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Children & Parents

IIlisaqsivik Society runs a variety of programs to help parents gain the skills and resources they need to facilitate healthy child development and deal with the challenges and stresses of parenthood.  Our programs for children help them gain skills in Inuktitut language, connect with elders in a positive way, learn Inuit cultural practices and traditional skills, and access healthy foods and develop healthy lifestyles.  We are always working to enhance our programs to meet the needs of parents and children identified by the community.  All of Ilisaqsivik’s children’s programming is overseen by our Children’s Programming Committee, and we also hire a Counselling Elder who works with our children’s programs to help kids develop strong bond with elders and to teach Inuktitut language and Inuit knowledge.  Currently, we offer the following programming:

Children’s Programming Committee – All of Ilisaqsivik’s children’s programming is overseen by a committee of parents, teachers, elders, and other community members.  The committee meets monthly and provides important guidance for Ilisaqsivik’s children’s program staff.

Piruqsiakkut (CAPC and CPNP)Through our Community Action Program for Children (CAPC) and Canada Prenatal Nutrition Program (CPNP), Ilisaqsivik serves healthy meals and snacks six evenings a week to women, infants and children from pregnancy through age six.  These programs emphasize knowledge needed to make healthy choices, from information about Fetal Alchohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) to diabetes to the health benefits of country food.  Participants learn in a fun, supportive environment where they do sewing and crafts.  Elders share stories and knowledge about traditional parenting and offer parenting advice.

PreschoolIlisaqsivik Society offers preschool five days a week with instructors who are trained early childhood educators and Ilisaqsivik Society’s Counselling Elder. Through cooperative play and interaction, the children develop fine motor skills and learn traditional crafts, songs and stories.  Children are taught in Inuktitut, and are introduced to numbers, syllabics, and the Roman alphabet.

Parents and TotsIlisaqsivik offers a Parents and Tots program five afternoons a week for parents and their infants and toddlers up to two years of age. The program is designed to strengthen the relationship between parent and child and promote the parent as the child’s first and most important teacher.

After School Program – Ilisaqsivik provides after school programming to more than 100 children from the community every afternoon.  The programming includes literacy in Inuktitut and English, crafts, having fun, and providing healthy snacks and basic nutrition and healthy lifestyle education.

Parent Support GroupConcurrently with preschool, Ilisaqsivik Society also offers a Parent Support Group that meets twice per week.  Parents share advice and anecdotes while working on projects for their kids (e.g. Halloween costumes, traditional clothing, slippers, mittens, scarves, hats, pencil cases, puppets).  It is a quiet time for parents to regroup, build supportive and mentoring relationships, and relax.

Inuktitut Literacy –  Ilisaqsivik Society seeks to empower children in our community by improving Inuktitut language skills.  We run a variety of programs to encourage children to read and enjoy books, magazines, newspapers, and their own writing.  These include our After-School Literacy Project, our Tutoring Initiative, our Pre-Literacy Program, and our Literacy Circle.

Home Visits – For parents who need extra support or who are unable to attend programs at Ilisaqsivik, a trained early childhood educator conducts 45 minute home visits two to three times a week.  Many of our The Home Visits teacher brings activities, books and snacks to the home and shares learning with parent and child.  An important aspect of Home Visits is to improve children’s Inuktitut language skills and to practice motor skills as appropriate for their age group.

Special Needs – Ilisaqsivik Society employees a special needs tutor who conducts speech and language therapy in Inuktitut and English five days a week with young children (1 – 5 years old).

Radio Show – Community radio is a very important means of communication in Clyde River.  Many households keep the radio tuned tuned to the radio throughout the day, stopping to listen to their favorite shows and calling in to share news and stories.  Once a week, Ilisaqsivik teachers and instructors host a two-hour Children’s Literacy Radio Show for parents and preschool children (daytime show) and school-aged children (evening programming).  The shows features stories in Inuktitut from teachers, visiting community members, Elders, and children, as well as literacy games and call-in contests with prizes.  The games and contests challenge local children to practice their Inuktitut in a fun and supportive way, and rewards them for their participation.  The show also features call-in segment for parents or guardians to share a story about their child with the community, and a weekly activity that parents and children can do at home together.  The hosts share knowledge with the entire community about healthy childcare practices and responsible, effective parenting techniques.

