How to make school more useful

What is the purpose of school?

Seriously? Have you ever stopped to think what school is supposed to prepare us for? We’re so used to jumping through its hoops that few of us ever stop to look for the connections between school and life.

Most say, “to get a job,” but few can think of any instance where anyone learned about the types of jobs available to them, what they earn, or if they are suited to their personalities and strengths. If this is the main purpose of education, how come it literally is not part of any education curriculum?! The purpose of school is to get a job, but we don’t study jobs at all? Doesn’t make sense, does it?

Second, people will say school is to prepare us for life. It gives us the tools to solve our own problems. Well, let’s brainstorm a few things that adults need to know how to do…


  • Financial literacy: Trigonometry is mandatory but not personal finances? How about learning about types of bank accounts, interest, credit cards, learn how to pay for school, buy a house, get a job, save, invest, donate, pay taxes, balance budget, learn wants from needs, etc…
  • Have a family: learning how to maintain relationships, raise children, work through conflict, stay calm, learn how to de-stress, learn mindfulness….
  • Be healthy! Ah, but school teaches a health class, no? Yes, but when do students learn how to balance personal and professional lives? Go grocery shopping. Cook a meal. Yes, we learn about puberty and the Canadian food guide, but learning about health is much different from living it. And if you say students should learn this from their parents, well, look at your students’ lunches. We’re all on convenience mode – quick and easy. It’s hard to learn from someone who never learned it themselves. Learning about health and living it are 2 separate skills. Let’s try having daily phys-ed to start. Like, every single day! Even better, get teachers participating too! It also helps lift one’s mood and concentration. Let’s learn how to cook a meal! How does an oven work? No seriously, can someone teach me? I never learned this skill.
  • Politics: How about learning how the government works, what different parties stand for and the importance of voting
  • Capitalism: The means of production!

DUP2v_UU0AANbFiAll human knowledge is at our finger tips (i.e., the internet).  Why not learn about the soft skills.


For more inspiration, check out the School of Life’s video below:


Healthy Kids Quest Photo Contest

canada-agriculture-contestDear Educators,

The Canada Agriculture and Food Museum is encouraging teachers to take on the Healthy Kids Quest for a chance to win up to $3,000 CAD to purchase classroom supplies or fund programs that promote healthy living.

The Healthy Kids Quest program includes fun lesson plans developed for grades one to three to encourage and educate students on making healthy lifestyle choices. Made up of six engaging themes, the material meets cross-curricular requirements within all of Canada’s provinces and territories and can be downloaded from the Museum website for free.

Between January 15 – February 28, 2018, teachers can take on one of the Healthy Kids Quest themes or activities and share a fun and creative photo of their class participating on the Healthy Kids Quest website for a chance to win cash prizes! The first 20 submissions will receive a $100 CAD gift card for their classroom and all submissions will be entered into a draw for the Grand Prize of $3,000 CAD.

For more information on this contest and to download this educational and fun resource package, please visit or contact Nadine Dagenais-Dessaint (Education & Interpretation Officer, Canada Agriculture and Food Museum) at

Please feel free to share this information with your colleagues and teaching networks.

Thank you for your participation,

Kerry-Leigh Burchill
Director General, Canada Agriculture and Food Museum

Poster Campaign to Promote Wellness in Waterloo Region and the WRDSB School Community – Nov 18

The WRDSB has partnered with the WCDSB (Catholic Board), Lutherwood, KW Counselling and the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHC) to create a poster or series of posters that promote mental well- being. These posters will be displayed in elementary and secondary schools in our Region, as well as in social service organizations and potentially common community places.

Invitation to Design a Poster

We are inviting students to design a poster that promotes the following messages:

  • Positive mental health and well-being apply to all of us (messages that are applicable to all students from JK-Grade 12)
  • Talking about mental health and getting help breaks down barriers and stigma re: mental illness
  • If a student is in crisis, contact Here 24/7 at 1 844 437 3247 or the Kids Help Phone 1 800 668 6868
  • The following apps can be incorporated into the poster: BeSafe, MindyourMind, Always There, MindShift, Virtual Hope Box but we can also add these to a bottom banner.

Please use images/concepts that will not be soon outdated, and use images, colours, graphics that are bold and catch one’s attention.

Please submit your artwork by November 18, 2016 to the WRDSB Mental Health Lead

Contact Barbara Ward at 519.570.0003 x 4558 if there are any questions.

