Windsor·Audio

In a pinch, UWindsor psychology students can bring kids to class

A new policy for psychology with professor Onawa Labelle at the University of Windsor means students can bring in young children, if there's an emergency.

A student brought her seven-year-old son, who took notes and got an A+ from the professor

Last fall professor Onawa Labelle put a "child care and child-friendly policy" on her psychology classes syllabus. (Tom Addison/CBC)

Students of university professor Onawa Labelle can bring their children to class, if there's an emergency.

Since the fall she added a new child care and child-friendly policy to the syllabus of her psychology classes at the University of Windsor. In the case of an emergency when parents are forced to skip school to take care of their young children, they can now bring them to class. It was something Labelle saw in another syllabus years ago when she was a grad student.

"I just really liked that it was helping women who are parents along their educational journey," she said. "I filed it away and with the intention of adding it to my own syllabus when I when I became a professor."

Labelle started her academic journey attending a women's college after the age of 24. There were a lot of women attending who were also parents. During that time she witnessed some of the struggles they dealt with as mothers.

"Childcare absolutely was one of them and then just dealing with trying to be a parent and meeting the challenges of being a student," said Labelle.

In the five months the new class policy has been enacted, a few students have commented on it and one used the policy. She emailed Labelle to see if she could bring in her seven-year-old son, because of a timing issue between class and an appointment for him.

One student brought her seven-year-old to class and showed Labelle the notes he took. She gave him an A plus. (Provided Onawa Labelle )

The student brought him in, and as instructed, sat by the back door in case she needed to attend to his needs. Labelle said he was excited to be there, even taking notes and showing them to her after class.

"They're adorable. He had drawn the University of Windsor emblem," Labelle said. "He had taken, probably better notes than some of my students, to be quite honest. I gave him an A+ and he was just he was thrilled."

A welcomed policy

Gorpu Farley is a third-year nursing student. She has a child and thinks a policy like this in nursing classes would help.

"Sometimes my sister has to babysit for me or I have to leave class early," Farley said. "If her work schedule is conflicting with his school schedule, sometimes like last semester, I have to leave class early sometimes or I'll come to class late."

That can be a problem.

"Allowing that person to bring that child I think is a very good idea, so they're not missing a very important lecture that day," she said.

University of Windsor student, Gorpu Farley, left, Nadia Stephaniuk, top right, and Hassan Shaban, bottom right, welcome the policy and would like to have it extended to other classes (Sanjay Maru/CBC)

Nadia Stephaniuk recently finished her master's in the chemistry program and thinks allowing children in class is a great idea.

"I'm sure it's really helpful for students. If they were ever in a predicament, to know that their professor is supportive and can help if they need it," she said.

Although there could be some issues depending on the child, Stephaniuk said it's still a really solid support system for the students. 

Fourth year interdisciplinary arts and science student Hassan Shaban thinks it's a positive move in the right direction and would like to see it extended to other classes.

"I believe that education should be accessible to all people and so I think regardless of the situation you're in all people should have access to education," said Shaban.

Listen to the full Windsor Morning interview with University of Windsor Professor Onawa Labelle:

Not all university students are carefree 19-year-olds out on their own. Some are parents, with responsibilities that can play havoc with their class schedules. Tony speaks with University of Windsor professor Onawa Labelle, who is making it easier for parents to juggle things when they have a childcare emergency. 8:04

With files from Windsor Morning and Sanjay Maru

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