A Safe Return to School
We kicked off the 2021-2022 school year face-to-face, with 100% in-person classes. With over 40 schools in one dynamic district, we take pride in preparing our students for the real world, and we recognize that the first step to preparing our students for greatness is making sure they are safe. August’s issue of Power Parent Magazine was written to help prepare GRPS families to return to school safely.
Power Parent: August 2021 covers each of the following articles:
- In SETTING GOALS: What is SEL?, learn how to help your child develop the self-awareness, self-control, and interpersonal skills that will help them succeed in school and beyond!
- Under CHECK IT OUT: Back-to-School Resources, find a helpful guide about re-establishing your family’s school routine after a long summer break
- Who is your school’s Parent Action Leader? Take a peek at NETWORKING FOR SUCCESS: Connect with your PAL to find out!
- In NAVIGATING ACHIEVEMENT: Managing COVID Anxiety, you’ll find a guide to help your child adjust mentally and emotionally to going back to school during the pandemic
- Keep up-to-date with all the latest happenings and district announcements in FAMILY CONVERSATIONS: GRPS Communications Corner
Social and Emotional Learning: Strategies for Families
Here are some specific steps you can take to nurture an emotionally intelligent child, and additional resources you can use to learn more about social and emotional learning.
Strategies At Home
Be a good listener. Listening is a “core competency skill.” Unfortunately, it’s not always practiced by parents or children. Building listening skills is important!
Model the behavior you seek. Whether it’s apologizing when you’re in the wrong or treating others with respect and kindness, children learn a great deal about relationships from observing the behavior of their parents. In the words of Maurice Elias, co-author of two books on emotionally intelligent parenting, parents should remember the “24K Golden Rule: We should always think about the impact of our actions on kids, and be as particular in what we do with our kids as we would want others to be with our kids.”
Nurture your child’s self-esteem. A child with a good sense of self is happier, more well-adjusted, and does better in school. Strategies for fostering self-esteem include giving your child responsibilities, allowing her to make age-appropriate choices, and showing your appreciation for a job well done.
Respect differences. Every child has his or her own unique talents and abilities. Whether in academics, athletics, or interpersonal relationships, resist the urge to compare your child to friends or siblings. Instead, honor your child’s accomplishments and provide support and encouragement for the inevitable challenges he faces.
Take advantage of support services. Seek the advice and support of school counselors or other social services during times of family crisis, such as a divorce or the death of a close friend or family member. Remember that no matter how close you are to your child, they may be more comfortable discussing a troubling family situation with another trusted adult.
Strategies At School
Investigate your school’s efforts to support social and emotional learning. Keep in mind that programs take on many forms and are called by many different names, including character education, leadership, conflict resolution, or peer mediation. There are four ideal components of a school’s social emotional learning program: a specific program to support social-emotional learning, problem-prevention and health promotion activities, support services to address transitions, crises, and conflicts, and a commitment to community service. Ask your child, their teacher, your school principal, or your PAL about activities and programs in each of these key areas.
Organize guest speakers. Work with your GRPS FACE team to identify experts within your community who can speak to parents and teachers about strategies for nurturing emotionally intelligent children. Reach out to us anytime by calling 819-1977! You can also collaborate with your school’s parent organization to make this happen!
Celebrate diversity. Work with other parents and school staff to organize programs and events to celebrate and honor the many cultures in your school community.
Begin the discussion. Bring together leaders from throughout your community — businesspeople and law enforcement, parents and educators — to discuss ways in which your community can make the emotional health and wellness of children a priority.
Helping Kids Back Into the School Routine
Lianna Wilson, MA, and Sarah Straus, MS
As the summer comes to a close and school is getting back into session, here are a couple quick reminders to help make the transition from the beach to the classroom easier for you and your child.
Validation: Let your child know that his nervous or apprehensive feelings about the start of school are normal. All kids (and adults!) have a hard time getting back into the routine of the school year. The knowledge that he is not alone in this experience will help your child feel he’s being heard and understood.
Homework: Another transition that can be rough after a summer break is homework completion. Like the morning routine, providing your child with a structured schedule can help him stay focused and motivated. Completing homework as soon as school is over and with continuous parental support will take advantage of the daylight hours and provide encouragement, motivation, and assistance when needed. Snacks are a great way to keep your child’s energy up while he works through those tough math problems. Of course, some children have active schedules, with team sports, music classes, or afterschool clubs, which can make engaging in homework more difficult. Letting your child know that you understand the hard work he is putting in and being ready with frequent positive feedback for his effort can help motivate him to get homework done.
