Nov 25
Well Done, Parents

Dear Sibylla Kiddle School Families,

Most of us know a proverb widely attributed to African cultures that simply says, “It takes a village.” In education, we often use the word ‘stakeholders’. We know that raising and educating children takes community. Teachers, parents and community come together in the best interests of child development. We cannot do it alone.

This week, I want to celebrate you, as a parent. We have seen the illness rates in our school and we know many of you have had a challenging week. You have juggled child care and work schedules to have someone at home or to pick up your child midday from school. Many of you have wiped more noses then you want to and have lost sleep listening to a child cough during the night. You have engaged your support network in a massive scavenger hunt for child’s pain relief medication and you have made countless bowls of soup only to have most of them go uneaten.

Parenting is amazing but it isn’t easy. I want to salute each and every one of you as you do an incredible job in raising your child. As a school, we appreciate all that you do in setting your child up for success in learning. You make sure they have food to nourish and regulate their bodies at lunch time. You coach them through challenging social situations they may face at school and you read stories to them supporting their language development. Your daily actions make an incredible difference in their learning and in their well-being. Give your child a big hug this weekend and in the process, let them give you a big hug back. You deserve it!

Sincerely,
Brad Emery
Principal


Nov 18
Learning Through Sport

Dear Sibylla Kiddle School Families,

Canada’s men’s national soccer team enters into FIFA World Cup contention this upcoming week for the first time since 1986. I do love the intrigue of international sporting events. I don’t know much about soccer but every four years I’m drawn into the spectacle of FIFA. The added bonus this year is being able to cheer for Canada!

Finding opportunities to learn at home can sometimes feel daunting. Is there time? Do you or your child have the energy? What could you be learning? Consider how you may leverage the ‘every day’ to encourage learning. Looking at the upcoming World Cup, what connections do you see?

Sport encourages physical literacy. How do players train? What could your child do to set healthy living routines? Sport can support mathematics. Connections can be made to time, angles, measurement and probability. Just this week, in my house, we had the ‘Stat-Cast’ on while watching a hockey game. The numbers sparked a flurry of math-based conversation among my children. Sport can support literacy. It is a genre for reading; news articles are easily found that encourage skills such as reflection, recognizing facts and developing supported opinions. Social studies can be added in, looking at the culture of sports in different countries. Why does Canada dominate international hockey but has only been to FIFA twice, having never yet scored a goal? Outside of academic learning, you may also consider social-emotional connections. What does sportsmanship look like? How do the players show resilience?

Learning at home can be engaging, meaningful and fun. What might it look like in your home? Go Canada!

Sincerely,
Brad Emery
Principal


Nov 10
Star Performer

Dear Sibylla Kiddle School Families,

What is your most memorable concert experience? Was it your favorite songwriter performing at the Folk Festival? Perhaps, you have seen a big-name act perform in a mega stadium in another part of the world. For me, I’d be tossed between U2 and Coldplay. Both acts brought a stage presence that was contagious along with music that readily appeals to my ear. However, there is still a performance that outweighs the biggest stars - your own child.

Watching our children perform always brings a burst of pride that can’t be replicated by anyone else. While we have not been able to have such performances for the past couple of years, we are excited to start them up for the first time at our school. On December 8, we will be having a Winter Celebration, featuring students in Kindergarten – Grade 2. We also plan to hold a Spring Celebration, featuring students in Grades 3 – 5, later in the school year.

We have decided to approach this celebration in a slightly different way. We will be holding 6 mini-concerts, each featuring a different group of students. The mini-concerts are designed in such a way that you shouldn’t need to line up as the small performing group lends itself to a small audience. This format also allows you to enjoy your child participating in every song, rather than feeling the need to watch the performances of students from other classes and grades. The mini-concerts are designed to be about 10 minutes in length before the group is cycled out and a new group takes the stage. Between performances, families are welcome to participate in a few activities to be set up around the school and to view the visual art displays produced by our students. This will also be a great opportunity to meet your neighbours.

We look forward to having you join us on December 8 to watch today’s greatest young performers take the stage.

