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Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Potty Training Series : Post 3

Ok, parents you have done your prep work and considered all sorts of things that may have an impact on your child's readiness for potty training. Now onto some practical tips and references!

Getting Started.....

Whether you are training at home, or in a combination of settings, begin by charting the diapering/toileting of your child. If your child attends Preschool or daycare meet with staff and discuss charting in both places, so that you can look for a pattern in which your child is constantly dry for at least two hours. Use the information to begin taking the child to the toilet before he/she is usually wet.

Decide what your toilet training procedure is going to be. Some experts recommend that stickers or small treats not be used when you are toilet training, while others think that short term use, as a motivator to ‘get your child’s attention’ are okay. This is a strategy you will need to decide about. If your child spends part of the day outside your home, talk to staff at the other location(s) and decide together what the procedure will be, and the language you will use when talking to the child about going to the bathroom. Consistency between settings is very important!

Your child should now begin wearing training pants/regular underwear during the day. Be sure to provide at least one change of clothes for your child, so he/she can be changed when there are accidents. You do not want to confuse your child by switching back and forth between diapers and underwear.

Begin taking your child to the toilet at regular intervals. If he/she attends Preschool or Daycare, bathroom trips may be done at regular intervals with a group, which works very well because children this age love to imitate, and soon want to go to the bathroom in the toilet because they see their friends are.

If your child accidentally wets or has a bowel movement in her/his pants, reassure her/him it is okay and clean up immediately. Use positive, reassuring language, such as “Oh, I see your pants are wet. Let’s get you changed. The next time you have to pee, you can go on the toilet.” Before you begin training, be sure to talk to staff at your daycare or Preschool about how accidents are handled, in order for your child to receive the same message in both places.

Toilet training can be a challenging time for families, and often can be quite stressful depending on the advice you receive, the personality of your child, and other things going on in your life. There are resources available to provide information to support you, particularly if you are having problems. Please don’t feel embarrassed, or that people will judge you, everyone who has  children knows how challenging toilet training can be. Ask for help if you need reassurance or some tips! This too, shall pass.


Kinnell, G., Good Going! Successful Potty Training for Children in Child Care, Red Leaf Press, 2004
Kinnell, G., Good Going! The Potty-Training Guide for Families, Red Leaf Press, 2012

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Potty Training Series : Post 2

Now that you have had some time to assess the readiness of your child, it's time to move on to another assessment of sorts! Does it seem like there is a lot of work before you even get started?! There is! The most important part of potty training is actually the assessment and planning you do as a parent or caregiver before you even bring your little one into the mix! Take some time to consider any circumstances in your life and family that could adversely affect your child and derail your plan.

What types of circumstances Can Adversely Affect a Child’s Readiness to Toilet Train?

Sometimes, the developmental indicators show us that a child is ready to begin the toilet training process, but there may be factors that are not related to the child’s development, that could negatively influence the success of the toilet training. Below are some examples of factors which may indicate that a decision needs to be made about whether to proceed with the training or wait for a better time.

Have there been any recent changes in the household that seem difficult for the child?

Is there a new baby in the family?

Has the child, or the parents, recently had a serious illness?

Have the child’s parents recently separated or divorced?

Has there been death in the family?

Has the family moved recently?

Have there been any changes in the child’s care?

Did the child just begin attending a Pre-School or child care program?

Did the child recently change Pre-Schools or child care programs?

Does the child have a new child care provider or caregiver?

Did the child recently move to a new room in the child care program?

Did the child recently change the bed she/he sleeps in at home?

Is the child in a ‘negative phase’ (you know that phase!) where he/she refuses to do things, argues, is trying to ‘control’ his/her life, and generally resists adult direction? If any of these are factors for you and your child, waiting a little longer to toilet train may be a good decision, rather than getting into a power struggle.

Preparation & Possible Problems to Avoid

The seat, either in a potty chair, or that fits on the toilet, should be ‘child sized’ so your little one isn’t afraid of falling in.

If your child is on the toilet, make sure you have a step stool to place under her/his feet to help her/him to feel secure.

Modify the type of clothing your child wears for a little while, to make training easier: Elastic waist, loose fitting pants, and waist length shirts, help your child to get ready to use the toilet, and avoid accidents when clothing gets in the way.