Submissions can either be in hard or electronic copy, whatever the original is in. Your school Administrator can help provide access to scanners and inter-office Board mail service if needed.

Loblaw Free Nutrition Field Trip


What is it?

Hands-on nutritional field trip led by the in-store Registered Dietitian through the aisles of our local grocery store — fun activities and healthy snack included! (Approximately 60 minutes in length)

What do students learn about?

  • The benefits of choosing healthy foods
  • Guiding Stars® food navigation system
  • Canada’s Food Guide and the importance of the four food groups
  • Helpful nutritional skills

Why attend?

  • Experiential learning is effective and fun
  • Aligns with Ontario Health and Physical Education Curriculum
  • Encourages activity in your local community

Who is eligible?

  • Students in Junior Kindergarten to Grade 8
  • Groups of 5 – 30 students
  • All non-school youth organizations (including camps, daycares, community and sports groups)

A second field trip option including a Cooking Class is also available for $10 + taxes per participant! Learn more and book online: or Call: 855.383.0900

Grade 1: New 2015 Sex-Ed Curriculum

Here is the link to the Ontario Curriculum doc from which this section was pulled from:


Human Development and Sexual Health

C1.3 identify body parts, including genitalia (e.g., penis, testicles, vagina, vulva), using correct terminology [PS]

  • Teacher prompt: “We talk about all body parts with respect. Why is it important to know about your own body, and use correct names for the parts of your body?”
  • Student: “All parts of my body are a part of me, and I need to know how to take care of and talk about my own body. If I’m hurt or need help, and I know the right words, other people will know what I’m talking about.”

C1.4 identify the five senses and describe how each functions

  • (e.g., sight: the eyes give the brain information about the world to help us see colours, shapes, and movement;
  • touch: receptors in the skin tell us how things feel – if they are hot, cold, wet, dry, hard, soft;
  • hearing: the ears pick up vibrations and send messages to the brain to help us hear sounds that are loud or soft, high- or low-pitched;
  • smell and taste: the tongue is covered with thousands of taste buds and the nose has tiny hairs and nerves that send messages to the brain about how things taste and smell) [PS]
  • Teacher prompt: “How do you use your senses as you explore outside in the natural world? If you close your eyes, what other senses can you use to get information about what is around you?”

C2.5 demonstrate an understanding of and apply proper hygienic procedures for protecting their own health and preventing the transmission of disease to others

  • (e.g., washing hands with soap, using a tissue, sleeve sneezing, brushing and flossing teeth, not sharing hats or hairbrushes) [PS]
  • Teacher prompt: “Why is it important to wash your hands before you eat and after you use the washroom?”
  • Student: “Washing your hands helps to stop germs from spreading. We should wash with warm water and soap for as long as it takes to say the alphabet.”

Personal Safety & Injury Prevention

C2.3 demonstrate the ability to recognize caring behaviours (e.g., listening with respect, giving positive reinforcement, being helpful) and exploitive behaviours (e.g., inappropriate touching, verbal or physical abuse, bullying), and describe the feelings associated with each [IS]

  • Teacher prompt: “Caring behaviours are found in healthy relationships. How might you feel in a healthy relationship?”
  • Student: “I might feel happy, safe, secure, cared for.”
  • Teacher: “How might you feel in a relationship that is not healthy?”
  • Student: “I might feel sad, scared, angry, confused, hurt.”
  • Teacher: “What are some situations in which you might feel that way?”
  • Student: “I might feel that way if someone was being mean or leaving me out, if someone was touching me when I didn’t want to be touched, or if I was left at home alone.”

C2.4 apply their knowledge of essential safety practices to take an active role in their own safety at school (e.g., inform teacher of allergies, be aware of food safety issues, play in supervised areas, follow safe routines for travelling to and from school) [PS]

  • Teacher prompt: “What are some things that students may be allergic to?”
  • Student: “They may be allergic to nuts and other foods, bee stings, or medicine.”
  • Teacher: “What can we do to make the classroom as safe as possible?”
  • Student: “We should not bring anything that might have nuts in it to school. People with allergies who need to use medicine if they have a reaction should carry their medicine [epinephrine autoinjector] with them. We should know who has an allergy and what the signs of an allergic reaction are, and we should get an adult to help if someone is having a reaction.”

