What’s Best for Kids? Tips for Parents

Hello parents, and greetings from your UAS Middle School!!!

As this week began I had the good fortune to stumble across the following article in a recent edition of the Association for Middle Level Education e-journal.  As in some of the previous articles I have shared in this space, the information provides some pertinent information for parents on how to deal with the complex middle schooler that now resides in your house!  Though frightening this notion may be, this article reminded me of what is like to be a Middle School student, and how a MS student thinks. I hope you enjoy this article as much as I did.

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What’s Best for Kids? Tips for Parents  by Judith Baenen

The first tip is thinking ahead… One of our best tools as parents is being prepared. As your son or daughter gets to the Middle School years, get ready for at least occasional conflicts. Think through what is truly important to you. Is the hairstyle of your son or daughter as important as homework? Isn’t a set bedtime more of a concern than grumpiness? As these give-and-take situations start, know ahead of time what areas you are willing to discuss and what areas are non-negotiable.

Break down big tasks into small parts. Sometimes young people feel overwhelmed by tasks, especially those they’ve let go for a long time. A disastrous bedroom, twenty-three overdue math assignments, a long-term project that’s “suddenly” due in a few days (or hours!); all of these cause the pre-adolescent to choose to give up rather than get started.

Help your child by setting up smaller goals: clean off your bed; get five assignments done tonight; assemble the materials for the project. Pre-adolescents have trouble structuring tasks so they are more approachable. In an even and off-hand way, we can help them in this.

Encourage your middle schooler to keep a daily list (weekly is too much) with a few things on it to be done that day. It may be necessary to assign a specific time to each task. When the task is completed, draw a line through it to show accomplishment.

Don’t hesitate to remind your middle schooler about appointments and due dates. Try to think ahead about materials required for a project (unless you look forward to late-evening/unexpected visits to the Mall!). This will not last forever. When this same child was learning to walk, we held his or her hand and made the path smooth. Now he or she is learning to take on a tremendous assortment of life-tasks and changes; hand-holding (but not the firm, physical grip previously necessary) is needed for about a year or so as your Middle Schooler gets started on the road to being a responsible adult.

Be willing to listen, but don’t poke or pry. Kids this age value independence and often seem secretive. Keeping to themselves is part of the separateness they are trying to create. Let them know you’d love to help them, but don’t push them into a defensive position.

If your child is in the midst of a longtime friendship that is falling apart, the best thing you can do is stand by and be a good listener. It is devastating for us to see our children hurting, but taking sides or intervening is not appropriate, nor will it help. Young adolescents do survive these hurts, especially if they know we are there to listen to their pain.

All friendships have ups and downs. Children need to learn that being “best friends” isn’t always smooth sailing. People have differences of opinion and even get angry, but they still care for each other. This is what’s going on when we get involved in those “I-hate-her-she-is-so-stuck-up-and-how-could-she-do-this-to-me” conversations. As parents we must help our kids see that one problem doesn’t ruin a relationship, but stubbornness might. Middle Schoolers have a lot of spats and falling outs, but often the friends are back together again in a short time.

When reprimanding, deal only with the precise problem, don’t bring in other issues. “The trash is still here, and I want it out, now,” is better than, “You are so lazy! I told you to take that trash out two hours ago and it’s still here! You’d live in a barn, wouldn’t you? Well, you aren’t the only one in this house, you know…”

If the issue is minor, keep things light. The shoes on the floor, the wet towel on the bed, the carton left open; these are maddening, perhaps, but not earth-shattering. Call attention to them in a humorous way, so your Middle Schooler knows you want action but you aren’t being punitive. “Either the cat’s smarter than I thought or you left the milk carton open on the counter. Would you please put it back before it spoils.”

Don’t use power unless it’s urgent. Parents have the ultimate power, and kids know it. We don’t have to “prove” it to them at every turn. Save your strength for those really important issues you’ve decided are non-negotiable. Eventually kids are going to possess power of their own, and we want them to be able to use it wisely.

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Important Dates and Activities:

Principals Coffee:  Date and topic(s) to be determined.  Please stay tuned.

March 6-9: Annual KHDA inspection

March 15: International Day

March 16: NO School for students – Professional Development day for teachers

March 23: Last day of quarter #3

March 24 – April 8: Spring Break

April 9:  Day 1 of quarter #4

Until our paths cross again, please take good care, and please remember, Middle School students matter!!  May peace be upon you.

Even Good Kids Make Bad Choices

Hello parents, and greetings from the UAS Middle School!!!

During the past couple of weeks, as I have been going about my “business” as the Principal of our awesome MS, I have been frequently reminded that our kids are not perfect.  Don’t get me wrong, I feel very fortunate to work at the Universal American School, and every day I am reminded of how lucky I am to work with you and your children.  That said, kids by their very nature are lovable imperfect beings.  I know this for a fact, because just like you, I too was once a kid.