Use padded training pants or regular underwear when you begin training, continuing to use diapers or pull-ups sends mixed messages and confuses the child.

Your child will have accidents when you are toilet training, be sure you have extra clothing, including underwear/training pants, extra pants, socks, and shoes readily available at home, and be sure to send a couple of sets to Preschool or daycare.

Happy planning, parents! We will share one last post with some guidelines and things to consider as you move into the implementation phase of your potty training! 

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Potty Training Series : Post 1

One of the most common questions we hear at our Parent Information Night, or when a parent comes in to register their child for Pre-School is, “What about toilet training? We’ve started but he/she isn’t completely trained.” Since this is such a hot topic we decided to share a series of posts with some considerations,  information, tips and tricks.

From our experience, most children quickly become more independent with this important self-help skill, if the school and home work together, using the same process and language. Once the children are at school, and are using the bathroom with other children, they are motivated to learn/master these skills.

How will we know if our child is ready to be toilet trained? 

The simple answer is “when the child is ready” “Experts’ in the field of pediatrics and research may suggest anywhere from 18 months to thirty months, but all emphasize the importance of looking at specific indications that an individual child is ready to begin the toilet training process. This readiness requires predictable physical and behavioural clues that a child is ready to participate:

Is the child at least 18 months old?

Are the child’s diapers dry for at least 2 hours at a time?

Does the child know – and let you know- when he is wet or has a bowel movement?

Does the child tell you or indicate that she is uncomfortable in wet or soiled diapers?

Can the child sit upright for 5 minutes?

Can the child undress enough to sit on the potty?

Is the child able to get himself to the potty?

Does the child follow simple directions?

Does the child answer simple yes-and-no questions?

Does the child imitate others- parents, caregivers, or other children?

Does the child show pride, joy, or excitement when she/he learns a new skill?

It is important to consider that for potty training to be a self-help skill; a child has to take an active role in it. And in order to take an active role, the child has to be ready and able.

In addition, if a child is being toilet trained in a group setting, such as Pre-School, Day Care, or a Day Home, we also need to consider:

Does the child trust and feel comfortable with the adults who care for him/her?

Do the adults-parents and caregivers-know what they will have to do to help the child learn to use the potty?

Are the parents and caregivers willing and able to devote the time and attention to helping the child learn to use the toilet?

Have the adults – parents and caregivers- shared information with each other about how they plan to do the toilet training, so that the same methods and language are used at home and at Pre-School, Daycare, or at the Day Home?

Take some time to assess the readiness of your little one and watch for our next post where we will dive deeper into this important topic!


Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Photo Blog ......Family Learning Celebrations

Twice a year we invite our families to join us at BELA in the evening for our Family Learning Celebration. This is a chance for our parents to spend some time learning from their child,  about life at BELA and experience our daily routine . Our students are always so excited to have their parents attend! Your participation as a parent helps show your child that you value their education and are interested in their school. Parent involvement is directly linked to children's success in school! Thanks to all our BELA families for your participation.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Adventures of a BELA Kid....

The end of the school year will be here before you know it and we intend to soak up every bit of sun and fun we can before then! Field trips, park days and playing with friends...... all captured here in this photo blog.....

Monday, March 26, 2018

Preschool Myths Busted & FAQ's Answered

The BELA team has evolved immensely and learned a great deal over the last 5 years! One of the most important lessons we’ve learned is that we can never tire of continuing to promote and educate our fellow community members about the importance of early childhood education!

This year, I have had the unique experience of becoming a BELA parent, in addition to being a part time staff member, and let me tell you I can now undoubtedly see the value through both lenses........

Year after year the same questions, concerns and fears come to us from new parents. We’ve heard it all, and many of you may have had these thought run through your head as well. I’m here address those FAQ's and clear up common early childhood education myths and misconceptions!

1. “They’re too little for school!”

I’m barely passed counting their age in months, I still sing lullabies at bedtime and kiss their booboos, and I’m expected to send them to school........alone??

“There’s lots of time for baby is too little!”

Here’s the good news! The very basis for our preschool program is centered around the concept of “Let them be little”. Play based learning at it’s finest, allows for our littles to be just that...little; while also taking full advantage of those pivotal years from birth to age 5. The late, great Dr. Fraser Mustard stresses the importance of the early learning: the years before 5 last a lifetime. Our Educational Director, Jody Rutherford’s blog explains more about the importance of early learning including further research Drs. Mustard, Heckman and many others in recent years, that have given voice to the importance of the early learning years and providing the very best learning opportunities we can to children in the, birth to age eight years, in order to fully capitalize on their optimal learning years.

