Our Children September 2016

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Halifax’s Family Magazine ourchildrenmagazine.ca

September 2016

Working overtime How kids and parents can work together for homework success Tending the hive

A new project teaches more than the science of beekeeping

Creative care

Enter our annual reading

contest! page 9

Starr Dobson learns that painting is more than colour on canvas

+ model of nutrition • face to face • book reviews

Entering Primary is a giant step for little people, but

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

From everyone at the Halifax Regional School Board, welcome back to class for the 2016-2017 school year! To our Grade Primary students, we hope you thrive in the classroom. On page 28, Superintendent Elwin LeRoux shares details on a new curriculum for Grades 4 to 6.

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Come share in the experience! Music and Dance Programs

www.maritimeconservatory.com Maritime Conservatory of Performing Arts 6199 Chebucto Road, Halifax, Nova Scotia Telephone: 902-423-6995

New c for our


September 2016

9 Our annual reading contest is back! Find more details on page 9.

features 12 A new home a world away Syrian children adjust to Canada’s culture and school system while making new friends

14 Working overtime Teachers, parents share advice on how to get back to the routine of homework

17 Tending the hive Family SOS’s Honey Beez project teaches kids far more than the science of beekeeping

24 A model of nutrition Children learn healthy eating habits and positive body image from their parents

26 Creative care Painting isn’t just about colour on canvas. Often it starts a conversation about the simple things and the process of healing


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

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

20 Face to face Parents, teachers, the community have a role in helping boys understand masculinity

28 Superintendent’s message 30 Book reviews

Our Children | September 2016

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

A beekeeping project in Dartmouth teaches kids about confidence, leadership, and community.



On our cover

Every issue of Halifax Magazine reaches 43,600 of the city’s most affluent and influential readers

Homework can be challenging for students and parents, including dad Jason Patriquin and his daughter, Sophie. Contributor Katie Ingram learns some tips on how families can manage. Photo: Steve Smith/VisionFire Art Direction: Mike Cugno

Publisher Patty Baxter

Senior Editor Trevor J. Adams


N tia’s FU tes Sco Y inu va IL m No e M ly 45 on Shor FAOn alifaxouth


Our Children | September 2016


or email reservations@atlanticaoakisland.com 36 Treasure Drive Western Shore, Nova Scotia

Printing Advocate Printing & Publishing Contributors

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Graphic Design Gwen North

Starr Dobson Katie Ingram Elwin LeRoux Ian Monchesky Amelia Penney-Crocker Edie Shaw-Ewald


Do your family getaway Seaside Different.

Editor Suzanne Rent Contributing Editor Kim Hart Macneill

Fresh air, beautiful views, a little adventure, and time spent together as a family. Take advantage of the “Our Children” special! 15% off guestroom rates between October 12, 2016 and March 1, 2017.

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Raising Our Children Everyone loves a party, right? Well, Our Children is planning a big party for this fall and we’d like to invite you. On Saturday, September 24, we host Raising Our Children: An Expo for Parents at Basinview Drive Community School in Bedford. Here you will have a chance to check out dozens of exhibitors and what products and services they have to offer. Each exhibitor will also have a hands-on activity you and your kids can take part in.

Suzanne Rent, Editor

We also have a few surprises planned. I love getting to meet our readers and their families in person. When you see me there, be sure to say hello. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the event and the magazine.

On Facebook: Our Children Magazine

If your business or organization would like to book a table for Raising Our Children, email the address below and we can send out more detailed information.

On Twitter: @Suzanne_Rent @OurChildrenMag

We will have an online sign-up sheet available for anyone wanting to attend. There will be two sessions (noon to 2 p.m. and 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.). Watch our Facebook page for more details.

Also in this issue on page 14, contributor Katie Ingram shares some advice from parents and teachers on how to handle homework. It’s that time of year again, and after the hot summer months, many of us forget the routine of homework and what it means for our children’s studies. Also, we learn on page 17 about a unique project in Dartmouth that has kids in that community learning how to take care of bees. But this project is about more than producing honey. And our latest student correspondents, Amelia and Ian from St. Catherine’s Elementary share the story of Syrian children who arrived in Canada as refugees. It’s an inspiring look at how these children are learning a new culture and school environment, and how we can help welcome them to Canada. To all the parents of students in Grade Primary, welcome to class and our magazine. We hope you follow along with us and share in the parenting advice we provide in each issue. Perhaps we will connect with some of you in person at Raising Our Children on September 24. As always, send your ideas and feedback to srent@metroguide.ca.

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HALIFAX INDEPENDENT SCHOOL Our small classes and integrated, inquiry-based approach will engage, challenge, and support your child during this formative stage. By encouraging your child's natural inclination for discovery we cultivate joyful participation in academics, igniting a love of learning that lasts a lifetime.

Call to schedule a tour. Ask about our visit-for-a-day gentle introduction for new students. (902) 423-9777 HalifaxIndependentSchool.ca @hfxindependent 3331 Connaught Ave, Halifax HIS_OurChildren_08_2016.indd 1

Our Children | September 2016

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Share The World With Your Children

Congratulations! Congratulations to the winners of our poetry contest!

Anaysia Riley

Anna Benwell

Ava Andrecyk

Check out our Facebook page to learn more about the winners and how to hear their poems live!

