Back to School Weather Report

By Nikki Taylor, Senior Manager, Early Years and Family Supports,                Oakville Parent-Child Centre

“I’ve come to a frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It’s my personal approach that creates the climate. It’s my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher, I possess a tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a child humanized or dehumanized.”

These powerful words from psychologist, teacher and author, Dr. Hiam Ginott are worthy of reflection as our children, teachers and parents head back to the school routine. While Dr. Ginott is referencing the role of teachers, I believe it is equally appropriate for anyone who has the privilege of influencing the growth and development of our children.

I was reminded of this quote after spending some time with my 7 and 10 year-old grandchildren recently. We chatted for a while and finally came around to the “getting-ready-for-school” conversation. The 7 year-old was nervously anticipating the first day as many children do, not yet knowing who her teacher or classmates would be. My oldest granddaughter explained excitedly that her teacher was new to the school, but as it turned, out she had made an assumption. Later in the day, we ran into a friend who explained that this teacher had married over the summer. She was not new to the school. I was taken aback by the instant change in my granddaughter’s demeanor – from excited and happy to quiet and thoughtful. When we were alone, I asked her about the change in her behaviour. She explained that this teacher was well known for raising her voice often. As a sensitive and empathetic child, this creates a distressing climate for my granddaughter, and she was worried. To protect her heart, I told her that when an adult behaves badly, it’s not about the children, but about the adult.

I’ m not here to judge nor condemn educators or parents. I am both, and have certainly raised my voice from time to time. We are all human after all. However, as I reflect on my own behaviour, I realize that outbursts are not a conscious choice and have little or nothing to do with others, and are more about inner feelings. Stress, in particular, hijacks our logical brain, impulse control, and self-regulation skills; leaving us under the power of our emotional brain. Did you know that children often misinterpret expressions of stress on adult faces, as anger? I can’t help but wonder what children see and how they feel as they look to each of us for understanding, support, patience, and care given the levels of stress many of us live with.

When we take care of ourselves, we are better able to care for others. What if we worked harder to create a climate for ourselves, each other, and for children, that allows us to feel secure, respected, safe and loved, rather than criticized, judged and overworked?

Caring teachers and family

 

I hope that this short reflection will help us, as adults raising and working with children, to create a climate of acceptance, tolerance and trust for children and youth to thrive.

How About Work Relationships?

By Mary Tabak, Our Kids Network Developmental Assets Manager

With our hectic work schedules through the year, the slower summer months can be a great time to organize, plan and prepare, and get to those little “side of your desk” projects.

Can it also be a time to think about building better work relationships?  We know that strong work relationships are integral to meeting objectives and can greatly contribute to job satisfaction. Our Kids Network (OKN) knows that when professionals work as supportive team members, it has positive impacts on kids because we all bring our strengths to the table in the spirit of collaboration and positive relationships.

Here are few quick wins that can help you develop strong work relationships:

Be in touch

Via phone; email; coffee breaks, lunches; a few minutes before and after meetings.  Take the time to stay connected.

Be authentic

Just be yourself.

Be a giver and a receiver

Great relationships are a two-way street.

Be generous in lending a hand to help others meet their goals; and don’t be afraid to be open to others helping you, too.

Build mutual respect

Respond in a timely manner; follow through with tasks; arrive for meetings on time; put phones away when others are speaking; listen carefully; be open to learning.

Identify shared goals and values

Start with the Halton 7 to help you with common goals.

Have fun!

Use humour as appropriate; celebrate a job well done; give positive feedback regularly.

A team shares a laugh

Groups collaborating and sharing

Groups shared laughs and ideas at the 2017 OKN Asset-Building Forum.

 

Building strong work relationships doesn’t have to be complicated. Let’s create a professional environment in Halton where strong relationships are the norm – yes, with children, youth and families – but also with each other too!

 

 

Parenting Report Card: What Grades Would Our Kids Give Us?

By Mary Tabak, Our Kids Network Developmental Assets Project Manager

‘Tis the season…of yummy barbeques; long sunny walks; flower gardens; good books; picnics; and…report cards?  Yikes!  School is coming to a close and the summer is just about to start – but not until the report cards come home.

Thinking about report cards makes me wonder – what grades would our kids give us?

