"The most beautiful thing in the world is, precisely, the conjunction of learning and inspiration"
DEC. 14, 2012 - In light of today's school shooting in Connecticut, and remembering similar tragedies in recent weeks, we believe that it's time to consider again the best ways to talk to our kids about the events we all may see in the news.
It's sometimes overwhelming for us as adults to witness the stories of war, natural disaster or crime that fill the daily newscast. For kids, exposure to these images and information can be unsettling and traumatic. But often these stories can provide an important lesson, if parents can help interpret the events in an age-appropriate way for their children.
Let's keep these things in mind as we watch the news together with our kids:
Limit the exposure. The news is a 24-hour business, and major events are shown repeatedly. Seeing the scenes again and again might lead children to believe that traumatic events are an everyday occurrence. All of us, but particularly children, have a limit to the graphic images we can tolerate. Turn off the TV and limit exposure to images and sounds that may upset children.
Explain what happened. If your child asks for an explanation to something they see, use language and words he or she can easily understand. Explain the basics - just what's appropriate for their age level. For young children, what they see on TV they understand to be happening nearby. Help them understand that the news they see may be occurring half a world away.
Keep calm. Your children will look to you for guidance in the event of upsetting news. If they are upset, acknowledge their fears and reassure them that you will do everything you can to keep them safe.
Take their fears seriously. Don't ignore or laugh off your children's concerns. If their behavior changes after seeing or hearing about a major news event, they may be trying to process the information. Encourage your child to talk about what they are thinking. Hearing their perspective will help you decide how much information you want to share. Then help them understand that their fears and concerns are normal by sharing how you felt when you heard about the event.
Learn together. Some older children may want to learn more about the event or its underlying causes. It may help relieve their fears to understand what causes an earthquake or tornado, for example.
Keep your regular schedule. If your child is upset by an event they saw in the news, keep your day-to-day schedule as normal and routine as possible. If bedtime or leaving for school becomes difficult transitions for your child, spend some extra time to help her for a few days.
Encourage play. Play is kids' way to work through lots of things, including fears and worries. If your child re-enacts the news, pretending to be a firefighter or EMT, encourage it. Step in only if playtime gets aggressive toward other children.
Look for the positive. Look for the positive parts of unsettling news. Talk with your children about the people who come to help those in trouble instead of focusing on the negative aspects of the event.
Be part of the solution. The response to any event should spark a conversation about how you and your children can help. Can you donate money or time, or get involved in efforts to find a cure or solution to the problem? Use the news to help your children find ways to connect with the world and help make it better.
The Thanksgiving Holiday is quickly approaching joined with the expense of providing a warm, filling meal. In collaboration with Simmons Tools and the Redeemer Church, Menands School District is extending a helping hand to Menands School families in need. Eligibility is based upon your student receiving free school lunch. If your family would benefit from receiving a frozen turkey and a few side dishes, please call the Counseling Center at 456-4561.
First quarter report cards are sent home in the month of November. If your child is doing well and has successful, balanced achievement across all subject areas, congratulate yourselves and your child on a job well done. Discuss how to keep up the good work, continuing the study habits that have been beneficial. If your child has areas that need improvement, please consider the following list for increasing achievement.
1. What are your child's organizational strategies? Is the student agenda/assignment notebook filled out correctly? Are tests and due dates appropriately noted? Is the back pack cleaned out and repacked each night prior to bed to avoid the morning rush?
2. Does your child study "actively"? In other words, do they use a variety of methods to learn, such as reading out loud, visualizing concepts when studying, writing notes, etc.
3. What is your child's view of their study and work habits? If the view of his or her own work is poor, assistance can be provided by highlighting accomplishments and showing how the same skills can be used with more difficult subjects. Talking about the prospect of completing homework and studying can shed light on faulty beliefs and obstacles that get in the way of success.
4. How is your child at taking notes? Is he or she able to listen to the teacher and pull out the important pieces of information? To see what this would look like, students can ask peers for copies of their notes, discuss class notes with a parent/caregiver to ascertain clarity, and rewrite notes with main ideas and supporting details. Doing these things also helps your student study, as the more her or she interacts with the information, the more familiar he or she will be with the material when it is time for a test.
5. Does writing reports get your child down? Before starting each report, set a timeline for completing each part. Discuss the general topic and the narrow down the idea of the report. Do the research and organize notes before writing. Spend time on the opening paragraph. Read and reread before finalizing. Have another set of eyes look over the report.
6. Discuss and model active listening. Sometimes we become lazy listeners. Discuss how to stay engaged with a speaker even if the topic doesn't seem interesting. By getting a good nights sleep, eating balanced meals and practicing conversations at home, students can improve their ability to retain information they hear.
7.How does your child manage his or her time? Using calendars at home, along with a watch or alarm clock, can be very helpful to organize the day.
8. Discuss how your child learns best. Some children are auditory learners (listening), some are visual, some are physical. Discover how your child learns best and incorporate those methods at home.
9. Maintain a homework/study area. This a quieter place in the house, which still may be in a commonly used area, so help is near by. The spot is relatively uncluttered, without the distractions of television or video games.
10. Communicate with teachers at school for other helpful ideas and tips to increase student success.
How You Can Improve Your Child's School Attendance
-The Parent Institute www.parent-institute.com
Research shows that attendance is the single most important factor in school success.
Talk with your child about why it's important to attend school regularly.
Avoid scheduling family trips or doctor appointments during school hours.
Make sure your child stays healthy by eating nutritious food and getting enough sleep and exercise.
Don't accept excuses for why your child "must" miss or be late for school.
Discuss with your child what happened at school each day.
Support school rules and consequences for skipping class and being tardy.
Show your child why education is important. Give specific examples of how education helps people succeed.
Lead by example. If children see parents taking off work for no real reason, they may expect to be able to do the same.
Technology Safety Tips
5 Things to Think About Before Hitting Send
1. Don't assume that anything you send or post is going to remain private. Your messages and images may get passed around, even if you think they won't.
2. There is no changing your mind in cyberspace. Something you send or post that seems fun will never truly go away.
3. Don't give in to the pressure to do something that makes you uncomfortable, even in cyberspace.
4. Consider the recipient's reaction. Just because a message is meant to be fun, doesn't mean the person who gets it will see it that way.
5. Nothing is truly anonymous. It is important to remember that even if someone only knows you by your screen name, online profile, phone number or email address, they can probably find out who you are if they try hard enough.
Going To and From School Safely
- Make sure you leave your house in plenty of time to get to the bus stop or school. Hurrying may cause you to forget something or to trip and hurt yourself.
- Stay with friends while walking or riding your bike to and from school. It's safer and more fun to be with friends.
- Stay in well lit areas and NEVER take shortcuts. Be aware of your surroundings and watch traffic when crossing the road.
- Stay with the group while waiting for the bus. Stay back from the curb. Wait for the bus to come to a full stop before walking towards it. Watch the driver for signals that you may come aboard.
- Don't walk away from the bus stop or leave in someone else's car. Talk to an adult before changing your plans for traveling to school or home.
Getting Good Grades From the Start
- Set up a quiet area at home for homework that is well lit and comfortable.
- Have a small, nutritious snack, like an apple when you get home.
- Keep the television and computers off, and music at a low volume.
- Take a short, five minute break half way through your study time.
- Ask for help if you get confused and you've tried to find the answer yourself. If you are still confused, ask the teacher for extra help the next day.