C3.1 demonstrate an understanding of how to stay safe and avoid injuries to themselves and others in a variety of situations, using knowledge about potential risks at home, in the community, and outdoors (e.g., items or situations that could lead to poisoning, slips, falls, fire, or injury, including injuries from household products, medicines, kitchen tools and equipment, insecure furniture, candles, toys; road, water, and playground hazards; weather and sun hazards) [PS, CT]

  • Teacher prompt: “What do you do to stay safe and avoid injuries at home and when you are outside?”
  • Student: “I wear a helmet when I ride my bike or go tobogganing. I wear sunscreen and a hat in the summer. I never swim alone. I only take medicine if my parents/caregivers give it to me.”
  • Teacher: “How do you cross the road safely?”
  • Student: “I cross where there is a traffic light or a crosswalk, or at a corner. I look carefully both ways to make sure no cars are coming before crossing. I make sure that the drivers can see me, and that I am not hidden by bushes or cars.”
  • Teacher: “What can you do to stay safe in the kitchen?” Student: “I make sure an adult is with me when I’m doing things in the kitchen. I do not use a knife or other sharp tools on my own, and I don’t touch cleaners and products that are marked with danger symbols.”

Substance Use, Addictions, and Related Behaviours

C3.2 identify habits and behaviours (e.g., excessive screen time or video game usage, smoking) that can be detrimental to health, and explain how people can be encouraged to adopt healthier alternatives [PS]

  • Teacher prompt: “What are some behaviours that can be harmful to your health? What are some things you can do that are healthier or that protect your health and the health of other people?”
  • Student: “Spending too much time watching television or playing computer games keeps us from getting all the physical activity we need. We can play outside after school instead. Smoking is bad for you, and so is breathing smoke that is in the air when other people are smoking. We can ask people not to smoke around us. It is against the law for people to smoke in cars when there are children in the car.”

Healthy Eating

C1.1 explain why people need food to have healthy bodies (e.g., food provides energy for the healthy growth of teeth, skin, bones, muscles, and other body components

  • Teacher prompt: “Just as some toys need batteries to run, we need healthy foods to be active and to grow. How does eating a healthy breakfast every day help you learn?”
  • Student: “It gives me energy to help me stay alert and concentrate.”

C2.1 describe how the food groups in Canada’s Food Guide (i.e., vegetables and fruit, grain products, milk and alternatives, meat and alternatives) can be used to make healthy food choices [CT]

  • Teacher prompt: “Canada’s Food Guide provides information that can help you make healthy food choices. What does the food guide tell you that can help you decide what foods to eat regularly and what foods to limit?”
  • Student: “The guide tells you what kinds of foods to eat and how much. There are four food groups, and we need to eat foods from all four groups.”
  • Teacher: “Can you tell me which foods we should eat every day, and which ones we should eat less often?”
  • Student: “We should eat fruits and vegetables every day. We should eat treats that are not in the food guide less often. Sometimes it is okay to have foods that are not in the guide – like candies, cookies, and sweet treats – but there are also lots of foods that are in the food guide – like berries and other fruits – that are great to have as treats.”

C2.2 know and recognize cues to hunger, thirst, and the feeling of fullness, and explain how they can use these cues to develop healthy eating habits [PS]

  • Teacher prompt: “What does your body do to let you know you are hungry or thirsty?”
  • Student: “My stomach grumbles when I’m hungry and my mouth is dry when I’m thirsty. Sometimes I feel tired or grumpy.”
  • Teacher: “What should you do when this happens?”
  • Student: “I should try to have a snack or a drink when I feel hungry or thirsty.”

Grade 2: New 2015 Sex-Ed Curriculum

Here is the link to the Ontario Curriculum doc from which this section was pulled from:


Human Development and Sexual Health

C1.4 outline the basic stages of human development (e.g., infant, child, adolescent, adult, older adult) and related bodily changes, and identify factors that are important for healthy growth and living throughout life [PS]

  • Teacher prompt: “How does your body change as you grow? What helps you to grow and be healthy?”
  • Student: “As you grow, you get taller and bigger. Your bones grow. Your muscles grow. You grow faster at some stages than at others and not everyone grows the same amount at the same time. When you’re an adult, your body doesn’t grow anymore, but it still changes – for example, your skin gets more wrinkled and your hair might turn grey. Things that help make you healthy all through your life are eating well, being active, getting enough sleep, and having people to care for you.”
  • Teacher prompt: “When we look at growth and change throughout life, we can consider teachings from different cultures, including First Nation, Métis, and Inuit cultures, about the cycles of birth, life, and death. Different First Nations have different teachings and ceremonies for each life stage, and about growing and changes in roles and responsibilities at each stage. For example, the Anishinabe People teach about seven stages of life, and believe that at each stage, learning traditional teachings, such as the seven grandfather teachings, from family, community, and elders contributes to healthy growth and living.”

