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September 2009
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Back To School Recommendations

Fall is definitely in the air here in Toronto – I had to use the defroster and the seat warmers this morning – but that also mean that back to school time is just around the corner. For most students day 1 is next Tuesday, September 8th.

This back to school stuff got me thinking about simple ‘greening’ initiatives parents and students can do. Here they are (in no particular order):

  1. Walk or Ride to School: Most Toronto students attend public schools that are walking or riding distance. Instead of turning on the car, walk or ride with your child to school. Not only is this a ‘green’ thing but it also falls under the Ontario mandate to increase active transportation.
  2. Pack a Litterless Lunch: most of the students are learning about preserving our environment. It is no longer a ‘faux paux’ to bring your lunch in reusable containers. Plus I think they come with some funky characters these days.
  3. Refillable Water Bottles: Juice is great, but too much juice is no good. It’s filled with sugar, which means a lot of extra calories. I won’t even go near soft drinks, regular or diet/light. Again like those cool looking containers water bottles also come with a wide variety of designs. McDonald’s is even promoting their Olympic ones right now. Encourage your kids to drink water
  4. Extra-curricular activities: I preferred these to school any day and they may have been the reason I went to school. From visual and dramatic arts, to sports, to academic, including student council encourage your children to get involved both inside and outside their school.
  5. Limit TV watching: when I was smaller I was limited to 30 minutes of TV per night. And most nights I didn’t even need that 30 minutes, mind you I was an ‘outdoorsy’ kid – tobogganing, cycling, tag, hide and seek, etc.
  6. Limit Computer Time: Computers seem to be as bad, maybe worse, than TV. We are drawn into them. Again limit the time your child has with the computer and encourage them to do something more stimulating.
  7. Encourage Part-time jobs: Yes, this is limited to older children. I worked in retail when I was in high school and it taught me a lot about what I wanted to do and also introduced me to a broad spectrum of people I may not have otherwise met. Plus as a shop-a-holic at times the discounts were fantastic! I also encourage teaching a sport/activity (i.e. swimming, skiing, tennis, baseball – the rewards from teaching children are … indescribable)
  8. Have your children help with dinner: simple activities like tearing lettuce for a salad or setting the table encourages good eating habits and family time.
  9. Daily Cardiovascular Activity: CBC has a very interesting documentary, Brain Gains, on the benefits of 20 minutes of daily cardio every day. It is based on the book Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain. The results – academically the students scored higher after doing 20 minutes of cardio vascular exercise each day.
  10. Lots of hugs: They don’t output any carbon and they teach us the importance of dependence and interdependence.