Lochdale StrongStart

Learning in the spirit of wonder and joy

Staycation: Find ways to explore the world from your own backyard

While the pandemic has limited our ability to vacation overseas, there are many staycation ideas that we can explore locally that are safe, budget friendly and fun.

See below for some ideas:

• Take a trip down memory lane by dusting off old photo albums and reliving memories with family.

Talk to children about old memories, past trips and plan for future trips.

• Explore the world by inviting families and friends to share about their part of the world, for instance, by exchanging postcards and letters.
• Prepare in advance for future vacations by learning with your children to say a few phrases in the local language of that place.
• Find ways to volunteer and give back to the community.

• Introduce your children to Canada’s great outdoors by going on hikes, boating, picnics, camping or fishing. Stay local and opt for less popular parks and trails to avoid crowds and parking issues.
• Look up and explore the world of astronomy. Stargaze with naked eyes or invest in binoculars or telescope.
• Try different outdoor activities, such as rollerblading, biking, outdoor swimming, soccer or kite flying.

Click here for more staycation ideas.

With a bit of planning and creativity, staycations can be memorable and a fun experience for everyone. Stay safe and explore the world from your own backyard.


Preserve Family Cultures and Values

Families could be missing out on  practicing family traditions and culture during the pandemic due to limited opportunities to gather and celebrate; yet this is the time when we most need to keep family grounded and connected with traditions. Our culture and history are part of who we are, and it is essential that we share our old and new stories and traditions with the family, while adhering to public health orders.

Here are a few  ideas that can be implemented during pandemic.

  • Practice speaking in your home language at home, and/or gather online to share stories from your culture.
  • Teach children a few favourite childhood songs and rhymes in your home language.
  • Sharing family stories or history while informing and educating cultural traditions and values.

The best gifts we can give our children are the roots to grow, and wings to fly!  One might just find that reconnecting with our roots and introducing our family history and culture might be more amazing than we can imagine.

For more ideas, see  https://canadianimmigrant.ca/living/parenting/preserving-family-traditions-during-the-pandemic


Family Chores

Doing chores is great way for children to contribute to the family and have a contributing role in the family.  While involving children in chores might seem challenging at times, you might be pleasantly surprised by your children capabilities to step up and help with families chores.

Assigning chores and household responsibilities will help children to become capable and responsible adults.  It also teaches children the importance of cooperation, commitment, and giving back. Learning to do these chores early on in life will help ensure children’s future success as a well-rounded adult in the society.

What fun way to involve children by starting a new family tradition of learning and doing different chores.

  • Together as a family, decide what the chores are, and assign appropriate chores to every family member. Set chores responsibilities chart and rules to ensure chores are done.
  • Start by introducing simple tasks and teach one new chore at a time. Give clear instructions, and break down the tasks, if necessary.
  • Taking into consideration the age and ability of children, designate suitable chores for them. Start early, and as children grow, assign more complex chores for the children.
  • Allow children to learn at their own speed and to learn from their mistakes. Keep in mind that learning experience that is more important than having chores done exactly to your standard.
  • Make sure to take into consideration safety issues, and to teach children about the safety tips prior to starting the chores.

Family Projects: Innovative ways to strengthen relationships

As we enter the new year, nothing is better than bringing family together in a meaningful and interactive “family project”. Engaging in a project with collective purpose can help strengthen family relationships.

From Conversation Starter Kit, Gratitude Jar, Money Jar, to Memories Journal, these project will be fulfilling experience for family to work collaboratively on a meaningful project, to share the gifts of reflection, mindfulness and gratitude. Do include family members living at a distance by engaging them in virtual family projects.  More than just fun and games, family projects can help us stay positive, make meaningful memories, and most of all, strengthen our connections in our family and community.

Read more about the different projects ideas in detail  here.



Set New Year’s goals with your family


The beginning of the year is a great time to set goals for your family. It’s a great way to start off a new and successful year for every member of the household. And, it is even more important this year, given that we are dealing with uncertain times caused by the pandemic and just starting to see the road ahead.

So, how can you create set goals, draw up plans and make resolutions for yourself and your kids that will move you towards your goals?

Set the goals
To start, take time to brainstorm New Year’s goals for every family member. While parents might be tempted to help set children’s goals and help them make resolutions (i.e., get an “A” in math), do give children the opportunity to set what that they really want to achieve. Goals being set by children themselves allow them to take ownership of the goals, and thus they have more motivation to achieve those goals.

But help your kids set specific and clearly defined ones that are achievable and measurable. By breaking down the goals into smaller and shorter-term ones, it increases the chance of achieving them.

