Being present this holiday season

December 11, 2014 - 3 minutes read

In this column, I have often talked about what’s new and different in education and within the district. While schools must change to reflect a changing world, it’s vital to know what is already working, and to ensure that everyone understands how those lessons can be adopted and applied in schools and at home.

One of the things we know for sure is that students do far better in school when the relationships they have outside of school – with their parents, siblings, extended family, teammates, peers and community – provide a strong network of support. There is a lot of research that confirms this, including the recent 2013 BC Adolescent Health Survey from the McCreary Centre Society, a survey in which students from across our district participated.

I have said before that in the West Vancouver School District, parents are our students’ first teachers and we rely very much on them to be partners in the success of each child. I believe this is more important now than ever before, with so many mixed messages in our society competing for everyone’s attention.

As a parent and an educator, I know that it is sometimes very challenging to identify what a particular child needs. But one thing is for sure: as I recently wrote in my blog, all children do eventually grow up, and they are very much listening to what we say and do. As challenging as it can sometimes be in the classroom and at home, it’s an important reminder that we need to be present in children’s lives if they are to trust and appreciate what we have to give.

The holiday season provides some much needed down time for families and staff. As we fill our calendar with external commitments, this time of year can easily become overwhelming and stressful for families, rather than relaxing and peaceful. It’s important to strive for balance.

While there is great value in giving of our time and resources to others, it is critical to meet our own emotional and social needs at this time of year, and care for those who are closest to us. The best gift we can give to family and friends is to be truly present.

Wishing you the very best of the holiday season,

Chris Kennedy
Superintendent of Schools