February is a wonderful month as we celebrate St. Valentine’s Day. As a Catholic community we remember the words of John during the month of February: “God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (1 John 4:16). God’s love for us is fundamental for our lives and we require it to live. During the month of February staff and students are called to love one another as God loves us.
We will also be recognizing Respect and Forgiveness as they are both strongly connected to Love. Respect is about honoring the worth or dignity of each person. Respect has great importance in everyday life. We are called by God to embrace and respect the dignity of all people. St. Matthew staff and students will be encouraged to live these virtues throughout the month of February and explore the possibilities and connections between respect and love.
Ash Wednesday is nearly upon us. February 14th marks the beginning of our Lenten journey as we move closer to the death and Resurrection of our Lord and Saviour. St. Matthew staff and students will be celebrating mass that day and receiving the symbolic ashes on their foreheads. Out of respect for this sacred day, all Valentines Day activities will be held the day before on February 13th.
Our grade 2 students are celebrating a very significant day in their faith journey. On February 6th, they receive the sacrament of reconciliation as they prepare for their First Holy Communion later in the spring.
Wet Weather and Indoor Shoes
We ask that students keep a pair of shoes at school to change into, particularly when they wear boots. Changing to indoor shoes will help keep students’ feet dry and help keep classroom floors free of mud and water.
Snow and Cold Weather
We have reminded all students that snowball throwing is NOT ACCEPTABLE as it can lead to injury, especially facial or eye injuries. Please reinforce this safety guideline with your children. We also ask your cooperation in reviewing with your children the need to be respectful of each other outside on the playground. This includes NOT destroying any snow forts that may be built by other students during recess times. The students at St. Matthew have all been told that no one owns the snow or the snow creations. God has given us this beautiful white powder to be shared and enjoyed by all.
Cold Weather and Safe Arrival
As we deal with the inconsistent weather patterns we should all be reminded of two ongoing issues: dressing for the weather and safe arrival and departure to and from school. Students and parents should always assume (even when the day begins with inclement weather) that the students will spend time (as much as 45 minutes) outside in Canadian conditions. Proper dress allows children to have more fun and stay healthy! Please ensure that you call the school immediately to report student absences.
Blocking Neighboring Driveways
Parents are reminded that when parking on the street and walking students into the school it is extremely important that you do not block any neighbor’s driveways. I have received some phone calls from the surrounding neighbors who have not been able to leave or access their private driveways because of other cars blocking the way. I ask that you be considerate of our neighbors and avoid blocking anyone’s access.
Dangers Presented by Snow Banks
It has been brought to my attention by a concerned neighbor in our community that students are sliding down snow banks on their way to and from school and while waiting to be picked up after school. These snow banks present a very dangerous situation for drivers and students because of the reduced and in some cases no visibility scenarios. Also, students are in many cases sliding into the road and driveways potentially exposing themselves to moving motor vehicles.
NO student should ever be sliding down a snow bank that is off of school property. Students should be walking home immediately after school on the sidewalks. Parents please speak with your children about the dangers of the situations and scenarios mentioned above.
Supporting Proportional Reasoning with Your Child
So how do you help your child develop proportional reasoning? Here are some tips:
- Highlight ratios as they exist in everyday life: ►Making juice: What is the ratio of water to juice (e.g. 3 cans of water for 1 can of frozen concentrate). What happens if you are making two batches? Three batches? How much more water do you need? ►Buying groceries: Ask your kids to comparison shop, reminding them that the lowest price is not always the best deal – they need to compare the amount of product against the price to make a good decision. Which is the better deal for the Cheetos displayed here? ►Driving in the car: Point out speed signs and ask your kids to figure out what would be the maximum speed for a half hour? For two hours?
- Explore measurement conversions: ►Measure your child’s arm length, or foot using centimeters. How many millimeters is that? Skip the tricks or apps to do this – have your child work from the fact that in 1cm there are 10mms.
- Explore equivalent fractions: ►Use the multiplication table to help your child see the relationship with equivalent fractions. For example , if you look at ½ as a fraction, and now look to the right, each pair of numbers represents an equivalent fraction.
- Explore scales on maps. For example, on a map, 1 cm may represent 50 kilometers. Have your child figure out different distances based on the scale. How many kilometers is half a centimeter, two-thirds?
Did you know that people who walk and ride their bikes to school are happier? A study conducted by Green Communities Canada found that students (and the parents who accompanied them) enjoyed a deeper connection to their community, nature, and other people. This connection was found to decrease stress, and to increase happiness.
