Today, kids are growing up in a drastically different world compared to what came before. Parenting has never been easy, but with all the new technology and different means of communication, it is only getting harder. One of the most challenging aspects of parenting is communication. As a parent, it can be difficult to know when to introduce your kids to social issues like peer pressure or drugs, but it can be even more of a burden when you’re not sure how to bring it up.

Norterra Canyon, a K-8 school in Arizona, has implemented a program designed by MASK (Mothers Awareness on School-age Kids), called MASK Academy and MASK Prep, to introduce kids to social issues in a healthy way and get them discussing these issues at an early age. The program is designed to meet the curriculum of the kids’ classes, but it is an opportunity for the students to have a conversation about these tough topics and prepares them before the unexpected occurs. Norterra Canyon parent Brooke Colvin, says, “The MASK program opens up the door of communication in such a warm and inviting way for parents, students and teachers.” By taking part in this program, the kids are introduced to these issues at an early age and are equipped with the tools to handle them much earlier on.

As a parent, it can be scary sending your child to school and not being quite sure what they are learning. That’s why MASK offers Parent University to parents of children participating in the MASK program which reviews what their children have learned. Barbara Benjamin, mother of a 2nd and 4th grader at Norterra Canyon, says, “The best way to know what your kids are learning in the MASK program is to come to a parent university meeting. It lets you know what your kids are learning and gives you the tools to help combat the issues with them.” MASK wants to open up the conversation between adults and children about some daunting topics that must be discussed.

MASK Academy (K-6th grade) and MASK Prep (middle and high school) offer age-appropriate content for these two different age groups, which makes it easier to connect with a variety of kids who may be on different levels, socially and emotionally. When asked if the MASK program was having a positive impact on these kids, one mother, Mary Smitten, says, “The MASK program fulfills all levels of emotional needs.” She added that she made sure the MASK program made it to the special education classrooms and how the program is just as effective for those students as well.

Mary also shared a story about one of the 4th grade classes at Norterra Canyon. She recounted that a substitute taught one of their classes before the MASK program was implemented and the class was out of control and would not behave. The same substitute teacher came back to the same students a year after the MASK program was implemented, and the substitute refused to believe it was the same group of students. The children were so different and well behaved she thought there was no way it could be the same kids.

Although the MASK program has just started, it has already made a profound impact on students, teachers and parents. At Norterra Canyon, there has been a noticeable difference in behavior and means of communication between students and adults. The MASK program is designed to meet the curriculum of classes by including writing and science components, but it is also important to note the social and emotional benefits students will receive from taking part in MASK Academy or MASK Prep. Parenting is only getting harder, and MASK is on your side to help open the doors of communication and give you and your child the tools to combat any issue that may arise.


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