NEW contest

Get ready to read! How many books can your class read in a month?

Contest closes October 31, 2016. Send in your entries by November 3, 2016. The party for the winning class will be held by mid November. 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 | September 2016

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!



First bell

A mind-blowing experience at the new

Discovery Centre

Our Children | September 2016

When the new Discovery Centre opens soon on the Halifax Waterfront, visitors will get the chance to see the first Immersive Dome Theatre in Atlantic Canada. Offering a completely new and captivating experience, the Dome is part theatre, part planetarium. Visitors will enjoy a digital, 180-degree, fully immersible experience. It will transport them from the bottom of the ocean to the inside of a human cell. From the outer reaches of space to the furthest corners of the world. Take a sneak peak of this impressive structure online at beelieve.ca and follow the new Centre’s progress as it prepares to open in early 2017.


Bent into shape Yoga in Schools is a new movement in schools. Taught by teachers, it’s being brought to life by the students. There are eight piloted programs: Elementary & Secondary Yoga Posters, Yoga for Autism, Yoga for Special Needs, Yoga Grade 11, Mindfulness and Girl on Fire Empowerment. Yoga in Schools is uplifting the lives of more than 50,000 children and more than 400 teachers every day across Canada. These programs help students to cultivate life skills for effectively managing stress, mental health concerns, self-regulation, intimate relationships, and mind/body health. Award-winning educators Jenny Kierstead and Blair Abbass pioneered Yoga in Schools. For quick tips, videos, and lesson plans, go to www.YogainSchools.ca

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Not so roughing it Get lost and find beautiful with an East Coast Glamping authentic luxury camping experience. Don’t let the hustle and bustle of back-to-school stop you from grabbing a few more adventures in star-gazing. East Coast Glamping offers safari-style tents with other comforts that will keep you warm at night. Double-wall canvas tents have extra insulation to hold in the heat during autumn evenings. Glampers gets a hot flask of coffee, selection of teas, and hot chocolate. You can also order a camp-inspired dessert from the Glampers’ Grub Menu. Learn more at www.eastcoastglamping.ca.

Run for fun and Feed Nova Scotia On October 16, the Canada Games Centre hosts its annual CGC Food Run in support of Feed Nova Scotia. The event celebrates community, healthy living, and physical literacy. It also focuses on participation, enjoyment, and encouraging participants to move at their own pace. This free community festival features bouncy castles, community groups, a physical literacy play zone, and more. Last year, CGC collected more than 3,000 kg of food and $2,400 in cash donations, making it the biggest bite against hunger yet.

Registration is free with food or cash donation and includes race entry, race kit, t-shirt, and snacks. Register at canadagamescentre.ca.

School Bus Safety Week, which runs from October 17 to 21, offers an opportunity to share important safety reminders with students, families and, motorists. Safety Services Nova Scotia and the Nova Scotia School Boards Association will work with school boards and law enforcement to promote school bus safety through a variety of events, social media activity, information at schools, and the student video contest. The goals are to reduce the number of violations, and to get people talking about this very serious issue in their communities. School bus red light violations continue to be a serious concern, with motorists passing stopped school buses when they are picking up or dropping off students. It is illegal to pass a school bus that is stopped with red lights flashing and the stop sign arm extended. During the 2015–2016 school year, there were more than 1,600 school bus red light violations in Nova Scotia. The annual student video contest is part of this safety promotion with three age categories, including one for elementary students. Students can submit videos that demonstrate school bus safety, and the importance of stopping for red lights on school buses. The deadline is November 19. www.schoolbussafety.ca

Our Children | September 2016

Safe on the bus


Student correspondent

A new home

a world away Student correspondents Amelia Penney- Crocker and Ian Monchesky with Zeyad Abu Nabbout, a young Syrian student who arrived in Halifax in February.

Jordan is overwhelmed by the amount of Syrian refugees arriving there. The Canadian government took in 25,000 Syrian refugees, the most in North America. PHOTO: SUZANNE RENT

On top of all that, the trip to Canada took 12 to 16 hours. Imagine sitting in a plane that long! But these newcomers seem happy here.

Syrian children adjust to Canada’s culture and school system while making new friends By Ian Monchesky and Amelia Penney-Crocker

Our Children | September 2016

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to move houses, or for those who have, even cities? Well, it’s nothing for those who have come to Canada from Syria, and so far, it’s been a big change. One of the biggest changes has been the weather.


“So, far it’s still cold,” says one of the five Syrian students we met at Oxford School. Rawan Abo Jeesh, Zeyad Abu Nabbout, Mohammad Alrashid, Anas Abo Jeesh, and Habeel Haj Ali all arrived in Halifax in February and are now junior-high students here. “The most happy moment for me was coming to Canada and the first day I arrived it was my birthday,” Rawan says. The first day they went to school it was cold and wet. They didn’t know the bus systems, so they got a bit lost. “All the houses look the same,” Habeel says. And a hard day of school was not over for the children. Habeel is on her third combination lock for her locker. The newcomers we talked to had not been in Syria for two years. They were going to a school in Jordan where boys and girls are separated.

