MCCHS FRIDAY FOCUS
184th EDITION: February 26, 2021
From the Desk of Mike Shukis
For most of us, to say that the COVID-19 pandemic has been stressful would be a dramatic understatement. The combination of financial pressure, loss of child care and health concerns is exceedingly challenging. Add on to this the many families that have to quarantine and the social isolation measures designed to keep individuals physically distanced from others that schools must take to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, and you can see why experts say widespread mental health effects, including depression and loneliness, among young and older individuals alike are on the increase. We know that children in schools have a great need for a sense of structure and that children will be challenged by a lack of structure associated with the closing of schools and, to some degree, remote learning.
According to experts, “Daily structure is important to everyone, but particularly to children in their psychological and emotional development.” We all know that the consistency of schedules, predictable rules and consequences, and set expectations teach children how to behave, develop self-discipline and impulse control, and give children a sense of safety and control. When routines or structures are disturbed, like they are for schools during this pandemic, behavioral problems can arise. The problem with this is it puts added pressure on the family’s ability to provide support and structure at home. According to Jena Lee, MD, the Medical Director of pediatric consultation/liaison at the University of California, “Children learn from watching adults, and since they will often be at home together now, they will observe not only what the adults in the home say, but also how they implement structure, ensure consistency and deal with their own emotions.” Lee continued, “Teaching parents the importance of daily structure and consistency in their responses to their children’s behaviors is a priority.”
The difficulty lies in the fact that as parents, many of us are likely experiencing significant stress during this time, therefore, we must try our best to manage our own anxiety and stress while also modeling for our children. This is an unprecedented time of difficulty that comes with stress, sadness and anxiety. You are not alone in these feelings and wondering about what comes next. The question then becomes how am I looking after myself? How am I protecting myself against the virus while also protecting myself against burnout? We must first acknowledge that right now, it is difficult to anticipate the future, and kids have been pulled from their normal routines. Second, as most of us know, stress does not just affect adults – children and teens are also at risk for anxiety. When anxiety is not managed, it can affect both the body and the brain, and cause feelings of helplessness and sadness.
However, there are ways parents can help children cope with stress and anxiety in regard to the COVID-19 situation. The Children’s Health website has eight tips to help.
1. Create a routine - Work with your child to create a new daily schedule. A healthy routine will encourage children to maintain a regular sleep schedule, healthy eating habits and daily physical activity. Also, make an effort to acknowledge your child’s accomplishments. Tiny acknowledgements can make a big difference right now in helping your child’s mood.
2. Check in frequently and listen - Validating their feelings and keeping communication open is an important way to support them during this time. Share ways that you cope when you feel anxious. Let them know it is normal to feel upset or anxious and that you are there to help.
3. Catch the signs of anxiety early - Early signs of anxiety can look different for everybody. For some, it might be biting nails or being fidgety; for others, it can look like irritability. Typical symptoms of anxiety include excessive worry, restlessness, fatigue, difficulty concentrating and trouble sleeping.
4. Teach children coping skills for anxiety - The more anxious a child is, the more difficult it can be to use rational thinking to calm down. During these times, it is important to use physical coping skills to decrease levels of anxiety. Taking deep breaths and finding a place at home that makes them feel calm can help reduce feelings of anxiety and allow you to talk more with your child about how they are feeling.
5. Focus on what you can control - Instead of dwelling on issues that are out of our control, teach your child to focus on the things they can control. Focusing on controllable tasks can help children think more logically and rationally.
6. Encourage positive thinking - Reframing negative thoughts to be more positive is a common practice in behavioral therapy and is one of the most evidence-based treatments for anxiety.
7. Stay connected with others - While social distancing is an important way to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, it can present unique challenges when managing anxiety. We are being told to isolate, which is actually a symptom of depression. That is why it is important to actively and creatively find ways to foster human connection.
8. Seek professional help if needed - It is very normal and understandable to experience anxiety during a time like this. However, if your child’s anxiety persists and starts to become debilitating, it may be helpful to consult a mental health professional.
Graduation - Prom - March Calendar
Dear Parents and Students,
Marian Central needs to once again make a change in the calendar. March 12th will remain an asynchronous learning day, however, we will follow bell schedule #6 with the original noon dismissal. It will no longer be a full day of asynchronous learning. I sincerely apologize for any confusion or difficulty this change may have on our families.
I would also like to inform everyone that we have been working hard to plan for the end of the school year activities. As of right now, it looks like we will be able to have Graduation with all of our seniors present together. We have not been given a full blessing from the Diocese as of yet, but they seem to indicate that everything looks promising. The Diocese will be meeting soon to discuss our ideas and we hope to hear back from them in the very near future. We are also putting together a plan for Prom and will soon make a presentation to the Diocese for approval. It is our goal to have all end of the year activities take place in a safe and respectful manner. I will keep everyone up to date as we progress through our discussions with the Diocese and the health department. As soon as we are given the go ahead, I will be sharing all the details for our end of the year activities.
Teaching Safety - Empowering God's Children
This program, by the authors of Virtus: Protecting God’s Children for Adults, offers a comprehensive approach to keeping our children safe. Lessons are taught at an age appropriate level and repeat over a 3-year cycle. Please click here to review the Teaching Guide: Overview of the Teaching Safety – Empowering God’s Children and Teaching Boundaries and Safety Guide. This is an in-depth resource for parents to assist in effective conversations with your children about the dangers of child sexual abuse. If you prefer to have this discussion with your student on your own, please return the Opt Out Form to your student's Theology teacher no later than Thursday, March 4th (red) or Friday, March 5th (blue). Thank you for your cooperation as we all work together to protect our children!
Financial Assistance 2021-22
For those interested in applying for financial assistance for the 2021-22 school year, FACTS Financial Assistance forms are available on the website now by clicking here: https://www.marian.com/tuition-and-financial-aid/. The deadline to apply is May 1st and notification letters will be sent to families in June.
Sports Registration - Please Complete Today!
All student athletes who intend to participate in an upcoming sport must be registered prior to the first practice (see below). Registration can be completed on Marian's athletic website or by clicking here: https://il.8to18.com/MarianCC.
Boys Soccer - practice starts Monday, March 1
Football - practice start on Wednesday, March 3
Volleyball - practice starts on Monday, March 8
Cheer - practice has started
Dance - practice has started
If you are interested in boys tennis, boys lacrosse, baseball, softball, boys and girls track and field, wrestling, and girls soccer, please follow the link and register so that coaches can contact the student-athletes about their pre-season workouts.
Yearbook Picture Orders
The deadline for ordering photos and for seniors to choose their pose has been extended to Monday, March 8th. Orders can be placed after this date, but will incur a $10 late processing fee. Any touch-ups performed on late orders will not be reflected in yearbook or senior composite pictures. If your student was photographed on a retake/makeup day and his/her picture is not on the site yet, please check back as edits are still in process. Photos can be viewed and ordered by clicking this link: www.vickylongphotography.com/marian.
Next Week's College Visits
Monday, 3/1: University of Missouri-Columbia - 9th period
Tuesday, 3/2: Viterbo University-2nd Period; University of Louisville - 3rd period
Friday, 3/5: University of Massachusetts-Amherst-3rd period; Judson University - 7th period