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Halifax’s Family Magazine

our

ourchildrenmagazine.ca

Spring 2016

Do you believe?

Starr Dobson talks about a new camp for kids

Connected kids

What children are learning from technology

Together in song Enter our annual poetry

contest! page 9

Music in schools is a way to learn about culture, community

frugal shopping    •    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!

Halifax Regional School Board Superintendent Elwin LeRoux shares all sorts of resources for parents on how they can help with the transition. Read his column on page 28.


alike in Nova Scotia for close to 15 years.

Smart inside and outside the classroom. Enroll in our SpellRead Summer Camp.

contents 9 Our annual poetry contest is back! Send us your poems this summer to win great prizes.

(902) 453-4113 • www.halifaxlearning.com

Spring 2016

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

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Connected kids: Find out what skills your kids are learning from using technology

Halifax•Dartmouth• Bedford •Tantallon•Fall River Truro•New Glasgow • Saint John, NB

features 12 Helping our winged friends Bats in Nova Scotia are in trouble. But families can help protect them

14 Together in song Teachers are using music in the classroom to teach about culture and community

18 Connected kids

Supporting students with ADHD and other learning disabilities.

Technology opens up new ways for kids to learn and prosper

22 Take a bite out of your grocery bill How to save money when food costs soar

26 Do you believe? churchillacademy.ca

Starr Dobson talks about a new summer camp that lets children of parents living with mental illness just be kids

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

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

11 Get cooking! 24 Face to face Mom Kristen Langille tells us about her daughter, Georgia, and how her family copes with a rare diagnosis

28 Superintendent’s message 30 Book reviews

Our Children | Spring 2016

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editor’s

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Music teacher Kelly Slade teaches drums to her students, including Dieago Downey, at Southdale North Woodside Elementary in Dartmouth. Learn how other teachers bring music into their classrooms on page 14. Campers will experience a variety of sports, cooperative games, outdoor, water, adventure & leadership activities, as well, as arts and crafts! Ages 5 - 8yrs (Must have finished grade primary) Dates

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Publisher Patty Baxter

Senior Editor Trevor J. Adams

Editor Suzanne Rent

Production Manager Jeffrey Webb

Printing Advocate Printing & Publishing Contributors Starr Dobson Katie Ingram Elwin LeRoux Jesse O’Halloran Edie Shaw-Ewald

thestadium.ca

Suzanne Rent, Editor

Contributing Editor Kim Hart Macneill Graphic Design Gwen North

When our kids enter school, we want them to succeed. We hope they like their teachers. We hope they do well in their classes. And we hope they make friends. But what parents may not realize during those early years is that they’re making contacts too, with other kids’ parents. I’ve connected with a few of these parents. Heather and Garlanda, whose daughters, Delisca and Brookelyn respectively, have been friends with my daughter since Grade Primary.

Ages 9 - 12yrs Dates

The parental network

On Facebook: Our Children Magazine

On Twitter: @Suzanne_Rent @OurChildrenMag

My daughter will spend the occasional night at Heather and Delisca’s houses. Heather loves superheroes, as does my daughter. It’s one hobby they share and talk about when my daughter visits. Garlanda is a baking expert and my daughter already wants her to create all the treats for her next birthday party. My daughter is more than comfortable sharing funny stories with Garlanda such as offering that I feed her candy for dinner. You have to love when your kid throws you under the parenting bus (I don’t feed her candy for dinner, by the way).

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But what I really like about Heather and Garlanda is that I trust them to take care of my daughter. When she is at their homes for a sleepover or a birthday party with their daughters, I don’t worry about her. That is a big deal for parents who have much to think about when raising kids. Look for your parent connections, too. They are just as important as the connections your child will make. This is our last issue before the end of the school year. Follow us on Facebook (Our Children Magazine) or Twitter (@OurChildrenMag). To share your comments, questions, or story ideas, email me at srent@metroguide.ca.

Act now for September admission

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

Limited space available in Pre-primary & Primary classes Our school September curriculum includes art, music, 2016

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.

When you befriend the parents of your kid’s young friends, you create a mini network of support. Some of the benefits are purely logistical. Our three girls often go to the same parties, so we prearrange transportation and share the rides. We exchange babysitting services during March Break or other holidays. We know what each other’s kids like and get to know their personalities. Our kids share with us stories of what’s happening at school or with their hobbies.

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Our Children | Spring 2016

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Congratulations! Congratulations to Mr. Peter Boudreau, a Grade 1 teacher at BeechvilleLakeside-Timberlea Elementary who won the We Love Our Teachers contest. Student Olivia Askew and her grandmother Dorothy nominated Mr. Boudreau for the contest with a lovely handwritten note. We surprised them at the school on April 12, presenting Mr. Boudreau with a prize of one-night stay for two, plus breakfast and spa treatment at the Atlantica Oak Island Resort on the Western Shore. Pictured are Suzanne Rent (Our Children editor); Mr. Peter Boudreau; Olivia Askew; and Jaime Campbell from Atlantica Oak Island Resort. Thanks to everyone who nominated teachers!

NEW contest

Your child is a poet and you know it!

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Encourage your kids to write about whatever interests them: friends, summertime, life, or anything at all. Three winners (Grades Primary to 2; Grades 3 to 4, Grades 5 to 6) will each receive great prizes.

ART MAKES KIDS AWESOME SUMMER 2016 REGISTER NOW Lunenburg School of the Arts offers workshops led by professional art educators and working artists. The Town of Lunenburg is our Campus

Submit poems to srent@metroguide.ca or Our Children, 2882 Gottingen St., Halifax, N.S. B3K 3E2

Deadline: August 15, 2016

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902.640.2013 6 PRINCE STREET, LUNENBURG, NS WWW.LUNENBURGARTS.ORG

Our Children | Spring 2016

We want to read your child’s original poems!