“I had three wishes in my life,” Habeel says. “To get on an airplane, and I did. To see an ocean, and I did. To come to Canada, and I did.” As Canadians, it’s hard to imagine what it’s like to have all the houses in your neighbourhood be bombed, but it happened to these students in their homes. The students described that whenever they heard the sound of a bomb, they started counting, to find out how far away the bomb was, like how we count when we see lightning before we hear the thunder. They never knew if it was going to hit their house, their neighbour’s house, or their friend’s house. “When we arrived in Canada, we felt so secure and happy,” Zeyad says. “We were surprised everything was prepared for us when we arrived. The hotels, the clothes, the residence. After that we moved to a house, we are also getting more information about how to improve our English. Here the buildings are big. There our buildings are all destroyed. Here happiness, there sadness.” “It’s pretty much the same as coming from other countries,” says Olga Leiva from the YMCA Immigrant Settlement Program in Halifax. “But the situation they come from makes it different.” Leiva has been welcoming and working with the new junior high students since February. “These children are coming from a situation of war,” she says. Sonja Stuart, an EAL consultant with the Halifax Regional School Board, is helping these students in the classroom, in more 100 schools, some urban, some rural. “Just because you don’t speak the language doesn’t mean you can’t

communicate,” she says. “Technology is helping that. Today, in 2016, that is very different than 20 or 30 years ago.” These students said they work out all their homework into Google Translate. But it is still hard. Learning to write from left to right, and our alphabet is different. A whole new alphabet! Could you do that? There are 25 teachers helping the students in the HRSB, and 33 schools, so teachers are spread pretty thinly. “We have schools that never met newcomers in Canada. Some schools received many at once,” Stuart says. In our conversation with both the students at Oxford School and the teachers that help them settle in, we asked if there were any differences between the Syrians and the children who have always lived in Canada. “Children all round the world are the same, but in general the Syrian students are stronger in spirit,” says EAL teacher Daina Aleksis says. “As a mother and a grandmother I am looking at my own children and thinking is it really the best way they have it so easy? Kids are kids. You can’t say they are all the same, but they are a wonderful group of kids to work with.”

“Anything that includes others is a very important thing to do,” Stuart says. “Depending on the activity, how do you include everyone in it?” You can also think of some ideas yourself. Do whatever they like to do or introduce them to something new! But just being a good friend can help as well. Editor’s note: Thanks to translator Sura Khorshid for her assistance in our conversation with these 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 participate in their children’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. Keep informed about what is happening in class and at school. Meet your child’s teacher and discuss curriculum, homework, expectations, and discipline. Let the teacher know what 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

Our Children | September 2016

If you would like to help these newcomers, you could try making them feel welcome to your school, your city, and helping them settle in. You can become a friend to them, just by smiling or waving hello, or you could help them with their work in class. Remember, they come from a different country, so they don’t speak English, so they may not understand what the teacher is saying. But do not think they aren’t learning. They know so much more English than when they first came. One student named Mohammad said once he knows English, he will learn French next!


Cover story


overtime Teachers, parents share advice on how to get back to the routine of homework By Katie Ingram | Photo by Steve Smith/VisionFire Each school year brings a new kind of homework, which means more stress and more work for most students. But, it’s not designed to. According to the Halifax Regional School Board’s Homework Policy, homework is designed to help students review information they already know or something they need to find out for a future activity, practice new skills, increase students’ knowledge of topics and apply it in new ways.

“It should be meaningful to the student,” says Anne Marie Hurley, a Grade 6 teacher at Seaside Elementary in Dartmouth. “It should be something they have already learned in the classroom and can be built upon.” For Hurley’s students, assignments can include nightly readings, math or science problems, or sometimes research for a topical project or larger assignment.

Our Children | September 2016

Hurley does acknowledge that some students may have difficulties when completing homework assignments. Sometimes, it’s merely an issue of finding enough time in-between after school and other activities.


Ruth McMullen of Sackville has three children, one of whom is in Grade 1. She says time management is an issue for her family. “If both parents work or if there are younger children in the family, finding that time [for homework] is very difficult,” says McMullen. “It can be a challenge getting them fed and in bed in time let alone fit in time for one of us to sit down and help with homework.” For some students who struggle, fixing their homework issues might not be as easy as coming up with a better schedule. “Homework should never be causing them grief or anxiety,” says Hurley. “If it comes to a point where a student is frustrated, it’s time for a parent to contact the teacher and together you can work on new strategies for the child.”

Cover story One strategy Hurley says parents should always avoid is giving their children the answers. Instead, parents should guide their children through the problem.

while also being humble and knowing that you can’t know what you haven’t learned and you can only learn what you don’t know.”

“The most important thing is for a parent is to see what a child can do independently,” she says. “As a parent they can ask what they’ve done in class to help them with it, encourage them to read a problem more than once and talk about steps the child could take to get certain information.”

If there are still issues after spending some time on a new homework strategy, the problem might be more complex. This is where tutoring centres such as Halifax Learning can help.

