The following is a prearranged interview with Debbie Buott-Matheson, Chignecto Central Regional School Board communications manager, on getting back in the swing of things in Pictou County’s schools. Be sure to join in the conversation this morning on First Cup from 7 to 9:30 a.m. at www.ngnews.ca
1. What are some strategies in getting a child back into the school routine? For elementary school? For high school?
• Build structure back into daily routines. Get back to bedtimes and waking up earlier in the mornings.
• Breakfast is an important start to the day. Healthy lunch items will also keep students fueled and ready to learn. Students who need some support for breakfast and lunch can often find help through their school.
• Talk to your child regarding their thoughts around going back to school – build a sense of excitement – model positive conversations around “Back to School”
• Appropriate clothing. Remember to dress students in layers, that way they will be better prepared for changing weather conditions.
• Get back to a routine at night and waking up in the morning.
• To help with focus, set up a designated area for homework/study.
• Have conversations with children about how to get organized, find out what they need to balance school work, extracurricular activities, etc.
• Check in with children to have conversations about the courses they are taking and what the teacher’s expectations are.
• Use the student/parent portal in PowerSchool as a platform for conversations with children about daily work and what’s ahead.
• If your child has a job, explore the possibility of cutting down on hours in the evenings to allow time for schoolwork and for relaxation.
• Parents and guardians should make an effort to read the communication letters, which are sent home from schools. This is a great way to stay updated on school initiatives.
• Open communication between school and home is key. If parents/guardians or students have questions or concerns, contact your child’s teacher, principal or another member of the staff you feel comfortable with.
2. What are some of the challenges that a child faces when heading back to school? What are some strategies to overcome them?
• Sometimes that first bus ride or changes in bus routines can be a challenge. Safety waiting for, getting on and off the bus is the first priority. Parents/guardians should review expectations with students and reinforce the safety message.
• Peer pressure can be a big concern. Parents/guardians are their children’s best guide. It’s important to have conversations at home regarding respect and how to treat others.
• It’s all new! The first days at school bring new friends, new teachers and, for many students, new schools. This can be concerning for some students. It’s important to talk through these concerns and focus on the positive things that new opportunities present.
• Open conversations, daily, at home regarding how things are going at school is a great way to keep connected with children and to help them talk through any concerns or fears they may have.
• Getting back into a routine can be a big challenge. Stick to it. In the end the routine will help students settle in more quickly.
• Balance school with extracurricular activities. Too many extracurricular activities – even school-based ones – can add stress to a child’s day. Pick activities children are really interested in and stick to those.
• Monitoring children’s relationships with friends is an important way to detect any potential problems.
• Remember that some schools have restrictions in place when it comes to food due to sensitivities and allergies.
3. Some children come from homes that can’t provide certain necessities. What does the CCRSB/individual schools offer (breakfast programs, pencils, paper, etc.)?
• The provincial Department of Community Services has a phone line set-up, called 211. Parents/guardians can call this number to get support for the purchase of supplies for students.
• No child in CCRSB schools will go without necessary supplies. Parents/guardians can contact their school principal and arrangements can be made to help. This is done with absolute discretion. School staff are also very vigilant in this regard.
• Many CCRSB schools provide breakfast and lunch programs. These programs provide students with access to nutritious breakfasts and lunches, no questions asked.
• Many community groups support local schools and families by providing supplies to be dispersed amongst students.
• There is help available to those who need it.
4. Have there been any changes in the CCRSB that parents or students should be aware of?
• The Province has announced its new anti-bullying initiative; parents/guardians will receive a resource through the schools related to this initiative.
• CCRSB is launching a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) pilot at two schools.
• All CCRSB schools are now a part of PowerSchool with access to the Student/Parent Portal.
• A new mathematics curriculum is being introduced for grade 3 and 10.
• Provincial examinations for Mathematics and English will now take place in Grade 10, not Grade 12.
• Nova Scotia Assessment results will now be available to parents through the Student/Parent Portal of PowerSchool. Each school provides the parent log in.