GREETINGS PENNDALE STUDENTS AND FAMILIES!
The Penndale Guidance Department is keeping our students and families in our thoughts as we are all facing new challenges and navigating uncertain times. In this newsletter, we will be providing some tips and resources that may be helpful as we navigate distance learning in our schools as well as professional advice on how to have difficult discussions with our children as we deal with the coronavirus global pandemic.
We also wanted to share a resource for our families that was brought to our attention called Aunt Bertha [https://www.auntbertha.com/], an extensive search engine for local resources. Aunt Bertha searches by zip code, identifying free and reduced-cost programs and services in multiple categories. You can filter by closest location, income level and by populations that are served.
Please don't hesitate to reach out to us if you have questions or need support during these challenging times. Stay safe and stay well.
Many healthy wishes,
the Penndale Guidance team
A-F Mr. Joy firstname.lastname@example.org
G-L Mr. Flynn email@example.com
M-R Mr. Harvey firstname.lastname@example.org
S-Z Mrs. Reichwein email@example.com
Parent - tips to help your student learn at home
- Keep calm. In the case of coronavirus or any other crisis, first, make sure your child knows they are safe and that they are not alone. Encourage your child to talk to you about what they are feeling and respond with empathy and understanding to help calm feelings of anxiety. [If you need additional help, see the links included below for outside supports.]
- Structure a Success Plan. We all function better with routines and working from home needs structure through established routines. Your child’s teacher will assign work or activities with due dates - be sure to plan ahead and discuss the expectations for completion of assignments. A well-defined schedule and established routines will help you manage the whole family while working or learning at home.
- Create a Weekly Schedule. Keep a list of assignments that need to be completed each day or week. [Remember to build breaks into your day::: - 5 to 10-minutes for every 30 to 40-minute work session.]
- Student Ownership. When making your schedule, let your child make decisions about their activities and how to plan their day [start with Social Studies or English first].
- Communicate with your child's teachers. Post teachers' contact information (office hours, email, Google class website) for quick access. Don’t hesitate to reach out for support - teachers are there to help.
- Office Hours. Make sure that your student is aware of their teachers' posted schedules, including office hours and review sessions which are important during distance learning and collaborating with classmates.
- Make sure your child knows when you are available and, more importantly, when you are not available to help them. Setting clear expectations will help you and your child successfully work together from your home.
- AM Check and PM Review. Review daily assignments and confirm their understanding of what needs to be done and, at night, to show you what they worked on and for the opportunity to ask questions about what they learned.
- Find Personal Work Space that is free from distractions - it should be quiet, easily monitored and have comfortable seating to work for extended periods of time.
- Use Technology for fun - to socialize, to connect with new ideas and to be with friends. Take virtual trips to museums or foreign countries, play interactive games, and definitely video conference with friends and family while practicing social distancing.
Is Your Child Struggling with Distance Learning?
Stay positive and set challenging but attainable learning goals if your child is struggling. As adults, we know that success comes with effort, perseverance and hard work. We are all in this together - you don't have to go-it-alone.
Learning Tips for Student Success
STUDY BREAKS AND FUEL
- Wherever you study, make sure it is comfortable with MINIMAL DISTRACTIONS.
- Keep your study space calm and quiet.
- Sit in a COMFORTABLE place so you're FOCUSED.
- ORGANIZE your study space to create a calm, orderly mood.
- Unplug your tv, and put your phone in the "DO NOT DISTURB" mode throughout your study session.
- Studying is more enjoyable and more effective with friends, so join a study group or STUDY WITH FRIENDS [virtually of course].
- Whatever you do, DON'T WAIT until the last minute to complete your work.
- Writing important information on NOTE CARDS helps you organize and remember the material more effectively.
- STUDY APPS can help you set reminders for yourself to make sure you take the time to study and do homework.
- Practicing for an exam by RETAKING OLD EXAMS can help get your brain into gear.
- Use FLOWCHARTS and other VISUAL AIDS to help your mind organize the information you need to know.
- Carefully review any INSTRUCTIONS for your assignments ahead of time so you're working smarter not harder.
- RELAX - stressing about your work will only make learning harder for you.
STUDY BREAKS AND FUEL
- POPCORN contains lots of FIBER and PLENTY OF CARBS, making it a good snack for keeping yourself full and less likely to forage for more food.
- BANANAS contain a good amount of VITAMIN B6, which has been shown to boost memory.
- Eating FISH provides your brain with OMEGA-3 FATTY acids to keep it healthy, as well as lean protein to power your study sessions.
- Drink plenty of WATER during your studying, because being dehydrated means you'll have trouble focusing.
- Taking a study BREAK EVERY HOUR or so will give your mind a chance to process what you've learned - as well as prevent you from feeling burnt out.
Stream 75+ Character and Fitness Videos - by ESCHOOL NEWS STAFF
To support school administrators, teachers, and school families nationwide, Booster is making their fitness and character resources available to ALL families through the end of the school year. They welcome you to share this link and access code for your friends, family, and colleagues to utilize these resources with their children.