The view from a car is much different than the view from the sidewalk. On your way to school one day this week, imagine the photographs you might take along the route to school. What do you see? Is there art? What kind of living nature do you come across? Do you see anyone who is not a student at your school? Where do you imagine they’re going?
Walking or cycling to school; a smart choice
Walking to school can lead to better academic performance. Just 20 minutes of walking in the morning can increase mental focus at school for up to four hours! This can lead to higher test scores, better music practice, or even a better soccer game! Just look at the difference between brain activity in a student who sat quietly in the morning and one who was active for 20 minutes:
Walking and cycling to school keeps you healthy!
The World Health Organization recommends that children accumulate a minimum of 60 minutes of physical activity each and every day for greater health. Currently, only 7% of children achieve that minimum recommendation. The active commute to and from school provides an average of around 10 additional minutes of activity per child each way. That really adds up to better health over the weeks, the months, and the years!
Your body is made for walking
Did you know that more than half the body’s muscles are designed for walking? Walking is a natural movement that is virtually injury-free, does not require special equipment, and can help you get anywhere you want to go.
Walking/cycling prevents chronic disease
According to the Heart & Stroke Foundation, physical activity helps prevent some chronic diseases including heart disease, hypertension, stroke, type II diabetes, and certain cancers. For instance, some researchers found that the risk of obesity decreases by almost 5% for every kilometer walked each day!
Keep our neighborhood air clean
Walking is an environmentally sustainable form of transportation. Climate change is one of the most pressing issues facing communities, our nation and the international community. Walking is one easy way to replace a car trip and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Nine families walking to school each day can prevent up to 1000 kg of carbon dioxide from being emitted into our neighborhood.
Walking in cold weather?
We often use the cold weather as an excuse not to walk. In 2003, the American Journal of Public Health reported that only about 12% of Canadians’ home-based trips (such as trips to the grocery store, work or school) were made on foot or bicycle, compared with 46% in the Netherlands and 41% in Denmark, where it is just as cold!
How long does it take to walk to school?
The average rate of walking for an elementary school student is 4.34 kilometers per hour. That means the average student can walk our maximum walking distance – 1.6 kilometers – in 22 minutes at a comfortable pace. It probably doesn’t take that much longer than driving, and it’s a great way to add up those recommended 60 minutes of daily physical activity!
Teach gradual independence by walking to school
The active commute to school presents the perfect opportunity to teach your child traffic awareness skills, active travel skills, and independence in a graduated manner. Start by walking them to school, and then work with neighbours and friends to create parent-led groups and then buddy systems where children can walk together without parents. It’s safe, it’s fun, and it builds confidence and boosts self-esteem!
Build stamina by walking
Build up stamina with daily walking; over a month’s time, hikers have found a toddler can start at .09 km and build up to 3.2 km. Small children are able to reach longer distances with practice and the daily habit can expend their natural energy and lead to better sleep, greater focus, and higher school achievement.
What bad weather?
The snow and ice may be upon us, but that can make the walk to school even more fun, as long as you’re dressed properly! Students who walk to school have the extra benefit of knowing they are prepared for outdoor recess, which will happen unless the temperature dips below -30 degrees Celsius. Make sure you’re ready for your whole day by checking out [school name]’s School Day Forecast (which includes a pictograph of what to wear!) https://www.theweathernetwork.com/forecasts/school-day/list.
Do You Need to Drive to School?
Parents who drive students to school face important maneuvering and parking decisions every day that can put our students at risk. The more individual car trips to school, the worse the congestion and the more confusing school traffic can become.
Our best course of action against traffic dangers is to reduce the overall number of cars that arrive at the school each day.
Does your child qualify for busing? Get her or him to the bus stop on time. Does your child qualify for the walking zone? Let him or her walk or find a buddy to walk with – or maybe you can lead a group of children to school, allowing your neighbors to keep their cars away from the school, too. Don’t know your neighbors? Ask us to make some connections – we love making good things happen!
Obey Parking Signs!
We are aware that there is limited parking around the school, which leads to competition for the best spots when everyone wants to be here at once, and increased danger for our students. Our first goal is to reduce the number of people who drive and need to park at any given time, so please consider walking if that is in your control. But if you do need to drive and park, it is crucial that you obey parking signs. The laws are designed to control traffic in a safe manner, and when we ignore the laws we put more children at risk. Signs you may see nearby:
For more signs and their meanings, check out the Ministry of Ontario driver’s handbook at: www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/dandv/driver/handbook/section3.1.1.shtml.