2. “Daycares/Dayhomes/Babysitters and Pre-Schools are the same thing”

To put it bluntly, this simply isn’t true. There is a growing awareness in our society of the importance of early childhood education, vs. child care, both of which are very important. However, there is a difference, between caring for a child’s basic needs for food, clothing, shelter, safety and interaction and play; and providing educational learning opportunities which are planned purposefully, and implemented by staff who have educational background/experience in the early learning years. As Jody explains here no matter how fantastic the skills of the caregivers, and many of them are just that, fantastic; there are just so many benefits to children attending a preschool where their learning opportunities are tailored to align with the kindergarten curriculum, to maximize their potential. I want what’s best for my little people, I think we all do! Even though it isn't always easy, I've tried to find a balance between the full time childcare we need and still providing the preschool experience and learning that I feel is the best fit for my son.

3. “I can teach them everything they need to know.”

At BELA we see the parent as the child’s first and most important teacher! It’s at preschool that the foundations that have been built at home, serve as important building blocks for all future learning. Expanding your child’s exposure to other caring and nurturing adults in a positive learning environment only serves to strengthen that brain architecture, further promoting their ability to be lifelong learners, as outlined in this amazing video by the Brain Story through Alberta Family Wellness Initiative. As the momma of a sensitive little man, I can’t say enough about the importance of expanding my son’s bubble beyond close family and friends. I know for certain that putting him into pre-school will make the transition into Kindergarten that much easier. It would have been easier and more comfortable to keep him at home with his familiar caregivers, but then we would have both missed out on this important opportunity for growth! Can’t explain how proud I am to give him a hug and watch him (most days ;) ) confidently walk to the carpet and pick out his name and answer the question of the day, giving me a little wave and a smile “See you later Mom”. Expanding his circle of trusted, caring, nurturing adults, early in his life has only added to the important groundwork we have worked so hard to lay at home the last 3 years. I can’t wait to see the growth the next year and half brings! In addition, there are also skills that need to be learned outside the home. Social/emotional skills are difficult, if not impossible, to learn without the context of a group setting with one’s peers, as Mrs. Parenas explains in her blog about emotions among preschoolers. So I urge you let the staff at BELA cultivate the seeds you have planted with your little ones, and watch them flourish!

4. “Preschool is too expensive.”

At first glance, tuition may seem like a dealbreaker, a barrier, or just simply more than what you’re willing to pay. But let's take a step back and look at what you’re actually getting….At BELA you are getting a curriculum developed by an early childhood educator with a masters degree and almost 40 years of experience, delivered by amazing teaching staff with combined experience of over 100 years, and educational backgrounds and experience ranging from education, to psychology, to educational assistants with specific training working with children with ADHD, FAS, Autism & Aspergers, as well as speech and language development…. All for $6-7 an hour! Wait that can’t be right? You can get this calibre of education for your child for less than or equal to what most daycares/dayhomes/babysitters are charging? Yes you can. At BELA we do a lot of work to keep our program accessible. What do you pay your teenaged babysitter per hour? I know I pay mine more than what I pay per hour for Burke to attend BELA and while we love her and she's amazing - she isn't an experienced and qualified early childhood educator. Plus BELA offers a number of different payment options to suit your family’s needs and can tell you where to access subsidy, if finances are tight! We all want what’s best for our kids...and the best is found at BELA!

5. “It doesn’t work with my schedule.”

This year I made the transition to full time working mom, and can definitely see the challenges associated with drop off and pickup times during the day. Over the years we have seen our parents make this a priority, and get creative time and time again! Mom’s who walk their preschoolers to and from BELA with two other littles in the rain or shine; parents who reach out to neighbours, parents, aunties, cousins to arrange for carpooling and pickups, or throwing it out there to other BELA parents...let’s trade a drop off for a pick up, so both parties can make it to work on time at their respective jobs! On top of all that, the BELA management team is constantly looking for ways to improve access for our families, including the addition of early drop off and pick up times this year, which has been invaluable to some of our families! Plus, we are currently surveying current and future families, to adapt start and end times, as well as class time length to align with as many varying parent work schedules as possible! At BELA, we do our best to meet the different needs of our families, still knowing we would never be able to fit all the many and varied work schedules out there! So be sure to watch the website to find out what class times will be offered next year. Or call the school if you are trying to make it work but need some guidance!

