Talking with Children about Tragic Events

A special counsellor update from Linda Campbell, School Counsellor, School District 57

After the tragic events at Sandy Hook Elementary School, some children might be wondering about the events, or fearful as well.  Below are some tips to help talk with  children when they ask difficult questions and you are not sure how to respond.

                 Talking with Children about Tragic Events


Talking about the news with kids happens in everyday moments. Children ask questions in the car on the way to school, in between pushes on the swings, and just when you’re trying to rush out the door. In one breath, they’ll ask about a range of topics — from the weather to the president to the latest war. And when difficult questions come up, parents wonder how to respond.


To help the conversation along, this article offers flexible suggestions for answering kids’ questions about the news. There is no script to follow but these strategies can help you tune in to what your child is thinking and feeling and talk it through together.


Start by finding out what your child knows. When a news topic comes up, ask an open-ended question to find out what she knows like “What have you heard about it?” This encourages your child to let you know what she is thinking.


Ask a follow up question. Depending on your child’s comments, ask another question to get him thinking, such as “Why do you think that happened?” or “What do you think people should do to help?”


Explain simply. Give children the information they need to know in a way that makes sense to them. At times, a few sentences are enough. “A good analogy is how you might talk about sex,” adds Nancy Carlsson-Paige, Ed. D. “You obviously wouldn’t explain everything to a 5-year-old. Talking about violence and safety is similar.”


Listen and acknowledge. If a child talks about a news event (like a local robbery or kidnapping) and is worried,recognize her feeling and comfort her. You might say “I can see you’re worried, but you are safe here. Remember how we always lock our doors.” This acknowledges your child’s feelings, helps her feel secure, and encourages her to tell you more.


Offer reassurance. When a child is exposed to disturbing news, she may worry about her safety. To help her calm down, offer specific examples that relate to her environment like, “That hurricane happened far away but we’ve never had a hurricane where we live.” Actions speak louder than words — so show your child how you lock the door if she gets scared by a news report about robbers, point out the gutters and storm drains if a hurricane story causes fear, and explain what the security guards do at the airport after a story about terrorists.


Tailor your answer to your child’s age. The amount of information children need changes age by age. “A kindergartner may feel reassured simply knowing a hurricane is thousands of miles away. An older child may want to know how hurricanes could affect the place where he lives and may want to know what is being done to help those in need. Both ages will be reassured by doing something to help,” notes Jane Katch, M.S.T., author of Discovering the Meaning of Children’s Violent Play.


Other Helpful Sites:


Explaining the News to our Kids


Avoid Holiday Chaos

Our counsellor newsletter from Linda Campbell, School Counsellor, School District 57
Avoid Holiday Chaos
Tip—Planning ahead, as a family, can make the holidays much less crazy and more enjoyable.
Okay, you know it’s almost here. The winter holidays are supposed to happy and full of good cheer—yet what you often experience is an overload of activities, tasks, and frazzled family members. What can you do this year to have a warm, happy time with your family and friends and not find yourself cracked up on the sidewalk by January 1st?
The answer is to plan ahead and keep your schedule reasonable. Especially if you have young children, they will thank you to keep it all simple. If you have older children, you have a wonderful chance to set an example of how to celebrate the season without running everyone ragged.
Tools—Louise Tracy, middle school counselor and parent to six children, advises family planning sessions for any activities involving parental permission, participation or cooperation. Planning for the holiday season certainly requires parental involvement! Tracy outlines a very helpful template for planning with kids in her book, Grounded for Life?! Stop Blowing Your Fuse and Start Communicating with Your Teenager.
  • Begin with a discussion of choices available. Go around the table and ask each family member which holiday activity is most important to them. You might say something like, “We will definitely be having our traditional Christmas morning breakfast and gift exchange at home. Then we will eat dinner at Grandma’s house with the cousins, as usual. All other activities are up for debate. Everyone can make a request for what is most important to them.” Dad might like driving around to look at holiday light displays best. Your five-year-old’s favorite thing may be watching all the animated holiday movies on TV. The ten-year-old may be most attached to making and delivering cookies to friends and neighbors. Mom might like to attend the church Christmas dinner. Decide together how much is reasonable to put on your calendar. Make sure each person has at least one event from their “most important” list included.
  • Discuss likes, limitations, and difficulties. Maybe Dad would rather have a root canal than go caroling one more year. Perhaps Mom would like others to pitch in and help with wrapping gifts. Maybe finances are tight right now and price limits on gifts need to be discussed. The family planning session is where all these concerns can be brought up and compromises found.
  • Make lists of To-Do items. There are lots of tasks that go along with the holidays—decorating, shopping for gifts, shopping for food, preparing holiday meals, sending out cards, wrapping gifts, standing in line at the post office, etc. Here’s a news flash: Mom doesn’t have to do all these things by herself. She doesn’t even have to supervise all of them. Make assignments. Younger children will need a parent, older sibling, or grandparent to help them accomplish their tasks—assign the older person at the same time you give the child the task. Children are usually very excited to help. For example, school-age children could be put in charge of table settings for the family Hanukkah dinner. Younger children could be in charge of planning games for after dinner or could help to clean before the event.
You’ll find more practical tips you can use right now in Grounded for Life?! Stop Blowing Your Fuse and Start Communicating with Your Teenager by Louise Felton Tracy, M.S.

