Green Hedges School responded nimbly and swiftly to the COVID-19 crisis this Spring. Administration and teachers worked hard to create a model that could be implemented quickly and efficiently for our students and parents. Our guiding principles in this journey was to tend to the well being of students and teachers in this time of uncertainty.
Our Distance Learning program was a success for many reasons, but these five reasons stand out as to why we were able to thrive:
- Due to our small class size, all students had a balance of time online with their teachers, but also time away from screens to complete assignments. In addition, many of our teachers conducted lessons synchronously, meaning in “real-time,” but there were a good number of teachers, for example, those who taught Art, Music, French, and PE, who recorded their lessons and posted them for students to do on their own.
- We considered what technology would work best for our community and what our teachers and students could adapt to without feeling overwhelmed. Since we are a 1:1 iPad school, all students had a device at home which they used to log-in daily.
- Teachers kept to a daily schedule and routine, which was so important to both students and parents. Teachers conducted Morning Meetings or Middle School Advisory meetings each day to get the school day started. The schedule for each grade was posted online and students were familiar with how their day progressed. Teachers met with students at various points during the day and provided assignments through our online Learning Management System. Students were responsible for turning in assignments. Teachers kept instruction as simple as possible by focusing on essential skills and content through meaningful lessons and projects.
- We kept in constant touch with parents and students to receive feedback and hear from them directly as to what was working. We did this by surveying parents, students, and teachers regularly and meeting with them via Zoom.
- We found ways throughout the Spring to continue to celebrate our small, friendly community and preserve a sense of playfulness in our lives.
We are looking forward to welcoming back students and teachers in-person this Fall. Should the need arise, we are ready and able to move successfully to Distance Learning again. If you are interested in learning more about Green Hedges for your child, please contact Director of Admission & Financial Aid Katherine Vazquez at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Heather Tedesco, a Northern Virginia-based Applied Psychologist, shared some research-based words of wisdom and guidance with our parents this Winter about fostering independence in children. Parenting, as we all know, is our most important — and at times challenging — calling and privilege in life, and the workshop was a wonderful opportunity to listen to, reflect on, and incorporate Dr. Tedesco’s helpful tips and strategies to help nurture confidence and independence in children.
The top takeaways from Dr. Tedesco’s workshop were:
- Allowing children to make mistakes. This may mean that you know the mistake ahead of time and you, as a parent, have to let it just play out and see what happens. Ultimately, what may happen is that you and your child will feel the joy of seeing what happens when the child, independently, learns from his or her mistake.
- Related to this is the importance of allowing failure and understanding that it is inevitable and something from which children should not be shielded.
- Being bored is okay! Unplugged downtime or free time is valuable. There is sometimes a need to overschedule our children’s time and take care of everything for them so they aren’t “bored.” Allow children to have truly free time and provide them the freedom to do something of their choice with that time.
- As a parent interested in encouraging independence, ask yourself these two questions: “Am I overinvolved?” and “What am I doing for my child that he or she can do for him/herself?”
- Recognizing the framework for teaching new skills:
- Step 1 is doing something for your child.
- Step 2 is doing something with your child.
- Step 3 is watching them do it.
- Step 4 is allowing them to do it.
Through the workshop, parents also learned the different types of independence: academic, in the home, learning life skills, emotional, and identity. With each, Dr. Tedesco provided valuable tips and suggestions on how to engage children, no matter what the age, in learning to be more independent. Her tips are provided in the presentation below.
Fostering independence is certainly a skill that can be learned and practiced by both parents and children. Dr. Tedesco concluded with this insightful quote, “Prepare your child for the road, not the road for your child.”
Dr. Tedesco’s Presentation
As parent-teacher conferences approach, we want to express our gratitude to our teachers and parents alike for guiding our students both inside and outside the classroom. Teachers have been hard at work preparing to have conversations with each of our parents about the first few weeks of the school year and we are grateful for this opportunity to speak with you one on one. Communication is a key strength of our community and parent-teacher conferences are just one of many opportunities throughout the year that we look forward to conversing with you.
For some, it is your first parent-teacher conference ever, as with many of our Montessori parents. For parents of students in our lower school, a new school year brings new teachers, new expectations, developmental milestones, and challenges. For middle school parents, the conferences are more of a dialogue about how your child is performing and adjusting to learning from several teachers.
At Green Hedges, our students learn from excellent, caring teachers and have supportive, understanding parents. We set aside this time to make sure we are all working towards shared goals for your child.