Sincerely,
Brad Emery
Principal


Nov 04
Remembering

Dear Sibylla Kiddle School Families,

What comes to mind when you take a moment to remember? Is it the memory of a particular food made by a loved one when you were a child? Is it a well-loved vacation spot where you got to laugh and play? Is it a song that you have a strong connection with? Our minds are filled with memories, connected to a spectrum of emotional reactions that we hold onto for various reasons.

As I reflect on Remembrance Day, I am struck by the challenges we face, as humans, in remembering things that we shouldn’t forget but that are hard to remember because we may not have directly experienced the event. We are left with artifacts to hold, stories to read and accounts to listen to. I can wear a poppy. I can read a book written by a prisoner of war. I can visit a museum. I can connect with refugees in my community. So why do we do take time to remember something we don’t have a memory of? How do we teach our children to remember an event they may not have a direct connection to?

Unpacking the answers to these questions is a highly personal process that could easily fill the pages of books. When thinking of children, remembering the events of the past can foster a growth mindset. It is a reminder that things can go wrong but we can also learn to do better. Remembering the past allows us to grabble with complex emotions such as empathy, belonging, sadness and confusion. Remembering the past allows us to ask questions, to seek understanding and to learn. How will you help your child to remember this Remembrance Day?

Sincerely,
Brad Emery
Principal


Oct 28
Digital Citizenship

In the spirit of Halloween, what do you find scary? Our kids may say hairy-legged spiders, the imaginary creatures that hide in their closet or possibly the vegetables on their dinner plate. For me, raising children in a digital world can be scary. What do they have access to? Who will they interact with? What messages are they being exposed to? Just having an internet connection can feel like having access to a 24/7 haunted house right in my living room.

While my comparison may be extreme, as parents we recognize that the online world does have significant challenges and it does raise questions about how to support our children as they learn to navigate this world. All schools with the CBE have established Digital Citizenship plans. These plans set a roadmap for how we intentionally use technology in schools for learning, while aiming to give students the skills they need to navigate the digital world.

You are encouraged to have a read through our school’s Digital Citizenship plan, as posted online. It will give you more specifics about how we approach this topic at school. It outlines guidelines for students who want to bring technology to school and sets out some specific goals we are working to achieve over the coming school year. These are important conversations at school and at home. Have you talked to your child about their role as a digital citizen? How can our school based Digital Citizenship plan inspire you to enter into a conversation with your child? There is no ‘trick’ to having these conversations and the end result can end up being a real ‘treat’.

Sincerely,
Brad Emery
Principal


Oct 21
Clubs

Dear Sibylla Kiddle School Families,

What hobbies, interests or activities do you like to do in your spare time?How would you answer that question? Maybe you would say rock climbing, sewing, playing hockey or baking. The options available to us are essentially limitless. For the most part, how we answer that question (outside of reading) is not a core academic subject at school. Yet on closer consideration, how much reading, writing, math or physical literacy is involved in your passion? I’m guessing a lot.

After a prolonged period of COVID restrictions, our school is ready to introduce some clubs to our in-school learning. With our early start and having a number of bus students, it makes the most sense to offer these clubs during school time. One Friday a month, for an hour, students will be reassigned to different teachers in the school where they can learn while engaging in a topic of personal interest. For example, students will learn logic in the coding club and numeracy skills in the board game club.

This weekend, we would appreciate it if you would spend a couple of minutes exploring the Club Options​ for students. This upcoming week in class, students will share their top 5 preferences with their teacher so we can arrange students into preferred clubs. We look forward to learning with all of our students, through their passions, as the year progresses.

Sincerely,
Brad Emery
Principal


Oct 14
Celebrations of Learning

Dear Sibylla Kiddle School Families,

When you think of a school assembly, what images come to mind? Children singing? Sitting on a gym floor? Speeches? My most vivid memory of elementary school assemblies is singing God Save the Queen at the end of every one. Ironically, at the time, I couldn’t fathom the possibility that we would ever sing God Save the King.

This upcoming week we will be starting up periodic assemblies at our school. As we plan these events, we are taking careful consideration as to why we have them. We believe they are important for gathering as a school community to celebrate learning. In fact, we call our assemblies Celebrations of Learning. Our teachers are encouraged to consider three priorities in their planning. How will you celebrate the process of learning in your classroom? How will you celebrate the product of learning in your classroom? How will you tie that all together to allow students the opportunity to meaningfully present their learning to the broader community?

