Our Children Fall 2017

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Halifax’s Family Magazine ourchildrenmagazine.ca

Fall 2017

Better communication = better results Working with your kids’ teachers can lead to success

Harvesting lessons Gardens have much to teach us about how we should live

Successful strategies to help kids overcome anxiety

+ nutrition

face to face • book reviews

BE A GAME CHANGER. Invest in my future. Your future. Our future. I’m young. You’re smart. #HireMeHalifax


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brilliant birthdays! There’s no better place to capture the imagination of curious minds than at the Discovery Centre!


A world of possibilities begins with the love of reading.

Halifax Learning, developing excellent reading skills for all ages.

Inquire today for our summer reading programs

Halifax•Dartmouth•Bedford•Tantallon•Fall River • 902.453.4113 • www.halifaxlearning.com


Fall 2017

17 features 10 Under pressure Does back to school mean back to anxiety for your child? There are ways to help


Keeping an eye out for the telltale signs of trouble at school leads to early intervention before a small issue becomes a big problem

departments 07 Editor’s note School seemed easier back in the day, when cyberbullies and texting were the stuff of science fiction

12 Better communication = better results

08 First bell

Despite the convenience of the digital age, there’s still nothing that beats a good oldfashioned face-to-face meeting with your child’s teacher

14 Face to face

18 Harvesting lessons From small seeds, great things grow. It’s a well-known phrase for a good reason. Besides its truth, it also pertains to many situations beyond the garden

22 Top five tips

Reducing back to school stress

Events, products, trends, and more

Putting money away for education can be a daunting task, but a little planning can make it a lot more manageable

16 Nutrition Follow these steps and you will be the CEO of healthy school lunches

22 Book reviews Our Children reviews I Love You with All My Butt! and Breathe, Mama, Breathe: 5-Minute Mindfulness for Busy Moms

Our Children | Fall 2017

Check out our recipe for lunch box spring rolls and dipping sauce. It’s one lunch that won’t return home uneaten



Fall FUN!

On our cover School can be a source of stress and anxiety for many kids. See page 10 for tips on making it easier.

There’s so much to do at the Sackville Sports Stadium and with the new expansion of programs there’s even more!!

Swim Lessons

Clay Creations

Aquatic Kiddie Capers

Lego Club



Run, Jump, Roll


For a complete listing of programs, please visit our website or phone us at 902-869-4141!

Our Children | Fall 2017

Your Adventure Awaits


Featuring 26 species of mammals and 35 species of birds 40 Minutes from Halifax, Hwy 102, Exit 9, Milford

Publisher Patty Baxter

Senior Editor Trevor J. Adams

Creative Director Jamie Playfair Art Director Mike Cugno

Production Coordinators Kelsey Berg Emma Brennan

Printing Advocate Printing & Publishing Advocate Media Managing Editor Ken Partridge Contributors Katie Ingram Starr Dobson Kelsey Berg Sarah Sawler Edie Shaw-Ewald For advertising sales and editorial and subscription enquiries: Tel. 902-420-9943 Fax 902-429-9058 publishers@metroguide.ca 2882 Gottingen Street Halifax, Nova Scotia B3K 3E2 metroguidepublishing.ca ourchildrenmagazine.ca No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior written consent of the publisher. Return undeliverable addresses to Metro Guide Publishing at the address above.

wildlifepark.novascotia.ca 902.758.2040

Our Children is a Metro Guide publication.



Ken Partridge, Editor Our Children Magazine


Back to school can mean back to anxiety When I see children getting ready to head back to school, I don’t think about how easy they have it; quite the contrary. I had it way easier when I was young.

Families Institute, and Leanna Closson of Saint Mary’s University about ways to spot if trouble is brewing and how to intervene to make things easier.

The biggest worry I had when September rolled around was whether my mom would buy me something hideous and expect me to wear it to school. Bullies could only bother me if they could catch me, and all my friends lived on the same street, or close enough, that there was always someone on the schoolground to play with.

Columnist Starr Dobson (page 18) has some low-tech suggestions for dealing with stress and anxiety. What could be easier than getting outside, grabbing some fresh air and sunshine, and getting your hands dirty in the garden.

