Tag Archives: how to

7 resources to help kids Learn to Code this summer

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The case for why kids need to understand tech as an important 21st century skill has been made (see awesome code.org video on this here), but it’s not yet a core concept taught as part of the basic school curriculum.

So here are few options for parents interested in helping their kids develop tech skills this summer:

1. FREE – Virtual Google “Maker” camps – “Building, Tinkering and Exploring” 6 weeks starting July 7th 11 a.m. PST 

Google is offering six weeks of fun things to make and do for kids – all they need is a Google+ account and access to a PC, smartphone or tablet (if they are younger than 13, they will need to use the account of a parent).  The Maker Camps will have a weekly structure. In the morning, kids will complete a creative DIY project (for example a toy rocket) and in the afternoon they will also use Google Hangouts to talk to expert artists, makers and inventors as well as do virtual field trips to locations including Legoland in Denmark and Jim Henson’s Creature Workshop. See more here.

2. FREE – Sign up for a class at an Apple store – Various locations – local schedule 

At the Apple Store, you will find a variety of programs tailored just for kids, no purchase required. Youth Workshops, Field Trips, and Apple Camp are great ways to get kids thinking, learning, and creating — all while having fun. See more here.

3. $45: Learn to Code for Girls in Vancouver – Be like Ada – Sat, July 19th

Ada Lovelace, the beautiful black and white movie star and also a prolific tech inventor is the inspiration behind this one day bootcamp is for high-school girls only. They can learn to code and meet other girls just like them and hear from superhero women who have cool jobs because they code. To register, go to:www.belikeada.com

4. Code Kids Canada

See this CBC documentary for how and why kids are learning to code in the Maritimes. Inspirational videos galore you can show your kids to get them motivated. Motivation is then often enough to get them interested in using the many online and apps available to learn tech (see esp choice 1 above and 8 below).

5. Coder Dojo – Weekend Learn to Code for kids

CoderDojo is a global movement about providing free and open learning to youth, with an emphasis on computer programming. There are Coder Dojos in Toronto and Calgary, and one is being set up here in Vancouver.

6. Digital Media Academy – Summer Camps – $900+

This amazing opportunity to get top notch exposure to all aspects related to technology creation and use does not come cheap – but is now an option available across Canada. Week long summer camp classes for kids aged 8 to 12 and 13 and older covering a multitude of topics (film creating, game design, iPhone programming, robotics, app development etc) can cost around $900 each – sign up here for the few spots left. They have been doign in since 2002 and apparently, it is a life changing experience.

7. Apps and Games – Learn as You Play (ok for kids 8+)

 My Robot Friend allows kids to program the path of a funny robot and follow it’s adventures – hilarious and educational. Download here.

 The concept is simple — direct a robotic arm to move crates to a designated spot — but Cargo-Bot creates young programmers as it encourages the kind of innovative thinking necessary to learn programming skills. Download it here.

Hopscotch, is a simpler version of MIT’s scratch, and is AWESOME. It allows kids to quickly create games and animations by simple drag and drop of different commands. Kids can modify everything from size to speed to color – and see the results fast which is something that gets them hooked. Download it here.

Alexandra T. Greenhill, MD, mom, geek, CEO co-founder myBestHelper

Date Night for parents… what’s that? {Giveaway}

Loved the blog post Kelly Krol, Raincity Mama did on the importance of dating as a parent! Like if you agree it is core to keeping love going well past wedding vows…

Raincity Parent

Every parent needs a Date Night once in awhile.

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Unless…you have no child care options available.

Five ways date nights may strengthen couples.

(1) A date night is an opportunity to communicate.
(2) Date nights are valuable for their novelty.
(3) Date nights may strengthen or rekindle that romantic spark that can be helpful in sustaining the fires of love over the long haul.
(4) Date nights may strengthen a couple’s sense of commitment to one another.
(5) Date nights are a way to relieve stress.

The American Red Cross did a poll in 2012 that found that 55% of parents surveyed decided to stay home in the past 24 months, because they couldn’t find a babysitter.

I am totally guilty of this!
20140420-223505.jpg If you are lacking in the child care department, you should check out myBestHelper.
What they do? They make it easy and fast for families to…

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Best 5 real strategies to be more calm and less stressed as a parent

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I was recently asked by a mom on Facebook for strategies to be more calm and less stressed as a parent. As a parent of twin boys and an older girl all under 5 years old, she is rightfully feeling overwhelmed!!!

