Letter from the Principal

Letter from the PrincipalComments Off on Letter from the Principal

Dear Janney Families,

We look forward to welcoming students back tomorrow.  Report cards for K-5 students will be sent home via THT on Tuesday, February 11, 2020.

This week’s newsletter contains reminder information on our upcoming Community Night in February which will focus on security at Janney with an included link to JAC sign-up; information about standardized testing for students in grades 3-5; an announcement about the winners of our Janney spelling bee; and our final “Ask the Worry Doctor” column from Sara Solomon, school Social Worker, who will be writing the Student Support Services columns for the month of January.

The remainder of the newsletter includes new content from the PTA co-presidents with information about the SSF, auction and the Janney Used Book Sale.  Other updated articles include: new article about Janney 5th grade Spring Track season; new article about the Janney Auction Flash Ticket Sale; new article about the Lost & Found.

Reminder: Community Night: February 5th @ 6pm
Our February Community Night will focus on the broader theme of security and how we work together to ensure that all adults and children feel safe at Janney while also ensuring that everyone feels welcome.  We will begin the evening with a presentation from Denise Lisi DeRosa on Parenting Advice in the Digital Age.  Please see the blurb below for more information.  If you have specific questions or issues that you’d like Denise to address, please complete this short form. The second portion of the evening will be facilitated by Janney administrators and will dive deeper into how we work to create a safe physical space for all adults and children while also ensuring that everyone feels welcome.  We will discuss arrival/dismissal procedures, monthly safety drills, opportunities for adult training, communication with families, and instances of racial profiling that have occurred at Janney.  I will share all presented materials with families following the event, but we strongly encourage adults to attend this evening.  JAC will provide childcare; please ensure that you have signed-up for JAC prior to the event by completing this form.

Practical Advice for Parenting in the Digital Age
Date and Time:  February 5th at 6:00pm 
Guide your kids to develop safe, savvy and ethical digital skills.
This workshop begins with understanding what your kids are doing online so you are empowered to set reasonable limits and expectations for tech use in your home. Parents will get step-by-step instruction on privacy and safety settings across popular mobile devices, apps, browsers, games and search engines. You will learn strategies for encouraging healthy tech habits and raising kids who are able to use technology and social media safely, responsibly and productively. In this workshop emphasis will be on modeling good digital habits, mentoring your family to make good choices, listening to your kids and how my practical solutions will help you lose the guilt over not being perfect.

Statewide Assessment Participation for students in grades 3-5
ESSA requires school districts to notify parents of their rights to request information about statewide assessment participation. In this regard, schools are asked to send the Notification of Parents Right to Know to parents and families of students who will be taking the OSSE mandated assessments (PARCC, Science, MSAA, DLM, and ACCESS and Alternate ACCESS).  The form is currently linked on our website, and students in statewide testing grades will also receive a copy with their report cards.

Janney Spelling Bee Winners
The Spelling Bee was a tough competition. It was obvious that all of the spellers made sure to study and prepare for the Bee. The 4th and 5th grade classes were a perfect audience, silent during spelling and cheering at the end of each round. They, along with the parents, were held in suspense, as we continued the competition after lunch and recess. When we reconvened in room 216, we were down to five incredible spellers. In a final round, Luke Voss became our first place champion with the word quarterly. Our second and third place winners are Owen Patel and Zoe Stafford. These three fabulous spellers will continue on to the Cluster Bee on February 5. Please make sure to congratulate them when you see them, and cheer them on for the Cluster Bee!

Student Support Services Column
Question:
Our 7-year son doesn’t seem to be having significant behavior issues at school, but at home has become very difficult and stand-offish. He argues irrationally and unendingly about seemingly unimportant things (e.g., debating whether scoring a touchdown marks the end of a drive in football lasted over an hour even as we tried to stop the discussion) and becomes irritated very quickly when he doesn’t get his way. These incidents frequently devolve into him physically acting out (squeezing his fists or punching the couch in frustration). He has 3-4 of these meltdowns each week and is particularly vulnerable to them when he first wakes up and late at night (when he is hungry and/or tired). I should mention that our family has a genetic history of OCD and Anxiety Disorder. Is this behavior normal for 7-year olds or should we seek further guidance on what is going on?

Answer:
Thanks for writing in. This is a great question! While you asked only if this is normal or in need of more formal guidance, I’m also going to answer the question you did not ask – how can we help our child? I’ll take these one-by-one.

