Avon Grove Charter School

Community Resources

Keeping our AGCS Family connected while we are apart...

Hello AGCS Community,


We hope you and your family are doing well during this extremely tough time. AGCS wants to be a valuable resource to our AGCS Community during your time away from school. We are providing the following resources to give information and guidance to you during this challenging time. Our goal is to make this time apart easier and more productive for you and your student.

***ATTENTION PARENTS***

***We will be adding resources weekly, so please check in every Wednesday for new information regarding your student's social and emotional health.


The following resources are divided into 2 areas of support:

1. Social/Emotional Resources

2. Family Activities

CONGRATULATIONS CLASS OF AGCS 2020!!!!!

Today’s blog is from Andrew McPeak. Andrew is a next gen researcher, speaker and the Vice President of Content for Growing Leaders. He is also the co-author of Generation Z Unfiltered: Facing Nine Hidden Challenges of the Most Anxious Population.


I was talking to a friend of mine who has three teenage boys at home. Lately, the challenges of having three teenagers at home have increased because, well, they are always home. Teens at home in the 21st century can only mean one thing: more video games, more social media, more streaming shows.

In fact, the rise of screen time as a result of COVID-19 has now been well documented. Combine this with the new expectations on many students that school happens on a screen all day and you have a new situation with some possibly heavy consequences.

While being at home on a screen is much better than being out and getting sick, it still seems like many students are missing the opportunity to find a better use of their time. Opportunity being the operative word.

When I talk to students about opportunity and time management, I like to use one of our Habitudes called “The Opportunity Statue.” As you were entering the ancient city of Greece, “Opportunity” was one of many statues lining the streets. The statue depicts a man with long flowing hair coming down the front of his head, and a bald head in back. This strange image has a very clear message: opportunity is something that you can grab while it’s coming at you, but you can’t catch once it’s gone.


Time is much the same way. If we can get our students to start seeing their extended time at home as an opportunity, we will give them the best chance of making the most of their time.


Four Equations for Better Time Use

So how do we do it? I’d like to suggest a few “equations” that will help your kids begin to see the value of utilizing their free time for something good. For every moment they spend on screen, challenge them to balance the equation of their time:


1. Balance screen time with face-to-face time.

Screens are not bad, they’re just easier. Despite the amazing things we can see on a screen, a screen can never contain the complexities of the human face. This is why I like to balance screen time with face-to-face time. Challenge your kids to take regular breaks from their screens and interact with the other faces right there in the house. Every hour of screen time should mean an hour of facetime.


2. Balance video games with real-world problem solving.

Playing video games can cause a release of endorphins similar to when we solve a problem or navigate a challenging situation. The problem is that we haven’t solved a real problem or navigated a real challenge. Those endorphins haven’t been earned. Ultimately, we are cheating a system designed to reward us for personal growth. This is why I like to balance video game time with solving real problems. Put together a puzzle, make a new recipe, design something for a family member, or pick a problem in the world and brainstorm solutions. Again, for every hour playing a video game, take an hour to do some real-world problem solving.


3. Balance social media with conversation.

Social media is often our only social outlet. The problem is that social media can create an unrealistic picture of the world and a false understanding of how our friends and family are doing. Just because you surfed someone’s Instagram profile doesn’t mean that you know what is going on with them. Challenge your kids to balance social media time with real conversation. For every hour online, spend an hour in a virtual coffee chat, family trivia night, or study party with friends. Get to know who they really are, not the face they’ve worked so hard to curate in their digital profile.


4. Balance video streaming time with creative time.

I love watching Netflix, but after an hour or two of watching shows, I start to feel drained. I’ve studied the brain enough now to know what is happening: my brain has slipped into a space that’s not completely conscious. Basically, it turns off. This is why I try to balance consumption with creation. Creation is a great way to remind myself that I should find my identity by what I have to offer to the world, not by whatever show I am watching at the moment. Challenge your kids to try creative things like writing, painting, singing, designing, or something similar.

