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Florida Circle of Parents E-Newsletter
Five Strategies for Smooth Operating for the New School Year
Regardless of how last year went the new school year starts off full of promise and potential.  Let's take a moment and look at some strategies that can improve the probability of a successful school year for both you and your child.

1. Goals - Yours and Theirs
One of the most effective ways to get the school year started is to imagine it is over.  Help your child visualize what it would look like if they had a great year.  What kind of grades would they have, what would their social life be like, what activities would they have gotten involved in, what new skills or hobbies would they have developed?

If your child has not performed up to their potential and you believe they are not putting in the appropriate effort, bring your concerns out in the open in a curious, non-confrontational manner where your child can feel comfortable sharing their side of this concern.  Most children genuinely want to do well in school.  If you suspect that your child might be struggling more than seems typical for their age or grade, speak to a qualified professional about your concerns.  Noted Psychiatrist and Professor at Harvard Medical School, Ross Greene's mantra is "Kids do well IF they can".   If they are not, chances are there is a developmental delay or an unsolved problem.

2. Communication with Your Child's Teacher
Depending on your child's age and how well they manage school, you may want to reach out to your child's teacher during the first 2 weeks of school. In most cases, you can send a one-page letter letting your teacher know a bit about your child.  Include your child's strengths, areas they may struggle with, methods and strategies that have been effective in the past, and any other concerns you may have.  Be sure to include the best way and time to contact you (phone, cell, email).  If your child has an IEP or a 504 plan you can assume the teacher has read it, but perhaps include any vital information you feel is important to highlight.

One important step that many parents overlook is speaking directly with their own child first.  Ask your child how they think they learn best in class.  Where do they sit to concentrate best, how do they feel about being called on in class, how well do they keep up with the pace of the class, and what other concerns or suggestions they may have to help them learn best.  Communicating these needs to your child's teacher will give the teacher important insights to help your child adjust to the new year.

3. Time Management
Effective time management skills are helpful to all adults and children. One of the most important skills school age children must learn is understanding where their time is going and how to prioritize and guard their time.  For young children, you can play a game of "beat the clock" or "guess how long" to help them understand how long different activities such as getting dressed, cleaning up, and getting ready for school really take.  This way when they beg for more play time, you can work with them to see how much time they really have available.  For older children, ask them to estimate how long each of their homework assignments and other daily responsibilities will take them each night for a few nights.  Have them compare this to the actual time they spend, including setting up and packing up.  Then they, too, will be able to allocate their time and manage it more effectively.

4. Organization: Both at School and at Home
Certainly, the more organized we are, the calmer and smoother our day will be.  Here are some basic tips for helping the whole family operate more effectively.
  • Get organized the night before.  Review the calendar, pack up the backpacks, and pick out clothes for the morning.
  • Have a Staging area in each bedroom and the kitchen.  This is where you will place anything that needs to leave the room next time you exit.  Have your children pick a spot in their room to place their backpacks, school projects, items they need for afterschool activities, etc.  Help them develop the habit of placing these items here at night before they go to bed.  Having everything in one spot when it's time to leave will make the morning less hectic for all.
5. Technology - Low Tech and Inexpensive
One of the most valuable tools to have on hand is a simple kitchen timer.  Having an external reminder that it is time to transition can make it easier to relax and be fully engaged in the current task at hand.  Timers are also a great device to help children experience and concretize the passage of time.  You can use it to signal dinnertime, clean up time, bedtime, etc. so that you don't have to be the constant reminder.

Another useful device is a simple dry erase board.  It can be used for reminder notes, organizing a project, math scratchboard, to do lists, prioritizing homework, etc.  Each child can have their own to use and you can keep a family one in the kitchen.

Take some time to involve your children in the process of how you manage your lives together.  Encourage them to take part in how you organize their time and materials so that they can learn the steps and decisions involved along the way.  This will allow them to take ownership and responsibility as they grow and mature.
The Positive Effects of Playing Sports in School
Kids who are active in school sports are fitter, have healthier body weights and are more confident. The risk of blood pressure, heart disease, osteoporosis and other chronic diseases is lower among physically active people, which makes it all the more important for children to appreciate the importance of physical activity at a young age.