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First bell

Get cooking!

Rediscovering the Discovery Centre The Discovery Centre is making history by building Canada’s Largest Lego Mosaic Wall and you can be a part of the legacy fundraising project too! Drop into the Discovery Centre any time. Panels are only $5! But it’s not the only project the centre is working on. The new Discovery Centre is taking shape on the Halifax waterfront, and everyone’s getting excited for the new centre to open its doors. Follow along with Ecole Grosvenor Wentworth Park School student, Freya Neilson, as she Discovers the New Discovery Centre, a new video web series. Episode one is online now! Check it out on the centre’s YouTube channel at discoverycentre1593.

Grades Primary to 3 see new curriculum As part of Nova Scotia’s Action Plan for Education, a comprehensive plan focusing on the three Rs: renew, refocus, rebuild, released in 2015 by the Department of Education, every Grade Primary to 3 teacher is implementing a new curriculum. The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (EECD) sets the curriculum. But the way in which

it’s delivered looks unique to each class based on its strengths, lived experiences, backgrounds, and students’ interests. Katie Foley teaches a combined Grade 1–2 class at St. Margaret’s Bay Elementary School. Watch the video at goo.gl/dIK0g5 to see how she makes learning come alive for her students by creating an inclusive climate.

Read more on the Minister’s Action Plan here: www.ednet.ns.ca/education-actionplan/

In February, Our Children and dietitian Edie Shaw-Ewald hosted a cooking class for young students that was a big hit! The kids made smoothies, power bowls, and chocolate-banana spring rolls. Thanks to Jayne and Kristen of the Sackville Cooking School for all of their help and to Chris and Cindy of the Lower Sackville Superstore for the gifts for the kids!

Choosing the right omega-3 supplement A growing amount of research shows omega-3 oils improve learning, attention, mood, and behaviour, while reducing hyperactivity and symptoms of inflammatory conditions like eczema and asthma. With all of the omega-3 supplements available, there are a few key things to look for when choosing the best product for your children: • Choose one made from clean, sustainable sources of algae or small, cold-water fish (anchovies, sardines, or mackerel). • Ensure the label on fish oil products state it’s the triglyceride form.

Celebrate Recreation Day in the municipality with these FREE activities;

skateboard demos, open swims, a fitness concert featuring Zumba, inline skating and many craft and children’s activities. Visit halifax.ca/rec/RecreationDayEvents.php for details on times and places for all activities.

Our Children | Spring 2016

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• See a naturopathic doctor for guidance on these and other natural products for family health. Learn more about Dr. Sarah Hardy at www.vitalitynaturalhealth.ca.

halifax.ca/rec PHOTO: REBECCA CLARKE

Our Children | Spring 2016

Municipal recreation has FREE and low cost programming and events this summer. Visit halifax.ca/rec to find out more.

• Remember, fish oil should never taste fishy before the expiry date.

PHOTOS: SUZANNE RENT

Nothing to do?

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Student correspondent

Helping our winged friends

For more information on bats and how you can help, visit these websites:

Some samples of bat species from the Museum of Natural History in Halifax.

The bat population in Nova Scotia is in trouble. But families can help

12

Hebda showed me two bats he collected that died of white-nose syndrome. They looked just like the bats I saw at the cottage. I found it very fascinating and interesting to learn about this.

I met with Andrew Hebda, curator of zoology at the Museum of Natural History in Halifax. He’s studied bats since 1972.

Bats hibernate for five, six, or even seven months. Just like bears, they store fat. They drop their body temperature to match the air around them.

“Anywhere you see birds flying in the daytime, that’s where you will see bats flying at night,” Hebda says. “We monitor where they feed, how they feed, how they use sound.”

“Every time they warm up, they use a bit of that fat,” Hebda says. “If something wakes them up more often, they use all the fat.”

http://www.nwf.org/How-to-Help/Garden-for-Wildlife/Gardening-Tips/ Build-a-Bat-House.aspx http://www.nwhc.usgs.gov/disease_information/white-nose_syndrome/

I asked Mr. Hebda what’s being done to help cure bats. He said there are surveys to see how many bats live in a particular area. There used to be 17,000 bats in a cave in Maple Grove. That’s across the water from my cottage on Cobequid Bay.

White-nose Syndrome is caused by a fungus. The spores cause lesions on the bats’ skin. The syndrome is named for its appearance on the bats’ muzzles and wings. According to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the disease was brought over from Europe, showing up in New York in 2006 or 2007. The spores get into caves where bats hibernate.

“Once the fungus gets into a cave, or a mine, when hibernation starts, you can’t get rid of it,” Hebda says. “You’d have to sterilize it and that would kill everything.” So the first thing you should know is stay out of mines and caves where bats might be resting. It’s not the bats spreading disease; it’s people spreading the fungus when they go exploring in caves.

Here are some cool facts that Andrew Hebda told me about bats:

“If you want to be observing an animal, you don’t want to do them any harm,” Hebda says. “What we recommend normally is, if people see bats, don’t disturb them.”

They live for roughly 40 years.

And there are things we can do.

Bats eat 95 tonnes of insects a year.

In the food chain, the small brown bats you see around here feed on insects—mosquitos and micromoths. “They actually are carnivores, is what they are,” Hebda says.

You could put up a bat house. We have one at our house. But no bats live there yet.

In the summer, you rarely find any boy bats. “It’s almost always female bats. We really don’t know where the boys go,” Hebda says.

