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MONTREAL, SEPTEMBER 25, 2001– The English Montreal School Board (EMSB) plans to implement a comprehensive prevention-oriented Behaviour Enhancement Program for kindergarten students. Six schools from the Board’s three administrative regions will be designated to participate.

"This will introduce and expose our youngest students to life-skills concepts, in the safety and familiarity of their own classroom while teaching them to understand the behaviours and customs of other cultural groups," says Lori Rubin, an EMSB Child Care Worker and coordinator of the project. "These students will then begin to make positive social choices and, with the help of informed parents and teachers, this program will make a dent in the victim/bully cycle."

Bullying and other forms of aggression have become a serious concern among school-aged children and youth. There is compelling evidence which shows bullying as a potentially destructive and dangerous element that touches all of society in one way or another. "Recent research strongly suggests that if aggression, teasing, acts of violence and bullying are to be significantly reduced in schools, home and in the community, then it is with the very young that we, as educators, need to concentrate our efforts," says Ms. Rubin.

The Ministry of Education Policy on Special Education (1999), entitled Adapting Our Schools to the Needs of All Students, states that in order to ensure success in school, the importance of prevention and early intervention must be recognized. EMSB Interim Director of Student Services Lew Lewis feels that this project responds to that need. "By starting at the beginning and by doing so as soon as possible, we forestall problems before they appear and prevent them before they become more serious," he says.

Ms. Rubin notes that kindergarten students learn best through what is known as experiential learning. A combination of discussion, role-playing, music and movement, instructional videos and puppetry will assist students to learn, practice and apply new skills and strategies in areas such as becoming a peacemaker, communication techniques and non-verbal communication, making positive choices, making friends, conflict resolution, anger management, relaxation techniques, problem-solving, decision-making and following rules.

Ms. Rubin says these type of session topics will be introduced to students each week, either individually, or in combination form with the classroom teacher present.

The program will consist of eight, 30 to 40 minute sessions over a period of eight consecutive weeks. A workshop will be organized for the parents of the students involved.

Project Harbour consists of a team of special education technicians, all of whom have strong backgrounds working with students with behavioural problems in a school setting. It was discovered that placing a competent and experienced worker inside the classroom for a given period of time is a very effective way of making positive change in the classroom. This promotes harmony and improves interpersonal relations all around, empowering teachers to feel more confident and at ease in reaching even their most difficult students.

Michael J. Cohen
Communications and Marketing Specialist
English Montreal School Board
Tel: (514) 483-7200 ext. 7243
Fax: (514) 483-7213