Our Children September 2015

Page 1


Halifax’s Family Magazine ourchildrenmagazine.ca

Fall 2015

Safe on the streets

Crossing guards help get students to school safely each day

Game on Being a good sport parent is about respect and having fun

Enter our annual reading

contest! Feeding picky eaters   •   book reviews   •   face to face

page 9

Back to class, back to discovery Every day in our schools, a world of learning awaits! Wishing students, families and staff a wonderful 2015-2016 school year!

Elwin LeRoux, Superintendent of the Halifax Regional School Board, shares more details on learning tools, including Google Apps, in his column on page 28.

New c for our


Fall 2015


contest: Ready, set, read! Get your class together r new reading contest and win a party!

features 12 Safe on the streets Crossing guards have an important job in getting students to school each day

14 The warm welcome of the Massai Mara A Halifax family got more than they gave on a volunteer vacation in Kenya

18 Game on It’s simple to be a good sport parent: just treat people respectfully and make sure the kids have fun

20 Feeding picky eaters Make mealtimes less frustrating when your kids won’t eat what’s on their plate

Safe on the streets Student correspondent Bridget Hillier learns more about the crucial work of crossing guards.


departments 07 Editor’s note 09 Contest Our annual classroom reading contest is back

10 First bell Events, new products and services, trends and more

22 Face to face Dr. Michael Ungar shares his expertise on how to help children and families be more resilient

26 Passages of parenthood 28 Superintendent’s message 30 Book reviews

Our Children | Fall 2015

New contest: Get your class together and start reading for our annual reading contest!



On our cover On our cover: Being a good sport parent is about treating everyone with respect and encouraging your kids to have fun. Read more about positive sport parenting on page 18. Design: Danielle Shreenan

Publisher Patty Baxter

Senior Editor Trevor J. Adams

Editor Suzanne Rent

Contributing Editor Janice Hudson

Graphic Design Roxanna Boers

Production Coordinator Stephanie Peters

Printing Advocate Printing & Publishing Contributors Alison DeLory Courtnee Estabrooks Bridget Hillier Elwin LeRoux Edie Shaw-Ewald

For advertising sales contact: Angela Faulkner Tel. 902-420-9943 afaulkner@metroguide.ca

Our Children | Fall 2015

For editorial and subscription enquiries: Tel. 902-420-9943 Fax 902-429-9058 publishers@metroguide.ca 2882 Gottingen Street Halifax, Nova Scotia B3K 3E2 www.metroguidepublishing.ca www.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.

Our Children is a Metro Guide publication.


A love of learning The last year of school was an exciting one for Our Children and me. I got out from behind my desk and connected with kids through a number of programs. It all began with our student correspondent column, which started the spring of 2014. That program got people talking and asking about other ways that we could mentor children.

Suzanne Rent, Editor

On Facebook: Our Children Magazine

On Twitter: @Suzanne_Rent @OurChildrenMag

Earlier this year, I started working with several kids at John Martin Junior High in Dartmouth, teaching them journalism basics. We talked about writing, editing, headlines, proofreading and interviewing. We even had a few community leaders come in so the students could interview them. It was great fun and an even greater learning experience. During the last couple of months of the school year, I visited classrooms, talking to kids about my job. But the real purpose was to show them how writing and editing is a real-world skill. We talked about what makes a good story, how to structure your writing and the best questions

to ask in interviews. Some of the students interviewed each other or their teachers. Starting this October, I will also be working with a group of students in a homework club organized by Frontier College, a national literacy organization. Like with the students I work with at John Martin, I hope to have them share the stories of their community using their new reporting skills. We are continuing with our studentcorrespondent program, which has been a bigger success than I imagined. I will be looking for students to write for our winter and spring issues. If you know of an elementary-aged student who is a good fit, send me an email. And I would love to continue those classroom visits, too, so teachers, if you want me to come by, just drop me a line at srent@metroguide.ca. I look forward to learning with you all this school year!

Our Children | Fall 2015



Congratulations to the winners of our poetry contest! The winners are Nisal Ratnayake, Max Freer and Yarden Gedalia. Thanks to everyone who entered! Check out our Facebook page to learn more details about these great winners and how to hear their poems.

8 Flamingo Drive, Halifax, NS | B3M 4N8


Concours d’art oratoire Bilingual Career Exploration Day Lieutenant Governor’s Award: Ready to Write! / Prêt à ecrire! French for Parents classes French summer camps! Parent advocacy

NEW contest

Get ready to read!

Chapters in your local region FOR MORE INFORMATION CALL 902-453-2048, TOLL FREE 1-877-CPF-5233

How many books can your class read in a month? Get your class together and read all the books you can in the month of October. Keep track of student names and the number of books read and the class that reads the most books wins. We will come to the winning class to celebrate with you! Every student in the class will receive an Our Children prize and Nimbus Publishing will help us host the party with some fantastic treats. Your class photo will be highlighted in the Winter 2016 issue of Our Children and on our Facebook page. Have fun reading!

Forward the list of books your class read, along with your school name, teacher’s name and grade level to Suzanne Rent at srent@metroguide.ca or mail to Our Children, 2882 Gottingen St., Halifax, N.S. B3K 3E2 Your school office or administrator has the forms required to record the books read by each class. Ask your teacher or administrator for a form.


Our Children | Fall 2015

Contest closes October 31, 2015. Send in your entries by November 9, 2015.


First Bell

Do you beelieve?

