Thursday, March 24, 2016

Week of 3/21/16

Good afternoon and happy Friday-

I can certainly say I am looking forward to a fun evening "coaching" the AHS/Mindess team to a win at the 1st Annual Clocker Classic then enjoying some time with my family.  Hope to see you at AHS at 6:30pm!


Family Reconnect Weekend is this weekend.  Remember there is no school tomorrow, no practices, games, or activities over the weekend either.  Please take this time to enjoy your families and spend quality time reconnecting.


Special Olympics:
APS is hosting the 4th annual 5-Town Special Olympics on Friday, April 1.  Opening ceremonies are at 10am in the AHS gym.  Students from Ashland, Holliston, Medfield, Medway, and Millis will participate in a fun morning of drills and activities with a football theme.  All are welcome to come cheer on our athletes!


Chinese Exchange Students:
We are very excited to once again host these students and are in URGENT need of host families.  Please consider being a part of this amazing experience.  Below I have shared information from the coordinating agency.  If you are interested in hosting please let me know by tomorrow, Friday, March 25 if you are interested in hosting!  

Program Date
Sunday, May 1 -- Sunday, May 8: please be aware this is the first week of AP exams, we are happy to accommodate visiting students with shadowing another student if your son/daughter has an exam 

Participants
20 Students (10Male/10Female): students are all in the 10 grade but any AHS family is welcome to host.

Host Family 
We have the student/chaperone profiles (Name, Gender, Interests/Hobbies, Allergy/Medical Condition) ready for you and the host families. We will share this information with host families once a match is made and will ask you to complete Host Family Information Sheets.

Thank you in advance for considering this great opportunity!  


State Student Advisory Council:
We need to elect two students to the "State Student Advisory Council", a group of 2 students from each school in the state that meets once a month to discuss issues related to education policy (and how it applies to students). Mr. Wiczer has information in his room and there's also info online at http://www.doe.mass.edu/sac/  .  The nominations are due to him by next Thursday (3/31) at 2pm.  

This is open to students currently in grades 9 - 11 who can get to Hudson High School monthly-- either by driving themselves or with a parent who can drive them.


The Class of 2019 is selling Cookie and Pretzel Dough now through April 4th! It can be purchased from any member of the freshman class or you can contact Ms. Vargeletis at evargeletis@ashland.k12.ma.us. (Reminder to members of the Class of 2019- Prizes will be awarded to the top 3 sellers so make sure to ask your family and friends if they would like to purchase cookie and pretzel dough this Reconnect Weekend.)


Tomorrow is the last day to purchase your AEFI Gala tickets and the bidding has opened.  Please check out the Parent Flyers for more information. AEFI BiddingForGood


Have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, March 18, 2016

Week of 3/13/16

Good afternoon-

I am excited to officially have the course recommendations from teachers, students, and parents in and we are ready to start building the schedule for the 2016-2017 school year.  Time is flying.  Today the seniors started preparing their countdown for graduation.  It will come quickly!  Senior week and prom tickets are both on sale daily in the cafeteria.

Course registration:
If you and your child have made the decision to override a course recommendation now is the time that you should reach out to the teacher to discuss the override.  If you decide to override after the discussion the teacher can provide you with the required form. We ask that all override paperwork be returned to the guidance counselor by April 12 so that we can plan thoughtfully for next year's courses.

MCAS:
MCAS testing begins next week for all sophomores.  The English exam will be administered on Tuesday, March 22 through Thursday, March 24.  We encourage all sophomores to get a good night's sleep and eat a healthy breakfast to be ready for the exam!

Family Reconnect Weekend is coming!
Our 2nd Reconnect Weekend of the year is March 25-27.  We hope that it will be an opportunity for families to spend some time together without the pressure of homework, athletics, and other school activities.


Special Olympics:
APS is hosting the 4th annual 5-Town Special Olympics on Friday, April 1.  Opening ceremonies are at 10am in the AHS gym.  Students from Ashland, Holliston, Medfield, Medway, and Millis will participate in a fun morning of drills and activities with a football theme.  All are welcome to come cheer on our athletes!



Chinese Exchange Students:
I am very excited to share that we will once again be hosting students from China this spring and are looking for host families.  Below I have shared information from the coordinating agency.  If you are interested in hosting please let me know by next Friday, March 25 if you are interested in hosting!  

Program Date
Sunday, May 1 -- Sunday, May 8: please be aware this is the first week of AP exams, we are happy to accommodate visiting students with shadowing another student if your son/daughter has an exam 

Participants
20 Students (10Male/10Female): students are all in the 10 grade but any AHS family is welcome to host

Host Family 
We have the student/chaperone profiles (Name, Gender, Interests/Hobbies, Allergy/Medical Condition) ready for you and the host families. We will share this information with host families once a match is made and will ask you to complete Host Family Information Sheets.

Thank you in advance for considering this great opportunity!  



Looking for something fun to do tonight while supporting a great cause?
The National Honor Society is presenting its annual Talent Show Friday March 18, 2016 at 6:30pm in the Ruthfield Theater.  Admission is $8 for students and $10 for adults Homebaked goodies will also be sold.  All proceeds benefit this year's designated charity, the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, which directs donations to the nearest local partner, in our case Children's Hospital in Boston.  Please support this worthy cause by attending the show and enjoying an evening of entertainment.  If you cannot attend, donations are welcome.  Checks should be made payable to "A.H.S. Student Activities - N.H.S."  Thank you!





Butterbraid products will be available for pick up next Tuesday, March 22nd from 4:00 - 5:00 in the AHS cafeteria.  If you are unable to pick your order up during this time, you may contact Ms. Twomey at jtwomey@ashland.k12.ma.us to make other arrangements.  Many thanks for supporting the Class of 2017!                 

The 1st Annual Clocker Classic Teacher Basketball game is sure to be one of the most entertaining nights of the year!  Join us on Thursday, March 24th at 6:30pm in the AHS gym to see the AHS/Mindess team take on AMS/Mindess.  


Please remember to check out our Parent Flyers link!



Seven Phrases To Calm an Anxious Child
It happens to every child (and adult) in one form or another – anxiety. We would like to shield our children from life’s anxious moments, but navigating anxiety is a valuable life skill.  In the heat of the moment, try these simple phrases to help your children identify, accept, and work through their anxious moments.


