March & April News

Dimensions Collaborative School

A Message From the Director


Dear Families,


A few reflections to encourage and hopefully inspire you during this unprecedented time. A silver lining amidst the uncertainty wrought by this pandemic is that, educationally speaking, Dimensions, because it’s a non-classroom, home-school oriented school, is by design, postured to support your ongoing educational efforts.


Even so, we’ve stepped up to address some of the gaps related to staying put and social distancing. These include the closure of learning centers, in-person parent meetings by using technology to facilitate virtual parent meetings, as well as developing a variety of virtual classes and workshops Dimensions-wide. If you haven’t heard about our virtual classes, please speak with your educational facilitator to find out more about how your student can be enrolled.


Additionally, we, as your educational facilitators, want to be sure you know we are aware and understand that this is a very challenging time, and as always, we want to offer any needed support and encouragement we can. Please reach out if you need help.


If there ever was time to take a big view of education, it is now. Meaning, life and learning are intertwined. Part of the silver lining of staying put is that it can be an opportunity to encourage your young learners to play games which stimulate the brain, to read recreationally just for the enjoyment of reading what they’re interested in, act out plays, make their own film, learn coding, etc.. It’s also an opportunity for students to take a deep dive into what they’re curious about, which at times gets marginalized due to the tyranny of the urgent, and consequently and unfortunately, is left unexplored.


I leave you with a poem which I hope will inspire, reinforce and encourage you to embrace the big view especially in these uncertain times.


The adventure of life is to learn. The goal of life is to grow. The nature of life is to change.


The challenge of life is to overcome. The essence of life is to care. The secret of life is to dare.


The beauty of life is to give. The joy of life is to love.


William Arthur Ward


Most of all, we want you to feel like you’re part of a compassionate community where students are honored as individuals, where they develop a respect for, and love of learning itself -- “the adventure of life!”

Sharing the Good News and Good Work of Our Students!

The EdTech Connection

Educational Websites to Teach Kids Coding

Coding is the sine qua non of success in a knowledge economy society. It has become a primordial skill in K-12 education and beyond. The pedagogical importance of coding, besides the technical part of helping students better understand the digital world surrounding them, is that it combines a host of other important skills such as strategic and critical thinking, problem-solving, collaborative team work, systems thinking, and creative self expression among many others. Given the growing importance of coding in education, you might consider researching some of these practical guides, web tools, and mobile apps that can be found at Educators.com.


Visit Educator's Technology for a List of Resources:

https://bit.ly/2W3651I

The Counseling Corner with Audrey Kirk

While we all are trying to figure out our new normal, it may be especially confusing for our college-bound students. How will this change admissions deadlines? Will fall college classes be offered online? Can we still afford college? Colleges do not have all the answers yet. It will be important to stay on top of your emails from schools, check any student portals you have with various colleges, and watch for updates on their websites and in the mail.


Younger students may be wondering what will happen with their own application processes. SAT & ACT dates are getting postponed. Summer extracurricular activities may be canceled. It will be important to use this time to think about how you want to frame this experience for your application essays. What else will you do with your time? What did you learn from this crazy experience? While the rest of the world is learning how to work independently, you are already a pro and never missed a beat!


Now is also a great time to take virtual college tours, build your career exploration profile in www.cacareerzone.org, follow the social media profiles of various colleges & programs, and read up on the medical careers that we are hearing more about these days!


As always, I am available for virtual meetings (email/phone/video chat). Please don't hesitate to contact me with any questions. You can email me any time at akirk@dimensions.org.


Hang in there and stay safe!


Please visit https://www.smore.com/fmcv2 for the DCS Counseling Corner's April Newsletter

Our Children Will Thrive

It is often stated as fact these days that students will begin the next year with learning deficits. I say, not on our watch.


We, the staff and families of Element Schools, remain committed to ensuring our youth are engaged in meaningful learning on a daily basis. We know children learn despite us, and our role is simply to provide guidance. The disruption to our former schedules offers the freedom to delve into our children’s interests, build learning around them, and to find areas of common interest to dive deep together. It offers more time to learn and do as individuals as well as a family.


By creating a daily schedule together, we demonstrate that everyone matters, and we build skills of empathy and perspective. We schedule time for focused and exploratory work, both assigned and self-chosen, and ensure needed breaks and check-ins. We know structure is important, but we also know to be flexible to avoid interrupting workflow or denying a needed break.


We can further personalize our children’s learning paths and develop strategies that work with, rather than against, digital and distance learning. While we are experiencing the challenges of a mobile education, we are also recognizing the beauty and opportunities such as increased efficiencies of targeted learning objectives, the joy of self-selected resources, the comfort of a self-determined schedule, and power of establishing our own priorities.


Our children engage in reading, writing, and logical and critical thinking each day. With a combination of the school’s resources and our willingness to let the children explore on their own, they remain naturally driven and drawn to the joy of overcoming challenges. We ensure they take movement breaks and stay fit with activities they can do alone or with others in the house (https://qalo.com/blogs/qalo-life/12-at-home-workouts-to-do-with-your-kids). Practical life skills are built through authentic experiences (https://www.thirtyhandmadedays.com/guidelines-for-practical-life-skills-for-kids/).