View more at www.boosterthoncharacter.com
Access Code: ONLINE
TALKING WITH CHILDREN ABOUT CORONAVIRUS DISEASE 2019 [cdc.gov]
Messages for parents, school staff, and others working with children Español
As public conversations around coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) increase, children may worry about themselves, their family, and friends getting ill with COVID-19. Parents, family members, school staff, and other trusted adults can play an important role in helping children make sense of what they hear in a way that is honest, accurate, and minimizes anxiety or fear. CDC has created guidance to help adults have conversations with children about COVID-19 and ways they can avoid getting and spreading the disease.
General principles for talking to children
Remain calm and reassuring.
- Remember that children will react to both what you say and how you say it. They will pick up cues from the conversations you have with them and with others.
Make yourself available to listen and to talk.
- Make time to talk. Be sure children know they can come to you when they have questions.
Avoid language that might blame others and lead to stigma.
- Remember that viruses can make anyone sick, regardless of a person’s race or ethnicity. Avoid making assumptions about who might have COVID-19.
Pay attention to what children see or hear on television, radio, or online.
- Consider reducing the amount of screen time focused on COVID-19. Too much information on one topic can lead to anxiety.
Provide information that is honest and accurate.
- Give children information that is truthful and appropriate for the age and developmental level of the child.
- Talk to children about how some stories on COVID-19 on the Internet and social media may be based on rumors and inaccurate information.
Teach children everyday actions to reduce the spread of germs.
- Remind children to stay away from people who are coughing or sneezing or sick.
- Remind them to cough or sneeze into a tissue or their elbow, then throw the tissue into the trash.
- Discuss any new actions that may be taken at school to help protect children and school staff.
(e.g., increased handwashing, cancellation of events or activities)
- Get children into a handwashing habit.
- Teach them to wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing their nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food.
- If soap and water are not available, teach them to use hand sanitizer. Hand sanitizer should contain at least 60% alcohol. Supervise young children when they use hand sanitizer to prevent swallowing alcohol, especially in schools and child care facilities.
Facts about COVID-19 for discussions with children
Try to keep information simple and remind them that health and school officials are working hard to keep everyone safe and healthy.
What is COVID-19?
- COVID-19 is the short name for “coronavirus disease 2019.” It is a new virus. Doctors and scientists are still learning about it.
- Recently, this virus has made a lot of people sick. Scientists and doctors think that most people will be ok, especially kids, but some people might get pretty sick.
- Doctors and health experts are working hard to help people stay healthy.
What can I do so that I don’t get COVID-19?
- You can practice healthy habits at home, school, and play to help protect against the spread of COVID-19:
- Cough or sneeze into a tissue or your elbow. If you sneeze or cough into a tissue, throw it in the trash right away.
- Keep your hands out of your mouth, nose, and eyes. This will help keep germs out of your body.
- Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Follow these five steps—wet, lather (make bubbles), scrub (rub together), rinse and dry. You can sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice.
- If you don’t have soap and water, have an adult help you use a special hand cleaner.
- Keep things clean. Older children can help adults at home and school clean the things we touch the most, like desks, doorknobs, light switches, and remote controls. (Note for adults: you can find more information about cleaning and disinfecting on CDC’s website.)
- If you feel sick, stay home. Just like you don’t want to get other people’s germs in your body, other people don’t want to get your germs either.
What happens if you get sick with COVID-19?
- COVID-19 can look different in different people. For many people, being sick with COVID-19 would be a little bit like having the flu. People can get a fever, cough, or have a hard time taking deep breaths. Most people who have gotten COVID-19 have not gotten very sick. Only a small group of people who get it have had more serious problems. From what doctors have seen so far, most children don’t seem to get very sick. While a lot of adults get sick, most adults get better.
- If you do get sick, it doesn’t mean you have COVID-19. People can get sick from all kinds of germs. What’s important to remember is that if you do get sick, the adults at home and school will help get you any help that you need.
- If you suspect your child may have COVID-19, call the healthcare facility to let them know before you bring your child in to see them.
For More Information
- CDC’s COVID-19 website
- Talking to Children about COVID-19.pdf, developed by the National Association of School Nurses and the National Association of School Psychologists. Also available in Spanish.pdf
- Helping Children Cope with Emergencies
- Parents Supporting Children (American Sign Language Video)
NYTimes.com: Quaranteenagers: Strategies for Parenting in Close Quarters [by Lisa Damour]
All normally developing teenagers strive for independence, yearn to be with their peers and look ahead to the future. Given this, how do we care for young people whose wings have been clipped, who aren’t supposed to hang out with their friends and whose plans have been upended by coronavirus?
Here are some strategies that might help to address these unforeseen parenting challenges, especially at a time when many adults are struggling to hold it all together and may not have easy access to their usual reserves.