Screen time isn’t wrong, in fact researchers have found that “there’s nothing toxic about screen exposure.” The problem with screen time is that it cannot represent the full human experience. If your kids want to make the most of their opportunities, they may just have to turn off the screen and find a better way to spend their time.

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How teenagers can protect their mental health during coronavirus (COVID-19)

6 strategies for teens facing a new (temporary) normal.

By UNICEF


Being a teenager is difficult no matter what, and the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is making it even harder. With school closures and cancelled events, many teens are missing out on some of the biggest moments of their young lives — as well as everyday moments like chatting with friends and participating in class.

For teenagers facing life changes due to the outbreak who are feeling anxious, isolated and disappointed, know this: you are not alone. We spoke with expert adolescent psychologist, best-selling author and monthly New York Times columnist Dr. Lisa Damour about what you can do to practice self-care and look after your mental health.


1. Recognize that your anxiety is completely normal

If school closures and alarming headlines are making you feel anxious, you are not the only one. In fact, that’s how you’re supposed to feel. “Psychologists have long recognized that anxiety is a normal and healthy function that alerts us to threats and helps us take measures to protect ourselves,” says Dr. Damour. “Your anxiety is going to help you make the decisions that you need to be making right now — not spending time with other people or in large groups, washing your hands and not touching your face.” Those feelings are helping to keep not only you safe, but others too. This is “also how we take care of members of our community. We think about the people around us, too.”

While anxiety around COVID-19 is completely understandable, make sure that you are using “reliable sources [such as the UNICEF and the World Health Organization’s sites] to get information, or to check any information you might be getting through less reliable channels,” recommends Dr. Damour.

If you are worried that you are experiencing symptoms, it is important to speak to your parents about it. “Keep in mind that illness due to COVID-19 infection is generally mild, especially for children and young adults,” says Dr. Damour. It’s also important to remember, that many of the symptoms of COVID-19 can be treated. She recommends letting your parents or a trusted adult know if you’re not feeling well, or if you’re feeling worried about the virus, so they can help.

And remember: “There are many effective things we can do to keep ourselves and others safe and to feel in better control of our circumstances: frequently wash our hands, don't touch our faces and engage in social distancing.”

>> Read our handwashing tips


2. Create distractions

“What psychologists know is that when we are under chronically difficult conditions, it’s very helpful to divide the problem into two categories: things I can do something about, and then things I can do nothing about,” says Dr. Damour.

There is a lot that falls under that second category right now, and that’s okay, but one thing that helps us to deal with that is creating distractions for ourselves. Dr. Damour suggests doing homework, watching a favourite movie or getting in bed with a novel as ways to seek relief and find balance in the day-to-day.


3. Find new ways to connect with your friends

If you want to spend time with friends while you’re practicing social distancing, social media is a great way to connect. Get creative: Join in a Tik-Tok challenge like #safehands. “I would never underestimate the creativity of teenagers,” says Dr. Damour, “My hunch is that they will find ways to [connect] with one another online that are different from how they’ve been doing it before.”

“[But] it’s not going to be a good idea to have unfettered access to screens and or social media. That’s not healthy, that’s not smart, it may amplify your anxiety,” says Dr. Damour, recommending you work out a screen-time schedule with your parents.


4. Focus on you

Have you been wanting to learn how to do something new, start a new book or spend time practicing a musical instrument? Now is the time to do that. Focusing on yourself and finding ways to use your new-found time is a productive way to look after your mental health. “I have been making a list of all of the books I want to read and the things that I’ve been meaning to do,” says Dr. Damour.“When it comes to having a painful feeling, the only way out is through.”


5. Feel your feelings

Missing out on events with friends, hobbies, or sports matches is incredibly disappointing. “These are large-scale losses. They’re really upsetting and rightly so to teenagers,” says Dr. Damour. The best way to deal with this disappointment? Let yourself feel it. “When it comes to having a painful feeling, the only way out is through. Go ahead and be sad, and if you can let yourself be sad, you’ll start to feel better faster.”

