Halifax’s Family Magazine ourchildrenmagazine.ca
FOLLOW THE LEADER Active kids take their cues from their parents
Tackling the tough topics in Tokyo
Local school represents Halifax at international summit
Youthful inspiration Recognizing one young woman’s efforts to raise mental-health awareness
face to face • book reviews
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19 Looking for a way to spice up dinner on a cold winter evening? Try our recipe for Mexicali Bowls
Modeling the kind of active lifestyle you want your kids to live is the best way to ensure they stay fit and healthy
features Parents are the single largest factor in determining whether their kids develop health activity habits
14 T ackling the tough topics in Tokyo
departments 07 Editorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s note A missed opportunity and personal regret
08 First bell Events, products, trends, and more
16 Face to face
20 Youthful inspiration
Timing is everything. Especially when it comes to detecting dyslexia in children. Why is early detection so important? Basically, children must learn to read, and from then on, they read to learn
Ă&#x2030;cole Rockingham School travels to Japan to present its view of Canada
Amanda Higgins demonstrates age is no barrier when it comes to raising awareness about mental health
Take the time to truly appreciate the meals you eat
22 Book reviews Our Children reviews The Little Tree by the Sea, The Walking Bathroom, Lasso the Wind and The Pregnant Pause
Our Children | Winter 2017/2018
12 Keeping our kids active
On our cover Kids have so many options today, outdoor play no longer dominates. See page 10 for ways to get them off the screen and into an active lifestyle.
Registration for all Winter Programs will begin on Monday, December 11th starting at 7:00am. We accept walk in and phone in registration.
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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 Don M. Winn
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Want to join and try new things? Our Children | Winter 2017/2018
Publisher Patty Baxter Senior Editor Trevor J. Adams
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Our Children is a Metro Guide publication.
A missed opportunity and personal regret I have a younger brother. He’s smart, hard-working, has a great family and can do many things I would never even think of attempting. I’m proud of everything he has accomplished. What I’m not proud of is how I let him down when we were both much younger. School always came easy for me. I rarely had the highest grade, but I was usually number two or near the top. I suppose, if I had put in the extra effort, I could have been number one, but it came so easily I rarely felt the need to stretch myself.
Ken Partridge, Editor Our Children Magazine
This was not the case for my brother. School was something he needed to really work at to succeed. As the oldest sibling, it often fell to me to help my brother with his school work. This was never a fun experience. I knew he could do the work. His intelligence was never in question; I knew he was capable of doing the work. It seemed to me like he just wasn’t interested, like he couldn’t be bothered. This often led to arguments as I tried to force him to pay attention and do what I knew he was capable of doing. I remember one session in particular; I lost my temper, slammed shut the books and walked away from the kitchen table where we were working. I told my mom I couldn’t help him anymore because he wasn’t willing to try.
There have been many times since that incident when I’ve wished I could go back and have a do-over. Why? It wasn’t too long afterward that my mom had my brother tested and we learned he had a mild case of dyslexia. Letters and numbers firstname.lastname@example.org
appeared jumbled to him and it took much longer for him to force them into the correct order in his head, so he could understand what he needed to accomplish. That’s why reading the Face To Face article (page 16) in this issue was hard for me. Don Winn’s explanation of how the various forms of dyslexia rob people of their time and are easily misinterpreted really hit home for me. I found myself nodding many times during the article as I recalled the same feelings and frustrations he describes. I saw myself in the misinterpreted reactions to dyslexia. I wish I had read this article decades ago when I could have used the information to better assist my brother with his homework. My chance to do that is lost now. My brother developed his own coping mechanisms. He went on to establish himself in a challenging career that involves the use of a lot of complicated math and calculations every day. He had setbacks, even left his education for a while, but he went back, dedicated himself to his goals and succeeded. I wish I played a larger role in helping him to do that, but I didn’t. My hope is that anyone reading this issue will have the chance I missed. If they see any of the indicators Winn outlines in their children or in others they know, perhaps they’ll get an early diagnosis and can help ensure dyslexia doesn’t become a roadblock for their loved one. A learning disability isn’t something you would wish on anyone, but with the right support it doesn’t have to be an obstacle either. Act now, and avoid a lot of regret later.
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Our Children | Winter 2017/2018
Campus expansion, including full gymnasium, January Discover 2018! a world-class
announces winners of 2017 awards
Celebrate Christmas with a little German flavour Christkindlmarket, Dec. 1 to 3, is a popular traditional German holiday market held at Alderney Landing on the Dartmouth waterfront. It features market fare, free family entertainment, carousel rides, Maritime Marionettes, and more. The Christkindlmarket tradition dates back to the Middle Ages, when farmers, tradesmen, and artisans met at church to share a meal and exchange small gifts. The annual festival is celebrated all around the world. Lots of fun for everyone. Free admission
The Discovery Centre hosted its 15th annual Discovery Awards, Halifax’s most prestigious science recognition event, on Nov. 23rd at the Cunard Centre to celebrate Nova Scotia’s best and brightest science innovators.
