Thursday, March 24, 2016

Tyler Tames the Testing Tiger

If you are a 3rd, 4th, or 5th grade parent, I am sure you know that STAAR testing is coming up soon!! This is a time where many of our students start to get nervous and anxious. Many develop test anxiety, so I wanted to make sure all of our students have the skills to cope with and diminish anxiety, especially when it comes to tests. I visited all 3rd-5th grade classrooms and we read the story, Tyler Tames the Testing Tiger, which is about a boy who becomes very nervous before a test. He shows all the signs of anxiety: butterflies in his stomach, sweaty palms, a heart that is beating super fast, his mind is going blank, and he feels extremely nervous. In this story he learns how to calm himself down, prepare himself, think positively, and remembers it's just a test and he is prepared and will do great.
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Your children should be coming home with a packet that includes many tips for being prepared for the test and learning how to calm down. The packet also includes ways you can help as a parent, so they feel relaxed and confident. 
We talked A LOT about positive thinking and believing and verbalizing that they CAN and WILL do well on the test and to think of it as getting to show how much they know and have learned, instead of all the negative thoughts that come to mind. We talked about how you can turn almost any negative into a positive if you try. Also, being well prepared will greatly reduce any anxiety or stress. If you are prepared for something, you generally feel a lot better about it and have positive feelings. 
You can help as parents, too, by being sure they get to bed early the night before the test, so they are well rested and feeling good in the morning. Also, making sure they have a nutritious breakfast in the morning will really help! Exercise is also very good for improving brain stimulation, it releases endorphins for those feel-good feelings, decreases stress, and helps keep your kids healthy. You can also help by encouraging them to just do their best and helping them to understand that if they miss some questions, it will be okay, and they can just try better next time. A whole lot of pressure is not necessary and won't help them. Try to keep everything very positive. 
I will be in their classrooms again on Monday to go over a couple of short breathing activities that help to calm down an anxious body. This is good for any situation that causes stress, not just test taking. Here is a video that is helpful in remembering to "Just Breathe," whether we are mad, frustrated, anxious, or stressed out:

Have a great three-day weekend and Easter, if you celebrate it!! :-)

Monday, March 7, 2016

A Bad Case of Tattle Tongue

It has been a very busy couple of weeks with benchmark testing two weeks ago and lessons in the classrooms, small groups, individual sessions, Student Council meetings, No Place for Hate meetings, etc., etc. Last week I got to get back in the classrooms after helping with testing the previous week and was able to get to the K-2nd grade classrooms. I will finish up with Pre-K this week and start a new lesson with 3rd-5th grades! We had a very important, much needed lesson in our lower grades...tattling!!! Our little ones are still learning how to solve their own problems instead of running to an adult for every small problem they have, which is a hard lesson for some of them to learn! It's great that they feel like they can trust their teachers and parents to help them solve their problems, but they also have to learn to solve them on their own. To help them learn more about this, we read a fun fiction story called, A Bad Case of Tattle Tongue by Julia Cook.

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In the story, Josh has a real problem with tattling and tattles on every single thing. His friends even start to get tired of it and he ends up not having many friends. The "Tattle Prince" ends up helping Josh learn the difference between telling someone something that is dangerous and that could hurt someone, and something that is a small issue he can fix on his own. An example of a small problem would be if someone took his pencil. Before going to an adult, he could ask for it back, share it, get another pencil and ignore it, talk it out with the person, etc. An example of a dangerous problem that would not be considered tattling would be when he overheard another student say he was going to beat up another student. That is an example of something he should tell an adult immediately. Here are the "Tattle Rules" we learned about.

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Please help with the consistency of not tattling at school by encouraging your children to not tattle at home and to learn how to solve their own problems. Kelso's Choices is a great tool to help them learn how to solve their own problems and if you simply say to them, "Try one of Kelso's Choices," they should know just what to do. You can look at my previous blog for a refresher on what this is. Of course they need to know when it is okay to tell and we definitely went over that, too, and completed a sheet that let them figure out which scenarios were dangerous and which ones were not. Starting to learn how to solve their own problems now will help them greatly in the future when they are trying to work with their peers; even when they are adults. ;-)