While pondering this notion that kids are in fact human: and impulsive, and the fact they don’t come with a set of easy to use instructions, I stumbled upon this intriguing article in a publication called, “Parenting Without a Parachute”.  I truly hope you enjoy this piece as much as I did.

“Even Good Kids Make Bad Choices” – by Crystal Intine Alperin

I always imagined that as a mother I would develop some kind of bad kid radar that would go off inside my head every time one of those kids came near my child, like a faint buzzing sound or the click of handcuffs. While I never really did develop the bad kid radar – I guess you need to be bitten by a bad kid to develop it – I spent years encouraging my children to be friends with certain kids while discouraging friendships with others.

I was convinced that if I could surround my kids with these seemingly perfect children that they would be safe and perfect, too. One weekend phone call, and everything I arrogantly thought I knew about parenthood and parenting was proven wrong.

A dear friend called me and in a tear-filled conversation confessed she caught her child doing something very, very wrong.  My friend’s son, only three years older than my oldest child, is a good kid, a great kid, the kind of kid that you would meet and then tell someone else that you hoped your child would turn out to be exactly like him.  And my friend is a great mom. Her children are older than mine, and I’ve emulated her parenting style for as long as I’ve been a parent.

While her heart-breaking sobs poured from her soul into mine, an overwhelming fear filled my mother’s heart. If it could happen to her child, how will I ever protect mine?

My kids are older now, and I am having a difficult time reconciling their continual need for independence and time with their peers with my need to snuggle with them on the couch like I did when they were toddlers. My oldest daughter started high school this fall, and my second child started middle school. As much as I prefer to live in denial and pretend that nothing bad will ever happen to my children because I’ve raised them with rules and boundaries, my friend’s experience forced me to confront the following reality:

  1. Good kids sometimes make bad decisions.
  2. Good kids raised in beautiful homes with wonderful, supportive, loving parents make mistakes too.

I can vividly remember my adolescence. Sure, I like to pretend that I was a perfect child, a perfect teen, but I wasn’t. I made A LOT of mistakes.

My parents were great parents, strict parents, and I attended an excellent, expensive private school, but if my parents told me not to hang out with a certain group of kids, those kids became my new best friends. And even though my parents warned me about the dangers of certain behaviors, I still experimented with many of them, sometimes even in my own home – just because I was mischievous.

As my own parents did for me, I have given my children the very best foundation I believe I am capable of giving them, but ultimately they will walk out my front door. Their successes, mistakes, stumbles and major mistakes are theirs alone. And this terrifies me.

As much as I want to wrap my children in bubble-wrap and pretend that my parenting is a gigantic force-field surrounding them as they enter the world, the truth is that they will make their own decisions and have to live with the positive and negative consequences of those decisions. My own children will make mistakes. They might even choose to do something which I have explicitly told them not to do. And at a certain point, there is really nothing I can do about it.

However, I can provide a safe place to come home to when they get hurt. I can provide my mother’s arms to comfort, my mother’s heart to forgive and my mother’s intelligence to seek any help that my children may need. Raising children is not for the meek nor the naive.  And I shall plead with the universe for strength and courage.

In the meantime, I will try to find more teaching moments during our day to use as specific examples of good and bad behaviors. I will spend more time alone with each child and find unique ways to connect with them as their interests change. And after they fall asleep, I will try not to sneak into their rooms, scoop their awkward, gangly bodies into my arms and sing to them.  It will be difficult, but I will limit myself to a quick forehead kiss.

Has your child ever really messed up? How did you handle it? How did it change your parenting style?

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I sincerely hope you found this article helpful and informative.  The truth is, I wasn’t perfect when I was a kid, why should I/we expect our kids to be perfect now?  An intriguing question to ask, but clearly a very difficult question to answer. Thanks for listening. Important Dates and Activities:

Important Dates and Activities:

Principals Coffee:  Date and topic(s) to be determined.  Please stay tuned.

March 6-9: Annual KHDA inspection

March 15: International Day

March 16: NO School for students – Professional Development day for teachers

March 23: Last day of quarter #3

March 24 – April 8: Spring Break

April 9:  Day 1 of quarter #4

 

Until our paths cross again, please take good care, and please remember, Middle School students matter!!  May peace be upon you.

MS Highlights: The COA and the WWW Program!!

 

Hello parents, and greetings from the UAS Middle School – WOOHOO!

This week I have two programs on my mind: one took place during the week of February 5, and the other is happening during the week of February 12.  Please allow me to share my thoughts and some highlights from the COA and our WWW program.

Celebration of Achievement (COA)

The 2nd installment of our COA was held on February 8 in front of the entire student body of the MS and with a nice group of parents who were able to assemble as well.  More than 130 student certificates were awarded in a wide range of categories including, but not limited to, perfect attendance, student achievement, and Arabic Innovation. In addition, the Principals Scorpion Award (PSA) was again provided to 2 students per grade level: one boy and one girl. A student earning a PSA is one that best exemplifies the foundational traits of the UAS Mission Statement.  A Principal’s Scorpion Award recipient is a caring individual, a responsible global citizen, and a critical thinker.  Twelve of our students – four per grade level – were also recognized with the “On A Roll” award. Students earning an On a Roll award have established a “growth mindset” and demonstrated considerable improvement during the quarter in any one or a combination of various areas. Both the PSA and the On a Roll awards are selected by members of the grade level team.