Our Children | Fall 2015

The Discovery Centre will have a new waterfront location in 2016 and a new public campaign called “Beelieve.” They are asking Nova Scotians to support the project. There are a number of ways to get involved. You put your name on one of 50 seats in the Immersive Dome Theatre, purchase a Lego bee as part of the


Twiggz Shoes andApparel Twiggz is a local and independent retailer carrying popular footwear and apparel lines for families with children, from newborns to tweens, featuring all the major brands. They carry infant and children’s shoes, sneakers, sandals, boots, apparel, outerwear, active wear as well as uniforms and shoes for dance and gymnastics. There is also a selection of backpacks and lunchboxes, as well as many popular accessories. Twiggz is located in Mic Mac Mall. www.twiggz.ca

Community Colony art installation or make a donation of your choice to the Huge Hive Challenge. To find out more about these options, or to see more renderings, campaign information, news and updates, buzz over to beelieve.ca.

Halifax Learning to host launch of Secrets Halifax Learning is sponsoring the Halifax launch of Secrets, a compilation of seven young adult novels written by authors Kelley Armstrong, Norah McClintock, Vicki Grant, Marthe Jocelyn, Kathy Kacer, Teresa Toten and Eric Walters. The novel takes place in 1964 and is about seven orphan girls. Each author wrote a short YA novel about one of these girls’ lives to total seven books. On November 2, Vicki Grant, Kelly Armstrong and Marthe Jocelyn will visit Halifax to promote Secrets. Halifax Learning will celebrate this event by bringing three of the seven authors to two libraries in HRM along with some possible school visits. If you would like your child or school to be involved please contact Halifax Learning at information@halifaxlearning.com or call Eryn at 902-225-1861.

Junior Achievement of Nova Scotia believes in the boundless potential of youth. Its mission is to inspire and prepare young people to succeed in a global economy. Junior Achievement delivers four programs from Grades 6 through 12: Our Business World, Dollars With Sense, Economics for Success, and Company Program. Achievers are more likely to be managers than their peers, twice as likely to study/work in business and finance, and are 50 per cent more likely to own their own businesses. www.janovascotia.org

The Mommy Fund Clothing Bank is a resource for children and families in HRM in need of a helping hand. Our community clothes closet is available to any family requesting aid. We have a wide variety of children’s clothing available at no charge in sizes zero to 14. Our services are completely confidential. We accept donations of gently used maternity and children’s clothing, diapers, formula, and gift cards. Donations can be dropped off at Aspotogan Heritage Trust at 10 Pte Richard Green Lane, Hubbards, or by arrangement by calling 902-858-4686, or email mommyfund@eastlink.ca. Monetary donations can be made on our website: www.mommyfund.ca.

Comfort for


Nova Scotia-made clothing line Neezies offers cute, comfortable and practical clothing from crawling pants to t-shirts and hoodies in a variety of fun colours and styles. True innovation lies in their uniquely designed crawling pants featuring built-in pads to protect children’s delicate knees through the various stages of learning to crawl, walk, run, and the bumps and tumbles of everyday toddler play. www.neezies.com

Our Children | Fall 2015

Community closet


Safe on

the streets Crossing guards have an important job in getting students to school each day

Crossing guard Sean Kelly with Bridget Hillier, student correspondent. Mr. Kelly is a crossing guard in Lower Sackville and helps students like Bridget get safely to school every day. Photo: Suzanne Rent

Our Children | Fall 2015

By Bridget Hillier


In September 2014, my mom decided we should move. That meant I would be going to a new school and I’d be able to walk from school to my house. The first day I walked home from school there was a crossing guard. His name is Sean Kelly and he is more than just a crossing guard. He also spends time volunteering and watching his grandchildren. The kids who also walk say they feel safe with Mr. Kelly being there. “I needed to find a part-time job and I like working with children,” Mr. Kelly says of the reason why he got a job as a crossing guard. He also makes time for the Knights of Columbus, which is the volunteer group he is in. They help with Special Olympics, Beacon House, and much more. He says that he loves seeing the kids because they are polite. Mr. Kelly also likes working with children because it’s rewarding. He works 3.5 hours a day: one hour in the morning, one

hour and a half hour at lunch, and one hour in the afternoon. He has been a crossing guard for three years. His former job was as a salesman for Timex. He travelled across the Atlantic Provinces for 30 years. Mr. Kelly said it was a fun job, it paid the bills, but he missed a lot of special occasions. Mr. Kelly explained that 99 per cent of cars pay attention and one per cent don’t. He makes sure that he has eye contact with the drivers and everyone is stopped so the kids can cross the road safely. “The biggest single problem is the people behind me on the inside,” Mr. Kelly says. “Most times if I see them going, I can point a finger at them and they will stop.” What people don’t realize is Mr. Kelly can get their license plate number, call the police and they can get a $675 fine, and four points on their license. But it is hard because he has to watch the children. “They don’t understand that the stop sign is the same as a bus,” Mr. Kelly says. “Once that

Mr. Pat Woodrow is safety supervisor for the crossing guards. He says in August all the crossing guards from the three locations (Halifax, Dartmouth, and Lower Sackville/Bedford) go for training. Human resources and the Halifax Regional police department hold this training every year before school starts. In Halifax there are approximately 67 crossing guards, in Dartmouth there are approximately 63, and in the Sackville/Bedford area there are approximately 45. Mr. Woodrow’s job is to make sure the crossing guards are at their crosswalk, have the proper training, and are keeping the children safe. But crossing guards work with everyone for safety. “I don’t think the program could operate correctly if we weren’t in close contact with principals, vice-principals and parents,” Mr. Woodrow says. The crossing guards are an important part of the year to make sure that the kids get to school and back home safely. “The crossing guards are professional, very conscientious and they take their jobs seriously,” Mr. Woodrow says. “The children certainly would not be safe without their professionalism.” I hope that after reading this article the children appreciate the crossing guards more, and drivers are cautious about crosswalk safety. If you are a parent who would like to say something about your local crossing guard, call or talk to your principal. Bridget Hillier is a Grade 6 student and attending Sackville Heights Junior High this year.

