Good afternoon VP families
I hope that your week has been productive and that you have found the time to go for walks or runs to clear your minds on some mornings.
This weekend we celebrate Mother’s Day. I hope that all our moms, grandmothers, aunties, step-moms and care-givers have a lovely day and are spoilt rotten!
As we would have been promoting the value of resilience in our girls at school I thought I would include in this newsletter an extract of a lovely article with you which may help you develop resilience at home. I dare say some of the tips I found relevant to myself too. It is a rather long article so I have reduced it and included it in the second half of this newsletter. If you would like to read it in its entirety please go to https://www.heysigmund.com/building-resilience-children/
But first some business:
We had just declared our newsletter good to go and in it, I had informed you of our plans for returning to school next week, when I received a Circular from the Education Department declaring that ‘due to unforeseen circumstances deep cleaning and other health related issues have not yet been delivered to our institutions’ and that ‘in the light of the above, District Directors are hereby instructed to postpone the returning of workers/SMT’s to offices/schools until further notice’. I am feeling strangely gutted at this news as I was hoping we could start implementing all the plans we had discussed and be one step closer to opening our doors to our girls again. I know that the health and safety of everyone is of paramount importance but I feel as though we have once again had a false start to a race I am so eager to run, even one as uncertain as this. No matter how anxious we are about it all, staying at home and prolonging the start of our preparations is frustrating and debilitating. I am sure that many of you are feeling the same way about returning to work. I have to believe that they will deliver the promised PPEs and perform deep cleaning sooner rather than later. Trust that we are revving our engines to go as soon as we are given the green light to return.
The SGB Finance Committee had a meeting this week to review the impact that the closing of our school has had, as well as to determine what impact the phasing in approach will have on the various aspects of our school. It is our function to make sure that this situation does not leave our school in a dire financial predicament and that it does not leave us unable to function in the years to come. We are in the process of implementing and assessing certain measures to ensure that we are able to continue to function.
Please note the following:
• The hostel parents will receive correspondence from us early next week and we request that you complete and return it as soon as possible.
• We request that you notify the school via email if your child has pre-existing medical conditions such as asthma and diabetes. This needs to have been diagnosed by a medical doctor.
• The Grade 7s are expected to return to school on the 1st June. We will be sending a list home prior to this, of requirements and rules and regulations that will need to be adhered to on her return. We can make this work if we all work together.
As you all know things change on a daily basis and we will keep you informed as often as possible. We will continue to send work home and I hope that your daughter is managing her time wisely. I also understand that many parents are finding it very challenging to work from home and to “homeschool” at the same time. It is important to try to find a routine that includes time for your daughter to work, gauging how long she can stay focussed, and reward her with well needed breaks in between. Try to limit TV time during the day and rather encourage break time to be spent outside for some fresh air, if at all possible. Make sure her working space does not have many distractions and she is able to work in a quiet and relatively uncluttered workspace. Her own designated work space is important. Although she is not officially back at school try to instil a bedtime (and wake-up) routine so that your daughter doesn’t wake up extra grumpy and too tired to concentrate. All this will help you manage “homeschooling” just a little better. Be strong, moms and dads! We wish so much that this was not how things were at this moment, but remember that we are an email away if you need any help or have any queries.
The Grade 4-7s will receive new work today in a slightly different format. Each grade has given parents some guidance on how to approach the work. We hope that this too will make your lives a little easier. Below please find a message from Mrs Orsmond regarding the Pre-Primary and Foundation Phase.
To Our Pre-Primary and Foundation Phase Parents and Girls
Thank you to each and every one of you for your enthusiasm and support over the last 4 weeks, as we have taught and learnt “via correspondence”. In anticipation of teachers returning to work on the 18th of May we have decided that we would like to declare that week from the 18th to the 22nd of May, as a “Home School Holiday” for the Pre Primary and Foundation Phase. While you use the week to take a breath and perhaps catch up on some of the activities that you haven’t managed to do, we are going to use it to plan for the coming weeks. We are all eager and anxious, in equal measures, about returning to school. We are eager for our children to feel a sense of normality again, to learn and to play. Yet we are anxious as well about their health and the health of our families and community as a whole.
Planning for the return of our Foundation Phase is going to be particularly tricky as the younger members of the VP Family (as well as those who teach and care for them) are particularly tactile and a great amount of physical contact happens in our classrooms. Now is a good time to start preparing your daughter for her return to school by discussing social distancing and how it will affect her interactions with friends and teachers. The wearing of face masks in public is a compulsory regulation, find one that your daughter is comfortable wearing and get her accustomed to using it. Get into the hand washing habit, if you are tired of singing happy birthday while you do it, sing a different song!
We will all see each other again soon and when we do, I suspect that the elbow knocking and ankle tapping greetings will resemble a very merry dance instead of a sombre social distancing hello.