Continue reading “Avoid Holiday Chaos”

Draft – Minutes of December 3, 2012 General Meeting

DPAC Meeting Minutes Dec 3, 2012

DRAFT – DPAC MINUTES FOR December 3, 2012
7:00 p.m. Van Bien Training and Development Centre
DPAC Executive: Sarah Holland (Chair), Chris Finke (Vice Chair & A/Secretary), Gillian Burnett (Treasurer), Jacqueline Dockray (Director), Darlene Campbell (District Associate) & Steve Shannon (Director).
Partner Groups: Brian Pepper, Superintendent; Kate Cooke, Trustee; Tina Cousins, PGDTA; Lori Dennill, PGPVPA;
School Reps: Darlene Campbell, Nusdeh Yoh & Duchess Park; Inge Culhane, Edgewood Elementary; Jacqueline Dockray, College Heights Elementary; Chris Finke, DP Todd Secondary; Elena Thomas, Ecole Lac des Bois; Lotte Andersen, Nukko Lake Elementary; Sarah Holland, Heather Park Elementary; Michelle Rolfes, Pineview Elementary; Shannon Baird, PGSS; Don Sabo, Pinewood Elementary; Ryan Clarke, Quinson Elementary; Dennis Fudge, Spruceland Traditional; Steve Shannon, Kelly Road Secondary &Hart Highland Elementary; Barb Oke, Vanway Elementary; Maureen Schulting, Buckhorn Elementary.
1. Call to Order
(a) Secretary for December 3rd DPAC meeting – Chris Finke
2. Adoption of Agenda
(a) Additions (amendments) to Agenda
i. Secretary for January DPAC meeting.
ii. PAC funds (including Gaming) paid to schools.
iii. Point of Order (Don Sabo) – nature or method of determining speaking points brought before School Board meetings.
(b) Agenda adopted as amended.
3. Adoption of November 5th, 2012 Minutes
Minutes adopted as presented. Continue reading “Draft – Minutes of December 3, 2012 General Meeting”

FoodSafe course – January 19, 2013

DPAC is hosting a FoodSafe course for PAC volunteers on Saturday, January 19th, at Heather Park Elementary School. The course will be run by ABC FoodSafe, and a book and certificate will be provided for each participant.

Class runs from 7:45 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

COST: $17  (to cover the book and certificate cost – DPAC is funding the course itself)

Lunch break is from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m.


To arrange to pay by cheque, click on Show other payment options under the Register button.

Gaming, Receipts, and the School District

Clearing Account Report of Receipts 2012

Message to Jan Cote, Finance Clerk, School District 57 from Gillian Burnett, DPAC Treasurer

The DPAC executive has some questions regarding the issue of receipts by schools and the district for money received from the PAC. We have received several questions regarding this matter. Many PACs have begun a process of financial review since undertaking full responsibility for their funds in 2010. The result of this process is that in many cases there is no supporting documentation (a receipt) for cheques that are written to either the school or the district. Does the district have any sort of policy regarding the issue of receipts? Is it possible to provide direction to schools that a receipt must be issued for all money received from a PAC?

There is also concern regarding whether the receipts received from the schools will meet the reporting requirements for gaming. Often, a PAC will provide a cheque (for example $200) from gaming to the school for events such as Grade 7 Graduation celebration. A receipt from the school for the $200 will not meet our reporting requirements. We would need a copy of the receipts for the items purchased with this money. How should we direct our members in regards to this issue? Is it possible for schools to provide PACs with copies of receipts when gaming money is issued?

At this time we are not asking the district to do anything, but are just seeking further information for discussion. We appreciate any information you can provide us with.

Thank you,

Gillian Burnett, DPAC Treasurer

Response from Jan Cote, Finance Clerk, School District 57

Hi Gillian – thank you for asking these questions.

To confirm, all monies received at schools require a receipt to be issued.

When it concerns Gaming Branch of BC funding, the district respects the Gaming Branch Policies and directives in that, as a district, we instruct all schools that Gaming funds can not be accepted at the school. They need to be directly forwarded to the district finance department with a Clearing Account Report of Receipts (attached) that is completed and signed by the PAC and school authority. The Clearing account Report of Receipts has areas for all the pertinent information to be listed in order the district invoice the PAC Gaming, and describe the items on the invoice for the purchases or events. The PAC needs this detailed invoice to pay as part of their audit for their financial records.

As part of our information gathering each year, the Finance Department ask the PAC to complete an information sheet complete with e-mail address so that we can e-mail them the invoice they need for their financial records. There may be a few cases of new PAC executive and school secretaries and this could be what we are experiencing at the schools that have asked. When we did the presentation to DPAC Dec 2010, we explained this procedure to all attendees.

