“It is never over, though we are in December!”
Dear Charter Families,
I have really enjoyed walking into the classrooms the last week; all the students have been busy with their work, asking questions when needed to both their teacher as well as their table partners, respectfully managing their own conversations and noise levels so that their peers could work. There was definitely a stronger sense of classroom cohesion in every classroom I visited, and plenty of caring language between each other. The students' active and respectful listening is getting better, thus the classroom discussions are getting deeper and more thought-provoking. Quite nice.
And speaking of nice, our annual Winter Craft Fair once again was a fabulous occasion. This is a voluntary event, with the participants primarily enrolled in one of our K-8 hybrid-homeschool programs and a smattering of crafters from Nature Academy and CRHS. Each class also created a product whose proceeds become donations to their classrooms. Once again this year, the CRMS class sold their Healthy Redwoods Organic Lotions, QHHS made one of a kind buttons, QHIA made Floating Ink Coasters and Tiles, FCHS had some tie-dyed shirts, and several programs also sold lunch food; yummy soups and chili and homemade breads. New this year is that the 6th-grade Nature Academy students came over during their elective period to participate in viewing and perhaps some purchasing and we also had the pleasure of hearing four songs from the 6th grade Nature Academy Band.
This event is more than just a way to support students and their families working together to create a craft or food to sell, it is also a great community builder for our families. They get to share with each other about their unique crafts and to praise each other's skills, students gain marketing, money and bartering skills. This event has been happening for nearly 20 years! A huge thank you to every parent who sat alongside their child and helped them prepare for and run their table during the event, for all those who brought their crafts to share and sell, to the food makers, to the District Office staff who come every year to participate, and of course to teachers Amber W. for being the point person, and to Katie P. for helping with the setup and takedown and to all the many parents, grandparents, and friends who made it so wonderful and rich.
Please read on to hear from our Mental Health Counselor, our Nurse, as well as tidbits from the Charter Programs.
Thank you for sharing your children with us.
FROM OUR COUNSELOR: “Oh, the places our behaviors will go!”
This month we will dive into the third portion of the “Me” in “Me, You and the World” and talk about identifying our behaviors. It’s difficult to talk about behavior without looking at the connection to our thoughts and feelings. This month the students and I will discuss the relationship between all three: thoughts to feelings to behaviors. We will discuss the difference between REACTING and RESPONDING behaviors. We will look at different types of reacting behaviors, including “The 4 Horseman - 4 types of reacting behaviors that tend to end relationships - (1)judgemental attitude, (2)oppositional behavior, (3)denying responsibility and (4)shutting down. Sometimes it helps to have simple categories for this complicated information so students can pause and reflect...thinking things such as, “hmmm...maybe I’m reacting with one of the 4 horsemen!”
We had an interesting discussion in one of the classrooms today about how this applies to social media and digital communication. You could ask your students if they feel it’s easier to simply react (rather than thoughtfully respond) when they are on social media/texting. What makes it easier to slow down and think carefully about how to respond? Talking to a friend or adult? Journaling? “Sleeping on it”?
So far, I’ve been so impressed with the students’ engagement with this topic. Many are so open to talking about their thought patterns and how far they go before checking in, pausing and reflecting on the facts. Most importantly, we learn to laugh at our mistaken judgments (myself included) and build a spirit of acceptance and non-judgemental support in their communities! This inspires me most of all.
Behavior concepts/tools to consider discussing with your children at home:
- When your child comes to you with a behavioral or emotional problem, consider being a “detective” to weed out the opinions from the facts. We need to distill the story down to its most basic parts. Often we have thrown in a few opinions which change the story. This can send the entire chain of events in a different direction.
How did your child interpret these facts? Could there be many other ways to look at it? Is this black and white thinking (coming from emotional mind instead of wise mind)? The answer to the second question is almost always a big YES. The key here is to find the grey area.
What were the feelings following the thoughts/interpretations?What behavior followed. Was it a reaction or a response? If there was judgment, shutting down, denying responsibility or downright oppositional behavior, we need to go back and look closer at how we are framing this.
What is an alternative thought/interpretation? See how this changes the way we feel and behave? Can we come up with a response rather than a reaction?
- The 4x4, or what I call “breathing in a square”. Take a small “break” from the problem. Sit in a relaxed but open position and breath in for a count of 4, hold the breath for a count of 4, breath out for a count of 4 and hold it empty for a count of 4. Imagine you are following the perimeter of a square as you are doing this, taking a count of 4 for each side. Some people like to trace the square with their finger as they’re doing it. I like to use this one when I’m stuck in traffic!
Opposite Action. Some people like to call this tool “first thought wrong”. Taking opposite action can sometimes break up that oppositional or defiant behavior that’s getting us stuck. We don’t necessarily have to use a lot of brainpower to come up with something better to do, we simply do the opposite of the difficult behavior (sounds kinda weirdly simple, but it’s super powerful. Try it!).
- Radical Acceptance. Ahhhh...this is my favorite tool. The more we practice acceptance, the freer we become! Take a moment….just sit quietly and see if you can practice accepting every single thing you can think of! It can be pretty hard, but you might find that you have shifted something that you’ve been stuck on for a while! I felt this when I watched the movie, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood last week. There’s one scene when he asks someone to pause for a moment and then he looks right into the camera as if asking the audience to do the same. I felt radical acceptance in that moment. Acceptance doesn’t always mean being passive. It can be the first step towards big action steps!
Willing, open hands. When you find yourself shutting people out and you really don’t want/need to, imagine yourself with willing, open hands - this can often lead to apologies, forgiveness or releasing judgment. Imagination is a great tool for producing powerful new thoughts, feelings and behaviors.
- Get a flu shot annually - County Public Health officials are advising that it is time to receive your annual flu vaccination
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water (best) or hand sanitizer
- Frequently wipe down regularly touched surfaces with an antibacterial wipe (doorknobs, sink knobs, keyboards, desktops)
- Avoid the sharing of beverages and utensils
- Teach your child to cover their cough with a tissue or their sleeve (not their hand!)
- Stay home if you are sick! (must be free of fever and/or vomiting and/or diarrhea for 24 hours)
- Avoid touching your eyes or face. This is one-way germs are transmitted
- Check with your physician if you become ill with influenza-like symptoms. Antiviral medication may be prescribed to reduce the length and severity of illness
- As always, encourage your students to get good rest and nutrition.
- December 23-January 3: Winter Break
- January 6: School resumes
- January 20: NO SCHOOL - Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
- Friday, January 31: NO SCHOOL - Professional Development Day
- Monday, February 10: NO SCHOOL
- Monday, February 17: NO SCHOOL