Children’s programming committee

All of Ilisaqsivik’s children’s programming is overseen by our Children’s Programming Committee, which includes parents, teachers, Elders and other community members.

CAPC and CPNP

Pregnancy and early childhood is a critical period of physical and social development for young children.  It’s also an important time for families to develop strong, supportive bonds, beginning with the parent-child relationship.  Ilisaqsivik works with parents and families to provide access to healthy food, education, counselling, and traditional crafts, songs, and games. In January through March, we hire hunters to provide country food for these programs, which we serve during meals and send home with participants to feed their families.

Community Action Program for Children (CAPC) – CAPC is a nutrition and parenting education program for mothers and preschool age children age two to six.  While children eat healthy meals and snacks and play games, mothers learn from instructors about child development, healthy lifestyle and food choices including the health benefits of country food, diabetes awareness, management, and prevention, and the importance of exercise.  Instructors use a combination of games, participatory exercises, and observation to create a fun learning environment. Elders regularly participate to facilitate crafts, stories and games, share information about traditional parenting techniques, and offer counselling in a relaxed, informal environment. (This program is supported by funding from Health Canada).

Canada Prenatal Nutrition Program (CPNP) – CPNP serves healthy meals and snacks six evenings a week to pregnant women and new and adoptive mothers with infants up to age 12 months.  Participants learn about health and parenting from Ilisaqsivik Society instructors, elders, and the Community Health Representative, and participate in traditional crafts, sewing, and games.  Topics covered include pregnancy, nutrition, breastfeeding, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD), gestational diabetes, child development, traditional and cultural parenting techniques, medicines and other remedies, and the impact of emotional stress and family violence on the health of the fetus.  New participants and newborn babies are given welcome gifts by program staff and participants, such as dipers, baby clothes, blankets, and material.  In the winter months, expert sewers from the community teach traditional sewing project, such as amautiq making. In October, 2010, we participated in a breastfeeding week competition, and won first place in the “Less than 10,000 births per year” category, with 14 mothers breastfeeding at the same time.  (This program is supported by funding from Health Canada).

Preschool and Parents and Tots

From Monday through Friday, Ilisaqsivik offers daily programs for preschool age children and their parents, helping parents gain skills and confidence to support their kids to be healthy, and helping kids develop the skills they need to be successful in school and in their lives.

Preschool – Ilisaqsivik Society offers preschool five afternoons a week from 1:30 – 3:00 pm at the Family Resource Centre.  Instructors include trained early childhood educators and Ilisaqsivik Society’s Counselling Elder.  The curriculum emphasizes the development of fine motor skills through activities such as cutting, pasting, puzzles, tracing, colouring inside the lines, stringing bead patterns, and learning the sign language alphabet.  Children are taught in Inuktitut, and are introduced to numbers, syllabics, and the Roman alphabet.  Elders are regular guest instructors, and many of the activities carry strong cultural components such as making traditional crafts and learning traditional songs and stories.  Preschool participants gain skills that will help them succeed in school, such as learning how to play cooperatively and how to interact with teachers and classmates in a learning environment.  (This program is supported by funding from the Government of Nunavut’s Departments of Education and Culture Language Elders and Youth, and Health Canada).

Parents and Tots – Ilisaqsivik offers a Parents and Tots program five afternoons a week from 1:00 − 3:00 pm for parents and their infants and toddlers up to two years of age.  The program is designed to strengthen the relationship between parent and child and promote the parent as the child’s first and most important teacher.  Parents and their children do fun activities together including circle time, reading, colouring, cutting and pasting, and team games.  We always serve a healthy snack and talk about the importance of healthy foods.  The program is supported by Ilisaqsivik instructors, including an Inuktitut Literacy Instructor, who introduces new words and designs games to strengthen the early acquisition of Inuktitut language.  Participants can take home activities such as books and arts and crafts to do with their children at home.  Ilisaqsivik’s Family and Elder Counsellors work closely with Parents and Tots participants.  (This program is supported by Government of Nunavut’s Departments of Education, and Culture Language Elders and Youth, and Canada Action Program for Children).

