Read below for a collection of our frequently ask questions for general knowledge, for schools and for parents.
When was the program created?
Founded in Ontario, Canada, The Umbrella Project launched in June 2016. It was developed with a range of involvement from educators, researchers and Dr. Jen, BSc, ND as a way to bring all of the top mental health research into this teachable metaphor and program.
What evidence is there that The Umbrella Project works?
The Umbrella Project continues to work directly with Trent University to research and study the program’s impact in schools across Ontario. The Umbrella Project has been proven to have a statistically significant impact on improving student emotional intelligence, adaptability, interpersonal skills, and stress management. The impact of the Umbrella Project was found universally across all boards, schools, grades and genders studied. To learn more, visit our research page.
What is the Umbrella Assessment?
The Umbrella Assessment is a proprietary tool used to provide an understanding of what one’s Umbrella looks like. It is a series of questions related to the Umbrella Skills. It helps to identify what coping skills are strong and those that need to be worked on. Everyone’s Umbrella is different and ever-changing.
At what age does The Umbrella Project begin?
Many of the exercises and concepts are best understood once a child is school-aged. You can however begin to talk to your young child about feelings and ideas related to the Umbrella Skills as early as their toddler years. For example, to teach them about empathy, begin by having them learn to identify their own feelings in different situations.
Can The Umbrella Project principles be applied to teenagers and/or adults?
It is never too late to apply The Umbrella Project principles. In fact, even as adults, we should regularly assess our Umbrella Skills by doing the Umbrella Assessment. Just taking the time to understand what our Umbrella looks like and to simply acknowledge our strengths and areas of opportunity can help us to better cope with obstacles in our lives.
How do you implement The Umbrella Project in your school?
The program is designed to work with the existing school curriculum as well as any well-being efforts that are already in place. The lessons can be used during Religion, Language, Math, Social Studies, History, the Arts, Health and Physed, and more. In addition, our team works closely with staff to successfully roll out the program in the school. In fact, our Head of School Programs is a retired principal who ran the program in her school and understands firsthand what works best when implementing The Umbrella Project.
How does The Umbrella Project align with the regular school curriculum?
Our approach is to blend SEL with the other subjects being taught. The program resources can be used in most subjects, in-class meetings, and wherever the teacher sees a fit. The more the skills are talked about, the more the skills stay with the students.
Does your program focus on transition periods (i.e. K to grade 1)?
The Umbrella Project is a K to 12 program that aligns with Ontario Curriculum expectations in all grades and in many subjects. Much like Numeracy and Literacy, year after year, the program builds on the knowledge that students would have acquired in previous years. For example, once students learn the meaning of Empathy, they can build on their understanding of the skill and work on the application of it. In addition, all of the Umbrella Skills assist students in the more difficult transition years, teaching them in advance of these changes is a great way to improve student confidence in the changes to come.
How is The Umbrella Project sustained after the first two year skill schedule?
The skill cycle repeats itself every two years. This is an opportunity to dig deeper into the skills (similar to learning a math concept that is expanded on in later years). While we recommend repeating the cycle, in the third year, there is the option to instead choose a few Umbrella Skills to focus on. To identify these skills, do The Umbrella Project Assessment and choose the skills that you feel your school community needs to work on. If this is the direction you take, we would suggest that you choose skills that fall within that year’s actual skill schedule. This will ensure alignment with the new content we are adding on the dashboard, educator calls, parenting tips we provide, etc.
What is involved for teachers/staff in terms of running the program?
The program respects educator time and energy as a priority and was intentionally designed in a way that does not ask a lot of those implementing it. Included with the program all staff members of participating schools receive access to our online portal called The Umbrella Project Dashboard. Here, there are lesson plans, stories, videos, anchor charts, success criteria, and report card comments, as well as other resources. We also host a monthly master class for our Umbrella Project Schools to introduce the skill of the month and to provide relevant information that can be shared with the school community.
Is there any additional training for teachers to facilitate the program?
We offer professional development for teachers as well as monthly masterclasses on each skill that teachers, administrators, and support staff are invited to attend.
How does The Umbrella Project address equity and inclusion?
Research shows that it is important for students to see themselves reflected in materials and resources shared in the classroom, this has always been a priority for us. We regularly audit our material to ensure a broad group of people are represented (our most recent audit was completed in August 2020). In addition, our Equity and Inclusion Tracker provided to educators of participating schools, allows them to track materials they share in the classroom to ensure they are representing a diversity of groups.
How does The Umbrella Project address remote learning?
Whether online or in a classroom, the curriculum is compatible with all school structures.
How are you aligned with existing mental health organizations and resources?
At the Umbrella Project, we stay current with our resources, including those that address social-emotional learning, and mental health awareness. Wherever possible, we highlight these program synergies as a way to consolidate learning into one clear learning model. For example, The Umbrella Project recommends resources from School Mental Health Ontario as useful minds-on activities for engaging students with the skill of the month.
Do you offer customized programs?
Yes, no one school is the same. In addition to The Umbrella Project curriculum, we offer student workshops, parent nights, staff training, and much more. These are available at an additional cost. To learn more, contact us.
Is The Umbrella Project available internationally?
Yes! The Umbrella Project is committed to helping communities tell a more powerful story about their wellbeing. Regardless of where you are, if you like what you see and are interested in learning more, feel free to contact us.
What is Umbrella Parenting?
Parents and caregivers are key stakeholders in the emotional well-being and development of younger generations. Building off of the teachings of The Umbrella Project curriculum, Umbrella Parenting provides parents with a new way of reflecting on their child’s well being and success. It involves equipping parents with the ability to recognize and understand the principles of The Umbrella Project so that they can support the development of their child’s umbrella skills.
What is the Umbrella Parenting 101 Course?
In this foundational course, you will be given the tools to assess your child’s coping skills and learn where to focus your attention. It includes video lessons from Dr. Jen, practical worksheets, and other simple strategies and tools to help build your child’s coping skills. You will come out of this course with a knowledge of the 18 Umbrella Skills, a strong understanding of how your child is doing, and what you can do to help support their well-being without compromising your own. Learn more!
What kind of a commitment is the Umbrella Parenting 101 course?
This is a self-paced course. You will receive immediate access to the materials and you are free to invest as little or as much time as you feel is necessary.
How can Umbrella Parenting be used at home to complement learning of The Umbrella Project at school?
A great place to start is with our Umbrella Parenting course. This will provide you with an understanding of the Umbrella Skills so that you can practice at home. Also, keep up to date with any communication from your child’s school regarding The Umbrella Project. They will provide you with tips on how to promote the practice of the skills at home. Lastly, be sure to follow us on social media for ongoing tools and recommendations for nurturing your child’s emotional well-being! Our handle is @umbrellapjct on all social platforms.