This can be hard for parents, as they want their children to succeed. “I try to resist just reading or spelling the word when my child can’t get it and instead try to guide her through a thought process that will help her learn how to solve the problem by herself,” says McMullen. “I hope that she will get a head-start on trusting her instincts

“With the kids we work with some of them have large learning gaps, some have small learning gaps, some of them have had an education assessment and have a diagnosed disability or challenge,” says Eryn Steele, general manager of Halifax Learning. “Sometimes it’s just a proactive mom or dad looking for more support.” Two landmark programs from Halifax Learning are SpellRead, a reading skills mastery program, and Momentum

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Our Children | September 2016

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Math, both of which aim to bring a student’s skills to or above their current grade level. “It’s [the program] not providing an accommodation, it’s remediation,” Steele says. “It’s an intervention with a beginning and an end with a goal of changing the way the brain learns.” As a parent, McMullen finds that having access to resources both in and outside of the classroom essential, especially if children are constantly struggling. She finds that extra guidance often helps children’s self-esteem, which in turn will change how they see homework and school. “Going around thinking that you aren’t good at something just because you are having trouble learning can lead you to thinking false things about yourself,” she says. “Figuring out a different way to learn something with the help of a good tutor can help open doors to the idea that there is a way to learn anything and we are capable of finding that way.” After all, homework is supposed to bring people together, as both parents and children can learn something new or build on what they already know.


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“When students bring homework home I think it’s a learning experience for the parent as well,” says Hurley. “They can work together and parents can see what their child is learning and what kind of learner they are.”

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tending the


Michelle McPherson, a consultant with the Nova Scotia Beekeepers Association, teaches kids with the Family SOS program how to tend a beehive.

Story and photos by Suzanne Rent

Family SOS’s Honey Beez project teaches kids far more than the science of beekeeping

But in the far corner of the space, in an area surrounded by lattice fencing, several children learn about beekeeping. “Oh, dear Lord, that is a lot of bees,” 15-year-old Melissa Walters recalls saying when she first arrived on the site today. “I am not a big fan of bugs, but once I came here and had the gear on, I knew I was going to be safe.” Walters learned about the project via Healthy Teenz, a program run by Family SOS (a non-profit, child-centered organization that offers programs to build strong and healthy families). Walters is a junior leader at Healthy Teenz. Family SOS is also the organization behind this project, called Honey Beez. Each of the kids is dressed in a beige beekeeper suit complete with screened hoods. The bees are busy here today. Michelle

McPherson, a consultant with the Nova Scotia Beekeepers Association, is here to teach the kids. She pulls out each frame from a hive, inspecting the honey. She puffs smoke from a metal dispenser to calm the bees crawling all over the frames and flying around everyone’s heads. If they are nervous of the insects, the kids don’t show it. They seem intent on learning about the workings of the hives. The session is long and the day is hot, and a couple of the students sit down in front of the hives, faces resting in their hands. Stewart Zaun, a program development officer with Family SOS, is learning about the hives too. He says the kids will soon see this is about more than bees. “They need to learn how to work together and they need to learn how to respect nature and animals, so that is definitely a plus to this program,” Zaun says. “You are teaching them how to take care of bees and be responsible with them.” The project came about via Family SOS’s Healthy Teenz program. The kids in that program worked with CEED to

Our Children | September 2016

It’s a hot summer afternoon and a community garden on Jackson Road in Dartmouth is abuzz with activity. Locals tend to their plots: pulling weeds, watering vegetables, and tending to the flowers that decorate this once vacant lot.


Feature create a social enterprise. But finding a unique idea was tough. “They didn’t want to do a bake sale,” Zaun says. “They didn’t want to do a car wash. They didn’t want to do the standard things.” Zaun was sitting on his cousin’s deck listening to the buzzing of a nearby hive. “The idea struck me this would be a fantastic thing if we could harvest some honey and sell some honey,” he says. The first hive arrived at the garden the beginning of June. The others arrived within two weeks of that. There are six hives in total. Three of those will eventually make their way to the Family SOS location in Spryfield. “I think it’s super exciting,” Zaun says. “Some of the youth get really nervous and then they calm down and get excited.”

Our Children | September 2016

The community garden on Jackson Road in Dartmouth is home to the Family SOS Honey Beez project. Family SOS also tends to a small garden in this former vacant lot, too.


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Donna Morrison is the executive director at Family SOS. She has seen that confidence, too, including during a visit to the hive site just a couple of weeks after

the kids started learning about the bees and tending the hive. A local TV crew was on site talking to the kids, who readily shared every bit of knowledge they gained. The cameras and speaking to reporters didn’t faze them. “I see the leadership being developed in them, I see the confidence, I see the pride they are taking,” Morrison says. “Not just in the bees, but in themselves. I think they know how much they worked and that wealth of information they have, they love sharing it with people.” If fall is mild, the bees will work until October. Over the winter, the staff and kids of Family SOS, and their consultant, will winterize the hives. Zaun and the kids will check in once in while. The kids will then focus on the business side of selling honey: completing their business plan, marketing, product development, and branding. They will first sell bottles of honey, but eventually they’d like to produce honey-based products such as candles, skincare, sauces, and baked goods.

Zaun thinks they will take the confidence they learned with them to other goals that have nothing to do with insects. “If they can handle 50,000 bees at once, they can handle whatever life is going to throw at them,” he says.

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Our Children | September 2016

But Morrison says the kids and the bees are teaching her important lessons, too, notably patience. “When we have a vision, I want it to happen right now,” Morrison says. “Certainly, this whole project has taught me patience and that not everything happens right away. Of course, with the bees, you rely on nature. Things aren’t going as quickly as I had hoped, but they are going really well.”

