Another installment of A Kid’s Life is ready! As I’ve said in previous posts, I absolutely love doing this series and reading about all the differences from families from around the globe. You learn a lot about a culture by what they do on a daily routine basis. I now know that they eat miso soup for breakfast in Japan, the school bus arrives at 6:45am in the Philippines, in Italy they have 3 1/2 months of summer holidays from school, some kids are “red shirted” in America and in Tasmania your kids can choose to study Japanese, Chinese or Italian (among other languages) at school. I adore learning all these little tidbits about the daily grind from other countries and cultures!
And this time it’s…….Canada! I’m obviously really excited for this interview due to the fact I spent the first 25 years of my life in Canada. Just reading this interview brought back lots of lovely memories of my childhood. I loved reading that they eat dinner at 5pm. They don’t believe me here in Italy that I used to eat that early. 5pm is snack-time over here.
Sandra is part of this amazing network of bloggers that I’ve come into contact with and I really admire her outlook and enthusiasm on life. Her blog Raincoast Cottage is one of those sites that I blame my messy house on. I end up on that site for ages almost every time I pop over. Her recipes are amazingly diverse, her links are always so interesting and her love for photography is a shared passion that I can really relate to. Her posts are honest, frank and down-to-earth. I really appreciate that in a blog (and in a person actually).
So let’s take a little peek into the life of this Canadian family…
What country do you live in?
I live in Canada – specifically, on the west coast of Canada in a medium-sized city called Vancouver. It’s a large country and defined very much by geography. Where I live is very rain forest-like. Lots of rain most of the year and lush and very little snow in the winter. Not what you usually think of when you think of Canada!
And although we are next to the US, we are very much strongly influenced by our founding countries, France and England. Also, being part of the Commonwealth provides strong ties to the United Kingdom as well as Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India, etc.
Are you and your husband the same nationality?
We are both Canadian. Canada is a nation of immigrants and we tend to think of ourselves as hyphenated – Our original nationality PLUS Canadian. It’s a mosaic rather than a melting pot. You don’t leave your origins behind when you become Canadian.
My husband is a second generation Canadian while I am a first generation Canadian whose parents immigrated from Eastern Europe.
Do you both work? Or does someone stay at home?
We both work but the paid work is primarily done by my husband. He has a corporate-y job. By training I am a marriage & family therapist but have the luxury to choose to stay home with our six year old daughter.
How many languages are spoken in your house? What one(s)?
English primarily. We’re a bilingual country so we all know French too.
How many kids do you have? What are their ages?
We have one daughter who is six and ¾ (as she would say) and just started grade 2.
At what age do kids start school in your country?
Grade 1 is the first year of formal school and kids tend to start in the calendar year that they turn six. Most children also go to kindergarten when they are five. Many also do a few hours a day of nursery school when they are 3-4 years of age.
To be honest, I think we start too early! The Finns begin formal schooling at age 7 and have spectacular outcomes.
During the school year what time do your kid(s)usually wake up?
My daughter is a morning person and luckily so are we as she tends to wake up between 6am and 7am no matter when she goes to bed. We all hit the ground running, so to speak.
What do your kid(s) typically eat for breakfast?
She usually starts with some fresh fruit – whatever is in season. Then lately it’s a toasted bagel with some butter. This past weekend we made crepes together.
What time does school start? What time does it finish? What is the weekly school schedule?
Her school starts at 8:30am. It’s a 20 minute walk each way through our neighbourhood and I love it! We have the most delightful conversations on the way to and from school.
She finishes at 3:30pm.
In addition to the academic subjects she has gym three times a week, three recesses daily, art, drama, and music.
Do your kids learn a second/third language at school? From what age?
Being a bilingual country, everyone learns French and English. Here in the English speaking part of Canada you can also choose to go to a public French immersion school from grade 1 onward.
So when it starts depends upon the type of school – public or private, French immersion or not. And on top of that you can take an additional language in high school.
Do your kids eat lunch at school or home? What is a typical lunch for your kids?
She eats lunch at school and I can either make one for her to take along or order a hot lunch. I go through the menu with her and order two months ahead. Pasta, salads, hamburger, etc. The usual.
This fall she’ll do the hot lunch three days a week and I’ll make her a lunch two days a week.
For the packed lunch I make pasta or a vegetable soup. Some fresh vegetables like bell peppers, cucumber, snow peas, carrots, or tomatoes. Fresh fruit like apples or berries. Snacks for one of three recesses like crackers or a cookie or pretzels.
Do your kids do any after-school activities?
It depends upon the season. I don’t want to overload her with after-school activities but she’s a pretty active girl. There’s a dojang in the neighbourhood that we walk to where she takes karate. And we live two blocks from a park where she is on a soccer team. Finally, there’s usually an art class or a drama/improv class. Some of this is on the weekend of course! I try and leave enough time to hang out and have some play dates with friends.
What time do you eat dinner? What’s a typical dinner you would eat?
We eat around 5pm. She’s starving after school and snacks on fruit and vegetables til supper.
A typical dinner would be pasta or some grilled chicken with steamed vegetables. Dessert perhaps once a week. Meat probably three times a week. I’ll make stew in the winter. And we often go out for sushi.
How much television/computer time do your kid(s) have on a daily basis?
We limit it to an hour of screen time a day. She can choose whether it’s a favourite tv show that we tape ahead of time or playing Plants vs. Zombies. In addition to minimizing it, I like her having to make a choice. Sometimes you make a lesser choice but you learn!
What time do your kid(s) go to bed?
She is “full on” once she is up and needs still about 11 hours a night. In the summer she’s up til 8 but during the school year she’s in bed ready to sleep by 7:30pm.
What are some typical family week-end activities?
This is an outdoors and sporty city. Hiking, biking, skiing, snowboarding, sailing, running, yoga – all are a priority for those who live here. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em!
In the summer we’ll go walk/bike along the beach. Go to a farmer’s market. Play in the playground. Jump on the trampoline.
Winter – swim, ski and snowboard (we live 45 minutes away from a number of local ski hills and 1½ hours away from Whistler). Play board games. Watch a movie together. Read books. Do crafts and art projects. Skating – we’re a big hockey nation so every kids learns to ice skate.
We might have some friends around for brunch or dinner. We try and see live music and go to museums as well.
When do your kids have vacation from school?
Summer vacation starts the last week of June and goes til the first week in September. Each month has a three day weekend (that’s for everyone, not just school kids). Two weeks at Christmas and a couple of weeks in the spring as well.
We love to travel – the winter break usually finds us in Hawaii and spring break this past year we went to Disneyland. My parents live 1½ hours away by plane so we fly there a few times a year. And an annual NYC fix for theatre and galleries and museums.
My husband has an extended leave coming up in the next few years and we are considering spending it overseas – most likely Europe.
What do your kid(s) do during the summer vacation?
Most kids go to day camp and then eventually an overnight camp. This past summer she’s gone to a bike camp (biking is very big here), soccer camp, karate camp, and an art camp.
July tends to be camps and August we rent a cottage on a lake and spend the time water skiing and wakeboarding and swimming.
What are the typical “first foods” for a baby to eat in your country?
Solids usually aren’t introduced til 6 months and it’s usually rice cereal. We get a year of paid maternity leave so it’s much easier to breastfeed for longer too.