Tag Archives: school kids

The First Days of Fasting

By Saraa Mahfouz

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I felt excitement when I learned that I will be fasting that Ramadan. I was almost 9 years old and Ramadan was during the winter months. The days were shorter and the breeze became cooler.

I remember telling my mom what I wanted for Suhoor; a bowl of my favourite cereal and glass of juice. When my dad woke me up with a slight knocking at the door and coming to my bedside speaking quietly, I immediately jumped out of bed. We sat together at the breakfast table and started eating. My dad reminded me to make the intention and then smiled at me proudly. It was almost time to for school and I brushed my teeth and headed out to the world.

The first thing I did as I got to school was rush to my teacher and tell her I was fasting and that I couldn’t eat or drink all day. My teacher seemed happy but confused as she didn’t know what was going on. She asked if I can explain more and maybe do a presentation to the class. I was really excited and nervous at the same time. At that time I was the only student in the school who wore a hijab. There were other Muslims in the school and many were fasting as well.

After the morning announcements were made my teacher called on me to come up to the class and explain what Ramadan was. I walked slowly to the front of the class and started telling my classmates about how I will fast for the month, no eating or drinking from morning until evening. Of course my knowledge of the subject was limited at that age but I explained to them that I was fasting to recognize the children in the world who don’t have food. Many of the students asked if they can fast as well. It was an exciting feeling and I felt proud of myself. The next day almost the whole class said they were fasting!

Fast forward 15 years later. I have my own classroom and my own set of students. The first day of Ramadan came during the fall. It was the first week of school and Ramadan had already begun. My students were the same age as me when I first fasted and the excitement was the same if not more. This time all the students in my class were Muslim but all of them had different cultural traditions. Students came rushing to me in the morning to tell me they were fasting with the same speed that I once had.

I imagined myself running through those doors excitedly telling my teacher. The students were proud that they were fasting and most of them knew they were fasting for the same reason and more. They wanted to decorate and sing Ramadan songs. They wanted to share their stories of breaking their fast with their families. I looked at them with pride the same way my father did that first morning of fasting. I thought to myself that I couldn’t wait to share the traditions with my own little family.

About the Author

Saraa Mahfouz is a mom of two boys (3 and 1) and is expecting a girl in July. She has been an elementary teacher for 6 years and has a passion for sharing her thoughts and experiences with others.  She started blogging in her university years but motherhood and her two busy boys have since become her first priority. Saraa also dabbled in photography for some time. She is very excited to get back into writing and sharing her passion with the muslimmoms.ca community.

20 Confessions from a Mom of … FIVE!

By Khaula Mazhar

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Motherhood is not easy. It is not easy to be mom of one nor is it easy to be mom of five. There is however, a certain number of children where it becomes easier to let go and just roll with it, mainly because you have no choice and  learned that stressing isn’t going to get anything done. I put that number at three. With kid number three, you wonder why you ever worried about maintaining lego-less floors or taking a shower. Whoever is walking on the floor should watch out for himself and baby powder is essentially dry shampoo for moms who haven’t had the luxury of a shower for days on end.

I confess I am that mom, I feel  no shame admitting this. Shame went out the window with the birth of middle child, and with the birth of twin 1 and twin 2  last bits of sanity joined my sense of propriety.  Those are now long gone, and I don’t regret it one bit. If anything life becomes easier when you lose your mind, insanity does have a touch of genius to it. Besides that, for some mysterious reason crazy, shameless mom is way cooler than well organized, prim and proper, perfect mom.

My advice plus confessions to you as a “been there, done that and have survived so far mom” are as follows (BOGO in shopspeak):

1. Your first child will always be the lab rat. Stop feeling guilty about it, you are doing the best you can. What’s the worst that can happen? Never mind, don’t answer that.

2. Your second child was born to whine, it’s a default of being second. Do not be blackmailed by that whining, know that they are just as guilty as their elder sibling. Cotton dipped in olive oil make for good ear plugs if the howling gets too loud. Also keeps your ears clean, and well you know how long it’s been since you last showered, so yeah.

3. We all forget middle child. They end up being the best of the lot, so don’t sweat it. However if you drop them off at their friend’s, it would be a good idea to pick them up, preferably on the same day. Or… eventually. But hey we all need a break sometimes right?

4. I have thrown belongings out the front door when not picked up after I asked several times.

5. I still have baby powder in the house, even though no kid is under the age of eight. Baby powder can be used for unwashed hair, sweaty kids who refuse to shower, inside of smelly joggers, to sprinkle over the liquidy gunk and hairballs the cat coughed up, freshen up a kid after they throw up etc etc. Baby powder is pure magic.

6. There were some clothing items that kid 1 through 5 wore. Yes I believe in hand me downs.

7. I have fallen asleep with three small kids in my lap/arms. You should condition yourself to sleep in any situation, no mercy for the fussy sleepers.

