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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the approach to snacks and food at Jackman ICS?

A: At Jackman ICS, most food that is consumed by children at school is food that has been provided by the child’s family. That being said, we do have a snack program from Nursery to Grade 3 (see below). There are also various occasions when food is served, such as special trips or events.  There are a number of factors that are considered when food is served at school: the occasion and the reason food is being shared, nutrition, cost, inclusion and safety for those with special needs and what will be enjoyed by the children. We depend on families to help us understand their child’s allergies, sensitivities and cultural/religious practices that are related to food.

Nursery to Grade 3 Snack Program

Students in Nursery to Grade 3 participate in a nutritious snack program, administered by the child's classroom teacher. Snack is provided every morning. We also have a tradition of “Family Snack” in the early years (Nursery to SK). This gives families an opportunity to provide snack for the whole class and is often a happy occasion for the young child. From Grade 4 to Grade 6, students are invited to bring a healthy snack from home.

We request that all families provide a nutritious, balanced lunch for their children. Grade 1-3 students eat together in the lunchroom 4 days a week; children staying for a Wednesday Program eat in their classroom that day. Students in Grades 4 to 6 eat together in the lunchroom 5 days a week. JK and SK children eat in their classrooms everyday. 

We have chosen not to include food in birthday celebrations for children at school. In addition, we encourage everyone to avoid sweet treats as daily snacks in any classroom, preferring wholesome snacks whenever possible.

Q: Why is Math taught in half groups?

A: Working in half groups creates an environment that allows teachers to design learning experiences that are more directly catered to student needs.  Furthermore, with smaller group numbers, students receive meaningful and immediate feedback in order to further progress and deepen their learning.

Often math is one area within the classroom where the skill, comfort and confidence level of students varies the most. Being able to provide the majority of our math instruction in small groups of up to 11 or 12 students allows us to address the needs of the students in a more individualized way.  It provides an opportunity to offer more direct instruction and scaffolding for students who are approaching grade level and providing them with hands-on opportunities and time to solidify their knowledge of a math concept before moving on. For students who are easily grasping all the grade level math concepts, they have an opportunity to work with some more challenging tasks and show their understanding by applying their math knowledge to specific activities and challenges. Both groups are involved in learning math in a problem-based environment, but are provided with tasks that will challenge, yet not frustrate them. By working in a group of students with a similar skill set, and working at their level, students build the confidence and comfort needed to feel successful about their own math abilities. 

Q: How does the Lab School use Media in the classroom and in the curriculum?

A: At the Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study, film and other forms of media such as images, clips, music and podcasts are used to enrich the children’s learning experiences. Below are some of students’ ways teachers may use media in their programming.

As a Provocation/Hook: Media may be used as an inspiration that motivates students to think, wonder or discuss a specific topic.

As an Authoritative Source: Media may be used to bring information to the students that provide them with foundational knowledge they need to move forward in their learning. The goal can be to simply build their knowledge base or more specifically enable them to further develop their own theories.

To Bring the Students Experiences that are Otherwise out of Reach: Media can provide exposure to experiences or scientific phenomena that are not possible to replicate in the classroom. Such visual sources of information can be powerful learning tools for students.

To Help Children Make Real-life Connections to Concepts Learned in Class:

It is important for students to be able to make connections between what they are learning about in school and the relevance of their learning to the world surrounding them. Being connected to experts who have used, for example, scientific knowledge to be innovative is important and meaningful.  For example, in a unit on Light the students might learn how dentists and welders use reflection to carry out their work. They might visually experience how reflective materials work in the dark and more strongly connect to the connection between reflection and safety. A final example is the students might learn about innovative work such as the Mirror box therapy for phantom limbs.

To Enrich Learning: In general, media can be used very effectively to enrich learning in any curriculum area. The following are but some ways media can be used to deepen the students’ experiences in class:

In Biography Studies:

  • To view interviews, music or speeches of individuals,

  • To view works of Art

In Social Justice Studies:

  • Human Rights, Indigenous Studies, Unicef, Black History, and more

To view historical Images:

  • To view speeches or thought provoking films which provide material for critical analysis of many social justice issues including but not limited to racism, sexism, ableism, and colonialism.

In Current Events Programming:

  • As part of the planned curriculum or in spontaneous response to important events or the children’s interest.

In French:

  • To provide a rich linguistic experience for a child who rarely hears the language used in complex and extended communication, and to offer another form of listening practice.

  • To offer a balance of linguistic repetition and novelty in social and communicative context to allow children to both apply what they have learned in the class and build a broader linguistic context.

  • To show children that French serves the same purpose for French speakers as English serves for English speakers. Through this realization, they develop a more complete understanding of what language is.

  • Films are chosen very carefully to provide a context and an experience of the language and culture. Plot and pronunciation clarity, as well as speed of delivery are some of the many criteria used by the teachers.

As a Way to Provide Equal Access to Information for all Students (Universal Design): Some children who have difficulty reading and or writing can absorb and retain information presented visually and orally thus increasing their level of authentic participation in the curriculum. This benefits all students.

Q: What's "News" in Grade 5 & 6?

A: At the Lab School, the study of current events is very unique. Every day, four or five students bring in an article that they believe is important in the context of the world and to the learning of other students in the class. The article can be sourced from any reputable media outlet, from The Globe and Mail to National Geographic, and is decided upon by the child and his or her family. Students are responsible for summarizing, explaining, and defining the article, framing the discussion for the rest of the class by sharing both their opinions and their reasons for choosing the article. When a student chooses an article about one of these topics, it is usually because it is personally interesting and important to them. They are responsible for teaching the class about why they have chosen it, and as they sit in front of their peers summarizing the main points, pronouncing and defining difficult vocabulary, increasing their reading fluency, answering questions about content, and diplomatically hearing other’s opinions, they are practicing many of the important expectations from the Ontario Language curriculum. More importantly, though, they are becoming worldly, understanding, open-minded and knowledgeable individuals. 