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Share the love of your family Sponsoring a child in need as a family is a wonderful way to share with your children how others live around the world. Sponsorship provides access to nutritious food, clothing, education and hope for a better tomorrow. Please call 1-800-776-6855 or visit chalice.ca today! Chalice has been rated a top charity in International Aid & Development for the past five years by MoneySense Magazine.

This won’t hurt a bit ! FLU SHOT CLINICS At one of our 6 locations or on-site at your workplace. For details email deneen.shewan@thefamilyfocus.ca or visit www.thefamilyfocus.ca | 902-420-6060

This February marks the 10th Anniversary of Tattletales Coin Campaign! To date, this campaign has placed almost $900,000 worth of books into local schools. Prepare to be part of the movement and get your coins ready!

Contact Tattletales for more information on how to get involved. Check out our website for our online book inventory www.tattletalesbooks.ca Sign up at Tattletales to receive e-mail updates Penhorn Plaza 569 Portland St. Dartmouth NS 902-463-5551 | tattletales@ns.aliantzinc.ca


Our Children | Fall 2015

sign is up, you cannot go through the crosswalk in either direction until I put that sign down.” So, drivers please pay extra attention when the crossing guard is crossing the children.



The warm welcome of the

Maasai Mara A Halifax family got more than they gave on a volunteer vacation in Kenya

Our Children | Fall 2015

By Alison DeLory | Photos contributed by Alison DeLory


Our tiny plane was nose-diving toward the savannah. There was no landing strip or buildings in site, just some thorny Acacia trees dotting the plains and a few zebras trotting through the prickly Kenyan grass. I looked at my boys and husband, mouthing silent good-byes as I braced for the crash. Just then our wheels lowered. As we touched down gently and safely, a small sign came into view: “Bogani Heimark Airstrip.” We had arrived. “Welcome so much,” said Kate, the Me to We guide who greeted us as we climbed out of the plane into the Southern Rift Valley.

“Welcome” was a word we heard often in Kenya, spoken by the school children, teachers, health-care workers, artisans, Maasai people and farmers. And not only did they greet us warmly with words, their actions spoke even louder. Though they had few possessions by North American standards, the Kenyans we met shared their food, language, beads, music and ever-present smiles with us. They were the most hospitable people I’ve ever encountered. Though we were there to help them, they gave us more in return. My family travelled to Kenya with Me to We. It is part of Free the Children and half of its net profits are diverted to

Beyond learning about global issues and challenges, the class held a garage sale to raise money for disaster relief, collected pledges for a day of silence to protest bullying, and attended We Day (which featured a star-studded lineup of motivational speakers and musicians who demonstrate the necessity and rewards of social consciousness). Our son’s exposure led to a vacation with Me to We in Kenya. Together with two other Canadian families, we helped prepare and build the foundation for a vocational school by pick-axing the hard earth, then mixing and pouring concrete from wheelbarrows. It was strenuous work but satisfying, especially when driving through the region and seeing wells, health-care centres and other schools previously built or financed by Free the Children and Me to We. We also learned about international development first-hand and had time left over for adventure and discovery. Our soccer games with Kenyan kids may not have looked like FIFA matches but were a lesson in crosscultural sportsmanship. We enjoyed sunrise walks during which the Maasai taught us about the fauna and flora, including how to use Acacia thorns as toothpicks and

Get your goat By Alison DeLory Students at Holland Road Elementary

turn into cheese and other foods,” says

School in Fletchers Lake, N.S., embraced

Ryan Sangster, 12.

We Create Change with gusto last year, fundraising to buy goats for developing

This past May, Holland Road

communities overseas. They calculated

Elementary School students celebrated

that if every child in the school raised $2,

by hosting Goat Day, featuring special

the school would collect enough money to

guests Nibbles (a mama goat) and her

buy 13 goats (at $50 per goat).

two babies. Dressed like farmers, the kids played jump the milk crates, dance

They shovelled, donated their tooth

like a goat, toss the hay, and guess how

fairy money, read to younger siblings

many “goat raisins” are in the jar. They

and held bake sales to raise money.

also posed with and petted the goats,

Children took turns sharing ideas for

and a few brave volunteers sampled

how to get involved during the school’s

freshly squeezed goat milk.

daily announcements. As donations came in they became motivated to help even

“We wanted to have a celebration,” says

more than they initially thought they

Lynne Robertson, Grade 6 teacher and

could, eventually raising $3,200—

Goat Day organizer. “It’s incredible to

enough to buy 64 goats.

see how much leadership the children have shown and how they’ve grown.”

RBC heard about their achievement and chipped in another $1,000, also sending

According to Free the Children, every

local branch employees to the school to

family receiving a goat will also get the

help out on Goat Day.

entrepreneurial training and financial education needed to make their gift

“A goat can supply a family in Africa with delicious milk they can drink, sell or

flourish into a sustainable income.

Our Children | Fall 2015

that charity, while the other half are invested into growing Me to We as a business. We learned about the opportunity through our youngest son whose Grade 6 class at Rockingham Elementary School took part in We Act for the school year, thus committing to being agents of social change.


twigs as toothbrushes. On safari in the Maasai Mara National Reserve we watched vultures ripping into a dead zebra. We also spotted giraffes, lions, elephants, hippos, buffalos, antelopes, hyenas, cheetahs, and hundreds of thousands of wildebeests. But as much as I loved the gorgeous landscapes and the impressive animals, it was ultimately the people we met who enriched our experience the most. • Jane, a beekeeper and subsistence farmer who grows beans and corn in fields fenced by cactuses, while

The experience that lasts a


Early Bird registration for summer 2016 will be opening in November!