Our Children | Winter 2017/2018
There were two Nova Scotia Science Hall of Fame Inductees:
• Dr. William Feindel (1918–2014) will be recognized posthumously for his contributions to neurosurgical research and development of medical diagnostic equipment. • Dr. Peter Allen will be recognized for his leadership in creating one of the largest solar energy product manufacturers in North America. There were also four categories for professional awards: Professional of Distinction, Emerging Professional, Innovation and Science Champion. Honourees in each category include:
• Professional of Distinction: Jason Clyburne, environmental science and chemistry, Saint Mary’s University; Patrick McGrath, VP, research, innovation and knowledge translation, IWK Health Centre; and Fred Whoriskey, biology and the oceantracking network, Dalhousie University. • Emerging Professional: Amy Bombay, psychiatry and nursing, Dalhousie University; Ghada Koleilat, electrical engineering, Dalhousie University; and Samuel Veres, engineering, Saint Mary’s University. • Innovation: Densitas Inc., Mohamed (Mo) Abdolell, founder/ CEO; Kinduct Technologies Inc., Travis McDonough, founder/CEO; and QRA Corporation, Jordan Kyriakidis, CEO/president. • Science Champion: Lisa Lunney Borden, education, St. Francis Xavier University; Kevin
Hewitt, physics, Dalhousie University; and Matthew Lukeman, chemistry, Acadia University. Finally, two Nova Scotian students shared this year’s Youth Award: Janani Venkat, a Grade 9 student at Bedford Academy, and Anisha Rajaselvam, a Grade 9 student at the Sacred Heart School of Halifax. Venkat and Rajaselvam were recognized for their science fair projects, which each earned gold-medal status at the 2017 Canada-Wide Science Fair. Proceeds from the event support the Discovery Centre’s non-profit mission to bring STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) to life through fun, interactive learning experiences and continue to inspire generations of science professionals in Nova Scotia. Visit thediscoverycentre.ca for more information.
The Prime Minister’s Awards for Teaching Excellence have honoured exceptional elementary and secondary school teachers in all disciplines since 1993, with more than 1,500 teachers honoured to date. Teaching Excellence Awards recipients are honoured for their remarkable achievements in education and for their commitment to preparing their students for a digital and innovation-based economy. The Teaching Excellence in STEM Awards honour outstanding Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics teachers that help develop the culture of innovation Canada needs today, and in the future. To nominate a teacher today, go to Canada.ca/pm-awards for more information. Nominations for the 2018 Prime Minister’s Awards are open until Jan. 12, 2018.
One hundred years in words and music Join Parliamentary Poet Laureate George Elliott Clarke, and Symphony Nova Scotia on Dec. 6 at 6:30 p.m. at the Central Library to commemorate the tragic events and lives lost in the Halifax Explosion that took place 100 years ago. Clarke and the symphony will perform against a backdrop of images from December 1917. Participants will have an opportunity to reflect and add a personal tribute to the city’s Centenary Book of Remembrance.
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Our Children | Winter 2017/2018
Nominate a special teacher
Avoid the malls Looking for a way to make this Christmas a little extra special for your kids? Why not avoid the crowds at the big box stores and visit the many local shops our city has to offer? Our Children has compiled a select list of destinations in Halifax and Dartmouth that offer an excellent selection of toys, games, and books for all the kids on your list (and even maybe a few of the “bigger kids” too). 1. Fiddleheads Kids Shop: brings together a curated selection of products for parents, parents-to-be and kids, with expert knowledge. Products are selected using such criteria as healthy, long-lasting, stylish, and local. 300 Prince Albert Road, Dartmouth 902-405-8801 | gofiddleheads.com
Our Children | Winter 2017/2018
2. Games People Play: carries the most popular board games, trading card games, and living card games. It also has action figures, gaming accessories and much more. 5217 Blowers Street, Halifax 902-444-4003 | email@example.com
3. Halikids: provides a play-haven for kids and their families. It carries a range of local and Canadian products for kids and babies not found elsewhere. There’s apparel and shoes for anyone 12 and under, backpacks and lunch kits for daycare and grade-school, arts and craft supplies, and games for the young (and young at heart), puzzles, musical instruments, and more. 1445 South Park Street, Halifax 902-429-8720 | Halikids.com
4. Maritime Hobbies and Craft: is Canada’s oldest hobby shop, founded in 1946. It’s a general hobby store, with a little bit of everything from model trains, plastic modes, radio control, and much more. 1521 Grafton Street, Halifax 902-423-8870 | maritimehobbies.com 5. Nurtured: provides a complete range of products for parents and kids, from newborns all the way up to elementary school. It chooses products with an eye to reducing the impact on the environment, making sure they last the life of your children and beyond, all while supporting independent businesses and the local economy. 2543 Agricola Street, Halifax 902-405-4367 | nurtured.ca 6. Tattletales: is an independent, family owned children’s bookstore established in