  1. “Can you draw it?” Drawing, painting or doodling about an anxiety provides kids with an outlet for their feelings when they can’t use their words.
  2. “I love you. You are safe.”
  3. “Let’s count _____.”  Counting the number of people wearing hats, the number of tiles on the floor, or the number of kids in the room requires observation and thought, both of which detract from the anxiety your child is feeling.
  4. “I get scared/nervous/anxious sometimes too. It’s no fun.”   
  5. “If you gave your­­ feeling a color, what would it be?” Asking your child to say how they feel with a color, gives them a chance to think about how they feel relative to something simple. Follow up by asking why their feeling is that color.
  6. “Let’s have a debate.”  Older children especially love this exercise because they have permission to debate their parent. Have a point, counter-point style debate about the reasons for their anxiety. You may learn a lot about their reasoning in the process.  
  7. “Let me hold you.”  Physical contact provides a chance for your child to relax and feel safe.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Week of 3/7/16


Good evening-

I hope you are all enjoying this truly beautiful week!

Just a reminder that the iParent portal for course recommendations will close tomorrow evening.  Please take time to review your student's teacher recommendations and elective choices and click to approve them.  If your child did not make elective choices please have a conversation with him/her and make the selections for them.

Overrides- While we strongly discouraged not following the teacher recommendation we do know that sometimes interest and motivation changes and students may want to challenge themselves.  If you are choosing to override a class you and your student need to contact the recommending teacher to have a conversation.  It is important to us that you fully understand the teacher thought process in their recommendation. They can provide you with the override paperwork if you decide to move forward.  We ask that all overrides are returned to the guidance counselor by April 12.


Please make sure to review the information here as well as in the Parent Flyer's section!


The Ashland High School Student Council is getting ready for its 8th annual Bingo night (to be held on Wednesday, April 13th, at 6:30 pm in the cafeteria.)  Members of the Student Council have been working on getting donations (usually in the form of a gift card or gift certificate) from local businesses and restaurants.  If your business has not yet been approached by a member of the Student Council and you would be interested in donating to our fundraising efforts, please contact Josh Wiczer, advisor to the Student Council, at jwiczer@ashland.k12.ma.us.  All businesses that donate will be recognized in the program handed out at the event and listed on our website (https://sites.google.com/site/stucoashland/bingo); they will also receive a letter in April (as a receipt of their donation, for tax purposes.)


Ashland Raises Healthy & Happy Kids: Cyber Safety
A very useful and eye-opening presentation on cyber safety was presented at AMS last week, both for the students during the day and for parents in the evening. For those who could not attend, below are some tips to help keep your kids safe on-line.


  1. Use privacy settings on apps and social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.).
  2. Turn off location services on phone cameras and social media apps. Predators can find out where your child is by location information embedded in photos.
  3. Do not allow kids to have phones and tablets in their room when they go to bed at night. This will also help them get better sleep!
  4. Remind kids only to accept “friends” or “followers” they know. A person claiming to be their best friend’s camp friend could very well be a predator.
  5. Tell your children to never give out their last name, address, age, or any other personal information on-line.
  6. Repeatedly remind your children that any photos they post or anything they say on-line is out there FOREVER. Colleges and future employers can find these.




Please join ASHPAC this Monday night for their next workshop entitled: Ten Traits of Effective Parents: Navigating the Special Education Process, with Attorney Jeffrey M. Sankey from Braintree, MA.
With his background and focus in Special Education Law, Attorney Sankey will discuss key special education rules and regulations, the importance of maintaining accurate and complete education records, hiring qualified experts, and maintaining productive relationships with school staff. Attorney Sankey will also allow time for questions and answers you may have about parental rights and special education laws.
This workshop will be held this Monday night, March 14th at 7:00 PM in the Ashland Middle School Activity Room.  Thank you.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Week of 2/29/16

Good afternoon-


New anonymous tip line: If you have concern about safety that you wish to report the school new tip line have been set up for students, staff and parents to report any wrongdoing that impacts our schools.  This line will be monitored by our Ashland Police School Resource Officer and information will be shared with the appropriate principal.
Please call:  508-881-0144


The PTO has put together a brief survey for parents in the district.  Here is the link:
https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CVXKX6X


Course Recommendations: 
The iParent window for parent approval of courses is now open and will remain open until Saturday, March 12. Please go in to check off your approval of each course your student is choosing for next year.

Please take a few moments to read the important announcements in the Parent Flyers tab.



Tickets are now on sale for the AHSTS production of A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum!


Friday, March 4 and Saturday, March 5 at 7PMSunday, March 6 at 2PM.

Patrons may buy tickets in advance online. AHSTS offers discounted tickets purchased online. All seating is reserved. For more information or tickets, visit www.ahsts.com.


Spring Sports Meeting:
Monday, March 7 at 6pm in the AHS auditorium.  The District Attorney's Office/Middlesex Partnership for Youth will present on Social Media/Internet Safety.  The presentation is open to the community.  All are encouraged to attend!



PROM 2016 
Prom tickets will go on sale for $75 each starting Monday, March 1st in the AHS cafeteria during lunch.  Class dues must be paid through junior year ($30 total) in order to purchase a prom ticket; payments may be made to class officers or to the class advisor, Ms. Twomey.  Checks should be made payable to AHS Student Activities.  Prom will be held on Friday, May 13th at the brand new Lakeview Pavilion in Foxboro from 6:00 - 11:00 (http://lakeviewpavilion.com).  Prom will be preceded by the Grand March in the AHS gym from 5:00 - 5:30, to which the public is welcome.  If you have questions or concerns regarding prom tickets and class dues, please contact Ms. Twomey at  jtwomey@ashland.k12.ma.us. 

If Prom is a financial challenge for you or your family, you are encouraged to contact Ms. Shilels at jpaviashiels@ashland.k12.ma.us.  Confidentially, Ms. Shiels may be able to assist you with resources available in the community.



Ashland Raises Happy & Healthy Kids...check out the link to the right for past tips!
Five Quick Ways to Deal with Stress
Everyone has moments of stress or worry, even children as young as preschool age. Below are five easy “in the moment” ways for you and your child to cope with a stressful situation. Teaching kids these types of techniques will help them throughout their life.

  1. Take a deep breath: Sit up straight, eyes closed, with a hand on your belly. Slowly inhale through your nose, feeling the breath start in your abdomen and work its way to the top of your head. Reverse the process as you exhale through your mouth.
  2. Listen to Music: Research shows that listening to soothing music can lower blood pressure, heart rate, and anxiety.
  3. Get moving:  All forms of exercise, including yoga, dancing and walking, can ease depression and anxiety by helping the brain release feel-good chemicals.
  4. Do a Full Body Stretch: Stand up, raise your hands over your head, and stretch your body while you take slow, deep breaths.
  5. Be Grateful: Thinking about, or saying out loud, one or two things you are grateful for can cancel out negative thoughts and worries.

