Topics covered in this post:
Enjoy the long weekend
It's International Day of Pink at JICS!
Supporting children's well-being with a healthy dose of the outdoors
JICS Parents' Association ALL PARENT Meeting
Upcoming Important JICS Parent Events
Upcoming May Events
Upcoming June Events
1. Enjoy the long weekend!
The Lab School (Nursery to Grade 6) and Daycare (Nursery) will be closed tomorrow, Friday, May 21 (UofT Presidential Day) and Monday, May 24 (Victoria Day). We wish JICS families, teachers, and staff a relaxing and joyful long weekend.
2. It's International Day of Pink at JICS!
Thank you for wearing pink today. International Day of Pink serves to create a more inclusive and diverse world, particularly for the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. While a focus on inclusivity and anti-discrimination is an ongoing part of our curriculum all year, JICS recognizes this day (typically April 14) to wear pink and stand in solidarity with the 2SLGBTQIA+ community to continue fighting for equality and acceptance.
3. Supporting children's well-being with a healthy dose of the outdoors
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us all to slow down and embrace the time we have together in our family bubbles. We know that this can be tricky for parents to fill the long hours at home and balance other responsibilities. But it has also offered us an opportunity for deeper connection and bonding. One of the most effective ways to keep children occupied and support their learning and wellness is to get outside, going for walks, exploring neighbourhoods, and playing in the small pockets of nature available to us in our urban settings. Providing children with ways to connect with nature can give relief to the negative impacts of too much screen time. In fact, the benefits of outdoor play support all areas of development. As well as the obvious positive effect of exercise and fresh air on physical health and development, it can impact academic learning. Many studies have shown that attention issues may recede in natural environments and children who play outside in natural settings display better concentration and focus afterward. Perhaps even more importantly, outdoor play elevates mood and decreases anxiety. Children with daily routines that include time playing outside may feel happier in general and better able to cope with the stressors of the school closure and online learning.
The educators and staff at JICS believe deeply in the value of outdoor play, and feel that, whenever possible, there is no better way for children of all ages to be spending their time during the school closure.
Prioritizing time to play in the outdoors during childhood has a life-long impact:
“When given time to freely explore natural settings, following their own inclinations as they discover the intricate wonders of nature, they not only learn more but also develop the sense of connectedness and belonging that grounds them as humans within their world.”
From Natural Curiosity: The Importance of Indigenous Perspectives in Children’s Environmental Inquiry, p.72
4. JICS Parents' Association ALL PARENT Meeting
Thank you for attending the PA Meeting on Monday. We are delighted to announce the PA Executives for 2021-2022:
President: François Tanguay-Renaud Vice President: Megan Pearson Treasurer: Shawn Konopinsky Parent Education: Julia O’Byrne, Kerry Thompson Communications Officer: Andrew Cain Volunteer Coordinators: (TBD) We are actively looking for 2 JICS parents who will help coordinate parent volunteers for school events next year. We are also looking for 2 parents who will shadow the communications officer and treasurer over the next year, with a view to succeeding them the following year and ensure a seamless transition.
5. Ask Ellie!
Dear JICS family, I've been listening to the CBC Metro Morning stories this week about the impact of the lockdown on children and have connected to these stories of how kids are struggling with online school and over a year of the pandemic. In Week 3 of Ask Ellie, let's talk more about coping during hard times with a question about "Are the kids gonna be alright?". As well as our weekly smile.
We are more than a year into this pandemic, and I really worry about the long-term impact on my kids and their development. My daughter used to love school and now she says she’s tired of online school and feels amotivated. Is this going to impact her academic progress?
