Thursday, September 28, 2017

Be An Includer

Image result for building confidenceThis is a really good article about relationships and learning how to include others.  At the heart of the article is really becoming a reflective person, learning to recognize and identify feelings you may have after meeting certain people or being in certain situations.  I love this article for that reason alone- thinking, identifying and reflecting about our feelings in situations.  We teach our students to be reflective in the work that they do. We ask our teachers to be reflective in the work that they do and think about how they could do something different next time. Each day on my drive home, I think about my day, what went well and what I could have done differently or better. Reflection is key to change and learning.  Wouldn't it be great if the entire Windsor community could be Includers in all of our relationships?  Let's all work together to, "Build confidence in your children by helping them find answers for themselves."

Thursday, September 21, 2017

#Yet #Practice Makes Better

Children partake in a variety of different extracurricular activities, like a new sport, art, dance, instrument, etc.  It can be expected that when starting something new, the skills needed may not be there YET.  This can be discouraging to some children and maybe even some parents.  A simple mindshift change could make all the difference for everyone involved.  We all know the saying, practice makes perfect, but is perfection actually attainable? While perfection is probably not attainable, it is not realistic to set that as the goal. However, if you change perfect to better, expectations become more realistic and attainable.  It is more encouraging for a child to hear, practice makes better versus practice makes perfect.  Reminding children that they have time to learn skills and do not need to be perfect makes the activity an practice more enjoyable and less stressful for them and you!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Questions to Ask Your Children to See How Their School Day Went!

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For those of you who don't know, I love to read educational and other articles frequently and I find that a great resource is Twitter.  It's a great way to have a place to read about the latest research, teacher/principal blogs and learn about other items that I might not read about elsewhere.  
I found this blogpost on Twitter. Similar to last week's blogpost about asking your children how they were kind after school, it is about conversation starters you can use after school to see how your child's day went.  I found when my children were younger that when I asked them a general question about how school went, they said fine or if I asked them what did you do in school today they typically would say nothing. I knew that this simply was not the case but it is a long day and it is sometimes hard to be specific.  

This blog post by Leslie Means, author of offers ideas of questions to ask your children so that they might elaborate more about all the amazing learning that occurs each day here at Windsor. #wildcatslearn ENJOY- and feel free to let us know how these work for you!  

Now that we have a new baby in our home, time with my oldest girls (ages 8 and 6) is even more difficult to find. Between constant nursing sessions and shuffling kids to and from activities, it’s been an adjustment to say the least. So I asked our writers to share some of their favorite conversation starters with their kids. These are especially great after a long school day when your babies don’t want to chat.
Here’s some of their favorites! 
  1. What made you smile today?
  2. Can you tell me an example of kindness you saw/showed? 
  3. Was there an example of unkindness? How did you respond?
  4. Does everyone have a friend at recess?
  5. What was the book about that your teacher read?
  6. What’s the word of the week?
  7. Did anyone do anything silly to make you laugh?
  8. Did anyone cry?
  9. What did you do that was creative?
  10. What is the most popular game at recess?
  11. What was the best thing that happened today?
  12. Did you help anyone today?
  13. Did you tell anyone “thank you?”
  14. Who did you sit with at lunch?
  15. What made you laugh?
  16. Did you learn something you didn’t understand?
  17. Who inspired you today?
  18. What was the peak and the pit?
  19. What was your least favorite part of the day?
  20. Was anyone in your class gone today?
  21. Did you ever feel unsafe?
  22. What is something you heard that surprised you?
  23. What is something you saw that made you think?
  24. Who did you play with today?
  25. Tell me something you know today that you didn’t know yesterday.
  26. What is something that challenged you?
  27. How did someone fill your bucket today? Whose bucket did you fill?
  28. Did you like your lunch?
  29. Rate your day on a scale from 1-10.
  30. Did anyone get in trouble today?
  31. How were you brave today?
  32. What questions did you ask at school today?
  33. Tell us your top two things from the day (before you can be excused from the dinner table!). 
  34. What are you looking forward to tomorrow?
  35. What are you reading?
  36. What was the hardest rule to follow today?
  37. Teach me something I don’t know.
  38. If you could change one thing about your day, what would it be?
  39. (For older kids):  Do you feel prepared for your history test?” or, “Is there anything on your mind that you’d like to talk about?” (In my opinion, the key is not only the way a question is phrased, but responding in a supportive way.)
  40. Who did you share your snacks with at lunch?
  41. What made your teacher smile? What made her frown?
  42. What kind of person were you today?
  43. What made you feel happy? 
  44. What made you feel proud?
  45. What made you feel loved?
  46. Did you learn any new words today?
  47. What do you hope to do before school is out for the year?
  48. If you could switch seats with anyone in class, who would it be? And why?
  49. What is your least favorite part of the school building? And favorite?
  50. If you switched places with your teacher tomorrow, what would you teach the class?