Make Space for Disappointment and Sadness
Teenagers everywhere are facing stunning losses. Once-in-a-lifetime events and rites of passage such as graduations, proms and springtime on college campuses have been canceled. Performances, conferences and competitions for which teenagers have been preparing for months, if not years, have disappeared overnight.
While schools and teachers scramble heroically to get coursework online, gone are the clubs, teams, hallway flirtations and other interactions that leaven most students’ days. The nourishment of school may be continuing in some form, but kids could rightly feel that it’s long on vegetables and short on dessert.
Though we can’t replace what’s been lost, adults should not underestimate the power of offering outright empathy to disheartened adolescents. In addition to experiencing anxiety about Covid-19, teenagers also have every right to be sad, angry and intensely frustrated about what has become of their year. Adults should not hesitate to say, “I hate that you have lost so much so fast and I am sorry it has happened. You’ll get through this, but that doesn’t make it any less miserable right now.”
When it comes to navigating painful feelings, the only way out is through, and offering our teenagers the compassion they deserve paves their way toward feeling better.
Make Space for Relief and Joy
The same teenagers who feel deeply upset about missing school and their peers in one moment may express delight and deliverance in the next. As much as they are grieving their losses, they may also be relieved at getting out of some commitments they never wanted to keep, or being spared ongoing daily interaction with classmates, teachers or coaches they dislike.
Let’s not begrudge adolescents their welcome feelings. They did not ask for or cause the current situation and should not be made to feel bad about enjoying some aspects of it. We might say, “It’s OK to feel relief now too,” while reassuring teenagers that embracing the upsides of the disruption does not minimize what they’ve lost or their worries about the impact of the virus.
Expect Friction Regarding Their Social Lives
If you’re a parent who is sticking to the social distancing guidelines, your teenager is probably already frustrated with you, as some parents are still allowing their kids to hang out as usual.
To address this we might say, “I know that other parents are still having kids over, but we can’t support that choice because it doesn’t fit with what experts are recommending.” From there, we can let our teenagers know that when turning down invites they are free to blame us, and that if local safety guidelines allow, we’re open to their suggestions about how they might get together with friends outdoors, six feet apart.
When adolescents can’t see their peers in person, it seems only fair to loosen the rules on how much time they spend connecting online. But all bets aren’t off. Now, as always, rules are still in order to keep digital technology from undermining essential elements of healthy development. Sleep, productive learning, physical activity and face-to-face interactions (even if only with family members for now) should not be crowded out by life online.
Allow Privacy and Time Alone
Of course, few adolescents will want to spend all of their new at-home time with their parents or guardians. Teenagers who are formally quarantined, under shelter-in-place orders, or simply practicing social distancing will need and deserve privacy and time alone.
Make it clear that you welcome your teenagers’ company, but don’t take it personally if they want you nearby but quiet (like a potted plant), or if they want to spend time holed up in their rooms or in some other private space in your home.
While you are free to request or require your teenager’s presence, think about approaching your teenager with an extra measure of consideration when making requests. For example, saying, “We’re going to need you to supervise your sister for a couple of hours, but we know that you have plans too. How should we do this?” might be a good place to start.
Treat Teenagers as Problem-Solving Partners
As we scramble to figure out new rules, systems and routines for daily living, let’s remember that adolescents are usually at least as creative as adults, and will appreciate being treated as such.
Don’t hesitate to recruit teenagers’ help. Instead of presenting them with a suggested daily program, we could say, “We’re all having to invent new ways to arrange our days. Can you show me what you have in mind so that I can get a feel for your regular schedule and make sure you’re covering all your bases?” Similarly, we might ask persistently grumpy teenagers how they themselves would like to balance their own right to be upset with our reasonable expectation that they not make life in close quarters miserable for everyone else.
There’s a lot we still don’t know about how the spring will unfold for our teenagers, but there are some truths about adolescents that can help us through this difficult time: they welcome empathy, they are resilient and adaptable, and they appreciate — and tend live up to — high expectations.
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RESOURCES FOR MENTAL HEALTH AND SUPPORT IN OUR COMMUNITY
- Montgomery County Mobile Crisis 1-855-634-4673 - Available 24 hours a day/7 days per week
- Safe to Say 1-844-SAF2SAY or visit their website
- Montgomery County Teen Talk and Text Line 866-825-5856 or text 215-703-8411 - Available Monday through Friday from 3:00 pm to 9:00 pm.
- Montgomery County Peer Support Hotline 855-715-8255 - Available free of charge, 7 days a week from 1:00 pm to 9:00 pm.
- SAMHSA [Mental Health & Substance Abuse Hotline] 1-800-662-HELP 
- NAMI [National Alliance of Mental Illness] 1-800-950-NAMI  or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Merakey 1-888-642-0026
- Springfield Psychological 610-544-2110 x 2 or visit their website. Telehealth Services for outpatient therapy and psychiatric medication management provided to support new and existing patients.
- Onward Behavioral Health 610-644-6464 or visit their website. Telehealth Services and medication management provided.