Blog for 4/22/16 from Jen MR
Your blog is coming from Jen Montgomery-Rice this week, as Jen V. is on vacation with her daughter Abby for school vacation week. Most of our classrooms have been at their usual number of children this week, though a few have left for warmer climates…but we’ve been pretty warm here! It was lovely to see the sunshine a few days…which brings up our first blog topic: sunscreen.
Miss Allison will be printing topical sunscreen permission forms for everyone, and we ask that you sign one for your child and bring in sunscreen ASAP. Now that we have moved into spring, sun exposure is more frequent and more intense. Sunburns and sun damage are real threats to our little ones, so let’s give them the coverage they need, please.
The wonderful part of spring and summer is that we will be able to take home all our cold weather gear such as boots, snow pants, mittens, hats and heavy clothes of every kind. Now we just need rain/puddle boots and lighter jackets or rain coats. Please bring home all the unnecessary equipment, as we just don’t have the space! It will be nice to see our hallways looking cleaner again.
Thank you to all the parents who have already paid the Equipment Fee; the rest of you will see it on your weekly bills next week or on your May monthly bill. We’ve ordered lots of new playground certified wood chips (more expensive and harder to get than regular wood chips), many new supplies from Discount School Supply to replenish nap mats, play mats, broken and worn toys, etc. I’m sure you’ve noticed that we have a temporary fence toward the back of the playground; that’s there to begin “operation grass recovery” to enable us to reseed and regrow new, hopefully more plush and plentiful grass to play on. We’ve also ordered new bikes, cozy coupes and other playground equipment. For the classrooms we’ve also just received (wait til you see the pile!!) many new nap mats, toys, books and other equipment. This time of year is like Christmas for us, so thank you!
MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT: Thanks in part to the equipment fee and saving our pennies over the past few years, Parkside can finally afford to install fencing in front of the parent parking lot!! Yes, it’s true, a nice white, vinyl, scalloped picket fence will grace the yard in front of where most parents park. We have had a goal of installing that fence since buying Parkside to prevent children from escaping from moms and dads and heading toward the busy road. Allen Farm fence will let us know soon when it will be there…we’re SOOO excited to be able to provide that extra protection for you all.
Did you know we have interns at Parkside? One Eastern Maine Community College student “Lena” is in Yosemite classroom, and the other is “Mackenzie” in Yellowstone. We love the ability to learn new techniques from recent college students while we help them with our experience and never ending learning opportunities with our kids. Our Husson nursing Students, Shannon and Reagan, will be finishing up this Monday with a final project in our preschool classrooms. They have been visiting ALL the classrooms over the past few weeks. If you know college students looking for internship opportunities, please contact me at email@example.com.
Teacher Appreciation Week is coming! Jen V. told you about the time-honored tradition that most schools take part in, Teacher Appreciation. In many schools where I was a teacher, the PTO would come in and make a special lunch for all the staff while dispatching parent volunteers to take the places of all the teachers. The staff then sat down to a lovely, multi-course meal (themed of course) served to them by the parents! Of course, we can’t do that with child care state regulations, but there are ways that we invite parents to honor the wonderful teachers! Some families choose to buy lunch for their child’s teachers, others give gift certificates so that teachers can buy lunch or dinner for themselves, and yet others like to bring a plant, flowers or simply a card thanking their special teaching team. Whatever your desires, we thank you in advance for remembering teachers the week of May 2-6 this year.
We are thinking of making our combined “Parent Picnic” for Mothers’ and Fathers’ day a night time event…on the evening of Monday, May 23rd would you like to arrive around 5:15-5:30 for pizza, watermelon and fun on our playground with your child? Unless we hear a lot of negative thoughts on this, we’d like to move the picnic to the night so that more families will be able to participate. The rain date would be the next evening…we’ll let you know soon for sure.
THANK YOU, THANK YOU to all the families who have filled out the 2016 Parent Survey!! We now have 62 responses and we are hoping for more! The link for the survey is here and it’s just 75 questions. Please help us to make Parkside even better! So Yosemite is in the lead!
Please join us for the Parent/Teacher Advisory meeting on Thursday, April 28th! We will be going over all the responses from the Parent Survey. This should be a VERY interesting meeting!
Below please find an intriguing article about screen time and kids…as always, food for thought…
Enjoy the nice weather over the weekend (hopefully 50’s and sunny!!). Take good care, Jen Montgomery-Rice
Screen Time is Making Kids Moody, Crazy and Lazy by Victoria Dunckley, M.D.
Children or teens who are “revved up” and prone to rages or—alternatively—who are depressed and apathetic have become disturbingly commonplace. Chronically irritable children are often in a Screentime Is Making Kids Moody, Crazy and Lazy
6 Ways electronic screen time makes kids angry, depressed and unmotivated.
Posted Aug 18, 2015
state of abnormally high arousal, and may seem “wired and tired.” That is, they’re agitated but exhausted. Because chronically high arousal levels impact memory and the ability to relate, these kids are also likely to struggle academically and socially.
