The Building Blocks of Reading-How Parents Can Help Build Literacy Skills

written by Laurie Lafortune


Studies have shown that children who are behind in reading in school by Grade 3 continue to fall behind and are four times less likely to graduate high school than other children.  The first three grades of school are very important in learning to read, but the foundation for reading is laid at home, long before formal schooling begins.  Successful parents play a key role in helping their children be successful in school before school begins, not by teaching them to read, but by supporting the development of literacy. Parents should start as early and as frequently as possible with simple communication activities.

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Shopping and Financial Literacy for Kids

written by Laurie Lafortune

Financial literacy refers to the skills and knowledge that allows a person to make informed decisions about money and other financial resources. Financial literacy for kids? That sounds kind of complex, and over their heads.  But your children will have money at their disposal from quite a young age. Birthday presents of cash, gifts of money or store cards from grandparents will start coming their way. Kids as young as 3 can understand buying and spending, and saving.

We don’t want our kids to reach adulthood and suddenly be thrown into the real world of budgeting. We all can tell stories about many young adults (and older adults) who struggle with financial decisions and are unable to manage their income and expenses. Money worries are one of the biggest causes of family breakdown. And a lot of the money worries come from spending beyond income.

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Should Parents make their Kids Say “I’m Sorry”?

written by: Laurie Lafortune

Let’s look at the goals behind having your child say “I’m sorry”. An apology is not meant to be an excuse, or to get someone off the hook. The goal behind an apology is to repair relationships, accept responsibility and make a commitment to not do that again. Without that understanding, the word sorry has little meaning.  It’s not the saying of the words that matter, but the meaning behind them.

Most parents can get their child to obey the command to “Say You’re Sorry!” through removal of privileges, or other consequences, but there no meaning  in those words being spoken if the child is only saying it so the parent will stop nagging, or to avoid unpleasant consequences.  Forcing children to make an apology might make a child more angry and resentful.  Some children say the words, because of fear of punishment and might not even realize that they did something wrong.

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Understanding Your Child’s Temperament

written by Laurie Lafortune

I remember a friend telling me that if her third baby had been her first, she might not have had more than one child. That rueful statement was related to temperament of her third child, which was much more challenging than the calm, easy-going temperaments of the first two.  It can be a surprise to parents how different siblings can be in temperament.

For parents who are trying to use active parenting strategies to be the best parents they can, it’s crucial to understand your child’s temperament.  Temperament describes a child’s typical way of responding to the world. It appears that temperament is genetically based, but of course is then modified by the environment including the type of parenting.

Some kids are just naturally quiet, calm and more reserved while others are outgoing, talkative and loud. Some are generally easy-going, “go with the flow” types, while others of are strong-willed and resistant to change.  Children with temperaments that parents find challenging are often called “spirited” children. Children fall somewhere along a continuum with their individual traits. Taking some time to think about and understand the facets of a child’s temperament can be really helpful for parents. It will help a parent to anticipate reactions, avoid conflicts, and help a child with his own self-control. There is no temperament that is better than another; what really matters is being aware of how your child’s temperament fits your home environment and how it matches up with your own temperament as an adult.  If you and your child have very different temperaments, it can be challenging to keep things on an even keel. You might not realize how difficult certain situations can be for your child.

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Can an Active Parenting Program help Prevent Child Abuse?

Written by Laurie Lafortune

Child abuse sadly is not uncommon in our country. A 2014 study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that 32% of Canadians had experienced physical abuse, sexual abuse, exposure to violence in the home, spanking with an object, or slapping.

These types of experiences were found to have a strong correlation with mental disorders, including suicidal thought and suicidal attempts.

Improved parenting skills as found in parenting books and resources such as Active Parenting can help prevent child abuse. The principles and strategies in the Active Parenting program address the common risk factors that have been found in studies of abusive parents.

One risk factor for child abuse is found in parents who have a strong belief in corporal punishment. These parents believe that corporal punishment will shape their child’s behaviour. But if parents are under stress due to employment or family factors, they are at risk of going too far with their children. They may become enraged and out of control, inflicting physical injury or even death on their children. Tragically, even infants have been victims of out of control parents.

