Week of October 12, 2020

Dear Families,

I hope that you enjoyed the long weekend and are doing well. 

For many communities around the United States, yesterday was Indigenous Peoples’ Day -- a holiday dedicated to highlighting the cultures and suppressed histories of indigenous peoples. Indigenous Peoples’ Day emerged as a direct challenge to the narratives that undergird Columbus Day—the federal holiday used to celebrate Christopher Columbus’ purported “discovery of America.”  

Teachers are having conversations with students about the history of Columbus and indigenous people’s experiences.  We want children to process and express their thoughts and feelings about this difficult and complex topic.  I am sharing a resource, “Here’s How You Can Talk About Christopher Columbus in Your Classroom” because I think it may be helpful as families navigate follow-up discussions.  Remember to listen and give children a chance to talk, process, and play out their thinking without interruption.  When we react by interrupting or judging that something wrong, the message children get is, “I shouldn’t talk about this” and that shuts down the conversation. We want to show children that it is safe to talk about, and that way we open the doors for communication.  Please reach out directly to your child’s teacher if you have questions.

Ideas for Supporting children (and caregivers) during remote and blended learning

I am sharing notes from Friday’s workshop with Patricia Winter, our family social worker, about the emotional challenges that children and families are experiencing during this time.   While it is was geared to 2nd - 5th grade families, I think it is helpful for all of us!  

The pandemic has children and adults feeling out of control. Remote learning is difficult for children for many reasons. Your child may be feeling bored, completely out of control, and/or depressed because they crave social contact with peers. Here are some ideas about how to make remote learning more productive.

Time and Place:

  • Help your student be independent by keeping the time. The student should make a weekly schedule to hang up for easy reference. Before the school week begins, set different sounding alarms on the phone to signify the beginning and end of each school period. 

  • Set up a space for your student that says to them “I’m am in my school-work-mode.” That can be done by clearing a corner of the room and setting up a table and chair - ideally, the child’s feet should touch the floor.  Sliding the dining room table to a different spot was one idea. 

  • Make sure to hear yourselves say, “it’s a school night. Time for bed!” on weeknights. Your student will have better cognition after a good night’s sleep. 

Optimizing concentration:  you can only recall or learn the information if are able to focus when it is being taught!

  • Creating novelty is great for this.  If the student has zoom classes, three days a weekend, change something to signify that it’s Monday vs. Wednesday. For example, lay down a red bandana on the table on Monday and a green one on a Wednesday (or sit one stuffed animal out of sight on the table on Wednesday—and a different one on Friday).  Food can also help signal that one day is different from the next. One parent suggested popcorn Fridays as a continuation of a TNS tradition. Taco Tuesdays or Pizza Fridays is another example.

  • Make sure you build in movement breaks like wall push-ups, squat thrusts, tumbling, or headstands (yoga). 

  • When Patricia asked students what they wanted parents to know, they said, “We need to go out and play with other kids!“ Do your best to get your child out to a park or plan a socially distanced play date. 

Resistance to learning

If your child is having a hard time in any subject or with any part of the school day, email the teachers and let them know what’s going on!  You should let your child know that you are confident that the teachers will help figure out how to solve the problem. 

Your role in terms of partner with your child’s teacher has definitely increased but you should not feel like you are the teacher. Do not correct your child’s work. It undermines their confidence. If you feel that they are giving up too soon or not putting in enough effort, you can suggest they give themselves another minute to see what else they can produce. It is key that they are in charge of setting the timer. You can say, “I’m sure your teacher would like you to see if you can push yourself a bit more.“ If your child is panicked or crying because they’re having a hard time, rather than helping them complete the work, which fosters dependence and makes them feel incompetent. Remind them that other students are also having a difficult time. Perhaps they can take a break to reset. Let them be in charge of the type of break and the timer but you say how many minutes they can take. You can share a story about a learning curve that you had as a child to encourage them.  Partner with your child asking, “What should we do?”  Be mindful of the conversation that follows so that you build on their ideas and they feel like they are the ones who are problem-solving.

Life is changed in so many ways during this quarantine. There are some bright spots though and it is important to highlight them.  Have a family “check-in” every so often regarding life in the time of Covid.  Ask what parts of the day were good and what parts of the day were difficult. Everyone should have a chance to answer (including the parent) but “passing“ is allowed to give the child time to collect their thoughts.  Please email Patricia at patricia@tnsny.org if you have any questions.

This week at TNS…

  • Materials and supplies that your child needs for remote learning this year will be distributed from 12 - 2 PM on Thursdays and Fridays during the month of October.   Your child’s teachers will let you know the dates that materials will be ready for pick-up.  If a parent cannot make any of those times, we can arrange a pick-up time with the office staff.  Similarly, please let your child’s teacher know if you need us to mail supplies to you. 

  • “Welcome to the Library” is Thursday at 5 PM.  Cheryl will talk about how the library has reinvented itself during remote learning.  She will give a tour of our “virtual library,” and focus on independent reading and reading aloud with your child/ren.  She will also demonstrate how to borrow an ebook from our library and also how to place materials on hold for curbside pickup.

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81053701155?pwd=eTE4TnJ2cnFVU3ZIei9FYjhHand1UT09

Looking ahead…

  • The PTA will meet on Tuesday, October 20 at 5:00 PM

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87802763540?pwd=TFM4cU43MnVQUnFFOXlkdnZNQklyUT09

  • The School Leadership Team (SLT) will meet on Thursday, October 22 at 2:30 PM

The SLT is a committee made up of elected parents, teachers, and me.  We write, revise, and disseminate school policies.  Monthly meetings are for the School Leadership Team Representatives and are open to all TNS families.  Matt (2/3), Grace (2/3), and Wanda (pre-k) will be on the SLT this year.

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82770123717?pwd=ckNaTVR5RFNoWFl1bjYxN08rNmVIdz09

Have a good week,

Dyanthe

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