Westchester Today Gratitude Rocks! by Blair Hawley
C.A.R.E.S. Crews buddies wrote the names of veterans or messages of thanks on strips of paper during a recent gathering. The strips were chained together to create an American flag filled with words of gratitude for veterans across the country.
One mindfulness habit appropriate to begin practicing with children this season is gratitude. Did you know an actual chemical reaction occurs when you feel grateful? The release of dopamine in the brain after a positive thought of gratitude increases alertness, attentiveness, and energy. Other benefits of practicing gratitude include happier, helpful, kind, interested, determined, and enthusiastic children. Not only that, but children who are grateful tend to get higher grades, socially excel, and manage emotions more appropriately (Race 191). Continued on page 3
We are amidst the seasons of giving and thankfulness. Many of you look forward to this season with fun holiday traditions, visits with family, holiday concerts, and more. With the busyness this time of year often affords, we can sometimes lose sight of times to be mindful. This summer, many faculty read Kristen Race’s book Mindful Parenting: Simple and Powerful Solutions for Raising Creative, Engaged, Happy Kids in Today’s Hectic World. An inspiring read, Kristen Race describes practical ways to bring mindfulness practices into our busy lives. After reading about mindfulness, many teachers have begun incorporating practices in their classrooms. In Mrs. Hinson’s third grade class, students write in a mindfulness journal. First grade students take time to refocus their minds by taking brain breaks that include fun exercises and dancing. Fifth grade has been seen doing yoga poses in the courtyard to recenter their minds and bodies. There are numerous benefits to mindfulness practice, such as increased happiness, engagement, peace of mind, and creativity.
Gratitude: (n.) the state of being grateful; derived from Latin gratus, meaning “thankful.”
More than 60 students in grades K-12 starred in the performances of Shrek Jr. last month. This month be sure to attend the holiday concerts on Dec. 5 (Middle and Upper School) and Dec. 15 (Lower School).
December 2016 2
Links & Announcements > Campus Calendar > Arts Calendar > Athletics Calendar > Lunch Menu **************************************************
WAPA Coffee and Chat
Westchesterâ€™s All Parents Association is hosting a breakfast on Wednesday, Dec. 7, at 8:00 a.m. in the Library. School Counselor Heather Singer will speak on Internet safety and navigating the social media maze. Her discussion is appropriate for parents of all ages, and everyone is encouraged to come! If you are planning to attend, please RSVP to Laurie Rives.
Holiday Gifts for Teachers In lieu of purchasing gifts for teachers this year, consider a cash contribution to the WAPA Holiday Gift fund. The funds are distributed evenly among the entire staff as a holiday gift that is always greatly appreciated! Click here to participate.
> More Headlines
Meet Your Wildcats Name: Rhonda Hunt Title: Fourth grade teacher Family: I have two daughters (WCDS grads) and their families: Blair and Rob Metcalf and their children, Anna, Brooks, and Van; and Anna and Kyle Kusterer and daughters, Copeland and Townes. Last Book Read: Smells Like Dog by Suzanne Selfors, an EBOB selection, and The Feathered Bone by Julie Cantrell, a novel about human trafficking. Last Movie Watched: During Thanksgiving break my daughters, grandchildren, and I had the delight of seeing The Polar Express together. Fun Fact: Experiencing China! I developed summer camp curriculum and taught grades 1-3 at a summer day camp in Beijing, China, in July 2010. It was an amazing experience to walk on the Great Wall, tour the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square, and see the Terracotta Warriors in Xiâ€™an. Favorite Thing About WCDS: Westchester is home. It is a safe, nurturing environment, and I love the creative spirit I feel here. WCDS has been a part of my past, is now my present, and I hope my future.
Continued from page 1 Here are some activities Kristen Race recommends in Mindful Parenting for developing more gratitude in children:
• Who Was a Good Friend to You Today? Instead of focusing on the negatives of the day, ask children to tell you who was a good friend to them today. You may ask, “What did that friend do that made you feel good? Did you let that friend know he helped you feel better? What feelings did that friend’s generosity of spirit inspire in you?” Being grateful for the qualities of friendship can lead to better social relationships among children. • The Praise Pancake - Our brains tend to dwell on negative information. We seldom pay sensitive attention to the good experiences in our lives or compliments given to us. At the end of the day, have children list three good things that happened to them that day. Have children imagine they are pancakes lying there soaking in the syrup of the good experiences from the day. Ask them to notice the sensations in their bodies as they lie there. Paying attention to the positive stimuli strengthens neural pathways. Using those pathways more often trains our brains to focus more on the positive and less on the negative experiences (Race 191-193). Prior to our Thanksgiving break, our students participated in two C.A.R.E.S. Crews service learning events. Both of these events laid a foundation for planting seeds of gratitude. Occurring on Veteran’s Day, the first event focused on rekindling relationships with C.A.R.E.S. Crew buddies over a delicious breakfast and
Our second C.A.R.E.S. Crews event concluded our book and food collection drives. Students wrapped nearly 600 books, which will be delivered to prekindergarten, kindergarten, first, and second grade students at Fairview and Northwood Elementary Schools on the Middle School’s Service Learning Day on December 2. The students also prepared boxes of food for Feeding Lisa’s Kids families. Westchester parent and Feeding Lisa’s Kids Board member, Chris Ryker, shared with the students the origin of Feeding Lisa’s Kids and how the organization helps hungry families right here in High Point. After learning about others who are less fortunate, students were asked to reflect upon what they were grateful for. They painted rocks with pictures and words of gratitude. These rocks will make their permanent home in the Sue Ellen Holliman Memorial garden. We hope the addition to this natural area will become a place to be mindful and reflect on all that we have to be thankful. I am most thankful for the opportunity to partner with you in developing the potential in every child. Thank you for all that you do to help build strong character and gratitude in these children!
Race, Kristen. Mindful Parenting: Simple and Powerful Solutions for Raising Creative, Engaged, Happy Kids in Today’s Hectic World. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 2013. Print.
• Make a Gratitude Jar - Allow your children to decorate a jar. Cut strips of paper and put them in a place where everyone can write down (or draw pictures of) things they feel grateful for. Put the papers in the jar. Open the jar once a week or month and read what everyone has written. This is a great reminder to be thankful!
being thankful for the those who have sacrificed in our nation’s armed forces. The students prepared by coming to school with names of veterans and wrote the names or messages of thanks on strips of paper. The strips were chained together to create an American flag filled with words of gratitude for veterans across the country (see photo on front page). Watch a video here of our students together at this event.
• Express Your Appreciation - Race suggests doing this one on the eve of someone’s birthday, but I think it would be a great holiday tradition as well! Go around the table and express what you appreciate about that person. What is a better gift than to hear positive thoughts about yourself?
Westchester Today December 2016 4
Students wrapped nearly 600 books (and each other) during the Thanksgiving C.A.R.E.S. Crews event. The books will be delivered to students at Fairview and Northwood Elementary Schools.
Westchester Country Day is a college preparatory school that seeks to educate each child toward moral, academic, artistic, and athletic excellence in a nurturing, family environment where students, teachers, and parents support one another. By respecting the student and honoring learning, Westchester aims to cultivate informed citizens who are ready for a rapidly changing world and to graduate students who view the pursuit and wise use of knowledge as a lifelong joy.