The experience that lasts a


Face to face

What it means

to be a man

Parents, teachers, the community have a role in helping boys understand masculinity

By Suzanne Rent When Bruce Dienes entered a Grade 5 classroom in a school in the Annapolis Valley he wanted the students to think outside the box about their gender roles. Dienes had the kids help him create a list of what it meant to act like a boy and act like a girl. The kids also watched a video of snippets of male and female characters from Disney movies. Boys are tall, strong, and brave, they said, while girls are quiet, perfect, and have skinny waists. Illustrator Mark Oakley joined Dienes. When he asked the kids to talk about what it meant to be a boy and what it meant to be a girl, that illustrator put those words into drawings.

Our Children | September 2016

In one drawing, the girl was in a cage. In another, the boy was dressed in a suit. Still another picture showed two kids, sitting back-to-back, and upset, indicating what happened when they didn’t conform to gender roles.


Yet when Dienes asked this same group of kids what they wanted to be, those drawings took on another image. The kids’ collective imaginations created a world in which a girl and boy named Amanda and James, armed with sandwiches and flashlights, went on an adventure, finding resourceful ways to help each other. Gender roles took on other meanings. “These are not rocket-science questions,” Dienes says about the boxes. “You can ask them of a seven-year-old. You can ask them of a 70-yearold. You will get different answers, but almost always you will get some excitement. At 10, you know what it’s like to be put in that box.” Dienes is a part-time instructor at Mount Saint Vincent University, where he teaches courses on psychology and masculinity. Since the 1970s, he’s worked with men’s groups to talk about what it means to be a man. He currently works with adults, including teachers, community leaders, and parents, who are the role models for children.

Bruce Dienes works with students teaching them about what it means to be masculine and feminine. In this session, he works with an illustrator, who helps the kids create worlds free of gender constructs.

Do you see the lightbulbs go off when you talk about these things to kids?

Absolutely. Especially when you ask them what they’d like to be. There was one girl who wanted to be a vet. Others want to travel, have fun. They are kids. That’s what they want to do. It’s having them tell their own stories. We are the stories we tell about ourselves. That narrative is so powerful. Storytelling is so powerful. And media is storytelling. It’s coming at us. So, having an opportunity for children to write their own stories, with some cues, is a way to resist that influence. If you have them write their own story, they might write a typical Disney story. There’s nothing wrong with that. Then say you can have a story that works for you. And then have them do it collaboratively. It isn’t a competition. It is “How do you want this to be?” They recognize there are differences between male and female, biological differences, but it doesn’t mean girls aren’t smart, resourceful, and can’t do the work. They wrote a story that was a fun adventure with shared power. That came from them. It was brilliant. What do parents need to tell their kids about what images they see in the media?

I think like with any situation it’s about helping to be constructive. I wouldn’t use that word with a 10-year-old, but it’s asking them, “So, what did you think about that?” particularly if it’s something really stereotypical. Ask them, “Is that how you’d like it to be?” It doesn’t have to be super sophisticated. Just ask them what they think as they encounter certain things.



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Face to face What do you think boys lose out on being subjected to stereotypical images?

I remember I was at a conference that included all ages, so there were kids there. There was a boy and a girl there. They were probably about nine or 10. There was something the girl was playing with and the boy just went up and grabbed it. She was upset. I went up to the boy and said, “You know, it’s true boys are stronger than girls. It’s really not appropriate to use that. Would you be willing to give that back to her?” Then I realized that is just level one. It was this girl’s toy this boy was conditioned not to like. So, I asked, “Is that a toy you want to play with or were you just trying to make a connection?” He had no idea how to communicate with a girl. So he grabs something she liked so she would be connected with him. Not the best way to do it, but he was trying to reach out. So, rather than say, “bad boy, men are evil,” let’s figure out why a human being would do something like that. Maybe we can help him find better ways to do that. Do you think fathers still have a hard time talking with their sons?

Who taught them? The default is the media. If you as a parent, an uncle, a teacher, a mentor don’t do the teaching it’s not that they won’t get taught. They will get whatever is streaming in through their phones, their emails. Media literacy is hugely important. That’s what we were trying to do with this initial workshop. We want them to think critically about what they are seeing. I don’t mean write an essay about it at 10 years old. Think about what’s going on in that relationship. What’s going on in that movie? Is that the kind of man or woman you want to be? Is that the kind of relationship you want to have? The challenge is where do they express that? Where are the opportunities for children or youth to express through music, through writing, through arts, through play? I think the arts are a huge empowering process. They are creating their own worlds.

I think the most important thing is to be role models. Is there equal sharing of labour at home? What does that look like? Again, you go back, maybe not even 20 years, did you see men doing dishes? Part of it is are you consciously or unconsciously interfering with what your kids want to do with play and creativity if that doesn’t fit gender roles? Again, it’s not a critique. We adults are just as conditioned by the media. Are we also being self-reflective about expectations we are putting on our children? Do we not let them play with certain things because they seem socially inappropriate? If you do and you think it is OK, then I won’t tell you what to do in your house. But at least think about it. Have that kind of critical analysis. What do the parents learn by doing those exercises?

One parent was almost startled—particularly with the man box exercise—realizing as a female parent she hadn’t really consciously looked at the box her young son was living in. Bringing that into consciousness is like, “Wow, that’s pretty limiting. Is that what I want for my son?” Women are often used to being told they have limits. Are men shocked to realize they’re put in a box, too?