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Talking to Your Children About Kindness After School

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I read this article and simply loved it.  You may have also seen it  in on your Facebook or Twitter feeds.  I thought what a great way to promote kindness for our children. I have already shared it with staff to use with our students but also for their own conversations with their children.

 I like it because it gives clear ways to ask the questions of how were you kind today in a way that allows children to open up.  I chuckled when I read about how the author would ask her children about school, they said it was good, but offered no more information. However, when asking different questions, the conversation became more in-depth and thoughtful!

This article begins what we hope will be a nice home-school connection for us with our Wildcat Way and expectations to be Kind, Always Safe and Responsible because You are Important.  If you try it, I would love to know how your children respond.

The One Question I Always Ask My Kids After School: ‘How Were You Kind Today?’

Courtney Byrne- blogger:
Courtney Byrne
Last school year, I asked the same question each day on the drive home from school: What did you do today that was kind?
It started for a few different reasons, but caught on and turned into more of an important conversation-starter than I expected.
If there’s one thing all of our schools could use (and really, the world in general), it’s more kindness, so I decided to share this daily ritual we have and why I hope to continue it for years to come.
Before I lose you, I want to be paint a clear picture of the scene in our car every day when we talked about kindness. I don’t want you to dismiss this because it seems like another post written by a calm, put-together mom sharing words on how to make your children behave like her lovely calm children. I tend to dart from those articles, too, but that’s not what is happening here.
I am not a calm mother who never yells. My kids are not calm children either and exhibit their fair share of naughty behavior. While I swore I’d never drive a minivan, I swore even harder that I would never have one of those “messy” minivans with “stuff” all over the floor. Well, I drive a minivan, and it’s a disaster. When the girls would hop into it after school, they’d start tossing everything from school papers to lunch box leftovers. They’d usually start fighting over something and usually one or both of their little brothers would be screaming/crying because I woke them from a nap to pick their sisters up from school.
I am trying to paint a picture of our car — and my mental state at school pickup — and I’m hoping that’s coming together for you.
I’d ask the girls how their day was, usually in a not-so-friendly kind of annoyed tone. I’d get a “good” and nothing else.
One day, on a whim, I said, “Tell me something kind you did today.” It changed the tone in the car almost immediately. I asked again the next day, and then it stuck.
I didn’t remember to ask everyday. Sometimes we skipped it. Sometimes the girls came into the car beaming with excitement because they had something “kind” to share before I even asked. Those were the days I was really proud.
I’ve realized something during the first few years of my kids’ education: Not all kids are going to get a perfect report card and not all kids are going to excel in sports, music, etc. Often the picture we want to paint for our kids’ future isn’t necessarily the path they are going to choose. So really, why not spend more time focusing on raising good people?
How did this daily question change our conversations? Here are five reasons I think asking “How were you kind today?” is important and helpful for school-age kids:

1. It made for a positive way to discuss the day.

Like I mentioned, we were kind of in an after-school rut. It felt like a car of grumpy babies, toddlers, kids, and mom. This helped us feel a lot more happy and positive in the car. For me, as tired as I was, hearing my girls cheerfully tell me simple things like, “I gave Sarah my glue stick when I saw hers ran out” made me feel more cheerful too.

