Tag Archives: kids

7 resources to help kids Learn to Code this summer

apple 2014 retail_learn_youth_camp

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


Do You Have a Picky Eater in the House? Read On!


Getting to yum by Karen LeBillon

image from gettingtoyum.com

  • Do you have a five or six-year-old who refuses to eat certain foods?
  • Is the dinner table becoming a battle of wills instead of a family gathering?
  • Is the worry about your picky eater causing stress for your family?

No worries – now there is help!

Karen LeBillon is the author of award winning best seller “French Kids Eat Everything“. Her 2nd book “Getting to Yum: Curing and preventing picky eating”, endorsed by a Harvard Medical School pediatrician, helps with taste training for kids and is being adapted to the TV screen. A new TV series produced by LaDiDa Media aims to help you and the picky eater in your family.

Karen wants to meet your family, and share her simple steps for turning even the most picky eater, into a fan of healthy and diverse foods. If you live in the lower mainland of British Columbia and would like your family to be a part of this new TV series, read on:

  • Looking for families with one picky eater of around 6 years old, who are available to film in their home for one day on the weekend of June 7th and 8th, and for one day of the weekend of June 14th and 15th.
  • Hoping to film a follow up to check back with your family in July or August.
  • Send a little information about your family, plus a photo or two to the following address: gettingtoyum@ladidamedia.com. They are looking forward to helping you!

Otherwise – the book is now available in all major bookstores and features practical advice, an easy to follow approach and LOTS of recipes the whole family can enjoy. You can download here the FREE fruit and veggies poster to help teach kids about different foods. You can also print it in black and white and give it to your kids to color.

Alexandra T. Greenhill, MD, Mom of three and CEO cofounder myBestHelper


When we are lonely…

Take 3 minutes to watch this and you will feel better. How can one not feel inspired by this video about Brazilian teens learning English by speaking to lonely American elderly?

It’s amazing how isolated our teens and seniors can still be in our social media networked world and I loved the creativity of helping cross the paths between generations. If you do know a teen or a senior, give them a call today – love at random times is always appreciated!

Alexandra T. Greenhill, MD, Co-founder CEO myBestHelper

What’s the problem with pink and princess? The marketing, not the moms.

I totally agree it’s not about pink or princesses… What do you think?

Alexandra T. Greenhill, CEO myBestHelper and mom of three girls

Dr. Rebecca Hains

This week, New York and Slate published pieces asking why so many moms have a problem with pink and with princesses.

“What’s the problem with pink, anyway?” griped Yael Kohen in New York. Then, building upon Kohen’s piece, Slate senior editor Allison Benedikt demanded: “What is it with you moms of girls? I have never met a single one of you who isn’t tortured about pink and princesses.” Her annoyance is palpable.

Both writers proceed to defend all things pink and princess. “We treat pink — and the girls who like it — with […] condescension,” Kohen states, while Benedikt adds, “Moms of daughters need to chill out.”

Oh… really? Let’s take a step back, please. I am the author of a forthcoming book called The Princess Problem: Guiding Our Girls Through the Princess-Obsessed Years, and Kohen and Benedikt’s arguments are wrong on several levels. By pontificating on the subject without actually talking to the moms they’re criticizing, they’ve missed the…

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Kid’s Garden – an awesome how to guide

Loved this post from Kid’s Garden on a new practical book on outdoor activities – especially the step-by-step instructions for all of us without a green thumb!

Alexandra T. Greenhill, mom of three, CEO founder of myBestHelper

March Break – a perfect time to get kids to love nature (in 3 easy steps!)


This new Infographic from the Nature Kids Institute is simply awesome, as it makes it easy to get started and more importantly, to maintain exposure to Nature. 

This is the brainchild of Kenny Ballentine,  a dad of three, award-winning filmmaker, trainer, public speaker and nature guide. In January 2013 he wrapped production on his latest feature-length documentary film, Nature Kids and founded The Nature Kids Institute whose mission to bring the wonders of the natural world into the lives of children everywhere.

So where does one start? You can follow the many great suggestions on their site and also consider our experience:

1. First of all – daily – some time in nature even if it’s 15-30 minutes. Do simple things,like ask kids to find objects that start with each letter of the alphabet or in each color. Get them to really see what is surrounding them.

2. Second, plan a longer outing right now. Not one day, DO IT NOW! Choose a day, do it. If it’s miserable, don’t be surprised – getting going can be a frustrating experience full of forgotten clothing items. “too cold or hot”, “too wet” etc. – even the most prepared parents end up caught into situations you couldn’t have foreseen. Persevering through that is key – as after the second or third outing in a month, the kids start asking for them! Too many families give up too early.