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Playing outside in the winter

Written by Laurie Lafortune

All parent educators agree that outdoor active play is important for children’s health and learning.

But most parents have had the experience of getting the kids all bundled up and appropriately dressed to play outside in the winter, only to find that the children have difficulty staying occupied and may want to come right back inside. Proper warm clothing is a must, but a parent can also plan activities and provide materials to engage the children’s interest. Before you head out, have a plan in mind of what you might do for play-you don’t want to be standing around when it’s cold out.

Here are some ideas to help children get fresh air and exercise, keeping active during the long, cold winter season.

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written by Laurie Lafortune

There’s a lot to discuss about your kid’s phone use. How old should they be when they get a cell phone?  Who pays for the phone and the monthly bill? What are the family rules around phone use?

First, you need to consider the existing expectations and routines in your home. Do you expect family meal time to be a time for conversation and for family members to be together?  Are you trying to teach your kids financial responsibility? Are you careful about amount of sleep and bedtime routines with your kids? Do you think screen time should be limited to a certain amount of time each day? Continue reading


As parents, we hope our child will be successful at school, learning and growing towards adulthood and independence. Children spend many hours in school, and parents can help make this time successful by trying the following tips.

Read aloud daily and have conversations with your child. Sometimes as our children get older, we may no longer think reading aloud is as important, but it is still a special and valuable way to spend time with your child, building vocabulary and lifelong learning skills. Asking your child to read aloud to you, with “chapter books” is a great way to help with fluency in reading. Encourage general conversation with open ended questions like, “What was a good thing about your day at school?”  Or, you can ask your children to think of a topic of conversation to raise at the supper table, for example, a current event, an upcoming trip, or a sports event, a movie or a book.

Get to know your child’s teachers: Recognize that school success is a team effort from teachers and parents. Encourage and support the teachers’ efforts.

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Family Meetings: Good Idea or a Waste of Time?

Some parenting experts have recommended family meetings as a positive part of active parenting strategies for many years, while others feel that the idea of a ‘meeting’ is too structured and formal for a family.  Let’s take a look at the concept.

A family meeting isn’t like a workplace meeting or board meeting; it’s simply a time where all family members, young and old, get to talk about topics, and everyone has a chance to give their views and opinions.  It also allows family members to share concerns or get help with problems.  Family meetings can be very brief, or as long as needed. Ten to fifteen minutes is usually enough, especially if your children are younger, and up to 45 minutes might be needed for complicated issues or with teenagers. Your goal is to make the meeting enjoyable and useful. It’s not mandatory that everyone come to the meeting, and if a family member refuses at first, they might join in later when they see how it works. And who doesn’t like to have a say?  Everyone who lives in the household, including extended family members is encouraged to be part of the meeting.

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Helping Your Child To Be Respectful

Respect is a word that we hear often; phrases like “Show some respect,” or “Respect your elders”, were commonly said by adults to children in the past, and similar statements are still heard today, especially in an autocratic style of parenting. The implication is that children should automatically show respect to all adults and those in positions of authority, such as teachers, caregivers, or coaches. Continue reading

When parents need more help…

Are you familiar with the resources and services for families in your community?

As a parent educator, facilitator, or group leader you’ll be spending a lot of time talking with parents about their children and families. As you meet with them regularly providing your interactive workshops, you will develop a relationship with each participant. Some parents will be more quiet and formal, and others will be very open and extraverted. Some will not ask many questions and others will be very open about their family situation.   Every parent, every child and every family is unique, with their own strengths and challenges.

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Dealing with the Worst Time of Day for Family Stress

Parenting is stressful, and parents need to deliberately make an effort to manage stress in order to be successful parents. There are many ways to that  parents can take care of themselves and manage their own stress, in order to provide children with the most supportive environment possible. One important thing to do is to encourage parents to get their home and routine organized. Continue reading