At some point, a child with these symptoms may be given a mental-health diagnosis such as major depression, bipolar disorder, or ADHD, and offered corresponding treatments, including therapy and medication. But often these treatments don’t work very well, and the downward spiral continues.
Both parents and clinicians may be “barking up the wrong tree.” That is, they’re trying to treat what looks like a textbook case of mental disorder, but failing to rule out and address the most common environmental cause of such symptoms—everyday use of electronics. Time and again, I’ve realized that regardless of whether there exists any “true” underlying diagnoses, successfully treating a child with mood dysregulation today requires methodically eliminating all electronics use for several weeks—an “electronics fast”—to allow the nervous system to “reset.”
If done correctly, this intervention can produce deeper sleep, a brighter and more even mood, better focus and organization, and an increase in physical activity. The ability to tolerate stress improves, so meltdowns diminish in both frequency and severity. The child begins to enjoy the things they used to, is more drawn to nature, and imaginary or creative play returns. In teens and young adults, an increase in self-directed behavior is observed—the exact opposite of apathy and hopelessness.
It’s a beautiful thing.
At the same time, the electronic fast reduces or eliminates the need for medication while rendering other treatments more effective. Improved sleep, more exercise, and more face-to-face contact with others compound the benefits—an upward spiral! After the fast, once the brain is reset, the parent can carefully determine how much if any electronics use the child can tolerate without symptoms returning.
Restricting electronics may not solve everything, but it’s often the missing link in treatment when kids are stuck.
But why is the electronic fast intervention so effective? Because it reverses much of the physiological dysfunction produced by daily screen time.
Children’s brains are much more sensitive to electronics use than most of us realize. In fact, contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t take much electronic stimulation to throw a sensitive and still-developing brain off track. Also, many parents mistakenly believe that interactive screen-time—Internet or social media use, texting, emailing, and gaming—isn’t harmful, especially compared to passive screen time like watching TV. In fact, interactive screen time is more likely to cause sleep, mood, and cognitive issues, because it’s more likely to cause hyperarousal and compulsive use.
Here’s a look at six physiological mechanisms that explain electronics’ tendency to produce mood disturbance:
Because light from screen devices mimics daytime, it suppresses melatonin, a sleep signal released by darkness. Just minutes of screen stimulation can delay melatonin release by several hours and desynchronize the body clock. Once the body clock is disrupted, all sorts of other unhealthy reactions occur, such as hormone imbalance and brain inflammation. Plus, high arousal doesn’t permit deep sleep, and deep sleep is how we heal.
Many children are “hooked” on electronics, and in fact gaming releases so much dopamine—the “feel-good” chemical—that on a brain scan it looks the same as cocaine use. But when reward pathways are overused, they become less sensitive, and more and more stimulation is needed to experience pleasure. Meanwhile, dopamine is also critical for focus and motivation, so needless to say, even small changes in dopamine sensitivity can wreak havoc on how well a child feels and functions.
- Screen time produces “light-at-night.”
Light-at-night from electronics has been linked to depression and even suicide risk in numerous studies. In fact, animal studies show that exposure to screen-based light before or during sleep causes depression, even when the animal isn’t looking at the screen. Sometimes parents are reluctant to restrict electronics use in a child’s bedroom because they worry the child will enter a state of despair—but in fact removing light-at-night is protective.
- Screen time induces stress reactions. Both acute stress (fight-or-flight) and chronic stress produce changes in brain chemistry and hormones that can increase irritability. Indeed, cortisol, the chronic stress hormone, seems to be both a cause and an effect of depression—creating a vicious cycle. Additionally, both hyperarousal and addiction pathways suppress the brain’s frontal lobe, the area where mood regulation actually takes place.
Experts say that what’s often behind explosive and aggressive behavior is poor focus. When attention suffers, so does the ability to process one’s internal and external environment, so little demands become big ones. By depleting mental energy with high visual and cognitive input, screen time contributes to low reserves. One way to temporarily “boost” depleted reserves is to become angry, so meltdowns actually become a coping mechanism.
Source: Chubykin Arkady/Shutterstock
- Screen-time reduces physical activity levels and exposure to “green time.”
Research shows that time outdoors, especially interacting with nature, can restore attention, lower stress, and reduce aggression. Thus, time spent with electronics reduces exposure to natural mood enhancers.
In today’s world, it may seem crazy to restrict electronics so drastically. But when kids are struggling, we’re not doing them any favors by leaving electronics in place and hoping they can wind down by using electronics in “moderation.” It just doesn’t work. In contrast, by allowing the nervous system to return to a more natural state with a strict fast, we can take the first step in helping a child become calmer, stronger, and happier.
For more on this topic, check out my new book, Reset Your Child’s Brain: A Four Week Plan to End Meltdowns, Raise Grades and Boost Social Skills by Reversing the Effects of Electronic Screen Time.