Our Children | Fall 2015

Summer Camp for girls and boys aged 6–17


Outdoor Centre school trips for classes of grades 5–12


goats, donkeys and chickens roam freely on her lawn. With no plumbing or wells nearby, Jane fetches all the water she uses to irrigate her crops, and for washing and drinking, from the Mara River. This requires walking one kilometre there and back home with a jug of water hanging from her head—a task she typically repeats five times daily. We took a water walk with Jane and helped her transport two days’ worth of water. • Wilson and Jackson, our Maasai guides who taught us about their culture around a campfire one evening. Their Maasai initiation involved enduring burns and cuts to their arms and legs to build resistance to pain, and living in a cave. Jackson and Wilson taught us how to throw a rungu (wooden club) and shoot a bow and arrow. • Leah, a Maasai mama and beader. Maasai women here used to bead alone and sell in local markets, often not making enough money to cover their travel costs. Now almost 1,000 women bead in a Me to We collective, enjoying each other’s company and exporting their jewelry around the world. They help support their families and educate their children with their incomes. • Irene, a high-school student at Kisaruni, a girls’ school perched on a picturesque hill and completed with the help of Me to We volunteers two years ago. The girls here create their own schedules, with days beginning at 4:30 a.m. and continuing with classes, clubs, chores and homework to 10 p.m. each weeknight. Over chai and mandazi (Kenyan donuts), the Kisaruni girls told us they aspire to become politicians, doctors, pilots, scientists and journalists. As we walked or drove past homes and schools, children ran to the road, waving and shouting “Jambo!” (hello) to us. They’d often run beside our bus for as long as they had the legs to keep up. My own children, who are normally quite reserved, perched at the bus

windows anticipating these exuberant greeters. Watching them respond to the Kenyan children so openly was another highlight of the trip. The name Me to We reflects the goal of shifting our perspective from individual to collective, through how we act and give, the choices we make regarding what to buy and wear, and the experiences we seek. Activists and humanitarians Craig and Marc Kielburger, who have a long history of protesting child-labour practices worldwide, founded Me to We. One motto of Me to We is “Be the Change.� After this journey, by simply being present, observing, learning and helping, it would have been impossible to leave unchanged.

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Our Children | Fall 2015




Game on It’s simple to be a good sport parent: just treat people respectfully and make sure the kids have fun

Our Children | Fall 2015

By Trevor J. Adams


“Kill him!” the mother screamed to her 10-year-old son, pointing at a baffled boy on the other team. “Kill that little piece of crap!” I was refereeing in a recreational street-hockey tournament, and I was astonished. I turned my back on the action to look at the offending parent. “What are you staring at, you idiot!?” she screamed. “Watch the damn game!” The kids milled around in confused embarrassment as I whistled down the play. Other parents hissed at her. “Mom, stop...” moaned her son. “Don’t look at me! Play the game! Kill him!” she screamed. The boy who was the inexplicable target of her anger began to cry. Another mother took her arm and tried to lead her away, but she refused, angrily swatting her hand away. The screaming continued, louder and more profane. I had no choice but to tell her son’s team that they’d have to forfeit

the game if she didn’t leave. Her son and his friends pleaded with her to go away. Grudgingly, trailing profanities, she stormed off. She was the exception that weekend. There were a few other hotheads, but none that bad. Most parents were kind and supportive. They cheered for all the kids, thanked the volunteers and officials for their work. While bad sport parents like her get a lot of the attention, local leagues are working to educate all parents on how they can be supportive and role model good sportsmanship for kids. “That sort of thing isn’t a frequent problem, but if it happens once, that’s too many,” says Darren Cossar, executive director of Hockey Nova Scotia. “If you get three or four bad incidents in a year, you really have a scene.” But even behaviour that seems more innocuous—booing a volunteer official, heckling a player on the other team, arguing with a coach over playing time—can be a problem when the athletes are kids. “What’s more of a concern is the little stuff that adds up,” Cossar says. “Those things take their toll, and make hockey less fun for the players. Aggressive parents really take away the enjoyment from the game.” But it’s not exclusively a hockey problem; all organized sports have their difficult parents. “I’ve coached soccer and

has a parent who acts as a marshal and they patrol during the game, reminding parents who they should act and defusing any problems.” She does see parents who think they’re being positive inadvertently pressure their kids, though. “Kids mostly feel that from their own parents more than anyone else,” she says. “When the parents are right on the sidelines and they’re trying to coach their kids, you can see them get distracted and confused.”

Like many other sports organizations, Hockey Nova Scotia works to stop such problems before they start. “Our numberone tool is to educate parents,” he says. “At the start of the season we have meetings with the parents where we set expectations for the parents. We started our Respect In Sport parents’ program three years ago. You know better what’s expected of you.” The one-hour online program includes reminding parents that it’s just a game, encouraging them to cheer for all players, and treat coaches, officials and volunteers respectfully. “We want a warm, welcoming and fun environment for everyone involved,” Cossar says. “This program gets everyone on the same page.” The program includes elements like “Using guilt on your child,” “Making the team,” “Misplaced enthusiasm,” “Handling winning and losing,” “Injury management,” “Balance not burnout,” “Losing perspective,” “Establishing positive relationships,” and “Ensuring safe environments.” The common-sense philosophy boils down to treating people fairly, and reminding parents that they’re accountable for their behaviour. This pledge sums it up: “I agree as a sport parent or, on behalf of myself and my spouse/partner that I/ we will demonstrate these values in our role as sport parent. I/we understand that our sport organization may invoke disciplinary action to ensure the safety of my/our child and/ or others in the sport environment.” In the decade since introducing the program, Cossar has seen its effect. “We’re seeing parents defusing things themselves, policing their own behaviour,” he says. “That’s a big part of the education.” Dartmouth parent Kelly Legatto has two daughters (Ava, age 9, and Sophie, age 7) playing junior competitive soccer. As in minor hockey, officials stress good parent behaviour and accountability. “We’ve been lucky,” she says. “We haven’t really seen much of parents acting bad. Each team

