Springtime heralds the beginning of the transition to school for our youngest students. While K4/K5 registration is underway across Quebec, families and schools are looking towards preparing for this next step with the little ones.
As part of this process, school and community organizations are encouraged to work together to provide a more seamless transition from home to school. The QEP’s new Preschool Education Program highlights the importance for partnerships “that can be established with community resources that work together (e.g. during transition activities) and ensure that they address the needs of children and families,”. (MEQ, 2021).
Schools that collaborate with local partners to bridge the services offered to families are able to build off of the relational equity between parents and community organizations. When local stakeholders work together, families can access additional resources like workshops on parenting skills, early literacy and numeracy activities, healthy cooking classes, and resources for mental health and social-emotional learning.
In response to the need for additional resources to support the English-speaking community of Quebec, LEARN collaborated with schools and provincial organizations to develop My Goodnight Bag. This resource is designed to engage both school staff and their local community partners to provide accessible resources and support for families with children 3 to 5 years old in the development of a healthy bedtime routine.
Routines are important for children at every stage of development. Dr. Deborah MacNamara explains: “Routines can help make things smoother, as the child knows what to predict at the same time each day, and routines also provide them with a sense of security. […] Structure and routine also help a young child orient and anticipate what will happen each day, making transitions easier and less upsetting,” (2016). Creating a supportive structure around the bedtime routine sets the conditions for success. Dr. Pamela Mitelman, a Behavioural Psychologist and Sleep Consultant at the Montreal-based The Kids’ Sleep Clinic confirms that routines are particularly important at bedtime because sleep is when the body grows and repairs; it’s when the brain stores the day’s events into long-term memory; and it’s when we get to rest and recharge – all essential for learning. Her video series, the Basics of Healthy Sleep is currently featured on the Goodnight Bag website.
The Goodnight Bag project can be an integral part of a family support strategy and, particularly in the case of students entering school, a foundational part of the transition to school strategy. By providing educators and families with tools and resources to support the healthy development of children, our youngest students can start their educational journey feeling well-rested and excited to learn.
Educators are invited to use the Goodnight Bag project as a bridge between community and school services, helping parents and their children feel more confident and prepared to navigate the next step(s). Schools and their community partners can sign up on the website to access digital and print resources to support family outreach and engagement initiatives. Families can learn about creating a healthy bedtime routine and incorporate the basics of good sleep hygiene on My Goodnight Bag website.
The Goodnight Bag project was developed to support early childhood learning and parenting skills for the English-speaking community of Quebec, in collaboration with the Community Health and Social Services Network (CHSSN) via their Bright Beginnings program and with contributions by national and provincial partners like Canadian Parents for French, Naître et Grandir, and Frontier College.
Community Health and Social Services Network. (2018). Bright Beginnings: An Adapted Approach to Supporting English-Speaking Children (0-5) and Families in the Province of Quebec. https://chssn.org/pdf/ProvincialActionPlan-BB_ENG.pdf
Gouvernement du Québec. Ministère de l’Éducation et de l’Enseignement supérieur. (2021). Preschool Education Program for 4-Year-Olds. http://www.education.gouv.qc.ca/fileadmin/site_web/documents/education/jeunes/pfeq/PFEQ_programme-prescolaire-4-ans_2017_EN.pdf
Macnamara, D. (2016). Rest Play Grow: Making Sense of Preschoolers (or Anyone Who Acts Like One). Aona Books. http://macnamara.ca/rest-play-grow-making-sense-of-preschoolers/
Mitelman, P. PsyD, OPQ. (2021). Basics of Healthy Sleep (Video series). goodnightbag.learnquebec.ca
O’Neill, C. & Brinkerhoff, M. (2017). Five Elements of Collective Leadership for Early Childhood Professionals. https://www.redleafpress.org/Five-Elements-of-Collective-Leadership-for-Early-Childhood-Professionals-P1708.aspx