As the Principal of this awesome school, I couldn’t be more pleased with our many students who were recognized and celebrated during the COA for their various achievements and positive contributions to our learning community.  We have so very much for which to be grateful and proud.  If your son or daughter earned recognition during the latest COA – MABROOK!! BRAVO!! CONGRATULATIONS!!  If your child did not receive a certificate on this occasion, may they aspire, and may you encourage them, to earn such a distinction during the third quarter.

Week Without Walls (WWW) 2017

I had the good fortune to be at the Dubai International Airport on three different occasions from late in the evening on Saturday, February 11 through the early morning hours of Sunday, February 12 to say bon voyage to students traveling on out of country WWW adventures.  For your information: a small, but spirited group of grade 6 students embarked on a journey to Cyprus, while more than two dozen of our students from grade 7 flew southeast for nearly 4½ hours to Colombo, Sri Lanka.  Slightly less than thirty students were represented in our grade eight contingent, which departed for a voyage to Kenya to perform service for some of the indigenous people of this amazing Central African country.

The annual Week Without Walls (WWW) program is designed to provide unique educational and curriculum linked experiences outside of the classroom. These curricular focused trips offer a platform that will truly enrich and deepen student learning. In some cases, students are given the opportunity through service to make a real difference in the lives of people less fortunate than themselves. These types of programs serve UAS’s mission of providing an education that is nurturing, holistic and inspires respectful relationships. It also serves the IB’s mission to encourage students to “create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.” UAS is committed to WWW because the activities provide rich, character building experiences that awaken a student’s desire or spark a passion. Students who participate in WWW yield immediate returns in their emotional and academic development, and the memories created on these trips will surely be with them for the rest of their lives.

In addition to the out of country options, many students took advantage of the opportunity to attend an adventure type camp within the UAE.  These camps help students develop their interpersonal skills by having positive interactions with their peers, faculty and guides at the camp location.  Each of the WWW trips strives to reinforce the student’s self-esteem and provide opportunities for practicing independence and becoming more self-aware.  While participating in various adventures outside the walls of UAS, students practice being responsible with their choices, and they gain valuable experience learning the importance and relevance of taking responsibility.

Here’s hoping your child enjoyed their WWW adventure, wherever it is they traveled, and whatever it is they did.  If you have an opinion about our WWW program/offerings, or about what options you would like to see us make available in the future, please do not hesitate to share your thoughts with the MS leadership team at your convenience.  We look forward to your insight and feedback.  Thank you!

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Important Dates and Activities:

February 9: MS/HS report cards were posted to the Portal.

February 12 – 15:  Week Without Walls

February 16: School Holiday

March 6-9: Annual KHDA inspection

March 15: International Day

March 16: NO School for students – Professional Development day for teachers

March 23: Last day of quarter #3

March 24 – April 8: Spring Break

That’s the news from your neighbors in the Middle. Until our paths cross again, please take good care, and please remember, Middle School students matter!!  May peace be upon you.

 

Welcome to the World Café

Greetings from your UAS Middle School, home of excitement, projects, and adventure galore! It is safe to say that we have enthusiastically jumped into Quarter 3 and have hit the ground running! The first week of the 2nd half of the school year included the annual Sports Day program, which was held on Thursday, February 2. From my observation and participation, a LOT of fun was had by all!! WOOHOO!!! Earlier in the week, the grade 8 grade team hosted the first ever “World Café” for our students. Please read the following interesting details about this awesome event, and enjoy the pictures that follow.

On Sunday, January 29th, the 8th grade had their first World Café experience. The World Café is about bringing our ideas, opinions and knowledge together in a creative, thought-provoking and meaningful way. The objective of the workshop was to focus on being responsible global citizens when interacting within different global communities. In essence, these students got to experience an intellectual discussion in a mature fashion. We “served” them questions—an appetizer, entrée, and dessert—and they shared their thoughts with each other. It was truly a meeting of the minds – and the students especially enjoyed the café ambience with enchanting Kenyan music, soft lighting, yummy hot chocolate, and fancy petite cookies.

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Important Dates and Activities:

February 8: Middle School Celebration of Achievement (COA) @ 10 AM in the MPH

February 9: MS/HS report cards are posted to the Portal.

February 12 – 15: Week Without Walls

February 16: School Holiday

March 15: International Day

March 16: NO School for students – Professional Development day for teachers

March 23: Last day of quarter #3

March 24 – April 8: Spring Break

That’s the news from your neighbors in the Middle. Until our paths cross again, please take good care, and please remember, Middle School students matter!! May peace be upon you.