That’s why it’s important for parents to have friendly, respectful relations with coaches. In recent game, Ava was moved to a defensive perspective. With her passion for goal scoring, she felt out of place. Legatto could see she was confused and discouraged. Rather than trying to solve the problem for her, she called it to the coach’s attention. “We’re so lucky to have a great coach,” she says. “He got out his white board and made the X’s and showed her where she was supposed to be and what she should be doing, and it was a lot better for her after that.” Athletically inclined kids tend to be very competitive, so Legatto also emphasizes helping them manage their expectations. “She wants to be a pro,” she says. “She has lots of heart and loves to be part of a team, but she’s probably not going to make it to the top levels. We’re worried about what happens when she doesn’t make a team. We remind her that it doesn’t have to be competitive, she can play recreationally and still enjoy it. We’re keeping coaches and friends who have had that experience in our back pocket, so they can talk to her when it happens.” Legatto thinks it’s also important to make sure kids don’t pour their hearts into one sport exclusively. Her daughters also swim, paddle, dance and play basketball. “We just want to let them have fun and not pressure them,” she says. “We expose them to many different sports and nudge them to the things they enjoy. The whole point is that they have fun.”






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Our Children | Fall 2015

basketball and see bad parents there too,” says Cossar. “It’s not rampant in hockey but hockey is a game Canadians are passionate about and that can make people more volatile.“

She shares how Ava, in her first year of competitive rather than recreational soccer, put a lot of pressure on herself to score goals. “She loves Christine Sinclair from Canada’s World Cup team, so we made her a bulletin board with lots of pictures of Sinclair scoring goals,” Legatto recalls. “We just wanted to keep it fun and light... My husband and I have noticed that we tend to coach her a lot, so we’re really trying to stop doing that—just be the parents and let her have fun, and let the coaches coach.”




picky eaters Make mealtimes less frustrating when your kids won’t eat everything on their plates

By Edie Shaw-Ewald If your family mealtimes are tense and frustrating, then I bet you have a picky eater. Even the most patient parent can be reduced to pleading and pressuring when a child refuses to eat the meal that you’ve prepared. After all, our role as parents is to nourish our children. Picky eating and changes in the appetite of a child are part of normal development. Being picky about new and unfamiliar foods has probably led to the success of our species by saving us from eating poisonous plants or rancid foods.

Our Children | Fall 2015

But sometimes there may be a medical reason for a child’s refusal to eat. Oral motor control such as chewing or swallowing or digestive issues such as reflux or severe constipation may need to be ruled out if you feel your child is exhibiting signs more serious than just pickiness.


If you’ve ruled out medical reasons and you feel your child has an extremely limited diet and seems to have a severe reaction such as gagging and vomiting to trying new foods, it may be food neophobia or Avoidant Restricted Food Intake Disorder. Most children with these extreme food avoidant behaviours have had sensitivities since infancy or shortly after solid foods were introduced. These types of issues are not just pickiness or stubbornness. Make sure you get an assessment from a medical specialist. Research has shown that begging, bribing, tricking and punishing doesn’t produce a healthy intake and attitude toward food. Instead, it causes children to feel anxious and eat less at mealtime. Instead, try these techniques and strategies to encourage healthy, successful eaters and calmer, more enjoyable family mealtimes. Be the gatekeeper. Limit unhealthy processed foods coming into the home. Those include foods advertised to kids, most

individually packaged foods and sweet or salty snack foods. You don’t want to constantly be monitoring their intake of these types of foods. If they aren’t in the house, your child will have less access and can’t beg you for them until you cave. Also, these types of food promote a very limited palate that is partial to sweet and salty. Structure meal and snack times. Don’t allow or facilitate all-day snacking. Instead, have structured meal and snack times. Children feel safe with some structure to their day. When they know a meal or snack is coming up, they will be less likely to feel the need to ask for snacks. A little hunger is a motivator to trying a new food. Let them play with their food. Let them touch, taste and maybe even politely spit out a bite of a new food. Studies show that children will explore a new food up to 15 times before they will accept it. This exploring includes touching and putting it into their mouth. It may also mean they occasionally spit food out. Division of responsibility. This method, first developed by dietitian and counsellor Ellyn Satter, makes so much sense. It’s a parent’s responsibility to provide healthy food and to choose place and time for meals and snacks. It’s a child’s responsibility to choose what, how much and whether to eat that food. Serve most meals family style. Instead of plating up the food at the kitchen counter and presenting it to your children, put at least some of the choices in serving bowls and let the child decide what and how much to eat. This approach goes along with the division of responsibility. Don’t serve separate meals. Making some adjustments to the amount of spice or whether their vegetables are mixed together are reasonable requests. But don’t whip up a complete second dinner. Children will not learn to become successful eaters if they don’t have exposure to new foods. Have make-your-own meals. These types of meals can be fun and relaxing for the whole family. Try it with tacos, salads or sandwiches. This is just another way of letting your children choose what and how much to eat.

