Prairie Spirit School Division (PSSD) is offering an opportunity for parents to take part in a presentation where they can learn more about social media awareness and parenting in the digital world. This educational presentation will consist of several parts, first kicking off with a staff presentation in the afternoon on October 2nd, followed by a parent presentation that evening at 7pm to 8:30pm in the Martensville High School Theatre. The education will be provided by Safer Schools Together, a group based out of British Columbia that will come in and provide information and tools for parents, teachers and students to use on their own. “They are absolutely fantastic and we are looking forward to how each of the presentations will benefit the various groups. Each presentation will focus on the different areas that are most beneficial for each group to be aware of,” Peggy Mattila-Bains, PSSD Coordinator, explained.
The staff presentation will focus on supporting student safety online, evolving trends, how to include digital citizenship pieces when teaching, among other items. Although many schools either limit or remove device use throughout the school day, it is quite apparent that the use of social media outside of the classroom follows students into class, so the goal is to better prepare school staff on how to encourage online safety and educate them on maintaining periodic and relevant education of evolving youth trends online. The parents presentation will look at all things digital; video games, social media, internet, YouTube, etc.
“They will offer suggestions such as setting up rules in the house for electronic use, having device free times and encouraging parents to be digital role models which is extremely important,” Mattila-Bains added. Information about cyber-bullying, digital footprints, the dangers of anonymity, online reputations, worrisome behaviors to watch for, and more will also be provided. “I think the difficult thing for parents is that they don’t know enough about some of the social media options, so it can be hard for them. If you don’t know, how can you help? This presentation is designed to provide some helpful and practical assistance for parents.”
In addition to the presentations, on October 3rd there will be a student led peer mentoring program that will include approximately 40 students from around the division, with a focus on grade 9 students. These students will be trained so they are then able to deliver a presentation to their own school and at elementary schools to teach their peers. “We know as teachers and adults and parents that we can tell our kids what to do and what not to do, but they are going to hear it from a peer more so than from us. They can relate to someone near their age, and there is research that tells us that when kids have something bothering them, are having issues or feelings of harm, doubt or anxiety, they do not go to an adult or parent first, they go to their friends. With support, we can help kids recognize worrisome behavior and then find an adult to talk to,” explained Mattila-Bains.
The goal is to have grade 9 students participate so they can not only teach the older students, but teach the younger students as they proceed through high school and build a culture within the school. “It will be a great leadership opportunity for the students involved. Often, these opportunities include grade 11 and 12 students, so it is exciting to be able to target some of the younger kids and give them a chance to shine and build their leadership skills.”
On Saturday, October 20th, the Division will be hosting a conference called “Growing Together: Building Partnerships Within Prairie Spirit Learning Communities”, with the purpose of supporting teachers, School Community Councils (SCC) and parents to work together towards the same goals for students. This conference is open to parents of any aged student and will include presentations by keynote speakers such as Dr. Debbie Pushor, a professor at the University of Saskatchewan in the Department of Curriculum Studies and Cory O’Soup, Saskatchewan’s Advocate for Children and Youth. Other informative topics will include mental health/emotional wellness/trauma, supporting your teenager, navigating social media with children and teens, supporting your child with math and reading at home, SCC/communities/schools engaging and working together and more. The cost to attend is $10 and SCC members, parents, administrators and teachers are invited to attend.
For more information, contact Peggy Mattila-Bains at firstname.lastname@example.org and to register contact Erin Olexyn at email@example.com. “As parents and teachers, we want to share and learn from each other as we support student learning. We all have the same goal of student success and working together can help everyone achieve that goal,” Mattila-Bains said.