Although we all share a global experience with COVID-19, we all have different beginnings in that chapter, and we will all have different endings. Mine began as my colleagues, scholars, and I entered Spring Break. As I mentioned in my previous post, From Trauma-Impacted to Trauma-Responsive, my school is one of the lowest performing schools in the state; last year, it was the lowest. A tremendous amount of work has been done by staff and scholars to turn around the school, improve its reputation, and to meet the unique needs of our scholars. Our outlook was promising as we were projected to make a significant improvement in our overall school grade. Our school became a place where scholars and staff wanted to be; it became a safe haven, a loving “family.” On most days, the work was exhausting yet rewarding. Spring Break was Continue reading
In September, Hurricane Irma paid us a visit in Florida. The forecast was that she would be the largest one in history and it was likely she would hit us full force as a category 4 Continue reading
Kindness, empathy, acceptance: things we expect students to know and understand, yet we don’t always take the time to teach. At one of my schools there is a multicultural committee, which has taken on an initiative this school year to promote kindness every day in school in a creative way. They have challenged the students, staff, parents, and families to 180 days of kindness. Here is an introduction:
“There are 180 days of school each year and we are challenging you to be kind each and every day. Each day you will learn about a new way to be kind, you will learn about different customs from around the world, and/or you will learn something new each day about how to be kind. How to be kind to yourself, how to be kind to others, and even how to be kind to our world. WE hope that you take us up on our challenge and tht by the end of our 180 days together, this school and community will be the kindest ever! Some days it may be easy, some days could be a bit more challenging, but either way, it is so worth it–love and kindness need to win! So, let’s begin….”
Power point slides are shared so that teachers can promote it in their classes and handouts are sent home for parents to promote at home. Here are a few of my personal favorites…
Day 2: Make new Friends— There is a Jewish sayig that says, “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver, the other is gold.” A good way to make a new friend is by smiling at someone and saying, “My name is ___. What is yours?” Then, you can look for similarities between you.
Day 6: Dance for Joy— The continent of Africa practically shakes form the rhythm of dancing feet! The Ga people of Ghana dance during a month-long festival called Homowo (how-MOH-woh_. Long ago, the Ga suffered from hunger during a famine. The following year when the harvest was in, they recalled the hard times by mocking them with dance. Who knows, maybe dance can help people get over rough spots! Try dancing to let off steam when you’re angry, or to relax before you have something difficult to do. And, when the worst is over, you can dance for joy!
I’ve seen this idea posted on social media sites as the new year approached and I really like it! If you’re not familiar with it, the idea is to have a jar at home and when you have a good memory, you jot it down on a note and drop it in the jar. Then, at the end of the year as you are bringing in the new year, you read all the notes in the jar to reflect on the memories your family created. When I saw this, I thought it was a porject worthy of trying, but then I thought about how parents could use a variation of this idea for their children, especially if they are struggling learners.
It has been about a year since I started this blog. My, how time flies! I thought I would repost my first blog in light of the season of thanks.
Reposted from 2014:
During the past month, a number of things have transpired in my life. My baby boy (my firstborn) celebrated his 21st birthday; on that day, he also heard from his Air Force recruiter that he was leaving in 7 days for basic training. Also, on that day, he announced that he would be proposing marriage to his girlfriend. Since that day, I underwent major surgery and I am currently recovering. What a whirlwind of thoughts, emotions, and events!
October is Down Syndrome Awareness month. Over the years, I have had the pleasure to work with many individuals with Down Syndrome and I have learned so much from them. Among the most important things is the fact that they are more like us than not. One young lady, Rachel, has found a special place in my heart. She and her mother are advocates of inclusion for individuals with Down Syndrome. Check out this video that Rachel was in:
Also, be sure to check out Rachel’s mom’s blog, The Sassy Southern Gal.
Thanks for reading!
October is Learning Disabilities Awareness Month. Perhaps your life has been touched in some way by a learning disability. If so, there are some amazing resources for you, whether a parent, a student, or educator. LD Online is one of them, which provides guides for educators and parents. One I would like to highlight is an article outlining very useful information for parents of students with learning disabilities and how to help them experience success. It is based on longitudinal research and identifies 6 success attributes that really make a difference and are more important than IQ and grades: Continue reading
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of watching competitors at the Special Olympics state competitions. Despite the horrendous heat, the competitors gave it their all!
The event was paddle boarding and it requires a lot of strength and stamina. A good time was had by athletes and spectators alike. The highlight of the day for me, though, was getting to see this precious young lady compete. She has been dear to my heart since I met her in 2nd grade and she became best friends with my daughter.
Here are some pics of her paddling her heart out
By the way….thank you, Tropical Storm Erika, for slowing down so these awesome athletes could experience some victories and make memories! This little lady ended the day with a gold medal!! We were so proud! And look at that smile!
If you would like to learn more about how you and/or your child can become involved, check out Special Olympics for yourself.
Thanks for reading!
In my previous post, Part 2, I discussed my experience as a child in school and shared some strategies that worked and didn’t work so well. Here are a few strategies that can be invaluable for you as parents to help your child with anxiety, whether about school or anything else.
- Recognize physical symptoms. Our body will tell us when we are anxious. Our pulse increases, we might feel light-headed, or our muscles may get tense. Talk to your child about what is going on when they are anxious. First, ask them what they notice about their bodies when they become anxious. Often, children are able to identify the signs. If your child is very young or otherwise unable to identify physical symptoms, you can help them by observing them when you know they are getting anxious to see if you recognize any obvious symptoms. Once your child is able to identify the symptoms, help them to use calming strategies, such as the following ones, when they notice their bodies telling them they are anxious.
In Part 1, I described my experience with school phobia and anxiety and mentioned that I won the fight over fear. Ultimately, I continued my education and became a school psychologist in which part of my job involves working with students who have similar issues. In this post, I would like to highlight some of the strategies that worked for me and some that didn’t. I don’t think I ever would have been able to identify these strategies if I hadn’t had the experience I did in graduate school. It was an aha moment and profoundly therapeutic. It happened informally one day while I was visiting with one of my psychology professors who was a counselor. Continue reading