Help Your Children Branch Out

By Dan Olberg, Park Elementary Principal

One of the beliefs we have at Park Elementary is that everyone is a scientist. We are trying to break the stereotypical image that our students have regarding scientists. Scientists are not just those who dress up in a white lab coats and wear safety glasses all day. Scientists are farmers, cooks, hairdressers, construction workers, and much more. So when a student brought up the fact that moms and dads are scientists, I started to think about how true that statement is – especially as we know more about the brain and how it functions early in life.

Scientifically speaking, if there was one part of the brain that is more important to the intelligence of a child it would have to be the cerebral cortex. That’s where higher cognitive processing occurs. As children learn new things they are essentially changing those neurons, or nerve cells, their structure, and the chemistry in their cerebral cortices.

Human beings get an explosive growth of dendrites in the cerebral cortex, like branches, in their first 8 to 10 years of life. These branches link knowledge and experiences together. Think of it as a tree with branches and leaves. The leaves hold pieces of information and the branches link the information together. As long as new experiences and knowledge continues to filter in, the branches grow and sprout new leaves. Naturally, there is a rapid growth of branches in these early years and it peaks at about the age of 10 when it slowly starts to decrease. At this point the branches that haven’t made connections die off. This process is called pruning. That’s why there’s so much interest today in those first 10 years of life.

So we need to ask ourselves as scientists some very important questions. How can we give children the best experiences for maximum growth? What activities are our children doing that foster brain growth? What activities are our children doing to stifle or limit the growth? What are we doing as parents to engage our children in life experiences? Those questions are not hard to answer; however, acting on them can be more than difficult at times.

So the students had it right, parenting is part science. Our guidance through these important years is scientifically important. The most exciting discovery about all this research is that education should continue for a lifetime. The brain’s capacity for learning and change is limitless, depending on our willingness to seek new experiences and opportunities. Our “trees,” as well as our children’s can continue to fill out and expand with a wide variety of real-world and academic activities. “Branch out” and support children’s continued brain growth.

Online Videos – What Parents Need to Know

You may have heard about issues surrounding YouTube and challenges targeting young children. We wanted to take a moment to share some important child safety information with you through the image linked below. While the “Momo Challenge” has been unverifiable, it is important to be aware of what children are watching through video apps, and nothing is ever guaranteed to be safe. If you have any concerns regarding internet safety for your children, contact the District’s Technology Innovation Specialist Jocelynn Buckentin at 320-234-2716 or jocelynn.buckentin@isd423.org.

What Parents Need to Know about Online Videos

 

 

 

 

ECFE Garage Sale – April 27, 2019

Attention Parents – Learn About Nature Play

Thank You School Bus Drivers!

School Bus Driver Appreciation Day
February 27, 2019

Thank you to Hutchinson Bus Line and all of the school bus drivers who get students to and from school safely and also interact with students – giving them a positive start and end to their school day.

Did you know . . .

  • School bus drivers perform a 42 point pre-trip inspection every day plus post-trip inspections to make sure no children are left on the bus.
  • Once a driver is licensed, they must complete 8 hours of continuing education per year and pass a DOT driver physical every two years.
  • Hutchinson school bus drivers travel 152 routes every day! 
  • Hutchinson Bus Line has 49 drivers with over 500 years of experience!
  • Drivers work to build relationships with their students, giving them a good start and end to their school day.
  • Statewide, 760,000 students are transported 750,000 miles safely every day.
  • There is less than a .3% chance of a fatality in a school bus accident.
Thank you School Bus Drivers!

Pre-K – Grade 5 Snow Make Up Day – 2/15/19

PreK – grade 5 students and staff will have school on Friday, February 15, 2019.

This is to make up one of the prior snow days.

ECFE Classes Starting in February

There is still time to register for the next sessions of ECFE (Early Childhood Family Education) classes.

Register in person (775 School Rd S), by phone (320-587-8908) or online (click here).

Classes include:

  • Terrific Two’s
  • Terrific Two’s & Practically Preschoolers
  • Practically Preschoolers
  • Playful Preschoolers
  • Intro to Preschool
  • Busy Babies
  • Wonderful ones/Terrific Two’s

Special Classes and Family Events:

  • Cooking & Crafting Class – Playful Preschooler and Parent Special Class
  • Hands Together: Building Relationships; Sharing Wisdom and Love!
  • Frozen Friday
  • Special Matinee at the State Theatre

Parent Only Class:

  • “No Drama Discipline: The Whole-Brain Way to Calm the Chaos and Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind”

Hutch Tigers Young Athletes

Empathy + Compassion = Kindness

By Jill Bridge, Licensed School Counselor

It is the season of hope, love and joy for many as they celebrate the holidays, such as Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa. As people enter the holiday season they are embracing empathy, compassion, and kindness. Regardless of how large or small a gesture of kindness is, each gesture is a way to teach our kids, families and community about empathy and compassion. We shouldn’t need an award or recognition each and every time we show kindness. Knowing that you did something good and kind should be an intrinsic motivator to repeat it again and again. The goal should not be fame and fortune but about knowing that the kind act was meaningful and impacted another person’s life in a positive way.

Empathy is feeling or understanding what someone else is feeling. It is important for kids and adults to realize that two people may have very different feelings about the same situation. Understanding this concept will help us put ourselves in others’ shoes; we take the time and energy to look at life from their perspective. Their viewpoint may not be the same as yours but it is important to realize that is ok. For example, I can like you, I can respect you, but I don’t have to have the same feelings and thoughts as you. We are all different, and as such, we need to respect those differences.

Once the person has the ability to understand another’s perspective, the person can start to develop empathy for others, which can evolve into compassion. When you have empathy for others, you can say or do many things to show care and concern. Saying something kind or doing something helpful for others are examples of showing compassion. Imagine what our community would be like if we took that extra moment to think about another’s feelings and did something to show compassion. As a family, talk about ways you and your children can show compassion for others. During the holidays, there are a variety of opportunities to show compassion-some that cost money while others don’t cost a dime. For example, you can contact the animal shelter and help take care of the animals, you can donate to the Salvation Army red kettles, shovel a neighbor’s driveway, leave a note and/or word of encouragement for a coworker, or any idea your family holds dear.

Kindness is an overall theme that emerges when we model empathy and compassion, with kindness being the end result. Kindness is the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. How do we decide when we are being compassionate or spreading kindness? Can they be the same thing but labeled differently? They definitely can be.  The list of ways to show compassion above are ways to show kindness. When you are being compassionate you are also being kind. In order to know the best ways to be compassionate and kind we need to walk in the other person’s shoes, and use empathy.

Empathy, kindness and compassion are skills that are taught. They are not innate traits, they are learned through discussions and by seeing/hearing examples. Be a role model that helps others understand empathy, compassion and kindness. We are role models for children, family members and even strangers. Embrace the holidays, spread kindness and cheer through using empathy and compassion. Kindness goes a long way not just during the holidays but each and every day of the year.

Holiday Celebration Outreach Dinner

Hutchinson Public Schools

Hutchinson Public Schools