Archives for March 2015

When Your Kid Is the Bully: What to Do

Here’s what to do if your kid turns out to be the bully at school.

by Suzanne Peck

It usually starts with a phone call from the school: Your child’s in trouble for bullying. “Ninety-nine percent of parents will say, ‘No way, not my kid’ and get defensive,” says Jennifer Cannon, a family therapist in Newport Beach, California. “But every kid is capable of bullying, even the kid you think is an angel.” So why do kids bully? Ronald Mah, a family therapist in San Leandro, California and author of Getting Beyond Bullying and Exclusion PreK-5, describes two distinct reasons why kids bully. “One reason is when popular and powerful children use bullying to maintain their power and popularity. The other reason is when children who experience a sense of deprivation feel entitled to bully other kids; that is, ‘I’ve been dealt a bad hand, so the rules don’t apply to me.’ or ‘I’ve been picked on, so I’ll get to them before they get to me.'” Kids also observe examples of bullying behavior every day through media, politics, TV reality shows, other kids at school, and even family dynamics. They may not understand that such behaviors are not acceptable anywhere.

Just take a deep breath, gather details about what exactly transpired, and let the school know that you want to work together for a positive outcome. At the same time, make sure that your child is treated fairly regarding school discipline. For example, new federal data shows that students of color and students with disabilities are disciplined much more frequently and more harshly, with suspensions as early as preschool. Assess your child’s actions without rushing to judgment and focus on understanding the behavior that’s involved before deciding on the appropriate consequences. The good news is that kids can unlearn bullying behaviors, and you can help them change their ways.

What to Do If Your Child Is Bullying Others

Acknowledge the Behavior

Sit down with your child, speak in a calm, firm tone, and ask him what happened and why he behaved a certain way. Be a good listener and avoid blame. Kids need to understand that it’s okay to admit they made a mistake. Ask questions to help him understand how his behavior affects others:

“Is what you did respectful? Did it hurt someone? Would you want someone to do that to you?” Emphasize fair treatment of all people by saying, “We don’t behave that way in this family because we respect other people, and we don’t want other people to treat us that way,” suggests Walter Roberts, a professor of counselor education at Minnesota State University, Mankato and author of Working With Parents of Bullies and Victims.

Focus on Consequences

Help your child understand that she is accountable for her actions. “Outline and follow through with consequences for bullying behavior. Write them out, review them once a week, and enforce them,” Cannon advises. Depending on the circumstances, you can eliminate something your child cherishes so the consequence will be significant, such taking away your child’s cell phone, eliminating or reducing TV or video game time, or preventing participation in a social outing. Or, better yet, turn the bullying incident into a teachable moment by discussing positive ways your child can handle future situations that lead to good consequences. Have your child write a paragraph describing what it would feel like to be in the other child’s shoes or write an apology letter.

Be Proactive About Working With the School

“School personnel works best when they see that parents sincerely want to improve the situation. Don’t feel you’ll be judged as a bad parent. It’s hard raising kids, and it’s not a failure to ask for help,” Roberts says. So don’t be afraid to work with the school to help your child learn behaviors that are constructive. Start with your child’s teacher and then meet with the principal, counselor, school resource officer, or district staff to come up with a plan to help your child stop bullying. Ask if counseling or other community resources are available to help your child. Stay in close touch with the school to see if your child’s behavior improves.

Build Social and Emotional Skills

Empower your child to build her skills for resolving conflicts and handling tough situations. Social and emotional learning includes self-awareness, self-management, resilience, social agility, and responsible decision-making. Look for after-school programs and extracurricular activities that can provide new settings to develop ways to build positive relationships. Improving these skills now, while your child is in elementary school, will be a lifelong gift.

Suzanne Peck is filmmaker and author of STAND TALL: Lessons That Teach Respect and Prevent Bullying, www.corwin.com/standtall. She has decades of experience as a teacher, trainer, and mom.

The 4 Common Types of Bullying

Identify which kind of bullying your child may be experiencing.

by Suzanne Peck

Bullying is defined as mean, hurtful behavior that occurs repeatedly in a relationship with an imbalance of power or strength. It takes many forms — verbal, physical, relational, and cyberbullying. Although schools are doing more to deal with bullying, parents are still the key to empowering kids to prevent and stop it. Here are tips on how to deal with the four common types of bullying.

Verbal Bullying

What It Is: Verbal bullying, or bullying with cruel spoken words, involves ongoing name-calling, threatening, and making disrespectful comments about someone’s attributes (appearance, religion, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, etc.).

Example: When a child says to another child, “You’re really, really fat, and so is your mom.”