C2.4 demonstrate an understanding of and apply practices that contribute to the maintenance of good oral health (e.g., brushing, flossing, going to the dentist regularly for a checkup) [PS]

  • Teacher prompt: “How should you care for your teeth when you lose a tooth?”
  • Student: “I should make sure my hands are clean when I touch my teeth and remember to brush the gap between the teeth.”
  • Teacher: “It is important to brush your teeth after eating, but if you can’t, what else can you do?”
  • Student: “I can rinse my mouth with water.”

Personal Safety and Injury Prevention

C1.1 demonstrate an understanding of practices that enhance personal safety in the home (e.g., observing precautions for answering the phone and door, establishing home fire escape strategies, respecting electrical outlet covers, following precautions for preparing and storing foods, washing hands) and outdoors (e.g., using UV protection; observing safety rules when riding the bus, riding a bicycle, walking to school, approaching railway tracks and crossings; carrying medication for allergic reactions; being cautious when approaching animals) [PS]

  • Teacher prompt: “What are some things you should do to stay safe when you are at home, outside, or riding on the school bus?”
  • Students:
    • “At home, you should make sure that an adult always knows where you are when you’re playing outside. You should not touch any household product that has a symbol on it that means danger or poison. You should have a plan and know what to do in an emergency.”
    • “When you’re outside, you should wear a hat to protect you from the sun and a helmet when you’re riding your bike, tobogganing, or snowboarding.”
    • “You should sit facing the front of the school bus, and always cross the road in front of the bus when you get off. Don’t get so close to the bus that you can touch it. Get help from the driver or another adult if you drop something in the ‘danger zone’ – the area around the bus where the driver can’t see you.”
    • “If you have a nut allergy, tell your friends and their parents about it when you’re playing at their house. Make sure your snacks do not have nuts, and always carry an autoinjector.”
    • “If you want to come up to an animal or touch it, you have to ask permission from an adult and learn how to do it safely.”

C1.2 identify common food allergies and sensitivities (e.g., to peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, fish) and the reactions they might cause (e.g., swelling, skin rash, difficulty breathing, abdominal cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, coma, death)

  • Teacher prompt: “Anaphylaxis is a serious allergic reaction that can be life threatening. Food is the most common cause of anaphylaxis, but insect stings, medicine, latex, or exercise can also cause a reaction. What is the reason for our school policy that asks students not to bring nut products to school?”
  • Student: “A lot of people have allergies to nuts. If you have a nut allergy, you can have a very dangerous reaction if you eat or come into contact with nuts or something that is made with nuts.”

C2.3 explain the importance of standing up for themselves, and demonstrate the ability to apply behaviours that enhance their personal safety in threatening situations (e.g., speaking confidently; stating boundaries; saying no; respecting the right of a person to say no and encouraging others to respect that right also; reporting exploitive behaviours, such as improper touching of their bodies or others’ bodies) [PS, IS]

  • Teacher prompt: “What can standing up for yourself look like?”
  • Student: “You can hold your head up high, make eye contact, and speak strongly.” Teacher: “In some cultures, making eye contact is considered disrespectful. What can you do then?” Student: “You can stand up for yourself in other ways, by saying no in a polite but firm way, and not doing anything that makes you uncomfortable. You can also try to stay away from people or places where there may be trouble.”
  • Teacher: “Why is standing up for yourself and showing respect for others important in a friendship?”
  • Student: “It helps you when you can say what you think or what you need. Friends should listen to each other and show respect. When someone tells a person to stop, that person should stop. For example, if someone teases me about my allergy to nuts, I can tell them to stop and let them know that contact with nuts could make me stop breathing.”
  • Teacher: “If someone does something that you do not like, touches you in an inappropriate way, or asks to touch you in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable or confused, how can you stand up for yourself?”
  • Student: “I can say no and move away. My body is mine. I can tell someone – like a parent, a teacher, an elder, a doctor – that I need help. I can keep telling until I get help.”