So in my reply to her, it occurred to me that there are five real strategies that have made my life so much better (not that things are perfect ALL the time, we still have those days where several days attack me at the same time!):

  1. My default answer is ‘yes’ to any offer of help. Even if I can do it perfectly well myself, it saves me energy and gives me capacity.
  2. I learned how to ask for help myself and not wait to be offered some. And often, it’s not on an exchange basis – I can’t help them directly, but it’s clear that I would help someone else in the future when I get the chance. 
  3. I get the kids to do as much as they can at their age to help – and it’s surprising what they can do – my 18 month old could unload the dishwasher! (yes, there was a broken plate or two at the beginning, but they really learn fast). 
  4. The one book that helped me hugely was “How to behave so your kids would too…” – see previous blog about main messages http://blog.mybesthelper.com/2012/12/10/secrets-of-a-child-whisperer/
  5. Last but not least, asking other parents for advice helps.. all kind of tips and tricks that make their lives better. I have accumulated tons of these over the years! 

And, what strategies have helped you? Namaste!

Alexandra T. Greenhill, MD, Mother of three, CEO myBestHelper

Last Minute Unique and Easy #Christmas Decoration Ideas: TREE, TABLE, GIFTS

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1. Make your own Christmas tree

It’s easiest is to use Christmas cards you may have received or just get an assortment of 12 or 24 Holiday Cards – and use it to display them on some branches or in a Christmas tree pattern on the wall. You can also get rolls of wrapping paper and put them up on the wall in a tree pattern – instant festivity and no mess from needles!

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We also love these more elaborate, but unique and creative #Christmas Tree Alternatives by YummyMummyClub.caShape a Christmas tree on a wall using red, green and white (and more colors). You can use festive images or messages or not, the shape and color palette is what makes it cool looking.

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2. Decorate in minutes a super festive table 

Gather up pine cones, stones or even shape spaghetti into funny shapes – and toss them around in paint and/or glitter glue. Crumple festive colored tissue paper or add Christmas decorations into a bowl or vase.  Cover in festive gift wrap boxes of different shapes (can be things from the pantry!).

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3. Give gifts that wow (at least before they are opened ;))

Everything goes – brown paper looks amazing with some fabric wrapped around the gift’s middle, using old maps (Joy to the World!), pages from an old book or dictionary.

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Alexandra T. Greenhill, MOM CEO myBestHelper, master of everything last minute 😉

10 Life Lessons to Teach Your Kids – from Joel Peterson, CEO of JetBlue

You know that feeling you get when your son or daughter is heading into something new. They’re excited, and you’re a little nervous, maybe a little scared for them. You walk down memory lane, remembering the good times, but also the mistakes you made, and the embarrassment/pain/stress that came with them. And you want to share every lesson you learned, small or big, that helped you get where you are today. Fast-track them past the tough stuff.

But as Joel Peterson, Chairman of JetBlue Airways, reminds us, the best way to help them isn’t give a summary of all the mistakes you’ve made. It’s to teach them lessons they can use to cope when they make their own mistakes.

These are Joel Peterson’s 10 Life Lessons to teach your kids before they leave  home (read full LinkedIn article here.)

  1. Don’t be afraid to fail
  2. Find the good in yourself.
  3. And see the good in others, too.
  4. There’s no substitute for hard work.
  5. Building great habits is critical.
  6. Don’t expect fairness – at least in the short run.
  7. Be kind – it has more power than you think. 
  8. Take yourself out of the center.
  9. Embrace reality.
  10. “Solve” for the long term. 

Do you agree with these? Like to let us know, or share a comment about what life lessons you’d add or change.

Stephanie Phillips, Community Manager, myBestHelper

A reminder and a thank you

Alex’s comment: I have always liked this blog but the last two posts have been just beyond marvelous. One is a poem to motherhood. The second is a poem to the community of people who come together to support parents through the peaks and valleys of the journey. Good enough parenting is hard to pull off, mostly because of the crazy pressures we self assign to us.

