B.C.'s school curriculum has been heralded internationally for promoting core competencies that help students thrive in the 21st century.
Among these core competencies are personal awareness and responsibility, which includes self-determination, self-regulation, and well-being.
But it's not always easy to achieve these objectives when schools are closed and students are being taught by parents who themselves may be working full-time and feeling harried.
UBC education professor Kimberly Schonert-Reichl has documented how kids are better able to learn when they're experiencing less stress.
Unfortunately, if the educator—nowadays, usually a parent—is feeling frazzled, this can affect the student's emotional well-being and undermine their advancement.
Today, the Ministry of Education outlined free virtual educational programs that can help in this new era of remote learning.
“We know that children and families are feeling anxiety and uncertainty during these challenging times, and it’s important we provide resources to help them thrive,” Education Minister Rob Fleming said in a news release. “These new learning tools for students, families and educators offer interactive lessons to support their health and well-being.”
One such initiative is the WE Well-being program, which is available for free in French and English for K-12 students.
It's part of the new WE Schools @home program and is focused on youths coping with social isolation.
According to the Ministry of Education, it was tested in 2018 in a pilot project involving more than 3,500 students, 43 schools, and 150 educators. And it was developed in collaboration with the ministry, UBC, and mental-health professionals.
UBC's Schonert-Reichl wants parents to know that this option is in accordance with the objectives of B.C.'s school curriculum.
"The WE Well-being and WE Schools @home programs provide a perfect alignment with B.C.’s focus," she said, "because the WE organization has distilled the latest research into evidence-based practical approaches and resources that integrate social and emotional learning and the cultivation of positive human qualities, including empathy, gratitude, compassion altruism and resilience—those qualities that are essential for well-being.”
Another option is EASE (Everyday Anxiety Strategies for Educators) at Home.
This offers kits for families with children from kindergarten to Grade 3 and from grades 4 to 7, detailing five weeks of activities.
It was developed by the Ministry of Children and Family Development in consultation with Anxiety Canada.
The program is research-based and helps children with emotional self-regulation. Parents can learn how to teach their kids how to calm down with breathing techniques and how to develop routines through structured games.
“This is a difficult time, especially for children and youth who are safely distancing from friends and relatives and who may be feeling stressed or anxious from all the recent changes in their lives,” Children and Family Development Minister Katrine Conroy said. “These new EASE at Home resources will provide parents with simple activities that they can model for their kids and include in daily routines.”