MCS teachers are planning creative cross-curricular Project Based Learning units on the theme of Indigenous Studies. You may wonder why this topic was chosen. Our Native Peoples of Canada are often highlighted in the media and a requirement of the Ontario Ministry of Education is to teach Indigenous Studies at each grade level. While we as an independent school can choose to follow the MOEd requirements, our Programme Committee supports teaching about our Indigenous People to all our students for a variety of reasons. You will read many of these reasons is the following posts from our teachers.
Venturing into Indigenous studies was something I really had limited prior knowledge about apart from things I had heard about on the news and from social perceptions. As I ventured into understanding the history and culture of the Indigenous people, my heart broke for them, their past and the norms for these people even today. As I began to scratch the surface of understanding this culture and people, it became evident that the history and the culture of the Indigenous people is an important and integral part of our history that the younger generations need to study and understand for themselves. Jesus was not partial in His time on this earth and, in fact, reached out intentionally to those who were most misunderstood. I believe that understanding and loving those that may be seen as different from us opens up opportunities to see that we all share similarities, allowing us to love the Indigenous people with greater understanding and allows us to shine the light of Christ to all people no matter who they are and where they are from. Thus, emulating the life of Christ here on this earth. Written by Lisa Spence who teaches part-time in our grade 1/2 classroom.
Stories! Most people enjoy a good story either in print or listening to one. Stories can be fiction, but when we tell stories about ourselves, it is always something we have experienced...something in the past. We share those stories with each other, our children, grandchildren and as teachers...students. Stories remind us of lessons learned, adventures taken, or pain experienced.
Why is MCS developing a curriculum of study focusing on Canadian First Nations peoples? As a citizen of a country, it is important to know about the Indigenous peoples. As a christian, we know that every person is made in the image of God. We may not agree with items of culture a group treasures, but we can be educated about them to gain an appreciation to see from their point of view. The best way to achieve this is to learn as a child.
As Christians, we are called to truth. Through the Holy Spirit, we need to be self-assessing. “What biases do we carry; what learning do we need to do to better understand the true history of the country?” Topics will be discussed in an age-appropriate manner. Talking honestly about hard things in a way kids can understand helps open a door to the empathy that’s part of being a decent human being.
Although we have significant differences and views on spiritual matters, it is important to gain an appreciation for their history and what they view as significant to the culture. We are called as Christians to love and so see each person as a child of God. Learning and appreciating, while not necessarily imitating is an important step toward achieving this goal.
There is a major focus in our society on reconciliation. As Christians, we should be not shrinking in the background. Education and discussing the “hard topics” through a Biblical perspective is vital to each child today.
A great article from McLeans is linked below: https://www.macleans.ca/society/why-our-kids-need-to-learn-about-residential-schools/
Who is my neighbour? As God’s children, for whom are we responsible in issues of justice and mercy? Christ teaches us that neighbourliness is showing love for anyone in need who is within our reach. Canada’s Indigenous people are our neighbours. Our government is stymied knowing how to fix the Indigenous people problem that sits in our proverbial backyards. We have offered apologies, given residential school compensations and passed over plenty of tax dollars, yet the problem remains. Why do so many of our Indigenous people fare so poorly, not only in our cities but equally so on their reserves? Why are so many Indigenous girls and women going missing? Why the high rates of alcoholism and suicide? What is this PTSD that lingers through the generations? If we assess a society by how it treats its most disadvantaged, we Canadians are sorely wanting. By every measurable indicator, the Aboriginal population in Canada is treated worse and lives with more hardship than the African-American population in the United States. On our doorstep, sits a neighbour in need. We as Christians, need to inform ourselves and teach our children that something is wrong. We need to look to the Lord to use us to be instruments of His peace, to be used by Him to sow love where there is hatred, where there is despair, hope, and where there is darkness, light. To be informed and to inform our children is the first step to breaching the divide between we Euro-Canadians and Canada’s Indigenous people. To effectively construct change in our country and to reach the darkness of the lost with the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we need to know the people. Let’s join our children in learning the ways of the First Nations and let us look to the Lord to use us to bring light to the Indigenous people who are made, like us, in the image of the one true God. Janet Davis, the author, is our grade 7&8 homeroom teacher.