Family Fun

at Noggins Corner Farm! Here’s what’s happening on the farm this fall

Resources • Helping Your Child with Extreme Picky Eating by Katja Rowell, MD

U-Pick Flowers and Herbs: starting July 22nd

Interactive Corn Maze:

Friday October 23 7-10pm Saturday October 24th 7-10pm Friday October 30th 7-10pm

opening August 26th

Group Packages Available

U-Pick Apples and Pumpkins

Birthday Parties, Corporate Events, Hands-On Educational Tours, Geo-caching

starting September 12th

Jenny McGlothlin, MS, SLP

Haunted Halloween Weekend: Haunted Corn Maze and Haunted House

Red Cross Haunted House open Weekends in October

• The Ellyn Satter Institute

Flashlight Maze

Friday and Saturday evenings in October


Noggins Corner Farm Market, 10009 Hwy 1 Greenwich NS


• Real Mom Nutrition

For more information please contact us: 902-542-5515 ext. 23 • tours@nogginsfarms.ca


Never give up on a particular food. Don’t come to a conclusion that your child doesn’t like a particular food. It may take more than 15 times before they accept a food; it may take years or they may never like it. But don’t give up on your child or the food.

Growing smiles since 1760

Don’t fret about food jags. A child may choose to favour a particular food at mealtimes. Food jags (choosing to eat the same food item all the time) are normal and will usually pass. Edie Shaw-Ewald is a registered dietitian at Atlantic Superstore and mother to two teenage sons who still will not eat asparagus or sweet potatoes.

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Expect variations in intake. Variations in appetite will be related to growth spurts, activity levels, and moods. Respecting the variations in their appetites helps them to learn to listen and trust their own hunger cues.


Face to face

Road to

resilience Dr. Michael Ungar helps children and families find healthy ways to cope in tough environments By Suzanne Rent Dr. Michael Ungar first started researching resilience when he was working with families and at-risk kids. He says the kids people expected to turn out badly would often adapt positively to their negative environments. “So I got intrigued by some of those patterns in children and initially wondered if you gave a child more control over their world and decisions that affected them if they would experience better mental health,” he says. The family therapist and professor of social work at Dalhousie University is now one of the world’s best-known writers and researchers on resilience. As the founder and co-director of The Resilience Research Centre in Halifax, he and his colleagues research resilience around the world and how it affects children and families. He’s written 14 books, including I Still Love You: Nine things Troubled Kids Need from their Parents, Too Safe for their Own Good, Youth Resilience and Culture, and We Generation.

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Our Children recently spoke with Ungar about his work.


What were some of the patterns on resilience you noticed in your research? We’ve been doing research all over the world in many, many countries... Some of the similarities you see are, of course, relationships are important to all children. But what those relationships look like can be very different. For instance, our conception of the parents being the primary source of attachment is really not the way it is around most of the world. And what we learn from kids around the world is extended family, neighbours, older peer groups and teachers can all be really just as effective in terms of creating positive relationships with kids. Sometimes we have to think more broadly about the resources we have at hand and who can support us when difficult times can occur. We found out other things in our research. Kids who survive better have a really positive identity, something positive they can say about themselves.

Is resilience genetic or a skill you can learn? The research is definitely showing that it’s both. Basically, the way I understand it and what the research seems to show is the more challenging the world you’re living in, the more your survival and resilience depends on things outside of you. If you’re talking about a kid who is being bullied at school, but he has great family, great grandparents, he plays piano on the weekends and has a stable and secure life, then probably his ability to reflect on his life and cognitive skills and personality, that will count a lot. But imagine that same kid is living in dire poverty, is racially marginalized, his parents are struggling with unemployment, poverty and all these other things. Then, really what’s going to make a difference in the life of a kid like that, it’s not that individual factors aren’t important, it’s that you’re going to have to look broader. You’re going to need good schools, safe environments, maybe even good policing. A lot of external factors are going to tip the balance and make it possible for the kid to do well. We hear about kids being more anxious these days. Does that mean kids are less resilient now? Yes, I think that’s what we are beginning to understand. What we have to understand is what is making kids more anxious. What I find interesting in my work internationally is the very things that make kids resilient, things like giving children opportunities to make real contributions to their families. You go around the world here’s a kid living in a really high-risk neighbourhood and what are some of the things you see this kid doing? They usually have really genuine responsibilities for themselves and others. They are often expected to exercise control over their world and make decisions for themselves. They have all these other things that parents intuitively give them to survive better in harsh environments. The funny thing is when you come back to very secure environments like Canada, we are literally doing the opposite. We are actually

doing the very things that make children less resilient. By overprotecting them, by not letting them make decisions, by treating them as babies rather than people who can grow. And taking away the ways experience that help them understand risk? Exactly. And not giving them opportunities to make real contributions to the welfare of others. There is good evidence now that this is not just about opinion, but it’s good brain development. When adults facilitate genuine opportunities for manageable amounts of stress in kids’ lives, they seem to do better. Do you notice any difference in the way children deal with resilience compared to adults? The themes are the same, but of course adults have a lot more resources. So they tend to be able to find resources in very different ways. But they also aren’t as buffered, so when stress happens there is a lot more on their shoulders more than kids. The same themes appear: how do you belong, positive identity, a sense of purpose, basic material resources in your life, positive relationships. These are all themes that appear if you’re a child having your environment mediated, facilitated by an adult or as an adult having to facilitate these things by yourself. What about parenting styles? How do those affect resilience? What the research says it depends on the risk in the environment. There’s this notion that somehow that one-size-fits all for parenting is a lovely, pop-psychology motivational speaking thought. It’s actually not true. Different models of parenting seem to work better in different cultures and in different contexts. So you really have to make sure there is a match.