Ashland Raises Happy and Healthy Kids

4/7/17:
AUTONOMY-SUPPORTIVE PARENTING VERSUS CONTROLLING PARENTING
The book discussed this week at the community book read was ‘The Gift of Failure’ by Jessica Lahey. It discusses how children NEED to fail in order to learn, and to gain confidence and competence. Being a supportive parent (versus a controlling one) can help them gain both confidence and competence.

  • Controlling parents give lots of unsolicited advice and direction. Children see this as “nagging” and it interferes with their sense of autonomy and conveys a lack of faith in their competence to perform the task. Let them load the dishwasher the way they want to!
  • Controlling parents offer extrinsic motivators in exchange for behaviors. Kids do not need to be paid for basic household chores that contribute to the household. Or for A’s on their report cards.
  • Controlling parents provide solutions or the correct answer before the child has had a chance to really struggle with a problem. Give children time and silence to think through a challenging task. This shows that you value the process as much as the final result.
  • Controlling parents don’t let children make their own decisions. Let your child choose the sports or activities they want to try, or the game for family game night.
  • Autonomy-Supportive parents allow for mistakes and help children to understand the consequences of those mistakes. If we show our kids that mistakes are part of the process of learning, they will become more confident about their abilities and be better able to bounce back from future mistakes.
  • Autonomy-Supportive parents value the mistakes as much as the successes.  Find the lessons in the failures. Help them discover new ways to cope and rebound from their mistakes.
  • Autonomy-Supportive parents acknowledge children’s feelings of frustration and disappointment. Validate how they feel and even give an example of when you felt the same way.
  • Autonomy-Supportive parents give feedback. Effective feedback guides kids toward seeing their mistakes rather than jumping in and fixing them.

3/31/17:
Tech Talk Tuesdays
Talking about social media apps, technology and how it affects you and your children at dinner on Tuesdays (along with your tacos!) was one of the recommendations in the documentary ‘Screenagers’. This can lead to some good discussions and you will likely learn a thing or two about your kids, their friends and the things “happening” on social media. Below are some more tips and facts about screen time.

  • Playing video games can decrease sensitivity and empathy and desensitize kids to violence.
  • Pro-social video games (in which characters help each other or work together to solve a problem) can increase helping behaviors in life. There are positives!
  • Use of smartphones has led to a decrease in conversations and eye contact.
  • Screen time can be addictive. Treatment centers are opening to help people “detox” from screens.
  • Set limits on technology time.  The American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines recommend limiting the amount of total entertainment screen time for all children to less than one to two hours per day.
  • Power-down for one hour before bed. Research shows that children fall asleep quicker and sleep better if they are off screens for one hour before bed. Choose a time for school nights (maybe a bit later on weekends) that phones/tablets/computers will be handed to parents to charge for the night. In my house, if phones are not on the kitchen counter by 7:45pm, they lose their phone for the next 24 hours.
  • Make family meals tech free. This includes the parents! And includes meals at restaurants.
  • Be a good role model. If you want your kids to stay off of media, then you have to do it too. Put down your phone and look at your children when they talk to you.
  • Do not allow screens in children’s and teen’s bedrooms! Reduction in the amount of time sleeping and the quality of sleep (from hearing alerts, feeling the need to answer texts immediately) is one of the biggest health hazards from screen use.
3/24/17:
Recognizing and helping those who self-injure


Many people think children and adolescents engage in self harm to get attention from adults or fit in with peers but that is usually not the case. The behavior is actually a coping strategy used to control emotions. They’re trying to reduce a negative emotional state, and then as they’re self-injuring, it produces a positive emotional state – they get sort of a rush or a high from the self-injury. Others self injure to simply feel something, and some might hurt themselves as a form of punishment.


Self injurious behaviors include cutting, scratching, opening or picking at wounds, burning, biting, hitting and pulling out hair. Kids often try to hide their behaviors often saying a cat or branch scratched them and wearing long clothes in hot weather.


If you think your child is engaging in self injurious behaviors, below are some tips:
  • Ask in a very straightforward manner whether or not they’re injuring themselves, and state why you are concerned.
  • Be willing to talk. Tell your child, “I want you to know that I love you, and if these are self-inflicted wounds, I’m here to help you. I’m not here to be angry at you. I’m not here to punish you. I’m here for you to talk to me.”
  • Share your feelings. It’s ok to acknowledge this is something beyond what you as a parent know how to manage.
  • Do not tell your child that he/she must stop the behavior. That signals to the child she/he is misbehaving. This is not a bad behavior, it’s an unhealthy behavior. And if you tell your child to stop before they have a chance to develop a healthier way to cope with emotions, it can be disastrous. It’s like someone who has a broken leg and is using crutches. You wouldn’t want to take their crutches away before they are ready.
  • Do not ignore your child. Some see self-harm as kids just wanting attention. If they need attention that badly, give it to them.
  • Do not focus on the self-injurious behavior. Concentrate on what’s driving the behavior, not the behavior itself.
Kids don’t need to be hospitalized for self-injury unless they are suicidal or the self-injury is so severe it places them in medical danger. While kids who self-injure have a higher risk of suicide at the time of self-injury, their motive is to cope – not take their life.

The first step in seeking help is to get an evaluation from a licensed professional. Therapy and/or medication could be recommended, treatments vary by case. The good news is, if it’s recognized and they  get help, children can get over this and get better.

3/10/17:
Last week was National Eating Disorder Awareness Week so we are going to define and describe a condition called Orthorexia. It is always important to remember that eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of all mental illnesses, they are not to be taken lightly.


Orthorexia is a condition marked by an extreme fixation over the quality and purity of food. It commonly results in highly inflexible eating patterns, with individuals creating rigid “food rules” which usually consists of segmenting foods that they will eat to categories “good” or “healthy” foods and “bad” foods which are avoided. Individuals with Orthorexia generally will only consume organic, raw and pure foods. Many people struggling with this disorder will become obsessed with “eating clean,” and/or exercise routines, or only eat at certain times. Often times, entire food groups like sugar, meat, dairy and carbohydrates are avoided. A defining feature of Orthorexia is that people struggling will opt NOT to eat if the only food available are those deemed as “impure” or processed. These rigid food rules and behaviors can often result in an unbalanced diet and inadequate caloric intake. Many cases can lead to malnutrition, accompanied by a variety of potential medical and psychological side effects.