A bat weighs as much as a loonie.

A female bat will eat half of her weight in insects a night.

You can find lots more information at Canada.wsc.org. The Wildlife Conservation Society will give you lots of options to help, you can donate or volunteer and don’t forget to spread the word! A view from Jesse O’Halloran’s family cottage on Cobequid Bay. She and her family enjoy tracking the number of bats they see in the area. But the bat population has decreased in recent years. In Jesse’s story, she finds out why.

PHOTO: TRINA ROACHE

Our Children | Spring 2016

There used to be 300,000 bats in Nova Scotia. But since White-nose Syndrome first appeared in Nova Scotia in 2011, 95 per cent of the bat population has died. I started to wonder about what I could do to help.

https://batconservation.org/help/bat-houses/#section-Bat House

The disease wakes up the bats even more, making them use up all of their fat. Researchers don’t know why some of the bats survive. Hebda said some researchers are looking at why some of the bats don’t die. Are they immune to the fungus? Or maybe they don’t wake up as easily in the winter as other bats do?

By Jesse O’Halloran Three or four years ago, when the sun would set at my grandparents’ cottage on Cobequid Bay, the bats would swoop overhead as we lit the campfire. My grandmother always worried the bats would get caught in her hair. But that’s a myth. And l loved to watch them. Then one summer, the bats were gone.

http://wcscanada.org/Portals/96/Documents/Infographics/ WCS%20Canada%20Bat%20Infographic%202013-12-20. pdf?ver=2013-12-20-165209-983

even be in our lifetime that we see the bat population grow again. I sure hope that I will be able to see more bats at the cottage, even though it might not happen until I’m an adult. Jesse O’Halloran is in Grade 6. She is an aunt, and loves animals and drawing, hiking, and swimming.

— a gold-standard reading program trusted by parents and experts alike in Nova Scotia for over 10 years.

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If you see a bat call the Department of Natural Resources at 1-888-565-2224. Tell them where you saw the bat. Hebda says it takes a very long time for bats to reproduce. They only have one pup a year, which means it could not

453-4113 • www.halifaxlearning.com Halifax•Dartmouth• Bedford •Tantallon•Fall River• Truro•New Glasgow • Saint John, NB

Our Children | Spring 2016

PHOTO: SUZANNE RENT

http://cwf-fcf.org/en/do-something/challenges-projects/help-thebats/?referrer=https://www.google.ca/

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Cover story Kelly Slade, of Southdale North Woodside School and Mount Edward Elementary in Dartmouth also uses pieces of other cultures when teaching students. Instead of using folk songs, Slade brings drums into her classroom. “Drums are one of those things that are core to any culture,” she says. “We can take a drum and drum in [for example] the style of the Mi’kmaq or Acadians or in an African style.” Not all cultural representations are from neighbouring countries or communities; other teachers use a style of music that’s a bit closer to home. A few years ago, Carol Coutts of Basinview Drive Community School in Bedford started bringing Atlantic Canadian musicians, like David Myles, Amelia Curren, and Keith Mullins, into her classroom.

Together in song

Music is more than notes and lyrics. For many students, it’s a way to learn about culture and community

TOP: Kelly Slade teaches music at Southdale North Woodside Elementary in Dartmouth. She uses drums in her class to show the connection between music and culture. RIGHT: Students like Jackson Thomas at Southdale North Woodside learn about culture and music in Ms. Slade’s class.

Our Children | Spring 2016

By Katie Ingram | Photos by Randal Tomada

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For some music teachers in the Halifax Regional School Board, innovating their teaching techniques involves looking at and incorporating elements from different parts of the world. “We’re trying to reach different senses and learning styles with music because everyone experiences music differently,” says Karen NewhookMacDonald, music teacher at Harry R. Hamilton Elementary School in Middle Sackville. Newhook-MacDonald tends to use the Kodály method, named for Hungarian composer, Zoltán Kodály, which incorporates a lot of folk songs, singing, and other traditions from other cultures. “We never just sing a song for the sake of singing a song,” she says. “I expose them to a lot of different people from around the world, the

way they live, where their countries are located, and how they express themselves through music.” Newhook-MacDonald also brings in games and other activities for a more well-rounded experience, when her students are learning about other groups of people. “Instead of saying ‘Here’s a quarter note, let’s clap it,’ we’re singing it, we’re moving to it, we’re reading it, we’re writing it,” she says. “We’re playing a game with it and we’re

“The best thing about it is that it makes our students feel connected to the music they are learning about,” says Coutts. “It makes them understand music is not just something they hear on the radio or in a video. It’s something they can become involved in and they understand the meaning behind it.” This connection extended even further when the school needed to raise money for new playground equipment. Some of the musicians and Coutts’ students collaborated on a CD, Basinview Rocks, as a fundraising project. The album was nominated for an ECMA and the students preformed it at the awards show. Last year, Coutts’ students and the local musicians came together again when Basinview held a concert in support of the IWK. “It’s just mind blowing the farreaching effects of this kind of education, not just to me or my students, but to the artists as well,”

she says. “Local music and Canadian music is our folklore and by exposing our students to it, we’re forwarding that folklore into the next generation.” For these teachers, their lessons are about far more than just exposing kids to different cultures and musical styles. “It’s a very vocal-based program in elementary school,” says NewhookMacDonald. “But we’re also trying to work on their imagination, creativity, confidence, language development, motor skills, reasoning, and problemsolving areas through music.” One way that Slade finds some teachers are doing this is through technology and the iPad app Garage Band. Students don’t have to start from the beginning by learning music theory and how to read notes when using the app. Instead they simply have to click a few buttons to create a song. “It’s something that allows them to be creative and build music that sounds pleasing to the ear without having to know all of the technical stuff that tends to bog children down,” Slade says. “Education is a place where children can learn and build things and worry about the technicality later; they can name what they’ve done, once they’ve created it.”

