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Archives for June 2016

Ready for Middle School

Ready for Middle School

By: Todd Grina, Middle School Principal

Even though this is going to be a short summer it is never too early to start planning for the next school year. Entering and attending the middle school can be exciting yet a stressful time for both parents and students.  These feelings are especially intensified if this is your first time as a middle school parent. In my twenty plus years of working in a middle school, I often find that the parent is probably more anxious than the student.  This is due to the many misconceptions about the middle school years that you hear about or see portrayed in the media.  Parents hear stories of students getting lost while transitioning from one class to the next, or having no one to sit with at lunch, and my favorite, their child getting stuffed in a locker. (The only time I have seen a student in a locker was when he put himself in it.) All of these anxieties are real and it is our job to help you through them.  What follows are some tips posted as a blog in the Salisbury Post that will hopefully easy both parent and child anxieties about the middle school.

First and foremost stay connected with the school.  For some reason parents tend to pull away from school involvement when their children reach the middle school years.  Your children will tell you that they don’t want you to come near school.  Again in my experience, they truly want you involved and once you are they think it is cool. More importantly to your child, their friends think it is cool that you are involved.

Keep reading.  There is much research that clearly demonstrates the importance of daily reading.  There is a huge change that takes place during the middle years in regard to reading.  Students transition from learning to read to reading to learn.  It is important to that your child reads something for at least thirty minutes a day.  Even during the summer.  In fact the summertime is a good time to practice this by having your child research and help plan family summer activities or family trips.

Learning time management strategies is critical to student success during the middle years.  Typically, middle school students become very involved in after school activities.  Setting aside time for studying is crucial.  Even if they don’t have any specific homework they can spend time reading and reviewing nightly.  Students learn and remember more when they consistently review information.

Helping to foster a growth mindset is critical to your child’s success in school, in their future careers and in life. A growth mindset simply means believing that you can get better and better with practice and hard work.  Children should be praised for their hard work, effort, perseverance and “grit”. Not necessarily praised for the outcome of their effort.

Stay in your child’s “business”.  As students go through the middle years they are trying to find where they fit in. They may find themselves associating with new friends.  We encourage you to stay in tune with their friends.  Middle school aged children are very impressionable which makes this an especially crucial time to stay in touch with what they are doing and who they are hanging out with during their unstructured time.

As we enter into our Bring Your Own Device initiative next year with our sixth graders it is important for you as parents to know what your child does online. They have a wealth of information at their fingertips.  Unfortunately it is not always appropriate information.  They often don’t realize the digital footprint that they leave behind.  Once it is posted it is nearly impossible to delete it.  Common Sense Media has a great website that contains good information about keeping your children safe while online.

Ask about school every day.  Talking about and asking questions about their day at school shows your child that you are interested and concerned about their education. Often the answer to your questions will be the preverbal answer of “nothing” when you ask what they did in school.  If you ask questions such as, what is one thing that made you think today, or what didn’t you understand today, your child will reflect and give you more than a one word response.  It is hard to get this information but keep asking.

The middle years are the years to explore.  Encourage your child to get involved in something at school.  A child tends to do better in school when they are involved in activities outside of the school day.

It really does take a village to raise a child.  Schools cannot do it alone, families cannot do it alone and communities cannot do it alone.  If we truly value an exceptional education for our students we must work together as a team.  Despite the sometimes negative public perception of middle school aged students, they are amazing people. Remember to stop and savor the moment every now and then.  You are encouraged to embrace this time and enjoy the development of your child as it goes by all to fast.

Citizens of the Future

Citizens of the Future

By Mike Carls, ISD 423 Board of Education

Parents, schools and the community share the responsibility of educating today’s young people to be effective citizens in the future. In a letter written in 1816, Thomas Jefferson reminded us that the education of today’s young people is central to the preservation of our deeply held civic values. We are all in this together, striving to do the best we can with our time, talents and resources.

Think back to your learning experiences both in and out of school. What do you remember most? It was probably when you were actually “doing something” – in other words, actively participating. Active participation – whether in school, in the community, in a group or as an individual – often gives us our most memorable learning experiences. Considering this, it’s up to us to apply an “experiences model” to advance civic values such as freedom, liberty and equality. Teachers use active learning in the classroom daily and strive to teach these values. How can we, as parents and community members, contribute to and enhance these efforts?

If we want our young people to be actively involved in our community and our national political life, we need to be actively involved ourselves. We know young people pay more attention to what we do than what we say. Many of us face obstacles of limited time and resources, but there are a multitude of ways we can demonstrate our belief that “doing” is important. We model our belief in making a difference when we volunteer for a cause or an organization, run for civic or political office, and show commitment to long-term goals we believe in by becoming involved.

