October Newsletter

Butler Middle School

DATES TO REMEMBER

October 6th - Parent Coffee

October 10th - NO SCHOOL - Indigenous Peoples' Day

October 17th Academic Progress Reports Posted

October 20th - Shaunessy and Butler Collaboration Trunk or Treat Event

NEED HELP WITH STUDENT CHROMEBOOK

Lowell Public Schools Help Desk ph. 978-674-2024 To open a HelpDesk ticket: Email: Helpdesk@lowell.k12.ma.us (Use your student email account to email this address) or Http://helpdesk.lowell.k12.ma.us (Use the same username and password that you use for your school email)

Setting you child up for success

Set Your Child Up For Success This Year!

The start of the school year is a busy time! It's marked by many transitions. It doesn't have to feel like your children are going from summer living to fall surviving. There are a few things middle school parents can start doing now, as you lead up to the first few days of school, that will help students have a more productive and smoother start to their year.


1. Circadian Rhythms and Sleep Routines: Sleep routines are possibly the hardest to adjust and they certainly cannot be modified "on the fly." In order to actually prepare for the start of school, which for many will begin each morning well before 8:00a, you need to develop the habit or practice once again of following a schedule that will permit your children to get enough hours of sleep. This sleep will be essential for them to meet the demands of their school day. Your teens and preteens need at least 72 hours (minimally two nights sleep back to back) where they are getting to bed and waking up after 8 hours of rest before an 8:00a alarm. In truth, students in this age range should not come to school with less than 8 hours of sleep each night. This means that, at the absolute LATEST, with a 7:30a wake up call (still likely too late for most kids to catch the bus or walk in the morning), they will need to be asleep by 11:30p. That's not "getting ready for bed" or "settling in" or "brushing their teeth in the nighttime routine." No--that means in bed already, played with their phones or read their books, laughed, giggled, sighed, and sleeping by 11:30p.


2. Family Time Shifts Without Major Losses: One challenging dynamic that the new school year can bring about is the feeling of loss. Lost leisure time. Lost time to play. Lost time to roam. Among the most difficult is the feeling of loss around enjoyable activities that have to move (but not end) because school has started. For example, if three out of five weekdays during the summer your family is in a rotation of watching a movie or tv series together at night, don't cut that out just because school has started. Stark contrasts in what we do during summer break versus when school starts can only contribute further to students apprehension about starting the new year. You don't need to shake up all your summer practices just because the new school year has started--especially those endeavors that are family-bond building. School and family values should align whenever and wherever possible. Instead of taking out all the fun and familiar things you did over the summer, think about creative ways they can be reimagined. Maybe instead of three days of the five you watch a new movie, you cut back to one day Monday - Friday and commit to Sunday night as a replacement. The adjustment is smaller and it doesn't put school in direct competition with the activities your child may love, and need, at home. If you got ice cream every Wednesday evening but the weather begins to get colder, or the ice cream stands start to shut down, go out for hot chocolate instead. Don't give up important traditions from the summer on account of school starting. Your kids, and your teachers, will thank you for it!


3. Keep the Pressure Low and the Enthusiasm High: Teens and preteens are at a stage where many experience a great deal of anxiety about the start of the school year. These anxieties can worsen when the pressure to meet too many, and oft unrealistic, expectations start before the summer ends. Sometimes parents offer seemingly harmless advice in the form of support but this advice contends with what the child is actually going to experience. Hanging all of the milestones and transformations you'd like your child to access on this one school year can feel like a bit too much. Instead of saying, "Don't worry, you'll make new friends," try "You know that making friends takes time. You want to be able to trust the person you call a friend before you use that title. Be friendly with everyone and let's keep the conversation going about the new people you meet at school." If your child did not perform to expectations last year, try not suggesting too frequently that this is the year to "turn things around." A child's success at school is based on a broad range of factors. Most important is how they feel about themselves. Even when you express how much you believe in your child to overcome past setbacks, you are still connecting that student with prior mistakes (mistakes they may be trying to grow out of), and you are holding the child accountable to ensure that no old habits, activities or behaviors resurface. None of that is likely to hold up in the first few weeks of school where many students are relying on coping strategies until they adjust to new norms. Success takes time and disappointment, especially in oneself, can permanently weaken the infrastructure of the bridge to learning you are helping your child build.


4. Parents, Put Those Emotions in Check: Similarly to the above, you want be conscious of how much of your own emotions you are projecting onto your child. Are you eager for them to return? Does the new school year mark a welcomed change in your own work schedule, opportunities for personal or professional projects, or simply added time alone? Alternatively, are you anxious about them being out of the house for more hours with limited ability to connect and check in? These are normal feelings for parents--and they can be happening simultaneously--but they may not be how your child is feeling at all. To express over-excitement about returning to school can have the same kind of negative impact as making grand commitments about how much this year will be different , i.e. better, than last year. While open communication with your child is a beautiful, wonderful thing--oversharing about your own emotional ups and downs as the summer dwindles to an end adds a great deal of unseen baggage your child walks into school with on the first day. In the days and weeks leading up to the start, reflect aloud with your child on the highlights of this past summer, and create linkages for them to use those shared highlights as fodder for connecting with other students and teachers when they get back into their classrooms.


Steps You Can Take in the First Two Days of School


Set aside 15 minutes to ask specific questions about your child's day once school begins. Avoid generic questions like "How was your day?" and instead ask, "What is one thing a teacher said to you today that made you feel welcome?" If you ask this for a week and you don't get one good answer, it's time to call the school. Asking specific questions may seem to narrow the conversation but it will give you solid, concrete data on what is happening during your child's day. Instead of asking "Did your teacher give you homework?" which may elicit that dreaded "no" or "nothing" ask instead, "What can I help you with right now so that you are prepared for school tomorrow?" followed by some early backpack explorations. Sometimes its not the habits we leave behind but the habits parents and caretakers initiate now, before the school year starts, that creates the clearest pathway for your child to transition out of the summer and into the fall.