— In the News: Child’s play

Kindergarten forum provides schooling options. By Sarah Griego Guz. Published in the Half Moon Bay Review on October 11th, 2017.

As pint-sized pupils progress through their final year of preschool, Mom and Dad may be starting to stress about the next educational step.

The chaotic cloud of choices swirling around includes private versus public, Spanish immersion or a more traditional curriculum. Then there’s the whole question of staying true to the neighborhood school.

In order to help parents wrap their minds around the school conundrum, the Coastside Mothers’ Club, in collaboration with the Half Moon Bay Library, will soon present the Kindergarten Forum.

“Our goal in putting on this event is to give as many parents as we can the knowledge they need to make thoughtful decisions for their children,” said Andrea Rosenthal, Coastside Mothers’ Club education co-chair, in an emailed statement. “It’s an opportunity to come together as a community with the common goal of doing what’s best for our young Coastsiders.”

After grabbing a cup of coffee and a doughnut, perspective kindergarten parents will first hear from an independent and charter school panel featuring Alma Heights, Good Shepherd School, Ocean Grove Charter School, Sea Crest School and the Wilkinson School.

Cabrillo Unified School District Superintendent Jane Yuster will then take to the podium followed by the Cabrillo Education Foundation and the district’s Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Joy Dardenelle.

Around midmorning a panel of public elementary schools, including Kings Mountain, Farallone View, Hatch and El Granada, will have their say.

“We have so many great schools on the coast, so it’s a very difficult decision when choosing a kindergarten or transitional kindergarten,” said Coastside Mothers’ Club board member Anne Green. “Putting faces with names and having time to really talk with the principals and directors of each school can help ease one’s anxiety about finding the right fit for their child.”

“The Kindergarten Forum is also a great opportunity to sit with the parents of my children’s future classmates and have all of our questions answered,” added Emily Barbour, who is a Coastside Mothers’ Club board member and mother of four.

Deciding on the right kindergarten fit for the family is only one of the hurdles. Transitioning a child from the relaxed preschool atmosphere to a more structured kindergarten class can be a challenge.

“At all schools, the kids have such a wide range of experiences prior to kindergarten,” said Heidi Gilman Bennett, creator of the Parent Ed Series at Sea Crest School. “Some have been at a full-day child care or preschool setting, some have attended a few hours, so the day is really long, and some have never been. They’ve been cared for at home and so for them this is their first experience with a big group.”

The wide range of perspectives can be challenging for young minds and bodies. The information overload of simple school may cause kids who were smiling seconds before climbing into the car to burst into tears before the parents pull away from the curb.

In response to parenting challenges such as this, Bennett has created an education series for new Sea Crest parents specifically geared toward the topic of a healthy transition to kindergarten.

Keely Sikes Rollings, a licensed clinical psychologist working with families in the Bay Area, will facilitate a session detailing how to navigate mornings, evenings and everything in between.

“It can just be little things, like I’m having a hard time getting my child out the door because they don’t want to get dressed,” said series coordinator Paulette Phlipot. “Dr. Rollings might have some neat tips, like OK try this, do this little routine. She just presents it in tactile, practical ways to help parents and families in the progression.

“She’ll also cover the topic of the playground, how to find someone to play with,” she continued. “It’s just kind of a way to get the conversation going regardless if you’re experiencing the issue or not. It brings it to the forefront and puts it in people’s minds.”

The free Kindergarten Forum starts at 8:30 a.m. on Nov. 4 at the El Granada Elementary School multipurpose room, 400 Santiago Ave. in El Granada. For more information on the Parent Ed Series on Healthy Transitioning to Kindergarten, email Michael Thompson at mthompson@seacrestschool.org.


 

— Parenting in the Digital Age: Resources

Aligned to the school’s work with Common Sense Media on digital citizenship, our 2016-17 Parent Education Series was designed to help Sea Crest families tackle some of the most challenging issues in raising happy, healthy and successful children. Here are some of the take-away resources from the workshops:

Here are some of the take-away resources from the workshops:

1) Screen Time (from Common Sense Media)
Top 32 questions asked by parents

2) Media Rules (from Stanford School of Education)
Top 10 tips from Stanford researchers

3) Media Use in School-Aged Children & Adolescents
(from American Academy of Pediatrics)
Revised recommendations:
Easy-to-Read News Report
Actual AAP Statement
Detailed AAP Technical Report

4) Parenting in the Digital Age (from Dana P. Blum)
Materials from the presentation

5) Managing Screen Time (from Donna Blethen)
Materials of the Presentation
Customizable Device Contract
Family Media Agreement
Media Rules – Challenge Success
Self Esteem & Boundaries
Steiner Adair Tips

Many thanks to the wonderful parents who helped organize this successful series of workshops!