1995. It specializes in books for infants, toddlers, children and young adults. It also offers a special order department that will bring in items it doesn’t carry. Its toy department carries items from yesteryears to developmental and educational lines. 569 Portland Street, Dartmouth 902-463-5551 | tattletalesbooks.ca 7. Woozles Children’s Book Store: is a place for and about children. As Canada’s oldest children’s book store (first opened in 1978), it carries books for parents and children alike, as well as toys, games, and accessories. It also offers workshops and serves as a significant community resource for sharing information about children and supporting activities to enhance reading and family life. 1533 Birmingham Street, Halifax 902-423-7626 | woozles.com
Lighting up the season Mainland North’s first annual tree lighting ceremony debuts on Dec. 9 at the Keshen Goodman Public Library. This free event includes a children’s program, face painting, picture taking, hot chocolate, cider and cookies and maybe even a visit from a special someone! East Coast Carolling is on hand to provide beautiful traditional holiday music. The event will be topped off with a spectacular tree lighting. In the spirit of the season, attendees can brighten the lives of the less fortunate by donating to Engage Mainland North’s second annual Hats and Mittens Project. For more information, visit Facebook at facebook.com/engagemainlandnorth/.
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Parents are the single largest factor in determining whether their kids develop health activity habits By Katie Ingram The key to helping children live more active lifestyles may lie with encouragement, leadership and support, but it all needs to start at home.
Our Children | Winter 2017/2018
“Every child is born with the innate drive to move; that’s why they learn to walk and climb,” says Logan Harris, an exercise specialist and kinesiologist with the Canada Games Centre in Clayton Park. “If a child become sedentary or inactive, it’s because they lose that natural drive.”
According to data from Statistics Canada, in 2012/2013 most of the country’s school aged children were not meeting the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines, which say that both children and youth aged five to 11, and 12 to 17 should be getting an hour of “moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity daily.” Specifically, only 13 per cent of boys and six per cent of girls between the ages of five to 17 were meeting this activity threshold. However, these numbers can improve through adult influence. Harris says one of the first steps parents can take is showing kids that they shouldn’t be sitting down all the time, by not doing it themselves. “They (children) imitate their parents or guardians’ behaviour,” he says. “Active parents have active children; inactive parents have inactive children.” For Harris, being active can be as simple as going for a walk or hike and merely “appreciating the outdoors.” Specific
examples listed by the Physical Activity Guidelines include “puddle hopping” on rainy days; sledding during snow days and walking, biking, rollerblading or skateboarding to school. Harris also finds parents can introduce children to activities they enjoy to promote the fun side of exercise. If the child ends up liking the activity, they will continue with it as they age. “Nothing is off the table; you can even introduce them to light weight training… and they can incorporate it as they go along,’ he says. Another way to encourage kids to be more physically active is to limit their screen time with tablets, computers and cell phones says Sue Comeau, a Halifax-based certified exercise physiologist and author of the F.I.T. Files, a children’s book series with a healthy lifestyles theme. Comeau explains that parents need to talk to their kids about screen time and why it needs to be limited as there are many additional benefits associated with physical activity. Along with being happier and more physically healthy, the Government of Canada notes that doing the allotted amount of exercise per day can also help kids with socialization, stress levels, building self-esteem and improving concentration and their grades. If parents have these kinds of conversations and explain their reasons, Comeau says,
kids don’t feel like they’re being punished when asked to put their devices away. “You can say to them: ‘I get you want to be on your screen, but let’s not have it be for X many hours a day’ and explain why,” Comeau says. “Kids will get outside and they’ll be happy once they do; they will find something to do.” For five-to 17-year-olds, the Canadian Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines recommends a maximum of two hours of recreational screen time per day. However, according to Doctors Nova Scotia, Canadian children are spending about six to seven hours a day in front of a screen, such as TV, tablet or computer, outside of using these devices for homework. Harris agrees screen time needs to lessen, going back to his point about parental influence. For kids to understand that staring at a screen over a long period of time isn’t healthy, parents also should be willing to put their phone down and go outside as well. “If the parents stay inside when they tell the kids to go outside, you’re sending mixed messages,” Harris says, admitting it sometimes hard to separate from technology in today’s world. “(Now,) it’s more economical than it was to have more access to tech wherever you are, but it’s hard to be active and on that medium at the same time, so they need to choose one or another.”