C3.1 describe how to relate positively to others (e.g., cooperate, show respect, smile, manage anger, pay attention to what people say and to their facial expressions and body language), and describe behaviours that can be harmful in relating to others (e.g., verbal abuse, including both online and face-to-face name calling, insults, and mocking; deliberately ignoring someone, or ignoring the feelings they express; physical violence, including pushing, kicking, and hitting) [IS]

  • Teacher prompt: “What does being a good friend look like? How can you show that you’re a friend while working in groups?”
  • Student: “I can make sure to include everyone, be nice to anyone who wants to be my partner, share toys and equipment, be encouraging, keep my hands to myself, and speak nicely.”
  • Teacher: “Calling someone a name or leaving them out of a group because of how they learn, speak, or look are examples of abusing or mistreating someone with your words or behaviour. We are learning how to prevent and change this behaviour and also how to respond to this behaviour if it happens. What could you do to help in this kind of situation?”
  • Student: “I could make sure I don’t behave that way. If I saw someone else doing it, I could tell the person to stop, or get help from an adult. I could also be friendly to the person who is being treated badly.”

Substance Use, Addictions, and Related Behaviours

C1.3 describe the difference between prescription medicines and non-prescription medicines, giving examples of each, and identify rules for the proper use of all medicines

  • Teacher prompt: “Prescription medicines, such as penicillin and other antibiotics, are prescribed by a doctor and are available only at a pharmacy. How can you recognize a prescription medicine?”
  • Student: “On the label of the bottle, it has the name of the patient, instructions for using the medicine, and a prescription number.”
  • Teacher: “How are commonly used non-prescription medicines and health care supplements – for example, cough syrup; vitamins; herbal, homeopathic, and naturopathic remedies; and First Nation, Métis, and Inuit traditional medicines – different from prescription medicines?”
  • Student: “You don’t need a prescription from a doctor to get them. You can get them in places like health food stores and not just in pharmacies. Traditional First Nation, Métis, and Inuit medicines are usually made from things like plants that grow in the forest.”
  • Teacher: “What should we do to ensure that medicines are used safely and correctly?”
  • Student: “You should only take medicine that an adult who is caring for you gives you. You should never share prescription medicines. All instructions, like how much you should take and when you should take it, for all medicines should be followed carefully.”

C3.2 describe methods that may be used instead of or in combination with medication to maintain good health and prevent or treat various health problems (e.g., getting more sleep to help get rid of a cold; getting more fresh air and physical activity to relieve headaches; eating healthier meals as recommended in Canada’s Food Guide; using natural healing practices) [CT]

Healthy Eating

C2.1 use Canada’s Food Guide to assess the nutritional value of meals (e.g., in terms of food groups and number and size of servings), and identify food and beverage choices that enhance healthy growth and development

  • Teacher prompt: “Here is a picture of a school lunch. What food groups do you see in this lunch? Is this a healthy lunch? What might make it healthier?”
  • Student: “A healthy lunch has foods from different parts of the food guide. This lunch has rice from the grain products group, a piece of chicken from the meat and alternatives group, and carrots from the vegetables and fruit group. There are cookies for dessert. This is a healthy lunch. If there were also a piece of fruit, or yogurt from the milk and alternatives group, it would be even healthier.”

C2.2 demonstrate an understanding of how to make healthy food choices for meals and snacks, considering the factors they can and cannot control (e.g., the food that’s available in the home; the food that’s available when eating out; energy needed at different times of day; allergies; food guidelines associated with medical conditions such as diabetes or celiac disease; food safety related to food preparation, storage, handling, and cleanliness) [CT]

  • Teacher prompt: “What are some things to consider when choosing a snack?”
  • Student: “A snack should give me energy and it should be safe and easy to eat. Snacks with less sugar – like fruit and vegetables – are better for my teeth. Also, some foods need to be kept cold to be safe to eat.”
  • Teacher: “What can you do if you are going to be somewhere where there are only a few healthy choices or none at all?”
  • Student: “I should try to make the healthiest choice I can, like having a salad instead of fries at a fast-food restaurant. Or I can go ahead and eat what is available, as long as I don’t do it regularly or too often. If I’m not too hungry, I can wait to eat something healthier later. I can try to bring a healthy snack from home next time, or if my school has a healthy snack program, I can have a snack at school.”