The Chinook School Division regular meeting last night saw a concerning report on lower grades and violence.
The report touched on many aspects of disruptions in the classroom, but made special note of the uptick in recent years of violence in early years, sighting a peak in the second and third grades.
While this issue is concerning, it comes in the wake of children unequipped with social skills following the pandemic. These kids oftentimes need to be remedied with supplementary lessons on proper anger discourse and resolution, and on how to be a good friend who uses words not hands.
Presenting the matter to Chinook was Courtney Lawrance, Super Intendent of Learning for Chinook School Division. Her report detailed that these grades, especially the third grade, are when they can begin helping kids with these issues.
"Universally, we're going to [help] about 80 per cent of the kids," said Lawrance. "We're working on resiliency, perseverance, social skills, some of the things that wouldn't have developed during the pandemic. Sometimes we do a social skills group of like, how do we be a good friend, what are the skills that we use when we have conflict? Then for our top tier are those kids that need that one-on-one support."
The issues don't stop at physical outbursts. Many of these children are struggling to focus on work, pay attention in class, and are finding the inability to do the work consistently.
For the most extreme cases, this is when they look to recommend a specialist look at ADHD or another possible diagnosis for more serious learning disabilities.
"Luckily it's happening at the younger grade levels," said Lawrance. "If you can put those interventions in place early, it should minimize the impact that you see later later on. I've been an educator for a long time, over 20 years. I would say is with a lot of intervention and support early on, it leads to positive outcomes at at the higher grades."
For now, the struggle is to find enough support for these kids. They have one councillor for the division who works directly in these extreme cases, in full-time employment. They do contract enough work out to cover the equivalent of another full-time councillor, but there is still always more work to be done with the kids.
For now, Lawrance is confident that her presentation was heard by Chinook. She looks forward to working together with the board to find a solution to this growing trend.
"I feel like our board is very supportive in Chinook," said Lawrance. "They are really about a culture of inclusion here. We come to them with different options of things that we would like to try and they provide good feedback."