There were no cell phones or social media. I wasn’t compelled to make every moment of my life look like I was totally together and having a great time, and cyberbullying was unheard of outside of bad science fiction. The worst I had to deal with were a few unfortunate nicknames, mostly based on the fact I was the smart kid. Today it’s a completely different story. Any mistake or slip suddenly has the potential of following you around for your entire life, maybe even on video. Bullies can reach you even in the privacy of your own bedroom. Exclusion has gone viral and playground antics have given way to trying to establish and maintain your personal “brand.” However, there are ways we can support our children as they prepare for another round of back to school. There are telltale signs they’re having trouble and ways to help them make the most of their school experience without making it weird.





engaging challenging supportive

In our cover story (page 10), Katie Ingram speaks to psychologist Brad Peters, Kati LaVigne of the Strongest

Complementing these back-to-school strategies is our feature story on ways to work with your child’s teachers to ensure positive academic outcomes (page 12). The explosion of social media and electronic communication gives parents overwhelming options in terms of ways to stay in contact and be involved in their child’s education. With all that, it’s reassuring to know the tried and true parent-teacher meeting remains the number one way to foster better outcomes. And though your student may only be returning to grade school right now, it’s never too early to start saving for their post-secondary days. Sarah Sawler brings us some solid plans for how to put money aside to pay for whatever type of education or training your children will want after high school (page 14). Perhaps my favourite article in this issue is our nutrition column from Edie Shaw-Ewald (page 16). Lunches are a real struggle in our house. Most days our son returns home with his untouched. Edie offers some ideas for lunches that will be lucky to make it to the noon bell. I’ve already got it stuck to the refrigerator.

Small classes. Pre-Primary through Grade 9

Campus expansion, including full gymnasium, January 2018! www

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Our Children | Fall 2017



First bell

Artistically speaking… If you have a junior artist budding in your family and would like to supply some inspiration, the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia is a must-visit. It offers free admission on Thursdays from 5 to 9 p.m.

… or artistically working If just seeing completed art in a gallery isn’t inspiration enough, then the Wonder’neath Open Studio free drop-in program might be more what you need. The program is offered on Saturdays in a working artist studio from 2 to 4:30 p.m. and again from 5 to 7 p.m. Wonder’neath is in the white/red Russell Food Equipment building one block south of the Hydrostone Market, at 2891 Isleville Street. You can Call 902-454-6860 for more information. In this shared space, there are tools and support for: wet and needle felting; hand sewing, embroidery; a sewing machine

and lots of fabric; acrylic, watercolour, and mixed-media painting; a range of wet and dry drawing supplies (ink, oil and chalk pastels, charcoal, conte, pencil crayons, markers, calligraphy pens, etc.); printmaking techniques, including screen printing, linocut printing, relief printing; a range of sculpting and building materials; hand tools (including several saws, clamps, drills, sanding blocks, hammers, screwdrivers, etc.); a large selection of paper for wet and dry mediums; collage materials; our beloved typewriter (when we can find ribbons!); light bright; and a

library of art books. A wealth of interesting and odd materials is on hand, free to combine in any way you wish. There are lots of connecting materials including adhesives of all sorts, wire, string, elastics, zap straps, etc. There’s a weekly featured project to get the creativity flowing.

Our Children | Fall 2017

Walk with Gus


The science of Halloween Wear your most spectacular Halloween costume to Discovery Centre’s Spooktacular Science Halloween Party on Oct. 28. With family-friendly experiments, eye-popping demos, costume competitions and Halloween crafts all included with the price of admission, it’s sure to a bone chillingly good time. For an additional $2 add on a seat in one of our special immersive dome theatre shows to marvel at the more gruesome legends of the night’s sky. And it isn’t all just for the kids. There’s also the Discovery Centre’s adults-only Halloween party from 7 to 11 p.m. There are four floors of exhibits to explore, including a special one-night only live star show, plus live music, DJ, a cash bar, and snack station. Make sure to grab tickets early, as we only have limited quantities. Visit thediscoverycentre.ca for tickets.

Gus, the oldest known gopher tortoise (he’s 94 years young), goes for a walk every day at 3:30 p.m. and everyone is welcome to join him. Gus has been at the Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History for more than 70 years. Come out and join Gus for a snack and a stroll. When the weather is nice, you may find Gus in the backyard!

A historically scary time Slip into the shadows of the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site and come find out if the many legends of ghost hauntings are true, if you dare! Public ghost tours are offered in English every Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening until Oct. 28. Tours begin at 8:30 p.m. at the front entrance kiosk. Advance tickets are available online at eventbrite. ca. Tickets go on sale every Sunday for the week. You must purchase your ticket the same week as the date you plan to attend a ghost tour. Online ticket sales close at 4 p.m. the day of the ghost tour. Call 902-426-1990 or email bookings@regimental.com for more info, or visit regimental.com. Booked tours are available year-round in English and French.