At Muskoka Christian School we use The Leader in Me as a means to help students become leaders of their own learning and lives. The Leader in Me is a school-wide approach to equip students with the skills and confidence to thrive in the 21st-century. It is based on The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Below are child friendly language for describing the 7 Habits created by Muriel Summers. Inserted are several scripture verses which indicate how each habit closely follows God's example and calling for our lives.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
Habit 1: Be Proactive
I am a responsible person. I take initiative. I choose my actions, attitudes and moods. I do not blame others for my mistakes. I can only be offended if I choose to be.
Ephesians 4:22-25 "You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness."
Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind
I plan ahead and set goals. I do things that have meaning and make a difference. I am an important part of my classroom and contribute to my school's mission and vision and look for ways to be a good citizen.
Hebrews 12:1-2 "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."
Habit 3: Put First Things First
I spend my time on things that are most important. This means I say no to things I know I should not do. I set priorities, make a schedule and follow my plan. I am disciplined and organized.
Matthew 6:33 "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."
Habit 4: Think Win-Win
I balance courage for getting what I want with consideration for what others want. I make deposits in others' Emotional Bank Accounts. When conflicts arise, I look for options that work for both sides.
Philippians 2:2-4 "then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others."
Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then Be Understood
I listen to other people's ideas and feelings. I try to see things from their viewpoints. I listen to others without interrupting. I am confident in voicing my ideas. I look people in the eyes when talking.
James 1:19-20 "My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires."
Habit 6: Synergize
I value other people's strengths and learn from them. I get along well with others, even people who are different than me. I work well in groups. I seek out other people's ideas to solve problems because I know that by teaming with others we can create better solutions than any one of us alone. I am humble.
Ecclesiastes 4:12 "Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken."
Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw
I take care of my body by eating right, exercising and getting sleep. I spend time with family and friends. I learn in lots of ways and lots of places, not just at school. I take time to find meaningful ways to help others.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 "Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your bodies."
Seeking first to understand then to be understood, is an important habit to develop and carry with you. It means to truly listen to what the other person is saying and not to zone out. It also means to not bring the conversation or “spot light” back to yourself, but to give the other person time to finish explaining before you jump in and give advice. It means to listen with empathy not trying to change the subject. It is an act of humility and compassion for the other person.
An example from the Bible is the story the Good Samaritan. Jesus tells of a man traveling to Jerusalem, who was attacked, robbed and left at the side of the road. Three other people went down that road, but only the third helped the man.This good Samaritan sought first to understand the needs of the beaten man instead of focusing on where he wanted to be.
It is important to be like the good Samaritan and to show this habit in our daily lives. In doing this, we will be good ambassadors for Christ and let His light shine through us.
Written by Monica K. a grade 7 student
We can't always worry about ourselves! I mean how would you feel if someone went on about themselves and never let you into the conversation? Rather, we should think, what can I do to please others? Not, what can I do to please myself? If someone tells you that he lost his grandma to cancer yesterday, you don't change the conversation and tell them that you got the new IPhone Xr. You instead show them empathy. You show them that you are there for them and care for them. I think if we seek first to understand instead of wanting to be understood first and foremost, we’ll feel better in the end and we will honour the Lord in our relationships.
An explanation by William E. a grade 8 student
An example of what it is to seek first to understand and then to be understood, by Colton A.
Steve is walking to the park. He sees some boys playing basketball. He wants to play, but he’s not sure how to play. He decides to wait and watch the first game and then play the next one. Steve does the smart thing. Because he sat out and learned to understand the game, he was able to play with knowledge and have much more fun!