Our Children | Spring 2016

listening to music that incorporates concepts of the curriculum.”

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Cover story In turn, Coutts finds that some of her students like coming to her class because it’s more of a relaxed learning environment.

2016

“For some of them it’s that half hour in the day when they can put their mind to rest and think about something completely different than what they are learning in the other classrooms,” she says. “They can reset and regroup and get ready for more learning.”

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After all, music is more than just a skill. It’s about making everyone feel welcome and included. Without music many students would lose that community aspect the class provides. “I’ve been in the position where jobs have been cut and music programs have been lost,” says Slade. “When you lose a music program in a school, you lose part of the community and you lose the heart of what it is to be a student; these are the things that bring us together.”

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Music teacher Mrs. Slade and her student, Rachel Kibble find their rhythm on the drums.

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Feature “We often say we don’t know what we are preparing students for,” he says. “We don’t know what will be out there in five, 10 years. It changes so often. We are hoping to do our best in preparing for that eventuality.”

Connected Technology opens up new ways for kids to learn and prosper When Ronnie Scullion got a computer for her family, it immediately fascinated her then-six-year-old son Misha.

Our Children | Spring 2016

At the time, Scullion says the entire family was learning about computers. She was taking a course in applied technology. Her two daughters enjoyed the computer, too. But Misha was hooked early on. Soon he was giving out pointers.

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“He’d stand behind me and say, ‘You know mom, there is a faster way of doing that,’” Scullion says. “He quickly went beyond my skill level and started making amazing things. He quickly mastered programming, figuring out programs, making things moves dynamically, creating games, finding all sorts of applications for it.” That early fascination with and aptitude for technology paid off for Misha. He now works for DeepMind, a company that focuses on artificial intelligence. Google purchased DeepMind in 2014.

Scullion noticed that all of her kids learned problem-solving and math skills from using the computer. But she says kids also learn creative tools such as graphic design and music editing. Scullion now uses computer skills in her own career. She developed and currently operates Artech, camps for kids that focus on technology, including animation, robotics, and even games such as Minecraft. Scullion is a fan of Minecraft, a video game that allows players to construct worlds out of cubes. While parents may not understand its appeal, Scullion says there are skills kids learn through the playing of the game. “There are blocks that are used to make things work, electronically within Minecraft,” Scullion says. “They are really picking up relevant skills, just like how to turn lights on and off. They are doing it all in play, but at the same time it’s using the same problem-solving

kids By Suzanne Rent

processes you would use otherwise in an electronics course.” Alexander (Sandy) MacDougall is one of two technology integration leaders with the Halifax Regional School Board. He helps teachers from all grades use technology daily. Teachers and kids use technology such as robotics, coding, and Google for Education, which teaches kids how to use software like word processors and Powerpoint to produce presentations with slides. MacDougall says schools are matching the technology that kids get outside of the classroom. “Until recently, classrooms were devoid of technology and therefore not on the same plane as the real world,” he says. “That is changing very quickly. [Technology] engages students because it is a more familiar situation.” And while the technology kids use now will surely be different when they are adults, MacDougall says the goal is to get them connected early on.

The goal is not to have every device for every student. That could mean students would always be glued to their devices. MacDougall says the best situation has several devices in a classroom with small groups sharing them. That encourages collaboration. “When I was in school, we would sometimes have to do teamwork or group work, three people working on a project,” he says. “One person did a lot; two people didn’t do much. Everybody got the same mark, frequently. Now we see if collaboration is done well, that comes back to how the teacher is approaching it, whether the teacher uses it or not. Everyone has a role to play in that and those things, hopefully, work better.” Scullion says while a young Misha clearly benefitted from learning technology early on, its use didn’t come without rules or challenges. Scullion says when Misha wanted his own computer in junior high, she signed a contract with him. That contract required that he maintain his responsibilities, including schoolwork, or he’d lose access to the computer. Scullion says he kept up his part of the bargain. “I know he liked to play video games and all that, and I was fine with it as long as he kept up with his responsibilities,” she says. And there is a concern that kids who love games and computers might be stuck indoors far too often.

“It’s very important that young people do have time away from screens, time away from digital and technology, to learn to socialize with adults and each others, and to get out in the yard and play,” MacDougall says.

TOP AND BOTTOM: Students create games during the “Mining into Minecraft Camp” at Artech.

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OPPOSITE PAGE: A student at an Artech camp creates a film with a Legomation set. Technology allows kids to be creative while learning skills such as problem solving and math.

Our Children | Spring 2016

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But technology in the classroom has its challenges, too. “Not everyone is great with technology,” MacDougall says. “Some students take to it easily and quickly. And some students are keen on or comfortable using technology for many reasons.”

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He also suggests classrooms unplug, too. “It’s a management thing I encourage teachers to do, if a teacher is in a really technology-rich school and classroom, that they have specifically no-tech time,” he says.

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“He liked the game because of the good game play, which I hear from other gamers,” Scullion says. “Probably, we wouldn’t have touched on those issues if that game hadn’t come into our house. That was a bonus.” Still, Scullion says parents should always learn about the games their kids are playing. She suggests talking with staff at reputable game stores such as EB Games. “They can tell you what’s in the game and they probably have played all the games, so if there are any questions, they can probably advise you,” she says.