“Kids will get the wrong impression; they’ll see it more as a chore and not something they enjoy with their parents,” Harris says. “They lose the social aspect and connection with other people during the activity.” Comeau maintains there shouldn’t be too much of a focus on how well a child is or isn’t doing when exercising or partaking in a sport. If the focus is on the success, this could cause a child to become frustrated or overwhelmed and they might quit. “You also have to let kids own it,” Comeau says. “I ran competitive track for years… and I lost my first race by a lot; I got crushed and it was okay; as long you like it enough, you’re going to keep doing it. “Let it be the kids (choose); parents shouldn’t worry if the kids don’t make the team and shouldn’t be saying for them to try harder. The first question should always be ‘Did you have fun?’” On the other side of structured activity, Harris says parents need to also avoid making a child focus on one or two particular sports. Parents need to be open to their children trying different things at different times in their lives. “If they specialize too early, they will be less likely to stay with that activity and adopt new activities,” he says. Even if a kid is enjoying a sport or activity, Comeau says there is one other thing parents need to be acutely aware of: overscheduling. If a child has too many activities on the go, she says they could fall back into old habits because they don’t have enough leisure time. ‘We’re a very busy society,” Comeau says. “Kids, they’re not really doing stuff when they’re not scheduled; they’re home on their screen or whatever; they aren’t outside.” Thus, there needs to be a balance between structured activities, unstructured activities like walking or biking, and leisure time.
“There should be a balance of structure and fun and an emphasis should be on play and enjoyment and an appropriate amount (of activity) and variety,” Harris says.
Resources There are a variety of resources in the Halifax Regional Municipality you can use to encourage your child to be more active. These range from tips and suggestions from experts to programs and facilities. Some examples include:
YMCA • ymcahfx.ca
Recreation Nova Scotia • recreationns.ns.ca Canada Games Centre • canadagamescentre.ca
The F.I.T Files (blog written by Sue Comeau as her book’s protagonist Finn) • fitfiles.net HRM Recreation • halifax.ca/recreation Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre: • Kids N Culture mymnfc.com/ programs_education_cap.php
Nova Scotia Health Promoting Schools • nshps.ca/
• Happy Kids Indoor Playground in Bedford (happykidshalifax.ca) • Hop, Skip, Jump in Halifax www (hopskipjump.ca) • The Kids Fun Factory in Dartmouth www (thekidsfunfactory.ca) • The Playbox in Dartmouth(funattheplaybox.ca)
Resources mentioned in the article include:
• doctorsns.com/en/home/yourhealth/ physicalactivity.aspx • canada.ca/en/public-health/services/ health-promotion/healthy-living/ physical-activity/physical-activity-tips- children-5-11-years.html • csep.ca/cmfiles/guidelines/csep_ guidelines_handbook.pdf • statcan.gc.ca/pub/82-625-x/2015001/ article/14136-eng.htm
HRM: KidSport • kidsportcanada.ca/nova-scotia/ halifax-regional-municipality/
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Our Children | Winter 2017/2018
When it comes to more structured activities such as hockey, basketball, football and dance, parents need to avoid putting too much pressure on children. Harris says parents need to enjoy or participate in the activity as much as their children do. That way, the kid doesn’t feel they’re being forced into it and, as kids, might have little to no say.
Tackling the tough
École Rockingham School travels to Japan to present its view of Canada
Hannah Daley (far left) and Andrew Stickings (far right) with two of their new friends from Tokyo.
By Sarah Sawler Earlier this year, the students of École Rockingham School in Halifax worked together to create a video that tells the world exactly what Canada means to them. That video turned out to be an all-expenses-paid ticket to Tokyo for Grade 5 student Hannah Daley, her stepdad, and her teacher, Andrew Stickings.
Our Children | Winter 2017/2018
The project was Rockingham’s contribution to the Panasonic Kid Witness News (KWN) program, a worldwide contest that teaches kids to use different formats to express their views on such topics as communication, ecology, and sports, while also providing students with the video equipment they need to pull it all off. The videos are judged by national panels, who are responsible for choosing a winning school to represent the country at the KWN Global Summit in Tokyo. The annual summit, which took place in August, is a fantastic opportunity for students from all over the world to gather and discuss possible solutions to some of the world’s most pressing concerns.