The teachers at MCS had the privilege of being able to attend the EDvance teachers conference for Christian School educators back in October. It was a very inspirational time that allowed for some excellent conversation and thinking about the future of education. Knowledge is doubling at an alarming rate. In 1900, knowledge doubled every 100 years. Today, knowledge is doubling every 18 months. With this information, how do we prepare students for the future? Skills that are going to be required to be effective in the 21st century workforce are skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, leadership, agility, adaptability, innovation, entrepreneurialism, effective oral and written communication, accessing and analyzing information, curiosity and imagination. In order to help students be prepared for the future, it is important to create a school culture that engages students behaviourally (body), socially/emotionally/spiritually (heart), and cognitively (mind). Engaged students can then learn to collaborate together to find solutions which will lead to innovation and teams of students working together to find new solutions. Here at Muskoka Christian School, we are excited to partner with students and to help equip them for the future by engaging in active learning through Project Based Learning and through the strategic use of technology. With great excitement we as a staff are looking forward to all that the Lord has ahead for this school and the impact that these students will have in the world around them.
Written by Lisa Spence our grade 1/2 classroom teacher. Lisa loves to engage our young learners in their daily learning!
Read what some of our grade 5 & 6 students wrote about Muskoka Christian School.
I like Muskoka Christians School because it has great teachers and it gives me a great education. It lets me learn about the Bible without getting in trouble or being made fun of. I had been at a public school up till grade 1 and at a Christian school from grade 2 till now and I look back at my old school and see a big change in me, because I have Christian friends here and I can take more time with God. At this school I have learned much and my teachers have helped me with my walk with Christ and I have learned much about him and how to live for him. I have learned that I can trust my teachers and tell them almost anything if I am in pain or am struggling on my work and they always help with a happy heart. My life has changed at this school and I recommend this school to you and I hope to see you and your children at this school very soon. Thank you for reading my thoughts about MCS, Bryden.
Hello my name is Rachel, my favourite thing about MCS is recess. I like recess because I enjoy hanging out with my friends and helping little children on the playground. I am thankful to have friends that are Christians and that we can build each other up when playing together. Recess is an important time to be able to play together and share ideas of what to play. Recess helps me to learn how to be a good friend. I also like that we are able to play and help the SK and JK kids. I really like that we are able to be helpful and caring to one another, this also helps us to be a good role model. I think that by helping the younger kids we can develop how to be gentle and kind. Another thing I like about recess is that we are able be outside exploring in God's creation. There is much so much to see and do like climbing, swinging, running and looking at all the trees and animals around the school. I am thankful to have the fresh air and exercise.
When I first started MCS I loved it right from the start. From JK to grade six I've had some solid school years. I'm so blessed that God put it in his plan to send me to this school. He has blessed me with 8 great years at MCS. Here are just a few things out of many that have made my school years at MCS so memorable. The teachers are amazing and care about you and your education. There are a lot of pluses to being at a Christian school. One of them is the Bible. Unlike public schools, you get taught about the the powerful word of God. This school teaches me so much, not just about God, but about friendship and many many more. Thank you for reading my MCS blog. I hope if you're reading this, you will want to send your child to this wonderful school.
Some of my earliest memories as a child centre on books. I remember looking at picture books, going to the library, and listening to my mother read aloud to my siblings and me. Our children’s Bible story books enthralled me with their wonderful illustrations and the colourful language brought the stories of God into my heart. Fast forward several years, and you would find me seated on our sofa, reading aloud to our children – all at various stages, some snuggled up close, others doodling or playing with Lego as I read I started when they were infants and continued for as long as they let me – around Grade 7 or 8.
Reading aloud to your child is perhaps one of the most important activities you can do with your child to start him or her on a path of success in learning. Many of us spend a good deal of time reading to our very young children but stop as soon as our children begin to read for themselves. A strong case can be made for reading aloud to children, even when they are fluent readers. Most children love being read aloud to – it is a time of quiet bonding with parents, and creates a love for the written word, a love for story that can last for a lifetime. When we read aloud, we are exposing our children to ideas, places, times that they would perhaps not experience otherwise. Whereas movies provide ready-made images, books allow children to create their own visual images of what is happening, a skill which transfers into the classroom. When you read aloud, you are able to read material at a higher reading level than the child would himself be able to read – thereby, expanding his vocabulary and exposing him to new materials which in turn better prepares him for more learning. Listening to a story being read also teaches children to pay attention and to hold their focus; this skill develops as they mature and leads to success at school. As Christian parents, we also have the opportunity to choose books which will enrich our children’s spiritual growth. Whether a book is overtly Christian or not, the opportunity to discuss and evaluate presents itself in a natural way.