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Our Children | Fall 2017

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Cover story

Under pressure Does back to school mean back to anxiety for your child? Learn to help

By Katie Ingram For many children, autumn not only brings the start of a new school year, but also the stress and anxiety that can be associated with a school setting. Often, such stressors aren’t easily identified, as there are a number of different situations that can cause these feelings and emotions. “It varies grade to grade and changes from kid to kid,” says Brad Peters, psychologist with Cornerstone Psychological Services in Halifax and part-time professor of psychology at Saint Mary’s University. “What might have been easy for one kid could become more of an issue later and it may be the reverse for another kid.”

Our Children | Fall 2017

One student may feel anxious about being accepted by more popular peers as they enter a new school, while another might be worried about their grades as they start thinking about university or college. Whereas, another child might be dealing with a bully, or be worried about isolating themselves from friends by merely wearing the wrong clothes.


For others, anxiety doesn’t develop over time, but instead starts at the primary or even pre-school levels. “If you think about it, it’s a huge change, especially for kids who might have a stay-at-home parent,” says Kati LaVigne, director of operations at the Strongest Families Institute in Lower Sackville. “They’re with their parents every single day and they’re going into a school where there are new people and are in a new environment.”

No matter what is causing this stress or anxiety, it can lead to other problems. Leanna Closson, psychology professor at Saint Mary’s University, says anxiety and stress can often manifest itself as behavioural or physiological issues. However, she says parents shouldn’t automatically assume it’s a child misbehaving for attention, that they have an “attitude problem” or that they don’t like school.

There are many different situations that can cause stress and anxiety for children and teenagers. The following are some of the most common: • Parental over-control • Parental pressure to succeed • Peer problems, including bullying and wanting to fit in • Extreme perfectionism • Academic difficulties

Instead, parents should try to find the root of the problem first—especially if the behaviour seems out of character or is becoming increasingly common. “This normally is not simply an excuse to try to get out of going to school, but a physiological symptom of the child’s anxiety,” Closson says, noting headaches, stomach aches and a lack of appetite as potential symptoms. “Parents can also watch out for changes in their child’s mood

and behaviour, such as increased irritability and anger, or turning down opportunities to play with friends.” LaVigne agrees. She also notes that children can start to isolate themselves and avoid doing routine tasks, such as getting clothes ready on Sunday night and even brushing their teeth before bed, all to prolong the weekend in worried anticipation of Monday morning. “Sometimes parents will think it’s behaviour-related because of the way kids react to being put in situations that cause anxiety,” LaVigne says. “In reality, it could be a symptom of that anxiety.” Parents should also be aware of their own actions and expectations, as those can be a trigger as well. “Over-controlling parents are the so-called ‘helicopter parents’ who hover over their child, making sure everything is perfect and their child’s life is going according to plan,” Closson says. “These parents mean well, but they’re often doing more harm than good.” In this case, Closson finds parents need to let their child make mistakes and grow. While the child could still have anxiety about some aspect of school, it could lessen without parental pressure. “The more parents try to control every aspect of their child’s life, the greater the likelihood of their child experiencing anxiety symptoms,” she says. But, ultimately, the key to helping kids deal with anxious situations and feelings is through communication.

“Maybe they don’t really want to talk about it, but they might make comments, [such as] ‘I don’t want to go to school tomorrow’ and they’re saying it every single day,” she says. “Keep an ear out for comments like that and ask the child or adolescent if it’s something they want to talk about.” Parents should also be careful to approach the situation delicately when initiating these conversations. They need to make sure they give their child room to talk and sort out their feelings without being pressured. One solution Closson suggests is having these conversations on a regular basis, where both the parent or caregiver and child contribute. “Parents and children should have regular and open conversations about their day, what’s going on at school, and how they’re doing more generally,” Closson says. “This should be a conversation, not an interrogation, so parents should be willing to share with their children about themselves as well.” This also means that conversations need to happen face-to-face, away from technology and environmental distractions. “People don’t do this much anymore, the face-to-face, talking about their feelings in the presence of another person; instead what you get is people text messaging one another, if anything,” Peters says. “What you’re getting is abstract words on a glowing screen and often you have to decipher what that means.” Helping students move more smoothly through school isn’t just a job for parents. Teachers should also be mindful of their charges and any personality or behavioural changes. “Teachers should take time in the first few weeks of the school year to build a rapport with students and foster a positive classroom community,” Closson says. “Children that feel supported, both by their teacher and fellow classmates, are more likely to have positive social-emotional outcomes, as well as academic success.”

