For some families coming to Canada, the new culture, language and support systems can be a challenge to understand. It can even seem overwhelming.
Sometimes a little help is needed to guide those first few steps towards success.
Community Action Program for Children (CAPC), Bradford and Bradford Immigrant & Community Services (BICS) work together to offer families new to Canada a range of programs to help families figure out the Canadian school system and culture.
The programs work with families to help them understand Canadian culture, laws and parenting practices. They do this through workshops, school readiness programs and one-to-one support and advocacy. Funding support for the project is received through the County of Simcoe.
The programs also work with other community agencies and school staff members so they can understand what new families may be experiencing.
Leaving your country, home and family, and trying to adapt to a new country, life, and language, has many challenges. The program staff know that understanding a family’s history is the first step towards bridging the gap between the past, present and the future. By asking parents about their home land, what they left behind and what is “normal” there, staff develop a better understanding of what families may already know about Canadian society. This knowledge helps everyone to bridge the gap between agency staff, teachers and new immigrants.
One of the most important programs available to new families is the Summer School Readiness Program. The program is for children three to five years of age who will be entering school for the first time in Canada. It is helps children with English language skills, social skills, self help and reasoning. Workshops for parents are also offered to parents, providing them information about what is available to them in Canada and how to get help if needed. The parent sessions also help families better understand what and why school practices may be different than in their original homeland. For instance, a community police officer visiting a classroom in Canada may be a source of anxiety due to past experiences if not properly explained.
Parents are shown what is needed for children to go to school (i.e. two pairs of shoes, schools do not supply lunch and snacks for children in Canada). They learn why attending parent -teacher interviews, checking backpacks for information notes and school assembles are an important part of their child’s learning, as none of these take place in many countries.
Understanding what the family is experiencing is important and allows everyone to build trust. It also supports inclusion. By working together, we create awareness and appreciation of diversity.
Success comes in many forms when working with newcomer families. By helping Canadian-born people understand the challenges new families face and providing opportunities to newcomers to share their culture, CAPC and BICS provide families with the support and knowledge needed on their journey to become our newest Canadian citizens.