Students not only need to see adults who model these behaviors, they need to have experiences themselves. They need and deserve opportunities: to be actively involved in their community, to come into contact with people outside of the school setting who can further their knowledge and experience, and to learn from and serve their community. Such activities can help students develop qualities like persistence and leadership, help them understand the value of setting and achieving long-term goals, and even learn that failure can be a positive opportunity for learning. When students see the difference they can make, “real life” learning can have a profound impact.

Hutchinson Schools already use and are continuing to expand such opportunities outside the traditional classroom. We see this across age groups in programs such as Park’s “Helping Paws,” West’s “Ask Me” stickers, Park’s and West’s author visits, the high school’s peer helper program, meetings with community experts and more. Tiger Path Academies will create new opportunities through internships, mentorships and apprenticeships for high school students.

Through these programs, students can experience the rewards and excitement of learning, the opportunity to meet with people in a variety of careers, and the satisfaction that comes from helping others. Jefferson presented us with the challenge to educate our youth. Together we can share with our young people the awesome responsibility of becoming educated and developing the civic values that have helped our nation survive for over 200 years.

Your Family is POWERFUL!

Your Family is POWERFUL!!

Cindy Wendorff, District #423 Early Childhood Family Education

Did you know that your family relationships are key to developing kid’s character strengths?  These are the strengths they need for school, work and life:

  • Being motivated to learn
  • Being responsible
  • Caring for others

A 2015 study (Search Institute, Mpls. MN) of 1085 parents of children 3-13 years of age from across the United States found that the quality of parent-child relationships is 10 times more powerful than demographics such as:

  • Race
  • Ethnicity
  • Family composition
  • Income
  • Developing quality family relationships is the missing piece in America’s effort to help children succeed. (94).

Here is the good news!  Family relationships do not form in a vacuum or in a laboratory. They are shaped by our daily habits, schedules, celebrations and stresses that make up our family life. Families are also part of a larger web of relationships within extended family, friends and neighbors.  Where families live; how they spend their time and whom they interact with all affect their family relationships.

Families with strong relationships were found to have:

Parents who were  confident in their parenting and comfortable playing with their children.

  • Could unplug from technology and distraction
  • Participated in activities experiencing nature and outdoors together
  • Participated in active, creating, learning and volunteering activities together

Consistent routines, but were also adaptable in the midst of changes.

  • Routine gives a dependable rhythm and structure to family life. Without any routine, family life becomes chaotic and unpredictable. Routines are especially important in times of crisis or major transitions.  At the same time, there is a need for flexibility and adaptability so family members don’t feel pushed to detach under stress.  What a challenge to find that balance!!!

Engagement with the broader community.

  • Parents provided exposure to other adults – teachers, coaches, leaders, extended family adults- and modeled appropriate activities.

The study found 20 helpful  actions for parents  to develop close connections with their kids:

Express Care- Show me that I matter to you

  • Be dependable-  someone I can trust
  • Listen – Really pay attention when we are together
  • Believe in me- Make me feel valued
  • Show me you enjoy being with me
  • Encourage- Acknowledge my efforts

Challenge Growth- Insist I try to improve

  • Expect me to do my best
  • Hold me accountable – insist I take responsibility for my action
  • Help me learn  from my mistakes 102

Provide Support – Help me complete tasks  

  • Guide me through hard situations
  • Build my confidence to take charge of my life
  • Defend me when I need it
  • Set limits to keep me on track

Share Power – Treat me with respect and give me a say

  • Respect me – take me seriously and treat me fairly
  • Include me in decisions that affect me when appropriate
  • Work with me to solve problems
  • Create opportunities for me to take action and lead

Expand Possibilities – connect me with people and places in my world

  • Inspire me to see possibilities in my future
  • Connect  me to new ideas, experiences and places to help me grow110

We have a rich reservoir of relational power across the United States and we cannot leave relationship quality to chance.  We need to become more intentional in forming , strengthening and sustaining the  important relationships in our families!!  Let’s focus on our family relationships and increase our power!!

Tigers of the Week: Grace Penke and Joey Mueller

These are the Tigers of the Week for June 6.  Congratulations to all of our students who participate in all of our activities on a successful year!

Grace Penke – Softball

Grace is a fierce competitor on the mound and help the Tigers win 3 games in a tough 4 game stretch

Grace is constantly trying to win each pitch and each at bat.  She is very grateful and respectful of her opponents, teammates, and coaches.  Grace has put in a lot of time in the off season and has pushed herself every day to become a better pitcher.

Joey Mueller – Boys Tennis

Joey has been playing outstanding this year and has gone 13-2 at number 2 singles.  His match helped clinch an upset against Mankato West in the section tournament.

Joey is tenacious and is never afraid to hit a ball hard to end a point.  His sportsmanship is always on display and his effort is second to none.  He’s the type of athlete who knows how to have fun, but will also try to outwork everyone on the court.  His effort is apparent in every drill, game, or match.

Hutchinson Public Schools

Hutchinson Public Schools