8. I turn leftovers into “fresh” dinners. You should too, and never let anyone know you used leftovers!

9. I let the kids have cake for breakfast once. I slept in. No guilt at all, we were all happy.

10. Should such a situation arise, I will let them have cake for breakfast again.

11. If you forget to wash gym clothes, just throw them in the dryer with fabric softener sheets and hope for the best. Also works with kids’ underwear. Just don’t tell them you forgot to wash the clothes.

12. I reuse my fabric softener sheets. Several times.

13. I always have a secret stash of chocolate just for me.

14. I guard that stash like a dragon.

15. My purse contains every child’s belongings and none of my own.

16. I can quote anything from “My Little Pony.”

17. Plastic bags are a good way to catch vomit in a moving car. Always have a good supply.

18. The bathroom is the first place they look for you, try hiding in the garage instead.  It’ll buy you at least seven minutes alone.

19. Don’t go on Pinterest, those are all LIES! No one can do all that! It is just another Big Pharma tactic to make you take anti-depressants!

20. Love those little buggers, smother them with kisses and hugs, enjoy every second of this time with them, it goes too fast! Don’t regret any thing!

What confessions do you have?

About the Author

Khaula Mazhar, author of Mama Loves Me, has written for Dawn Pakistan and now bestows her wisdom upon the world at her blog. Last time she counted she had five kids, however the vast amount of laundry has given her doubts. This is a cause of constant distraction as she tries to finish writing the next NYT best-seller.

Back To School – A Survivor’s Guide

By Muneezah Jawad

Back To School - A Survivor’s Guide

With school starting in less than a week, we really hope most of us are done with their back to school shopping already. For those who still have to tackle this task, we put together a quick guide to make it a (relatively) stress-free process.

Shop for supplies

From Kindergarten to Grade 8, every class requires different supplies and the best way to know what you need is to look at the school website which usually publishes a supply list by grade. Sometimes more specific things are needed intermittently during the school year and the teacher usually sends out a note letting you know what that is.

The list does get longer as the grades get higher. Kindergarten requires very little, just some tissue boxes, glue and perhaps crayons. Grade 8′s usually require calculators, folders, dictionaries and more.

It’s always a good idea to have an English and French dictionary at home as well as some encyclopedias and if you are like me and like the kids to do a little bit extra at home, you can get a grade specific activity/curriculum book. They have great deals at Costco.

Bag some bags

It’s a good idea to recycle whatever can be used from last year especially backpacks and lunch bags unless the condition is really run down. I usually get new backpacks every 2 years so that the children’s desire to have the latest design is fulfilled and it does not break the bank.

Lunchboxes are trickier and if they are the soft ones they can smell a bit funky after a while and so I replace them every year.  Get something that suits your child’s style of eating. Small children need something with many compartments so that they can have tiny portions of their favourite things. A bento style box or little Tupperware containers work great. I don’t spend too much on these things as they do frequently get lost. Make sure all containers are BPA free.

Lunch Ideas

As there are usually 2 nutrition breaks you need to make sure you separate the food. I usually pack a main meal such as a sandwich or nuggets, some fruit, a granola bar, cheese and crackers and sometimes a treat altogether and the kids pick what to eat when. Please remember that most schools have a peanut free policy. I also have a thermos style box into which I sometimes pack a hot meal. A water bottle that is easy to open and closes firmly is very important otherwise often you will find a flood in your lunchbox.

What’ll they wear?

Unless your children go to a school where uniforms are required you are going to need plenty of clothes. The first step is to go through closets and see what can be reused or passed on to siblings and then make your wardrobe checklist.  September is not a terribly hot month and by October it’s getting chilly in the mornings so it’s a good idea to buy some track pants and fleece for the in-between weather. Layering clothing is the best option as kids can add or remove layers as they need.

If you find a great sale stock up on shoes as kids need a pair of indoor shoes and outdoor shoes. I know that my kids go through several pairs through-out the school year. Velcro shoes are great for the little ones.

I don’t do much back to school shopping. I pretty much avail the sales throughout out the whole year especially at Christmas time.  They are always losing something on the other. Make sure you have plenty of winter gear especially gloves, hats, socks, thermals as kids frequently lose them and then they are sold out of the stores by February but it stays cold sometimes well into April. Going to the States to shop used to be a great idea but with the current downward trend of the Canadian dollar against the US it’s not worth it anymore.

Ease into routine

Slowly returning to a regular routine will also make life easier. We have been sleeping past midnight and waking up late, eating at odd times and generally just chilling. Try pulling back bedtime by an hour every few days until school starts. The American Association of Pediatrics recommends that toddlers 1-3 years need 12-14 hours of sleep, children 3-5 years of age should average about 11-13 hours, School-aged children need 10-11 hours and teenagers need at least 9 hours.