For better or worse, parents have always been their children’s teachers. We model the love of learning when we show our excitement and approval as they take initiative and acquire new knowledge. We demonstrate our trust in them by offering them choice, and we help them define and achieve mastery. As a result, their motivation stems from the natural state of learning, rather than “earning a grade.” We witness them taking ownership and finding a bigger purpose in their learning, and best of all…craving more.

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Student Spotlight:Joao Cabbage

It’s a pleasure to highlight, John (Joao) Cabbage, a senior who aims high and works hard to reach his goals. Johnny is an artist and intellectual giant. His curiosity and desire to explore has led him to study history, politics, and achieve straight A’s in German at Grossmont College. He has been devoting his time and knowledge for the past few years to write an alternative WWI historically based novel which is compelling to read. In his spare time, he reads, plays his guitar, and is always working on creative artistic outlets such as photography and other art mediums. It is no surprise that for the past two years in a row he has won the Catalina T-shirt logo contest including this 2020 year. His love for Catalina and spending time with his friends comes through in his logo artistry.


Well done John. Thank you for inspiring all of us to dream big and put in the effort. There is no limit to what you can achieve with hard work.

Growing Through COVID

Humans have survived and evolved by adapting to natural geologic, climatic, habitat and other external conditions. Every adaptation has occurred as a result of our ability as social beings to cooperate and collaborate. As knowledge and technology advanced through the centuries, we have turned the tables to make the environment adapt to us. We live in homes with air conditioning, use medicines and health practices to prolong our lives, and have conveniences that promote easier lifestyles and a greater sense of well-being unimaginable to our ancestors.


With COVID-19, we find ourselves confronted with a strong reminder that no matter what we have manufactured to make life easier, nature’s influence cannot be escaped. As our previous way of life has shifted to physical distancing through at-home living, we are again faced with conditions to which we must adapt. How do we survive and evolve now? How can we collaborate with others, the primary factor that enabled survival through all previous challenges?


To answer these questions, I offer some ways of reflecting on the challenge that may be helpful.


C = Connection. You will notice I use the term “physical” distancing vs. “social” distancing. This is intentional because it is our connection with others that enables a sense of safety and comfort, as well as collaboration to learn from each other and problem solve together. In what ways have you been able to build greater connection with your family and friends?


O = Openness. Openness involves re-examination of established beliefs and practices, flexibility and letting go. This can invite vulnerability, yet something that is uncomfortable can lead to new recognitions, practices, accomplishments and competencies. What have you felt insecure about, and what new ways of thinking or acting has this invited from you?


V = Validation. Validation honors feelings, thoughts and sense of dignity. Whether it is anger, loss, worry or another emotion, “feeling felt” shows that others respect us, and provides encouragement to go beyond and become our best selves. How are you validating your child’s and your own feelings and thoughts?


I = Inventiveness and Interdependence. At-home living has meant finding new ways to learn and work together. It highlights the importance of helping each other figure out daily routines, maintaining the home and supporting one another. What new practices, spaces and activities have you created to accommodate everyone’s needs?


D = Determination. None of us knows what our lives will be like going forward. We cannot always change our circumstances, but we can always determine what attitude to take about the circumstances. Holding gratitude, compassion and humility fosters resiliency and the ability to overcome obstacles. What attitudes have you taken to model for your children?


Challenges have the potential for bringing out the best in us. We can help each other to accomplish this.


Lois Ingber, LCSW, CPDLT

Behavioral Counselor

Element Education

lingber@myelement.org

Building a Successful Home-Learning Environment

Did you know that Element Education began as a full-time homeschool support? We did not have learning centers and offered just a few field trips. We are equipped to help you through the weeks ahead. Here are some things to consider as you connect family and education within your home.


Whether you have one child or several, your family needs:


1. Communication
How can we be effective to meet emotional and academic needs?


2. Curriculum/Assignments

How do I know what works best?

3. Schedule
Is a strict routine needed or can we be flexible?


4. Engagement
My children are bored; now what?

5. Focus
How can we support needs collectively?

The Self-Portrait Power Traits Assessment helps you to answer these questions and create a personalized home-learning environment. With the help of your Educational Facilitator (EF), your home can be one of peaceful and purposeful communication, and a haven for learning. Understanding each other’s Power Traits is a support tool must for every home.


Do you need a login? Please contact me directly or your EF. As a Learning Success Coach, I am here to help unwrap the needs of your family’s learning environment and provide support.


Trish Ruppel
Student Support Manager
truppel@myelement.org
(951) 217-2846

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ParentSquare Update!

As you know, ParentSquare is our primary means for communication.


Take a moment to activate your account on ParentSquare. You can also download the ParentSquare App. It is easy to use. Just visit the App store or Google play to download.


If you should need assistance activating your account, please do not hesitate to contact Susan Michaels at smichaels@dimensions.org or at (760) 703-9997.


www.parentsquare.com

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Register with ParentSquare & Stay Connected! Click Here

For ParentSquare Questions, Please Contact Susan Michaels at smichaels@dimensions.org

Join the Facebook Group for Your Local Learning Community