Government of Saskatchewan
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Wednesday, May 25, 2016
  1. Laws about Parenting
  2. Family and Community
  3. School
  4. Activities for Children
  5. Teenagers

1.  Laws about Parenting

This first section is a brief overview of laws you may need to know as a parent in Saskatchewan.  After the laws section, you will find other helpful information on important topics for parents.

Q: Can I leave my child alone or with an older brother or sister?

Parents are responsible for making sure their children are safe and supervised.  While there is no legal age in Canada that defines when a child can babysit or provide care to other children, there are criminal laws that prevent parents from leaving children under 10 years of age home alone.  As a parent, you must consider if your child is capable of taking on the responsibility of staying home alone or babysitting younger siblings.  Even if your child is 10, they might not be mature enough to look after their siblings. 

When children are of age and maturity to be left home alone, it is very important your child knows how to keep themselves safe.  Your child should:

  • Know where you will be at all times and how to contact you;
  • Have access to phone numbers for the local police/RCMP, fire department and emergency medical services;
  • Have phone numbers of other adults who could assist in an emergency situation; and
  • Not allow strangers into the home.

For information on how children can prevent and respond to emergencies, or provide care to younger children, the Canadian Red Cross offers babysitting and home alone courses that focus on basic first aid and caregiver skills.

For information on how to find child care in your community, visit the Child Care webpage.

Q: What is acceptable for disciplining a child?

Saskatchewan’s child protection legislation is called The Child and Family Services Act (CFSA) and is intended to protect children under the age of 16 years.

Parenting can be a difficult job.  Children do not always do the things that parents expect them to do, and parents may feel that they have to correct their child’s behaviour.  The discipline methods that are used in other countries may not be acceptable in Saskatchewan. The use or threat of physical harm towards your child(ren) is prohibited by law.  Examples of physical harm include:

  • Hitting, biting, kicking or shaking;
  • Withholding water or food as punishment;
  • Forcing a child to consume poisonous, corrosive or harmful substances;
  • Locking a child out of the house, or locking a child in a room or closet; and
  • Using physical restraints as punishment.

The Ministry of Social Services, the city police and the RCMP are responsible for ensuring parents keep their children safe.

There are parenting classes that are specifically designed for families from other cultures that teach effective ways to discipline.  You can find parenting classes by looking in newspapers, on the Internet, or at your local library.

Q: Does my child have to go to school?

Education is very important for a child’s development.   In Saskatchewan, it is the law that children between the ages of six and 16 must attend school.  You can get the information about Saskatchewan schools, finding a school and registering your child in school in Children’s Education in Saskatchewan.  To find out more about Saskatchewan’s school system, you can read Education in Saskatchewan: A Quick Reference for Newcomers. This document is available in a variety of different languages and are posted on the Ministry of Education’s website.

Q: What can I do if my child is facing racism?

If your child is facing racism in school, talk to the child’s teacher or the school principal (the person in charge of the school) or you can contact the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission for help. Erasing Racism will provide you with more information about racism.

Q: How are girls treated in Canada?

It is a core part of Canadian culture that women and girls are valued, respected, and treated as equals.  Girls and boys go to the same schools, socialize, and have the same rights and freedoms.  Harsh or preferential treatment of children based on gender (e.g., male, female or gender non-conforming) is contrary to Canadian values and against the law.

Q: Are seat belts mandatory for children?

Yes.  To keep them safe, children must wear seat belts or ride in a car seat that is right for their size and weight.  If you do not use a car seat for your child, you can get a fine or be charged by the police.  It is also unacceptable to leave small children in a vehicle alone for any amount of time.  For more information on using car seats, visit the child car seat safety webpage.

2.  Family and Community

Q: How can we connect to other families in our new home?

When you move to Saskatchewan, you may miss the family and friends in your home country.  You may feel isolated, especially if you are at home with your children while your husband or wife is at work.  Connecting to the community is important for you and your children.  Contact your nearest Regional Newcomer Gateway to find out ways to connect to your community.

Q: If I am pregnant, or planning to get pregnant, what services are available to me?