Two key identifiers of Orthorexia versus “healthy eating” is the intensity to which the inflexible eating patterns are enforced, and more so, what happens when someone strays from them.
  • In terms of the diet, are they cutting out entire food groups without a consultation from a professional dietician?
  • Are they compulsive in their “healthy” eating habits? Do they become highly uncomfortable when “prohibited” foods are nearby? Are they unable to eat out at restaurants or eat food friends prepare?
  • Do they make their own food separate from the rest of the family?
  • Are they losing weight and critical energy sources because of it?
  • What happens when a diet or exercise rule are broken? Do they become emotionally distressed, feel shame or seek a means of “self-punishment” – restriction, purging or excessive exercise?


Answering “yes” to most of these questions should be a cause for concern.



Orthorexia involves distorted thinking. Many who abstain from a wide range of food types or a more balanced diet think they are helping their overall health while, in reality, it’s likely causing quite the opposite effect. The praise they might receive from being so "healthy" and "disciplined" can also reinforce the eating behaviors but also increase anxiety. Orthorexia can result in a wide range of health risks including malnutrition and weight loss,  emotional distress, anxiety, depression, and social withdrawal from friends and family.


If you believe someone in your life has symptoms of orthorexia, or any eating disorder, please consult a licensed professional and/or a registered dietician.

3/3/17:
Coping with Grief
It has been a sad week in Ashland, especially at the high school. Below are some tips to help you and your children cope with grief.
  • Grief is personal. There is no right or wrong way to grieve.
  • Grieving does not have a timeline. Everyone will experience loss at a different pace.
  • Do not use minimizing statements such as, “you were not friends with him”, or “it was only your cat”.
  • Maintain routines as normally as possible.
  • Use healthy coping strategies to express grief such as art, writing or music. Also encourage children to be around their peers.

Children’s grief reactions can differ depending on age and developmental level.
At the preschool level you might see regressive behaviors, decreased verbalization or increased anxiety.

At the elementary level children may have decreased academic performance and attendance and trouble concentrating. They could be more irritable or aggressive and exhibit behavior changes. They may have somatic complaints such as trouble sleeping or eating, and may want to repeatedly re-tell the event.

At the middle and high school level you could see decreased academic performance and attendance and trouble concentrating. Children may avoid social events or withdraw from peers and may engage in high risk behaviors or substance abuse. They may also have nightmares, flashbacks, emotional numbing or depression.

While these are all normal reactions to grief, if they become extreme, long-term or are distressing to you or your child, please seek professional help.

2/10/17:
Seven things middle school aged kids should be able to do on their own
Parents of younger children can start laying the groundwork for these things now.

  1. Get up, dressed, and washed on their own.
  2. Make their own breakfast.
  3. Make their own lunch.
  4. Do homework on their own.
  5. Do some cooking and cleaning.
  6. Choose their own electives and extra-curricular activities.
  7. Talk to teachers to get clarification on assignments, to ask for help, to ask questions about comments and grades received.  

2/3/17:
Seven Ways to Reduce Sugar in your Family’s Diet
Many Americans eat well above the daily recommended amount (48 grams) of sugar on a daily basis. High added sugar intake has been linked to many health conditions which last into adulthood including  dental cavities, obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Let’s not cut out birthday cake, ice cream on a hot summer day, or homemade chocolate chip cookies. Instead try to reduce sugar in the things you and your family eat daily.
Next time you go to the grocery store, take some extra time to READ LABELS. You might be surprised to see that there is added sugar in foods such as bread, condiments, salad dressing, and potato chips. On a nutrition label sugar may appear under many names. Some of the most common ones include cane sugar, evaporated cane juice, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, raw sugar and crystal solids. And, don't forget brown sugar, honey, maple syrup and brown rice syrup. Below are a few places to start cutting added sugar out of your family’s diet:
  1. Breakfast - Typically breakfasts in the US are loaded with sugar - pancakes, waffles, cereal, packaged oatmeal, muffins, flavored yogurt. Think “outside the box” with breakfast. Foods such as cheese, nuts, crackers, and fruit or even leftovers from dinner likely have a lot less sugar than the above breakfast foods.
  2. Sugary Drinks  - No one needs sweetened drinks. Period. These include juice (even those labeled 100% juice), soda, lemonade, sports drinks, and caramel macchiatos topped with whipped cream. Water and milk are all kids need (parents are allowed coffee!).
  3. Bread - Read labels. There are choices with no added sugar.
  4. Yogurt - Fruited yogurt is loaded with sugar. It should be considered a dessert or treat. Plain yogurt with fruit is a good substitute.
  5. Chips - The less ingredients in chips, the better. Look for chips with just potatoes, oil and salt.
  6. Granola bars - Many granola bars have as much sugar as candy bars. Look for granola bars with nuts, dark chocolate, and less added sugar.
  7. Peanut Butter - Most brand name peanut butters have sugar added. Look for ones made with only peanuts and salt.
1/29/17:
7 ways to create a safe environment for the truth
Lying can be a frustrating challenge for parents, but fortunately it’s one we can fix with a few adjustments to our parenting style. Let’s first take a look at why kids lie. One of the most obvious reasons for lying is to avoid punishment or an unpleasant outcome. Another reason is to avoid disappointing their their parents. And finally, kids always want a reaction, so they’ll tell outlandish stories to impress you or others.
Instead of doling out punishment for every fib, we want to make sure to create a safe environment for the truth. Below are seven ways to do that.
1. Be aware of how you respond to misbehavior in general. If your kids are worried about being punished or yelled at when they mess up, they won’t feel safe telling you the truth.
2. Allow your child to save face. Don’t give your child the opportunity to fib by asking questions to which you already know the answer. For example, instead of asking, "Did you finish your homework?" try, "What are your plans for finishing your homework?" If your child hasn’t completed his homework, he/she can save face by focusing on a plan of action rather than inventing a story.
3. Focus on the feeling. When your child is being dishonest, try to understand what made him feel that he couldn’t be honest with you. Instead of calling him out about the lie, try, "That sounds like a bit of a story to me. You must have felt afraid to tell me the truth. Let’s talk about that."
4. Acknowledge and appreciate honesty. Express encouragement when your kids tell the truth. "That must have been difficult for you to tell me what really happened. I admire your courage for telling the truth."
5. Celebrate mistakes. Think of mistakes as a way to learn to make better choices in the future. If kids know that you won’t be angry or disappointed when they mess up, they’ll be more likely to share honestly.
6. Reinforce unconditional love. Make sure your kids know that while you sometimes don’t like their behavior, there isn’t anything they could possibly do that would change your love for them.

