Altamont Elementary School

January 2016 Newsletter

Mindfulness And Children

For over two years, I've been practicing Transcendental Meditation (TM) and Mindfulness. It has helped me a great deal with stress, increased energy, and a better overall sense of well-being.

I believe stress is perhaps the number one issue facing the typical child and adult in America. It is associated with nearly every disease and illness. Further, it is a huge contributor to family distress, unhappiness, and anxiety. We've known this for generations, yet our education system doesn't address any of these societal issues until college, and that's only if you pursue certain areas of study. We owe it to our children to to do something about this reality.

When I was learning about TM I recall wishing I could bring a similar experience to many of my students at school. However TM does not start working with children until they are about middle school age. Mindfulness, however, does offer strategies to work with children at a very young age. I think this is something all families should investigate to see if there is a way they could bring this (or a similar) practice into their regular routine.

According to The Parent's Guide to Mindfulness and the Anxious Child, practicing Mindfulness can help children in many ways including:

  • Bringing attention back to the present, away from worries of the future
  • Reducing stress
  • Breaking the cycle of worry, where one fear feeds on another until it snowballs into full-blown anxiety or even a panic attack
  • Teaching them to identify, become aware of and accept emotions, rather than simply be consumed by them
  • Allowing them to practice awareness and acceptance without judgment
  • Improving their memory simply by improving their ability to pay attention
  • Enhancing their ability to focus and learn
  • Letting them experience and understand their thinking process and how their mind works, both of which can lead to a greater understanding of self and their personal experiences in the world

Also, there is much research being done that supports the physical and emotional benefits of Mindfulness and other types of meditation with children and adults. Most adults, and children alike, are so connected and wired-in throughout the day. The information and stimuli literally never stops. We embrace the advances of technology and we know there is a cost, but what steps are we taking to address the costs and impact on our emotional and physical health, particularly for our children? Mindfulness, and other types of meditation, can be great antidotes for the increased stress and anxiety for our ever-increasing connected world. Who wouldn't agree that it would be great just to "shut-down" for a short time each day?

This year, several teachers at Altamont took an on-line Mindfulness course and they are using this information to enhance their (and their students') lives. With just a few minutes each day, we can help ourselves and our children to reduce stress and improve our abilities to regulate our emotions.

Mindfulness is learning to paying attention to the present in a non-judgmental way. When I go into the classrooms to teach this, I talk about 'Mindful Bodies," "Mindful Listening," "Mindful Breathing," "Sending Kind Thoughts to Others & Self," "Generosity," and many more simple, but impactful ways to be aware of the present. It's pretty amazing to see how some students respond to this. This is the time to teach these skills that will benefit them forever and help our children to lead more happy and healthy lives. But the real pay-off comes when the parents also participate in these behaviors and practices. When that occurs, the most benefit is achieved for the children and the adults.

I encourage you to investigate, research, and ask questions about Mindfulness and other types of meditation. I would welcome the opportunity to talk with you about this, please just call the school. With the New Year right around the corner, I can't think of a better resolution than to start an activity that can help everyone in the family.

Lastly, I want to take this time to thank you for your continued support of our school and children. Each day, I remind myself how fortunate I am to work at this school with your lovely children. It helps to keep me young at heart, and it provides me with much joy watching children learn and grow. I wish you all a happy and healthy New Year!!

A Note of Appreciation

On behalf of the AES Office Staff, I'd like to thank all the parents and students who gave holiday gifts, treats, and cards to us. The generosity shown to us each year is overwhelming and reminds us just how fortunate we are to work in this wonderful school and amazing community. Thank you all for your continued support and appreciation.

Dates & Events

January 4 School Reopens & Building Cabinet @ 2:10

January 5 BOE Mtg at 7:00pm in LGI

January 8 PTA Movie Night @ 6:30

January 13 Julie Caustin presents to parents about "Inclusion for Guilderland" at the LGI at 6:30. This is an opportunity for parents to learn more and ask questions regarding this education philosophy and approach.