Best Wishes, Mrs Ceri Orsmond
“Building Resilience in Children – 20 Practical, Powerful Strategies (Backed by Science)
Building small humans into healthy, thriving big ones isn’t about clearing adversity out of their way.. A little bit of stress is life-giving and helps them to develop the skills they need to flourish. Strengthening them towards healthy living is about nurturing within them the strategies to deal with that adversity. Here’s how.
1. Resilience needs relationships, not uncompromising independence.
Research tells us that it’s not rugged self-reliance, determination or inner strength that leads children through adversity, but the reliable presence of at least one supportive relationship. In the context of a loving relationship with a caring adult, children have the opportunity to develop vital coping skills. Anyone in the life of a child can make a difference – family, teachers, coaches – anyone.
2. Let them know that it’s okay to ask for help.
Children will often have the idea that being brave is about dealing with things by themselves. Let them know that being brave and strong means knowing when to ask for help.
3. Build their executive functioning.
Strengthening their executive functioning will strengthen the prefrontal cortex. This will help them manage their own behaviour and feelings, and increase their capacity to develop coping strategies. Some powerful ways to build their executive functioning are:
• establishing routines; modelling healthy social behaviour; creating and maintaining supportive reliable relationships around them; creative play; board games (good for impulse control (taking turns), planning, working memory, and mental flexibility (the ability to shift thoughts to an alternative, better pattern of thought if the situation requires); games that involve memory (e.g. the shopping game – ‘I went shopping and I bought a [puppy]’; the next person says, ‘I went shopping and I bought a [puppy and a bike for my t-rex]’; next person … ‘I went shopping and I bought [a puppy, a bike for my t-rex and a hot air balloon] – the winner is the last one standing who doesn’t forget something on the shopping list; exercise; giving them opportunities to think and act independently
Exercise strengthens and reorganises the brain to make it more resilient to stress. Here are some ideas, but get them thinking and they’ll have plenty of their own:
• throw a frisbee;
• kick a ball;
• give a hula-hoop a spin;
• walk the dog;
• detective (in the garden … first one to find five things that are green; or five things starting with ‘s’; or seven things that could be used for dress-ups; or ten things that smell gorgeous – ready, set, go!).
5. Build feelings of competence and a sense of mastery.
Nurture that feeling in them – that one that reminds them they can do hard things. Nurture optimism.
Optimism has been found to be one of the key characteristics of resilient people. If you have a small human who tends to look at the glass as being half empty, show them a different view. This doesn’t mean invalidating how they feel. Acknowledge their view of the world, and introduce them to a different one.
6. Model resiliency.
Imitation is such a powerful way to learn. The small humans in your life will want to be just like you, and they’ll be watching everything. Without pitching it above what they can cope with, let them see how you deal with disappointment. Bringing them into your emotional world at appropriate times will help them to see that sadness, stuckness, disappointment are all very normal human experiences.
7. Encourage them to take safe, considered risks.
Let them know that the courage they show in doing something brave and difficult is more important than the outcome. When they take risks they start to open up to the world and realise their capacity to shape it. There’s magic in that for them and for us.
Don’t rush to their rescue.
It is in the precious space between falling and standing back up again that they learn how to find their feet. Exposure to stressors and challenges that they can manage during childhood will help to ensure that they are more able to deal with stress during adulthood.
8. Nurture a growth mindset. We can change, and so can other people.
Research has found that children who have a growth mindset – the belief that people have the potential to change – are more likely to show resilience when things get tough. Compared to ones who believe that bullies will always be bullies and victims will always be victims, children who believe that people can change report less stress and anxiety, better feelings about themselves in response to social exclusion, and better physical health.
9. Build their problem-solving toolbox.
Self-talk is such an important part of problem-solving. Your words are powerful because they are the foundation on which they build their own self-talk. Rather than solving their problems for them, start to give them the language to solve their own. Some ideas:
• What would [someone who they see as capable] do?
• What has worked before?
• How can we break this big problem into little pieces?
10. Make time for creativity and play.
Problem-solving is a creative process. Anything that strengthens their problem-solving skills will nurture their resilience. Give them the space and the time to play and get creative, and they’ll do the rest.
And above all else …
Let them know they are loved unconditionally.
This will give them a solid foundation to come back to when the world starts to feel wobbly. Eventually, they will learn that they can give that solid foundation to themselves. A big part of resilience is building their belief in themselves. It’s the best thing they’ll ever believe in. “
Keep strong and resilient,
Mrs Michelle Rafferty
News from our girls:
Rachel de la Mare (Grade 4). “This picture is of me bringing the beach to me, just before lockdown, at my grandparents’ house. Now I have my own private beach! My message is: “Stay away from the Rona! LOL. Hope you are all having fun. I know I am!