How to Spot the Signs: Children may withdraw, become moody, or show a change in appetite. They may tell you something hurtful that someone said about them and ask you if you think it’s true.

What to Do: First, teach your kids about respect. Through your own behavior, reinforce how everyone deserves to be treated well — thank teachers, praise friends, be kind to store employees. Stress self-respect, and help your kids to appreciate their strengths. “The best protection parents can offer is to foster their child’s confidence and independence and to be willing to take action when needed,” says Shane Jimerson, Ph.D., a school psychologist and professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Discuss and practice safe, constructive ways your child can respond to a bully. Brainstorm key phrases to say in a firm but not antagonistic tone, such as “That wasn’t nice,” “Leave me alone,” or “Back off.”

Physical Bullying

What It Is: Physical bullying, or bullying with aggressive physical intimidation, involves repeated hitting, kicking, tripping, blocking, pushing, and touching in unwanted and inappropriate ways.

Example: A child gets his pants pulled down on the playground at lunchtime.

How to Spot the Signs: Many children don’t tell their parents when it happens, so watch for possible warning signs like unexplained cuts, scratches or bruises, missing or damaged clothes, or frequent complaints of headaches and stomachaches.

What to Do: If you suspect your child is being physically bullied, start a casual conversation — ask what’s going on at school, during lunch or recess, or on the way home. Based on the responses, ask if anyone’s been mean to her. Try to keep your emotions in check. Emphasize the value of open, ongoing communication with you and with teachers or school counselors. Document the dates and times of bullying incidents, the responses from people involved, and the actions that have been taken. Do not contact the parents of the bully (or bullies) to resolve matters on your own. If your child continues to be physically hurt, and you need additional assistance beyond the school, contact local law enforcement. There are local, state, and federal anti-bullying and harassment laws that require prompt corrective action.

Relational Bullying

What It Is: Relational bullying, or bullying with exclusionary tactics, involves deliberately preventing someone from joining or being part of a group, whether it’s at a lunch table, game, sport, or social activity.

Example: A group of girls in dance class keeps talking about a weekend sleepover and sharing pictures, treating the one uninvited child as if she were invisible.

How to Spot the Signs: Watch for mood changes, withdrawal from peer groups, and a shift toward being alone more than usual. Girls are more likely than boys to experience social exclusion, nonverbal, or emotional intimidation. The pain can be as strong as physical bullying and last even longer.

What to Do: Make it a nightly routine to talk with your kids about how their day went, advises Jennifer Cannon, a family therapist in Newport Beach, California. Help them find things that make them happy, point out their positive qualities, and make sure they know there are people who love and care about them. Focus on developing their talents and interests in music, arts, athletics, reading, and after-school activities so your kids build relationships outside of school.

Cyberbullying

What It Is: Cyberbullying, or bullying in cyberspace, involves haranguing someone by spreading mean words, lies, and false rumors through e-mails, text messages, and social media posts. Sexist, racist, and homophobic messages create a hostile atmosphere, even when not directly targeting your child.

Example: When someone tweets or posts, “Kayden is a total loser. Why is anyone hanging out withhim? He’s so gay.”

How to Spot the Signs: Watch to see if your child spends more time online (visiting social media pages or texting) but appears to be sad and anxious afterward. Even though she’s reading painful things on her computer, tablet, or phone, this may be her only social outlet. Also take note if she has trouble sleeping, begs to stay home from school, or withdraws from activities she once loved.

What to Do: Mean messages can be distributed anonymously and quickly, leading to 24/7 cyberbullying, so first establish household rules for Internet safety. Agree on age-appropriate time limits. Know the popular and potentially abusive sites, apps, and digital devices before your kids use them. Let your kids know you will be monitoring their online activities. Tell them that if they experience cyberbullying, they shouldn’t engage, respond, or forward it. Instead, they should inform you so you can print out the offending messages, including the dates and times of when they were received. Report cyberbullying to the school and to the online service provider. If the cyberbullying escalates to include threats and sexually explicit messages, also contact local law enforcement.

If your child does approach you about being bullied or about someone else being bullied, be supportive, praise her courage for telling you, and gather information (without getting angry or accusatory). Emphasize the difference between being a tattletale who is just trying to get someone in trouble and talking to an adult who can help. Always take action with bullying, especially if it becomes severe or persistent, by contacting your child’s teacher or principal first to monitor the situation until it stops. Visit stopbullying.gov for more information.

Suzanne Peck is filmmaker and author of STAND TALL: Lessons That Teach Respect and Prevent

Bullying, www.corwin.com/standtall. She has decades of experience as a teacher, trainer, and mom.