January 14 PTA Meeting @ 6:00

January 18 NO SCHOOL

January 19 BOE Mtg at 7:00pm in LGI

January 20 Grade 4 Concert at 7:00 (Note Time Change from District Calendar)

January 25 Kindergarten Information Night @ 6:30

January 28 Student Composer Night at FMS at 7:00

January 29 Winter Wonderland Dance at 6:30

February 1 AES Building Cabinet at 2:10

February 2 BOE Mtg at 7:00pm in LGI

February 3 & 4 Kindergarten Registration Day (8:30-1:30)

February 4 Report Cards Available to Parents

February 11 PTA Meeting @ 6:00

February 15-19 NO SCHOOL

February 23 BOE Meeting at 7:00

February 25 AES Learning Fair @ 6:30

March 3 Grade 3 Parent Testing Meeting at 7:50AM

March 3 Superintendent presents 16-17 Budget at LGI at 7:00PM

March 4 Gr 5 Celebrate America at 6:00PM (Not April 11 on Dist. Calendar)

March 10 PTA Meeting at 6:00

March 11 Early Dismissal for K-5 at 11:30 *This is not on Dist. Calendar

March 15 Spring Picture Day

March 17 Grade 3 Parent Instrumental Music Info Night at FMS at 7:00PM

March 25 & 29 NO SCHOOL

April 1 & 2 Grade 5 Play at 7:00 (Note the dist. calendar had April 22)

April 4 K-2 Early Dismissal at 11:30

April 5-7 NYS ELA Testing for Grades 3-5

April 8 PTA BINGO Night at 6:30

April 13-15 NYS Math Testing for Grade 3-5

April 25-29 NO SCHOOL

Kindergarten Information Night

Monday, Jan. 25th 2016 at 6:30pm

Altamont Cafeteria

If you know of any students eligible for Kindergarten next year, please share this information with the parents.

On January 12, at 7:00pm in our cafeteria, we will be sharing information about our Kindergarten program. This is an important first step to a child having a successful start to the formal schooling process. We are hoping it's a great turn-out. Please call the school at 861 8528 with any questions.

Altamont Continues to Give Back

Each year the Altamont School Community pulls together to support the Altamont Food Pantry. We are asking for you to have a conversation with your child about ways in which we help other people and families. Discuss the many ways we help families and friends in our community (Food Pantry, Church, Baby-Sitting, Helping with Yard Work, etc). Use this opportunity to reflect on the good fortune most of us take for granted each day, and discuss ways in which we can support our community and it’s members.

We are asking grade levels to contribute the following food items (any family can donate any item). There will be boxes at the front of the school for donated items. These will be delivered to the Food Pantry in February.

Grade Kdg: Mayo., Ketchup, Mustard, Paper Towels

Grade 1: Peanut Butter, Jelly, Kleenex

Grade 2: Cereal & Toilet Paper

Grade 3: Canned Stew/Soups, Dish Detergent

Grade 4: Canned Fruit, Laundry Detergent

Grade 5: Spaghetti Sauce, Pasta

Other Items: Juice Boxes & Cooking Oil

PTA News & Information

Dates to Remember:

Friday January 8 Movie Night @ 6:30

Thursday January 14 PTA Meeting @ 6:00

Friday January 29 Winter Wonderland Dance @ 6:30

Thursday February 11 PTA Meeting @ 6:00

Are you a PTA Member ?

Please consider joining the PTA. This does not commit you to volunteering or attending meetings. Your membership means that you are helping to fund all of the great programs sponsored by the PTA at Altamont. If you need a membership form please contact our Membership Chair, Alexandra VanDeusen at Thank you for your support!

Box Tops for Education

Please continue to send in your box tops to the school. The PTA receives about $750 each school year through this program.

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.

Tyson Project A+

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

Price Chopper Tools for Schools

Help Altamont Elementary earn free education equipment! Simply visit Price Chopper's Web site ( to register your AdvantEdge card for our school. Our school code is 15679. From July 26, 2015 through March 26, 2016 , every time you use your Price Chopper AdvantEdge Card, AES can get credit towards free educational equipment. This costs you nothing and will not interfere with credits you are earning for any other shopping promotions at Price Chopper. Please tell your family, friends, co-workers and neighbors! Thank you for your support!