Topics covered in this post:
Music Night 2021 - Thursday, June 3rd
Ontario School Closures: JICS Lab School Statement
Upcoming Parent Education Events
Upcoming May Events
Upcoming June Events
1. Music Night 2021
Thursday, June 3rd | 6:30pm
Tune in on our school YouTube page at 6:30pm sharp next Thursday, June 3 for the JICS Music Night - 2021 style!
It will be a Music Night that's a little different from what we are used to. This year's event will feature every group of children in our school from Nursery to Grade 6. We will be sharing recordings of their performances on Zoom during distance-education (JK to Grade 6) that include songs, movement, and compositions by our students themselves. The Nursery children’s performance was filmed “on location” at the school! The evening will also have some guest appearances, tributes to special people, and beautiful photos of the children and our staff. All in all, it will be an opportunity for us to come together as a community and celebrate the unusual, challenging 2020-21 school year that still brings us so many gifts.
To watch Music Night, all you need to do is click on the link below to view it from the JICS YouTube page. We recommend setting up a device prior to 6:30pm with external speakers or by connecting it to a TV if possible, to ensure everyone in your family can hear and see the entirety of this event. This will not be something you want to miss!
2. Ontario School Closures: JICS Lab School Statement
Joining our colleagues in the child care community (SickKids, Canadian Paediatric Society Feb Letter, CPS May Letter), the JICS teachers and staff have produced a statement regarding Ontario School Closures, calling for the Ontario Government to immediately prioritize a safe return to in-person learning. We encourage parents to share this statement widely to urge the Ontario Government to do all that is necessary to open schools and keep them open.
3. Pride Month
June is 2SLGBTQIA+ Pride Month! It’s an opportunity to celebrate diversity and raise awareness among all staff and students about the rich culture and history of our 2SLGBTQIA+ community.
Many of the JICS children know the book, Julián is a Mermaid by Jessica Love. It is a beautiful story of Julián, a young boy and his Abuela. It is a story about revealing ourselves and the beauty of being seen for who we are by someone who loves us. At JICS we believe it is vitally important for all children to be seen and affirmed and for them to know that they are surrounded by people who love them unconditionally, just as Abuela does for Julián. On Thursday, June 10 we invite all children to express their “inner-Mermaid”, their passion, their unique and perfect identity in whichever and whatever way they would like as we celebrate JICS PRIDE Day together.
Here are a few of many books used in the JICS library in the theme of PRIDE:
Pride celebrating diversity and community- Robin Stevenson
Stonewall - a building, an uprising, a revolution - Rob Sanders
Peaceful Fights for Equal Rights - Rob Sanders
This Day in June - Gayle E. Pitman
Pride: The story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag - Rob Sanders
Ghost’s Journey - A Refugee Story - Robin Stevenson
Love, Z - Jessie Sima
Queer, there, and everywhere: 23 people who changed the world - Sarah Prager
Donovan’s Big Day – Lesléa Newman
Gay and Lesbian History for Kids - Jerome Pohle
Check out what's happening across the city at https://www.pridetoronto.com
Here are some suggestions for explaining Pride month to children:
Be direct, but keep it simple. You can’t talk about Pride Month without first talking about what 2SLGBTQIA+ means. You can explain simply, for example, that being gay/lesbian is when a man loves a man, or when a woman loves a woman. Or that being transgender is when you are born biologically one gender, but you identify or feel like a different gender.
Be honest. Your children may have questions, and it’s important to answer them honestly, but without giving more information that they are ready for. Let their questions guide the conversation. For example, you might answer the question “Why can’t all 2SLGBTQIA+ people marry whom they love?” with “Because some people are taught that being 2SLGBTQIA+ is wrong. But we believe that being 2SLGBTQIA+ is perfectly fine and everyone has the right to love anyone else.”
Provide factual information. Let them know that in Canada, it used to be against the law for a woman to marry a woman or a man to marry a man, but the law changed so that everyone has the right to marry any person they love. It’s also important to share with children that gender and sexual identity are not “choices” that people make, but simply who they are.
Be clear about why we have Pride month. When explaining why we have Pride month, don’t shy away from talking about discrimination and bullying. Tell children that sometimes 2SLGBTQIA+ people have been treated unfairly or unkindly. June is 2SLGBTQIA+ Pride Month, which is when many people all over Canada, the US, and the UK show in different ways that they are either proud of being part of and/or support the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. But really being 2SLGBTQIA+ is something we should celebrate all year round.