Here are some thoughts on making the most of your parent-teacher conference:
- Listen. Listen actively, and let the teacher guide the conversation. The insights they have to share stem from their daily interaction with their students as individuals.
- Give and take. Conferences are a productive, cooperative exchange of information. These are essential conversations that help deepen the shared commitment to each child’s personal growth, cognitive development, and joy in learning.
- Tell us about your child. Although time is limited, describe what they’re like at home, what interests and excites them, and explain any issues at home that may be affecting your child at school.
- Check-in with your child. Sometimes, talking to your child in advance of the meeting, you can ask more specific questions about his or her grades, behavior or performance in certain classes.
- Teachers are on your side. Be open to your teacher’s answers, suggestions and recommendations and don’t be afraid to ask for clarification.
Remember, a parent-teacher conference is just one check-in of your child’s progress. Throughout the year, our teachers are always willing to take an opportunity to sit down with you to discuss any issues that may arise.
As your students settle into a new school year, we realize that going back to school comes with both a great deal of excitement and a need to get back into a routine, both for children and parents. Here are some tips to help ease the transition back to school:
Don’t underestimate the power of sleep: As Eleanor Mackey, a psychologist with Children’s National Health System in Washington, D.C. says in this article about managing back-to-school anxiety, “When we’re tired, we’re moody, and little things can feel really big,” Mackey explains. “Anxiety is much worse if sleep is bad. Make sure you have a good quiet routine and early enough bedtime that your child can get sufficient sleep.”
Set-up a homework station (if your child has homework): Sit down with your child and together designate a time and place where they can do their homework each day. Having the supplies your child needs at the ready can help your child do their assignments more efficiently.
After school: Many children need a break after school, even 10 to 15 minutes to unwind after a busy day. Just a small window of time to engage in light conversation, read, draw, work on a puzzle, or do some other quiet activity can help children transition into after-school activities.
Review school materials and information: There is a lot of information disseminated from you child’s school at the beginning of any school year. It can be overwhelming, but valuable as you and your child may inevitably have questions come up during the first weeks of school that may be answered in communication that is sent through school.
Ask questions and let the teacher know about your child. Every teacher and student spend the first few weeks of school getting to know one another. At GHS we are available to support families and answer any questions you may have. We also encourage you to let us know more about your child to make the beginning of school a smooth start.
“Tips to Help Kids with Back-To-School Anxiety” by Elissa Nadworny
While we start every school year with the same enthusiasm and hopefulness of all that is to come, this year, we are very aware that many schools did not get off to the same positive start that we did. Our students, seeing and hearing about the challenges faced by students and their families in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, wanted to help. This week, many of them have put thoughts into compassion and action.
Our two Montessori classes came together to make and sell lemonade to our parents during afternoon pick up. The money raised will be used to purchase school supplies for Houston area schools. Driven by the students themselves, they juiced their own lemons and made the lemonade from scratch. It was a true example of the Montessori mindset in action—helping others and doing things carefully and well themselves.
Our Middle School is helping students impacted from Hurricane Harvey as well. They started a
collection drive last week to collect school supplies for students in Houston and mailed three
boxes worth of supplies to Houston over the weekend.
In just one week here at Green Hedges, we’ve seen two ideas put into action by our students
who understand that there are others in this country who need a helping hand. Sometimes we
wonder how young is too young to show children the impacts of natural disasters, but it can
often be a start of a conversation about how to help those in need.
A recent Washington Post article, Even kids can have a role in helping after natural disasters, is
a great resource for tangible things that parents and kids can do right away to help those in
need after a natural disaster, but it also gives examples of how to show compassion and
helpfulness in your own community.
“Eloquent speech is not from lip to ear, but rather from heart to heart.”
-William Jennings Bryan
Our Grade 8 students are in the midst of putting the final touches on perhaps one of the most significant speeches they’ve given in their young lives—the speech they will deliver at their graduation on June 9. They’ve been working on their speeches for a few weeks now, but in many ways, their preparation has been years in the making.
From the first time our youngest first graders perform their class play on stage in front of the school, to leading our school assemblies as our 8th graders do, there is a lesson or unit in every grade that is preparing the students for this speech. As we mentioned in last week’s blog post, Grades 3 and 4 present to fellow students and parents on a chosen state and historical figure during the State Fair and Wax Museum respectively. By Grade 5, they are writing an in-depth series of essays on the Roman Empire, further enhancing their writing skills.
When they reach Middle School, the students learn to write in detailed and descriptive ways about seemingly small moments in their lives. All the while, they are also reading literature that shows them what good writing looks like.Read More