One of the questions I present to men as we are looking at male stereotyping is: “Are you aware you have been conditioned without your consent to behave in this way?” Men are not used to feeling controlled. You use the male conditioning against itself and it works. They want to take back their free choice. One of the challenges with working with men and boys to stop violence against women is it can’t be out of guilt and shame. You might guilt them for awhile and for a week they feel badly. But it can’t stay there. It has to be about why this is something they really want to do. It frees them too.

Some of the illustrations created during Dienes’s sessions with Grade 5 students. Dienes says when given the choice, students create worlds that are very imaginative and free of gender constructs.

Our Children | September 2016


What should parents be doing at home to help their sons?


When you work with Grade 5 boys, teens and men, what do they all have in common?

I think what’s in common shows when they actually realize what is being done to them. That it’s not a choice. That’s the “ah ha” moment at all ages. I think that’s the key. What we’ve been conditioned to is “this is what I must want.” And suddenly realizing it’s not what I want. It’s realizing you have a choice and realizing the media image of what men are supposed to be is absolutely not true. Or certainly not

complete. You have a choice. And it’s not about me trying to replace the message of Hollywood with my message because I have the one true path. You would then just be like me; that’s not how it works. It’s about helping youth and kids ask, “Well, what do you want to be?” The answers they come up with are inspiring.

LEARN MORE It Starts With You. It Stays With Him: www.itstartswithyou.ca The Empowerment Project: drive. google.com/open?id=0B6ByhqWJZ w2WGpmOVBMWVgzLUE

Engaging Men and Boys in Ending Violence Against Women and Girls: www.facebook.com/ engagingmenandboys cjproject.engagingmenandboys.ca/ final-project-report/ Centers for Disease Control: Injury Prevention & Control, Division of Violence Prevention: www.cdc. gov/violenceprevention/ sexualviolence/prevention.html

Our Children | September 2016

Man to Man: drive.google.com/op en?id=0B6ByhPqWJZw2N1FGb1pJ QXRIVzQ



a model of


Our Children | September 2016

Children learn healthy eating habits and positive body image from their parents


By Edie Shaw-Ewald If you want your children to eat their vegetables, eat yours. “We as parents are our children’s first and best role models, and this is particularly true when it comes to their health,” said American First Lady Michelle Obama in a 2013 speech. “We can’t lie around on the couch eating french fries and candy bars and expect our kids to eat carrots and run around the block.” Eating habits and lifestyle are shaped by many factors including genetics and environment. But what parents eat, their relationship with food, their body image, and whether

they are physically active can have a major influence on their children’s present and future diet and lifestyle. But being a healthy role model may not always fit into your day-to-day plans. On busy school mornings you encourage (nag) your child to eat breakfast, but you dash off with a coffee and a granola bar? You make sure your child has a sport or two to keep them active, but you sit in the stands to watch every practice instead of going for walk or hitting the gym?

Consider these health behaviours: Dieting If chronic dieting is part of your life, explore ways to reach your goals in healthy and sustainable ways. Do products with labels boasting fat-free, sugar-free, and calorie-free fill your fridge? These types of food aren’t always the healthiest and children may learn to value food for what it doesn’t contain, rather than choosing foods as a source of nourishment for their bodies. Listen to what you say when you are having a treat. If you often say, “I shouldn’t be eating this,” show kids it is okay to have a treat once in awhile. Really enjoy the occasional treat with them rather than beating yourself up about eating it.

Take a look at your eating habits and lifestyle. Do you want your child to grow into a lifestyle like yours? Or could you take better care of yourself and ensure a better health future for you and your child at the same time? Don’t stress about being a perfect role model. Strive for your best version of a healthy lifestyle and that (along with lots of love and affection) will be perfect for your children. Edie Shaw-Ewald is a registered dietitian at Atlantic Superstore.

Body image

Be aware of how you talk about your body. Show respect to your body by not putting yourself down or talking about parts you don’t like. Focus on what you like about it.

Eating style

Do you gobble up your food and go back for seconds? Do you eat in front of a screen? Whenever possible, eat together at the table and take time to enjoy your food. This gives you the opportunity to socialize with your children and doesn’t encourage overeating.

Do the kids hear you saying negative things about healthy foods? Describe healthy foods in positive ways and show the kids that you’re unafraid to try something new.

Nutrition obsession Counting calories, grams of fat, and milligrams of sodium can really take the joy out of food. Stick with real, whole foods most of the time and all of that tedium of reducing food to its separate parts won’t be necessary. Show your kids what choosing, preparing, and cooking whole foods is all about.

Shop online or in-store at a location near you: MIC MAC MALL DARTMOUTH, NS



Our Children | September 2016

Healthy food attitude



health and wellness

Creative care Painting isn’t just about colour on canvas. Often it starts a conversation about the simple things and the process of healing By Starr Dobson Is painting child’s play or therapeutic recreation? Whatever you call it, there’s much more to the power of painting than just the finished product. As a child, I learned painting is about creation, self-expression, and fun. As an adult, I learned its impact runs much deeper. The Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia supports many programs in our communities and hospitals. One of my favourites is the Art Therapy Program at the Abbie J Lane. That’s the mental health unit that works with adults who are experiencing an acute mental illness. It’s offered to both inpatients and outpatients. I recently experienced the art program firsthand.