Outdoor Centre school trips

Summer Camp

Parents do need to be aware of the content of some of the games students are playing. Scullion remembers when her son took an interest in violent games. He was in his late teens then, but they discussed the content of the games.

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“I am sure the kids would love to explain it to their parents,” Scullion says. “They know so much more about certain things in games I would never come across. I think parents would learn quite a lot and appreciate more. Getting kids to show you their world is a great way to learn.”

Your Adventure Awaits Featuring 26 species of mammals and 35 species of birds

40 Minutes from Halifax, Hwy 102, Exit 9, Milford

wildlifepark.novascotia.ca 902.758.2040

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Nutrition Plan meals with the food you have in stock first. Then take a look at the flyers and meal plan around the foods that are on at a reduced price. Make sure to plan uses for your leftovers.

Take a bite

Reduce food waste. You’re probably wasting more than you think. Several reports and research studies have shown that Canadian households waste approximately $1,500 worth of food each year. Meal planning, proper food storage, making use of leftovers, and dedicating a shelf in the fridge to foods that need to be eaten soon will help to reduce your family’s food waste.

out of your grocery bill

If you just have odds and ends and don’t think you can put a meal together check out SuperCook.com. Click on the food items you have and recipes from popular recipe websites will be provided based on those items. Don’t be loyal to certain brands. Try the yogurt that is on sale, the bread that is half-price and the no-name brands.

As food costs soar, use these tips to lessen the pinch of shopping for your family’s meals

Go meatless several meals a week. This is good for your food budget and your health. Dried beans, peas, and lentils are inexpensive sources of protein and other nutrients. For convenience you can buy the canned versions. But if you want to save even more money, learn how to prepare the dried versions.

The increase in food cost will hit some families very hard and more people will need the food bank. Due to the rising cost of food, contributions to food banks may decline. If the higher cost of food will not impair your ability to feed your family then consider contributing a healthy food item to your grocery store’s food bank bin or making a cash donation to your local food bank.

Think of healthy food as an investment in your family’s future. Try to cut back in other areas before cutting back on healthy vegetables and fruits. Meet with your grocery store dietitian. They are there to offer advice on meal planning and healthy eating. Edie Shaw-Ewald BSc RD is an in-store dietitian at Atlantic Superstore. She loves to teach customers how to incorporate legumes into their diet. She plans to start making a contribution of food to the food bank every week. You can contact Edie at Edie.ShawEwald@Loblaw.ca.

Remember “best before” is not an expiry date. Pick up reduced items and either eat them soon or package them for the freezer.

When the cost of a cauliflower jumped to $8 in late 2015, people noticed. The falling value of the Canadian dollar and drought in California contributed to large price increases in fruits, vegetables, and nuts last year.

Our Children | Spring 2016

Experts don’t expect food prices to come down in 2016. The Food Institute of the University of Guelph predicts the price of food will increase by two to four per cent in 2016, which means an approximate annual household increase of $345 spent for the same food purchased in 2015.

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You may feel that it is going to be impossible to feed your family a healthy diet with these rising food costs. Tummyfilling cheap food may look like a better deal than veggies and fruit. It will take some flexibility and planning, coupon clipping and shopping around, but with a few of these strategies you might even create a healthier diet. Hold a family meeting to discuss the situation and brainstorm ideas. Children of all ages can learn, understand and bring their own ideas to the table.

Talk about the family budget. Reassure them but be open about the situation. Instead of:

Choose:

Sports drinks, pop, juice

Tap water

Chips, pretzels, microwave popcorn

Popcorn kernels, air popped or stovetop

Single-serving foods such as yogurts, cheese strings, cookies

Buy larger containers, a whole block of cheese, and create your own portions

Cold cereals

Oatmeal or other hot cereal, not in individual packets

Other areas of spending can be discussed, too, including non-essentials such as vacations, movies, dinners at restaurants, coffee and snacks at cafes. When parents explain these issues in an age-appropriate manner and the entire family makes the decisions, you can expect more agreement and less resistance.

Choose seasonal and local when possible. Plan to eat lots of root veggies, hardy greens, winter squash, and apples in the winter. Frozen vegetables and fruit are good options when that food is not in season. Choose the imperfect. Some stores are offering imperfect produce to their customers at a reduced price. It’s perfectly good items that may be a little misshapen or slightly blemished and are sold at a lower price. Farms and stores will reduce their food waste levels if we all become less picky about the shape of our peppers and apples, which will eventually lead to lower food prices. Know the average food prices. Create a list of foods that you buy and keep track of their prices so that you know when the price is actually a bargain. Pay attention at the cash to make sure that the correct prices are scanned, especially if it is a reduced item as it may not yet be in the system as reduced. Grow your own food. Instead of buying annuals, pick up some seeds, and grow your own vegetables. If you are new to gardening, ask for some advice from a seasoned gardener.

Our Children | Spring 2016

By Edie Shaw-Ewald

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Georgia’s

A family shares what they learned from their young daughter’s rare medical diagnosis

PHOTO: KRISTEN LANGILLE

story The Langille family from left, Abbie, Fraser, Kristen and Georgia. Mom Kristen shares her story about Georgia and her condition glycosylation type 1P.

By Suzanne Rent When Georgia Langille was less than two years old, her family received a diagnosis that would change their lives. For months, Kristen and Fraser Langille, Georgia’s parents, took her to doctors and hospitals for testing. At four months of age, Kristen noticed Georgia wasn’t following movements with her eyes. Then the seizures, infantile spasms in particular, started. After researching on the Internet, Kristen got Georgia into the IWK for “every test known to man.” The diagnosis was congenital disorder of glycosylation type 1P. Georgia is only one of five people in the world known to have the condition. “Pretty much every part of her body is affected,” Langille says. Georgia is blind, deaf, and has no muscle tone. She needs a gastronomy tube (G-tube) because she can’t eat on her own. She now has cochlear implants.