Peters finds that, sometimes, teachers are the first ones to see these reactions develop and can help students better understand what is happening. By having a “compassionate attitude” they can help a child identify what is wrong, and explain to them why they’re feeling the way they do. “If a teacher was to interpret that as ‘oh, this kid is being lazy’ then that judgement can exacerbate things, because now the kid feels more ashamed and fearful,” Peters says. “I would encourage teachers as well to not be afraid of asking ‘are you okay right now or is there something I can do?’” Additionally, parents and teachers should encourage pro-social behaviour among other students. This way something like social anxiety is curbed from the start of the school year, instead of building over 10 months or even years. “For some children, the first day of school is not at all anxiety provoking; if they see a new classmate sitting alone eating lunch or playing alone at recess, these more outgoing and confident children should be encouraged to invite their classmate to play or join them,” Closson says. “All children want to belong, and sometimes it just takes a friendly gesture from another child to make all the difference.” Once a child is more open, feels more accepted, and better understands their own emotions and fears, they can work together with their parents and teachers to better address the situation. If something more than parental or teacher communication is needed, additional help and resources are there. These resources range from using breathing or calming techniques, to talking with a therapist or psychologist… whatever best helps that student in their situation. “If a kid isn’t able to regulate those emotions… those feelings can become internalized and the body can see those feelings as overwhelming,” Peters says. “Now the body will pick those emotions up as a threat and now the kid will feel anxiety that at one point might have been a vulnerability, but is now showing up differently.”

Ignore the situation, and it will get worse. “If the problem isn’t identified, that means nothing will be done about it,” Closson says. “The child will likely continue to experience the environmental triggers and that can lead to greater anxiety over time.”

Resources Cornerstone Psychological Services • 902-407-4455 • cornerstoneclinic.ca • Located in Halifax

Strongest Families Institute • 1-866-470-7111 • strongestfamilies.com • Located in Lower Sackville

Dr. Kiran Pure and Associates • 902-444-3669 • drpureandassociates.com • Located in Dartmouth

GreenLeaf Psychological Services • 902-932-8428 • greenleafpsychological.com • Located in Halifax

Marsh-Knickle and Associates • 902-832-0830 • mkpsych.com • Located in Bedford

Kids Help Phone • 1-800-668-6868 • kidshelpphone.ca/Kids/Home.asp

IWK Mental Health and Addictions Central Referral Service • 902-464-4110 • iwk.nshealth.ca/mental-health Editor’s note: This is a sample of the resources available. Consult a doctor for more advice.

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Our Children | Fall 2017

Sometimes, LaVigne says, simply asking if something is wrong can go a long way.



Better communication

= better results

Despite the convenience of the digital age, there’s still nothing that beats a good, old fashioned, face-to-face meeting with your child’s teacher.

By Katie Ingram The student-teacher relationship isn’t the only factor that helps contribute to a good academic performance. Success in this area also relies on how well the parent and teacher are communicating. “No matter how busy families are, they need to carve time to do relationship building,” says Jane Baskwill, a Mount Saint Vincent University Faculty of Education professor specializing in parentteacher communication. “Even if your child is doing well, you need to stay involved as each child, each teacher and each school year are different and things can come up.” Anne LeBlanc, a Grade 4 teacher at Bel Ayr Elementary in Dartmouth, tries to reach out to all her parents in September. “I try to get a note in with everyone’s homework or an email that starts with a positive (statement) about the child, so you set that relationship in the beginning,” she says. “It’s just such an important piece for the child’s success.”

Our Children | Fall 2017

This task doesn’t always fall to the educators though; parents can also be the ones to initiate the parent-teacher relationship.


“It (initial contact) shows you’re interested; you can’t assume a teacher will know you’re interested if you don’t participate,” Baskwill says. “They are more likely to assume you aren’t interested.” Baskwill suggests, if a in-person meeting isn’t possible, to write an email or letter. “Just jot down a few things you want the teacher to know about your child, what they’ve been doing in the summer, their likes,” she says. “Just a few things that show, above and beyond, what your thoughts are about the teacher, the class and the school.” Then, both parties can discuss how they would like to remain in touch and how often.

