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Supporting children and youth in stressful times such as a natural disaster

In stressful times, such as a natural disaster (tornado), it is important for families and schools to work together to foster supportive relationships for our students. Caring adults need to help children and youth understand their emotional reactions, to help them engage in positive coping behaviours and to be supportive of each other. Tragic incidents can alter a person’s sense of security thus the importance of offering reassurance to our children and youth. It is also important for adults to understand that experiencing stress and adversity can contribute to internal symptoms such as anxiety, fear or depression and behaviours such as aggression, reactivity or withdrawal.

Children and youth may not understand the context of recent world events and communications they have heard or seen through various media. Below are a few tips that may assist you while helping children and youth to feel safe. Please reach out to your school at any time should you or your children struggle.

Back-to-school-tips for parents and students

It’s that time of year again when we welcome back over 42,000 students into our OCSB classrooms. While there are many children who look forward to the start of school, others may be experiencing anxiety from those back-to-school butterflies. Keeping an open dialogue with your child will go a long way in helping your child feel great about their upcoming school year. Remember that your child’s teacher and school principal are also incredibly valuable resources in creating proactive solutions for your child’s success. The school-home partnership is key. We’ve assembled some tips to help you and your child prepare for the start of another school year.

12 ways to help your child prepare for Kindergarten

Heading to kindergarten for the first time can be pretty overwhelming. Many parents of a four year old experience excitement but apprehension about enrolling their child in kindergarten for the first time. With good reason; there are many decisions that have to be made when preparing a child for their first year of school. What about before and after school care? What types of French language programs are offered? Is their child ready to spend that length of time away from home?

For these and many other questions, the Ottawa Catholic School Board is here to help put your mind at east about your child’s upcoming journey. Check out our 12 ways to help prepare your child for kindergarten and give your child the best possible start.

Ready, set, swim at the 17th Annual OCSB Special Olympics Swim Meet

Over 400 students participated in the 17th annual OCSB/Special Olympics Swim Meet held by the OCSB Special Education and Student Services Department at the Nepean Sportsplex on May 8-9, 2018. The two day event offered the opportunity for students from all over the OCSB to be active and participate in a competition, persevere, and have fun! The focus of the meet was friendly companionship and competition. It was wonderful day for all, filled with student pride and many smiles.

Cannabis parent information sessions – April 26 & May 3

Do you have questions about cannabis and how it relates to your school-aged child?

Join me, Dr. Elizabeth Paquette, OCSB Chief Psychologist, as I present with staff from the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) and Ottawa Public Health (OPH) at two public information sessions for parents. Learn about cannabis, tackle the myths, what is known about the upcoming new laws, how to talk with your youth, protecting youth, and available services. Community partners like Rideauwood, Parents’ Lifelines of Eastern Ontario (PLEO), Ottawa Police Service (OPS), and Project Step will be accessible in a display area for questions from the public. OCSB staff will be available at both events for questions about curriculum and services available in schools. All are welcome.

Doors open at 6:30 pm for parents to browse the marketplace display area and chat with local experts. Presentations begin at 7:00 pm followed by the opportunity to ask the OCSB any questions you may have about how to navigate this new landscape.

Check out the live stream of the evening on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/parentinginottawa/

The social work of OCSB Social Workers

The work of OCSB School Social Workers make this possible by supporting the whole child and enabling them to access the curriculum, achieve academic success and grow as future citizens.

Achieving success at school can be hindered by various social and mental health challenges. School Social Workers have the expertise in mental health, social systems, and community resources to help overcome these barriers. They are concerned with the social determinants of health, and focus not only on the unique needs of each student, but also on the role of the wider social-economic context impacting our diverse communities.

Students may be referred for service from an OCSB Social Worker by school administrators and resource teachers, or requests may come directly from parents/guardians or the student. The involvement of a Social Worker may be an effective support to overcoming barriers to regular school attendance. They provide a variety of interventions and supports to students, parents, and school staff including such services as: counselling, clinical consultation, crisis response, professional development, and referrals to community support agencies, to name a few.

The work of our Social Workers support our Board’s mission to create the best possible conditions in which a child can develop and achieve their full social, emotional, spiritual, and academic potential.

Answering your questions at the Parent & Child Expo

The OCSB is pleased to be out and about in your community! Our friendly and knowledgeable educational staff hosted a booth at Kidfest in March to welcome and connect with parents. While your children were busy playing activities and learning on iPads at our booth at the EY Centre, we were there to answer your pressing questions about starting school in September.

Did you miss us at Kidfest? Don’t worry. If you are looking for something fun to do on April 21-22, 2018, come and visit us at the Parent & Child Expo taking place at the Nepean Sportsplex on Woodroffe Avenue. This expo offers one of the best values for family fun, learning and entertainment in Ottawa. With tons of free parking, and appearances by Dora and Bob the Builder, pack up the kids and make a day trip out of it.

Come speak with our dynamic Board staff in a kid-friendly environment. Stop by our booth to register your child (aged 0-4) for our new OCSB Birthday Club, so that we can send your little one a special card in the mail when that big day comes. Let your child experience the fun of receiving ‘real’ mail addressed to them! See you at the Parent and Child Expo this weekend! For details, visit parentandchildexpo.ca.

Easter Blessings from the Director of Education

Photo: St. Pius X High School students from the school’s Developmental Education (DE) class bless school staff with a thoughtful Easter gift of appreciation. @StPiusXOCSB #WeAllBelong #ocsbLent

When I think back to Easter as a young child, I remember with fondness Easter egg hunts, family gatherings, new Spring outfits (usually matching for me and my sisters), even little gifts like skipping ropes and marbles (no doubt to get us outside of the house for a while). It was the day that our Lenten observance came to an end, holy water reappeared in the font at the entrance to our church, the Alleluia was sung once again, and purple vestments and decor gave way to the white of Easter.

While we all have different memories of Easter, we remember what it means to be an Easter people. It’s more than Easter eggs and new Spring outfits, and goes beyond the symbols of our faith. We are called to care for one another, for those who are most in need, and for our planet. We do this daily in our schools. Let’s recommit ourselves, as we journey together in these last three months of the school year, to be God’s love and spirit at work in our world.

Bi-Giwen: Coming Home – Truth telling from the Sixties

Bi-Giwen: Coming Home, Truth telling from the Sixties is an exhibit focused on the survivors of a time in our recent history where Indigenous children were taken from their families by child welfare services and fostered or adopted into non-Indigenous families. My Grade 11 History class was invited to attend the opening ceremony of the exhibit. Elaine Kicknosway, a Sixties Scoop survivor, introduced us to the exhibit by sharing her experiences. She spoke of the names given to her generation (“policy children” or “catalogue kids”) and how Indigenous families had been victims of “institutions” for decades. Her 14 year old son is the first in her family to live without institutional intervention.

Ms. Kicknosway’s words resonated with the students as they explored the exhibit. They read stories of losing identity and not knowing where to find it, and about the abuse that accompanied institutional living. These courageous stories were rendered life-size in the exhibit. Many of my students noticed that while the stories were all so different, in the end, survivors had a loss of identity and a lack of choice in their own history. Students commented on the fact that there are still people alive that experienced the Sixties Scoop and are not just dates in a history book. “They are still alive, this actually happened,” Logan Crawford said. Another student reminded us of the dark time in our past and how the exhibit cast a light on it to ensure something like this will not be repeated. We all agreed that we had been blessed to experience Bi-Giwen and we hope to aid in the reconciliation process by passing on the truth of the Sixties Scoop.