2. It helped them comfortably bring up times when people were unkind.

This is not why I initially started asking the question. The first time I heard “Well, let me tell you about who wasn’t kind today, Mom,” I replied with a “This is about good things. Tell me good things that happened first.” Then I thought about it: If the question about kindness helps them identify times when people are unkind and helps them talk to me about it, that’s actually a good thing.
It’s not easy to share when people are being unkind to you. It can feel embarrassing. It’s not something you feel proud of. I think kids “tattle” more when they are little but start to keep these feelings inside as they grow. So if our daily kindness chat is a place they are comfortable telling me when they felt sad at school, we’ll go with that too.

3. It helped me explain how sometimes what we think is the right thing can actually be the wrong thing.

This was something I never thought would come from our kindness chats, but it sure made things more interesting. For example: “Mom, I did something really kind today. I told Sarah that if she would just start believing in Jesus, then Santa would come to her house. Isn’t that great?!” While her intentions were good, that’s obviously not okay. It gave me a reason to explain (with a real life example) different religions and how people having different beliefs is a wonderful thing, and not something we should try to change.
Another example: “I was kind today when I screamed at Sarah for being mean to Jane and told her no one is ever going to play with her again because she’s mean.” Again, while sticking up for people is kind, there’s a right and wrong way to do it. This is a great time to explain the difference. It’s brought about many life lessons in an organic way, and that’s been helpful for all of us.

4. I planned for a better “next day.”

There were days that I got a very, very grumpy “I did nothing kind today,” which is okay too. People aren’t awesome and kind every day. We all have bad days sometimes. They need to know that it’s normal to feel this way. Our daily kindness chat helped me know when they had a “not so great” day as school and gave me the opportunity to prep them to have a better day tomorrow.

5. Raising Kind People

Knowing your kids’ grades and how they are doing academically is important, but I don’t think it needs to be the first thing you ask after school. While it’s tempting to ask “How much homework do you have?” or “What did you get on the spelling test,” focusing on kindness instead really made a positive difference for us. I want my kids to think that being a good person is going to make them more successful than anything else. By asking them how they were kind before inquiring about their academic performance, I hope they will begin to understand the importance of being a nice person.
As much as I hope people are kind to my kids, I truly hope they are kind to others. My kids seem to have very different personalities when it comes to school settings, so I feel that the kindness approach has to come from both a “How were you kind?” and a “How did you feel?” perspective.
As a parent, it can seem like there is less kindness and more terrible things happening in schools today. Perhaps it’s because we read and hear more about it. I suppose when we were kids, no one was sharing articles on bullying and there were no cyber-bullies because, well, there was no cyber. But I remember school as a really happy place, and that’s what I hope for my kids when I send them off to school every day.
In some ways, raising kind people is harder today because kids are exposed to social media and its often harsh realities at a young age. I learned to send a text message in college, and nowadays, I see elementary school kids sending them. When a kid decides to be unkind or when a kid is in a situation where others are being unkind to them, it’s harder to escape the situation. Kids can no longer just leave the playground and forget about it — they run the risk of being reminded of it all night long via text and social media. I think this makes it more important than ever to focus on the importance of kindness at school.
When the girls talked about kindness during our rides home last year, I found out there were a lot of things happening in kindergarten and first grade that I didn’t expect, but also a lot more really wonderful, kind things. We started talking about going back to school this year and what would be the same and what would be different (new classmates, same school, new teacher, same schedule). My daughter who is going into first grade said, “And you’ll still ask us about what we did that was kind, right?” That’s what made me sit down and write this.
My daughter remembered, and it was important to her. I will ask them again this year and each school year after. I see harder conversations stemming from the question as they get older, but my hope as a parent is that it helps them want to continue to be kind and share their feelings with me.
As parents, let’s join together and help our kids leave school each day talking about kindness.