What are some very basic ways in which parents can help their children more resilient? I would say add more relationships than just yourself. Bring other people into a child’s life and encourage those connections. When you take your child to the soccer practice, leave them there. Don’t stay. Because what you want is your child to fall down, skin their knee and have to turn to another adult for comfort. You want them to know other adults are there for them. It’s a terrific gift you can give your kid. So when you help your kids be more resilience you’re also teaching them to be more independent and trust their instinct about situations. Definitely. That’s part of good decision-making. These aren’t things that happen magically when we are 16 or 18. We sometimes forget we get our kids ready for those moments of decision very early and incrementally. People often say, “Well, it’s too late. I have a 15-year-old and I’ve done everything for him.” And the answer is, “earlier is better, but it’s never too late.”






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What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about resilience? Probably that kids who have problem behaviours, sometimes those problem behaviours are their solution to problems they can’t solve any other way. So a kid will self-medicate with drugs. A kid will run away when they feel threatened or abused. Kids who are anxious will withdrawal from school because of their anxiety level. And what I learned from that is sometimes these maladaptive behaviours are actually signs of coping when the child sees no other solution. The second big lesson I learned is that if you change the environment, and make it so that coping strategy is no longer necessary, but has access to other resources, ways of coping with the same problems, in general, they will choose a more socially desirable set of behaviours.



Our Children | Fall 2015

What are the differences across cultures? There are big differences across cultures how a child should behave. But usually they can look very different on the outside, but on the inside there are the same themes. Children are still being given a sense of control, a positive identity and positive relationships. In some countries it’s impolite to compliment a child. This endless self-esteem stuff we do with our children in North America can be seen as not a positive way to parent a child. It’s seen as bringing bad luck to a child. It’s also seen as not making them ready for life. Talking about your feelings with your parents in some cultures is not promoted. But those cultures might also be more reliant on their children to be more adult-like.



passages of parenthood

A time for learning One mom shares her family’s ups and downs over the summer break

The Walk For Autism is a big event for the Estabrooks family. Mom, Courtnee, and sons, Hayden and Hunter along with friends and family participated again this year, raising more than $1,000 for the event.

By Courtnee Estabrooks Editor’s Note: Courtee Estabrooks writes a regular column in the Enfield Weekly Press. There, she shares thoughts and details on her family’s life, including stories on her son who has autism. Courtnee, her husband, Matt, and sons, Hunter and Hayden live in Enfield. You can follow their story at www.enfieldweeklypress.com

As excited as I was for summer, it brought on a whole new storm of meltdowns from Hunter. Of course, the fact that he can go outside now makes him not want to ever come in. So, when he has to come in, we usually have to have a good purpose or bribe to get him to come inside with minimal crying that doesn’t last at least an hour.


Courtnee Estabrooks with her husband, Matt, and sons, Hunter and Hayden.


Our Children | Fall 2015

I usually have to have a bath running, a Popsicle, or a meal on the table to make this transition the easiest. But also have to make sure I cover my tracks once getting him inside, to make sure I haven’t left any outside doors or distractions within his sight or opportunity. There’s also the plus side of how much he loves being

outside now, though, and how much more energy he’s able to burn off, running around that backyard all day and playing on the swing set, plus learning new swimming skills as the months pass on as well. He absolutely loves water. We were fortunate this past year to meet an amazing lady, Frances, who volunteered her time to us, and other kiddos with disabilities, to teach swimming lessons once a week. We’ve come so far since we started them. It gives me a little more confidence in Hunter’s abilities. We still have a long way to go, but to see what he has taken in, when you have no clue if he’s even paying attention when you’re talking to him, gives me more hope for possible dreams he might have of accomplishing in the future. Hunter’s also been showing another other side of himself these last two months. He’s always been a pretty easy going and happy kid, despite his hurdles, and his busy factor. But Matt made a trip home after being away for work for a couple months. During this trip home we had no problems leaving the kids with sitters so Matt and I could have a date night or run errands. Then we were driving to the city as a family and stopped at the airport to get gas. As soon as Hunter saw the airport he started crying and freaking out in the back seat. As soon as we turned around to head back to the highway, he instantly calmed down. We quickly realized that he thought we were going to drop Matt off to fly back out. So, come fly day we all went into the airport to drop Matt off, whereas we normally just drop him off outside and go straight home. Again, as soon as Hunter saw the airport he started crying. He calmed while we were all in the airport. But once the kids and I got back out to the car, he realized we were leaving without Dad and started crying again.

Since taking Matt to the airport he won’t let me go. Now, when I have had to leave him with someone, or even just leave him with my sister-in-law for a minute to go to the store, he melts down bawling until I get back. I’m glad he misses us and loves us, but it’s making it harder to want and be able to leave him with anyone, when you know he’s going to spend the first half hour, at least, screaming. We hope he’ll adjust to this again, but for now we just try to grin and bear it.

Both of my boys are learning so much about each other, our world, and communities. They say it takes a village to raise a child and I believe it. This past month our community taught our family so much about caring for and supporting each other. Together, we’re opening our eyes and accepting the challenges and opportunities that come our way. I have to say a huge thank you! Hunter’s older brother, Hayden, held a good old-fashioned lemonade stand at their family home to raise money for their family’s Walk for Autism team. He raised nearly $300.

Hunter’s succeeded in escaping the house a few times. Thankfully, we have great neighbours who care for him and his safety when he gets out. I started tying gates shut and changing locks. He also had his first ER visit for the summer months as well, after playing with his brother on the trampoline. He was okay and just had pulled muscles. But Hunter doesn’t relay pain like the average person or communicate. He still loves rough housing and play. Hayden’s been doing a great job with this, too. Some days this is good, other days you’re scared they’re going to take the house down with their path of destruction.






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Our Children | Fall 2015

But most days I see Hunter just clinging to Hayden, wanting to be his best buddy and have all his attention, how can that not melt your heart. And Hayden’s been doing so amazing at being that leader for him. Some days he can get a bit annoyed and just wants his own space away from his brother.




