“From under our big tree” Newsletter: Week #4 9-11(2015)

Weekly Newsletter #4 – 9 to 11 Class
All Together - 9 to 11 Class
“To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child. For what is the worth of human life, unless it is woven into the life of our ancestors by the records of history?”
― Marcus Tullius Cicero

Please read our TENDING THE GARDEN section for news about Parent & Teacher Conferences and Health News. Also check out TKG OFFICE info for details about our Yogurtland Fundraiser!We began Home School Projects a week ago and had our first sharing of projects this week. What are Home School Projects you ask? Well, don’t tell anyone, but…some might call it homework. Children and parents the world over cringe at this word and the stress and battles that ensue as a result of this cursed experience. Why has it become such a difficult experience for students?

Thoughts from our students on homework from their own personal experience or what they have heard about it from other people:

  • There were impossible amounts of worksheets to be completed by the next day
  • It was boring and too hard or too easy
  • It kept them from being able to do fun things with family and friends so it felt like a punishment
  • Younger siblings without homework got to have all the fun and distracted them
  • There were consequences for not completing

So why, at this stage, would I want to introduce such a despised activity? We have intentionally held off on having “homework” in order to give our students time to develop cognitively and to place a larger emphasis on young children’s work, which is play. But now, I believe the brains of our oldest, as developing minds deserve the opportunity to continue expanding beyond the time we have at school and it doesn’t have to be torture. We can turn the concept of homework into an enriching, motivational, expanding experience. So, let’s enter into this new experience by turning the concept of homework on its head and reframing for ourselves and our children what guided work at home can look like.

What am I hoping for the students with these projects?

  • To dive deeper into subjects they are interested in
  • To hone skills around fundamental concepts like spelling, math facts, number sense
  • To introduce interesting concepts for family discussion and connection
  • To practice creating a weekly schedule for themselves and being accountable for their time
  • To practice empowerment by consciously seeking out alternatives if the home projects are not motivating

In TKG fashion, everything we do reflects our deep values. The Home School Projects help to reinforce academic concepts, AND they give students the chance to build capacities that are life-long skills. The Home Projects are born out of our commitment to empowerment, innovation, social justice and environmental stewardship. The ultimate goal is to support an empowered learner.

So how can we turn a traditional concept upside down? By giving students lots of autonomy around how it happens:

  • Students schedule their time with a week lead time to complete it
  1. Look for the student calendar in their black take home folder to be used to help visualize their availability throughout the week. Students can write in when they have appointments, playdates and family engagements so they can still have a wonderfully full life and learn how to plan accordingly. As parents, we are used to being the holder of the schedule for our children and now our children get a chance to be included in this powerful knowledge.
  • The new Home School Projects sheet goes out on Friday to allow your child to take advantage of the weekend rather than just the limited time after school during the week. Look for  this section to see when the projects will be due
  • Every activity is negotiable. The point is to dive deep, not just complete. So if a particular topic is not motivating, come up with something else! I believe being an active participant in their academic learning, at this stage of their development, is a requirement simply because all of them are vibrant, thinking individuals who now have the capacity to apply themselves to finishing a project. So if they don’t want to do these activities, what do they want to do to develop their skills?
  • We will have a conversation and sharing opportunity each Friday for students to showcase their work. At that point, we will also talk about how it worked for them in carving out time for the work as a meta-cognitive opportunity in setting goals and time management.
  • There will be no docking, punishment or shaming if they don’t return. It is up to each family to determine how they will proceed with supporting their child in deepening the work they begin at school.
So how can you help?
  1. Read last week’s packet to get a holistic sense of the offerings. Included in that packet is some information to help you understand our Reading goals
  2. Read through the packet thoroughly each weekend so you know what is offered. Your presence and support in this way can be very motivational for your child
  3. Keep me posted on your child’s experience in this process so I can connect, alter and expand
  4. Let me know what you think about the offerings and if you have any suggestions
My goal is for a no stress work at home experience. If your child is stressed on a Thursday night, rushing to complete, that defeats the purpose. I would rather them arrive with an empowered stand on why they didn’t choose to do it, then an apologetic excuse. “Homework” has not yet been a part of our students’ home culture or they are recovering from a culture of over-emphasis on rote completion of teacher directed assignments so it might take a while to ramp up to finding a way to fit this into your family schedule in a natural, motivating way. Our children’s lives are very full with connection and activities, as they should be. I very much value the Whole Child and I have no desire for your child to miss out on important experiences just to complete Home Projects. And I do feel they have entered a developmental age

where we can begin to have the conversation about how we all make choices on how to use our time and what is most important is to own it. So please help your child to feel empowered by their choices on when and how they complete the projects. 
Lena Garcia, School Builder/9 to 11 Classroom Lead Teacher
Trish Valdez, School Business
Monica Evangelist, Board President
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TKG Info
Tending the Garden

Parent & Teacher Conferences – Oct 15/16 
Our Fall Parent conferences are coming up! Please note that the sign up links (via Jooners; make sure you check all your email folders) will be sent via email on Wed, Oct 7th. We value having both parents at the conference, so if none of the times work for your family, let us know right away. This is an adult only meeting so childcare will be available for TKG students as well as non-TKG siblings.