Processing your feelings looks different for everyone. “Some kids are going to make art, some kids are going to want to talk to their friends and use their shared sadness as a way to feel connected in a time when they can’t be together in person, and some kids are going to want to find ways to get food to food banks,” says Dr. Damour. What’s important is that you do what feels right to you.


6. Be kind to yourself and others

Some teens are facing bullying and abuse at school due to coronavirus. “Activating bystanders is the best way to address any kind of bullying,” says Dr. Damour. “Kids and teenagers who are targeted should not be expected to confront bullies; rather we should encourage them to turn to friends or adults for help and support.”

If you witness a friend being bullied, reach out to them and try to offer support. Doing nothing can leave the person feeling that everyone is against them or that nobody cares. Your words can make a difference.

And remember: now more than ever we need to be thoughtful about what we share or say that may hurt others.

Interview and article by Mandy Rich, Digital Content Writer, UNICEF

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

During the month of May we observe Mental Health Awareness Month. The goals of Mental Health Awareness month are to fight the stigma around mental illness, provide support, to educate the public about mental illness and advocate for policies that support people with mental illness and their families.


As we continue to navigate this difficult time, awareness and care for our own mental health has become more important than ever. Please know that you and your students are not alone. Please do not hesitate to contact a school counselor or other AGCS support staff member to talk or for other resources.


During the first week of Mental Health Awareness Month, we encourage you to watch this

5 minutes video (https://edpuzzle.com/media/5ea96267751ee93f85e13936) with your child(ren) explaining what mental health is and how to care for it.

Mealtime Conversation Starters To Support Social-Emotional Learning at Home

Mealtime is a perfect opportunity to engage with each other and support the development of vital social-emotional skills. During this unique time of COVID-19, we know that adults and students are feeling a range of emotions on a daily basis. You can use the following topics during mealtimes to inspire conversations that will help everyone in your family navigate this unprecedented experience. We have organized these suggestions around the five social-emotional learning competencies.

Self-Management:

  • Share personal goals for what you would like to accomplish today or tomorrow.
  • What would help you to stay motivated as you work toward your goals?
  • Describe a challenge you faced recently. What did you do to resolve it?
  • How are you organizing your tasks (e.g., school work, home life, chores, work) during this time?

Click here to download a pdf of this material.

Self-Awareness:

  • Share aloud how you are feeling right now; name the emotion(s).
  • What is easy for you during this time? What is challenging?
  • Think about how your emotions are affecting your behavior and share an example of an experience you have had recently.
  • What are your current thoughts about this situation?

Social Awareness:

  • What does it mean to be empathetic during this time of social distancing?
  • How are you demonstrating empathy for those around you?
  • Share a time recently when your perspective on the situation was different from someone else’s.
  • What are the expectations for you in your home with your family? Is this different from expectations in school or your workplace? How?

Relationship Skills:

  • How are you communicating with others outside of your home? What is easy or difficult about communicating in these ways.
  • Share a recent example of a time you demonstrated cooperation with someone else in your home.
  • Mealtime is a perfect opportunity to engage with each other and support the development of vital social-emotional skills. During this unique time of COVID-19, we know that adults and students are feeling a range of emotions on a daily basis. You can use the following topics during mealtimes to inspire conversations that will help everyone in your family navigate this unprecedented experience. We have organized these suggestions around the five social-emotional learning competencies.

    Self-Management:

    • Share personal goals for what you would like to accomplish today or tomorrow.
    • What would help you to stay motivated as you work toward your goals?
    • Describe a challenge you faced recently. What did you do to resolve it?
    • How are you organizing your tasks (e.g., school work, home life, chores, work) during this time?

    Click here to download a pdf of this material.