The nature of each student’s article varies. Covering topics in politics, technological innovation, discoveries in the natural world and a host of other topics, the variety of interests and concerns demonstrates the uniqueness of each individual student and their understanding of the world, providing opportunities for students to learn from one another. Some may see this as a rather daunting task for an eleven year old, but at JICS we are accustomed to seeking out a much deeper, more sophisticated way of thinking from children, knowing that in all subjects they have the ability to understand infinitely more than most adults believe they can. Over the course of a Grade 5 and 6 school year, almost no topic is untouched. After sorting through a single term of news articles last January that were posted on our bulletin board, we counted a total of 110 articles spanning many topics including Science and Technology, Culture, Politics, War, Crime and Justice, Sports, Entertainment, Aboriginal Issues, Weather and Environment, Human Rights, and History.

What the students learn from these articles helps to shape their views of society: in last year’s “News” program, my Grade 5/6 students learned how the Canadian Government makes decisions about going to war in other countries. They learned that despite incredible progress in people’s attitudes and understanding about difference, racism is still alive not only in Ferguson, Missouri, but all over the world, including in Canada. They learned that while politicians and media icons work very hard to represent people’s wishes and ideals, they are not infallible, but humans who can and do make mistakes. They learned about our healthcare system in Canada and in other parts of the world, understanding the potential for disease and outbreak regardless of solid policies and tireless human effort. They learned that people live in unique ways, practicing beautiful traditions and experiencing different cultures but that much of the world lives in poverty that is unimaginable to many of us, and that we need to care, be aware, and take our responsibility as compassionate, global citizens and activists seriously. 

Q: What is the school's approach to recess and outdoor play?

A: At the Lab School, we value outdoor playtime as a vital part of the school day. When children play freely during recess, they develop socially, emotionally, physically and cognitively. We view recess as a time for children to be as autonomous as possible. Our goal is to provide developmentally appropriate parameters that allow for independence, choice, physical challenge, solitude, exertion, and social connection.

Rules and guidelines for outdoor play are created with safety in mind, both physical and emotional. They are designed in accordance with the following three principles:

  1. There is an expectation of fair play and consideration for others

  2. Targeted exclusion is not permitted

  3. Recess equipment must be used safely and appropriately at all times

Children play outside in all weather at Jackman ICS (including light rain, snowy days, and cold conditions) so please send your child with outdoor clothing appropriate to weather conditions.

  • Rules for basic safety across all grades are:

  • There can be no equipment on the climbers.

  • Bikes, scooters and roller blades from home may not be used in the school yard.

  • Children in Nursery-SK may only use the small climbing structure.

  • Toy weapons or weapon play are not permitted in the schoolyard

  • Electronics or cellphones are not permitted during class or recess because it is our intention that the outdoor play period is for physical activity and social engagement

  • Climbing structures are off limits before and after school.

  • Children are expected to be outside during recess time, and may not leave the yard without permission from a teacher

Q: What are the benefits to participating in Extra Curriculars at Jackman ICS and is there a cost to these activities? 

A: Extra curriculars are worthwhile endeavour for students to explore as they have many benefits, both short and long term. 

Participating in any extracurricular activity offers a variety of positive experiences with different peer groups. They provide children the opportunity to socialize outside of the school day and about a range of topics that are of interest to them. Children also have the chance to develop or enhance their leadership skills. They can build lasting bonds with other children over shared interests. 

Extra curriculars also help with self-confidence and positive attitudes. When children find a passion or hobby and can take ownership of an activity they feel successful with, their confidence soars, they become surer of themselves and can build stronger connections with their peers through positive play. 

Extra curriculars also help with creating lasting healthy habits that can benefit the mental and physical health of children. Learning ways of staying active, expressing ideas in a large group, working together with peers, eating well when on the go, and other things of this nature will all impact their decisions for themselves well into their future. 

Lastly, participating in extra curriculars can expose children to different ideas and opinions and ways of seeing the world. Nurturing their curiosity and sense of wonder, or empathy and care for others through volunteer work can help school-aged children make meaningful connections with their communities and individuals or landscapes within it. 

Jackman ICS may charge a nominal fee for participation in some extracurricular sport clubs. This is because the school incurs fees for tournament referees, bussing, and in some cases, food costs for purchasing snacks and food for students when at sporting events. Rather than spread the cost to the whole school, we are asking that only students participating in the club cover these costs. Financial support is available to help cover the costs of extracurricular activities. Application for this support should be made through the principal and is completely confidential. 

Q: Why does Jackman ICS hire seconded teachers? 

A: Jackman ICS has a long history of seconding teachers from various public school boards across the GTA. Our mandate as an educational research institute is to provide exemplary education to our students. Teachers from the public school system who exemplify best practice bring their skills and vast experiences to the lab school students and teachers. Together we benefit from working in a collaborative community of knowledge builders who encourage reciprocal professional development. Jackman ICS views teacher secondments as a “two-way street” of learning and opportunity for growth.


Secondment agreements with public school boards are for 1 to 3 years. After a secondment has concluded, teachers return to their respective boards and share with their fellow colleagues the practices, research, and successes that they have experienced at the Lab School. The reintegration of seconded teachers into the public school setting, along with graduates from the Child Studies and Education Master of Arts Teacher Ed Program, are some of the ways that Jackman ICS serves our public purpose.



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