Morning Routines: A common change that occurs as we begin the school year is a new morning routine. To help your child be successful, discuss what her morning routine will look like during the school year. This way, your child knows what will be happening and has clear expectations that are valuable to her under the time pressure of getting ready for school. Provide your child with simple, well-defined, and easy steps for her routine so that she has a clear idea of what you expect and so that it’s easy to follow along with you! Having an easy-to-reference schedule, maybe with pictures, can engage your child and provide a wonderful visual guide for what she needs to do next. Giving specific praise when she completes each lets her know that you love what you’re seeing. This will increase your child’s chances of success in the future, and helps build her self-esteem.
Bedtime: Bedtime is one of the hardest transitions. Children may be accustomed to going to sleep later and/or waking up later during the summer, so the new school schedule can be difficult to get acclimated to. As with the morning routine, having a nighttime schedule can assist in creating a structure for your child. Set your child up for success with clear expectations, simple step-by-step instructions, and praise at the completion of each step. Additionally, visual reminders can help your child have something to refer to as she goes about her routine. Most kids want more time watching their favorite TV show or finishing that last level of a videogame, and setting time limits can be a great way to put a boundary around the winding down time that they need each evening.
Connect with your PAL
Every GRPS school has a Parent Action Leader (PAL). A PAL acts as a liaison between the school district and the families from the corresponding school.
Who is the PAL in your child’s school?
NORTHEAST AREA PALs
|Aberdeen Academy||NEW PAL: Jessica Marshall|
|City Middle/High School||Amber Kilpatrick
|Coit Creative Arts||Sybil Johnson|
|Congress Elementary School||Janelle Burden Hill|
|GR Montessori Academy||Laura Slusher|
|GR Montessori Academy||Lauren Ward|
|Kent Hills Elementary School||NEW PAL NEEDED!|
|Innovation Central High School||Lakeshia Mickens|
|North Park Montessori – Wellerwood||Jackie Wolters|
|North Park Montessori||Angela Deluca Placencia|
|Palmer Elementary School||NEW PAL NEEDED!|
|Riverside Middle School||Sybil Johnson|
SOUTHEAST AREA PALs
|Alger Middle School||NEW PAL NEEDED!|
|Brookside Elementary School||Anna Johnson|
|Campus Elementary School||Nicole Duprey|
|Dickinson Academy||Sonia Riley|
|East Leonard Elementary School||Destiny Lockhart|
|Gerald R. Ford Academic Center||NEW PAL: Shanitra Reed|
|Ken-o-Sha Elementary School||Erin Hurley|
|Grand Rapids University Preparatory Academy||Doriece Teasley|
|Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Academy||Belinda Henderson|
|Mulick Park Elementary School||Leonora Pickett|
|Ottawa Hills High School||Arthur Libbett|
|Ridgemoor Park Montessori||Emily McClain|
|Sherwood Park Elementary School||Flavia de la Cruz|
SOUTHWEST AREA PALs
|Burton Elementary School||Adda Addi-Taylor|
|Burton Middle School||NEW PAL NEEDED!|
|Buchanan Elementary School||Julie De Leon Aguilar|
|Buchanan Elementary School||Vanessa Cervantes|
|Cesar Chavez Elementary School||Isela Hernandez|
|Southwest Community Campus||Jacqueline Alimpic|
|Southwest Community Campus||Avelina Garcia|
NORTHWEST AREA PALs
|CA Frost Environmental Science Academy||Lisa Lint-VanderZouwen|
|Grand Rapids Public Museum School||NEW PAL NEEDED!|
|Harrison Park Academy||Melissa Dean|
|Harrison Park Academy||Michael Swartlander|
|Shawmut Hills Academy||Kelly Muschiana|
|Sibley Elementary School||Lesvia Marroquin|
|Stocking Elementary School||Scott Zukowski|
|Westwood Middle School||Wilfred Joiner|
|Union High School||Shaela Hampton|
To read August 2021’s edition of Power Parent Magazine in its entirety, please follow this link!
If you’re interested in serving as the PAL at your school, please contact the Family and Community Engagement office at (616) 819-1977.