    Self-Awareness:

    • Share aloud how you are feeling right now; name the emotion(s).
    • What is easy for you during this time? What is challenging?
    • Think about how your emotions are affecting your behavior and share an example of an experience you have had recently.
    • What are your current thoughts about this situation?

    Social Awareness:

    • What does it mean to be empathetic during this time of social distancing?
    • How are you demonstrating empathy for those around you?
    • Share a time recently when your perspective on the situation was different from someone else’s.
    • What are the expectations for you in your home with your family? Is this different from expectations in school or your workplace? How?

    Relationship Skills:

    • How are you communicating with others outside of your home? What is easy or difficult about communicating in these ways.
    • Share a recent example of a time you demonstrated cooperation with someone else in your home.
    • How do you communicate effectively and respectfully during this situation.
    • What are some important relationships in your life that are supporting you during this difficult time?

    Responsible Decision Making:

    • Describe a problem that you recently had. How did you solve it?
    • What is your responsibility for social distancing during this time?
    • Are the problems you are facing now different than those at school or work?
    • What steps can you take when confronted with a problem to ensure you make an ethical decision for how to solve it?
    How do you communicate effectively and respectfully during this situation.
  • What are some important relationships in your life that are supporting you during this difficult time?

Responsible Decision Making:

  • Describe a problem that you recently had. How did you solve it?
  • What is your responsibility for social distancing during this time?
  • Are the problems you are facing now different than those at school or work?
  • What steps can you take when confronted with a problem to ensure you make an ethical decision for how to solve it?
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Emotional Wellness

There are 8 dimensions of wellness. 1.Emotional 2. Spiritual 3. Intellectual 4. Physical 5. Environmental 6. Financial 7. Occupational 8. Social


Today we will focus on emotional wellness. Emotional wellness is the ability to cope effectively with life and build satisfying relationships with others. It helps us feel confident and in control of our behaviors and feelings. Our emotional wellness can be improved by doing activities that involve our senses: smell, taste, touch, sight, and sound. Listen to music, eat your favorite food, play with your pet, watch your favorite movie or the sunset, visit your friends and extended family virtually through Facetime or Zoom.


1.The National Institute of Health has more suggestions on improving your emotional health https://bit.ly/2JqsRuG

DEALING WITH THE UNCERTAINTY OF THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

Optimism

One way to feel less out-of-control when facing the unknown is to try something called “effortful optimism”. Optimism can be thought of as reframing adversity in a healthy and realistic way while taking ownership of finding solutions.


Three things to tell yourself:

1. This will not last forever.

2. This is not changing everything

3. My efforts will make a difference.


Here is a quick video about exercising optimism:

The Work of Optimism: Creating perspective on Coronavirus
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Please click on the following pictures to link you to the app.
Podcast for kids (building confidence and positive behaviors)

https://www.ahwayisland.com/


One Peloton App/ website (90 day free trial)

-5 minute family brain break series

-5 minute family meditation

-many other relaxation meditation


Go Noodle website

-Mindfulness exercises

PROJECT HAPPINESS

Below are some tips and tricks for parent and students to manage the school day...


With the start of quarter 4, some students are needing some assistance with setting a routine and structure to help them complete their school work. These tips and tricks may help everyone's day go a little bit smoother.



*Find a quiet place for your child to work, not in the main area of the house if possible, to reduce distractions. Consider setting up a table in their bedroom or workspace with good lighting, sharpened pencils, paper, crayons, a device/charger, and anything else they might need.


*Each morning, review the teacher’s assignments and expectations with your child and create a checklist of the work they need to complete for the day. Keep an assignment book for long-term assignments/projects. Make sure your child has submitted their assignments at the end of each day.


*Create a schedule that includes brain breaks using interactive websites like Go Noodle and Just Dance to get them up and moving in between lessons. This can also include a snack, FaceTime with a friend or relative, a mini sports challenge, or another activity that gives a 5-10 minute stretch of time.