Our Children | Spring 2016

Now three years old, Georgia needs full-time support and has several doctors’ appointments each week. Kristen left her job to stay home full-time.

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Our Children recently spoke with Kristen about Georgia’s condition, how it affects her family, including their other daughter, Abbie, and what she has learned about her young daughter. How do you deal with Georgia’s condition as a family?

I think we handle it pretty well. We are a very strong family and have a lot of support. Both of us have great parents, and great friends. We live in Truro, which is a small community, so everyone knows us. I don’t think we would have got the support had we lived in the city. Truro is so much smaller, we have been here so long. It was definitely one of the worst things that has ever happened to one of us in our lives, but we try to take it day by day.

here, some from New Brunswick, some from Halifax, they are trying to teach me a special way of communicating with her, which would be awesome. It’s more like everything you do to her, you have to say it the same way every time, and let her feel it at the same time. So, like her toothbrush, her facecloth, her diaper, her wipes, so she will anticipate it before it happens to her. She does react to us. She has cochlear implants now, so she does react to our voices. She has a great little personality. We tickle her, talk to her and she will smile. She used to be so extremely medicated she used to sleep 24 hours a day. And she would never even wake up. She couldn’t even swallow her own spit. Now she is weaned off her meds and she is doing so much better. Some days she doesn’t even nap now. For the longest time, it was so disheartening because we thought she’d be like that forever. It took a load off our chests to see her more awake, her eyes wide open. Every little bit we weaned, it got a little bit better, so that is amazing. What have you learned about your own family?

When you got a diagnosis for Georgia, what were you told?

She was in intensive care at the same time. They told us we were having a team meeting, and if I could ask my husband to come in from work for this meeting. I thought it was going to be great because we would finally find out something. They sat us down in a room of 50 people to tell us the diagnosis, which was horrible. Honestly, the medical profession knows nothing about it. All the doctors and nurses at the IWK, before we are admitted there, have to Google it because they have never heard of it. They will treat her symptoms, but there is nothing you can do for it. What it is is glycation, which is what your liver does. When her food is getting to her liver, and the liver is not doing its job because the sugars and the protein are supposed to join together and go through your body. So, this is why there are so many different things wrong with her. She has a lot seizures. She is blind and deaf, and doesn’t have any muscle tone, so she will never walk. She can’t hold her own head up. It affects a lot. What sort of support do you get?

We qualified for 12 hours a week of VON respite, but to be honest, we don’t get the whole 12 hours. They are very, very short staffed. And, of course, there are people in the community who need them more than we do. My husband and I haven’t been alone in three years because one of us has to be home with Georgia. We were excited to be able to go on date nights, but nights and weekends cancel that because there is not enough staff. I end up using it for an hour or two a day to go run errands or get groceries or go to the gym. What have you learned about Georgia? Can she communicate with you?

She can’t really communicate but we are working on it. We just learned a couple of weeks ago, I had about eight ladies

We definitely realized how strong we are. We definitely realize how much support we have in our immediate family. We have definitely realized how strong our marriage is. It’s tough on the marriage, for sure. It definitely has changed me in a lot of ways because I am definitely more patient. I am definitely less judgmental of people. You just don’t know what anyone’s situation is. It’s definitely made us stronger, as a family and as individuals. Our daughter, who is 14, it was really tough on her. She was the only child and only grandchild for 11 years before we had Georgia. It wasn’t exactly how we planned for it all to go down. She has been a trooper.

What to you want to say to a family who is reading this and they got a diagnosis for their child and they aren’t sure what to do?

My best advice would be to use the other parents that have similar children with special needs. They are the best advocates and the best knowledge you can find. I have learned more from the parents of special needs kids than I have from any doctor or nurse or specialist at any hospital. At first, I got so many emails, messages, and I wasn’t ready to talk to people. You can’t talk about it without crying. It’s like having your child die. You think you will have this healthy baby and it’s not even close. After awhile, you will really learn to count on the other moms. What do you want for your family for the future?

I hope and pray we can give Georgia the best quality of life that she deserves. And we continue to have the support of our community and our family. If I can help any other mom out there, I would love to advocate for or help anybody. And I hope we can keep our family together and strong and that we can keep doing all the things we love and keep including Georgia in it as much as we can.

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What do you think your other daughter, Abbie, has learned?

It has definitely taught her to be compassionate, and supportive, and more patient. She has mentioned to me many times how she can’t believe how people in the community support us. It’s really opened her eyes to a lot. How do you cope?

You’d be surprised that at first they tried to push medication on us, especially for me. Every doctor we ever came into contact with wanted me to be on sleeping pills and anxiety pills but I was not down with that at all. I did try some therapy. All my hair fell out after a year and a half. I had every test going…everything was fine with me, but they figured it was stress. Even though I didn’t feel stressed they said it was my body’s way to say I was. I think my best way of dealing with stuff is I get out and I do some running and go to the gym and I burn off a lot that way. I come back rejuvenated and I feel like it makes me a better mom. To get that hour out every day, and see other adults, is really like it just refuels you a little bit. I am not much of a talker, but I found out you have to talk and get things out some times and get people to listen, which I have.

L’ete, c’est magique! French camp is.. A WONDERFUL RE-FRESHER OVER THE SUMMER MONTHS. THE PERFECT INTRODUCTION FOR STUDENTS ENTERING LATE IMMERSION. A GREAT WAY TO MAKE NEW AND LASTING FRIENDSHIPS.

