Sunset Park SchoolIssue 29Summer 2019
FROM THE PRINCIPAL’S DESK
June is definitely a month we should celebrate! Your children have gained much this school year; shared wonderful moments, learned multitudes of concepts, and even taught a lesson or two among teachers and friends. On June 26th, our students will leave school with memory banks filled with many priceless experiences.
You may have noticed some behavior changes after daylight savings happened. Children see a much longer day and may want to stay up later. This reduces the amount of sleep children may get and it may cause more tantrums during the day. To help children during this time, be sure to explain the importance of the routines you’ve set for them. Know that tantrums are normal developmental behavior. Some families have asked how to help their child during these trying times. Below are some (not all) ways I’ve learned:
- Prepare routine meals and have healthy snacks. Children don’t often finish their dinners because they’ve had sugary snacks before dinner. To help children finish their meals, be sure to limit sugary snacks so that they feel hungry before full meals.
- Set loving and predictable routines. Children feel safe and confident with repetition and structures for their days. It is helpful for children to understand their flow of the day. This way, they know what to expect.
- Acknowledge when children make good choices. Instead of waiting to reprimand children when they do something wrong, recognize when children are making the right choices. This can certainly guide your child to more good choice-making.
- Provide choices and reminders. One way care-takers find themselves in a trap is by giving children choices that they can’t really choose. Sometimes children may not want to go with you to run an errand. The child may say, “I don’t want to go with you.” Sometimes, the care-taker will respond by saying, “You can stay here by yourself then,” but you know that you really can’t leave them alone. If the child misbehaves, you have no choice but to keep threatening them with something you can’t really do. Instead, try to provide choices for the child that they really do have. You can ask them if there is a toy or a stuffy they want to bring with them. Maybe you give them a choice to be with another care-taker while you run your errands.
- Give a positive time out before they get angry. Families have felt conflicted about giving a time out for children. A positive time out is different than using time out as a punishment. Sometimes you and your child may be so angry that your interaction with them may not be productive. It’s a good time to then use a positive time out. It’s time away from the situation for you and your child to cool down. At our school, teachers have created “cozy-corners” to allow children to calm down when they feel their emotions on the rise. Another way to help your child express their feelings is through a journal. Children can draw or write to explain their emotions or events.
- There is a lot of science around what happens when you touch your child. The chemical interaction between a care-giver by having skin to skin contact continues from as early as birth to adulthood. For younger children you can hold them in your lap as you read, hug them when they are feeling upset, or hold their hand as you walk. For older children, you may want to try and sneak in a touch of their shoulder, their hair, or their back as you walk past them--it will happen so fast they can’t even object by the time it’s done!
Some families have shared with me their frustrations with a reward system. It is often hard to manage and children become bored with the rewards fairly quickly. For parents, it’s hard to always follow through with rewards. Children may also negotiate using the reward system. You may hear them say, “What do I get if I do this?” A better way of rewarding children is to acknowledge their efforts in managing their emotions or behavior. Share with children the real reason why they should behave, for instance, “I need you to go grocery shopping with me because I want to make that fish you really like tonight!” or “I need you to come to the bank with me because I need to get some money to buy you some snacks.” Sometimes, children just need to know the purpose behind the things we ask them to do.
We can’t wait to have them back in September because we have already been planning for exciting new programs. One of our initiatives is to provide students with more real-world experiences. For example, every second grader will learn how to swim. Our third graders will learn deeply about world cultures. Our fourth graders will be kept on their toes as they dance with the National Dance Institute. Lastly, our kindergarten and first grade students will study play as building blocks to science and math in their classrooms, during field trips, and additional outdoor play/building spaces.
Play is vital for foundational learning for children. When children play, they are on the path of self-discovery which will give them the space to practice what they will need in the real world. There are different kinds of play that children explore. This summer, be sure to give your children enough time to play. When you’re not directing them, they are directing themselves. During play, children are making choices, having fun in the moment instead of thinking about the end, making up rules about how to play, using their imagination, and are stress-free. Keep in mind that screen time is not a form of play--it’s a passive activity. Do try to limit screen time as much as possible.
We hope that your family’s summer is filled with good health, fun, and great books! Congratulations to our 5th grade graduates -- best of luck in middle school! For all of our students in kindergarten through 4th grade, we can’t wait to see you and your child on the first day of school, September 5, 2019.