 month old babies to share songs, rhymes and stories. It’s similar to the regular library program but the whole tone is very Dad-friendly, run by a male librarian and includes a snack. It encourages Dads to take an active role in playing, reading and caring for their babies/tots solo. While many Dads might do this already at home, the regular library program is almost exclusively female parents and Dads don’t usually get the chance to go to weekday programs. They also get to bond with other Dads while being the primary caregiver. The songs, my husband tells me, are less “mushy” than the ones at the regular program. My father, Monita’s “Pops”, even took her to a session. Although he left most of the literary stuff to my Mom when I was a kid, he really enjoyed bonding with his Granddaughter with the local Dads.
Registration is required for this program, but it is free. Contact the library branch. You could also try coming to the first session and asking to sign up then. There wasn’t a problem with space at the Britannia session during the fall at least.
StrongStart Early Learning Centres
Where and When: Beginning this week and continuing while school is in session. There are 19 StrongStart centres in Elementary Schools across Vancouver. Each StrongStart program is available for at least three hours each day (9am – 12pm at most locations), Monday – Friday. See the list of locations here.
What: StrongStart is designed to help kids learn through “play, language and positive social interactions”. It is essentially a drop-in program run by the Vancouver School Board that includes educational activities run by qualified Early Childhood Educators. Parents and caregivers take part alongside their kids, since StrongStart is also intended to teach parents how to support learning at home. There’s also a list of helpful hints on the Ministry of Education site for how to help your child during the program. Located in Elementary school classrooms, most of the programs include two hours of “free play” with toys set up at different stations, allowing the kids to socialize with one another and try out new activities. There is also a group activity including interactive songs and stories and a healthy snack provided.
While it sounds very similar to Family Drop-In programs at local community centres, there are a few advantages. For kids nearing school-age, it would definitely help ease the transition to kindergarten, particularly if you join a StrongStart program that takes place at the school your child will eventually attend. It can also give a bit of variety and flexibility to your weekly routine, since it runs every day and requires no commitment to attend. If your regularly scheduled playdate is cancelled, or you have a habitually open spot one morning a week, just pop by. Monita and I haven’t tried it yet, but it’s on our list of new things to try this week. Keep your eyes peeled for a review coming soon! See here for more information and how to register.
Free Family Movie – Kensington Community Centre
A little further afield…
Family Day at Place des Arts – Free Art workshops for all ages
Where: Place des Arts, 1120 Brunette Avenue, Coquitlam, (map) (Yes… this is outside of Vancouver, but it might be just what you’re looking for on a Sunday afternoon if you’re willing to travel…)
What: If you’re not sure about bringing your tot to an art gallery, why not initiate him or her with a little hands-on art after a quick viewing? Place des Arts says their Family Day “is designed to actively engage families in learning about art in a fun, interactive and informal environment.” After a guided tour, there are three drop-in workshops for all ages where you can create an artwork of your own based on what you just saw. The three workshops available this Sunday are:
- Tapestry Weaving with Virginia Baldwin (TWIGs)
- Painting Inspired by Nature by the Passionate Outdoor Painters
- Exploring Your Visual Language with Ellen Bang.
There’s also the Social Fabric Project: Bring a special “thread” to weave into our 40th Anniversary tapestry… a meaningful string, a baby bootie ribbon, a cassette tape ribbon, anything that can be woven!
Admission by donation. Reserve your spot here through Brown Paper Tickets or by calling 604-664-1636. (If you miss Family Day this time, this event will happen again on Sunday February 10 and Sunday, April 28.)
And if you want a free food adventure…
Free Cereal Saturdays at the Waldorf Hotel
Where: The Waldorf Hotel, 1489 E Hastings St. (map)
What: OK… this isn’t an event specifically for kids, but hey, it’s a free breakfast. And if my 30-something husband gets excited about the “40 different kinds of cereal” and “eight varieties of milk” available, then it might just be a hit with your kid too. Although I shudder to think of the sugar involved, I must admit that one of the highlights of my childhood experience with road trips was when my Mom let us buy the 8 pack of mini-cereals in flavours we were never allowed when not on holiday, like Froot Loops and Frosted Flakes. You didn’t even need a bowl; the box was perforated down the side so that you could slit it open, pour in milk and eat it out of your own little box-bowl. I am willing to bet the unhealthy choices will outweigh the healthy ones at the Waldorf cereal bar, but there is the option of having three mini-bowls of cereal so you could eat something nutritious and just taste the bizarre sugar-cereals available. Pretend you’re on a road trip holiday, perhaps? Don’t believe me… check out the site.