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Our Children | Spring 2016

Face to face

25


parenting

Do you believe? A new summer camp lets children of parents living with mental illness just be kids

By Starr Dobson Since making the move from CTV Atlantic to the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia, I’ve had many poignant moments. The one that stands out the most happened rather unexpectedly following an evening presentation. I just finished speaking at From Recovery to Discovery, a mentalhealth peer support group, when two women approached me. They wanted to chat in private and I could tell it wasn’t going to be an easy conversation.

Our Children | Spring 2016

They started by thanking me for talking openly about mental health. Then, they asked if I knew of a place or program designed to help children who have parents living with mental illness. My answer was unfortunately no.

26

One of the women began to cry and told me a bit about her story. She talked about struggling with severe depression. She spoke of waking up in the morning and not being able to get out of bed for several days. She spoke of disappointing her children on a regular basis and worrying about the long-term effects her illness would have on her family. She told me she lived with a feeling of unrelenting guilt that stayed with her, even on good days when her depression was in control. I listened, and left our conversation with a whole new perspective on the toll mental illness can take on a parent. Her comments always stayed with me. I found myself thinking of her every few weeks and wondering how she was doing. Our exchange was so compelling that I completely forgot to ask for her contact information. I’ve been frustrated by my lapse ever since. If I thought to get her phone number or email address, I could connect with her right now to tell her all about Camp BELIEVE.

Camp BELIEVE is a unique overnight camp for children who have a parent living with mental illness. It’s designed to be a safe place where children can get away from the worries of the world and just focus on being kids. It’s a spot where young people can bond with their peers who understand what it’s like to hear Dad talking back to the voices in his head, or to watch Mom cry on those days when everyone else around her is happy. Simply put, it’s a place where children don’t have to pretend. They can talk openly about words that are a regular part of their daily life: psychosis, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, schizophrenia, and depression. Camp BELIEVE will launch this summer at Brigadoon Village in Nova Scotia’s beautiful Annapolis Valley. It’s open to children between the ages of eight and 17, and will run from July 24 to 29. Campers will experience true summertime fun while making new friends and learning healthy coping skills. They’ll spend time paddling on the water, painting in the arts hall, and singing around the bonfire. I can’t think of a better way to let kids be kids. The Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia is incredibly proud to make this camp possible. It’s a direct result of my conversation with that open and candid mom. While developing a call to action for our annual Compass Group Canada Festival of Trees, our team determined a family initiative would be best. Having visited Brigadoon Village earlier in the year, the idea of a summer camp for children who have parents living with mental illness was inevitable. Camp BELIEVE was born.

Now our focus is on spreading If you would like to support the word and connecting with children who might benefit Camp BELIEVE, you can from attending this summer. call 902-464-6000 or visit If you live with mental illness, or know someone who does, mentalhealthns.ca and click please consider this unique Donate Now. opportunity. Children as young as eight can attend, and campers aged 16 and 17 are Every kid should have a welcome to join the Leaders in Training Program. You chance to be a kid! can find all the information you need by visiting our website at mentalhealthns.ca or Brigadoon’s website at brigadoonvillage.org. Every child who qualifies can take part. Our generous supporters at Festival of Trees made sure of that. Space is limited though, so please register soon if you have a child who would like to participate. Camp BELIEVE will run concurrently with Camp Kedoopsie, a bereavement camp for children and youth who have lost a loved one. There will be two certified child-life specialists on site during the week to facilitate sessions. They will also be available at anytime throughout the week to provide emotional support to campers when needed. Beyond the obvious advantages for the children who attend, I can’t help but think their parents will benefit as well. I imagine the joy of knowing your child is having fun, meeting new friends who have shared experiences and being cared for by a team of trained counsellors. Perhaps it would even alleviate some of that unrelenting guilt I first heard of many months ago. Living with mental illness is difficult enough without the added stress of worrying about its impact on your children. I believe Camp BELIEVE has the ability to truly make a difference in the lives of children and their families. I hope you believe, too. And, if by chance, my unidentified mother is reading this article please contact me. You are the true inspiration for Camp BELIEVE. http://brigadoonvillage.org/camps/summer-camps/campbelieve 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.

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Our Children | Spring 2016

health and wellness

27


superintendent’s

message

Take the time each day to actively talk, play, and listen. All this helps reinforce what your child learns at school. What else can you do? Read daily. Read a variety of books, including wordless picture books, dual language, and first language books. Hearing a story read aloud helps children learn to focus and concentrate, and to appreciate the rhythm of language.

What does Grade Primary look like?

Borrow a book at your child’s school library. Did you know that you and your child can visit our school libraries and sign out books before your child starts in September?

Children in Grade Primary are learning a new world of skills and fun, including writing, reading, questioning, wondering aloud, and making new friends.

By Elwin LeRoux, Superintendent Primary classrooms are places of wonder and discovery. A child’s first year in school is a time for building relationships, developing social skills and growing as learners and members of a new classroom community. In Primary, your child will make new friends. The teacher will provide opportunities for students to share what they already know, and to learn new skills in collaboration with their new friends.

