Calm in the Storm

When things going on in the world around us are uncertain and out of our control, it is very easy to find ourselves in worry, fear and anxiety. We are human beings with a full range of emotions so that just means we are normal.

I’ve been thinking about this and about what my children and all children need right now and I think what they need is a feeling of peace and safety when things feel unknown and, perhaps, scary.

Brene Brown has said that “who we are and how we engage with the world are much stronger predictors of how our children will do, than what we know about parenting.” I feel like this is especially applicable with what is going on in our world and lives right now. As a parent, who you are and how you respond to this challenge will have a greater impact on how your children will do during crisis than what you know about parenting.

What are your actions showing them?

What are your words teaching them?

What do they hear you saying about everything that is going on?

We get to be the calm in the storm for our children.

This is also why it is so important that as parents and caregivers, you are taking care of yourself.

Ask yourself what is it that you need to do for you in order to be the calm, the peace, the voice of reason and hope for your children.

Get plenty of rest.

Eat the healthiest food that you can given the circumstances.

Limit caffeine intake as that can contribute to greater anxiety.

Move your body.

Breathe.

Know what things work for you to bring calm when you are anxious or worried.

And when you are worried or scared or anxious or overwhelmed yourself, reach out and ask for support.

We don’t have to go through this alone.

Social distancing doesn’t mean social isolation.

As human beings, we are wired for connection.

And we are blessed to live in a time that technology allows us so many ways and opportunities to connect even when we are practicing social distancing in our homes.

Know that we are thinking of you and your children during this time and wish you peace and health and happiness amidst the uncertainty.

Rebekah Anderson

Family Routine

Routines are a great way to get everyone on the same page and working together. When everyone involved knows what is expected, and when it is expected, there are fewer arguments and more accomplishments.

Over time my family created routines based on our natural flow. It was easy when my kids were little to capture their attention while they were eating or with paper and colored pencils in front of them. These were the times I would read to them. We would read books on animals, ancient civilizations or any other topic that grabbed our interest. After tummies were full we would pull out our Math books. Mornings were always best to cover the more strenuous topics. Natural breaks were inserted as when they finished one topic, they would run downstairs or outside to add movement to their day. Movement cements learning and is so good for our brains. After lunch was always a great time to dig out an art project, play a musical instrument or gather around a game. Evenings always found us snuggled together reading. When they were little it was a huge pile of picture books. As they got older we devoured novels. As my children became more independent it was fun to watch them still rely on routines to accomplish their schoolwork. They still do most of their schoolwork in the mornings followed by chores and free time. The expectations and simplicity of routine keeps our household running calmly and smoothly.

Some children work well with lists that can be checked off or charts with stickers. These provide clarity so that our children know how much they have to do and can clearly see when it is done. Other children respond better to a system that clearly defines expectations with rewards and consequences. An example of this would When you complete your math you can play one online game. The expectation is completing the math, the reward is an online game, the consequence is no online game until the math is complete. My son was especially great at pushing the limits and wanting the reward before the expectation was met. It is sometimes hard as a mom to hold them accountable but it pays off in the long run. They will stop pushing when they know you won’t budge with the system that they helped create.

Work together as a family to create your family routine and expectations. When kids are involved in the creation they will be more willing to follow through on the plan. Meet weekly to make adjustments until you have something that works for everyone.

Kim Goates
Executive Director
Canyon Grove Academy

Lexile Levels

What is a Lexile level?
Lexile levels describe both the difficulty of text and the ability of an individual reader.  For example a text may be determined to be at a lexile level of 550. Students should be reading books that range from 100 L below and 50 L over the student’s Lexile level.  

How will parents know what their student’s Lexile level is?

Lexile levels are measured by DIBELS and NWEA assessments.  Your ES can communicate to you what your student’s Lexile level is during your monthly meeting and when you receive assessment results.

How do use the Lexile levels once I know it?

You can help your student find “right fit” books by using the Lexile level at libraries, Scholastic book orders, non-fiction articles, online or Raz-Kids. For example, I used the AR Bookfinder tool and got 6 PAGES of book suggestions by doing the following advanced search:

Lexile Level 450-500 range
Interest Level: Middle Grades 4-8
Topic:  Adventure
How do Lexile levels correspond with grade levels?

A Lexile level refers to reading ability, not grade or age levels.  However, there are typical levels within each grade level. The chart below can help parents know understand expected reading proficiencies.

More information: https://lexile.com/educators/understanding-lexile-measures/about-lexile-measures-for-reading/

Failure – How We Grow.

We have been talking a lot about Failure as part of our 21st Century Skills.  It is an interesting subject because of the power it has over us. Failure, and perhaps even worse, the fear of failure, often holds us back. It prevents us from becoming all we can be.

As I think about my life and the many failures I have encountered, it is because of those failures that I have pushed myself to grow, change and become a different person.  Failures force you to dive deep into your own abyss and make different choices about who you are and the life you lead.

Failure hits all of us, it is absolutely inevitable.  It is a close cousin is fear of failure. It seems to me that this cousin has more power over us because it involves more choice on our part.  We can choose to live a cautious life in order to avoid this fear. Perhaps even take the familiar path, though the other is calling out our name.

In my life I have been blessed with enough failures that my fear of failure has diminished.  Don’t get me wrong, I still don’t like it, but deep in my heart I know I can overcome these setbacks because historically, I have.  The question for me is, “What would my life have been like if I learned this lesson earlier? What choices would have been different?”

My hope is that we can teach our children that failure is simply a step towards success.  It is a moment to pause and reflect on what we could do differently, and ultimately how we can be different.

We have been so excited this year to watch our CGA students in the SmartLab as we teach them to stretch and teach them to celebrate the failures which may come.  Our sweet children have made comments like “Oh no, I didn’t fail today!”or “Messing up means I am learning”. We have watched this teaching spill over into other classrooms and have been thrilled to see the results.

Arguably the greatest basketball player of all time, Michael Jordan once said, “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

Let’s all celebrate the learning that happens through failure and the improvements in self and the world around us that failure can bring.

Happy Failure to you 🙂

Sincerely,

Kim Goates

Hard Things

In the world of children,  testing is one of the hard things they are required to do.

I was opposed to testing and the stress that it causes.  I tried to shelter my now adult children from any and all stress,  but have since changed my view.

Doing hard things gives us the confidence to know and trust in our own ability to do hard things.  Simply reading about hard things or seeing someone else do hard things doesn’t give us confidence. True growth comes from doing.

One of my children struggles with anxiety.  Testing is just one of those anxieties. Over time, she has slowly developed confidence in her own abilities, thus decreasing some of that anxiety.  Our initial testing experiences were hard. We focused on the fact that she simply had to do her best. Everyone’s best is different. I explained to her that the purpose of a test is to simply find out what you know or don’t know as to better be able to help you grow.  The test isn’t only for the child, but for the teacher. The child benefits from the experience of doing something hard. The teacher benefits because they can see how their teaching methods are working and where adjustments or repeat lessons need to occur.

I have another child who, in her mind, needs to get 100% on all her work.  Testing is hard for her as she grapples with the fact that no one is perfect.

I also have a set of twins that strive to be the same.  They work hard to keep up with each other, do everything together, and like to dress the same. Testing points out their differences and helps them learn that it is ok to be an individual.

Each child learns a different lesson from the process of taking tests, but each lesson is important. The test results are helpful for the adults, but the test-taking process is growth for the child.

 

Life is full of things that are hard, but it is the confidence in ourselves that enables us to move through the hard things with grace.

-Kim Goates