Too many families are also not prepared – good shoes, clothes, gloves, water bottles, snacks etc are all #musthave to avoid preventable (and justified) reasons for unhappiness.

3. Find like-minded families to do these outings with. Bonus: find a dog. It’s several degrees of magnitude better to do these outings when another family with kids and/or dog is involved. EVERYTHING is better – from having company to having an extra pair of hands to help. The kids then usually just excitedly chat or run ahead and fun is more achievable. Even better is to find a family who is experienced at this, as having them coach and role model is key. Where to find them? Go to a nature club event or meet up in your city, or even just the local library section on local nature walks. Ask around. Suggest it to friends who may not do it now, but may end up trying it and liking it.

Alexandra T. Greenhill, mom of three, CEO founder of myBestHelper

Kids Need to Talk… 3 Sure Fire Ways to Make it Happen!


“How was your visit with your friend?”


“How was your day at school?”


“What did you think of this movie?”

“It was ok.”

How often have we heard these monosyllabic answers from kids? It starts in daycare, where the lack of vocabulary seems to excuse it, but it continues in the school years, and often gets worse in the teen years.

It always amazes me to see that in spite of being told it’s ok to directly share their thoughts and feelings, people still need opportunity and encouragement to speak up. Especially, kids…

As grown ups we need to make the habit of sharing happen, as it’s critical to helping the young person in our lives overcome the inevitable challenges life brings and to build healthy coping strategies. The 2nd biggest killer for teens after car accidents is suicides – and that group is overrepresented by kids who suffer without speaking about it. The Canadian Mental Health Association has tons of evidence that helping kids early on to form the habit of talking to others saves lives.

So how to make it happen?

1. Create opportunities to talk (quiet activities that do not require eye contact)

Kids seem to formulate their own thoughts about issues that they worry about only when there is a quiet moment or some activity that often doesn’t require eye contact. Think about it – how often do they share their concerns and fears while walking somewhere or driving in the car? So make sure every week includes some activity – art, crafts, cooking, eating, gardening, even reorganizing the house – something where you are side by side, doing something and just chatting.

Another great opportunity is an event – real or in a movie – that can be discussed and explained. Kids often make sense of that external happening by drawing on things in their own real or inner lives and they become very engaged when given the chance to discuss it. What adults often miss is that they can be “done” with a topic without exploring all of it. These conversation also happen better when not sitting face to face.

2. When talking happens – listen, listen, listen

How long does it take a physician to interrupt a patient after asking an open ended question such as: “So, what brought you here?”. Yes, it is on average only 23 seconds, even though the intent is to let the person describe, instead of jumping in to guide them. What people don’t realize is that adults do that to kids too!

Just listen to grown ups talking to a toddler or a kid on the phone… They ask a question, pause for three seconds, and rephrase the question thinking that the child doesn’t understand and by then, the child starts to speak… Hard to get into a rhythm!

So the rule of thumb is to say something and then not speak for a long, uncomfortable, seemingly unending, definitely unusual, even anxiety provoking time, and then add even more time, counting to 42 in your head if you must. This is where point number one makes it easier – when doing something these pauses in speaking seem more natural to us.

Conversely, I must reassure you – kids will not even notice these seemingly unending silent moments. They are processing their own thoughts and feelings and need this time. They will just think it’s easy to speak to you.

Similarly, once they say something, don’t interrupt, don’t clarify, let them continue. Acknowledge non verbally (nod etc.), and look like you are interested in hearing more. I guarantee you will be amazed at what comes next.

3. Kids need role models – show them how sharing is done

Last, but not least, kids learn from what they see, not what you say, so you need to step up and do it first. When you come home from work share a story about something that happened at work and mention how it made you feel. Refer to something that you saw in the news and explain your opinion. Reminisce about something that you remember from your own school days or your childhood – ask how that has changed.

There are lots of great books on these topics, but these 3 strategies are the starting points.  And remember, on January 28, Bell will donate 5¢  to mental health initiatives for every:

  • Text message sent*
  • Mobile and long distance call made*
  • Tweet using #BellLetsTalk
  • Facebook share of the Bell Let’s Talk image.

Easy to do and last year – led by Olympian athletes Clara Hughes – this program led to 96,266,266 calls, texts, tweets and Facebook shares by Canadians. This meant that 2013 Bell Let’s Talk Day led to an additional $4,813,313.30 for mental health programs rounding up the total Bell committed to Canadian mental health to over 62 million $. (*note: I don’t have personal advantage to promoting Bell’s program – just like it!).

Alexandra T. Greenhill, MOM MD, co-founder and CEO myBestHelper