*Eat lunch. All of you. Take a mid-day break to watch TV or play with toys. Don’t be afraid to start the day a little later and end the day a little later. Do what works best with your family’s schedule and make no apologies. You are doing your best!


*Zoom calls and video conferences are great ways to stay connected. Make sure your child is fully dressed, realizes that he/she will be seen by their peers and teacher(s), and is respectful. Teach them how to use it so they can do it on their own eventually.


*Stay connected with the teacher. This is hard on them, too. They likely have their own families and struggles right now, and are doing everything they can to stay afloat. Be patient and understanding. Trust that they are doing their best. If you have a question, ask.


*Give your child guidance, especially in the beginning, but also give them independence to try to figure things out on their own. There is a psychological shift here, and it’s more likely that they will be “needy” with you because you’re mom or dad and they are in the comforts of home. Set parameters. They likely don’t have a 1:1 all day every day, so try to foster self-help skills where they do two-three things on their own before asking for help.


*When they do need help, have them first ask themselves: Did I try to figure it out? Is there another place I can look to get the answer? Is there anything else I can do before asking for help?


*If you are working from home and have your own conference calls, make sure they know the times you won’t be able to help them - unless they are hurt, bleeding, throwing up, the house is on fire, etc.


*Hold them accountable. Set goals. Give rewards. Don’t forget to charge your devices every night. Give praise and compliment their work. Know when they have hit their limit. Apologize when you’ve hit yours. Don’t forget to laugh. Your kids (and you) will remember this experience for the rest of your lives. Try to make the most of it.


And lastly, keep in mind that your children didn’t sign up to be virtual learners, their teachers didn’t sign up to be virtual teachers, and you certainly didn’t sign up to homeschool your child. The first few days will be a challenge, but create a routine and stick with it.

Project Happiness --- How to be emotionally strong in challenging times....

Why Does My Child Need Emotional Intelligence?

Modern day students are more connected than previous generations, but this “digital connection” is very different. With less and less face-to-face, in-person communication, students are perceiving others’ communications without the added benefit of observing facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice.


Furthermore, the “invisibility” of this communication is depriving adults the opportunity to coach/mentor children through navigating various communication patterns and situations.

This all means that students are “on their own” to process their (and others’) emotions.

Therefore, emotional intelligence is like the “Wild West” of well-being, and leads to a very fearful, self-centered, low-empathy disposition.


But, it doesn’t have to be that way! Through acknowledging our childrens’ feelings and helping them name them and understand them, we can help them positively interact with the world while experiencing joy and success. Ultimately, this leads to building strong, positive, and healthy relationships


A study by Loyola University and the University of Illinois found that students who learn Social-Emotion skills, consistently out-perform those without SEL training. Furthermore, students learning SEL report significantly improved attitudes and behavior.

Building Emotional Intelligence is fun and engaging.

Students love to learn how their brain works, and why they feel the way they do in various situations. It validates many of their life experiences, but more importantly it better prepares them for life’s challenges yet to come.

All parents want their children to be strong, confident, kind, empathetic, and experience joy in life. The underlying factor to all of these is a positive well-being, and that all comes from emotional intelligence.

SEL for Parents

Social and Emotional Learning: Strategies for Parents

My Kid’s School is Closed, So Now What? Supporting Your Children’s Social, Emotional, and Mental Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic - Website Confident Parents Confident Kids- Shared Through ASCA

https://confidentparentsconfidentkids.org/2020/03/13/my-kids-school-is-closed-so-now-what/

Extending Social Emotional Learning into the Home

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Three Potential Negative Effects:

1. The normalization of isolation.

While I believe life will return to normal, I believe teleworking will become normal as well. Working remotely is already happening in businesses across the country, but we’re about to learn how much can get done virtually from home. It’s more convenient and cost-effective to stay at home. What we’ll lack is needed face-to-face connections. Humans are social creatures that require time together. We’ve already learned screens are not enough to meet our needs. Sadly, society migrates toward convenience whenever possible, even if it costs us our mental health.