Our Children | September 2016

I arrived early and met with the instructor. She invited me to take a seat. I immediately went to a chair in the corner of the room intentionally choosing not to sit at the art table. Within seconds she informed me there were no observers in her class, only participants. I also experienced a burst of anxiousness at realizing I’d be expected to expose my artistic talent (or lack thereof) to a room full of strangers.


As the other participants arrived, the table became crowded. There was a quietness to the room that reminded me of being in a library. All that changed about 15 minutes into our session. As more brushes were dipped in paint, more voices started to speak. As more colours were splashed across canvasses, more connections were made. As more time was spent looking down, more personal thoughts and emotions were revealed. I ended up producing a simplistic painting of a lone pear. It looked like a child painted it. I felt a bit like a child while I was creating it. At first I was nervous, but by the end of the session I felt lighter and more at ease than I had all day, perhaps even all week. You see, we weren’t mental-health advocates, art teachers, and patients around the table that night. We were simply

human beings enjoying time together in a safe space with no expectations or boundaries. It was amazing. In the mental-health field, experts know patients typically need the help of a doctor, medication, and the support of family and friends. These three components are integral to recovery. But what they also know is this: the simple things in life cannot be overlooked. Physical activity, spending time with friends, music therapy, peer support, and even the creation of art, all play a vital role in healing. Since participating in that first session, I’ve come to realize it’s often easier to talk when you’re not sitting face-to-face. I’ve always found my kids open up more when we’re in the car. A driver and passenger rarely get the chance to maintain eye contact so it can be easier to express something difficult. The same is true when painting. With eyes focused down and hands busy it’s a perfect time to start those conversations that need to go a little deeper than the ones that take place after school or around the dinner table. It’s an ideal time to check in on your child’s feelings about friends, workload, overall emotions, and reflective thoughts. The creative process can also reduce your child’s stress levels and improve self-awareness. Quiet time at an art table is often a welcome reprieve from technology, school, work, and chores. And the supplies don’t need to cost a fortune. Paint, brushes, crayons, and paper are typically staples in most households and readily available at discount stores. Remember, it’s not so much about the finished product as it is about the process and you don’t need to be a budding Picasso to experience the benefits. Art therapy is meant to be colourful, creative and completely child-friendly. The Foundation is fortunate to have an incredible art project currently underway. It was founded and is facilitated by our friends at Premiere Suites Atlantic. It’s called Mental Health Above All. The formula is straightforward. Volunteer artists are given a commercial, quality ceiling tile and are

Right: Starr’s painting of a pear she created at the Art Therapy Program. Painting, she learns, helps people appreciate the simple things, and gets them talking. Below: Former Global News anchor Crystal Garrett created this painting of a bunny.

We have one in our office at the Nova Scotia Hospital and it always catches the eye of first-time visitors. They inevitably look up, comment on the pop of colour and ask why we have just one painted ceiling tile. It then gives us the chance to say we put Mental Health Above All. It sounds like a pretty basic idea, but it really works. Tile recipients are encouraged to make a donation to the Foundation that will be put to work supporting programs just like the Art Therapy Program at the Abbie J. Lane Building. So the next time you’re looking to initiate a meaningful conversation with your child it might just be time to pull out some unconventional, yet tried and true tools: canvas, paints, a brush, and above all, an open mind. * If you’d like to paint a tile, receive a tile (for your school, business or office) or find out more about this innovative project, visit mentalhealthns.ca/mental-health-above-all Starr Dobson is the president and CEO of the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia. She’s an acclaimed journalist, bestselling children’s author, and volunteer. She won the Rising Star Award from the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Nova Scotia Chapter in 2015 and the Dr. Elizabeth A. Chard Award from Special Olympics Nova Scotia in 2014.

SAVE THE DATE! Election day is Saturday, October 15, 2016. Advanced polling dates vary across municipalities, and some municipalities may offer e-voting. Be sure to contact your local municipality if you are interested in voting on an advanced polling date or electronically. When voting, be sure to ask about the school board elections in your area! If you are eligible to vote in municipal elections, you are eligible to vote in school board elections. There are special eligibility requirements for the African Nova Scotian School Board Member election, and Conseil scolaire acadien provincial election. Please visit www.schoolboardelections.ca for more information.

Our Children | September 2016

asked to paint it and return it. The tile is given to a business, individual, or organization that wants to raise awareness of mental health. The tiles are installed in their new homes and instantly become decorative conversation starters.




Learning through innovation and exploration A new curriculum for Grades 4, 5, and 6 has students learning what is relevant to their cultures, interests, and futures

By Elwin LeRoux, Superintendent If you have children in Grades 4, 5, or 6, you may have heard that their classrooms are operating a little differently this September. That’s because schools across the province are rolling out a revised curriculum for each of those grade levels that’s active, student-centred, and designed to be a whole lot of fun.

What does the revised curriculum look like in the classroom?

Our Children | September 2016

It’s busy. It’s messy. It can also be noisy! If you walk into any Grade 4, 5, or 6 class, you’ll see students working on projects together, discussing challenges, and innovating solutions. They will move around. They’ll experiment with robots and modern technology. They will explore, create, and invent. They’ll use everyday objects in new ways. They’ll engage in hands-on learning activities in computer programming, creative arts, science, and collective impact projects.