If you are already reading aloud to your child, continue doing so. And if you are not, can I encourage you to make a start? I realize that some of us are more natural readers than others, but there is much to be gained in this endeavour. Ask friends or teachers or librarians for good book lists. Think back to some of the books you enjoyed as a child – chances are strong that your child will love them too. Start with reading age appropriate versions of the Bible. I promise you will never regret the effort!
Written by Jen Antonides, Muskoka Christian School’s Kindergarten teacher and mother of 5 children.
Learning about the Heart Treasure of compassion, I thought about the times in my life when I worked specifically with those in need. Working with people in need brought much joy to my heart and had lasting effects on my life and the way I choose to live. No matter how busy life gets, serving others remains a priority for me as I seek to follow Jesus with my life. I am overwhelmed by the compassion that I see throughout Jesus’ life here on earth and I can’t help but be compelled to want to imitate that.
I shared with students about how compassion means love in action and how when we see others in need, showing compassion means reaching out to help fill those needs as we are able. It seems like a simple definition, but the ramifications of that can have such lasting effects. It blows my mind to think how God showed the ultimate compassion on humankind when he sent his only son Jesus down to earth to live a perfect life and die in our place to save us from our sin. He saw our need for a saviour and knew that we could not attain freedom from our sins without his help. He graciously looked down on humanity and was so moved by our desperate need of him that he chose to show compassion on us even though it cost him greatly. May we never lose the awe and wonder of our saviour's love for us. I will never be the same because of the compassion that God showed us through sacrificing His only son and my prayer is that out of a heart filled with gratitude I am able to live my life in a way that seeks to show compassion to others.
My prayer for our students is that they too would begin to grasp and embrace this motivation for showing compassion to others, whether in the class, in the community, or with their families.
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” 1 John 3:16
Written by Lisa Spence, a teacher at MCS who taught about the Heart Treasure of compassion during weekly assemblies.
The 500th anniversary of the Reformation is past but its truths endure. Here, a grade 8 student discusses its historicity and its relevance for today. The student ends with a searching question that we all must answer.
Not only is October 31st remembered as Halloween, but it is also remembered for the Reformation. Martin Luther, a monk of the middle Ages, boldly pointed out the errors in the beliefs and teachings of the Catholic Church. By briefly looking at these beliefs and what the Bible has to say about them, we will discover the basis of his concerns.
Many of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses concern salvation. In the early Catholic Church, it was taught that to be accepted into heaven, you must have accomplished good works to cover your sin. In addition, to skip a time between death and heaven, it was taught that you must pay money to the church. Also known as penance, to be forgiven from any sin, you were required to perform good works for the church. Only the priests had access to Bibles, so teachings like these were believed true.
Although the priests read the Bible, their teachings did not reflect biblical truths. Scripture is clear that we are saved through Jesus, and Jesus alone. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” If we are required to pay for our salvation, then Jesus died for nothing! Isn’t that a disheartening thought? Our salvation was bought with the precious blood of Jesus Christ and is given to us as a free gift. Let us not throw that gift way!
Considering such foundational errors, it is understandable why Martin Luther contradicted the Catholic Church. The church leaders taught many false doctrines regarding salvation, which revealed their lack of understanding of the Scriptures. God calls us to read the Bible in order to store it up in our hearts. Only in this way can we stand up against the devil and false teachings. Martin Luther stood up to what was false. How will you stand up against the false teachings of this world?
