June 2016

Happy summer, Walnut Acres Parents,

As we say a fond farewell to our children and send them off for a summer of relaxation, adventure and reading, we will take some time to rejuvenate and prepare for the 2016-17 school year. Meanwhile, Walnut Acres will continue to be a busy place!

Walnut Acres Summer Programs

Camp Galileo will be with us from 6/15-8/5.

WACC (Walnut Acres Children’s Center) will be sharing K-1 and K-2 on some afternoons all summer.

Curtains Up will be in the MUR on 7/11 M-F from 1-4:30 p.m. ending with 2 performances of “Annie” on 7/28-29.

Walnut Acres Summer Alterations

We will also be switching some classrooms this summer to allow for a new kindergarten class and a new 2nd grade class in a manner that will keep grade levels grouped for easy collaboration. The Walnut Acres Site Map is now on our website or click here to view. This will be our 2016-17 Site Map barring any further grade level shifts.

Mrs. Galindo is busily razing our traditional computer lab to create our fledgling Colab. The Colab will be placed adjacent to the Science Lab with a shared door. It is anticipated that there will be some overlapping activities in the rooms, particularly as we make our initial forays into the world of engineering, including robotics. Some of the Fund-A-Need proceeds are being used to purchase furniture and materials for our work.

The library is also about to go through a renovation. If you would like to volunteer as we cull old books, paint, reorganize shelving, etc. please register on Konstella. Our first job will be to remove outdated books from circulation, properly deactivate them, and box/label them.  Our goal is to make the library a comfy, welcoming place for reading, as well as writing and talking about books. We plan to use a variety of flexible furniture in the room to make it child-friendly. The funds for purchasing the furniture are brought to us courtesy of the Auction Fund-A-Need.

Thanks to parents

As the year closes, I thank our wonderful parents on behalf of the Walnut Acres staff. We would not be the school we are without your support and dedication. We could not become the learning community that we envision without your energy and perseverance. I offer my special thanks to our PFC Executive Committee who work so hard for our children and our school.

Enjoying precious time 

I had the opportunity to hear Dr. Denise Pope, Stanford professor and author of Raising Successful  Kids, speak recently. She offered eloquently-delivered, common-sense suggestions for preparing our children to be successful adults. Her basic theme was that our children tend to be stressed and overwrought with pressures placed upon them by well-meaning people like parents and educators. She offered research to support her contentions and asked us all to reflect on our own parenting/teaching expectations.

She had her audience complete a simple activity that I offer to you- Draw a circle and around that circle write the words school, homework, chores, media, extra-curricular, family time, unstructured time, sleep, and family time. Now think about a particular child, then go back and write the percentage of time that child spends per week in each of the pursuits you wrote around the circle.

Dr. Pope’s asked her audience to analyze the completed circle and consider how the child spends time. She shared that too often children today spend large amounts of time in structured activities (including too much time on homework) and that what often gets lost is unfettered play and family fun. As children enter adolescence, the activity that most often gets the shortest shrift is sleep. (This is horrifying, considering the amount of brain development that occurs during the teen years.)

Her suggestion is that we shift the way we spend time with children, increasing family time and downtime and thus reduce our children’s stress. She suggests 25 minutes, 5 times a week for family time because family is the “unconditionally-loved unit.” Family is the safe place, the place for children to examine their stress with loved ones and build the foundational values that will help them deflect the  inevitable stress they will encounter in life. That recommendation for safe, nourishing family time seems like a perfect way to send our children off on their summer vacation!

So on that note, I close this message with the quote from poet, Shel Silverstein. It is the poem that our teachers offered to our children at our last Sing-Out. The poem is about letting go of anxious, negative thinking to help our children think about possibilities.

Listen to the Mustn’ts, child, listen to the Don’ts.

Listen to the Shouldn’ts, the Impossibles, the Won’ts.

Listen to the Never Haves, then listen close to me.

Anything can happen, child, Anything can be.

May you and your family enjoy a summer of dreaming big and nourishing one another! Our best to 5th grade parents who are leaving Walnut Acres for the world of middle school.

Here’s to a great summer of fun and frolic,

Colleen Dowd,

Lucky Principal