7. Watch your white lies. Remember that young ears and eyes are always tuned in. Your words and actions set the example for acceptable behavior.
1/13/17:
TIPS TO IMPROVE STUDY SKILLS

  1. Block off time to study outside of class - Just like scheduling sports and activities, schedule study/homework time.
  2. Use your peers - Work with classmates to better absorb material and learn to work together on projects.
  3. Get organized - Use a planner/calendar.
  4. Get enough sleep
  5. Eliminate distractions  - Disconnect from social media when studying and put phones/computers/tablets away unless needed for studying.
  6. Eat right and stay active
  7. Stop Procrastinating
1/6/17:
WAYS TO ADDRESS THOSE OLDER THAN YOU
Address Them Properly
Use the name they want to be called. Unless they tell you otherwise, call them Mr. or Ms., followed by their last name. If they want you to call them by their first name, honor their request.

Shake Hands

If you are meeting this person for the first time or if you haven't seen him or her in a while, shake hands. This is such a simple yet friendly gesture that lets the person know you have manners, and you're not afraid to use them.

Speak Clearly and Without Slang

Your friends might understand mumblings filled with the latest slang, but don't expect someone much older than you to get what you are trying to say.

Make Eye Contact and Smile
When approaching or greeting your elders, always make eye contact. This shows that you acknowledge their presence. A warm smile from you can make this person's otherwise dreary day much brighter.

Offer Assistance

When an elderly person approaches an entrance to a building, hold the door and allow him or her to go first. Offer to reach something on a high or low shelf in a store or at home. Be aware of any disability the person may have and help according to what he or she needs. Any kind or generous thing you do to make their lives easier will be appreciated.

Give Your Time and Attention

Most people who are older than you will appreciate having your attention in blocks of time. Enjoy a conversation about a topic you have in common. Sit down with a grandparent or other elderly person and show that you care. Play a board game or watch a movie together. Feel free to ask questions about their experience, and then listen.

Show Your Love
If the elderly person is a grandparent, aunt, uncle, or related to you in any way, show that you love him or her. Offer a hug and say something affectionate. Ask questions about your ancestors and offer to put together a photo album or scrapbook with mementos. You'll be amazed by how enriching the experience can be, and you'll most likely learn something new about your family.

Show Good Manners
Most of your elders were taught proper etiquette when they were children, and they deserve good manners from you in return. Always say, "Please," and "Thank you." They need to know that the generations following them are civil enough to carry on.

12/16/16:
Subtle Signs of Depression
Depression rates can increase in the winter and even around “happy” holidays. Please be aware of the subtle signs of depression in yourself and those you love.
  1. Your mind seems muddled - This can include a kind of “slowness of thinking”, forgetfulness and difficulty making decisions.
  2. You worry too much and think too much - The clinical name for excessive worry and over-thinking life situations or events is called “rumination.” Rumination can increase the chance of becoming depressed and make episodes of depression last longer. With rumination, people get caught in a loop of replaying negative situations, looking at neutral situations in a negative way, or over-analyzing things.
  3. Your weight changed - Some people with depression may eat too much. Others may lose interest in eating.
  4. You are not engaged or expressive - People with depression often “pull back” from friends and family. Their affect can also become “flat”, or blunted, showing a decrease in emotional expression.
  5. You physically hurt - Depression can lead to physical symptoms such as headaches, digestive problems and back pain.

If you are concerned about any of these symptoms in yourself or loved ones, please see your physician and/or a professional therapist. You can also contact your child’s guidance counselor if you are concerned your child might be showing signs of depression.  

12/9/16:
Family Board Games
As you are shopping for holiday or birthday gifts, consider getting a fun, family board game. There are benefits of playing board games for people of all ages:
  • Engage in activities that do not involve staring at a computer screen or a smartphone.
  • Exercise your brain by learning something new.
  • Improve your memory by keeping track of what is happening in the game.
  • Revive your creativity and problem solving skills.
  • Spend time with family and friends.

Below are some fun, less well-known, family games:

  • Monopoly Empire
  • Skip-Bo (card game)
  • Pandemic
  • Bubble Talk
  • Telestrations
  • Over Under
  • Ticket to Ride - European Edition
  • 7 Wonders
  • Cranium
  • Hoopla
  • Phase 10 (card game)
  • Sleeping Queens (card game)
  • Tri-ominos

12/2/16:
Five Quick Ways to Reduce Stress
Everyone has moments of stress or worry, even children as young as preschool age. Below are five easy “in the moment” ways for you and your child to cope with a stressful situation.

  1. Take a deep breath: Sit up straight, eyes closed, with a hand on your belly. Slowly inhale through your nose, feeling the breath start in your abdomen and work its way to the top of your head. Reverse the process as you exhale through your mouth.
  2. Listen to Music: Research shows that listening to soothing music can lower blood pressure, heart rate, and anxiety.
  3. Get moving:  All forms of exercise, including yoga and walking, can ease depression and anxiety by helping the brain release feel-good chemicals.
  4. Do a Full Body Stretch: Stand up, raise your hands over your head, and stretch your body while you take slow, deep breaths.
  5. Be Grateful: Thinking about, or saying out loud, one or two things you are grateful for can cancel out negative thoughts and worries.

11/18/16:
TIPS FOR INSTILLING GRATITUDE IN YOUR CHILDREN
  1. Name your blessings - Have a moment of thanks each day when everyone names one thing they are thankful for.
  2. Be a grateful parent - Tell your children why you are grateful to have them.
  3. Resist the urge to shower your kids with too much “stuff” - Buying kids whatever they want, whenever they want, dilutes the gratitude impulse and it can mean that they don’t learn to value or respect their possessions.
  4. Have kids pitch in when they want something new - When kids take the time to save up, they gain an understanding of the value of a dollar by working toward what they want.
  5. Set a good example by saying “thank you” sincerely and often
  6. Have kids hand-write thank you notes
  7. Encourage children to give back - When children give their time and energy to help others, they’re less likely to take things like health, home and family for granted.
  8. Insist on politeness and respect all around