Let’s consider the following:

  • Have we used our Language to choose our words with kindness and care?
  • Has learning Another Language helped us be more inclusive of other cultures?
  • Has History taught us not to repeat things that don’t work?
  • Is Science helping us make better choices about our health?
  • Does Geography make it difficult for us to see each other and spend quality time together? How do we stay connected?
  • Are we using Math to count minutes instead of make memorable moments?
  • Are Music, Fitness and Art helping us to connect, learn and play together?
  • Can Computer Science teach us how to turn it off?
  • Has Psychology reduced our stress and increased our happiness?

Take the summer to improve your grades! Reconnect and reset with your family – it’s never too late to focus on what’s really important in life.

For ideas and inspiration on building relationships and connecting visit Developmental Relationships and Family Assets.

Halton Children and Youth Tell Us What’s Important to Them

New Our Kids Network reports give insight into wellbeing of elementary and secondary students

By Dr. Elisabeth Wells, Ph.D., Research and Knowledge Broker

Our Kids Network (OKN) has just released two new reports outlining the results of the 2015-2016 Tell Them From Me (TTFM)/OurSCHOOL surveys of elementary and secondary students across Halton Region.

The results show that connectedness and relationships matter to youth, most students value what they’re learning in school, and cyber bullying is the least common type of bullying among elementary students; at the same time, some students are lacking a sense of belonging at school and many are exceeding the recommendations for daily recreational screen time.

The information in the new reports represents responses from 18,047 students in grades 4 to 6 and 17,481 students in grades 9 to 12. The reports contain information on students’ relationships, school and learning experiences, safety, bullying, and health and wellness. Results are examined by grade and gender. In addition, as a result of the shifting demographic profile of Halton Region and growth in the newcomer population in recent years, the reports also highlight the experiences and wellbeing of immigrant students in Halton.

The survey results provide Halton-specific information, which informs the community, and also to helps professionals and organizations working with children, youth, and families make informed decisions about programs and services.

Talking about the results is the best way to start exploring the data. OKN has been sharing the results with our partners. We are having insightful conversations about what the results mean for Halton and how we can work together to act on the results. See the back page of the reports for ideas on how to do more with data and help children and youth thrive.

The Tell Them From Me (TTFM)/OurSCHOOL survey was developed by the Learning Bar Inc. 2009

The reports are online at http://www.ourkidsnetwork.ca/Public/Our-Research.

Youth Talks: HEAR US OUT! North Oakville Youth Council event

Developmental Relationships Framework in Action with Youth in North Oakville

By Siobhan Laverdiere, Our Kids Network, North Oakville Youth Project Coordinator

On March 3, the North Oakville Youth Development Council (YDC) hosted their very first event and Youth Talks: Hear Us Out was a resounding success! Youth in North Oakville and beyond shared their thoughts and opinions about topics that were important to them; and took the opportunity to connect and build relationships with adults in the community. The event was produced by the Youth Development Council, and supported by the YDC valued adult allies and Our Kids Network.

Over 75 adults, youth and children attended – and the adult attendees were definitely engaged in hearing what youth had to say:

“The community of Oakville is a better place with the leadership of the youth I heard tonight.”

“Very interesting, diverse and meaningful presentation/event.”

“Great that you were able to bring youth and adults together.”

YVM event adult attendees

Adults in the audience took the opportunity to ask questions directly of youth which opened up communication; applauded their presentations; and made sure to record the event.

Some of the most meaningful feedback on the event came from the youth who planned and participated in the event. Their comments are reflective of the Developmental Relationships framework which centres on surrounding young people with relationships that can help them develop strengths such as positive identity and commitment to their community. These relationships include those with family, schools, community programs and neighbourhoods.

There are five key categories:
1. Expressing Care towards youth
2. Challenging growth in youth
3. Providing youth with support
4. Sharing power with youth
5. Expanding possibilities for youth

What did youth have to say about how planning and participating in the event made them feel?

Did you feel cared about to some degree while participating in this event?
YDC members who produced the event said that the adult allies were very supportive of them during the planning process. The adults in the audience were also very encouraging by engaging in the conversations. They also expressed that they appreciated what youth had to say.

Youth speakers said
“I felt that my opinion was quite valued and that they (adults) understood many of the concepts brought up in my speech/ the event.”

“While participating in this event I felt valued because for around 8 minutes I had the stage. It was my turn to speak and I could share my opinions about world issues and what I thought with the community.”

Youth presenters at event

Left: Giovanna Gerada, a Grade 9 student, gave a tutorial to the audience about how to draw. Centre: Talia Nicholls provided adults with information about the benefits of social media. Talia is in Grade 8. Right: Teresa Baricevic, talked to adults about life as a youth in 2018. Teresa is a Grade 9 student. Continue reading