“Your main focus should be what can you do to make this relationship work and go from there,” Baskwill says. “It takes time, patience and involvement.” Along with the more traditional curriculum nights and parent-teacher meetings, many teachers also use electronic communication methods. LeBlanc finds that having a website has been useful. She usually tries to update it with such items as permission forms, monthly newsletters and homework assignments. “If there’s some sort of confusion, the information is there,” she says. “It’s just a question of whether they, the parents, have the chance to check the web page. I know there are some that check it regularly.” She also makes sure to touch base with parents on a regular basis. “I can’t always give a parent a call twice a day, but I can give them a quick email at the end of the day and a phone call once a week,” LeBlanc says. Still, there are those who prefer written reports, paper notices, and communication books, in which parents and teachers write notes to each other. Others prefer social media and PowerSchool, a system which keeps track of such information as attendance, behaviour, achievement and student schedules. PowerSchool isn’t used much at the elementary level, but LeBlanc has been dabbling in the possibility of using social media. “I’ve sort of been trying to see if I want to do things with Twitter… for parents to see what’s going on,” she says. “I also send out mass emails to everyone who said it’s okay.” Baskwill says it’s essential to establish a communication method early in the school year and not just go with whatever is popular or new.

“If you don’t have access to a computer or reading a newsletter online isn’t your thing, ask for a copy of it,” she says. “Once that’s set up, it becomes fairly routine to maintain it over the year.” When it comes to potential problems, both Baskwill and LeBlanc say a face-to-face meeting should be set up. Parents shouldn’t try to talk to teachers via email, text or use any written or electronic technique in this situation. “Nothing should get in the way of face-to-face; it’s a form of communication that allows you to do more than read,” Baskwill says. “Sometimes one side or the other isn’t clear in what they write and it might lead to miscommunication.” Despite her use of technology, LeBlanc still finds in-person meetings useful. “I think that most of the time, I would certainly prefer to meet with my parents face-to-face,” she says. “(It’s good for) when you’re



trying to plan things out or things are happening in the classroom and you’re trying to figure to what’s going on. I prefer it.” If a parent can’t meet at the school or in a public setting, there are other ways the two parties can see each other and have a meaningful chat. Facetime and Skype are two such tools. “You can still see the other person,” Baskwill says. “Is it ideal? No, but it’s still a way to see someone; even a phone conversation is good because you’re still hearing the person.” But, no matter what method or methods parents and teachers choose, it must be one both parties are comfortable with, and something that can help a child succeed. “We need to understand we are partners in education for kids,” LeBlanc says.

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Children don’t always have the best relationships with teachers, which can often come back to parents as a teacher treating the child unfairly.

• Don’t be afraid to ask the teacher questions if something is unclear.


• Make sure you’ve read everything sent home or posted online. • Carefully outline both your and your child’s concerns.

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• Don’t assume that by reaching out this will cause issues in the classroom for your child. Teachers are there to help. • Get information from both sides, both child and teacher, to better understand the issue at hand. • Make sure the actual meeting happens in person, whereas the initial set up and conversation can happen through email or by phone.


Our Children | Fall 2017

Before putting blame on a teacher for these problems, parents and teachers need to talk. The following are a few things to keep in mind when setting up that conversation:


Face to face


for school By Sarah Sawler

Have you started saving for your child’s higher education? If not, you’re certainly not alone. Between paying the mortgage or rent, covering kids’ activities, shelling out for ever-rising grocery bills, and all the other day-to-day costs of life with kids, it’s hard to justify carving out room in the family budget for something that seems so far away.

“It’s about taking a disciplined approach,” Frame says. “If [you] put a small amount aside each month for every pay, it’s amazing how quickly that can grow. Obviously, it’s a way to make sure you’re paying yourself or paying for the family first, instead of just having that loose change in your pocket that loves to get spent.”

But planning for your child’s higher education is well worth it. The education data from the 2016 census won’t be released until the end of November, but the stats from the last census show a clear connection between income and education level. Atlantic Canadians between the ages of 25 and 64 (working full-time) earned an annual average income of $37,403 with a high school diploma, $42,937 with a college certificate or diploma, $56,048 with a bachelor degree, and $66,535 with a postgraduate degree.


Our Children | Fall 2017

So how do you get started? We talked to Stephen Frame, an assistant manager at Scotiabank and Ed Bellamy, a financial advisor at CUA, for some advice from the experts.


Putting money away for education can be a daunting task, but a little planning can make it a lot more manageable

START EARLY It’s common advice, but we can’t emphasize it enough. Higher education is expensive, and tuition costs just keep going up. Starting to put money aside at the very beginning allows you to put away smaller amounts of money at a time (which makes a smaller dent in the monthly family budget). But it also allows more time for investments to grow, and may help you maximize the benefits from any government programs.

But while saving for education is important, it can also be a balancing act. It’s important to make sure all your family’s short-term and long-term goals are considered. “When you do the math on those numbers for saving, it can be a substantial monthly or annual financial obligation for families,” Bellamy says. “It’s important when you’re setting up those plans or savings programs that it’s working in tandem with the family’s other goals. You want to make sure the education savings isn’t impeding other financial priorities or obligations of the family. We look at it from a cash flow perspective.”