This newly revised curriculum will also give students an introduction to the basics of coding, technology, and design. What’s most exciting is that students will be having fun while learning in a way that is authentic, meaningful, and connected to their lives outside of school. It will be inquiry-based, experiential learning at its best! The curriculum for Grades 4, 5, and 6 is intended to maximize student learning by creating the conditions to ensure success for every student, regardless of their age and their stage of learning. It allows for each student to learn in the way that suits them best. The revisions also put a strong emphasis on culturally responsive teaching, which considers and values each student’s strengths, prior knowledge, and lived experiences in the classroom.

There is also increased time to learn in the areas of mathematics and literacy built into the curriculum. Students will have many opportunities to develop their creativity, their ability to collaborate and innovate, as well as their problemsolving skills. Another important characteristic is that students will have various opportunities to engage in career-readiness learning. It’s never too early to start planning for the future!

Why the change? Prior to the revised Grades 4–6 curriculum rolling out this fall, the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (EECD) introduced a revised P-3 streamlined curriculum in September, 2015. All of the changes being made come from Nova Scotia’s Action Plan for Education 2015, The 3 Rs: Renew Refocus Rebuild. www.ednet.ns.ca/files/2015/ Education_Action_Plan_2015_EN.pdf The Action Plan is in direct response to what was heard from teachers, parents/guardians, business and community leaders, and many others interested in improving public education in Nova Scotia following a comprehensive review of the system in 2014. Ultimately, EECD is making fundamental changes that will build a more modern education system, create an innovative curriculum, promote inclusive school environments, and advance excellence in teaching and leadership. To learn more about the plan and what it means for you and your child, check out the provincial Parent Guide: www.ednet.ns.ca/sites/default/files/pubdocs-pdf/action plan-parentguide-en.pdf This past spring, every teacher who works with students in Grades 4 to 6 took part in a full day of professional learning

on the revised curriculum. This included administrators, classroom teachers, resource/learning centre teachers, as well as physical education, music, and core French teachers. Additional professional learning will continue throughout the 2016–17 school year. For real change to occur, every teacher in the system must be a part of the fundamental shift in the way we are teaching. It’s an exciting time to be in education! At both the provincial level and the school board level, we are continuously adapting and adjusting the way we teach so that we are not only providing a high quality education for every student every day—but we are also providing an education that is relevant: to their culture, their interests, and their future. It’s up to all of us to ensure that each student leaves our system equipped with the skills they need be successful, contributing members of our community. The changes to our curriculum are an excellent start. Elwin LeRoux is the superintendent of the Halifax Regional School Board. You can follow him on Twitter @Elwin_LeRoux.

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Receive a free gift when you stop in and update your customer info. Bring in this ad for a grand prize draw. Visit 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 |September 2016

A new curriculum for students in Grades 4, 5, and 6 will have them taking part in studentcentred, hands-on activities, which will be innovative and challenging.


Watch for these new fall releases from Nimbus Publishing!

book reviews By Trevor J. Adams

Our Children | September 2016

Wherever great books are sold.


Cyrus Eaton: Champion for Peace

Chasing the Phantom Ship

Story and illustrations by Richard Rudnicki Nimbus Publishing Ages 8 to 12

By Deborah Toogood Nimbus Publishing Ages 8 to 12

An oft-untold chapter of Nova Scotian history comes alive in this book. Richard Rudnicki explores how Eaton’s childhood in rural Nova Scotia and his family’s travails in the Great Depression shaped him into a famous businessman. But as Rudnicki deftly shows, Eaton’s true contribution to the province (and indeed the world) wasn’t his fortune. Rather, it was his commitment to pacifism and his tireless quest for world peace. With straightforward writing and a gift for easy, uncomplicated storytelling, Rudnicki follows his journey. This book will stimulate young minds to think about conflict and peace, the immorality of war and violence, and what justice really means.

Could there be any more classic fodder for a Maritime novel than a ghost ship? Deborah Toogood breathes new life into an old premise with a lively and heartwarming story set on the Northumberland shore of Nova Scotia in the waning days of summer. Drawing on her own childhood experiences exploring the area with her brothers, Toogood invokes a rich sense of time and place: a believable and enjoyable window into kid world. For readers who know the area, it will feel pleasantly familiar. Readers who don’t know the area will feel they do. Meaty but straightforward, this supernatural mystery is a fun introduction to novels for young readers, and an engaging romp for older ones.

PARENTS’ PICK: Raising an Entrepreneur By Margot Machol Bisnow New Harbinger Publications


It’s tempting (and easy) to mock a book that enthuses “Entrepreneurs are the new rock stars!” But yay-capitalism gushing aside, entrepreneurial culture does offer valuable lessons for parents. Chapter by chapter, Machol Bisnow explores common-sense topics like “Support a passion,” “Let your child learn to win—and lose,” “Embrace adversity,” and “Nurture compassion.” It’s all solid, useful advice, with lots of clear step-by-step guidance. In a way, Machol Bisnow does her subject a disservice by wrapping it all in Dragons’ Den-style cheerleading. Whether your kids want to build businesses or not, there are good lessons here.

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Dr Dan Stuart Dr Sarah Davidson Dr Ric Bezanson

[So have him seen by a Specialist.] The Canadian Orthodontists Association recommends all children have an orthodontic screening by age 7.