There is no official definition of poverty in Canada so let’s see if we can create a working definition for our purposes as teachers
Here is what some Grade4 and 5 students have define poverty as.
More then just the Food Bank (Cambridge) http://www.cambridgefoodbank.on.ca/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=5&Itemid=6 United Way Back Pack Program http://www.unitedwayhp.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.viewPage&page_id=F2732F00-F681-48B1-822BC1F46089D20BYMCA http://www.ymca.ca/en/home.aspxChampion for Kids http://championsforkids.org/Salvation Armyhttp://www.salvationarmy.ca/missionandvalues/
Poverty and theChildren in Our Schools By: Mark, Brighid, Cali, Christine, Ashley and Rachel
Student ResponsesThese are real responses from Grade 4 and 5students in North Bay“feeling ashamed when my dad can’t get ajob.”“pretending that you forgot your lunch.”“being afraid to tell your Mom you need gymshoes.”“not buying books at the book fair.”“not getting to go on school trips.”
Statistics Canada’s DefinitionO LICO (Low Income Cut-Off)
How Does Poverty AffectChildren in Our Schools?
HealthO Lack of sleepO Improper nutritionO Chronic illnesses and obesityO Personal Hygiene
Socially/MentallyO Low self-esteemO Feelings of shameO BullyingO Fear of being singled outO Belief that they are not smart enough, not good enough, are not deservingO Additional stress, adult responsibilities
AcademicallyO Lack of parental supportO Inability to afford materials, school trips, etc.O Belief that they’ll never be able to continue on to post-secondary education anywaysO Unable to relate to materials
What Schools Can do to HelpO Reduce class sizesO Poverty-sensitivity training for staffO Provide scholarships and fundsO Provide services on site
What We as Teachers Can DoO Stop harassmentO Be approachableO Boost self-esteem, praise the successesO “Worldly” experiences in the classroomO Computers, newspapers, booksO Keep costs low, walk when possibleO Provide school suppliesO Value all your studentsO Do NOT change your expectations
We Are Not AloneThe issue of poverty has already beenaddressed by groups in the community.As teachers, we are in a unique position torecognize potential students in need anddirect them to programs, initiatives, andsupports that are already in place that mayhelp them and their families.
Available SupportO Champions for KidsO Boys and Girls ClubO Local Lions ClubsO Food BanksO YMCAO Salvation ArmyO United Way’s Backpack For Kids ProgramO The Back To School Program (Staples and Salvation Army)
How To Use These SupportsO You can approach specific organizations for supplies for the school as a whole.O You can address the whole class and inform them about he supports in the community.O You can put up a couple of posters in your classroom.
Did you notice any communitysupports for impoverished children while you were on placement? What were they?Do you think they were effective?
Caution:1. Some of the fundraising tactics that schools use can be controversial2. Not all schools have direct links to community supports3. Students can get extremely offended if you approach them, regardless of whether they are in poverty or not.4. Teacher discretion is advised.
Aboriginal StudentsO In 2005, 3.8% of the country’s population identified as Aboriginal -First Nations (60%) -Métis (33%) -Inuit (4%)O 21.7% of Aboriginals had incomes below Statistics Canada’s low income cut-off after tax, compared to 11.1% for the non-Aboriginal identity populationO 43.7% of Aboriginal Canadians have less than a secondary education, compared to 23.1% for the non-Aboriginal population.
“Education has the Power to End the Poverty Cycle” http://www.etfo.ca/Multimedi a/Webcasts/OneInSix/Pages /default.aspx
Make a DifferencePoverty is a real issue in schools today and is moreprevalent then you may believe. How can weremedy this issue or begin to turn things around?Education is the most vital anti-poverty issue.Assumptions cannot be made about the resourcesavailable to students at home. Get to know whatyour school, the community, and variouscompanies have to offer, in order to help studentsbe as successful as possible. As a teacher ensurediscretion when providing information individuallyand discuss the various opportunities in a non-judgmental way with the entire class.
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