Today, my third child – a toddler screamed as if in mortal danger as I was leaving her at Buddings – a place she normally loves. What happened? She grew up and suddenly became more aware of separation. Or maybe we had just spent an awesome holiday together and she did not want to separate from mom. One will not know, except experience with the older two made me know that she will quickly settle down especially if I firmly and lovingly said goodbye and did not prolong the agony by attempting to reason or calm her down.
Indeed, back two hours later, she greeted me with a smile and proud “I did not cry mommy“. And then started crying, as she didn’t wanted to leave Buddings! Sigh…

But back to the point I wanted to make – I spent the two hours with a divide between my head and heart – the former fully convinced that she was OK, the latter shaking with worry about her. Elizabeth Stone said “Making the decision to have a child – it’s momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” – all I can say is “So true!”.

So here is to posts like Kiran’s (the re-blog above) that comfort us on this rollercoaster experience. Virtual hug to all moms (and sincere kudos to all sitters, nannies, ECE profs and teachers who help guide our kids through these experiences)!!!!

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Alexandra T. Greenhill, MD, mother of three CEO and Co-founder myBestHelper

Mummy Says...

This terrifying, roller-coaster that is motherhood has taken me on a wild ride this week. I’ve been living in The Haze (that place where sleep-deprived parents hang out but don’t notice each other because they’re so tired), there’s been the curve ball thrown that was my son getting bitten at daycare, and there’s been the general craziness of life with 2 under 20 months.

But, dearest friends, mothers, fathers, daughters and sons, you have reminded me this week that it is not a wild ride that must be experienced alone. Motherhood, you reminded me, is hard on us all. So thank you to those of you who have laughed with me, cried with me, commiserated with me, advised me when I asked and supported me when I didn’t.

Motherhood is hard, it is bloody hard and tiring and exhausting and it fills you with fear and and worry and self-doubt…

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“How to” series: How to describe who you want as a nanny

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Mary Poppins is the most frequent association to the word nanny!

Many families stumble when it comes to posting a job description for a nanny – they work hard, produce a great looking ad and … get no answers or get applicants that don’t meet their needs.

After a decade of doing ads myself and helping others successfully post theirs, the secret to it is to be clear who you want as your helper in the home. There is a great divergence of what families consider as best, hence our company name: indeed “my” best helper may not be yours at all. For example, I may want someone to just focus on the kids and their development while you need someone to help you with housework and cooking. Sometimes the same person can do both, but more often than not, it’s the strength of a given nanny but an area of struggle for another.

Just look at how nannies choose to describe themselves on their own – some say they are “outdoorsy, fun university graduates” while others are “caring, experienced and helpful”.  

So what works best? Here are the five things to consider:

1. Start with logistics

Upfront, list the logistics in the following order – location, full vs part-time, start date, salary. If a person can’t make these, there is no point for them to read any further.

2. Specify any hard stops

Things like working permit, drivers license or a given level of education required are not easy to obtain in a weekend, so these would be hard stops for candidates who don’t have them. If you have some time before you need the person to start, things like a criminal background check or CPR/first aid can be obtained fairly fast so they fall into a different category. 

3. Describe your situation

Usually that would include number and age of kids, any special needs or circumstances or any pets. 

4. Describe your family

It’s helpful to give the candidates a quick description of your family – for example, do you have a steady or a busy schedule, do you like spending time outdoors or indoors. Many families are surprised to learn how carefully nannies evaluate who they will be working with – it certainly is not a one way street!   

5. Finally – outline your wish list

Too many families are not specific enough on what they need – who would be their preferred candidate if they had a magic wand and could just make it happen. Sometimes life is stranger than fiction and there really is someone who “loves ballet (with your 6yo girl) and kick boxing (with your 8 yo boy), plays the piano, is happy to organize messy toy /clothes closets and loves to cook” and is willing to start at 6h30am. Being specific down to the smallest details is helpful and makes your job description stand out from the many “wonderful family needs full-time nanny”.

Our site helps structure this process – when you sign up and post a job, we ask you all the questions that then create a posting that makes sense to potential candidates, thus speeding up part of the process of hiring. 

More tips to come and please let me know what else you ares struggling with. And – good luck with your search!

 Alexandra T. Greenhill, MD, mother of three CEO and Co-founder myBestHelper