The PAC General bank account does not have the same restriction of the Gaming rules; however, receipts must always be issued at the school, and in most cases are put in the PAC mailboxes. The supporting documentation for issuing funds to the school, such as $100 to each classroom account, should be a copy of the PAC minutes given to the Secretary/Business Manager with the cheque in order she has accurate supporting documentation of what the funds are for. As most items of financial transactions are written in the PAC minutes, this is a good tool to give the Secretary/Business Manager in order she has supporting documentation to issue the receipt.

Thank you for asking and please do feel free to get back to us if we need to work with certain schools in order the receipts are located in the areas for the PAC to find to attach to their financial records,

Please do feel free to ask questions at any time or contact me if you need further assistance.

Best Regards,
Jan Cote, Finance Clerk

Phone (250) 561-6800 extension 224


BC Education Plan – Invitation to Parents

As parents, we all do our best to support our children’s education. Many of us wish we could do more than our hectic lives will allow. And when we do want to participate more, sometimes it can be tough just to know where to start. That’s not really anybody’s fault. In many ways it’s just the reality of the complexity of an education system.

If all of us as parents are going to be true partners in our children’s learning, and if we’re going to participate in a useful discussion about the future of education, we’d all benefit from a shared level of understanding to start from.

Many parents are deeply involved in their school communities and have a good idea of how it all works, which is great. But most of them would probably agree that it can be a complicated road to travel. How does the system really work? Who is responsible for what? Who can I talk to? What does all this “eduspeak” mean for me and my child? What do I really need to know and why isn’t it easier for me to find the information I want? Questions like these shouldn’t get in the way of parents’ role in education.

So,with that in mind, our question for parents is: what questions do YOU have about B.C.’s education system? Tell us what you wish you could understand better, what you wonder about as a parent who cares about your children’s learning, or what information you wish you had more of. We’d like to help you.

Visit here to share your ideas:

Supporting Your Child through a Divorce

Our counsellor newsletter from Linda Campbell, School Counsellor, School District 57


A parent’s guide to supporting your child through a divorce  


As a parent, it’s normal to feel uncertain about how to give your children the right support through your divorce or separation. It may be uncharted territory, but you can successfully navigate this unsettling time—and help your kids emerge from it feeling loved, confident, and strong.


There are many ways you can help your kids adjust to separation or divorce. Your patience, reassurance, and listening ear can minimize tension as children learn to cope with new circumstances. By providing routines kids can rely on, you remind children they can count on you for stability, structure, and care. And if you can maintain a working relationship with your ex, you can help kids avoid the stress that comes with watching parents in conflict. Such a transitional time can’t be without some measure of hardship, but you can powerfully reduce your children’s pain by making their well-being your top priority.


What I need from my mom and dad: A child’s list of wants
  • I need both of you to stay involved in my life. Please write letters, make phone calls, and ask me lots of questions. When you don’t stay involved, I feel like I’m not important and that you don’t really love me.
  •  Please stop fighting and work hard to get along with each other. Try to agree on matters related to me. When you fight about me, I think that I did something wrong and I feel guilty.
  •  I want to love you both and enjoy the time that I spend with each of you. Please support me and the time that I spend with each of you. If you act jealous or upset, I feel like I need to take sides and love one parent more than the other.
  •  Please communicate directly with my other parent so that I don’t have to send messages back and forth.
  •  When talking about my other parent, please say only nice things, or don’t say anything at all. When you say mean, unkind things about my other parent, I feel like you are expecting me to take your side.
  •  Please remember that I want both of you to be a part of my life. I count on my mom and dad to raise me, to teach me what is important, and to help me when I have problem

Community Poverty Strategy Working Group

Report from Trustee Bekkering at November school board meeting – supplied on request of to post on website

November, 2012 Report
Community Poverty Strategy Working Group
The first thing I’d like to acknowledge in this report is the initiative taken on Nov 20th( International Day of the Child) by the PGDTA to bring a higher profile to the issue of child poverty  in Prince George and the province and to Ted Clarke for his coverage of the issue in the Citizen. Thank you to both.
It’s been important for our group to recognize what an enormous issue poverty is! We know there is no quick strategy. And our best practice so far has been to develop collaborative relationships with some of the educators at UNBC.
One of the economics classes has been working on research and compiling data on determining a “living wage” for the North. They will be sharing their findings with us in the new year. Dr. Fiona McPhail has given us an “in-person” and a summary copy of her work  on Approaches to Poverty. The Dietitians of Prince George have shared an in depth study on the cost of eating in BC. A sample: the cost of a month’s supply of nutritious food, for a family of 4, living in Northern BC is $876. It’s not surprising that so many of our children come to school hungry! $16.05 will purchase 4 L.milk; 1loaf of bread; 5 apples; and 10 lbs  potatoes. For a small, remote more northern community, that jumps to $34.85.
Our number one advocate group continues to be the Union of BC Municipalities. They initiated the first 6 pilots and continue to push the gov’t for more communities to be brought on in the future. They have secured a continued commitment from the new minister of children & families, Stephanie Cadieux. As I have said, the strategy to deal with poverty is a process, and the more collaboration our group has with the key players in our city, the more comprehensive our plan will be.
I’m excited about the approach we are taking and I sense an energy and optimism in the group that was not there at the beginning.
I will report to you in January!
Respectfully submitted, Betty Bekkering