“It never ceases to amaze me how thoughtful and exciting the video representations about real-world issues and opportunities are, especially in the primary grades,” says Tammy Doherty, Panasonic’s eCommerce sales and marketing lead. “The simplicity of some of the entries is thought-provoking. It really makes you stop and consider some of those social responsibilities at play around the globe when you see them through the eyes of the children.” Rockingham’s entry, a video that showed students assembling a map of Canada made from individual pieces of art that showcase different elements of Canada, was a whole-school effort. Doherty says that’s one of the elements that stood out to the panel. “There are attributes and elements of all of the entries that are outstanding and unique, but I think in this particular entry, all of the students participated,” she says. “They really took on a leadership role in terms of playing up the Canadiana—which was really apropos this year—and in simplistic yet compelling terms, they really brought to life what it meant to be Canadian.” Because so many kids were heavily involved, the school took care to handle the win delicately, choosing a student that they felt had
both earned the trip and would be a good representative for the country. After some discussion, they decided to send Daley. “Hannah basically took a lead role in the project,” says Stickings, one of three teachers involved in the selection process. “It wasn’t a chosen role—she just rose to the top of the class in terms of taking ownership of the project. She has that natural ability anyway, to work within a group and lead a group towards a finished project. We did everything as a group, but she was the one who had her hands in the whole project, from start to finish, the creation, the data collection, the presentation of the cards, and filming.” “I got home, and my mom told my whole family to come for a family meeting,” Daley says. “We don’t have those unless it’s really important, so I was really curious. And she said, ‘you have been selected out of your class to go to Japan for the KWN Global Summit contest,’ and I was shocked. I screamed. I was super excited, and I was in shock until I got there because it’s such an amazing opportunity.” Once the students arrived at the summit, the kids were broken up into groups so they could discuss certain societal issues, come up with possible solutions, and ultimately present their findings to the entire summit. As they talked, they realized a lot of their experiences and concerns are the same. “Things like pollution, and how some people don’t have enough money while other people have so much money,” Daley says. “And we all noticed how a lot of things are getting more expensive, like food, and people shouldn’t have to pay for water. And how some people can’t afford food, or water, or clothes, or public transportation.” Hannah’s group, which included students from Japan, Malaysia, and Hong Kong, focused on pollution. “We all talked about how we’d like less water pollution and air pollution in our future, and how we could all use public transportation instead of each person having to take their own vehicle and putting more pollution into the air,” Daley says.
“There were a lot of different ideas when we discussed it, and a lot of the same ideas. We all understood each person’s perspective and how they thought we could make this better.” And the students communicated effectively despite the language barriers. “They all communicated and enjoyed their time in Japan together even though they didn’t speak the same language,” Stickings says. “They did have interpreters, but they weren’t there all the time. At one point, I saw Hannah with one of the other girls, and she was showing [Hannah] how to do origami, and it was hands-on. Her hands were on Hannah’s hands, and they were learning that way. The smiles on their faces said everything. And there was no shyness. Children are children and given the situation, they’re quite happy to be children together.” And the students weren’t the only people learning. For Stickings, visiting Tokyo with KWN was a twice in a lifetime experience, since he was at Grosvenor-Wentworth Park Elementary School when it won in 2010. From an educator’s perspective, the summit is a great opportunity to share knowledge with teachers from other countries and cultures.
“It’s really a great opportunity… [for the students to] really experience something unique, as almost junior reporters, as videographers,” Doherty says. “Dealing with real-world opportunities and issues unique in their countries, but at other times global, and being able to share those with their peers internationally.”
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What’s happening this Winter you ask? Atlantica Oak Island Resort has some HOT Themed Weekends coming up in 2018!
FEBRUARY • Blues Meltdown • Ultimate Valentine’s • Welcome Winter! Family Weekend • Girls Gone Wild!
MARCH • Kickin’ It Country! • March Madness family Camp • Family Fun Easter Weekend
You don’t have to wait until summer to get away!
For more information on these packages or booking, call 1-800-565-5075 or visit oakislandresort.ca O A K I S L A N D R E S O R T . C A
Our Children | Winter 2017/2018
“We talked a lot about our classrooms, our schools, our communities,” Stickings says. “Some of the teachers travelled from remote areas. One of our new friends from Malaysia came from a community of 100 people, and they all lived in a longhouse. They have one school and the teachers live at the school. These stories are just amazing to hear.”
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Timing, as they say, is everything. Especially when it comes to detecting dyslexia in children. Why is early detection so important? Basically, children must learn to read, and from then on, they read to learn. By Don M. Winn Developmentally, kids have a brief, precious window of time during which they get to learn the mechanics of reading. Past that window, they must be able to read well to continue learning. The difficult truth of the matter is that 130 years after the first medical documentation of dyslexia, it’s still missed more often than not. Estimates are that one in 10 people is dyslexic, and most never get diagnosed.
