January is the time for “resolutions,” so let’s think about what that really means.
It is the perfect time to speak to the young people around us about the importance of making resolutions and sticking to them. To make this easy, think of resolutions as goals. We all make them as adults, whether they are fostered in the home or the workplace. However, the key with children is to keep them reasonable, attainable, and relevant.
First, work on them together. This can be a great family bonding experience. Just as you would approach any task, define what needs to be achieved, and develop a plan to address it. Some examples:
Your room is a mess! - Break this one down. Make sure the occupant of the room, your child, understands that a messy room can be a breeding ground for germs (this is perfect for middle school students), and that everyone in the household has a responsibility to keep their respective living areas clean and presentable. Dirty clothes go in the hamper, not on the floor. Toys are put back where they belong, not under foot. Beds are made. Potato chip bags and leftovers are put in the trash, or at least back in the kitchen.
“Fido” needs some love! -Yet another one to segregate. You’ll have to face it. The “pet” was a great idea, but the stench of its cage, or the backyard “land mines” are great reasons to put some New Year’s resolutions in place. First, make sure that everyone understands that the health of the family pet(s) is at issue. Every pet deserves clean drinking water, daily nourishment, and a clean bed. Share the tasks. Who wants the morning shift? Take turns.
Spend some time together. -Make a resolution to spend some time together on a regular basis. Dinner’s great. Hang the electronic devices at the door and talk to one another. Make dinner last twenty-five minutes – you’ll be surprised how many families finish in fifteen, even ten. Talk about the day. Share thoughts. Talk politics (yes, politics – the Kennedy dynasty was built at dinner). Pose a question. If time allows, play a game, but leave the devices on the rack. How about a board game, puzzle, cards?
The yard’s a mess! -Start a garden. A small plot will do. It’s amazing what Warren-Walker second graders in Point Loma can grow in a 2x3 foot raised bed. In fact, Mrs. Wambaugh’s three-year-old class took over two of them and have barley and sunflowers sprouting galore…and it’s winter! It doesn’t take much.
All families, particularly those just starting out like so many of you, are encouraged to look at the holiday season as an opportunity to initiate traditions that will carry over from year to year and establish memories that will be cherished forever.
Bake – Children of all ages love to bake, so what better time than this to get out those pans, sifters, mixers, ladles, and caches of flour, butter, and multi-colored sugar crystals. Concentrate on the inherent fun imbedded in this activity - mixing, kneading, rolling, cutting and making a mess. The latter item is important. Smaller hands and developing coordination don’t always make for tidy work areas. Enjoy the process and clean up later. More importantly, if Santa’s head falls off because the neck was rolled too thin, just pop it in your mouth and enjoy!
Decorate – All communities come alive this time of year with festive decorations, themes, greetings, and lighting. Our homes are no exception, and make sure that children are welcomed to engage in the process whenever possible. Purchasing, or better yet making, an annual ornament that becomes one that is hung or displayed year after year is a great tradition. Date each one, as time will pass more quickly than one thinks, and each will bring back a special memory. Enjoy other’s decorations as well. Take a walk around the neighborhood to “ooh” and “ahh”. Parks and civic centers come alive this time of year, so take advantage of a stroll through one or more of them.
Read – This is done regularly if not nightly in our homes anyway, but what a better time to increase its importance. Select thematic holiday books. Children will have their favorites. Read them together – a great time for an older sibling to read to a younger – and cherish them. Store them away at the season’s end and bring them out the following year. They will become a special part of your family rituals for years to come.
Sing – Carols are quickly learned, easy to sing, and fun. Now, here’s an idea. Put together a date with other families and friends. Start at your home with hot cider. Head out into the neighborhood and stroll together with occasional stops on the sidewalk and sing your hearts out! It’s generally cool enough in the evening for children to see their breath in the air, and it can be fun getting all bundled up. Think about it.
Time – If one chooses to do just one of the foregoing, you have given your children the greatest gift of all – your time!
Peace and love to all of you!
on Friday November 30, 2012 at 06:09AM
Halloween at Warren-Walker School is a day filled with imagination and fun for both children and adults. No more so was this the case than yesterday at all three campuses.
The day kicked off early at the Middle School with faculty members Ann DuBois (dressed as Sister Mary Ann) and Michael Morgan greeting middle school students who were fully decked out for the occasion. This would lead to a day of ghoulish science experiments and creative writing assignments.