11/10/16:
Signs of a healthy teen (or adult) relationship
  1. Mutual respect -  Respect in a relationship means that each person values who the other is and understands  the other person's boundaries.
  2. Trust -  It's ok to get a little jealous sometimes,  jealousy is a natural emotion. But how a person reacts when feeling jealous is what matters. There's no way you can have a healthy relationship if you don't trust each other.
  3. Support - In a healthy relationship, your significant other is there with a shoulder to cry on when you go through something difficult  and also there to celebrate your accomplishments.
  4. Fairness/equality - You need to have give and take in your relationship.  Things get bad when a relationship turns into a power struggle, with one person fighting to get his or her way all the time.
  5. Separate identities- Neither of you should have to pretend to like something you don't, or give up seeing your friends, or drop out of activities you love. And you also should feel free to keep developing new talents or interests, making new friends, and moving forward.
  6. Good communication - Speak honestly and openly and do not keep your feelings bottled up.
11/4/16:
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN RUDE, MEAN AND BULLYING
Being rude is inadvertently saying or doing something that hurts someone else. In children this takes the form of things such as burping in someone's face, jumping ahead in line, bragging about achieving the highest grade, or throwing a crushed up pile of leaves in someone's face. Incidents of rudeness are usually spontaneous, unplanned, based on thoughtlessness, poor manners or narcissism, but not meant to actually hurt someone.
Being mean involves purposefully saying or doing something to hurt someone once (or maybe twice). Unlike unthinking rudeness, mean behavior very much aims to hurt someone. Very often, mean behavior in kids is motivated by angry feelings and/or the misguided goal of propping themselves up in comparison to the person they are putting down.
Bullying is intentionally aggressive behavior, repeated over time, that involves an imbalance of power. Kids who bully say or do something intentionally hurtful to others and they keep doing it, with no sense of regret or remorse, even when targets of bullying show or express their hurt or tell the aggressors to stop. DIfferent kinds of bullying include physical and verbal aggression, social exclusion, hazing, rumor spreading, and cyberbullying. The key aspect to all of them is the ongoing nature of the behavior, which leaves the victims feeling powerless and fearful.
It is important for parents to remember that children depend on a non-jaded adult's ability to discern between rudeness at the bus stop and life-altering bullying. And to talk with their children about the different meanings and motivations of each.

10/28/16:
Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age

  1. Create a family media use contract -  Write up rules and guidelines about what when, how, where and for how long different screen activities are ok.
  2. Keep car time for talking - In the car, you have a captive audience. Use this time to chat with your children rather than talking on your phone or allowing them to text or play games.
  3. Put away your smartphone when your kids walk in the house (or get in the car) from school - Nothing says “you don’t matter that much,” or “everyone and everything else is more important than you,” than having a parent or caregiver pull up for pickup but hardly look up from a call or texting.
  4. Make meal time screen free - This includes breakfast!
  5. No screens in the bedroom - Have children charge their devices downstairs or in their parent’s bedroom.
10/21/16:
The six C’s of building resilience
Competence: Give children opportunities to develop important life skills. This makes them feel proud and competent.  
Confidence: Help your children build the confidence to be able to navigate the world, think outside the box, and recover from challenges. If we “save” them from every challenge they will not feel confident in their abilities.     
Connection: Connections with other people, schools, and the community gives children the security to venture out into the community, try new things, and give back to their community and/or others.   
Character: Children need a clear sense of right and wrong and a commitment to integrity.    
Coping: Young people who possess a variety of healthy coping strategies will be less likely to turn to unhealthy or even dangerous quick fixes when stressed.

Control: Children who understand that privileges and respect are earned through demonstrated responsibility will learn to make wise choices and feel a sense of control.
10/7/16:
When you ask your child "How was school today?", does he/she mumble "good" or "fine"? Below are some questions to ask that might get you more than a one-word answer.


  1. What was the funniest thing that happened today?
  2. What games did you play at recess?
  3. Did anyone do anything super nice for you?
  4. What was the nicest thing you did for someone else?
  5. Who made you smile today?
  6. Which one of your teachers would survive a zombie apocalypse? Why?
  7. What new fact did you learn today?
  8. Who brought the best food in their lunch today? What was it?
  9. What challenged you today?
  10. If school were a ride at the fair, which ride would it be? Why?
  11. What would you rate your day on a scale of 1 to 10? Why?
  12. If one of your classmates could be the teacher for the day who would you want it to be? Why?
  13. If you had the chance to be the teacher tomorrow, what would you teach the class?
  14. Did anyone push your buttons today?
  15. Who do you want to make friends with but haven’t yet? Why not?
  16. What is your teacher’s most important rule?
  17. What is the most popular thing to do at recess?
  18. Does your teacher remind you of anyone else you know? How?
  19. Tell me something you learned about a friend today.
  20. What is one thing you did today that was helpful?
  21. When did you feel most proud of yourself today?
  22. What rule was the hardest to follow today?
  23. What is one thing you hope to learn before the school year is over?
  24. Which person in your class is your exact opposite?
  25. Which area of your school is the most fun?
  26. Which playground skill do you plan to master this year?

10/14/16:
Tips for helping your children develop a healthy relationship with food

  1. Promote a healthy relationship with food.
    1. Make nutritious food options readily available at home.
    2. Be a good role model - eat a balanced variety and amount of nutritious foods and drinks, eat breakfast and do not skip meals.
    3. Teach children about nutrition and that there are no “bad” foods, everything is ok in moderation and/or on special occasions.
    4. Do not talk about dieting or losing weight in front of your children.
  2. Prioritize family meals.
  3. Don’t use food as a reward.
  4. Teach your children to eat when they are hungry - avoid telling your children to eat everything on their plate and avoid strict rules around food
9/23/16:
TIPS FOR BEATING TEST ANXIETY
Now that we are a few weeks into the school year, students are probably taking tests and quizzes. Below are some tips for beating test anxiety:
  1. Know the test format - Just knowing the test format can help kids feel more prepared and take away some of the shock when they are handed the test.
  2. Reorganize the material when studying - Identify the main ideas of the topic, outline the big events and issues, and think about the themes that unite them.
  3. Think about possible questions - Predicting and answering questions ahead of time helps kids gain more mastery over the material and feel more confident.
  4. Don’t spend too much time on one question - Move on to the next question and go back to the difficult ones later.
  5. Practice calming techniques - Deep breathing or holding worry balls can help kids during tests. Practice these techniques while studying.
  6. Accept when you don’t know something - Sometimes the best way to manage anxiety is to accept that you don’t know the answer to the question and move on.
9/16/16:
School, sports, and after-school activities have begun. To help get through the busy days, many of us are probably doing things for our children that they can do for themselves. Let’s give our kids the chance to practice and acquire life skills. Once they master them, it will make YOUR life easier. Below is a good rule of thumb for teaching children (and adults!) new things:
First you do it for them,
Then you do it with them,
Then you watch them do it,
Then you let them do it on their own.