You can begin caring for your baby long before it is born.  Prenatal (meaning before birth) classes teach mothers how to care for themselves so they have the best chance of a healthy baby.  Find prenatal classes and other relevant services near you by asking other parents, your family doctor, or contact your health region.

Q: What can children do if they need help or are in trouble?

Other than getting help from their parents, teachers, and friends, children can also call the Kids Help Phone toll-free (no cost) at 1-800-668-6868.  Kids Help Phone is a free, anonymous and confidential phone and online professional counselling service for youth.  From trouble with homework to dealing with loss and grief to thoughts of suicide, kids can talk to Kids Help Phone about anything and get free help from professional counsellors.

Kids Help Phone is a community-based national organization with trained, professional counsellors who have a wide variety of backgrounds including social work, education, psychology, sociology and child and youth services.

Q: What should I do if my child is bullied in school?

Each school is required to have an anti-bullying policy.  Ask to learn about your child’s school’s policy and ask for a copy to take home.

Share your concerns with the school.  If your child is bullied, tell him or her that bullying is wrong, that it is not his or her fault, and that you are glad he or she told you about it.  Document the conversation.

Contact the classroom teacher and share your concerns.  If you are not satisfied with the discussion and/or if the bullying continues, contact the school principal and ask to meet with him/her and the classroom teacher.  Depending on your child’s age and the situation, you can choose to have your child join the meeting.  Discuss the school policy and the plan to address the bullying.  Always follow up by contacting the school to see how the bullying is being addressed.

In addition, regularly talk to your child about relationships, harassment, and bullying.  Discuss with your child what to do if she/he is a victim of bullying or witnesses bullying (e.g., say “Stop”, walk away, or report to a teacher).

Q: Are there safety issues for children at home?

Some cleaning products contain harsh chemicals that are dangerous for children, so you should keep them where kids can’t reach them.  Medicines should also be kept away from kids.

If your child is hurt or ill, you can call the Healthline 811 for advice.  HealthLine is a free health-information telephone line.  If the problem is serious, go to the Emergency Department of a hospital, health centre, medical clinic, or call 911.

Q: Where do I get help about parenting?

There are lots of people, programs, and good advice to help families succeed in Saskatchewan.  You can talk to teachers, social workers, police officers, or other parents about things you need to know.  There are also parenting classes, mother’s groups, and support groups to help you.  A public library or a Regional Newcomer Gateway are good places to look for more information.

3.  School

Q: What is my responsibility for my child’s schooling?

It is your responsibility to make sure your child goes to school.  You must phone the school if your child is going to be away for any reason.

You will also need to check if your child has homework and make sure they finish it.  You can help young children succeed at school by reading with them at home or by having them read to you.

Q: What other activities does school offer?

Schools offer activities outside of the school, both for fun and education.  Swimming lessons are a common activity, as are day trips to museums, parks, and other interesting places.  If you need more information about any of these activities, talk to your child’s teacher.  For special activities, the school will send home a form for you to sign.  This is called a consent form.  The form will ask whether your child has your permission to go to the special activity.  If you say no, talk to the teacher about what your child will do instead.

Q: Should I send my young child to preschool?

Preschool or kindergarten is for children aged three to five years old.  At preschool, children learn through play, stories, music, and socializing with other children.  It is your decision whether you send your young children to preschool or kindergarten.  If English or French is not your child’s first language, going to preschool, kindergarten, or play groups in English or French will help prepare your children for school and develop their language skills.  To find a preschool near you, ask other parents or your local school, or search on the Internet.  Most schools for younger children have a preschool.

Q: If I have questions about my child’s schooling, who do I talk to?

You can speak to your child’s teacher or to the school principal.  They can help you make school a success for your child.  You may bring a translator with you to visit the school if you need to.

4.  Activities for children

Q: What activities and sports are there outside school?

Many communities have public parks with swings, slides and wading pools, where children play.  Parents (or someone designated by the parents) stay with their younger children (usually under the age of 12) when they play in a park.  Some cities and towns have a time at night (curfew) when children cannot be in the park and should be at home.  In the summer, parks in larger centres have day programs for children.