Written by McKinley
It is hard to believe that another group of graduates are ready to finish their time here at MCS. We truly delight is witnessing each of our graduates grow and mature in so many ways over the course of the years as students at MCS. We wish them God's blessings in high school and beyond, knowing that God goes with them and has prepared them for every situation and journey life offers.
Here are their thoughts on their time as students at MCS.
I think my time at M.C.S has prepared me for high school in a way most schools couldn’t. This is most likely because it is a Christian school. I don’t know why, but some of the most vivid memories of MCS are of pain, physical or mental. Grade 5 and 6 were probably the hardest years for me because I wasn’t as confident as I am now. I kept comparing myself to others and I always got angry when I lost. I thank the Lord I am more mature and confident in myself now. I believe MCS is a fun and wonderful place full of learning and I hope I will also have as much fun at high school. - Angus C.
As a grade eight graduate, I have many things to say about MCS. Mainly, I am very happy with how much this school has prepared me for high school. I feel as though I will be able to handle the change from a Christian school to a secular high school much better than I would have without having so much Christian influence in my life.
Everything I have learned since kindergarten and specifically in grades seven and eight has helped me grow in my faith and my wisdom about God. And having fun doing it! I have had many great years at MCS and am grateful to have had the opportunity to come here. - Carlie M.
I made friends and I made memories. This community helped to change me and turned me into the young woman I am today. This school gave me confidence, and I’ve learned to love myself. In the past, I’ve made some mistakes. I was lonely and now I have God. Ahead, I see a bright future. My name is Hailey and I’m proud to say MCS is my school. Muskoka Christian School is my home and my family and I’ll never forget that! - Hailey S.
I’ve been coming to MCS for ten years now and it’s great! People ask me if I’m excited for high school and my answer is, “I have mixed feelings about it.” MCS is such a small school and BMLSS is such a big school, the change will be a hard and trying one for me in many ways. I know though, that the teachers here have prepared me for almost everything about what’s waiting for me at high school. They’ve also helped me to realise that my faith and trust in Jesus is important through both the good times and bad. I’m very thankful to my parents for sending me to MCS and I know that I’ll remember my years here for a long time. - Erin V.
I came to MCS when I was in grade 7. I now finish my second and last year here. Grade 9 doesn’t seem very intimidating, mostly because I have other siblings that go to high school and tell me what’s going on. Overall, I think I had a good time at this school. We had many jokes, and I had a little group of friends called “The Crew.” I created many memories here, and most of them were good! We made small jokes in class, and we talked about random stuff. This school may be small, but there are many nice people here. It’s a great school to go to! As a person who has experienced many different schools, this is definitely one of the most exciting. I look to the LORD to continue to guide me to make good and godly choices in the future. As the Bible says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6) - Mike V.
Your child might be asking for the latest of toys, a small hand held spinner. These are fascinating to operate and to watch, but does your child need one to keep their hands busy while learning in the classroom. Here is an article written by an occupational therapist who encounters thousands of children and adults with varying levels of needs. Please read as you will be enlightened on the effects of allowing spinners for fidgety fingers.
Here at MCS, most students do not need anything to occupy their hands while learning. We do allow stress balls for those that a teacher has identified as requiring fidgets. We want our students focused on their learning as we develop their intellect, self-regulation and creativity.
Buddies bring tremendous joy to our students. Students at Muskoka Christian School have a wonderful opportunity to be partnered with an older or younger student for a time called Buddies. Buddies meet each Friday afternoon for a time of reading and partnering for fun activities. Buddies develop a sense of community among students, leadership skills being developed in our older buddies and mentorships for younger students to look up to the older ones. The connection and love that the older students show is an amazing testament to their character and the lights they are becoming of sharing God’s love!
The Kindergarten students get so excited….I mean THRILLED when it’s Friday and their buddies are about to join them in class. Sometimes they hide to be found. Sometimes they wait and peak out of our classroom door. They enjoy reading to their older buddy as well as listening to the stories they have read to them. After a time of reading, older and younger buddies in the Kindergarten room look through discovery bins, work on puzzles, create crafts, build train tracks, play in the kitchen and create letters in the post office dramatic play area.
