Westside Options for Feeding Your Child’s Mind
Parenting is hard work, and even though I don’t have kids, I’ve benefitted from the efforts my parents made to raise me well. Sometimes I look back and groan at the help I got, but I also remember it, knowing they had my best interests at heart. Whether it was flash cards for developing my math and language skills or puzzles to keep me occupied when I was alone, I look back with appreciation for the care they took.
It may be one of the reasons I like going into children’s stores today, and see what gems I can find my nieces and nephews. Sometimes, I’ll even pick up a few cool stickers to decorate cards and gifts for my adult friends. One of my favourite shops in the city is Dilly Dally on Commercial Drive because it has the best collection of stickers.
Most often, though, I find myself browsing Kidsbooks on Broadway. It’s a Westside institution, and the colourful displays never fail to catch my eye. You can find every sort of book a younger reader might enjoy (and the vibrant, colourful illustrations in many of them won’t hurt you, either).
With a play area and seats, it’s a cozy, exciting place to come, explore, hangout and maybe even meet new friends. The chances are good that your kids who visit will leave happier, and with a life-long enthusiasm for reading and story-telling.
To market, to market
Kids Market on the edge of Kitsilano is a hidden gem. Despite its colourful décor and strategic location at the entrance to Granville Island, it is so self-consciously for children that I suspect people without kids seldom pass through its doors. (I felt conspicuously childless on my first visit.)
Those who enter will find a wealth of fun stuff, including toys, games and stuffed animals, as well as amusements, especially for children. Hidden within are stamping and scrapbooking supplies and other items to foster creativity. While there are a lot of craft stores around, this is a popular Westside destination. With a playground just outside, the programs of Arts Umbrella and a location of Opus Art Supplies over on Johnson Street, there’s plenty to keep children active.
Out and about
Of course, reading and crafts are often practiced indoors. Westside parents who want to unplug their kids and unleash them into the wild (with supervision, of course), have places like Pacific Spirit Regional Park and Camosun bog where kids can get back to nature. The trails and beaches of the Westside can be a taste of the forest school programs offered in more suburban locales around the region. Combined with a few helpful guidebooks, parents can give their children a deeper appreciation of the natural world around them.
The experiences of children will stick with them a lifetime. Training them to be curious, aware, and up for a challenge (and not afraid to take a few risks to learn about the world) is one of the best things we can do for the next generation. Vancouver Westside offers plenty of opportunities for giving them those gifts.
Photo credit: Google Maps