Students at each Lower School campus assembled early for the traditional round of recitations and songs by grade level, and the ever-popular appearance by Head Witch, Suzanne Pettigrew, and her cadre of sixth-grade witches who treated all in attendance with a well-rehearsed and realistic presentation of The Witches Scene from Shakespeare’s “Macbeth.” Each was followed by the annual costume parade when students could show off their creative wear and parents could enjoy a number of “photo ops.”
A special thank you is extended to faculty who opened their classrooms for the day and the parents who teamed with them in offering class celebrations that were age appropriate, festive, and fun. One could not help but notice how well the students responded to this day. Albeit a day of fun, it is also a day to integrate so many wonderful concepts into the learning process - whether it be the weighing of pumpkins prior vs. post carving, artfully decorating one’s personally designed ghost, or playing the mystery games designed by students as a response to literature for their monthly book report.
We are ever grateful for the strong community we all share that is Warren-Walker School. In this environment, faculty, parents, and students are able to foster and create relationships and memories that are extremely nourishing for all involved.
on Thursday November 1, 2012 at 07:05AM
(A reprint of a prior blog entitled “On the Nightstand”)
Nightstands are very interesting places. Largely personal, mine contains a myriad of gardening magazines, a business title, usually a Paolini or Riordan work so that I can stay up with the recreational reading of our middle school students, and a book with historical perspective or two.
It’s to one of the latter that I have paid particular attention, of late; Rural Wisdom – Time-Honored Values of the Midwest, by Jerry Apps, is a calming piece. Written in the style of the late San Francisco Chronicle columnist, Herb Caen, it is comprised of short, sometimes witty, but most oftentimes thoughtful reflections of the time when common sense ruled the land, the average person spent the majority of their lifetimes within 50 miles of their place of birth, and children were familiar with the origin of the blisters found on the palms of their hands.
Chapter six is entitled, “Family,” and pays a good amount of attention to those members of this traditional social unit who also happen to hold the majority of our collective attention at Warren-Walker School during the course of any given day – children.
Three of the more poignant reflections found in this section of the book are most pertinent. The first reads:
Allow your children to be children. The childhood years are few: the adult years are many. Having chores to do is important; so is having time to play.
The Headmaster is not naïve. Large lists of chores do not adorn the modern-day refrigerator or “pop up” as reminders on a smart phone, but piano and swim lessons, soccer and gymnastics practice, and that weekly trip to the dojo do. Be careful. Don’t over schedule your child. If the trip to the ball diamond on a Saturday morning seems more like a sentence than a family outing, as you look at the white knuckles on your steering wheel, it’s time to find an opportunity to go to the beach and build a sand castle.
The second offers the following advice:
Talk to little children; listen to them for their ideas are fresh. Watch them. Learn from them. They are real and experiencing life to the fullest.
Whether your child is little, as this admonishment puts forth, a middle school student, or like mine; passing beyond their twenties, listen to them! Try something. Take a day or two and concentrate on them saying more to you than you to them. With the little children, it is an opportunity to calm oneself, for parents of young teens it’s an opportunity to practice anger management, and for us parents of adults, a time to stay connected and let go, at the same time.
The third stands on its own:
Children may ignore your advice, but they will never ignore your example. They notice how you treat animals, how you care for the crops, what you say about your neighbor, and what you think of rural life.
on Monday October 8, 2012 at 01:28PM
We had the pleasure of enjoying the company of many family and friends over the holiday season, one of whom was a nephew on Mrs. Volker’s side of the family who visited with his wife and two precocious young daughters. Although they were not on our gift exchange list, we received a couple of presents from them in gratitude for the use of our family van as a form of convenient transportation during their stay.
One gift was a dual-CD set of James Taylor and Carole King crooning away at “The Troubadour” some time ago, and the other a hardback copy of Stephen King’s 11/22/63. The former gave us good post-Christmas music to play, and the latter gave me something to read beyond my recent intake of Paolini’s Inheritance, and Riordan’s latest installment of The Lightening Thief series, Son of Neptune.
Lately, I’ve been immersed in these less–than-adult themes specifically written for young audiences – with the exception of The Golden Compass - in a somewhat never-ending, albeit fun way of staying up with the students. But it is high time I experienced an adult theme, and King’s book has done the trick.
Those who have read the book - highly recommended to those who have not - know that King’s main character becomes a time-traveler, and as such is able to alter the future by changing certain events in a past to which he is allowed to travel via a modern day “rabbit hole.”