Preparing Your Child For Testing

Helpful information about learning brought to you by Reading Rockets, Colorín Colorado, and LD OnLine

Types of tests

Testing is used in schools for two main purposes. One is to find out how well an individual student is learning in the classroom. For instance, teachers can test how well a child is responding to reading instruction by using assessments that measure specific skills necessary for fluent reading.

The other purpose is to find out how well the school is meeting local and national benchmarks for student achievement. For this purpose schools use standardized tests, usually administered in the spring.

How to help

Take a deep breath. Step away from the flashcards. As a parent, the most important way you can help your child do well on tests is to read with your child regularly, talk with her about her experiences, and provide a quiet work space at home.

When well-meaning parents focus too much on test results, they put undue pressure on young children. For kids who struggle with attention or memorization tasks, testing can be extremely stressful because it requires students to draw entirely on these skills.

To help prepare for routine classroom assessments:

  • Provide a variety of books, children’s magazines, and enriching experiences to spark your child’s curiosity and build vocabulary
  • Make sure your child gets time and space for homework
  • Make sure your child gets enough rest and a well-balanced diet
  • Consult with your child’s teacher to find out if there are specific skills you can practice at home

To help prepare for standardized tests:

  • Ask the teacher for the testing schedule and a practice test so that you can familiarize your child with the format ahead of time so he knows what to expect
  • Respond to any concerns your child has with encouragement and support. Emphasize that there are lots of ways to express what you know, and that these tests are just one measure

Interpreting test scores

Ask the teacher to share the results of standardized testing to see if your child’s performance on the test is consistent with his or her performance in the classroom. Meet with the teacher about any concerns you have.

If you are interested, you can also ask how the school compares to other schools in the district, state, and across the country.

For more information about testing, visit:

www.ReadingRockets.org/article/c68

4 Ways to Make Reading Fun

By taking a playful, pressure-free approach, you’ll help your child enjoy books on his own in practically no time.

By Leslie Gariso Pfaff from Parents Magazine

Since Anita Lavine’s daughter, Faye, had been an early and avid reader, the Seattle mom figured her 5-year-old son, Owen, would follow suit. The early part happened, but not the avid. “He wasn’t interested in the books that were at his reading level,” says Lavine. So she brainstormed creative ways to help him practice his new skills, like reading the back of his favorite cereal box, learning the names of familiar birds in a Pacific Northwest nature guide, and flipping through family cookbooks for cool recipes.

“Kindergarten and first grade lay the foundation for how kids feel about books throughout their education,” says Annemarie B. Jay, Ph.D., director of graduate and doctoral reading programs at Widener University, in Chester, Pennsylvania. “It’s important not only for them to learn to read — but for them to like doing it.” How can you make letters, sounds, and words seem as fun as playing a board game or building with Legos? Dr. Jay and other experts offer easy, engaging ideas that are tied to crucial literacy skills. Read all about them!

Sound Off

Early readers are still absorbing the notion that letters are symbols that stand for sounds. A good way to reinforce the idea is to start with the most familiar word of all: your child’s name. “Challenge him to find things around the house that start with the same first letter as his name,” suggests Dr. Jay. To familiarize him with ending sounds, read poems, nursery rhymes, and rhyming books (like Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham) together. For overall sound recognition, Rachel Payne, coordinator of early-childhood services at the Brooklyn Public Library, recommends the game “Beginning, Middle, or End”: Hide a raisin in one of three cups, and ask your child where a letter falls in a particular word, such as the m in camel. The goal is to look in the right cup — in this case, the middle one — and then to eat the raisin inside.

Follow the Plot

If your child doesn’t comprehend what a story is about, she’s likely to regard reading as a chore. By engaging her in the book when the two of you have storytime together, you can help her follow the plot and find the meaning. Before Sarah Lendt, of Sleepy Eye, Minnesota, starts reading the text with her son, Isaac, 6, she tells him to look at the illustrations and asks him questions to get him excited about what’s coming: “What do you think the story is going to be about?” “What do you think the character will do?” Questions like these help kids predict the story while illustrations often give them clues to words they’re having trouble sounding out, says Kathy Barclay, Ed.D., a literary specialist at Western Illinois University, in Macomb. Still finding that your kid can’t follow the plot — or doesn’t give it his full attention? Dr. Barclay suggests reading nonfiction books that reflect your son’s passions, like fire trucks, dinosaurs, or pirates.

