Read books with your child. You and your child can take turns reading out loud to one another. This can help practice reading skills and build confidence for the upcoming school year.
Teach your child how to swim or sign them up for swimming lessons. Check out the offerings at your community recreation centre; oftentimes, they offer free or lower cost swimming lessons.
Be a tourist in your own city. Explore Old Montreal, enjoy free tastings at Jean-Talon or Atwater markets and check out artwork at museums across the city. (Most museums offer free open hours once week. The Museum of Contemporary Art, for instance, is free on Wednesday evenings between 6 and 9pm, with a free tour being offered at 6:30pm.)
Treat your child to ice cream. A Montreal favourite is Ca Lem on Sherbrooke Street. They offer fun, creative ice cream flavours such as Smores, watermelon swirl, Nutella, strawberry-lychee and black sesame. They also launch a new limited edition flavor every week!
Go to street sales, local fairs and farmers markets.
Visit the beach. There are many beaches situated near the city, such as Parc Jean Drapeau and Cap. St Jacques Nature Park.
Go to the zoo.
Go to La Ronde.
Attend the Montreal Cirque Festival in July. Head to St. Denis Street for free events, open to all families.
Attend the Mini Rogers Cup at the Olympic Park. (July 21st, 23rd and 24th; open to all.) On the first day, children will have the opportunity to play tennis and interact with a player from the Women’s Tennis Association. The finals take place over the weekend, with kids under 12 competing for the title.
Attend the Just for Laughs Festival.
Make popsicles or smoothies.
Organize a lemonade stand with your child. This can provide practice with math skills and people skills.
Exercise with your child. Activity ideas include taking walks, hiking, biking, jump-rope, playing Frisbee or playing in the sprinklers (a summer favorite.)
Go to Parc Jean Drapeau. They offer a wide range of activities from the Aquazilla water park, to boat rentals, to public art and swimming just to name a few.
Have a barbecue with your family and friends.
Have a picnic at Beaver Lake. The mountain is teeming with activity during the hot summer months. Take a spin on the paddle boats, go on a walk and enjoy the abundant park and picnic areas.
Attend free outdoor concerts, such as les Francopholies de Montreal from June 14th to June 22nd.
Explore the Montreal Mural Festival from June 6th to June 16th.
Organize a crafting activity. Tie-dye old t-shirts, make bracelets, press summer flowers, paint rocks…
Make sidewalk chalk murals.
Watch the fireworks at the Old Port. This is a summer classic – grab a poutine or quick dinner and enjoy the fireworks show with your family.
For more ideas, be sure to check out the following resources!
The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology suggests children age 5-11 get 60 minutes of physical activity per day. During the school year, this can be difficult to achieve as your child may spend a large portion of the day commuting, sitting at school and completing homework at home. However, with a little effort and creativity, it can be easy to integrate activity into your child’s week.
Physical activity does not have to be playing a sport, there are other ways to get exercise. Even light activity can provide health benefits. Check out our ideas to get your family moving!
Summer is an opportunity for kids to grow, play and enjoy their free time. This is also a good time to encourage your child to explore new books. Reading at home can help children sustain and improve their reading skills during the summer months. Make reading part of your everyday routine –before bed, in the car, at the park and during vacation. Check out these suggestions on getting your child excited about books.
Tips on Raising a Young Reader1
Read together. Read aloud to your child and encourage your child to read aloud to you. This gives your child a chance to practice pronunciation and work on difficult words together.
Tip: Try switching who reads aloud each page – you read a page, then your child. This can be a good tactic if the book is challenging for your child. Help the story come alive by using different voices for each character.
Let your child pick. Give your child the freedom to choose the type of book they want. When they pick a subject they are interested in (animals, sports, non-fiction, comics, fantasy) it will help them engage in the story.
Tip: Sign up for a Montreal Library card and create weekly outings to the library (find your nearest library). This gives your child access to a range of books, reduces cost of buying new books and may become something you both look forward to each week. Librarians are also great places to get book recommendations.
Discuss what you read. As you are reading, stop and ask your child questions about the story. This interactive style of reading can improve your child’s language skills and will give you an idea of their level of understanding. Older children may prefer to read on their own. You can still engage them by asking them questions about the books they are reading.
Questions to start your discussion:
• What do you think will happen next?
• How do you think the character is feeling now?
• What did the character learn?
• What would happen if…?
• How would you feel…?
Be a role model. Let your child see that you are reading, too. Kids are copy cats! If you show your child that you value reading, they may grow to love reading, too.
Between social media, television, cell phones, and tablets, electronic media have become powerful forces in our children’s lives today. According to a national study conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation in 2009, 8-10 year olds spend on average just under 8 hours per day exposed to media – a number which increases to almost 12 hours daily in the 11-14 year old age group. Despite this staggering statistic, this same study found that up to two thirds of children and teenagers have no rules regarding their media use.
It is therefore unsurprising that one of the most common questions our team hears from parents is: “how much time should my child spend in front of a screen?” To answer this question, we have summarized the recommendations put forth by the American Academy of Pediatrics:
Try to keep total screen time under 2 hours per day
Avoid screen exposure for children under the age of 2 years
Do not allow TV and internet-connected devices in your child’s room
Keep an eye on what media your child is using (social media, websites, etc)
Watch movies and shows with your child (this can be a good opportunity to talk about lessons and values we can learn from the media!)
Establish and enforce a reasonable plan for media use including curfews for mealtimes and bedtimes
Although modern media has been criticized for its sexually explicit imagery, negative portrayal of body image, and the ubiquity of violence, it is important to remember that the media can have positive effects, too. The media is a powerful tool both educationally and socially, and has helped spread prosocial messages and increase access to information- keep this in mind when coming up with reasonable restrictions on screen time!
Choosing a summer camp for a child can often be difficult, but it becomes especially demanding when your child has mental health challenges or special needs. Here are some recommendations from Jane Bourke, our program’s coordinator and family therapy specialist.
Back to school is a stressful and exciting time for everyone involved. Managing this period as the parent or teacher of a child with mental health problems can be challenging, but here are some useful tips and guidelines.