Our Children | Spring 2016

To see what happens in a Primary classroom, watch this video to hear from Primary teacher, Cynthia Ng-Ivanoff: youtu.be/ZQc0RHN9hiQ

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Talking and conversation play important roles in the Primary classroom. Children first learn to use oral forms of language by listening and speaking, and then begin to explore the written forms of language by reading and writing. If a child’s first language is a language other than English, families should continue to use their first language at home, especially when telling and reading stories and when talking about their experiences. When children are first learning to read and write, it is important to talk about the ideas they are reading about as this will help build and deepen their comprehension skills. In our Primary classrooms, children will have many opportunities to share their thoughts and ideas with their teachers and peers in large and small group activities and through songs, poems, and play. You will observe your children beginning to: • •

notice letters on signs and use them in writing; match written words to spoken words and see relationships between sounds and letters;

• • •

experiment with reading and say words out loud when reading; find pictures on the page or screen helpful in understanding the meaning of words; experiment with writing: labelling their drawings and writing groups of random letters and then eventually writing real words; and wonder aloud, questioning, and using new vocabulary.

Your child will enter Primary with many experiences connected to mathematics. Math is all around us and helping your child see the math in their world will help them have a strong and positive attitude about learning. Counting, recognising numbers and seeing numbers in their environment will help your child see the importance of math. Providing opportunities at home for your child to talk about numbers as you are cooking, baking, setting the table, grocery shopping, playing board games, cards, etc. will also help encourage learning. While in school, your child will learn math in a social and collaborative way. We know that children learn best when they talk to each other and discover concepts together. In Primary, you will observe your child beginning to: • • • •

use mathematic vocabulary; recognise numbers 1 to 10; rote count (sing-song counting) to 100; and see numbers in two parts.

What can I do to prepare my child for school? You don’t need a lot of special skills to help your child learn to read, write, and do math. Just spending time with your child doing everyday activities makes all the difference in the world.

When children enjoy reading, they read a lot. In reading a lot, they become good readers and writers. They also read to understand things and to learn more about themselves and the world. While reading, ask open-ended questions about the story that will encourage conversation and connections to your child’s life experiences. Build exploration and a love of writing through art. Having a variety of tools such as pencils, markers, paints, scissors, and crayons available enables children to convey their ideas on paper. As your child works you have a golden opportunity to build conversation skills as they talk about the messages and ideas that they are recording on their paper. Provide opportunities for your child to independently dress his or herself by buttoning buttons, zipping zippers, and putting shoes on the right feet. Your child’s teacher will always be there to offer assistance, but the feeling of doing these things will build confidence in their own abilities and they will begin to see themselves as going to big school. For more, watch this video from Primary teacher Matt Tucker: youtu.be/vR0zq4w7i-0

The best advice of all … Entering Grade Primary is a giant step for little people, but we’re here to help make the transition to school as smooth as possible. For the best advice, check out this video where current Primary students share their favourite things about big school: youtu.be/ahLXFaKleXE We know your child is coming to school with an abundance of knowledge and unique life experiences. Our priority is to build on that background in order to provide a high quality education for every student, every day. We can’t wait to get to know your family and begin our learning journey together! Elwin LeRoux is the superintendent of the Halifax Regional School Board. You can follow him on Twitter @Elwin_LeRoux.

Our Children | Spring 2016

PHOTOS: HRSB

How parents can prepare for their children’s first year at school

We’re inviting our families to use their school’s library, once the child has been registered for Primary. We hope you will take advantage of this wonderful opportunity to become familiar with your child’s school.

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Great local books for young readers!

book reviews By Trevor J. Adams

Oak Island and the Search for Buried Treasure

Animal Hospital: Rescuing Urban Wildlife

Nimbus Publishing By Joann Hamilton-Barry Ages 8 to 12

Firefly Books By Julia Coey Ages 8 to 12

Oak Island, on Nova Scotia’s South Shore, seems to capture the imagination of everyone who visits it, and Joanne Hamilton-Barry does an excellent job exploring why that is. Channeling a 30-year fascination with the island, Hamilton-Barry plumbs its historic mystery: what is buried deep in its notorious Money Pit? With careful research and sticking closely to the facts, she delves into 200 years of rumours and tall tales. Did the infamous pirate Blackbeard hide his booty here? Beneath the booby traps, will explorers find the Holy Grail? (As one of the wilder theories purports). A librarian by trade, Hamilton-Barry is a careful researcher, which makes her the perfect person to write this informative book. She carefully separates fact and theory, weaving a tale to enthrall young history buffs.

It’s the moment most parents dread: when a child comes home with an injured bird, an abandoned pup, or a wayward duckling. That rite of childhood is often a moment of tenderness and discovery, but can lead to heartache for the child and a bad situation for the animal, if not handled deftly. When can you help an injured animal? When do you call an expert? When should you let nature take its course? This book is an ideal resource for parents and children alike. A development coordinator at the Toronto Wildlife Centre, Coey has the expertise to craft a book jammed with practical information, heartwarming stories, and lots of adorable-animal photos. If you have an aspiring young veterinarian in your life, this is a must-have.

Our Children | Spring 2016

PARENTS’ PICK: 101 Things For Kids To Do Outside

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Firefly Books By Dawn Isaac Summer is upon us, and it’s the perfect time for kids to break their screen-time addictions and go play outdoors. Unorganized play is great, but sometimes it takes a little structure to hold kids’ attention, and that’s where Dawn Isaac comes in. Her book delivers a broad range of games, projects, and activities to keep kids entertained and engaged with the world around them. Suggestions range from 10-minute games to projects that will span hours, even days. There are addictive games like Battle Ball, a how-to guide for cooking using the heat of the sun, projects for aspirant gardeners, and much more. This book is an essential summer resource for parents.

nimbus.ca

For your chance to win all of these books, visit and like our Facebook page, Our Children Magazine. Simply post the title of you or your child’s favourite book. Deadline to enter: June 15, 2016.

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Our Children Spring 2016  

Halifax's Family Magazine ourchildrenmagazine.ca

Our Children Spring 2016  

Halifax's Family Magazine ourchildrenmagazine.ca