WHAT ARE MY OPTIONS? Now that you know what you need to do (talk to a financial expert about saving for education as early as possible), you probably want a little information on what your options are. Basically, there are three options, depending on your family’s situation: Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs), Tax-Free Savings Accounts (TFSAs), and trusts.

REGISTERED EDUCATION SAVINGS PLANS RESPs are generally the go-to option for education savings but, like anything, they

have their pros and cons. Pros include the Canada Education Savings Grant, which typically provides 20 cents for every dollar you contribute, to a maximum of $500 per year, or $7,200 per child. There’s also the Canada Learning Bond for eligible Canadians, which offers a maximum government contribution of $2,000 per child. And contributions are tax-sheltered, but this is where the cons come in. “The funds grow on a tax-sheltered basis while they’re in the plan, but when they come out they’re taxable,” Bellamy says. The educational assistance payments, of course, are taxed in the child’s hands. Under normal circumstances, or under usual circumstances, the child or student doesn’t have enough income to be in a taxable position anyway, so it’s a moot point. The downside is the what-if. The what-ifs are hard to figure out until you’re only a few years away from the child going to school. The intricacies of those rules are something I think every subscriber needs to understand.”

TAX-FREE SAVINGS ACCOUNTS Bellamy says TFSAs are getting more and more popular. “The tax-free savings account is a really interesting vehicle for education savings,” he says. “It provides the same tax-sheltered growth the RESP does, but it doesn’t have — and this is a real plus — those rules and tax consequences at withdraw. Unlike the RESP, you can also withdraw the money for anything at all. It doesn’t have to be used for education if your child decides not to go on to postsecondary education, and it’s not subject to the array of rules around using RESP money (like

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spending it on a qualified institution as defined by the program).


“The other potential downside is that, as a trust designation, once the child becomes the age of majority, that money moves to the child’s ownership outright, and the parent effectively loses control of it,” he says. “A little bit of caution there, but it’s a third option some people do consider.” And if you haven’t started yet, it’s never too late.

Contact us to find out more! Robin.Benedict@4hnovascotia.ca | 902-843-3990 novascotia4h.ca

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“Even if you feel like you can’t do it for whatever reason, it’s important to meet with a financial advisor,” Frame says. “Often we’re able to identify other opportunities to reduce cost, create savings. Any of those can be redistributed to make any of these goals, like education or other things, a reality.”

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Our Children | Fall 2017

This is an option for those of us with a little more wealth. Bellamy and Frame both mention it, but it’s not nearly as popular as the other two options. Essentially, Bellamy explains it as “a savings account that’s designated informally as an in-trust account for the child.” It’s less popular because, sometimes, the interest income is attributed to the parent instead of the child.



Back to

lunch box business

Follow these steps and you will be the CEO of healthy school lunches! By Edie Shaw-Ewald

The goal: To provide healthy and tasty lunches with minimal stress.

Our Children | Fall 2017

A healthy lunch has at least one vegetable, one fruit, one whole grain and a protein. For example: A whole grain pasta salad made up of chopped veggies, chickpeas and cheese and an apple with water or milk as a beverage.


Prepare for a family lunch box meeting: Create a lunch box work sheet: Divide a sheet of paper or poster board into category headings of veggies, fruit, whole grains, protein, beverage and recess snack. If food preferences differ greatly between family members, you may want to make a sheet for each person. Call the meeting to order: Brainstorm with the whole family on healthy and favourite (or at least acceptable) choices in each of the categories of your lunch box worksheet. Put this on the fridge or family bulletin board. Before the start of the week, make sure you have groceries on hand to make the lunches. Make sure to divvy up the lunch making duties and give each child age-appropriate tasks. Hold

another brainstorming session at the end of Christmas break and March break to revise for variety and seasonal changes. Create a lunch making control centre: Designate a place to put the lunch boxes, containers, water bottles, utensils. Organize this space periodically and the whole lunch-making process will be easier. Keeping this spot organized is a perfect job for a young child.