In the Kindergarten classroom, we end the day with a time of prayer. Buddies have joined us a few times for this wonderful time of prayer together. Some prayer requests were:
- “Thank you God for my buddy. Thank you that he can come and play with me and teach me.” -Myles
- “I love my buddy.” - Lukas
- “I pray for my buddy. I wish he could come everyday to read to me!” -Hunter
Proverbs 22:6 states, “ Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” The excitement these children have in spending quality, God-honouring time together is a constant reminder for me as a teacher that these moments and memories they are making will stay with them for a lifetime.
I asked the parents of the Kindergarten students if there were stories that their children came home telling about an older buddy and these are a few of the responses I received:
- “Buddies are so fun because they are big kids and they read to me and they have playtime with us too.”
- “ Hiding on my buddy is so fun. When my buddy finds me I jump out and give him a big bear hug.”
- “My favourite thing to do with my buddy is to build Lego creations.”
- “I like building with blocks when my buddy is here.”
It is a pleasure, as a first year teacher here at Muskoka Christian School, to be part of the staff community and see students come together as a community of their own. I love every moment at the school so far and I am excited to see what God has in store for the future of the school!
Written by the newest member of the MCS teaching staff, Mrs. Alyxandra Brown.
I would like to take this opportunity to share with you one part of the computer technology curriculum that I have been teaching for many years and I feel is becoming more and more important as technology becomes increasingly prevalent. Coding (or programming) is a vital skill for students to learn. In fact, so much so, that there are concerted efforts to aid in the promotion of coding to students, parents and teachers. One such initiative is the “Hour of Code” (https://code.org/learn) aimed to develop interest in a fun and collaborative way.
Why should kids learn to code? There are many reasons. It is becoming a much-needed skill in the current job market today. Currently, there is a demand for skilled programmers in many companies. They are offering a sizeable income to employees along with meal, fitness and recreational facilities – quite an offering for a young, hard-working person. However, this is not the only reason, after all God has made us all unique and not all will be led in this way. Computers are so prevalent in our world that it only makes sense for students to learn the basics in order to use them in their daily lives. As an article published on CBC parents explains, “If grade-schoolers are taught biology and mathematics in order to understand the world around them, then knowing the basics of how computers communicate—and how to engage with them—should be a given.” (found at http://www.cbc.ca/parents/learning/view/why-kids-should-learn-to-code-and-how-to-get-them-started)
Additionally, coding is a great way to develop skills in problem solving and logical thinking. Students who learn programming skills increase proficiencies in Math and Science. Let us also not forget that coding is fun! Making a computer perform the tasks you want it to is quite rewarding. As a teacher, many times I have seen the thrill of a student watching the computer execute their first program.
What ages should students be? Any age! I have taught students from grade 1 to grade 8 and all have been able to grasp fundamental concepts. A great introduction to coding is using “block” stacking. Students build programs by stacking together short blocks of code by dragging and dropping. At MCS we use a technology called Scratch (http://scratch.mit.edu) which uses this technique. Younger students can build programs to make a character move around the screen and respond to simple events. Older students can use Scratch to make full-fledged programs using variables and sophisticated logic.
For the grade 6-8 students, they are ready to begin looking at more traditional forms of coding. At MCS we look at creating web pages with HTML and CSS and this year we are going to look at a prevalent language often used to teach beginners to code, Python.
What can parents do to help supplement the learning in the classroom? There are many books and websites dedicated to helping the student learn to code. The Huntsville Public Library has quite a few books written, for students ages 10 and up, to learn in a fun and exciting way. A great list can be found at the end of the CBC article (http://www.cbc.ca/parents/learning/view/why-kids-should-learn-to-code-and-how-to-get-them-started) including some aimed at girls using the “Frozen” characters (http://studio.code.org/s/frozen/stage/1/puzzle/1).
Written by Roger King who teaches technology to many of our students and who oversees our technology department at MCS.