Also, focus setting goals based on children’s performance and effort, instead of comparing them to standard outcomes and results. Help children understand the importance of challenging themselves and to strive for their personal best and remind them that reaching the goals requires patience and persistence.

Write it down
Write down the goals, along with a detailed plan of the steps to reach them. Set a reasonable timeline, and let children know that while the resolutions are set in the beginning of the year, it usually takes much longer time to achieve the goals.

Create visual reminders to use as a reminder and for encouragement. Write the goals on children’s student planners, family calendars, vision board, diary or journal, and regularly document the progress.

Share with each other
Share your resolutions with each other. It can help to provide encouragement, and a little bit of family pressure and accountability is powerful. Thus, children will be more likely to commit and follow through with the goals set.

Make an action plan
Now take the plan and put it in action. However small your first step is, take that initial step toward your resolutions. Resolutions are simply wishful thinking unless we take steps to make them happen.

Keep it positive
Keep focus on the good habits or goals we want to achieve, instead of bad habits we want to change (e.g., “I want to become healthier by eating three servings of vegetables a day,” instead of “Eat less junk food”). By making the resolutions into a positive experience, we are more likely to achieve positive results.

Also, surround your family with inspiration. Various forms of inspiration include motivational quotes or proverbs, visualization techniques, inspirational songs or positive role models. Find creative ways to provide extra encouragement when needed, whether it is a motivational poster or a simple note in your child’s lunch box.

Remain optimistic and flexible with the resolutions, as situations and plans will change from time to time. Encourage children to learn from experiences, and celebrate the little successes. Setting New Year’s resolutions can be a powerful way to inspire and motivate your entire family — and also bring you all closer together.

Get ready for winter: Tips for families to stay safe and enjoy the season


Winter is almost here – get ready for shorter days, colder temperatures, wind, rain, ice and even snow. While the weather conditions vary across the country, this is a wonderful season to enjoy, if we are fully prepared for it.

Below are five tips that can help families stay safe and enjoy the colder season.

1. Be prepared when out and about: Always check the news, traffic alerts, and weather forecast before heading out. If using public transportation, check the schedule. If you own a vehicle, ensure that your car is in good working order, equipped with snow tires and your gasoline is at least half full at all times. Reduce or avoid driving in extreme weather, especially with young children. Carry essential items such as a first-aid kit, emergency car kits, warm blankets, non-perishable snacks, water and clothes for children. Moreover, always remember to bring your fully charged phone and a charger when going out.

2. Dress for the weather: Given that schools have increased their outdoor learning due to the pandemic, it is especially important for parents to dress children appropriately for the weather. Essentials include waterproof boots, jackets, and pants. Don’t forget thermal underwear, thick socks, mittens, toques, earmuffs and scarves. Also remember to pack an extra change of clothes and socks for younger children to bring to school. If possible, put on a reflector on their jacket or backpack to help them stay more visible when it’s dark outside.

3. Plan for all types of emergencies: Prepare your home emergency kit and first-aid kits, in case of lockdowns, storms or other emergencies. Make sure to stock up on all family members’ medication, non-perishable food supplies and personal hygiene items. Do include extra personal items for children, such as books and toys, diapers, and also batteries and chargers. For more information about being prepared for all types of emergencies, visit getprepared.gc.ca.

4. Stay healthy: Ensure that you and your family stay healthy by having a balanced diet, staying hydrated, exercising and getting sufficient rest. Don’t forget the flu shots, extra supplements, lip balm for chapped lips and lotions for the dry skin. Be sure to mask up when out in public places, and to stay home when sick. Make sure to teach children to sneeze or cough into the elbow and to always carry hand sanitizers and extra tissues.

5. Connect with family and friends: With the pandemic, it is more important than ever to have great support and meaningful connections with your friends and family. Also check in and lend a helping hand to others who might need additional support during this challenging time. Follow public health orders, and find safe and creative ways to keep in touch with friends and families.

No matter where you are in the country, be prepared, bundle up and find safe ways to embrace winter.

Nature – the magic bullet? Guest blog from ECCC program

Since the pandemic began many changes have ensued steering families to make decisions they never thought they would ever make. Working from home with little children banging on the door demanding fishy crackers may not exactly be what you thought going back to work would look like. The low level anxiety people are faced with everyday as the pandemic lingers on, just shouldn’t be – and yet, here we are.

Children feel stress too and are really good at letting parents/caregivers know through their behaviour. Play dates are postponed, grandma and grandpa need to stay safe and can’t help out like they use to. Parents are concerned about their children’s social and emotional development and screen time. The list goes on. Stress and anxiety are real and present for many families – all members included.