2. The normalization of panic and anxiety.

Our culture has already witnessed the rise in anxiety, depression and mental health problems. I believe our reaction to COVID-19 will deepen the normalization of panic. Certainly, we must take action, but panic usually worsens things. We must fight anxiety like we fight the Coronavirus.

3. The normalization of a scarcity mindset.

Since 2000, our culture has experienced two economic downturns, and our current pandemic could cause a third one. Far worse than sour economies, however, is the scarcity mindset that can accompany difficult times: “It feels like things are running out like there won’t be enough of what we need.” The Great Depression of 1929 wasn’t the result of a stock market crash alone. It was panicked people who all rushed to the banks to withdraw money that shut them down. We must work to ensure the Coronavirus doesn’t remove hope, faith, and optimism from Gen Z.

Three Potential Positive Effects

1. The expansion of resourcefulness and innovation.

Just like difficult times encouraged frugality in my parents’ generation during the 1930s, this season could foster resourcefulness and innovation in Generation Z. Since we often get creative with routines “on hold,” some will figure out how to monetize our new normal. Kids could become more creative with their smart devices and find a way to capitalize on hardship. Jacob Schick invented an electric razor when he cut himself shaving. Charles Kettering created an electronic ignition when he broke his arm starting a car. When resources are scarce, kids become resourceful. (Learn more about this positive effect in a bonus video: A Pandemic is a Terrible Thing to WasteWatch Now).

2. The expansion of saving and giving.

I love our societal predisposition toward “paying it forward.” It’s common to hear stories of people paying off other’s medical bills or paying for someone else’s food at a drive-thru window. I’m hopeful that this pandemic conditions students to see how they can serve others or give to those less fortunate. I’m also hopeful this season encourages students to save money instead of spending or wasting it. Often, the best in people comes out when we endure a crisis. I’m hopeful we learn to think about the future, not just today, and think of others, not just ourselves.

3. The expansion of responsive service workers.

After 9-11, there were many young adults who enlisted in the military or decided to become a first responder, concluding our country needed heroes. While I realize this is “apples and oranges,” the Coronavirus pandemic might just have the same effect. Generation Z members may recognize the need for nurses and emergency workers and respond. They will likely see the merit of medical professionals and the need for research. Both witnessing the need and the heroes who meet such needs can be a compelling argument to challenge a new workforce entering adulthood.

Knowing you might be home now with your kids trying to figure out what to do with their time, Growing Leaders has created a free resource called: Home Chats: A Parents Guide to Healthy Conversations during the Coronavirus Outbreak. Our goal is to spark great discussions between adults and kids that make the most of our current moment. CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE.

The post How the Coronavirus Could Affect Generation Z appeared first on Growing Leaders.

FAMILY ACTIVITIES

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Zen Rock Garden on Scratch

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The Secret to Keeping Your Kids Happy, Busy and Learning if their school Closes Due to Coronavirus

https://time.com/5803373/coronavirus-kids-at-home-activities/

Collegeboard

(SAT) and ACT testing to inform students about testing dates and how they will be proceeding


https://pages.collegeboard.org/natural-disasters

https://www.act.org/content/act/en/covid-19.html

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AGCS Parental Internet Safety Control Set up

Setting up parental controls is essential, and enabling safe search on google is a great first step!....


The AGCS Gsuite for education has these safety protocols in place as long as the student is logged into their account. AGCS also uses Securly for student webfiltering which parents can login to view their child(s) internet usage reports. Every parent should be in the system and received an initial email from Security to setup their accounts. However, if parents have issues they can email the student's teacher to submit an IT ticket and we will assist the parent.


3 Ways Parents Can Access Your Securly Account After Setting It Up:

1. Download the Securly Home mobile app.

2. Go to securly.com > Login > Parent at any time.

3. Click on the “Visit your portal” link within the weekly email report.