Category Archives: Health & Wellbeing

A Little Sad News

This week we have some bad news.  Our resident cat, Nimue, is very sick.  She cannot walk (it is a neurological problem called ataxia) and she is taking very strong medicine that makes her sleep even more than usual.  🙁

Many of our students love to ask about Nimmy, and we welcome their questions at this time.  This is a sad but necessary part of life, a good lesson to have in a comfortable environment.  (Nimmy might enjoy a get-well-soon letter!)

Because she cannot walk, I am keeping her near me as much as possible to help her drink water during the day.  I know some students are uncomfortable around cats, and for those classes, Nimmy will be downstairs in her usual spot.  Please let me know if your child has an allergy or would for any other reason be more comfortable with the cat downstairs during his or her class.

Important facts for the students:

— Nimue is 16 years old (very old for a cat!) and has had a wonderful life full of toys, yummy treats, and people she loves.

— She is still purring and looking out the window at the birds.  In her bed is a wool sweater which reminds her of being a baby kitten with her mother.

— Although her body is weak, the vet has given her medicine so she is not in pain.

— Taking care of a sick animal is different from taking care of a sick person because they cannot speak and tell us what hurts.  That is one reason Nimmy’s medicine is so strong.

— We are all sad about her illness and hope she gets better soon, but the most important thing for us is to keep her comfortable and happy.

I am sorry to bring a sad post to you, but thank you all for your patience and understanding.

***Your child’s comfort and ability to pay attention is my #1 priority during the lesson, so please do not hesitate to request a cat-free lesson.***  🙂

“Extended Day” Programs at School

Many Boston-area schools run a wonderful after-school child care program called Extended Day.  Information about the Baker School program, for example, can be found here.  It is important to note that this is not an academic program like after school institutes (such as the hagwon in Korea).  Originally begun when working mothers led to latchkey kids who were left at home alone after school, this program gives your child an opportunity to play with other children under adult supervision if you are not able to be home.

In past years, we have had students attend this program to get more exposure to English.  Sometimes parents want their child to speak only in English during this time, in order to learn the language.  However, many children will want to play with others who speak their native language. If your child attends a school with many other students from the same country, this is a good opportunity for them to relax and enjoy their first language.   Because this is a social – not academic – time, that comfort of speaking in the language they choose is nice, especially after a long day struggling to listen to and speak in English at school.  It has been difficult for some of our students who want to follow their parents wishes that they speak English when they see their friends speaking in their home language.

Our students have compared Extended Day to recess, an enjoyable time for them to relax and play games (we grown-ups know that these “games” are also teaching them lessons in art, science and more!).  Parents can be confident that this play happens in a structured and supervised environment.  There is a quiet period for doing homework – we recommend making sure your child feels comfortable asking the supervisors for help with any questions, because at the end of a long school day, some children may feel more shy and will not speak up.

Your school’s Extended Day Program can provide after-school care for your child if you have to work, but it is also a supportive environment for them to socialize in English and speak in their native language.

Book Review: New Kid, New Scene

New Kid, New Scene: A Guide to Moving and Switching SchoolsNew Kid, New Scene: A Guide to Moving and Switching Schools by Debbie Glasser

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Speaking directly to kids, and using many quotes from kids, Glasser and Schenck have written the book I wish I’d had in 11th grade. And 8th, 6th, 5th, 2nd, and 1st grades. Yes, I moved a lot as a kid, so I speak from experience when I say that New Kid, New Scene does a great job of addressing real worries kids have.

There is a running movie theme throughout that may seem a little hackneyed but helps organize the materials in a way that allows readers to go directly to the parts that will be most useful to them. “What’s My Next Line” helps kids take care of themselves, whether that’s by talking to an adult or changing personal habits to reduce stress. “Casting Call” provides self-assessments that help readers think about how they react to changes and what kind of friends they are looking for. “Coming Attractions” previews the next chapter, allowing readers to more easily jump back and forth, taking control over how they read the book – in a time when many kids feel they have no control over their life, even this small detail may help. Lots of headlines and text boxes also help readers navigate around the material

Throughout, the emphasis is on what feels right for the individual reader. There are plenty of suggestions, some even seemingly contradictory, because (for example) some kids want to know how to make a new set friends while others might want suggestions about how to keep in touch with old friends. Honestly, though, I think moving is such a complex experience that both sides will be useful to each kid at one time or another. I strongly recommend New Kid, New Scene.

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Reassuring Children After A Tragedy

Following the recent violence at a midnight showing of the new Batman movie, children may have fears or anxiety about their own safety.  The National Association of School Psychologists has an excellent fact sheet about how to talk to children about such violence, and also how to protect them from those parts of the issue they are not yet mature enough to deal with.

CNN also has five tips for parentswho are struggling with how to explain the Colorado tragedy without scaring their children.

ELL Families: Here is a version of the NASP fact sheet that you can copy and paste into a translation program.

It is also helpful to remind children who have moved from a smaller country that America is a very big space.  If you are in Boston, the Colorado shootings happened almost 2,000 miles away – slightly less than the distance from Seoul to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), and slightly more than Rome to Baghdad.  Although this tragedy happened here in the US,  for most children it fortunately did not happen in the area they consider “here.”