Time their time

Studies also show that students lose 2-3 months’ worth of learning over the summer. That means that even though your child went to school from September to June it would be like they went to school September to March.  So it’s time to curb their device usage. Start limiting their screen time. There are many great apps such as ‘Screen Time’ which can actually lock a child out after a certain set period of time of usage. I use this with my daughter and it works really well. It’s set for an hour a day then it locks her out for everything except phone calls.

Make sure they study 20 minutes daily. More if they are older. This will get them ready to concentrate on their work and in ‘school mode’. A good idea would be to have them write about their summer holidays. It will get them thinking and spelling. Go over their multiplication tables by holding skittle contests. A skittle for whoever gets the answer right.  This would be a great time to go over those activity books that we discussed above. You could do the ones from last year. I never let my kids write in the books but they worked on paper as I have 2 kids close in age and wanted them to be able to reuse the book. You can also find worksheets online. It doesn’t have to be much and the holiday is not over but a little will go a long way. This is actually something they should do all year round.

Put meal times and the socialising on a time table too.  Start talking to them about expectations about the coming year. If it’s an EQAO year, or new high school it’s good to talk those things out. I am constantly telling my daughter to brace herself from an onslaught of work and other temptations as she enters high school. Talk to them about school and morning routines. Laying clothes out the night before, how they will be getting to and from school and who with. If you car pool or use the bus make sure you have the scheduling all planned out well ahead of time. If you have been helping little ones in the toilet over the summer now would be the time to have them start going independently again.

Don’t stress yourself. The first day of school is always a fun and exciting one. If you didn’t get everything done or didn’t have a change to buy something it’s alright. There is nothing that the kids can’t do without initially. Slowly you can fill in the gaps of what you need to do.

About the author:

Muneezah Jawad is the social media manager at MuslimMoms.ca and a veteran back to school survivor for the past many years.

Tell us how you have gotten your family ready for September. Do you have any tips for us? Do let us know how your first day went. Most importantly don’t forget to breathe a sigh or relief and lay back with a cup of coffee and enjoy your first day of school morning.

Penmanship – Getting Writing Right

By Aaisha Zafar Islam

penmanship- getting writing right

One of my earliest childhood memories is struggling to get the lower case ‘f’ just right as I attempted cursive in school. Another memory seared on my brain is Ma’s wrath when presented with a sheet of writing that was messy and horror of horrors, rife with spelling mistakes. I did get to reap the benefits of these lessons learned early in life. First is my OCD when it comes to spellings – I risk an aneurysm every time I see mangled spellings, and it is a handicap that becomes a skill in my work as an editor. Secondly, and more pertinent here is that focussing on how neat, rounded and evenly spaced out my alphabets were has also accorded me a balance in my personality, or so I like to think. How you write, the slant of words, the spacing and the size of letters themselves reveals many things about one’s psyche.

Later, as I sat on the admissions and interview committee of the University I taught at, we read through each candidate’s handwritten letter assessing not just the words expressing their intent of pursuing a program, but also how they wrote everything down, their penmanship.

And still later, as I taught some of these students, I insisted on frequent speed writing sessions in class on random topics. Again, this enabled me to know my students better, the extent of their vocabulary and how they expressed their ideas on paper, things I’d need to work on with them, and most importantly, what their handwriting revealed about them as persons, beginner’s foray into graphology if you will. Many label it as pseudo-science; however I have had remarkable success at reading a person’s person by looking at their handwritten note.

After all these experiences, it was only natural that I insist that my own progeny master the basics of good penmanship, best me at calligraphy, wow his teachers with the perfection of his letters and win a Nobel Prize for something or the other while he was at it. All before he turns 10!

March of times

My son turned seven early this year, he is a child of the digital age when typing reigns supreme and writing is fading away. If I were to be honest, I’d say his writing is borderline atrocious. It’s not that he cannot write neat, it’s that he will not. Writing something down, as I insist, means that he spends more time bent over his notebooks, which again are in a sorry state because he’s not too fond of them, instead of having his messy mop of hair bent over a book he wants to read.

Adding to my desperation to teach son how to master cursive, or at least a decent print, are these articles that all insist that writing by hand does wonders for your brain.

Learning cursive provides crucial benefit to children at an age when they need it most: a sense of involvement and ownership, hand-eye coordination, patience, and self-control. 

What cursive does for your brain:

In learning to write by hand, even if it is just printing, the brain must:

Locate each stroke relative to other strokes.

Learn and remember appropriate size, slant of global form, and feature detail characteristic of each letter.

Develop categorization skills.

Cursive writing, compared to printing, should be even more beneficial because the movement tasks are more demanding, the letters are less stereotypical, and the visual recognition requirements create a broader repertoire of letter representation. Cursive is also faster and more likely to engage students by providing a better sense of personal style and ownership.