Many programs and special-interest clubs for children and young adults are year-round in most communities.  Depending where you live, there might be programs for sports, gymnastics, martial arts, music and art, ethnic dancing, singing, reading and religion.  Most of the activities take place after school, in the evenings, or on the weekend.  Many cost money to join.

Besides the ones that cost money, free library programs and many community events are available for children.  These may be advertised at the library and in local newspapers.  In some communities, lower-income families can get a leisure services card that lets adults and children swim, use a gym and take in exercise sessions for free.

In cities, children's programs are advertised in Leisure Services Guides that are delivered to your mail-box and "Coming Events" are published in newspapers.  In smaller centres, you might find them advertised in local newspapers or on public bulletin boards.

Q: When does my child need to wear a helmet?

When riding a bike, kids should always wear a helmet to protect them if they fall.  They should also wear helmets when skateboarding, skating, snowboarding, sledding or skiing.  Helmets can help prevent head injuries, which are very serious.

Q: How do children get together to play?

It’s common for children to play at each other’s houses after school or on weekends.  Your child may also get invited to stay at a friend’s house for the night or go to a birthday party.  If you are not sure whether to say yes to an invitation, ask the parent what the children will do and who will look after them.  If you do not feel comfortable with an invitation, it’s acceptable to say politely that your child can’t go.

Q: How do I dress my children to play outside in winter?

When kids have warm clothing, winter can be wonderful fun.  Some examples of winter activities are tobogganing, skating, skiing, snowboarding, and playing hockey.  For more information about dressing children for winter weather, visit the Dressing for the Weather webpage.

Babies must also be well covered in the cold, including their faces.  Keep infants’ and young children’s ears warm and protected from the wind.  Toddlers and school age children tend to lose their mittens, which could expose their skin to the cold. If children do not protect their skin from the cold, their skin can freeze.  This is called getting frostbite and it is painful and dangerous.  You can attach a string or wool to the mittens and run it through the arms of the child’s coat to keep the mittens with the coat.  Not all mitts and gloves are warm enough for very cold weather.

You can find lots of winter clothing at used clothing stores.  Used clothing stores are also called second hand stores.  To find a used clothing store in your area, look in your local phone book under the Clothing section.  Some community organizations organize used children’s clothes sales. You can also find used children’s clothes for sale online at classified advertisement websites.

5.  Teenagers

Q: When can my teenager learn to drive?

Teenagers can get a learner’s license when they are 16 years old, or 15 years old if they are taking driver’s education in high school.  You can find out more on the Graduated Driver’s Licensing webpage and Driving in Saskatchewan fact sheet.

Q: What risks do teenagers face with regards to dating and sex?

Because they are young, teenagers may not have informed judgement about dating and sex.  You can educate your kids about the risks of sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy.  It is important to talk openly to your child about sex so they can rely on your guidance, not on the influence of other kids.

Q: What risks do teenagers face with regards to drinking alcohol and using illegal drugs?

In Saskatchewan, the legal drinking age is 19.  It is against the law for any person under the age of 19 to drink alcohol.  This is called “underage drinking”.  Illegal drugs, prescription drug misuse and underage drinking can have bad social, physical, and emotional consequences.  Talking about these risks with your kids can help, because you can help them make good healthy and informed decisions.  For more information about the risks of drugs and alcohol, visit the Healthy Living webpage.  You can also get more information on drug and alcohol treatment programs in Saskatchewan here.  There is also information available on the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse website and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health website.

Q: What if I am having trouble dealing with my teenage child?

If you are having trouble dealing with your teenage child, there are people and organizations that can help.  Numerous organizations help families, individuals, and youth who are facing challenges in their lives.  For a list of places in Saskatchewan where these services are offered, visit Family Service Canada.

Q: How can my teenager prepare for university or college?

If your child is older, you may want to think about university or college.  In Canada, university and college entrance is based on marks in high school, mostly in Grade 12.  With good marks, your child will be accepted in many colleges and universities.  There are no entrance exams for Canadian universities.

You can save money for your child’s education through the Registered Education Savings Plans (RESP) and the Saskatchewan Advantage Grant for Education Savings Program (SAGES).  Visit CanLearn for more information on education savings.  Your child may also be able to get student loansscholarships and other funding.

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