Our Children | Winter 2017/2018
There are varying degrees of symptomology, and a broad spectrum of affected abilities, which contribute to the difficulty of diagnosis. Dyslexia occurs when the brain develops and functions differently. It’s a neurological difficulty with decoding the written word, not an intelligence issue.
The written word is a code that requires the brain to match seemingly meaningless marks on a page with the sounds we’ve heard from birth, and not all brains are structured or wired to do this effortlessly. Dyslexia is often hereditary, and rarely gets noticed until a child enters school and begins to struggle with literacy. A dyslexic myself, I felt like a normal, happy kid until entering first grade. Then things changed quickly. I couldn’t understand why I struggled with reading, writing, numbers, sequencing, and
directions. I was working as hard as I could, but nothing fell into place for me like it did for the other first graders. I fell farther behind year after year. My story isn’t unique. To complicate matters, dyslexia has sibling conditions, and any or all symptoms can be experienced.
DYSCALCULIA Trouble with math, numbers, sequencing, sense of direction, and time management.
DYSGRAPHIA Illegible handwriting or printing, incompletely written words or letters, poor planning of space [running out of room], strange contortions of body or hand position while writing, struggle or inability to take notes (which requires thinking, listening, and writing simultaneously).
DYSPRAXIA OF SPEECH Misspeaking words, and/or halting speech. This aspect of dyslexia is because the brain has problems planning to move the body parts [e.g., lips, jaw, tongue] needed for speech. The child knows what he or she wants to say, but his/her brain has difficulty coordinating the muscle movements necessary to say those words.
DYSPRAXIA An issue that involves the whole brain, affecting functions such as gross [large] muscle movements and coordination,
fine motor skills [pen grip, unclear hand dominance, trouble fastening clothes and tying shoes, difficulty writing on the line on paper], clumsy, accident-prone behavior due to proprioceptive challenges [telling where the body is in space], trouble telling right from left, and erratic, impulsive, or distracted behavior. What do all these aspects have in common? Structural brain differences that mean reading, writing, math, spelling and more will never be automatic. A dyslexic person will never read or perform other affected tasks quickly. No matter how brilliant a dyslexic student may be, these tasks will always be laborious. Dyslexia robs a person of their time. Without accommodation in the classroom (such as extra time for reading and writing tasks), there can be a tremendous strain to keep up. Dyslexia and its siblings are like having a dial-up brain in a high-speed world; our buffer gets full quickly, and that buffer must clear before anything else can get done, sorted out or retrieved. If a child or student is struggling with experiences like these, please don’t assume they’re lazy, unmotivated, inattentive, or unintelligent. Dyslexia is not an intelligence problem, a character issue, a nutritional deficiency, or a lack of focus. Learning disabilities don’t equate to thinking disabilities.
If your preschooler has trouble identifying rhyming words, pronouncing words, calling things by the right names, following instructions with more than one step, or if they speak less or use fewer vocabulary words than their peers, screening for dyslexia is advisable. Delayed language development is often the first sign of dyslexia in preschoolers. Is there a history of reading or spelling difficulties in the parents or siblings? Dyslexia is highly heritable.
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Kindergarteners and first graders with dyslexia could exhibit frustration with reading, complaining it’s too hard. They’re good at disappearing when it’s time to practice reading! They often are unable to sound out even the simplest words, since they can’t easily connect a sound to its matching letter. Great problem solvers and guessers, they often supply their own narrative to an illustrated book based on the pictures. They may say kitty or kitten instead of cat, for example, even though the word cat is used in the story. Signs of low self-esteem and shame show up early for dyslexics. Children especially experience low self-esteem in situations they believe they’re destined for failure. Thus, kids with learning problems feel most vulnerable in settings where their learning difficulties are obvious and exposed, such as in the classroom.
SpellRead has given my son confidence in his reading! He now has READING PROBLEM SOLVING SKILLS
Low self-esteem can show up in many ways: • Quitting or outright avoidance of difficult tasks • Being disruptive or clowning • Poor eye contact, slumping posture, and reluctance to talk or engage in conversation • Impulsivity • Becoming aggressive or bullying • Negative self-talk: I’m stupid, I can’t do anything right
When children with dyslexia understand what’s going on with their brain and are taught how to make things better, the difference in their outlook is astounding. Early detection and intervention are keys to giving kids with dyslexia a good foundation in reading, but also a good foundation for developing coping skills that will give them hope and the ability to live up to their full potential. Don M. Winn is an award-winning author and dyslexia advocate. He has written numerous articles about dyslexia and helping struggling readers. His blog archives are available at donwinn.com
Our Children | Winter 2017/2018
- Duncan’s Mom, School Teacher and former SpellRead Instructor
Mindful Our Children | Winter 2017/2018
Take the time to truly appreciate the meals you eat By Edie Shaw-Ewald
Do you find yourself eating breakfast at the counter, lunch at your desk and dinner while driving?