It’s been an eye opening year for me in many ways, as I transitioned from being a BELA staff member to being a BELA mom! The experiences I’ve had: watching my son grow and learn under the staff’s tutelage, volunteering in class, receiving Burke’s first Learning Outcome Checklist and attending Family Learning Celebrations have given me an even deeper appreciation for the knowledgeable, hard working, caring staff we have here at BELA. I know that everyday they are building on what I started at home with my son and he is getting the solid foundation he needs for success in school and in life!

~Ashley Williams

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Let's Pretend!

I don’t know about you, but some of my favorite memories from my childhood, are of pretending with my brothers, and my cousins! Little did we know, as we explored and searched for adventure, we were honing a wide variety of skills and knowledge, which would serve us well in our adult worlds later on in life.

For us, pretend play encompassed so many ideas and scenarios.  In a matter of about 10 creative minutes, we could design and build an airplane, made out of a saw horse, some planks, and a tin pail. As we collaborated and problem solved we gathered blankets, boards, cardboard, and a variety of broken down furniture, to create an amazingly strong and safe fort to defend the ‘western frontier’. Playing school involved organizing a wide variety of ‘school-like’ activities and always required some type of performance, whether for the Christmas concert, or other show providing chances for leadership and helping develop our confidence. Our childhood was a smorgasbord of pretend play choices: stores, hospitals, winning/loosing the ‘big game’, treasure hunts, museum building, hunting bears, sea voyages on our rafts down the river, and camp-outs at the beach, filled our days, enriched our lives, and unbeknownst to us, helped to prepare us for later success in life.

Pretend Play, or Make-believe Play, is an integral component of early childhood development. Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman, Jerome Singer and Dorothy Singer define pretend or make believe play as “the acting out of stories which involve multiple perspectives and the playful manipulation of ideas and emotions. They add  that this play “reflects a critical feature of the child’s cognitive and social development. The article provides a summary of some of the research related to the Need for Pretend Play in Child Development. The authors quote psychologist Sandra Russ, indicating she has identified a number of cognitive and affective processes that are associated with pretend play. The authors state that over the last seventy-five years a number of theorists and researchers have identified the values of such imaginative play as a vital component of the normal development of a child.

An article provided by Scholastic, describes the learning benefits of pretend play; stating "Young children learn by imagining and doing. They use objects to represent something else by giving it action and motion."  The author states "this pretend play is not as simple as it seems, and the process of pretending builds skills in many essential developmental areas, such as: social and emotional skills; language skills; thinking skills; and nurturing the child’s imagination".

Lauren Lowry, a Hanen Certified Speech Language Pathologist provides us with the How and Why of Encouraging Pretend Play.  Ms. Lowry describes the connection between pretend play and language. She states pretend play is also known as ‘symbolic play’ because it involves the use of symbols. "When we use something to stand for something else, such as when a child is playing and uses an object to stand for something else (e.g. using a spoon as a hairbrush or a tablecloth as a cape)." Lowry clarifies that, "this type of symbolic thought is also needed for language, as our words are symbols. Our words stand for our thoughts and ideas. Therefore, pretend play and language both involve the same underlying ability to represent things symbolically." In addition, language development is closely linked to learning to read and comprehend what has been read. This author provides information about why we should encourage pretend play, the stages of the development of these skills, and she includes valuable ideas for ways to encourage pretend play.

Pretend play is so important for so many different reasons! Some of the positive benefits of pretending include: helping children to gain practice using symbols, strengthening your child’s pretend skills, language skills, and later reading skills; exposing children to new vocabulary that they might not be exposed to in everyday life.  When you play with your child, you help them learn to play with others. Eventually your child will start to pretend with other children, where he will learn to take turns and collaborate. When children take on a pretend role, they imagine what it is like to be another person, which helps develop their ability to take another perspective and develop empathy.  Pretend play is fun! When you play like a child letting your imagination lead, you and your child will never run out of things to play. Can't you almost hear your childhood playmates calling you to come and play!? Join your little one as they pretend........magical, not to mention immensely valuable experiences await!