 

— Managing our middle schoolers’ screen time and use

By Jessica Patti, Director of Middle School

Our Middle Schoolers are digital natives – they have grown up immersed in technology. However, our students’ familiarity with technology may unintentionally mask their need for guidance with how to engage appropriately with peers in ways that support boundaries and maintain personal integrity. Among Snapchat, messaging, Instagram, and group texting (or grext) there are a myriad of ways for students to connect with one another and share (at times near constant) communication.

While our students are growing up in a social construct that invites sharing profusely, the screen (vs face-to-face) simultaneously creates enough separation such that students’ inhibitions are lessened. This results in exchanges that would be deemed “over-sharing” in person, but are socially acceptable when sent electronically. Middle School is also the time when many parents are grappling with providing a personal device to their child and then with how to monitor use while supporting the emerging adolescent need for perceived “space” and personal privacy.

Here are some helpful tips and things to think about for navigating these sometimes tricky waters:

  • Have regular conversations with your child(ren) about social media.
  • Find out about the new apps they are using and how they are being used.
  • Ask your child to share current examples of how they have recently communicated.
  • Ask if your child has ever had interactions with others on social media that made them uncomfortable and why.

Create clear parameters around social media use:

  • Tell your child what you think is and isn’t appropriate to say and do online. (A helpful framework: If it would be uncomfortable in person, it should not happen on social media.)
  • Explain the difference between bystander and upstander. A bystander may “like” or “favorite” something hurtful an upstander calls out cruel and hurtful behavior and supports targeted students.
  • Let your child know if they may not use certain apps or sites.

Limit access to the device; students should not have cell phone and computer access 24 hours a day.

  • Set a time when you take the device in the evenings and when it is returned in the mornings.
  • Charge personal devices outside of student bedrooms.

Create clear expectations about the expectation of privacy.

  • Have students work on the computer in a communal space in your home.
  • As parents you should decide how frequently you will check the phone.
  • Go through phones and computers together with your child(ren) and talk about topics as they arise.
  • Always ask about new apps or apps you don’t recognize.
  • Have your child(ren) share all passwords for phones, computers and apps.
  • For more extensive resources, Common Sense Media has wonderful information.

For more extensive resources, please visit other related articles from our Parent Education Series: Parenting in a Digital Age, and more to come!


 

— Parenting in a digital age

By Dana P. Blum, Bay Area Director for Common Sense Media

After my Common Sense Parent talk at Sea Crest School on November 17th, it is obvious that the school cares deeply about supporting your kids. We also know that all parents are struggling with their family’s 24/7 digital life. At Common Sense, our job is to ensure that all kids, parents and educators are harnessing the power of technology for life-long learning. Our motto is “sanity not censorship!”

We believe the best place to begin the conversation with your family about the digital rules in your home is to start with our simple Family Media Agreement. This is an easy tool to start the conversation and “have the talk.” You can also use our Customizable Device Contract to be very specific about what you expect from your kids and what your kids should expect from you in regard to device usage. I recommend you design the contract together with your entire family.  You are the primary role model for appropriate digital behavior, so be sure to set the example you want your kids to follow. Remember, your kids hear 20% of what you say and see 100% of what you do!

The next place I would like to guide you to is our Parent Concerns Platform. We have 13 different parent concerns and each one can be filtered by age. For example, take a look at Technology Addiction and click on teens. You can go deeper and find out if teens can be addicted to video games. This is a great place to go to with specific questions you may have about too much usage of a specific game or app.

Check out our Family Guide platform, specifically the Essential Apps. This particular platform is filled with information on how to pick the best tools for learning. Something I know you are going to love is our live Digital Glossary. The glossary has a complete definition for every platform you have heard about, every acronym you may have wondered about, and a lot of stuff you didn’t know existed. This is a great place to go when you have questions about new apps. Remember, if your kids are using platforms like Instagram or Snapchat, they have agreed that they are 13 and they will be marketed to by companies. Also, I wanted to make sure to send you the link to our Technology Addiction Research and our Common Sense Census: Tweens and Teens Media Use.  The research will help you better understand the usage patterns and differences in gender, income and ages. Be sure to keep an eye out for our “soon to be released” research on parent usage!

Also, think about how your daughters can start playing games to increase their math and spatial skills. Not all games are bad, so check out a few of our favorite and be sure to read about them so you can have a meaningful conversation with your kids about what’s happening in their world. Here are a few of my favorite games for kids: UnravelMission US: Flight to freedomThomas Was AloneChild of Light.

Lastly, I want to share an important short video to watch with your girls (and boys) about the reality of what they see in the media.  I think this Dove commercial is a fantastic way to help our kids understand the reality of advertising.


Common Sense Media is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization committed to helping kids and families thrive in a world of media and technology.

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