This list of things your kids should be able to do on their own is a great place to start.
Ages 2-3: Small chores and basic grooming - Put toys away, put clothes in the hamper, clear plate after meals, assist in setting the table
Ages 4-5: Know important names and numbers and simple chores - Know their name, address and phone number and 911, clear the table after meals, dust, feed pets, brush teeth, comb hair, wash face, choose his/her own clothes
Age 6-7: Basic cooking techniques - Mix, stir and cut with a dull knife, make a sandwich, help put groceries away, wash dishes, make bed, use basic household cleaners
Age 8-9: Take pride in personal belongings - Care for toys/belongings, fold clothes, use a broom and dustpan, read a recipe and prepare a simple meal, help create a grocery list, weed and water flower beds/plants, take out the trash
Age 10-13: Gain independence - Make a purchase at a store, change sheets on bed, use the washing machine and dryer, iron clothes, mow the lawn, plan and prepare a meal with several ingredients, look after younger relatives or neighbors

Age 14-18: More advanced skills - Read and understand medicine labels and dosages, get gas and change a car tire, prepare and cook meals, apply and interview for a job

9/9/16:
Ashland Raises Healthy Happy Kids
We all want our children to be healthy and happy. This column will address a social-emotional health topic each week. We hope these will be a starting point for discussions and/or a reminder that kids can get stressed and need compassion and understanding. Let’s start with taking care of ourselves as the school year begins.  

  1. Value yourself: Treat yourself with kindness and respect and avoid self-criticism.
  2. Take care of your body: Eat nutritious meals, exercise, and get enough sleep.
  3. Surround yourself with good people.
  4. Volunteer: Helping others, or volunteering for an organization you are passionate about, makes you feel good and is a good example for your children.
  5. Learn how to deal with stress: Future columns will address coping skills for stress. Practice different things to see what helps you best - taking a walk, talking to a friend, yoga, journaling, playing with your pet.
  6. Set realistic goals: Aim high with your goals, both professional and personal, but be realistic and do not over-schedule yourself.
  7. Get help when you need it: Carpool with neighbors to kids’ activities, accept help when offered. Seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness.

6/10/16:
Mental Health Benefits of Exercise
We all know that exercise keeps your heart, bones, and muscles healthy and can help keep you at a healthy weight. But exercise also has many benefits for your mental health.

  1. Lifts your mood.
  2. Builds self-esteem.
  3. Improves learning abilities.
  4. Reduces stress.
  5. Improves sleeping patterns.
  6. Alleviates anxiety.
  7. Sharpens memory.
  8. Helps to control addictions.
  9. Boosts creative thinking.
  10. Improves body image.
  11. Gives you confidence.
  12. Improves eating habits.
  13. Fights dementia.
  14. Reduces feelings of depression.
  15. Increases energy and endurance.
  16. Improves concentration.
  17. Helps with self-control.
  18. Lessens fatigue.
6/3/16:
Five Health Benefits of Playing Outside

  1. Improves Vision: A scientific study found that children who spend time outside have better distance vision than those who primarily play indoors.
  2. Promotes Social Skills: Playing outside with other children or going to a playground is not just about running around and being active, it's also about learning social skills, executive functions and behavioral skills through play.
  3. Increases Attention Span:  Studies have also shown that green outdoor settings appear to reduce ADHD symptoms in children. Exposure to natural settings during after-school and weekend activities may be widely effective in reducing attention deficit symptoms in children.
  4. Reduces Stress: Spending time outside playing is a huge outlet for stress, it is relaxing and healing.  Research shows that seeing green spaces can help decrease kids' stress levels.
  5. Provides Vitamin D: According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, many children (especially in northern states) suffer from vitamin D deficiencies. This vitamin has several health benefits, including preventing future bone problems, diabetes and heart disease. The best source of vitamin D is sunlight.
5/20/16:
How to Raise an Adult
Julie Lythcott-Haims, former dean at Stanford University, wrote a book titled, “How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Over-parenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success”, after seeing many students enter college still very dependent on their parents to do everything from choosing college courses to doing laundry. She has seen parents touring graduate schools, serving as mouthpieces for their shy, passive children, and submitting résumés to potential employers, sometimes without their children’s knowledge. All of this hand-holding sends the message that our kids can’t do this without us. Let’s not have college deans telling these anecdotes about Ashland graduates!
Kids need to go forth independently without constant supervision. They need to try and even fail. And when they fail and look around for a parent to bail them out, they need to hear the words, “You must figure this out for yourself.” There are four steps to help children from preschool age on up learn everything from tying their shoes to doing laundry to mowing the lawn to talking to coaches or teachers about a problem:
First you do it for them,
Then you do it with them,
Then you watch them do it,
Then you let them do it on their own.

A friend who is a pediatrician says they do the same when training medical students: See a procedure, then assist one, do one, teach one. Makes so much sense. Choose a household chore and try it with your kids this weekend!

5/13/16:
The phrase I have heard most this past week is, “May is so busy!”. We’re almost there, folks! Five and a half weeks until school ends. We can make it if we do a couple small things each day to take care of ourselves.

  1. Make dinner easier. Grill, make pasta salads, or sandwiches. These can all be made quickly with healthy ingredients.
  2. Move your body every day. Exercise can boost endorphins, increase energy, and reduce anxiety. You don’t need to run 5 miles every day, just try to move your body for 20 minutes every day. Go for a walk after dinner or early in the morning, play soccer with your kids, dance in the kitchen, jump rope - do something you enjoy
  3. Teacher gifts do not need to be pinterest worthy.  Don’t stress yourself out making, or finding, the perfect gifts for teachers/coaches/instructors. What they really want is a heartfelt note from your child/family.
  4. Call a friend. Chatting and laughing with a friend can immediately make you feel less stressed.
  5. Relax for 20 minutes every day. Take a bath, do yoga, read a book, meditate, watch a tv show with your spouse or kids.
  6. Hug your kids.  Your kids are only this age, in this grade in school, once. Enjoy this time.

5/6/16:
Unplugging
Parents today struggle to balance the benefits of modern technology with the risks. Children seem to be spending less and less time outdoors or interacting with friends and family, and more time interacting with their screens. Because online activities are so exciting it can be difficult to pull kids away for healthier activities. Over three hours per day of entertainment screen time is considered excessive, and is associated with depression, anxiety, social phobias, poor school performance, obesity, and sleep changes. Below are some tips to help your children unplug:
  1. Choose to start your day elsewhere. Start the day without screens (tv, phones, computers, tablets). This might help kids get out of the house in a smoother fashion and eat a healthier breakfast. If they have free time before school, encourage them do something active rather than sit in front of a screen. They will be sitting most of the day at school!
  2. Set limits on technology time.  The American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines recommend limiting the amount of total entertainment screen time for all children to less than one to two hours per day. Entertainment screen time includes anything involving a screen that is not specifically related to work or academics.
  3. Power-down for one hour before bed. Research shows that children fall asleep quicker and sleep better if they are off screens for one hour before bed. Do not put tv’s in children’s bedrooms and have a place where all phones and tablets charge at night.  
  4. Make family meals tech free. This includes the parents! And includes meals at restaurants. Yes, it is convenient to let kids play on phones or tablets while waiting for your meal to be served, but this does not teach them patience. Instead chat about your day or an upcoming family event, color or bring a deck of cards and play a card game while you wait for your meal.   
  5. Be a good role model. If you want your kids to stay off of media, then you have to do it too. Put down your phone and look at your children when they talk to you. Try to follow the rules above yourself.

