Children are eager to learn and your school community is there to help them develop and grow. When your children head off for school each day many factors contribute to their success. Good learning conditions for your children include resources, teachers, librarians, counsellors, and other specialists, and a broad-based curriculum.
Education—more than just the three Rs
Parents want to see their children flourishing in a school system that provides opportunities for all children to develop their interests and talents. While the basic subjects are very important, a well-rounded education includes the arts, physical activity, and citizenship development.
The United Nations' Declaration of the Rights of the Child, principle 7, states that "The child is entitled to receive education, which shall be free and compulsory, at least in the elementary stages. He shall be given an education which will promote his general culture and enable him, on a basis of equal opportunity, to develop his abilities, his individual judgement, and his sense of moral and social responsibility, and to become a useful member of society."
According to the Ministry of Education's curriculum, "fine arts instruction is crucial for the educational growth of all students... The fine arts are important to our understanding of society, culture, and history, and are essential to the development of individual potential, social responsibility, and cultural awareness. They also contribute significantly to the intellectual, aesthetic, emotional, social, and physical development of the individual. The study of the fine arts reveals distinct and common characteristics of societies throughout history."
(Source: B.C. Ministry of Education. Fine Arts K to 7 Integrated Resource Package. 1998.)
The British Columbia Art Teachers' Association provides parents with background information about the skills that are developed through the study of art, and ways that parents can support and nurture that learning.
The importance of citizenship
Teachers are concerned that citizenship education is no longer the centrepiece of public education. To be effective citizens in a democracy, teachers believe that students should be knowledgeable about Canada and the world, be aware of history and trends, and understand democratic values. Citizenship education is central to preparing our young people to meet the diverse challenges of the 21st Century.
The Ministry of Education has developed formal performance standards in the area of social responsibility.
Skills for employers
The Conference Board of Canada publishes a list of the critical skills needed in the workplace. Employability Skills 2000+ include communication, problem solving, positive attitudes and behaviours, adaptability, working with others, and science, technology and mathematics skills.
Individual attention makes the difference! Smaller classes mean better results, more opportunity, greater success.
For years, teachers and parents have known from instinct and experience that smaller classes are better for learning. In smaller classes, teachers can devote more individual attention to each student – answering questions, and helping solve small problems before they become big ones.
Effective July 1, 2002, the BC Liberal government removed learning conditions from the collective agreement. Since September 2002, the size of classes has increased and the services provided by specialist teachers such as librarians, counsellors, learning assistance teachers, ESL and others have been cut. At the same time as the number of students in each class increased, supports for students with special needs were reduced.
Support from specialist teachers
Your child's primary contact at school is the classroom teacher, but many other specialist teachers provide a rich and supportive learning environment. Counsellors, fine arts teachers, teacher-librarians and special education support teachers are all valuable members of the school community who work to ensure the success of all students.
Who else is part of your child's learning? Here are a few resources that highlight the important roles that specialist teachers have in our schools.
Other conditions for success
Many things contribute to a child's success at school. Some things are obvious and measurable like natural ability and early literacy skills.
First Call: BC Child & Youth Advocacy Coalition is a cross-sectoral, non-partisan coalition in BC. The coalition is made up of over 60 provincial organizations and 25 mobilizing communities working to create healthy communities for the long term.
Their work centres around supporting the following conditions they have identified as factors that ensure success:
- A strong commitment to early childhood development
- Support in transitions from childhood to youth to adulthood
- Increased economic equality
- Safe and caring communities