Parents are welcome to attend these Celebrations of Learning, as they are meant to be community events. Please note, every grade will be presenting once over the course of the school year. Due to space limitations, we are requesting that you only come to these events if you have a child presenting in the assembly. Furthermore, as our gymnasium has space limitations, we would ask that you limit your party to 2 people.

In the meantime, remember that learning can be hard work for all of us. How can you take the time to celebrate both the process and product of learning, in your home?

Sincerely,
Brad Emery
Principal


Oct 06
Props

Dear Sibylla Kiddle School Families,

There is a theatre sports game performed by actors during improvisational comedy called ‘Props’. It’s a simple game where actors are given a random prop and they reframe it in a different way. Kids are really good at this exercise as it takes considerable creativity. A pylon becomes a hat. A dresser drawer becomes a doll bed. A propeller becomes a bow tie. It is easy to see how the right prop paired with a creative mind can create some hilarious comedy.

I spent some time in our Grade 1 classes this week to observe the teachers capitalize on this game through writing. With Thanksgiving coming up this weekend, a picture of a clipart turkey was put on the board. Students were to develop a piece of writing whereby they are to convince the reader this isn’t actually a turkey and they shouldn’t eat it. Creativity abounded as students reframed that turkey into bouncy balls and coloured gum machines. I stood back and smiled at the joy of learning within the room. Students were writing, being critical thinkers, considering multiple perspectives and developing creativity all in one assignment.

You can encourage these same skills at home, while getting a good family laugh in at the same time. Going around the dinner table, how many different ways can you reframe the lowly spoon? Going for a walk, if it isn’t a street light, what else might it be? Picking up a fallen leaf, might it actually be a caterpillar potato chip?  The creativity may be silly but the skills developed can have profound impacts on lifelong learning.

Sincerely,
Brad Emery
Principal

Sep 29
Let's Walk to School

Dear Sibylla Kiddle School Families,

Those of you who have lived in Calgary for years know this fall has been unusual. Autumn typically consists of a few days of beautiful coloured leaves, followed by cold winds, heavy rain or even snow. By the time the first fall storm rolls through, the leaves have fallen or turned brown from freezing and the onset of winter has arrived. This year, however, the weather has been beautiful, giving us a chance to appreciate the beauty of the season.

The week ahead has been dubbed International Walk to School Week. I can’t think of a better Calgary fall to join in the spirit of this initiative and the forecast for the week ahead looks beautiful. As most of us know, walking is one of the healthiest things you can do for your body. It is low impact, can strengthen cardiovascular health, reduces stress levels and it gets us outside in nature. There is also the further benefit of reducing traffic around the school, which we all know is an on-going challenge.

Walking to school is also a great way to enrich the new Alberta Physical Education and Wellness Curriculum, which has outcomes related to daily physical activity promoting well-being across a lifetime. Will your family take up the challenge of walking to school this week? Do you live too far? Perhaps pick a spot to park in the community and walk the final 500m. The exercise will be good for your body, your child’s body and for setting healthy lifestyle habits for years to come.

Sincerely,
Brad Emery
Principal


Sep 23
To Walk in Your Shoes

Dear Sibylla Kiddle School Families,

I have been reading through Brené Brown’s latest work, Atlas of the Heart, where she unpacks 87 core emotions of the human experience. When reflecting on the emotion of empathy she writes, “We need to dispel the myth that empathy is ‘walking in someone else’s shoes.’ Rather than walking in your shoes, I need to learn how to listen to the story you tell about what it’s like in your shoes and believe you even when it doesn’t match my experiences.”

September 30 is recognized as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, which coincides with Orange Shirt Day. As I reflect on this upcoming day, the Brené Brown quote on empathy fits where I am at in my journey of understanding with respect to the impact of residential schools on Indigenous people and our country. The word that resonates the most with me in this quote is listen. Listening is hard but I believe it is foundational when entering into the process of understanding and learning.

In the coming week, each of our classes will take up Orange Shirt Day in a developmentally appropriate way. As a school, it is our hope that the stories associated with that day will foster the skill of listening and the emotion of empathy within our students. Ultimately, listening and empathy are universal in nature and ideally serve to further enhance our broader school goal of developing a sense of belonging among our community of learners.

Sincerely,
Brad Emery
Principal


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