Now, unless we live in the world of Stephen King, time travel is a topic left to science fiction writing such as his, and to our knowledge there are no “rabbit holes” in Point Loma, Mission Valley, or La Mesa. However, one can reflect upon the author’s lines on page 311 of the work which state, “But stupidity is one of two things we see most clearly in retrospect. The other is missed chances,” and put those words in a non-fiction context.
Changing the past is out of the question, but affecting the future by what we do today and tomorrow is very possible. This is where resolutions come in, and as they say, ‘tis the season for these annual pronouncements, proclamations, and self-improvement edicts. Your Headmaster has three:
Keep Faculty First… Leadership will do everything to protect its most important asset, that of our talented faculty. Not only will there be a renewed effort to grow how our wonderful teachers feel intrinsically about their dedication to Warren-Walker School, but they will be rewarded extrinsically as well. The former translates to more “pats on the back,” something easier to give; while the latter requires resources that are harder to acquire, but nevertheless important.
Promote student well being…When faculty are put first, students benefit. Conversely, when students feel safe, respected, and well cared for, their social, emotional, and educational needs can be well met.
Expand our Community…As the School’s 80th year (think about it!) is celebrated, the School will endeavor to expand its outreach efforts and communications to so many of the students, families, and friends with whom we’ve lost touch, but are confident still feel a strong connection to the School.
I speak for the entire faculty and staff when I say, Happy New Year! We are excited to start 2012 and look forward to all that lies ahead in this school year.
on Sunday October 2, 2011 at 06:39PM
Existing home sales were depressed, the financial markets were going nowhere in the search for a “bottom”, and many Americans were unemployed or felt they would be by year end. The year was 1974.
Your Headmaster was 24. His college days were behind him, a very short-lived professional football career ended quickly by simply “being one step too slow to the outside”, and a two-year stint coaching football at the collegiate level ended by choice. Fortunately, a teaching credential had been earned along the way and he was fortunate enough to have landed a fulltime teaching and coaching position at the Francis W. Parker School.
Like all teachers rookie or seasoned, the excitement ran extremely high as he pressed forward in planning countless hours to make the first day of school, and the ensuing days, weeks, and months memorable ones for the students who would be in his charge.
Parker had just moved to its current Linda Vista campus to take over the site previously held by the San Miguel School, a former day and boarding facility. Therefore, in addition to regular classrooms and offices, there were a number of dorm rooms on campus including a residence quarters with two bedrooms, a bathroom, and a common area. Since this new teacher was low man on the faculty totem pole, and all the traditional classrooms were claimed he was assigned to a dorm residence and set up shop in one of the common areas.
No one is quite sure how shortly before the first day of class, this teacher found himself in the bathroom of that residence dorm neck deep in textbooks and scattered loose-leaf lesson plans now totally askew and covering him as he lay in the bathtub. Worse yet it was merely minutes before the bell would ring to announce the arrival of the first students and he was still unshaved, un-showered, and dressed in clothes that were clearly contrary to what his own headmaster at the time had admonished him to wear. It was clear the flannel shirt and pajama bottoms just weren’t going to cut it.
People who analyze such things say that dreams like this are natural, and allow one to deal more effectively with high levels of stress and anxiety. The dream simply plays out the worst as the person later experiences the actual event and feels more relaxed and in control. Although this reflection helps to explain the phenomenon, it does not seem to stave off their annual occurrence, as this teacher had them on a recurring basis in some form every year he taught, and in subsequent years as an administrator. In fact, his first year as an administrator no one showed up for school the first day, and prior to the beginning of his second, he lost his way to school and wandered for hours before finding the campus.
What it really means is that the first day of school can be one of the more stressful of the year, but also one of the most enjoyable. For students, uniforms are pressed, backpacks are filled, and the anticipation of seeing new and old friends again, along with waiting to get that first, smile, hug or reassuring glance from the new teacher, and seeing all those new supplies at the desk outfitted just for them, is pictured time and again before the actual event.
Faculty are feverishly putting the last touches on that first exciting lesson, arranging their rooms this way and that, decorating their bulletin boards, and putting things in just the right order so the students, new to their classrooms will feel right at home the minute they step across the threshold.
Parents recall their own first days of school. They abandon their summer schedules and bring them into alignment with that of the School to lesson stress on their child, and focus on the importance of school. Reassuring comments are made to older children in the household about how great the school year is going to be, and the younger ones are read stories that help make the adjustment from home to school easier.
So as the welcomes ring out, the cameras flash, and the smiles return; enjoy the day. Sweet dreams!
on Monday September 5, 2011 at 09:13AM