Principal Points

January 2015


Tuesday, Jan. 20th, 7:30am

200 Pebblebrook Way

Frankfort, KY

School IS in session on January 20th to make up for our December snow day.

MLK Jr. Day - No School

Monday, Jan. 19th, 7:30am

200 Pebblebrook Way

Frankfort, KY

No school

SBDM meeting

Thursday, Jan. 8th, 5pm


Playing games can build self-regulation skills and lay a solid foundation for academic success

A 4-year-old and a teacher in training play with shape blocks in a Seattle pre-kindergarten class. Research from Oregon State University says teachers and parents can use simple games to help children build self-regulation skills and lay a solid foundation for academic success. (The Associated Press)

Amy Wang | The Oregonian/OregonLive By Amy Wang | The Oregonian/OregonLive
Email the author | Follow on Twitter
on January 06, 2015 at 5:30 AM, updated January 06, 2015 at 5:32 AM

The best predictor of kids' academic success might not be how many letters they recognize by age 3 or how high they can count by age 4, but how willing they are to persist at challenging tasks and how well they plan ahead, pay attention, remember and follow instructions, and control their impulses and emotions.

These so-called executive functions, also known collectively as self-regulation or self-control, have long been considered a key life skill. Self-control is among seven essential life skills taught to children in the national Mind in the Making project, and the importance of self-regulation is a key theme in "Age of Opportunity," a book about the adolescent brain published in September by Laurence Steinberg, a Temple University psychology professor who is a leading expert on adolescence.

Now an Oregon State University study published in the current issue of Early Childhood Research Quarterly indicates that self-regulation can be taught to children as young as preschool age and that such intervention can produce gains in areas such as math achievement, with the most disadvantaged kids making the biggest gains.

Megan McClelland, the Katherine E. Smith Endowed Professor in Child Development at Oregon State and a co-author of the study, said a person's self-regulation skills can help predict his or her likelihood of college completion and adult criminality, as well as his or her health and wealth outcomes – even when adjusting for factors such as innate intelligence and parents' educational levels.

That, McClelland said, has led researchers to wonder: If self-regulation skills are prophetic, "then are they malleable? ... Is there something we can do to help kids get these skills?"

"We get so caught up in being worried about whether our kids know their numbers and letters," she said, that "sometimes we lose sight of these really important foundational skills that really then provide the opportunity for children to take in all that academic content and work with it in more effective ways."

In the Oregon State study, "Strengthening school readiness for Head Start children: Evaluation of a self-regulation intervention," researchers tested ways to help children practice self-regulation skills "in fun ways that keep them engaged and actually increase in what we call cognitive complexity," McClelland said.

Over eight-week periods, researchers visited 276 children in 14 Head Start classrooms twice a week, for 20 to 30 minutes each time, to play games that began simply but became gradually more complex in ways "that required kids to really practice controlling their behavior," McClelland said. For example, the researchers might reverse the rules, so that red meant "go" and green meant "stop," or change the rules in the middle of an activity, so that kids had to switch from sorting by shape to sorting by color.

The researchers and the Head Start teachers then assessed the children and found "improved gains over the school year in their ability to pay attention, self-regulate their behavior and follow directions and remember instruction," McClelland said, with the effects being "biggest for the most disadvantaged kids."

One result that stood out in particular, McClelland said, was a big jump in math skills for the most disadvantaged English Language Learners. But the result wasn't "super surprising," she added, because self-regulation skills are key to math, which requires taking multiple steps, paying attention and persisting when the going gets tough.

Though the Oregon State study had several caveats, including that it was done only inside Head Start classrooms in the Pacific Northwest, McClelland said the basic intervention is valid elsewhere.

For example, teachers in Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia, one of the nation's largest school districts with nearly 187,000 students – roughly four times the size of Portland Public Schools – used the self-regulation techniques in a summer "Bridge to Kindergarten" program that enrolled 1,500 low-income children. The researchers got "nice evidence" that the Virginia teachers found the techniques easy to incorporate and saw "some positive impacts," McClelland said.

And while the researchers haven't tested their intervention with older children, there's evidence that increasingly complex activities that require kids to stay focused can be effective for them as well, McClelland said, citing tai chi and other martial arts in particular.

When it comes to her own children, who are 3 and 6, McClelland said she often plays a musical version of freeze tag at home: She puts on slow or fast music and everyone dances at a matching tempo, and then she reverses the rules, saying, "Now when the slow music comes on, you have to dance fast."

"They love it," she said.

McClelland also recommended the Seattle-based Vroom campaign, funded by the Bezos Family Foundation, which offers parents "brain-building" tips and a mobile app in English and Spanish.

--Amy Wang; 503-294-5914; @ORAmyW

© 2015 All rights reserved.

Second Semester Events

In order to be better communicators about Westridge Events, here is a list of events/fundraisers/activities that are on our calendar for the remainder of the year.


After School:

During School:

Second Semester Events:


Spelling Bee- 9

Focus Friday - 16,23,30

Born Learning- 13

Club Day: 9

Dental Van - 28 (tentative)

Book Swap -29

Superintendent’s Cup- 27th and 29th


Awards Day : 20

Focus Friday: 20, 27

Attendance Rewards: 27


Club Day: 6

Book Swap – 26

Class Pics & Pre/5 Cap & Gown-18th

District Governor’s Cup – 28

Jump Rope 4 Heart assembly 24th

Jump Rope 4 Heart event 25-27th


Awards Day- 27

Club Day - 13

Focus Friday- 6,27

Book Fair/Literacy Night - TBA

Born Learning - 10

Cabbage contest launch (3rd Grade only- late March

Book Swap – 26

PTO Tumblers Fundraiser - 19

Spring Book Fair -2-10

Spring Pics-4

Regional Governor’s Cup - 21


Peter Pan Performance – 23

Peter Pan Performances – 24-26

Awards Day - 30

Battle of the Books- 28 and 29

Focus Friday – 3,17

Career Day - TBA

Pro-Active 5K – 17

March attendance reward: 3

Derby Festivities – 30

KPREP Pep rally - 30

Born Learning Graduation event (evening) - 14

Book Swap – 23

Volunteer Appreciation - TBA

Bike Rodeo - 2


Field Day/Good Faith Effort party - 20

Awards Day - 21

Club Day- 15

Focus Friday- 8

Spring Fling - 15

preschool Graduation - TBA

5th Grade Transition trip to Bondurant - TBA

Extracurricular Banquet (evening) - TBA

5th Grade Living timeline- TBA

PSPL summer reading Program Kick-Off presentations - TBA

Rising Star Banquet (Community- evening; honoring two 5th grade students) - TBA

Kindergarten Registration- TBA

MAP testing - TBA

KPREP Testing - the testing window opens the last two weeks of school.

Coffee With Kim

Join Kimberly Young for an informal chat about what is going on at Westridge.
7:15am-7:45am in the library.

2015-2016 School Calendar on the FCPS website