August 21, 2020
Please know the teachers and staff at Oster know this is an incredibly difficult time in life for all of us. We all believe education goes beyond Math and Reading, and that supporting our student's social-emotional well being is just as important if not more important in times like this. With this in mind, one of the Mental Health Therapist in our district, Megan O'Connor, developed some tips and recommendations to help our families during these stressful times. Below you will find suggestions for talking with your children, some wonderful coping skills exercises, and links to information for dealing with the emotions that often follow unexpected or frightening experiences.
Stay safe and healthy.
TIPS FROM MS. O'CONNOR
We are living in a very uncertain time right now - and the fires are a visible reminder (albeit the tip of the iceberg) of this uncertainty. Anxiety loves two things - certainty and comfort and when we can offer neither, anxiety likes to ramp up, sounding the alarm and creating more worry to try to seek comfort. It is important to note that anxiety does at times need to do its job to keep us safe. But there are times, where it can overwhelm us and our children with the alarm bell. Bombarded with images of the fire, it is no wonder some children are worried. When talking to children about their worries, about real things, like the fire, it is important to let them know that it is normal for them to feel worried AND that they are safe and loved.
Limit media exposure as much as possible. Keep information short and factual and age appropriate. E.g. There are a few fires right now and there are many people like firefighters and police officers who are working on getting the fires out.
Encourage your child to openly express his or her feelings - and it is okay if they don’t want to. Normalize their feelings - it is okay to feel how they feel.
Empathize with their feelings. If they are scared - empathize with their feelings and then you can challenge their anxiety. Eg. “I know it is really scary and very smoky outside AND the fire is far enough away from us that we are safe.” (Very important to note that you are not challenging them, you are challenging anxiety).
Allow them space to talk about the wildfires if they want to - they need to be able to process in a safe place - children often use nonverbal actions - drawing, playing, movement to process events. Keep talk short and factual.
Promote problem solving skills through safety planning. Encourage children to help you come up with a safety plan. Do you have an overnight bag packed if needed? Where will your family exit and meet up if there is a fire? Where are the extra supplies?
Practice coping skills - brainstorm things that your student can do to make themselves feel better. Eg. I like to put on a good song and dance it out or watch a favorite movie. Coping skills aren’t just about breathing - though that is an important thing to do - it’s anything that helps you regulate in the moment. Please see a list of suggestions below.
Remind your student of his/her strengths. Think of a time he/she was feeling frightened - how did he/she get through it? Remind your students that are able to handle hard things and you are there for them. Remind your child that they are safe and loved.
Make sure to continue with your routines - get plenty of sleep and eat good foods. Routine is very important to help children feel safe and secure despite what is going on around them.
Take care of your own needs as a parent. Kids often feed off of adult energy - so make sure you practice taking care of yourself - modeling appropriate expression of feelings and your own coping skills. Eg. “Mom is feeling stressed so she is going to go take a walk, or go watch a funny youtube video.” If you are able to take care of your emotions, your children will be more regulated.
Give back to others. Sometimes it helps us immensely to help other people - it brings perspective and helps us feel more connected to our community, which fosters good feelings and resiliency. Help your student gather excess things to donate to others who may have lost their belongings in the fire.
Helpful Parent Resources to help with Stress and Anxiety
https://www.nasponline.org/resources-and-publications/resources-and-podcasts/school-climate-safety-and-crisis/natural-disaster-resources/helping-children-after-a-wildfire-tips-for-parents-and-teachers - Helping Children After a Wildfire: Tips for Parents and Teachers
This timely resource includes tips specific to dealing with children's anxieties related to wildfires.
https://www.nctsn.org/resources/help-kids-cope - Help Kids Cope
This valuable application helps parents talk to their children about disasters in ways that are developmentally appropriate. It included everything from sheltering at home to healing your family after a disaster.
Following a frightening or unexpected event, it is not uncommon to see changes in behavior. This link provides suggestions for helping children dealing with the complex emotions that may surface.
Throughout the school year, I will offer various challenges to help build and support our amazing Oster community. My first challenge of the year is to use your creativity to make a welcome sign (with words or illustrations) and/or record a 5 second welcome message for our new Oster students. This is completely optional. I will put the video clips and photos in a video for our school community to view. (Please do not include any student names on the poster or video.) Here is the link for uploading photos or videos: https://photos.app.goo.gl/KiwPag7qiKK7qNHVA
Please upload by Friday, August 28th by 6:00 pm. Please note that if you choose to share your photo or video, you are giving consent to include it in our school video.
Oster Child Care: Los Gatos Parks and Recreation
LGS Recreation is committed to offering in-person care for small cohorts as well as support and supervision during remote learning to begin the 2020-21 School Year. We are excited to welcome students back to all our Clubhouses. Please see below for site schedules and tuition rates.
Blossom Hill, Daves, and Van Meter will open on August 31st.
Carlton and Oster will open on September 1st
If you are interested you can find out more information by visiting our website:
Grab-and-Go Meal Service:Dartmouth Middle School | Every Monday, Wednesday, Friday 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM
Beginning Wednesday, August 12th for Distance Learning meal service, “Grab-and-Go Meals” will offer Lunch ($3.50) and Breakfast ($2.00) every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 11 AM to 1 PM at Dartmouth Middle School to all enrolled Union School District students. While meals are distributed only three days of the week, the meals are provided for Monday to Friday.
We encourage all families to fill out the Free and Reduced Price Meals application to see if your student is eligible for no-cost or reduced-cost meals. If you are not eligible for the free or reduced lunch program, we encourage you to please pay online. You may also make a payment by check by delivering it to either your school site or the district office.
- Log into Titan for a meal application and/or to manage your student’s lunch account.
- View the August 2020 Menu.
- Visit our Food Services web page for more information.
Please contact the Food Services office at 408-558-4203 or email@example.com with any questions.
Distance Learning resources: learning.unionsd.org
Check out the ever-changing HSC website to learn about all of the great things we’ve been working on for Oster!
Your Oster HSC has been working with local instructors to offer Zoom-based, after-school classes to provide extracurricular enrichment for your students. There are offerings for music, art, dance, sewing, and more — with even more to come. Many of these classes are exclusive to Oster students so they can continue to build community outside of the classroom. https://osterhsc.membershiptoolkit.com/afterschool-offerings
Please check back frequently, as we are continually adding classes. And Please take a moment to register on Membership Toolkit, so you can stay up to date on the latest news from your HSC. https://osterhsc.membershiptoolkit.com/login
Need a device?
To request a device please complete this FORM (http://bit.ly/usd-chromebook) and you will be contacted to arrange for a pickup day and time.
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