December/ January 2019
Dear CLES Families,
As we enter a new year, we want to thank you for your continued collaboration and partnership. We are off to a great start to the new year, and that is in large part due to your continued support of our staff and the students. In this edition of Curriculum Corner, we wanted to follow up on our focus on mental health, and share some of the take aways from our screening of "Screenagers." We had wonderful and insightful discussions during our December event. Many elementary, middle and high school families came out to discuss the impact of screen time on our children. Below are a few of the ideas that were generated by families in their attempts to manage screen time and ensure a healthy balance between screen time and time spent with family and friends.
Some tips and insights from the evening are as follows:
1) Keep screens out of the bedroom, including television, iPads and phones.
2) Set a time at night that all screen time goes off.
3) Wait until high school to allow students on social media, as middle school is the time where students are highly impacted by the negatives of social media.
4) Limit screen time to less than 15 hours a week.
5) Collaborate with the families of your children's friends to create a pact against social media.
6) Be aware of your student's passwords and interactions on line to ensure they are being safe.
7) Choose age appropriate applications and viewing options. Use parental controls.
8) Have conversations with your children about the appropriate use of technology.
9) No phones at the dinner table.
There were truly rich discussions that occurred during our post-movie circle time together. In this edition of Curriculum Corner, we want to move toward other concepts that can impact mental health and how we as families and a community can support our children. All of these ideas are just that, ideas. You may agree or disagree with any number of them, but the intention is to begin a dialogue and prompt thinking about what we can do as parents to support the mental health of our children. Again, as a community, we are stronger together when we collaborate and keep open lines of communication with each other and our children.
We look forward to continuing our journey together for the remainder of the year. As always, our doors are open, and if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to administration, teachers, staff and/or the school counselor.
Amanda Wadsworth, Principal
Alayna Lynam, Assistant Principal
Sports - the positives and the pressures
Growing up, I loved sports. I played softball, lacrosse, ran track and enjoyed every minute of it. I am a firm believer that children need to engage in physical activity in order to ensure that they are a well-rounded, healthy individual. Physical activity is known to help with depression and anxiety, which is something we are unfortunately facing with our young students more and more. There is definitely a balance a family needs to find when it comes to academics and outside activities. There is increasing pressure on our students to perform, and that pressure has seen it's effects on sports as well as academics. I wholeheartedly agree with Michelle Obama's "Let's Move!" initiative, but I have also seen the topic of "burn out" in sports arise more and more. There are many articles talking about the early age at which children are entering sports and the increased time spent in preparation and playing on teams. At the end of the day, you have to know your child(ren), and determine what works best for them and your family.
I researched articles that share some of the recent discussions surrounding sports, physical activity and youth. Again, you may agree or disagree with them, but they are intended to promote discussion and reflection on the needs of our children.
Youth sport: positive and negative impact on young athletes
Demands of year round sports
Children and sports: Choices for all ages
Benefits of Sports for Adolescents
Fitness for kids who don't like sports
Screen-Free Activity Ideas
How Parents can help their children with stress
Shared by our School Counselor, Mr. Kevin Gillespie
As long as we exist there will be stress. Acute stress by its very definition is not necessarily a bad thing. We experience stress right before fun events, after aggressively applying brakes to avoid an accident, watching our favorite team win or lose a game, and by public speaking (The number one fear by many reports). As long as stress doesn’t last for long periods or happen too often, there is nothing wrong with suffering from acute stress. In fact, experiencing periods of stress, both good and bad, lays the foundation to build healthy coping skills for experiences later in life.
Problems happen when we let episodic stressors overwhelm us and start to control our daily functioning. So, how can parents help? First and foremost we know that children are sponges! They absorb everything around them, both verbal and nonverbal messages.
Step one: Examine the subtle messages you send your kids. If your first question after school is, “How did you do on the test?” you may be implying that grades matter more than they do. Try asking, “How was your day? What good questions did you ask? Who did you eat with at lunch or play with at recess? Most importantly, watch what you are saying in earshot of your children. We all know children really listen at times when we think they are not listening. Be cognizant of discussions in regards to tests results, grades, Who is and isn’t placed in “gifted” classes, and concerns about children being placed in advanced classes. Again, children listen at bus stops, to phone conversations and they can read unattended computer postings to parent/school groups.
Step two: Accept a larger understanding of success. As a family, talk about qualities that make someone successful. Discuss what you value most (e.g., compassion, integrity, health). Remind your children that success is measured over the course of a lifetime, not at the end of a school year or semester. Share that there are many avenues to success. Talk about your own story. Include your struggles, accomplishments and failures.
Step Three: Value the importance of non-school activities. Regardless of age, all children need downtime, playtime, and family time. This time should not be experienced only on weekends, but every day. Schedule high-quality family time. Eating meals together, taking walks, sharing stories all give children the chance to experience unconditional acceptance and love. Yes, out of our hectic schedules carve out time for non scholastic endeavors. Research shows that this acts as a protective factor for long-term academic engagement and overall wellbeing.
If your child expresses feelings of stress, the simplest and effective thing to do is to listen and move on. Sometimes talking and listening and feeling understood is all that's needed to help a children’s angsts and frustrations abate. When your child is finished, try changing the subject and moving on to something more positive and relaxing. Help your child think of something to do to feel better. Don't give the problem more attention than it deserves. If your child doesn’t want to talk then just be there. At times, just being there is all your child needs. Remember, even when children don’t want to talk, they still want their parents there. You can help your child feel better by just being there. Keeping your child company and suggesting something to do goes a long way in helping them feel better. Try going for a walk, shooting hoops, watching a movie, or baking some cookies. It’s nice to know your presence is what really counts.
Resource on Building Resilience from HCPSS Wellness Resource Page
Shared by our PE Teacher and Wellness Champion, Mrs. Francesca Graham
Building resilience - the ability to adapt well to adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or even significant sources of stress -- can help our children manage stress and feelings of anxiety and uncertainty. however, being resilient does not mean that children won't experience difficulty or distress. Emotional pain and sadness are common when we have suffered major trauma or personal loss, or even when we hear of someone else's loss or trauma. Resilience skills can be learned.
Resilience Guide for Parents and Teachers: https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/resilience.aspx