The basics of mindful eating
In our busy lives we often eat while multitasking or become so hungry, bored or stressed that we shovel food into our mouths without a thought. This mindless eating can negatively affect our relationship with food and our health.
• Have a “no distractions rule”: no TV, laptops, phones, talk radio.
Mindful eating is a simple practice that can change the way you experience food. It can impact how much you eat, your satisfaction with meals, and create a more positive relationship with food for you and your family. It may even improve your health. Start a mindful eating practice with your family and teach your children a skill that will nurture a healthy relationship with food.
• Eat at the table as a family as often as possible. • Ask everyone to wait until each person is seated and ready to eat. • Ask everyone to pause and breathe deeply and notice the food in front of them before a first bite is taken. Notice the smell and appearance of the meal. • Everyone can give thanks for the food in silence or aloud, or simply take two or three deep breaths to let go of the daily stress and busyness. • Eat slowly and put utensils down between bites.
Mindful eating conversations
Talk about the food as you are eating. Where did it come from? How did it get to your plate? Describe the smell, appearance, temperature, and taste. What is the texture of the food in your mouth? Is it crunchy or smooth?
Check-in with hunger Ask your family members to rate their hunger. The hunger scale can be used for this exercise: 1 = extremely hungry 3 = uncomfortably hungry 5 = comfortable 7 = uncomfortably full 10 = extremely full. Midway through the meal ask your family to check in with their hunger again. Are they satisfied, or do they need to eat more? The goal is to be comfortable after a meal – not uncomfortably full.
Stomach vs. emotional hunger Mindless overeating is often connected to emotional hunger rather than stomach hunger. Teach your children to identify the difference between being physically hungry or experiencing stress or boredom that can lead to munching. Food will help with stomach hunger, but can’t help with problems with schoolwork or trouble with friends. Would it be better to tackle the homework together? Talk about the friend problem? Play a board game?
Mexicali Bowl Here is a recipe with lots of flavor, textures and colour. This style of meal is often called a Buddha Bowl; so appropriate for this mindful eating article.
Ingredients • Cooked brown rice or quinoa
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• Cooked corn kernels • Diced green, yellow, red peppers • Diced avocado • Grated Monterey jack or mozzarella • Salsa • Tortilla Chips
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Put all ingredients in serving bowls and let everyone create their own bowl. Edie Shaw-Ewald BSc RD is a dietitian at Atlantic Superstore in Tantallon. She practices mindful eating with her family. Even their dog, Bella, pauses between bites. You can reach her at 902 240-6918 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Our Children | Winter 2017/2018
• Cooked black beans (if canned: drained and rinsed)
health and wellness
Youthful inspiration PHOTO: PAUL DARROW
Amanda Higgins demonstrates age is no barrier when it comes to raising awareness about mental health By Starr Dobson “Don’t be afraid to ask for help, ever.” It’s a simple piece of advice, but one that truly resonates with 18-year-old Amanda Higgins. The first year Dalhousie student says asking for help can be the hardest, but smartest thing a young person can ever do.
Our Children | Winter 2017/2018
Higgins’ struggle with mental illness started five years ago, when she was just 13-years-old. She lives with depression and anxiety. In the beginning, she described it as “losing herself for a while.” Higgins would fight through her bad days by focusing on school work, sports and student government, but it wasn’t easy. Panic attacks became regular occurrences for her. Her younger sister, Rachel, found it heartbreaking to sit by and watch. She wanted to offer help, but wasn’t sure what to do.
Higgins says just knowing Rachel was there made a difference, and she now openly shares this message with other young people. “If a friend has told you about a way they’re feeling or about a mental health diagnosis, don’t be afraid to ask them questions,” Higgins says. “It’s important to better understand how they are feeling and to ask what you can do to be the best possible friend to them.” What is perhaps so noteworthy about Higgins and her struggles, is her continued willingness to be there for others. As a former basketball player and coach, she worked diligently to create a safe space for her young teammates. She talked openly and honestly and encouraged others to do the same. During Higgins’ graduating year at Halifax West High, she organized the school’s first Mental Health Awareness Conference. Thanks to her leadership, students attended workshops during the day, listened to guest speakers, and learned how to better understand mental illness. Other high schools have since reached out to her for help in organizing similar events. Earlier this year, the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia was thrilled to honour Higgins at our annual Let’s Keep Talking Awards. She received our 2017 Outstanding Youth Award for inspiring other young people while facing her own challenges with mental illness.
Amanda Higgins and her sister, Rachel, who wrote the application that led to her sister winning the 2017 Outstanding Youth Award from the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia. Amanda Higgins says just knowing her younger sister, Rachel, was there for her was a tremendous help when she was fighting through bouts of anxiety or depression.