Have a Word

Building a broad vocabulary is essential to reading comprehension now and later in school. One way to expand your child’s vocabulary is to read aloud to him, choosing books that are a couple of grade levels above his. “He’ll be acquiring a knowledge bank of rich words, and when he eventually comes across them on his own, they won’t be 100 percent new,” says Dr. Barclay. Find books that are likely to offer unique words. “There’s great vocabulary in poetry, classic fairy tales, and nonfiction,” notes Payne. “Stop occasionally if you come across a particularly unusual word, but don’t talk about individual words so much that you interrupt the flow of the story,” says Jill Allor, Ph.D., chair of teaching and learning at the Simmons School at Southern Methodist University, in Dallas. Instead, go back to them after you’ve finished reading the book.

Speak Up

To truly enjoy reading, it needs to become second nature. “Children should read both silently and aloud,” says Judy Cheatham, Ph.D., vice president of literacy services at the nonprofit group Reading Is Fundamental. That’s where a child’s fluency — the ability to read smoothly and expressively — comes in, says Dr. Cheatham. Since kids gain fluency by practicing familiar text, don’t worry if your child chooses the same book over and over again. If your kid is anxious about reading aloud to you, let him read to himself or into a recording device and then play it back for himself or a younger sibling. Or encourage him to entertain an even more forgiving listener. A study from the University of California, Davis showed that second-graders who read aloud to the family dog improved reading skills by 12 percent over ten weeks. Another surprising help: audio books, which reinforce the flow of words. Natalie Wahl, of Las Vegas, started buying them a few years ago for her son Benjamin, now 8. Says Wahl, “After just a couple of months of listening to the books, I noticed a big improvement in Ben’s ability to read aloud.”

Originally published in the January 2013 issue of Parents magazine.

Register Now! School Registration 2015-2016

Registration deadline for all students already attending New Horizons is March 6th.

Register Now before registration and tuition deposit increases!

Lock in today’s prices by beginning payments now!

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Registration For The 2015-2016 School Year

nhcds-1Registration deadline for all students already attending New Horizons is March 6th.

Pre–K parents who are interested in Kindergarten at New Horizons should contact the office and get an Elementary Packet for the fall.

Parent contracts have been distributed to all in-house students. Please see your child’s teacher if you have not received your contract. Placement will be guaranteed only for those students who have completed the parent contract and paid the non refundable registration fee by March 6th.

Voluntary Pre-K Vouchers: (For students who will turn 4 on or before September 1st, 2015).
VPK vouchers are due by Friday, April 10th, 2015.

March 2015 Newsletter

March 2015 School newsletters now availableClick Here

Summer Camp Fun

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Summer Camp Registration information Coming soon!

Benefits of a Multi-Age Classroom

clearwater-palm-harbor-school-classroomFlexible Grouping
In all our classrooms there are many options for grouping. Groups are formed according to skill, interest, or learning style. Grouping patterns change throughout the day, should vary so an individual student may be part of three or four different groups in the course of a day or week. Groups, most importantly, should be fluid and temporary. Students should not get locked into working with one group for a whole year.

Flexible and continuous learning
Since children learn at different rates, the continuous progress model assures that all can have appropriate interaction and make progress, regardless of ability.

Role Modeling
Younger students observe older students doing sophisticated tasks and showing responsible behaviors. Older students develop as “mentors” for tasks that may be too difficult for younger students to do alone, building self confidence and self esteem. Many younger students absorb academic concepts from watching and working next to their older classmates.

Cooperation
Students learn to work together on academic and social needs, as well as the care of the classroom. As age barriers drop, there is an increase in mixed-age relationships. Cooperation becomes a natural part of all learning situations.

Closer to Real World Model
Multi-age classrooms parallel the model seen in a family or an occupation, where cooperative relationships flourish.

Class stability
The older students may move on each year, while the younger students stay becoming the “veterans”. Students learn rapidly from each other routines, and where things are kept.

Social Interactions
Students have the opportunity to make friends across grade-level lines, thus have many more choices in friendships. Students are allowed to learn together in many different configurations, more opportunities are given to lead, follow, share, nurture, and collaborate. Positive peer tutoring relationships can be fostered. Students have chances to teach something they have learned, which cements learning in the tutor.

Responsibility
Students learn independence by goal setting, time management, jobs and routines, while taking responsibility for each other are stressed.

Recognition
All students make progress and have achievements celebrated, no matter what their abilities. Every child experiences success equally, because success is measured by individual achievement of goals and individual progress. Students experience continuous learning, not damaging failure or repetition of learned material.

February 2015 Newsletter Archive

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Elementary Newsletter

VPK

PreSchool

Infant/Toddlers