~ Psychology Today

Relic of the past?

I also understand that there are many detractors of this handwriting, arguing it is a dying tradition and well past its date, that the time spent over learning cursive can be used instead on other subjects like learning another language, or sciences that will be of more help academically. And while I can’t disagree with this, I also know that societal traditions are cyclic, what is a lost art now will be a treasured skill tomorrow. A decade or two later, when writing by hand sees a revival, I want my children to be able to teach their own offspring.

More than anything, if there is the slightest bit chance that it will make them better people, I want to go that route. I am a mom and I want nothing but the best of very best for my brats, so I am going to buy as many interlined notebooks as I can, and nag them into writing a neat print and a passably decent cursive. The Nobel Prize can wait till they’ve mastered the loop of a lower case ‘r’.

About the author:

Aaisha Zafar Islam is the executive editor of MuslimMoms.ca and harbours delusions of grandeur if she goes long periods of time without a cup of tea. She also has a very neat handwriting, both cursive and print.

Opinion: An Open Letter To Kathleen Wynne

By Amber Hasan

Letter to Kathleen Wynne

Dear Premier,

As a woman, I always felt happy and empowered seeing you climb the political ladder; that too at such a late stage in life. Then you became the Premier of Ontario, and in you I saw hope that may be one day, my self or my daughter can also follow your precedent.

I was wrong. Because it never occurred to me that the woman who just couple of months ago stated that her sexual orientation should not be brought up in defining her role and position, would one day be using her ‘Gay Card’ to label myself and thousands of parents like me ‘homophobe’; just so you could ram a controversial, bizarre and politically motivated sex-ed curriculum, designed by a convicted pedophile Ben Levin and implemented by you and your racist, discriminatory lot who look down from the Legislature building at thousands of parents and call them ‘cons’ of the Conservative Party.

Its desperate times when one starts calling names, or when one points a finger at my friend’s Hijaab calling her a radical parent, or calling me a politically motivated woman, or calling the Christian man holding the largest placard, an ignorant. If only you could look at us as just parents, concerned parents, who are only asking for their right to parent. If only you could have the courage to accept or the heart to understand the psychological, emotional and physical pain and suffering we are going through every day in our struggle against your approved curriculum. Yes the best defense is a good offense! 

On March 27, 2015 you said:

The final thing I want to say is, if after you have read the curriculum and you still disagree, you have permission to withdraw your child from class, you have that permission, that is your right… and it has always been your right, and that is a very important thing and that is what I wanted to say to you.

You lied because when I myself, and other parents, sent the opt out letters to schools about complicated sexual minorities, six gender theory, anal sex, we were told we CAN NOT opt out of these sessions as per the Human Rights Code of Ontario.

Isn’t this preferential treatment for one set of human rights over another? There was and is only one set of rights that stands and protects everyone alike and it is NOT known as Men’s rights or Women’s rights or Gay rights or Queer’s rights but as Human Rights – makes sense?

Parents Protest at Queen's Park, April 2015

So now we are the bad guys for encouraging our children to bully because we keep them home on Pink Day and because we do not want to expose our children in very early grades to sexual concepts they should not be made aware of at that tender age and because we strongly object to the transgender indoctrination which will lead to additional confusion.

The proposed concepts of transgenderism and gender fluidity are already being taught, NOT to grade 4 students but to kindergarten kids. They have been read books authored by writers of adult content. I know some schools where kindergarten teachers brought skirts and makeup and our little ones were coaxed into wearing those, boys and girls alike, and later their pictures were displayed in the school. All this without the parent’s consent!

For me and hundreds of thousands of parents like me, your being gay and celebrating it is NOT an issue, madam Premier. The issue is that you are forcing it on our innocent children and us and then also want us to celebrate this forced lifestyle under the Trojan horses of Equity, Diversity and Inclusive Education.

So who has the phobia now? Us? Or the small few intolerant bigots ripping us of our parental rights are the ones with phobias?

Too much for a premier to handle important issues like budget, auto insurance premiums (Ontarians paid upto 4 billion dollars too much in car insurance) and Hydro One so she chooses the one that comfortably forces her Homophobic Rhetoric on the poor residents.

According to the Toronto District School Board’s survey, the most common type of bullying is for ‘body image’- the reason given by 27% of high school students. The second biggest reason in Toronto schools is ‘cultural or racial background.

Why do we not celebrate a ‘Let’s Pretend To Be Fat Day’ or ‘Turban Day’ or ‘Hijaab Day’?

There is an entire bullying awareness week in November every year. Why is there an entire day dedicated to celebrating your lifestyle, paid with OUR tax money? Why does this type of bullying warrant extra attention or focus vs. all other forms of bullying?