Parent Support Group

This program, offered twice a week at the same time as Parents & Tots and Preschool, offers a supportive environment for parents to meet with each other to share ideas, joys and frustrations.  Parents share advice and anecdotes while working on projects for their kids (e.g. Halloween costumes, traditional clothing, slippers, mittens, scarves, hats, pencil cases, puppets).  It is a quiet time for parents to regroup, build supportive and mentoring relationships, and relax.   The sessions are attended by counsellors and elders, who offer feedback and lead discussions on topics such as contemporary and traditional parenting, boundary setting, nutrition, and child development.  They are also available for individual counselling sessions with parents and/or parents and their children.  The overall focus is on enhancing the support network of parents, and on building self-esteem and confidence by recognizing the parenting skills and capacities they have and learning and practicing new ones.

Inuktitut Literacy

Literacy is a source of power, self-esteem, and identity.  It is a necessary tool for the promotion of economic, social and cultural wellbeing throughout Nunavut.  Ilisaqsivik Society seeks to empower children in our community by improving Inuktitut language skills.  We run a variety of programs to encourage children to read and enjoy books, magazines, newspapers, and their own writing.  Our Inuktitut Curriculum Development Specialist coordinates our Inuktitut teachers, develops lesson plans and resource materials, and oversees program development in consultation with an Inuktitut Literacy Advisory Committee.  Currently, our literacy initiatives include the following programs, as well as our Literacy Radio Show:

Inuktitut Literacy Advisory Committee – A group of dynamic elders meets once a month with our children’s programming teachers to guide content development.  The committee identifies themes and terminology to teach, identifies elder experts in different subjects, and suggests possible individuals who have interesting stories to document.

After-School Literacy Project –  Monday through Friday from 3:30 − 5:00 pm, 40 − 55 children participate in our after-school literacy project at the Ilisaqsivik Family Resource Centre. Instruction is entirely in Inuktitut, and children focus on Inuktitut reading and writing, literacy games, and cultural activities including crafts, stories from Elders, as well as traditional games and seasonal activities.  Parents are invited to join for special activities, and instructors regularly send notes home informing parents of ways they can encourage and aid children in literacy.

Tutoring Initiative – Ilisaqsivik Literacy Teachers offer extra support to children in primary grades, working one on one with them during school and in the After-School Program.  Ilisaqsivik teachers work with the school to identify students who need extra help with Inuktitut literacy.  We encourage those students and their parents to attend the After School Literacy program, to help them with extra work in Inuktitut that makes learning fun and takes advantage of the support of other kids who enjoy the program.  These students receive focused, one-on-one support during their attendance and have a chance to access the unique learning materials offered at Ilisaqsivik.

Pre Literacy Program

Ilisaqsivik Society recognizes the importance of learning literacy skills early.  For this reason, Inuktitut Literacy is taught during Pre School and Parents and Tots at Ilisaqsivik Society’s Family Resource Centre.  Literacy teachers assist regular instructors to design lesson plans and teach pre-literacy skills in Inuktitut to participants.  One of the most important components of this activity is the work that literacy teachers do with parents in order to teach them how to teach their children to read and write in Inuktitut.  Lesson plans emphasize Inuit culture and rely heavily on the use of traditional stories, crafts, songs, and games in order to teach literacy skills.  This program currently operates 5 days/week from 1:30 – 3:00 pm.

Literacy Circle

Ilisaqsivik Society hosts a monthly Literacy Circle with Elders, who talk about topics including hunting, sewing, childbirth, parenting, justice, and other Inuit Societal Values.  A Literacy Instructor facilitates this activity by writing down new words and their meanings in Inuktitut.  Elders help teach pronunciation and the correct meaning of each word or phrase.  We have also begun to make audio and video recordings and transcriptions of these sessions in order to create literacy teaching materials.

(Literacy programs are funded by the Government of Nunavut’s Department of Culture, Language, Elders and Youth).