Altamont Elementary School

December Newsletter-2014

Principal's Message

I hope everyone enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving and break. It is shocking to me that December is here already. As the holidays approach, I want to share with you some of the behavior/self-regulatory strategies we use at school. The ability of a child/person to self regulate is one of the best predictors for future success in school and life. I find when home and school are on the same page and use the same language, it is better for students and parents. Feel free to call the school and talk with Mr. Brabant or Mrs. Lombardo (Social Worker) if you have any questions about the information below.

The Just Right O'Meter: We use this visual of an inverted Triangle to help students identify and know where they are with their own behavior and actions. The center part of the triangle is the GREEN ZONE. This is where we want to be. It's JUST RIGHT! When students are angry and getting out of control they are now on the left side of the triangle. We call this area: TOO MUCH. If a child isn't trying at all and being uncooperative, but not angry, then they are on the right side. We identify this area as TOO LITTLE, they need to take some action.

The key is to use this visual to help kids understand when they are being Just Right and to help them understand when they are moving to being out of control or when they simply aren't trying enough. The next part is to give our children strategies to use that bring them back into the Green Zone.

BIG DEAL vs LITTLE DEAL: We use the language of Big Deal/Little Deal to help students learn to accurately identify problems or situations in their life. Kids often only have two speeds when it comes to emotions. They either are calm or they are angry/very sad. Kids need language and practice to understand there is a continuum of emotions.

For example, a student at lunch may drop his/her food and the child immediately gets very angry or cries loudly. An adult would come in and take a moment with the child to ask, "Is this a BIG DEAL or is this a LITTLE DEAL?" We use our arms to provide a visual. Arms wide apart is a Big Deal and we physically bring our hands together to "Shrink" the problem to a Little Deal. In the example above, I would shrink this problem down to a Little Deal and show the student how we can take our lunch back in and get another. BIG DEAL/LITTLE DEAL is a quick and easy verbal and visual model to teach kids that not all problems are big deals.

TURN IT AROUND: Mrs. Lombardo makes these cute little "dolls" with a smile on one side and a frown on the other. When a child is upset (and it's usually a little deal) then we say we need to "TURN IT AROUND!" The adult would show the child the frown face and say, "We need to TURN IT AROUND!" and the adult would switch the doll to the happy face. Sometimes with children, I actually turn them around to put a physical act to the process of moving from sad to happy.

Combining BIG DEAL/LITTLE DEAL with TURN IT AROUND is a good way to get kids (and sometimes adults) back into the GREEN ZONE-JUST RIGHT.

COOL THE SOUP: This is a really neat strategy to get kids to take some deep breaths when they are upset. Take a yogurt container and place three colored rings inside: A red one on top, followed by Yellow, then Green. When a child is upset, you tell him/her you need to COOL THE SOUP! The child takes the container and takes three breaths (like they are cooling hot soup). After the first three breaths, they take out the Red ring. After the second set of three breaths, the child removes the Yellow ring. After the third set of of three breaths, the child takes out the Green ring and they in the GREEN ZONE and JUST RIGHT. The ability to know when and how to take some breaths is one of the best strategies we can do for our children and ourselves:)

This year, a parent shared with us a really great idea she uses. Instead of having a "TIME OUT" place, this parent created a "FEEL BETTER PLACE." In the FEEL BETTER PLACE, there may be some items the child uses to self-soothe and get back into the GREEN ZONE. The language the parent uses shifts from being a punishment to a positive place where the child goes to feel better.

I could envision the COOL THE SOUP container being an item at the FEEL BETTER PLACE. Other items could be special calming music, a favorite doll or stuffed animal or other items that encourage calming or soothing feelings in order to feel better.

These are just some of the strategies we use to help our students learn ways to cope with disappointment and work well with peers. I can't emphasize enough that this is a process and it takes much consistent and regular practice. I find when you combine physical models (Just Right O'Meter, Arms Apart/Together, Turn It Around Doll, and Cool The Soup container) with specific and simple language (Just Right Zone, Big Deal/Little Deal, Turn It Around, and Cool The Soup) then you have the best opportunity for success. Happy Holidays and Happy Parenting all!!!

Just Right O'Meter

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Turn It Around Doll

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Cool The Soup

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Upcoming Events-See PTA section for times

December 2014 Events

December 4-6 (Thursday-Saturday) ---Altamont Book Fair

Friday, December 5 ---Last Enrichment Class

Saturday, December 6 ---Children's Craft Fair Morning

Tuesday, December 9 ---Board of Education Meeting at 7:00

Thursday, December 11 ---PTA Meeting in Library at 6:00

Tuesday, December 16 ---Winter Concert at 7:00

Wednesday Dec. 24-Jan. 2 ---Winter Break-No School

Tuesday, January 6 ---Board of Education Meeting at 7:00

Thursday, January 8 ---PTA Meeting in Library at 6:00

Friday, January 9 ---Movie Night at 6:30

Monday, January 19 ---No School

Holiday Help

Each year, the Altamont PTA and Staff come together to support families and children in our school community. This year, we have many families we are supporting and if you would like to help out, please contact Mrs. Oliver at 861 8528. We'd appreciate anything you could do to help this year. Thank you for considering this request.

PTA News Items

Dates to remember:

Thursday, December 4 ---Book Fair 2:00 - 6:30 pm

Friday, December 5 ---Book Fair 8:00 am – 6:30 pm

Saturday, December 6 ---Book Fair 9:00 – 11:00 am

Saturday, December 6 ---Children's Craft Morning 9:00 – 11:00 am

Thursday, December 11 ---PTA Meeting @ 6:00 pm

Thursday, January 8 ---PTA Meeting @ 6:00 pm

Friday, January 9 ---Movie Night @ 6:30 pm

Yearbook News: 5th Grade Parents – Please send in your child's baby picture for the yearbook if you have not done so already. Any questions, please contact Ruth Anne Burby @ 861-5892 or

Box Tops for Education

Please continue to send in your box tops to the school. This program brings in $700 - $800 to fund PTA programs every school year.

Tyson Project A+

This year we will be collecting labels from bags and boxes on Tyson products. We will receive 24 cents per label to help fund PTA activities.

Through the Campbell’s Labels for Education program we can get free merchandise for our school. Send in proofs of purchase (UPC codes) from participating Campbell products.