This isn’t about ‘inclusion’ or ‘diversity’ at all. Diversity is about representing everyone equally. These initiatives by your good-for nothing, power and attention hungry, politically corrupt government, do not represent your voters or Ontario’s concerned parents or the hard working immigrants or the strong women but only represent a single community, and a certain agenda, quite exclusively.

This is NOT happening!

Call me homophobe, call me ignorant, tell me to duck my face in sand because I don’t want to open up to the realities of the new era as defined by you, waste my tax money on parades safeguarding the rights of a handful of people, glorify yourself not as the first Woman Premier but as the first Lesbian Premier: I won’t back off, from my children, from my rights as a parent, and from my rights as a proud Canadian.

Sincerely,

A concerned parent

About the author:

Mother to a bunch of crazy cakelets,  Amber is a kind of a jill-of-all-trades and master of none. She can be reached via www.amberhasan.com or on Twitter @amberShasan 

Images: 123RF, MetroNews
Video: Youtube/MuslimMoms.ca

Opinion: Why Parents Are Appalled At Being Labelled And Abused

By Khaula Mazhar

Opinion: Why Parents Are Appalled At Being Labelled And Abused

We parents are appalled at being abused with derogatory comments. We oppose the new Health and Physical Education (sex ed.) Curriculum and that is all. Here are some of the issues we have with these new revisions.

Problem: Information Overload

Proposed solution: Start by showing six year olds pictures of sexual body parts and teach them ‘proper’ terms for each.

Parents’ concerns: A discussion about ‘private parts’ will no longer have much privacy. Once kids are sitting together being shown pictures and given information they don’t actually need, they will overcome their natural shyness and modesty. They will talk and joke about their parts openly, and the teacher will not be there every second with every child to supervise. All sorts of unwanted information and ideas will be exchanged. Many parents have experienced this and it came about only after the sex ed. class.

There are many children coming from traditionally modest cultures or religions that will not have had such exposure, will giving them this exposure stop them from seeing something on the internet or television? No.

It will however get them curious about something they were not previously aware of and aggravate the situation. They will go out of their way to find out more.

The obvious solution: Teach parents the dangers lurking out there. Monitor kids for what they are watching on T.V. and what games they are playing on the internet. The teacher will not come into individual homes to do this; it is the parent’s job. Put limits on the kids, they do not need to see programs that are not age appropriate or play every game on the net. There are sites that are safe like TVO kids etc. Parents must teach their children not to talk to strangers and if even a friend or family member makes them feel uncomfortable they must inform the parents immediately. The relationship between the parent and child must be so strong that the child knows it can come to the parent with anything even if threatened or ashamed of something that may have happened.

The response from Ms. Wynne: Parents are homophobic.

Problem: Sexting

Proposed solution: Talking to grade four students about the dangers of sexting and the implications of sending sexually-explicit digital images.

Parent’s concerns: Many of the children will not be fully aware of sexting or sending sexualized pictures. Many will have no idea at all, however after the class they will. First make children aware of the possibilities and then request them not to do it? Children think they can find ways to outsmart adults, it is their nature, many of them will defiantly try to find ways to do it ‘safely’ and then feel proud of themselves.  Does the administration actually believe that kids will only discuss this in the class with teachers? No, and those children who knew nothing about all this will now have a whole new topic to explore.

The obvious solution: No cell phones for kids until they get to high school. Monitored internet and television time. Kids do not need to be given gadgets with internet that they can take to the privacy of their rooms and then be left alone. They need to call their friends? Use the landline. The want to play a game or watch a movie, they can do both on the common television. Do they need a computer/laptop/television in their own rooms? No. We as parents need to learn to say no and set limits.  We are seeing the disturbing effects of the ‘selfie’ culture. The need for constant approval based on how one looks needs to be nipped in the bud.

Kids should be out playing, reading books, watching age appropriate shows and just being kids! The argument that kids are growing up faster than they were years ago is stupid considering that we as parents are letting them. We still need to set boundaries and we can do it. We are losing the fight to the media all around us because we are letting them win. The media is now raising our kids for us, we need to take control now. The government should be working with the parents to empower them, not take away what influence we have and hand it to the school.

Since everything will be based on teacher prompts, those discussions could lead in any direction. Not all those directions will be suitable to every child. There will not be enough classroom time for the teacher to handle every child’s needs. This is asking too much of the teachers. This is a parent’s job. The real solution is to provide parents with the right information. Why does the government not want to do this?

Ms. Wynne’s response: The parents are homophobic.

Problem: STIs, teen pregnancies, rape/abuse

Proposed solution: Teach grade six that masturbation is normal and healthy. Teach grade seven and eight that anal and oral sex are ways to avoid unwanted pregnancies and STIs. As long as both partners consent, of course.

Parents’ concerns: It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what our concerns are with this.

Ms. Wynne’s response: The parents are homophobic.