There’s an app for that Google Apps for Education is one of the keys to homework help

By Elwin LeRoux, Superintendent What could make students in Grade 6 actually want to do their homework? According to Shelly Bembridge, it’s Google Apps for Education (GAFE). (Find Google Apps at www.google.ca/edu/ products/productivity-tools/) “After introducing Google Apps in my classroom this spring, homework completion rates jumped from just 40 per cent to 92 per cent in a matter of weeks,” says Ms. Bembridge, a Grade 6 teacher at Bedford South School. Bembridge says it has removed barriers for students who previously found excuses for not doing their homework.

Our Children | Fall 2015

“Whether they’re at school or at home, they can no longer say ‘I forgot my homework.’ With GAFE, students can access their work any time, any place,” Bembridge says.


GAFE is a collection of tools that includes Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Sites and more. These apps allow students and teachers to access files from cloud-based storage from any device with an Internet connection. They allow for live collaboration on any file, simultaneously, from anywhere. Collaborators can see one another’s work on their screen, they can review the entire revision history and saving happens automatically.

“I find that it has really increased the quality of student work because I don’t have to wait until the product is finished and submitted before providing qualitative feedback,” Bembridge says. “Because I can edit, comment and review the work as it is crafted by the student, there are so many more teachable moments to help guide student work. GAFE supports a more differentiated model of instruction.”

Nova Scotia’s Department of Early Education and Childhood Development is introducing the GAFE suite of tools to support Nova Scotia’s Action Plan for Education 2015.

Students can also spend as much time as they want reviewing concepts and using resources that have been shared on GAFE by their teacher. GAFE is also helping to connect teachers.

Many schools in the Halifax Regional School Board (HRSB) have begun using Google Apps for Education. Just a few months in, the reviews from students, teachers and administrators are overwhelmingly positive.

“Teachers are using GAFE to support students and work with them as if the student were sitting next to them,” says Ramona Joseph, principal of Five Bridges Junior High School. “I am also able to be part of Professional Learning Community (PLC) meetings and not even be in the room by using GAFE. It’s not changing our work, it’s changing the way we work,” Joseph says. HRSB’s Technology Integration Lead Team (TILT) is providing the professional development for GAFE. Alexander MacDougall and Mario Eleftheros have never seen a demand for technology-related PD as great and as enthusiastic as it is for GAFE. “Google Apps is the biggest single technology-related game changer

for our schools since computers were first introduced,” MacDougall says. “It enables teachers to more easily reach beyond the classroom and provides a smooth and virtually seamless platform on which everyone can share ideas and information, be creative and get organized.” MacDougall believes that HRSB will see GAFE change the way students work collaboratively and independently, both in and out of the classroom. “It takes learning, sharing and collaborating to a whole new level,” Eleftheros says. “It is true collaboration using tools that are accessible to everyone.” As superintendent, I’m excited to see how Google Apps for Education will enhance the way we work at the board level, the way we teach and the way students engage in their learning, in school or at home. It is, however, important that we don’t lose sight that no technology can be successful without a teacher who is using it in meaningful ways to support the learning of all students.

Thanks Mom! Thanks Dad! The start of a new school year is an exciting time for students, parents and teachers. Learning improves when parents get involved in their child’s education. Nova Scotia’s teachers thank parents for their continued involvement and encouragement. Show your child that learning is important. Stress good work habits. Set expectations that encourage your child to succeed. Show an interest in what he or she is learning and keep informed about what is happening at school and in class. Meet your child’s teacher. Discuss what is being taught, homework, expectations, and discipline. Let the teacher know about situations that may affect your child’s learning. Children succeed when there is a strong partnership between home and school. The teachers of Nova Scotia look forward to working with you this year.

Nova Scotia Teachers Union

Elwin LeRoux is the superintendent of the Halifax Regional School Board. Twitter: @Elwin_LeRoux





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Our Children | Fall 2015



book reviews By Trevor J. Adams

Jacob’s Landing

PARENTS’ PICK: Raising Emotionally Healthy Boys

By Daphne Greer Nimbus Publishing Ages 10 to 12

By Michael Reist Dundurn Press

Greer has followed up the success of her earlier work Maxed Out with another well crafted young-adult novel. In Jacob’s Landing, 12-year-old Jacob Mosher leaves Ontario after the death of his father to spend the summer with his decidedly odd grandparents in rural Nova Scotia. Setting the story in the village of Newport Landing, where she lives, Greer evokes a rich sense of place. Jacob finds danger and mystery, but ultimately, this is a warm and wry story about a young boy becoming a man, coming to terms with life’s knocks, and finding his own path. The idea of a recently deceased parent is a bit heavy for more sensitive readers, but Greer handles the subject deftly and tactfully.

It’s hard for parents to raise emotionally healthy boys. For generations, boys have learned to hide strong emotions. Today, what masculinity really means is undergoing a dramatic redefinition and parents are scrambling to keep up. Reist is an educator with 30 years experience, and author of the best seller Raising Boys in a New Kind of World. In his latest book, he continues to explore that theme, with a far-reaching exploration of emotional health, discipline, listening, and more. He explores how media, games, parental cues and more affect how boys develop. While he takes a farsighted approach, his writing is straightforward and accessible. This book will give parents lots to think about.

Our Children | Fall 2015

Frankenstink! Garbage Gone Bad


By Ron Lightburn Tundra Books Ages 6 to 8 A book teaching children how and why they should recycle and help clean up the earth can easily be overly-earnest, preachy and pedantic. Lightburn, however, makes the topic fun and delightfully silly. With a glow-in-the-dark cover and colourful, high-energy, comic-style art (also by Lightburn), Frankenstink manages to convey valuable lessons in a way that’s entertaining, with just enough of a gross-out factor to keep kids coming back for more.