A Little Inspiration Layered salads: Put a salad dressing/vinaigrette on the bottom of a container. Then layer with the harder cut-up veggies such as carrot, a cooked grain such as whole wheat couscous or quinoa, and then leafy greens, peppers, cucumber and other toppings such as raisins, seeds, etc. The options are endless here. For more ideas, Google ‘Mason Jar Salads’. I don’t recommend sending glass jars with little ones, though. Lunch on a stick: Use wooden coffee stir sticks or the small bamboo skewers (not sharp wooden skewers). Get the kids to

help thread cherry tomatoes, cucumber, cheese, even folded lettuce onto the stick. For dessert, make a fruit skewer with strawberries and chunks of melon. Spring rolls: As a Superstore dietitian, I visited several children summer camps this summer. One of the activities was the making of spring rolls and I can tell you they were a big hit! This is a fun food activity for the whole family and can be made the night before. Think of beans: Chickpeas, black beans, lentils, and other legumes make healthy and economical fillings for wraps and salads. They offer an alternative to processed meats. For convenience, buy them in cans or in the frozen food section.

Spring Roll Recipe Ingredients: • Spring roll rice paper wrappers (in international section of supermarket) • Rice noodles (vermicelli), cooked according to package instructions • 2-3 veggies, such as avocado, sliced; carrot, grated; cucumber, cut into sticks; purple cabbage, finely chopped; sweet peppers, cut into sticks • Strips of cooked chicken, tofu, or another source of protein

Directions: 1. Pour warm water into a large bowl. Submerge one sheet of rice paper for 15 to 20 seconds. When it’s soft like plastic wrap, remove from the water, let excess water drip off, and place it flat onto a large plate. 2. Place a small amount of the vermicelli, the veggies, and the protein choice on the bottom third of the rice paper. 3. Gently pull up the bottom of the rice paper and roll it over the filling. Fold in the sides and continue to roll it up. 4. If not eating right away, wrap individually in plastic wrap and layer between sheets of parchment paper. Store in a covered container in the fridge for up to three days.

Dipping Sauce (This makes enough sauce for about 10 spring rolls) Ingredients:

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• 1/4 cup sunflower seed butter or WOW butter • 1 tbsp. maple syrup • 1 clove garlic, minced • 1 tsp. Sriracha or other hot sauce (optional) • 1-2 tbsp. fresh lime juice or warm water

Directions: 1. Whisk all ingredients together. 2. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to three days. Edie Shaw-Ewald, BSc RD is a dietitian at the Tantallon Atlantic Superstore. Contact Edie for a free healthy eating grocery store tour. You can find her at 902-240-6918 or edie.shawewald@loblaw.ca.


Our Children | Fall 2017

• 2 tsp. soy sauce



health and wellness

Harvesting lessons PHOTO: PAUL DARROW

From small seeds, great things grow. —that’s true in the garden, and in life By Starr Dobson Having watched the Back to Our Roots Urban Farm flourish at the Nova Scotia Hospital site over the last three years, I have a greater appreciation for its literal meaning. Having been a mother for the last 23 years, I also know it perfectly describes the way most parents feel about their children.

If you’re fortunate enough to have a garden at home or a plot in a community farm, chances are you’ve spent the spring and summer getting your hands dirty. The rewards are probably popping up in your child’s lunch bag or on your family dinner table right now. While gardening may seem straight forward enough, it provides more than just healthy and fresh produce. It also teaches us about the power of patience, responsibility and keeping things simple. The Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia is a proud supporter of art therapy, music therapy, recreation therapy and horticultural therapy. There’s just something about spending time in nature that nurtures the soul. In fact, studies show working in the garden reduces stress, lowers blood pressure and increases brain activity.

Our Children | Fall 2017

The Back to Our Roots Urban Farm is designed to give patients, staff, recreation therapists, family members, friends, and community volunteers an inviting place to plant and grow. It also provides a wonderful opportunity for people to connect and share in a common goal. Seeing families enjoy the farm together never fails to make me smile.


Hands that are busy planting, weeding and watering are taking a break from screens. Bodies that are spending time outdoors are absorbing vitamin D. And youngsters who understand what it feels like to grow something themselves are more likely to enjoy eating it. There are also countless mental health benefits including relaxation and connectivity. And here’s the best part: it’s never too late or too early to start. Halifax Seed Company’s Emily Tregunno says children can learn a lot from growing something as simple as microgreens.

Harvested at the seedling stage, these tiny plants are packed full of flavour and nutrients. “Many children have short attention spans,” Tregunno says, “so microgreens are ideal, as you can plant them and harvest them within 10 to 14 days.” Emily says there are many options that will flourish right in your own kitchen window no matter what time of the year. Basil, broccoli, Swiss chard, kale and cabbage microgreens are all popular choices that make perfect additions to wraps, sandwiches and salads. “They’re also super colourful and fun,” Tregunno says.