The Real Problem: Sex Obsessed Mass Media

The problem is there is too much sex everywhere, what does this say about the state of our society right now? Rather than exposing our children at an even younger age to sex, thus bringing about an even earlier onset of puberty in the future (will we then be showing one year olds flash cards to teach them about sexual body parts?) why are we not focusing on reducing the amount of exposure to sex the kids are getting?

Is it really impossible to limit internet and the amount of gadgets we give our kids? Is it really impossible for us to keep track with what books they are reading and what movies they are watching? Is it impossible for us to say ‘no’ to certain television programs? Can we not set limits and curfews? Can we not monitor their activities? It is difficult, but none of this is impossible. As kids get older, they can have more freedoms and of course the older kids definitely need an updated sex ed. curriculum. But our younger children need us, they need boundaries. We are seeing the negative effects of too much freedom, why aren’t we learning from this?

Why is the government not supporting parents in this fight to protect our children’s innocence?

What is it that especially disqualifies us from the job that we are doing?

Is it that we are parents? Is the government ‘parent’ophobic?

Image: 123RF

7 Fun Things To Do At A Maple Syrup Festival

By Sadaf Afshan

Family friendly activities at Maple Syrup Festivals

Maple Syrup Festivals are a much loved Canadian spring time tradition. A visit to a sugar shack is a great way for the entire family to enjoy the freshness of spring after being cooped up indoors during winter.

Here are some fun-filled activities that you can enjoy with kids at a Maple Syrup Festival:

Learn how maple syrup is made

A visit to a sugar shack will walk you through the process of maple extraction with tours of the sugar bush to see how maple sap is tapped from trees. You will see demonstrations of early Canadian settlers’ techniques for the production of maple syrup – through the use of cauldron when preparing the sweet syrup, right up to modern methods. At some sugar shacks you can also see how the natives made maple syrup with the help of logs and hot rocks. Many will feature costumed interpreters and provide hands-on and interactive activities along the way.

Pioneer way of making maple syrup

Learn fun facts about maple syrup

Did you know that it takes about 40 litres of sap to produce one litre of maple syrup? Or the fact that North America is the only place that has both the sugar maple tree and the proper weather required to produce maple syrup? These are just some of the facts that you can learn during a visit to a Maple Syrup Festival.

Fun facts about maple syrup

Learn about pioneer life

At many sugar shacks visitors can visit heritage homes or museums where they can learn about pioneer life. Costumed interpreters offer guided tours and hands-on demonstrations of how life was for Canadians a couple of centuries ago.

Victorian Farmhouse at Maple Syrup Festival

Enjoy a wagon ride

Many maple syrup festivals offer horse drawn wagon rides whereas others offer tractor drawn wagon rides. Either ways it’s a fun way to enjoy nature.

Horse wagon rides at Maple Syrup Festival

Buy treats from the Gift Shop

Maple Syrup, maple candies, maple cookies, maple butter, old-fashioned maple taffy – you can purchase a wide variety of farm fresh fine foods from the Gift Shop.

Maple treats at Maple Syrup Festival

Watch Cooking Demos

At many Maple Syrup festivals visitors can watch live cooking demonstrations and learn how to make maple treats like candies, taffy etc.

Cooking demonstration at Maple Syrup

Enjoy pancakes with fresh maple syrup

After a fun-filled day enjoy some hot pancakes with fresh maple syrup under a pavilion nestled in the woods.

Pancakes with maple syrup

There are many more activities families can enjoy such as children’s entertainment, crackling fires, pony rides, romps in the hay bale, play area and farm animals. Before going do check the specific festival’s website to know about the activities offered. Dress up warmly and wear proper footwear since most of the activities are outdoors.

So make sure to take your kids to a sugar shack near you this spring. They will surely love the experience.

About the Author:

Sadaf Afshan is an editor at MuslimMoms.ca She also writes a food blog My Culinary Adventures and owns an Islamic Clothing business Chosen Path Abayas.

 

Have you ever been to a Maple Syrup Festival? Which is your favorite place for enjoying Maple Syrup Festivals? Which activities do you enjoy most there? Please share your experience with other Moms in the comments section.

 

Opinion: The Moral And Ethical Problems With The New Health And Physical Education Curriculum

By Muneezah Jawad Butt

The Moral And Ethical Problems With The New Health And Physical Education Curriculum

The debate about the new and ‘updated’ Health and Physical Education Curriculum is not a religious one. It’s a moral and ethical one and more so it’s about parental and children’s rights.

The government is setting up something that they think will prevent children from catching STD’s, pregnancy, sexual abuse physically and mentally. However they are not addressing the main problem. Why are children being placed in such situations in the first place? This is what needs to be nipped in the bud.

Teaching little children how to read sexual cues is not the answer. Making sure they aren’t in a position to receive the cues is the solution.  If my child was given a lecture on Masturbation in any other environment other than a school setting by an adult it would be tantamount to sexual abuse. Where is our right to raise our children as we see fit?