Be open. Being open means promoting an attitude of inclusion and kindness. It also means keeping the conversation going, and letting children know they can come to you anytime they have questions. It’s important for all of us to provide a safe and non-judgmental space for children to share their thoughts and feelings.
Talking about 2SLGBTQIA+ Pride with children is a vital step to open everyone’s hearts and minds and promote a safer, more inclusive world. Happy 2SLGBTQIA+ Pride Month!
“Pride is a celebration of diversity, equality, and freedom -and everyone is welcome to enjoy it."
Quote from Robin Stevenson's excellent book, Pride p. 33
4. Upcoming Parent Education Events
1. Natural Curiosity Parent Think Tank: Supporting the Public Purpose of the Lab School
TONIGHT | 7:00-8:30pm
Zoom Link: https://oise-utoronto.zoom.us/j/88262982442
For more information about Natural Curiosity, visit their 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.
2. Parent Ed on Kids and COVID-19 Vaccine
Monday, June 7 | 12:30-1:30pm
Children's Healthcare Canada will be hosting a Virtual Town Hall on June 7 at 12:30 - 1:30 pm to answer parent’s questions about COVID-19 vaccinations for children. The speakers are fantastic and the event is run by a very well respected Canadian Paediatric Organization affiliated with all the major children’s hospitals.
5. Ask Ellie!
Dear JICS family, We are nearing the end of May; summer is on the horizon and there are many calls for the children to be able to return to in-person school for at least some time this year. In Week 4 of Ask Ellie, we have a timely question about screen time and the impact. As well as our weekly smile.
I’m concerned about my kids increased use of screen time during the lockdown. They are 8 and 5 years old. Before lockdowns we only used iPads on weekends as a treat, maybe an hour at the most. Now that has increased to daily use about 2 hrs or more, on top of online school, averaging 4 hours a day! The increase is due to online gaming, which we finally caved in and allowed the kids to download. They found a community of friends to play with/socialize with. This is the new after school hangout. Since they don’t get any in person social interaction, this has become the alternative, but I’m concerned that it’s too much screen time, especially for my 5-year-old. We still get them outside for a couple hours every day, and always encourage outside time or other play away from screens, but in the end, they want to hang out with their friends - online! So, for their mental health, and ours, we gave in. Have we traded in one problem (mental health) for another down the road (effect of too much screens)?
Dear Worried About Long-term Impact,
Thank you for this considerate and relevant question. Online school has meant increased screen time for children, and the dilemma of how to handle this is something that is on the minds of many parents. It is clear that you are very aware of the importance and value of outdoor play. It is significant that you are continuing to find ways to go outside and encourage play away from screens. We know that in typical times it is important to have limits around the amount of screen time for children, particularly in the early years. We are not living in typical times. Children are longing for and needing the connection to their friends and ways to be in community with one another and play. Finding ways to support your children's relationship with friends is important and necessary.
In general, guidelines for considering the impact of screen time hold that it depends on three factors:
the amount of time
type of media consumption
the context for tech use
Not all screen time is equal. One resource to be aware of is Media Smarts a Canadian site for digital and media literacy. They suggest the 4 Ms to manage screen time, minimize, mindful, mitigate and model. Whenever possible, having key times as a family where you connect with one another away from screens is important. Specifically, being screen-free during meals, bedtimes and family outings is important to protect. It sounds as though you have made a thoughtful decision about how to support your children's need to socialize when in-person play is not possible. I know from my conversations with many children and teens that even if prior to the pandemic they spent a lot of time on screens, what they want more than anything now is the chance to be together. I imagine that as soon as it is possible, your children will be choosing to hang out with their friends in-person over the video games.
Finally, I would say that it is important to be kind to yourself as a parent. You are working hard to be responsive to your children's needs. The ability to step back and be flexible to reconsider what your child needs during these times is helpful and protective. Your children will know that you consider their feelings, and requests. Our need to connect with others and socialize is critical and prioritizing mental health is necessary. I would encourage you to think about allowing some online gaming, not as "caving in", but making a considered decision during difficult times to allow your kids to connect with friends. (Maybe you can even join in with some of these games?) Sending you and your family many kind thoughts.
Smile of the day 😊
Why do we never tell jokes about pizza?
Because they are too cheesy!
SUBMIT YOUR QUESTIONS!
Looking forward to your questions, parents, kids, teachers and all. Email me at
6. Upcoming May Events - Asian Heritage Month
Thurs 27 – Natural Curiosity Parent Think Tank. 7:00pm (RSVP) Fri 28