Improved Social Skills
Participation in school sports provides a sense of belonging and being part of a team or group. You interact with your peers in a friendly manner. You learn to consider the interests of your teammates and to practice mutual respect and cooperation. You work together, share time and other resources, take turns to play and learn to cope with success and failure as a team. These interactions facilitate bonding and lasting friendships with your schoolmates, which can help make children more sociable and outgoing as they grow.

Better Health
Pastimes such as Internet, television and computer games can make children sedentary and increase the risk of obesity. Children who do not participate in sports or other physical activities are more likely to grow up to be inactive adults. Participation in school sports supports the healthy growth of the heart, lungs, muscles and bones. It also improves agility, coordination and balance. Exercise also helps reduce stress levels, anxiety and behavioral problems. Regular physical activity helps you relax better and reduces muscular tension.

Lower Risk of Negative Influences
Youth who participate in sports are less likely to commit crimes. Engaging in sports reduces the amount of unsupervised free time on your hands and prevents boredom. This makes options such as smoking, drinking and drugs less appealing. According to the Women's Sport Foundation, girls who play sports do better at school and learn the importance of goal setting, strategizing and planning, all of which can becomponents of success in the workplace. They are also less likely to have sex or get pregnant at an early age, according to the Women's Sports Foundation.

Self-Esteem and Confidence
When you participate in school sports, you develop a variety of techniques and skills. You engage in friendly competition with your schoolmates, have an easier time maintaining a healthy body weight and have a lower risk of developing obesity. Boys and girls who play sports have more positive body images than those who are sedentary. When you play well and win games, you gain a sense of accomplishment, which helps shape self-esteem.
CASAColumbia Family Day: September 28, 2015
Lower Body of a Family Eating Dinner with Clipping Path
Family Day is a national initiative created by CASAColumbia to promote simple acts of parental engagement as key ways to help prevent risky substance use in children and teens.  

What started out in 2001 as a grassroots initiative to inform parents about all the benefits of frequent family dinners, has grown into a national movement that is supported by a network of partners and sponsors across the country.

Family Day has evolved and expanded to reflect how important it is to connect with your kids at various times throughout the day including while driving your kids to soccer practice, tucking little ones into bed or having frequent family dinners.

These every day activities have a lasting effect on your children. Each of these moments offers an opportunity to communicate with your kids and to really listen to what's on their mind.

As children age, it is vital to keep those lines of communication open, especially during adolescence when they are at risk of engaging in risky behavior including smoking, drinking or using other drugs.

At CASAColumbia we know that:
  • Adolescence is the critical period for the initiation of risky substance use and its consequences.  
  • Nine out of 10 Americans who meet the medical criteria for addiction started smoking, drinking, or using other drugs before age 18.  
  • Addiction is a disease that in most cases begins in adolescence so preventing or delaying teens from using nicotine, alcohol, or other drugs for as long as possible is crucial to their health and safety.
While there are no silver bullets - addiction can strike any family regardless of ethnicity, affluence, age or gender - parental engagement can be a simple, effective tool to help you prevent substance use in your kids.

Make every day Family Day in your home!

"America's drug problem is not going to be solved in courtrooms or legislative hearing rooms by judges and politicians. It will be solved in living rooms and dining rooms and across kitchen tables - by parents and families."Joseph A. Califano, Jr., CASAColumbia Founder and Chairman Emeritus

Become a Family Day STAR!
I commit to:
S- Spend time with my kids
T- Talk to them about their friends, interests and the dangers of nicotine, alcohol, and other drugs
A- Answer their questions and listen to what they say
R- Recognize that I have the power to help keep my kids substance free!

To participate and pledge to be a Family Day Star, please visit the link below:
We would like to welcome our new Circle of Parents group, Healthy Families St. John's County 
Training Request!

To schedule an initial or refresher facilitator training, contact Training Specialist, Jean Gibson at jgibson@ounce.org or 850.921.4494 ext. 202

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