Now, I am not one for magic bullets, but that’s kind of what I’m going to share with you here. Being in nature and the benefits it creates may be as close to a magic bullet as we can get. There is an ever growing body of evidence based research pointing to the power of nature for adult’s and children’s well being.

Children 3-4 years old are recommended by the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology to engage in 3 hours of physical activity spread over the course of every day. Young children need to move and challenge their bodies. Parks, gardens, beaches, forests, even the back yard are perfect spaces for children to get their move on. Children who engage in nature tend to be physically healthier because;

  • Heart health is better – they move more and sit less
  • Have better eye health – children who spend more time outside reduce the risk of myopia (nearsightedness)
  • Sleep better as the sun helps regulate sleep patterns
  • Improves the immune system

If you are feeling low, being in nature may give that needed boost. There is a vast body of research on how spending time in nature actually reduces stress, anxiety and depression for children and adults. Being in nature calms the brain by reducing cortisol (the stress hormone) and boosts endorphins and dopamine (happy hormones) in the body. Walking though a forest is call, shinrin-yoku, in Japanese, which literally means, “forest bathing” because of this calming effect it embodies.

Playing in nature offers children unstructured play where the possibilities are seemingly limitless to choose and design what and how to play. By engaging with their world by their own accord, children have the opportunity to make meaningful discoveries about the world promoting creativity and imagination.

Discoveries on colours, patterns and shapes found in nature make the great outdoors the perfect place to begin learning about early math concepts and language development. Research on learning outcomes for school aged children with regular access to outdoor lessons show significantly stronger reading and writing skills than for children without these nature experiences. The sights, sounds and smells of nature help calm the nervous system cultivating better focus and concentration, both key factors to learning. There are also many studies linking time spent in nature reducing ADHD symptoms. Being outside matters!

Getting outside and into nature has benefits for the entire family. Family programs held outside, such as Strong Start, offer families a special gift. These outdoor programs allow for multi-generational shared learning and exploration in an environment rich with information that promotes physical and mental well-being. So, it may not be the magic bullet – but it’s close!


Anita Olson works on the traditional, ancestral, and unceeded territory of the Coast Salish peoples for Family Services of Greater Vancouver as Burnaby’s Early Childhood Community Consultant (ECCC). She has been working with families and young children for well over a decade and as a parent herself recognizes the challenges, complexity and delight parenting brings. Understanding the foundational importance of infant and early childhood development, Anita shares information, strategies and practical tools with parents as they begin and continue their parental journey. Focusing on the parent/caregiver and child relationship, Anita’s work with families aims to create and preserve loving connection and curiosity. Anita holds a current ECE licence, BA and MEd from Simon Fraser University. If you would like to speak with Anita, email her at aolson@fsgv.ca or call 604-723-9548













Read with your child – Guest blog post from Burnaby Public Librarian

Hello friends! This is Ana, children’s librarian at Burnaby Public Library. I’m thankful to Ms. Song for the chance to connect with your family through this blog post.

The public library is one of the most precious community resources you could make use of. Here you can find books, DVDs and music to help your child develop the love of reading as well as entertain you and your family.

Here are some tips to enjoy books at  home with your child:

Let your child lead
Let them choose what you read together most of the time. Look for books that match their interests.

Ask questions as you read
This helps your child get involved in the story and understand it. Be sure to give them lots of thinking time and keep it fun.

Let them tell the story
Sometimes after you read a book, ask your child to tell you the story in their own words using the pictures.

And here is a list with great books to read aloud to your child .

The library is open! Of course things are different right now, but we are taking all precautions to make sure you can visit the library in a safe manner and still enjoy our space and resources.

If you’re not ready to visit in person yet, we understand. You can still make use of our resources! Call us at 604-436-5400 to register for a library card and learn more about our digital books and other electronic resources.

I hope to see you at the library soon!

Ana Calabresi


Burnaby StrongStart Centres are looking forward to welcoming you back in person as early as October 26, 2020. Although we have been engaging with many families via emails, phone calls, Blogs, and Zoom it will be wonderful to see you face to face.

Burnaby StrongStart Centres will offer a blended model that will include 3 days a week of in-person programming at StrongStart centres, 1 day a week of outdoor exploration at local parks or on school grounds, and 1 day a week of virtual outreach to stay connected to families who aren’t quite ready to visit us in person. Schedules will vary at StrongStart locations and not all centres will be open for in-person programming.

In-person visits will be limited to four families per day (1 parent/guardian per 3 children maximum) in order to maintain safe physical distancing. Outdoor explorations will be limited to ten families per day (1 parent/guardian per 3 children maximum) to maintain safe physical distancing. All in-person programs will run from 9:30am to 11:00am to accommodate cleaning and disinfecting protocols.