4/29/16:
Healthy Sleep Habits for Kids of All Ages

  1. Maintain a consistent sleep schedule – Your child's bedtime and wake up time should be about the same every day of the week, regardless if it is a school day or not.
  2. Exercise daily – Have your child make exercise part of his or her daily routine. Physically tired kids sleep well!
  3. Don't go to bed hungry – Make sure your child doesn't go to bed hungry. Provide a light snack such as a glass of milk, a piece of fruit, or cereal and milk.
  4. Avoid caffeinated products – Your child should avoid products that contain caffeine in the late afternoon/evening. Be aware caffeine-containing products include iced-tea, some sports drinks, and chocolate.
  5. Plan up to 1 hour of quiet time before bed – Before bedtime every night set aside up to 1 hour for calm, enjoyable activities, such as listening to quiet music or reading. This means NO SCREENS!
  6. Maintain a bedtime routine - This may include taking a shower or bath, brushing teeth, reading out loud or silently, saying prayers or a statement of gratitude, and a hug and kiss goodnight.
  7. Take phones/ipods out of kids' rooms when they go to bed- The buzzing, vibration and lights of texts and notifications can disrupt sleep.
4/1/16:
Five Ways to Promote a Positive Body Image in Children

  1. Focus on health, not weight. Concentrate on delicious nutrition and fun physical activity, rather than the number on the scale or size on clothing tags.
  2. Compliment kids on what they do, not how they look.
  3. Myth-Bust the "Perfect Body". Help your child become a savvy media critic by talking about what they see on television, in magazines and online. Help them understand that the pictures of models they see in ads may have been retouched or otherwise manipulated to appear "perfect”.
  4. Discuss your child's struggles as they arise. Fight your knee-jerk reaction to immediately comfort your child and dismiss their concerns with comments such as, “No honey you're perfect”. Instead, respond with open-ended questions such as, “help me understand that comment” or “that surprises me, can you tell me more” in order to begin a dialogue about their concerns.
  5. Be aware of how you talk about your own body. If you are criticizing your body or others, expect that your children will mirror this thinking. You are the first window through which they view the world; evaluate what that looks like.
3/18/16:
Seven Phrases To Calm an Anxious Child
It happens to every child (and adult) in one form or another – anxiety. We would like to shield our children from life’s anxious moments, but navigating anxiety is a valuable life skill.  In the heat of the moment, try these simple phrases to help your children identify, accept, and work through their anxious moments.

  1. “Can you draw it?” Drawing, painting or doodling about an anxiety provides kids with an outlet for their feelings when they can’t use their words.
  2. “I love you. You are safe.”
  3. “Let’s count _____.”  Counting the number of people wearing hats, the number of tiles on the floor, or the number of kids in the room requires observation and thought, both of which detract from the anxiety your child is feeling.
  4. “I get scared/nervous/anxious sometimes too. It’s no fun.”   
  5. “If you gave your­­ feeling a color, what would it be?” Asking your child to say how they feel with a color, gives them a chance to think about how they feel relative to something simple. Follow up by asking why their feeling is that color.
  6. “Let’s have a debate.”  Older children especially love this exercise because they have permission to debate their parent. Have a point, counter-point style debate about the reasons for their anxiety. You may learn a lot about their reasoning in the process. 
  7. “Let me hold you.”  Physical contact provides a chance for your child to relax and feel safe.
3/11/16:
Cyber Safety
A very useful and eye-opening presentation on cyber safety was presented at AMS last week, both for the students during the day and for parents in the evening. For those who could not attend, below are some tips to help keep your kids safe on-line.

  1. Use privacy settings on apps and social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.).
  2. Turn off location services on phone cameras and social media apps. Predators can find out where your child is by location information embedded in photos.
  3. Do not allow kids to have phones and tablets in their room when they go to bed at night. This will also help them get better sleep!
  4. Remind kids only to accept “friends” or “followers” they know. A person claiming to be their best friend’s camp friend could very well be a predator.
  5. Tell your children to never give out their last name, address, age, or any other personal information on-line.
  6. Repeatedly remind your children that any photos they post or anything they say on-line is out there FOREVER. Colleges and future employers can find these.

3/4/16:
Five Quick Ways to Deal with Stress
Everyone has moments of stress or worry, even children as young as preschool age. Below are five easy “in the moment” ways for you and your child to cope with a stressful situation. Teaching kids these types of techniques will help them throughout their life.

  1. Take a deep breath: Sit up straight, eyes closed, with a hand on your belly. Slowly inhale through your nose, feeling the breath start in your abdomen and work its way to the top of your head. Reverse the process as you exhale through your mouth.
  2. Listen to Music: Research shows that listening to soothing music can lower blood pressure, heart rate, and anxiety.
  3. Get moving:  All forms of exercise, including yoga, dancing and walking, can ease depression and anxiety by helping the brain release feel-good chemicals.
  4. Do a Full Body Stretch: Stand up, raise your hands over your head, and stretch your body while you take slow, deep breaths.
  5. Be Grateful: Thinking about, or saying out loud, one or two things you are grateful for can cancel out negative thoughts and worries.

2/26/16:

Welcome to a new addition to the principal’s weekly newsletters. We all want our children to be healthy and happy. This column will address a social-emotional health topic each week. We hope these will be a starting point for discussions, raise awareness, and/or be a reminder that kids can get stressed and need compassion and understanding. Since it is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, we chose eating disorders as our first topic.

  • Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of all mental illnesses.Early recognition, diagnosis, and treatment is vitally important.
  • Eating disorder behaviors (restricting, bingeing, purging, over-exercising, abusing laxatives) are usually not about weight loss. They are a way of coping with depression, anxiety, trauma, abuse, or other emotional discomfort. Treating the emotional part is key to recovery, while also making sure your loved one becomes physically healthy.
  • Preventing eating disorders includes promoting positive body image in our children as well as teaching them HEALTHY ways to cope with stress, failure, change, and disappointment. We will address these topics in future ‘Ashland Raises Happy Kids’ corners. In the meantime, for more information on the types of eating disorders and signs and symptoms to look for, please visit the National Eating Disorder Association website at: http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/