Seeds of ideas are being planted in to the minds of children that don’t know how to process them. There is an age for everything. I’m not being naive, I know that my children do and will know more then they let on, however I make the effort to control what my children are exposed to at home; from electronic devices, to the company they keep, I do my best. So the presumption that my kids know as much as everyone else is wrong. Each child is unique and you cannot shove the information down their throats when they are not ready. You are overloading a mind that is unable to fully comprehend what they are learning. Just like you would not teach a grade one student Calculus, the same way you cannot skip a general and natural process of growing up at the relevant speed.

It’s a vicious cycle, you will teach them these concepts, and they will become more curious about them.  It’s ripping the concept of being a child from the child and it’s honestly a travesty. We will have the next few generations of children totally confused and stressed because their minds were polluted with all sorts of biased information. Even if we pull our kids out from such classes they will still have to mingle with those poor souls who did have to listen to it and will be influenced by it.

We are slowly but surely moving towards a society where morals are becoming looser, families no longer spend quality time together and the smart phone is our new best friend. This new curriculum is just the final nail on this coffin.

Image: 123RF

7 Ways To Make Your Kids Feel Loved

By Sadaf Afshan

Ways to make kids feel loved

‘Mom you don’t love me!’

‘Of course, I love you dear’.

Haven’t all of us had this conversation with our children at some point of time? It disturbs us at times, other times we just shrug it off. Of course, we all love our children. Then why is it that our kids sometimes feel otherwise? Is it because we are not showing it enough?

Studies show that it is important for kids to feel loved and valued in order to grow up as a self-confident, positive, kind and compassionate individual.

The good news is that children do not require grand gestures to make them feel loved. You don’t need to spend tons of money to take them to theme parks or buy the latest gaming device. You don’t need to give in to their demands for dessert every night.  Simple things such as listening attentively, seeking their opinions and acknowledging their efforts are much more important than material things. Small gestures such as a hug every night or an ‘I love You’ note in their lunchbox also go a long way in expressing your love.

Here are some simple yet meaningful ways to make your kids feel special.

Hugs and Kisses

Physical touch is very important, especially for younger children. Wake them up with a kiss, give a goodnight hug or cuddle up on the couch to develop a deep connection.

Listen attentively

‘Mom, are you even listening?’ my little one screamed in frustration because she was all excited about sharing her latest feat at school while I was busy fixing dinner. I immediately realized my mistake and made a mental note.

With our busy lives it’s not uncommon to be distracted when kids come up to us to share their thoughts.  At times it might not be possible to simply drop the ball and sit down to listen to their stories. In such a scenario we should let them know when we would be in a position to give them our full attention and keep our word about it.

7 Ways to make your kids feel loved

Ask for their opinion

‘Which outfit should I wear today?’ I asked my daughter and saw her eyes light up as she gave a deep thought to help me decide.

Children feel empowered and respected when they are asked for their opinions which in turn leads to positive behaviour. Ask them their preferences while doing grocery shopping and you will notice that they are more interested in eating. Involve them in your vacation plans and you will find them helping you out in packing.

Get silly

Kids love to have a giggling or tickling session with Mom. Make up funny songs, have a pillow fight or just tickle each other and have a good laugh. Acting silly makes kids feel that parents have come out of their adult world into their own.

Little surprises

Don’t we all love surprises from our spouse or friends? Kids love them too.

Pack a loving note in his lunchbox. Make a smiley face on her pancake.  Arrange her bookshelf while she is at school because she has been struggling with it. Little gestures like these go a long way in bringing smiles on our children’s faces.

1-on-1 time with each child

‘Mom you love him more than me!’ As a mother of two I often face a tough balancing act.

Sibling rivalry is a delicate matter which needs to be handled carefully. Never compare siblings or take sides during a fight. Try to spend some time alone with each kid so that he/she feels that he/she has your full attention.

Say it in words

‘I love you’, ‘I’m proud of you’, ‘You are Allah’s special gift to me’.  These are simple yet powerful words which children need to hear often to help them develop their self-esteem and grow up as kind and loving individuals.

About the Author:

Sadaf Afshan is an editor at MuslimMoms.ca. She also writes a food blog My Culinary Adventures and owns an Islamic clothing store Chosen Path Abayas.

Image: 123RF

Choosing The Right Tablet For Your Child

By Aaisha Zafar Islam

Tablet for Kids

Handheld computing devices have fascinated the tech community for a very long time. While many manufacturers had flirted with the idea of a tablet since early 1990′s, it would be a good two decades before Apple and Steve Jobs’ vision catapulted tablet into the public domain. The first generation iPad was released worldwide in early 2010; in the four years since we have seen tablets literally take over our lives, changing the way our future generations learn and are even babysat!

