The Nesting Program in We’koqma’q School

On April 20, we visited the We’koqma’q school to watch the Nesting Program in action. We had the opportunity to sit down with Vice Principal John Leonard Bernard and Elder Phillis Googoo to discuss how the program started and how its working in their school. 

Where did the idea for the Nesting Program come from?
The idea began as a collaboration between Joanne, Josephine, and Phyllis. They started talking about how they could encourage parents to become more involved with speaking Mi’kmaw at home to their children. They realized that even though some of the parents understand the language, they don’t speak it. They saw this as an opportunity to help parents and their children interact in Mi’kmaw.. 

How does the program work? 
Parents come in and play with their children in centres and they have to speak Mi’kmaw. Last year it was farm animals and mr potato head. When they play with the toys parents speak the language to their children. There were also elders/mentors speaking and showing how to play.The program runs for two hours which starts with a story and then charades. Then the students move into some centre based activities which encourage interaction. 

When did the program start?
Planning started around 3 years ago but it was actually put in place last year. It was fairly easy to bring it into the classrooms when the Learning Through Play initiative began because the children were used to the idea of centre based learning. Last year we started the program with grades primary, one, and 2. This year we have been working with all students from K4 all the way up to grade 5.  We have it twice a year for each grade but our ultimate goal is to have it at least once a month.

How have parents responded?
Last year there were only a couple of parents that couldn’t come in. Not one parent has missed it yet this year. If a parent can’t come, then a grandparent will come. I know of a young mother who said that after going to the nesting program, she can now greet her children in Mi’kmaw and have more conversations than before. The target is the younger parents  who still have the understanding of it but don’t quite speak it. The kids love it too because they get to share their learning with their parents.