Is this normal behavior?
At 7, children are in the midst of a developmental stage (5-puberty) in which they’re learning to do things and building a sense of their own competence. They’re also beginning to compare themselves to peers to see if they measure up. Along with this new awareness of themselves in comparison to others comes the development of new and complex feelings such as guilt, shame, and disgust. Thus, at this stage they are also learning new skills for regulating these negative emotions. At age 7, these feelings may still be relatively new experiences, and difficult for the child to tolerate. Frustration and anxiety are not uncommon emotions for a 7 year old, and, coupled with age-appropriate lack of impulse control, can result in verbal or even physical outbursts.

While big outbursts are not unusual, 3-4 times per week in early morning or late evening must make for some stressful moments for your family, and it sounds like your son may need some additional help from you in understanding and regulating these feelings. Here are some things you can do to both prevent outbursts and promote general mental stability and wellbeing, and manage emotional dysregulation when it occurs.

How can we help?
Children feel most stable and safe when their environment is predictable and expectations are clear. Since you’ve noticed early morning and later evenings are vulnerable times, set him up for success at these times with some good routines tailored to his needs.

Set his mornings up for success with a wake up routine that works for him. I’m making an assumption here, but if he tends to wake up cranky, try a gradual waking routine. For instance, start with gentle morning signals such as light and gentle music. You might even want to begin the routine 15-20 mins earlier than present to give ample time without making everyone late. My favorite way to wake up is with a natural light lamp that comes on gradually and mimics natural sunlight. Studies show that waking to natural light in the morning helps in waking, resetting circadian rhythms, and even in regulating overall mood. Couple the light with some gentle or nature sounds, all before you enter his room to greet him and get him up. Morning routines should also include all morning things: getting dressed, brushing teeth, taking vitamins, eating breakfast, and gathering things for school/the day in roughly the same order each day. A routine like this can help him wake and start his day feeling peaceful, stable, and regulated, giving him more room ‘in his bucket’ to manage small frustrations he encounters throughout the day. A similar evening routine will help him settle in the evening and maximize the benefits of sleep, which are also important for feeling stable and regulate throughout the day.

Next, to help with overall frustration management and emotional regulation, try introducing a regular meditation practice to your family routine. There are all kinds of great resources and apps available to help build meditation practices from meditation and breathing games to guided imagery meditation scripts, to apps that signal when to breath by following shapes around the screen. You’ll have to find what works best for your family (breathing gamesguided visualizations, or apps), but once you find it, make this a part of your family’s daily routine – could be part of the evening routine, or tie it to a meal with some meditation before or after dinner, or incorporate several regular mindful minutes throughout the day.

Setting up peaceful morning and evening routines and regular mindfulness or meditation routines will help set a peaceful and stable foundation, and are good preventative practices to promote emotional regulation. But what about in-the-moment help when he’s having an outburst? First, model your own regulation. Take a beat before responding to check in with yourself. Take several deep breaths until your own heart rate slows and your body is calm. Approach gently, and speak to him in a calm tone with soft volume, one simple question or statement at a time. Help him identify and understand his feelings but helping him name the feeling and ask why it makes him so frustrated.

If the trigger is over a disagreement, rather than arguing the other side (even if he’s demonstrably wrong!!), bypass the argument altogether by focusing on helping him articulate his thoughts, feelings, and ideas. This process will help him feel heard and understood. Talking it out and helping him articulate himself will also calm him down enough to have a conversation about the opposing sides, if necessary.

If the trigger is being told no, guide him in using those calming strategies you’ve been practicing as a family, and give him space to use the strategies and burn off some energy. Then when he is ready to engage, try approaching him with a choice or compromise rather than an outright no. Maybe he can’t have his way now, but he can choose something else, later.

Should we seek further guidance?
Given your family history, it can’t hurt to ask your pediatrician to screen for symptoms at annual check ups or if the above suggestions don’t help. However, I’d try them first and see how he responds. Treatment for most depressive or anxiety-related disorders will include all of those strategies anyway, so if it is something more serious, you’ll have good data to give your doctor about what’s worked and you’ll already be ahead of the game.

If you feel like this doesn’t fit your needs or you need a more personalized approach, please don’t hesitate to contact me and set up a time to meet and talk more about it.

*******
January is over, but I’ll be back here in March! If you’d like to submit a question, here’s the link: Ask the Worry Doctor
Looking forward to hearing from you!
Sara Solomon, LICSW
Janney Elementary School Social Worker

Warm Regards,
Alysia Lutz, Principal

  • Janney Calendar

    April 2021

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    • End of Term / Half-Day PD & Half-Day Records Day / No School for Students
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    • No School
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    • Janney Meeting re New Ward 3 Schools
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    • Dining Out at Potomac Pizza
    • DCPS Office of School Planning Meeting with Janney re New Ward 3 Schools
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