Award recipients are selected through a province-wide nomination process. The event encourages open conversation among Nova Scotians regarding mental illness and addictions. In a heartfelt application submitted by her sister, Higgins’ achievements were easily evident. Rachel wrote: “She has done so much in the fight against stigma already and I am truly looking forward to seeing what she is able to do in the future around mental health awareness. She is one of the strongest women I know and I could not be more proud to be her sister.”
PHOTO: KYLEE NUNN
Supporting students with ADHD and other learning disabilities.
Amanda Higgins receives her Outstanding Youth Award from presenter Chris Mahoney, of Salon Resource Group, at the 2017 Let’s Keep Talking Awards
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“Winning the Outstanding Youth Award meant a lot to me,” Higgins says. “It was a testament to where I was and how far I have come. It gave me a chance to celebrate that.” Now, this outstanding young woman hopes her story will inspire other youth to become more engaged in their school communities and initiate important conversations. She and Rachel may still be students, but they can teach us all a timely and valuable lesson: Changing the way people think about mental illness and addictions is something we can all do, no matter what our age.
2016-05-03 9:16 AM
A R T WO R K S H O P S C A M P S & PA R T I E S F O R A D U LT S , KI D S & FA M I L I E S
You can visit mentalhealthns.ca/lets-keep-talking to read more about Amanda Higgins and our other 2017 Let’s Keep Talking Award recipients. Next year’s Let’s Keep Talking event will be held during Mental Health Week on May 8 at the Spatz Theatre in Citadel High. Starr Dobson is the President and CEO of the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia. She’s an acclaimed 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.
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Our Children | Winter 2017/2018
Today, Higgins is studying Kinesiology at Dalhousie and says she absolutely loves her psychology classes. In her free time she enjoys doing yoga, hanging out with friends and spending time in local coffee shops.
By Kelsey Berg
The Little Tree by the Sea Story by John DeMont Illustrations by Belle DeMont MacIntyre Purcell Publishing
Just in time for the 100th anniversary of the Halifax explosion, The Little Tree by the Sea tells the history of the ships that collided in the Halifax Harbour on December 6, 1917. Although a heavy topic for children, the story is told from the point of view of a spruce tree, emphasizing the generous aid from the people of Boston and the origins of the famous Boston Christmas tree. Some illustrations depict the violence of this event, but focus more on the destruction of buildings rather than injured people. With straightforward writing accompanied by vibrant illustrations, this father-daughter duo manages to convey the most devastating event in Halifax’s history to new readers in an age-appropriate manner.
The Walking Bathroom Story by Shauntay Grant Illustrations by Erin Bennett Banks Nimbus Publishing For a book filled with princesses, witches, ghosts and fairies, this Halloween-themed story is not of a spooky nature. The Walking Bathroom is a heartwarming tale of standing out and fitting in. Shauntay Grant, an award-winning author and spoken-word poet, easily delivers this message to young readers along with bright, animated illustrations by Erin Bennett Banks. Also, the diversity amongst the characters in the book is a welcome and much needed addition to children’s books today. You probably still saw many superheroes and princesses trick-ortreating this season, but after reading this story your kids will be emboldened to stand out from the crowd and develop independent minds.
Lasso the Wind
Our Children | Winter 2017/2018
Story by George Elliott Clarke Illustrations by Susan Tooke Nimbus Publishing
As the first collection of children’s poetry by renowned poet and playwright George Elliott Clarke, Lasso the Wind is sure to enrich the minds of its readers. Using absurd, witty and profound metaphors, each poem examines topics of freedom, the natural world and growing up. Bringing each whimsical poem to life are saturated, collage-style illustrations by the talented Susan Tooke. Not for beginners, this book is an excellent introduction to poetry for older children, but will still ignite the imagination of your little ones. For the curious minds, keep a dictionary nearby as this poetry collection is sure to broaden your child’s vocabulary.
PARENT’S PICK: The Pregnant Pause By Jane Doucet All My Words Publishing For some women, the choice of whether to have children or not is easy—for others, it’s riddled with indecision. As her 37th birthday approaches, Rose Ainsworth is suddenly struck with baby fever and forced to consider if she wants to have children. The fact her friends, family, and coworkers are either telling her she isn’t cut out to be a mother or are constantly asking when she will reproduce isn’t helpful. From the opening sentence of this self-published novel, Doucet manages to navigate this universal topic in an insightful, poignant and witty way. While The Pregnant Pause can come across as negative towards parenthood at times, it’s sure to have readers nodding their heads in agreement as they relate to the funny, awkward and insensitive experiences Rose faces along the way.
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