Dear Worried About Long-term Impact,
Thank you for this question, I know that this is something that is on the minds of many parents. We are all collectively feeling the impact of the length of the pandemic. Experiences such as feeling a lack of motivation, exhaustion, difficulty concentrating, and other experiences are a normal response to a difficult situation. We also know that the impacts of the pandemic are disproportionate and that families and children who are racialized, experiencing poverty, or other ways experiencing challenges may have more difficulty. The concerns are real, and there are ways to take action that can be helpful. A recent study at SickKids found that overall child and youth mental health was "mostly worse, occasionally better". This study found that greater stress from reduced social contact was one of the biggest factors affecting kids. We also know that psychological and emotional well-being is one of the pillars of learning and academic progress. Finding ways for your child or children to safely have ongoing social connections with friends, feel connected and have a sense of belonging will be protective and support their mental health and can help to then support academic engagement. It is also very important to say that in general children are resilient. When a child has at least one supportive adult in their life, the opportunity to be heard and understood, and the support to learn, there is every reason to believe that they can make good progress.
Taking some time to focus and reflect on the protective factors that your child has can be important at this time. What are the strengths your child has as an individual? Do they love reading? Are they good at jokes? Are they into Lego or bike riding? Finding ways to support and develop your child's strengths can bring a greater sense of competence and help during times of low mood and motivation. Ideas such as creating a pleasant events calendar can help children have something to look forward to.
Finally, I am reminded of a quote by John Dewey, (American educator and philosopher) that JICS principal Richard Messina recently made reference to that is very wise:
"the aim of education is to enable individuals to continue their education ... the object and reward of learning is continued capacity for growth"
One of the great protective factors for your child is that they are at a school that is supportive and responsive and has excellent teachers. As someone new to the JICS community, I have been struck by the way that teachers and staff work very hard to ensure the best possible education for each child. Based on many decades of experience, there is the message to teachers and parents now that the priority is well-being and finding ways to support this that make sense for each child and family. With well-being as the foundation, kids will be able to catch up on their academics and the kids will be alright. Thanks again for this great question and sending warm thoughts to your family.
Smile of the day 😊
What do you call a dog magician?
SUBMIT YOUR QUESTIONS!
Looking forward to your questions, parents, kids, teachers and all. Email me at
In the May 6 POST about Asian Heritage Month, we included a list of countries who share an Asian identify. Unfortunately, we unintentionally omitted the beautiful people of Iran. We are sorry for this mistake and we are reproducing the corrected information here:
Who is of Asian Descent?
The definition of "Asian" may be inclusive and broad, and applies to people who come from or whose ancestors come from:
East Asia - China, Hong Kong S.A.R., Japan, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea, Taiwan.
South Asia - Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka.
Central Asia - Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan.
Southeast Asia - Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam.
Western Asia - Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Cyprus, Georgia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates,Yemen.
7. Upcoming Important JICS Parent Events
1. Advocacy Space for JICS Racialised Parents and Parents of Racialised Children
Tuesday, May 25 | 7:00-8:30pm
A new parent conversation and advocacy space for racialised families.
2. Daycare Annual General Meeting
Wednesday, May 26 | 5:30-6:00pm
All parents are encouraged to attend this important meeting about our licensed daycare.
3. Natural Curiosity Parent Think Tank: Supporting the Public Purpose of the Lab School
Thursday, May 27 | 7:00-8:30pm
Looking for parents with an interest in environmental and Indigenous education, and/or professional insights in fundraising, marketing, and business planning, to support the next phase of Natural Curiosity, as we expand our reach and impact with new professional learning offerings and products. Join Chriss, Richard, and the rest of the Natural Curiosity team to learn more about the necessary work the Lab School engages in through our Natural Curiosity program, and participate in planning for it’s future.
For more information, visit the Natural Curiosity Website: https://www.naturalcuriosity.ca and watch a recording of the February 9th presentation on the history, vision, and impact of Natural Curiosity for parents.
Look what our SKs have been up to!
Grade Two Raku Inoue Inspired Insects!
9. Upcoming May Events - Asian Heritage Month
Thurs 20 – JICS celebrates International Day of Pink
Fri 21 – UofT Presidential Day. School and Daycare closed. Mon 24 – Victoria Day. School and Daycare closed.
Tues 25 – Advocacy Space for JICS Racialised Parents/Parents of Racialised Children. 7:00 (RSVP)
12. Upcoming June Events - PRIDE Month
Thurs 3 – Music Night (Nursery to Grade 6). 6:30-7:30pm Fri 4 – Parent Information Post Talks. 9:30 - 10:00am (Zoom link)