Starr Dobson is the president and CEO of the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia. She’s a journalist, best-selling children’s author, and volunteer. She won a 2017 Halifax Business Awards Business Person of the Year silver award and the Northwood Foundation 2017 Live More Advocacy Award.

Emily’s Microgreen GrowingTips Start with a clean seedling tray and a sterilized growing medium. Dampen soil with water so it’s moist and fill tray to one or two centimetres from the top. Seed individual varieties according to general planting directions. With seedling mixes, simply sprinkle seeds over soil and lightly rake into soil with finger tips, covering seeds slightly. Place seeded tray in a warm spot, preferably with a clear dome covering it. Once germinated, ensure tray is by a sunny window. After the first set of true leaves appear, simply snip with scissors and enjoy. Planting every week will ensure a continuous supply of microgreens. Change soil and wash the tray every couple of plantings.

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Our Children | Fall 2017

So whether you’re an experienced gardener or just starting small, the options are certainly all-season friendly and beneficial to your whole family’s mental health!

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Entering Primary is a giant step for little people, but

we’re here to help make the transition to school as smooth as possible!

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Children outgrow their clothing quickly. Sweet Beans is the perfect place to find quality items at a fraction of the cost of new. A visit from the Halifax Regional Police’s mounted division, a chance to climb aboard a real fire truck and a reading by Halifax Mayor Mike Savage made Harbourview Elementary’s Bedtime Stories tonight event an irresistible draw.

GENTLY USED CHILDREN’S ITEMS Find quality children’s clothing, toys, and baby equipment at our resale shop. Newborn to youth 14/16.

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École St. Catherines held a Book Mobile event on Aug. 3, attracting an awesome turnout. The turnout was so good, the event was repeated later in August.

Our Children | Fall 2017

Students from St. Joseph-Alexander McKay Elementary engaged in a little summer reading on July 26.


By Kelsey Berg

book reviews

I Love You with All My Butt! Illustrations by Martin Bruckner Workman Publishing

“Do you think all the great presidents can lick their armpits?” As a parent, you know your kids say the most outlandish things. They can really make you laugh or they may catch you off guard with the most insightful of observations. An artist by profession, Bruckner translates children’s silly, weird, gross, and downright hilarious utterances into art and has compiled them in this book for readers to enjoy. Lavishly illustrated and full of colour, this book is sure to make you laugh, smile, and possibly shed a tear or two.

Breathe, Mama, Breathe: 5-Minute Mindfulness for Busy Moms by Shonda Moralis The Experiment Publishing If ever there was a book every mom should read, this book is it! Whether you’re just starting out and getting the hang of breastfeeding, or beginning to question your math skills as you help your kids with their homework, every busy mama could use a mindful break. Psychotherapist Shonda Moralis is here to help with 65 easy-to-use mindfulness tools and strategies to help keep you calm and centered. There’s even a handy “Mindfulog” at the back to help you keep track of your progress. With humor and personal anecdotes, Moralis shows how to practise mindfulness while doing everyday tasks, from brushing your teeth and prepping dinner to handling sibling squabbles and sick days.

Top five tips to reduce back-to-school stress

Our Children | Fall 2017





Prepare a “must-know” list for school and teacher: Write a list of important information for the teacher, school office, or daycare staff. This list should include allergies, illnesses, physical limitations, or any necessary accommodations that might need to be made, such as the best seating arrangement for your child in the classroom. Listen carefully and respectfully to your children when they talk and keep an eye out for possible signs of stress: Watch for disturbed sleep, headache, stomach pain, a lack of appetite (or eating more than usual), anxiety, or poor concentration. Don’t forget to ask your kids if they have any concerns or worries about the new school year. Follow up on their concerns and provide information, reassurance, and problem-solving help as needed. Remind your kids that you’re there for them always. Also remind them that teachers are there to help too. Be careful not to overload your child with too many competitive activities outside of school: Sometimes the best cure for stress is just to have some quiet time, or to have

children involved in a variety of non-competitive activities in the community or at home. This could include walking the dog or volunteering at a community centre. Doing nothing sometimes is fine too.

4 5

Be a motivator: Be positive about school with your children and help them feel it’s a good experience. Be part of their learning and show interest in what they’re working on. It’s also important to monitor and manage your own stress level so it doesn’t create more anxiety. You may not know it, but a child will pick up stress management techniques from you. Start thinking about back-to-school early: Consider preparing your kids for school at least a week before. For example, arrange some fun social times with new classmates, practice the route to school, and have them review some of the school material from last year. Take time to get to your child back into a school-time sleeping schedule. Contributed by the Psychology Foundation of Canada

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