In our part of the world, tablet technology is all pervasive. There are tablets that meet most budgets, from coveted ‘retina display’ ones to those that are more easy on the wallet. Price points also depend on other factors, including configuration of the device, its model, make and of course which age group it has been manufactured for. So how do you decode the jargon, make sense of the specs and chose which one is right for your child?

According to age

Thanks to smartphones and touch screen devices, our children are exposed to fiddling with screens at a very early age. In some cases, as soon as they have fine-tuned their gross motor skills! As mothers we are often guilty of handing over our phones to soothe a crying child, but does your toddler need a tablet all her own?

If you are in the market for tablets for young kids there are two notable brands that offer a child-friendly ‘tablet’ experience. With a camera, newer versions include wi-fi as well and their prices go upwards of 80 CAD. You might be able to score a good deal at seasonal sales.

One thing to keep in mind with these tablets is that they are all tied up with their own OS and app stores. Unlike grown up tablets, there are no free apps and anything that catches your child’s fancy, or looks like a good learning app that would sustain their interest for long is going to cost.

Then there’s the age factor. Though they list the appropriate ages as 5-9, truth is that even a five year old who has experienced his parent’s tablet, or a smartphone, is going to outgrow it soon.

For young children, tablets cannot be labelled as an essential learning tool. They make a good babysitter and your child might learn some new things. However, at such an early age it is best to limit children’s screen time and not rely overmuch on smart devices.

For older children, they can learn to share screen time on your own tablet, or you can get them their own, but make sure to monitor how much, and how they use technology.

OS and apps

There are two main Operating Systems that most tablets rely on: iOS by Apple and Android by Google.

The iOS is more user-friendly and has a more sleek interface. Then there is the iTunes app store. Just this past June the app store surpassed more than 1.2 million apps with more than 75 billion downloads. Whatever your need, there is sure to be an app for that.

Android, the Google based OS, lacks the polish and finesse offered by iOS, nor is it as user-friendly. However, like most things tech, one learns fast. If you are looking for a more budget friendly tablet, look for an Android based one. Instead of numerical, all versions of Android are named after sweets: it started with Alpha and the newest version is called Kit Kat!

Google Play, Android’s app store currently boasts more than 1.3 million apps available to users, signifying their rapid pace of growth.

Windows has also introduced their versions of tablets based on the Windows 8, however it is yet to gain widespread acceptance with the public. Little public appreciation in turn means a poor choice of apps.

Storage

Space becomes an issue because any and all apps you download are stored on your tablet. You also need space for any media you store on it. The iPad starts with a minimum of 16 GB while Android based tablets can range from 4 GB and upwards.

iPad does not offer any external storage option, you can store your data or pictures on iCloud. There is a minimum available for free but you can increase that space through buying a subscription

Some Android based tablets do offer the capability to extend storage/space through an external drive. If you do not plan to store much data or need that many apps, even a basic 8 GB tablet would serve the purpose.

Storage space is a deciding factor in pricing for tablets, so keep that in mind when searching for yours.

Display, dimensions and weight

The first generation tablets were nearly 10 inches of touchscreen display and weighed around 1.5 pounds. Mini version of the iPad came out three years later, reducing screen size to just under 8 inches and shaving off weight to around 0.7 pounds.

iPad also upped their game with their ‘retina display’ touch screen and ‘air’ versions that pack the same functionality in a lighter, sleeker pack. Of course these frills and fancies come at a higher price.

Android tablets, while adhering to similar screen dimensions, vary in terms of weight, image/display quality as well as how responsive their touch screens are. You get what you pay for; bear that in mind when considering a cheaper tablet. It is better to ‘invest’ in quality. Some cheaper tablets are not as responsive to touch or are prone to ‘freezing’ often. You don’t want that kind of frustrating wait on your hands!

Finally weight. When you look at a handheld device, you prefer something light and easy to hold that would not leave you with a Repetitive Strain Injury! Weight should not be a deciding factor in buying a tablet, but it should surely be considered, particularly when you add a tablet folio, casing etc. for handing it over to your children. Every gram counts!

Price points

As explained above, a lot of factors decide the price point for a tablet, including big brand names. Android tablets are easy on the pocket, but you still want value for your money and for that you will have to spend. Big brands spend big money over research, quality control and value customer satisfaction. When price is a concern, always search for reviews of the tablet you think is best and then decide.

Handheld computing devices are a valuable learning tool, however as parents, we have to make sure that our children are not glued to their screens. Life is the greatest teacher, and our children should be able to experience, learn how to observe and then decide how to act. That is something no app can teach.

 

About the author:

Aaisha Zafar Islam is the executive editor of MuslimMoms.ca and a strong advocate of limiting children’s screen time.

Do your children have a tablet of their own? Or are you considering getting them one? How do you decide how much screen time has been enough for them?