There is no drop-in StrongStart. All families (new and returning) must register online for the 2020-21 year. The total number of registered families will determine the number of times per month families can attend an in-person StrongStart program. Burnaby StrongStart programs are available to Burnaby residents only. Families can attend at one location only.

Registration for StrongStart is now open!

How do I register?

  • All new and returning families must register online for the 2020-2021 year.
  • Please register for the StrongStart Centre closest to you home.
  • Click this link https://registration.sd41.bc.ca/Forms/strongstartregistration, fill out the registration form and submit.
  • Once your registration form is processed, a StrongStart Educator will contact you to schedule your visits (all visits need to be scheduled this year). Please allow time for your registration to be processed.

What do I do when I arrive at the school?

  • Please arrive on time.
  • There will be clear StrongStart signage at the school when you arrive. Follow the signage to the designated outdoor entrance and wait on one of the markers for the StrongStart Educator to welcome you (please do not enter the school building on your own).
  • A Daily Health Check will be done by the educator before you come in to the school or classroom.
  • You and your child(ren) will be required to sanitize your hands prior to entering the school or StrongStart classroom.
  • All adults are required to wear a mask.
  • The StrongStart Educator will sign you in once you arrive.

What will StrongStart look like?

  • In each in-person classroom session there will be a maximum of four families (1 parent/guardian per 3 children maximum).
  • In each outdoor session there will be a maximum of ten families (1 parent/guardian per 3 children maximum).
  • We cannot accommodate childcare providers at this time.
  • All adults must physically distance from each other and children not their own.
  • Children will be encouraged to minimize physical contact with each other, unless part of the same family unit.
  • It is not necessary to attempt to eliminate close contact between children, recognizing the importance of children’s emotional, physical, and developmental needs.
  • Activities that encourage individual play and more space between children, staff, and parents will be organized.
  • StrongStart classrooms will have equipment and materials set up for you and your child(ren) to explore together.
  • Songs, stories, music, and movement will be organized to support physical distancing between adults.
  • Access to washroom facilities is limited but not prohibited. Please use your home facilities before coming to the StrongStart centre.
  • There will be no scheduled library or gym time.
  • Individually packaged snacks will be distributed at the end of each centre visit.

What about illness?

  • Children, adults, and staff should stay at home when they are sick and monitor symptoms for 24 hours or when new symptoms of illness develop, such as:

– Fever
– Chills
– Cough
– Difficulty breathing (in small children this can look like breathing fast or working hard to breathe)
– Loss of sense of smell or taste
– Nausea or vomiting
– Diarrhea

  • If symptoms include fever or difficulty breathing or if symptoms last for more than 24 hours or get worse, seek a health assessment by calling 8-1-1 or a primary care provider and follow their advice.
  • Children or adults who become sick while in the StrongStart setting will be asked go home as soon as possible.
  • Children and staff should:

– Cough or sneeze into their elbow sleeve or a tissue.
– Throw away used tissues and immediately perform hand hygiene (“cover your coughs”).
– Not touch their eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands (“hands below your shoulders”).

  • Access the StrongStart Program Daily Health Check here

StrongStart BC Programs follow the Public Health Guidance for Child Care Settings During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Access the information at http://www.bccdc.ca/Health-Info-Site/Documents/COVID_public_guidance/Guidance_Child_Care.pdf

StrongStart Locations will open as early as October 26, 2020.

StrongStart In-Person Classroom and Outdoor Exploration Session locations:

  • Cascade Heights Elementary
  • Edmonds Community School
  • Forest Grove Elementary
  • Lochdale Community School
  • Maywood Community School
  • Stoney Creek Community School
  • Twelfth Avenue Elementary

StrongStart Outdoor Exploration Session locations:

  • Chaffey-Burke Elementary
  • Kitchener Elementary
  • Morley Elementary
  • Second Street Community School
  • Stride Avenue Community School

Please register for the StrongStart Centre closest to your home. Families who register for locations that do not have in-person classroom sessions will be accommodated at another centre. All StrongStart Educators will continue virtual outreach to families.

Hand Washing

Hands washing is very important nowadays.  However, washing hands is more than putting hands under the running water for 20 seconds and sing happy birthday twice.   It is important to wash the palm, back of hand, between fingers, fingernails and also the wrist.

So let’s learn this new hand washing song:

Please click on the Handwashing song video to sing along.     

Here is the lyric for the handwashing song.

Palm and back, palm and back,

in between, in between

Wash under the fingernails,  also wash the wrist

Now you’re squeaky clean, now you’re squeaky clean

To ensure washing for minimum of 20 seconds, sing the handwashing song twice.

Please remember to always wash your hands. Stay healthy!



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