Health & Safety Notice: We want to let you know that there was possible exposure to strep throat at TKG this week. We let you know so that you may have the information to advise your health care professionals when consulting about what may feel like a sore throat. Please take good care of yourselves and your sprouts. Practice good coughing protocols and regular hand-washing.  Do not bring children who are are feverish, excessively watering eyes/nose to school.  If your student is wanting to come to school but is visibly irritable, please stay home.

Supplies Needed: family photos, outstanding emergency kits and classroom supplies.

TKG Principles
  • CONSTRUCTIVISM: teachers and parents support relevant learning & creativity
  • WHOLE CHILD + FAMILY: cognitive, physical and social/emotional health is valued – families & caregivers are our partners
  • BRAIN SCIENCE: we are sensory learners with existing neural pathways and we can help develop and practice positive learning experiences
  • CAPACITY BUILDING: nurturing creative thinkers who are encouraged to solve problems that serve our community
  • COOPERATIVE LEARNING: small groups, low ratios, mixed ages
Parent Teacher Info
Parent Teacher Toolbox

PT this week: Alice will be supporting our classroom on Thursday this week!

Self-care Opportunity-Wed Oct 7 (all day): Riviera Nails Day (and earn credit toward your tuition). Enjoy some quiet time and earn a percentage of the day’s sales. Be sure to turn your receipt in to the yellow envelope on the Green Monster (aka Info Board)

Parent Support Group: Wed Oct 14, 9:30am: Get some support on your parenting journey. Facilitated by Renee Dokmanovich, certified ECHO Instructor. Location provided upon

rsvp to Renee.

Seminar with Dr. Joseph Lee (begins Oct 14): Click here for more information on this upcoming workshop on the Principles & Practices of Mental Healthiness.

PT RESOURCE: When It Looks Like They Are Just Playing
When it comes to brain development, time in the classroom may be less important than time on the playground. It is those experiences that change the prefrontal cortex during childhood to help wire up the brain’s executive control center, which has a critical role in regulating emotions, making plans and solving problems, Play is what prepares a young brain for life, love and even schoolwork. READ MORE…
Admin Announcements
From the TKG Office

Yogurtland % Night, Tue Oct 6 4-7pm: Stop by between these hours to earn $ toward your tuition. Families who participate and submit receipts (yellow folder on the Green Monster) will share in a part of the earnings.

Admin Office Hours, Thrs 9:00am @ TKG: stop by with any operational, PT, bookkeeping, etc questions!

Handyman Day, Sat Oct 10: Have any hours to make up? Stop by and join the handy party. Contact Trish

The Four Agreements
1. Be Impeccable with your Word
2. Don’t Take Anything Personally
3. Don’t Make Assumptions
4. Always Do Your Best
Resource Of The Week – Capacity Building

Is It Really Self-control: A Critical Analysis of the “Marshmallow Test”

Who hasn’t heard of the Marshmallow Test?! One of the researchers we follow, Angela Duckworth(Duckworth Lab, University of Pennsylvania) writes about why scientists should avoid the immediate gratification of reporting ‘”findings” without a complete analysis of all the variables. We hope to encourage the spirit of analysis for our students and community by offering provocations and engaging in the learning that may reveal itself as questions and dialogue are had. If you want to learn more about Duckworth’s studies on grit, click here.
*   *   *

By Angela Duckworth (University of Pennsylvania)

Marshmallows are everywhere. From the Vanguard newsletter to Sesame Street to the Colbert Report, direct references to the “marshmallow test” suggest this simple task, invented by Walter Mischel and his colleagues a half-century ago to assess delay of gratification in preschoolers, has captured popular interest (Mischel, Ebbesen, & Zeiss, 1972; Mischel & Metzner, 1962).

The challenge of managing impulses when what’s good for us in the long run conflicts with what feels good right now is hardly new. Virtually every philosophical and religious thinker has opined on self-control and its importance to both virtue and worldly success. READ MORE @Connections

Capacity Building - Deeper Analysis vs Instant Gratification of Reporting Results Prematurely
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