It’s Spring! This is the time to enjoy all the beauty that’s popping out all around us. As I look out my window, I see buds on trees, and some already have leaves. But how did they get there? How did it all happen?
This week’s blog is all about seeds & plants. There is something very rewarding in planting seeds and caring for plants. Not only can we learn about how plants grow…we can grow an appreciation for them together!
Dr. Thomas Chadzutko, Superintendent of
Schools for the Diocese of Brooklyn, which includes all elementary Catholic
academies and schools in Brooklyn and Queens, has issued the following
statement following Governor Cuomo’s school closure announcement:
“We just learned
of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s decision that all elementary and secondary
schools shall remain closed for the duration of the current 2019-2020 school
year, as New York continues efforts to prevent the spread of Coronavirus. As
such, the Catholic academies and parish schools within the Diocese of Brooklyn,
which includes Queens, will remain closed through the end of June. The distance
and digital learning platforms in place will serve as the instructional program
for our schools for the remainder of this academic year.
I am very proud of
our schools and academies, who were successfully able to transition to a
distance and digital learning platform almost immediately upon our school
buildings being shut down. This would not have been possible without the hard
work of our teachers and the leadership of our dedicated principals, who rose
to this enormous challenge. Our Catholic schools and academies have continued
to provide each of our students with a faith-based academic program, ensuring
that they are being challenged to learn every day. Our parents have also
contributed immeasurably to the success of this new digital learning
We will be working
with our principals and teachers to ensure that our milestone celebrations
(graduations, step-up ceremonies, and other achievements) will be honored and
recognized. As we have done so far during this pandemic, we will continue to
assemble and share resources for our families as we confront this challenging
end to the school year.
The Coronavirus statistics indicate that both Brooklyn and Queens have been the hardest-hit areas in New York City and State. As a Catholic school community in the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, we continue to pray for everyone’s health and safety. Our faith, love, and hope remain central to all we do now and in the future.”
Simon Holland, a dad
in quarantine recently tweeted, “So we don’t go to restaurants, kids aren’t signed up for
anything, and we are just staying home during spring break? Sounds like my
This made me think of a conversation that a
close friend and I had a while ago about what weekends were like when we were
growing up. “We did what the adults
did. Plain and simple, we went with mom
and dad. We ran errands, went to shops,
ran into neighbors, saw extended family and friends. Maybe we had a friend over or went to call
for a friend on the block or played outside, but we followed the adult’s
lead. Now, it seems parents follow what
the kids do…plays, sports, activities all rule the family weekend.” Adrienne is right.
With what Simon and Adrienne have
both pointed out, are we still following our children’s lead? Are we still living with the dis-ease of
busyness with a side order of a culture of complaint? Many of us wear that as a badge, pridefully
boasting of all the things we have to do…between the lines rolling our eyes
with of all these constraints. Are we
jumping hoops trying to be parent/teacher/artist/philanthropist/baker/chef/IT support/coach/quarantine
specialist of the year? Sorry, there is
While yes, our children need
guidance and supervision, can we allow them unstructured time? Quiet time?
Playing on their own, doing a puzzle, reading in their room? Where is the time to just be and perhaps be –
uh oh – you guessed it – a little bit bored for the moment? Why boredom?
It is in this quiet time, quiet place, the safety of the home you have
already put in place that a child can process, can work out thoughts on their own,
can imagine, can build capacity, can relax mentally, can manage anxieties. Or are we filling every moment like a cruise
director? When did it go from fun to a
list of have-to’s?
And how about you, exhausted mom,
overwhelmed dad, ever-present grandparent?
What are you doing for yourself?
Have you taken the time to sit and enjoy watching an episode of a
favorite show? Stepped away to speak to
a close friend? Sat quietly at the
window? Have you and felt guilty or were
made to feel guilty by others in your home?
Try it – fifteen minutes even – for quiet time or time to self for each one. While there is, again, no award, you may see the reward eventually. Eyes on the prize, fam!
By Cary Anne Fitzgerald. PDHP Parent & Community Outreach Coordinator
When stress occurs, we know we react to these messages our brains supply…now the brain is great but it simply cannot discern between a full-on attack of some sort and the tone of a text received. It cannot tell us if the information is positive or negative – think excitement over a party versus a test in class. So, it does what the brain will do- protect. Messages flow throughout our bodies, activating different functions. We often know these – I feel tense, my stomach hurts, I am chronically stressed and so I suffer from…. But do we realize what happens to our brain? The alert has sounded, the ability to reason has gone and our instinct to fight or flight arises. We tune out when in stress or we turn up. This may very well illustrate daily communication in our homes during this crisis. Our brains are in survival mode potentially on a 24/7 basis now.
Regardless of what stage our children are at, we can
influence our child’s brains very positively.
In a recent training, an instructor offered the concept of “mirrored
neurons”. From very young ages, our
children replicate what they see – positive and negative. Children learn to model things the adult
does. In a classroom setting, I would
often talk out steps of a lesson or strategy as if I were student. While it would seem redundant to some, for
these children it became learning. As
they grow, we often give them a laundry list of do’s and don’ts but are we
abiding by these do’s or don’ts ourselves?
“Do as I say not do as I do”.
Many parents share that they are uncomfortable with “difficult” topics
and as our children age, there is bound to be increasing conflict of some sort
as it is part of the process.
Now, we are in a difficult phase of existence. How do we meet it? Remember what we can control in this time –
our basic, healthful needs. How do we
meet our children’s needs? Mirror those
neurons. Who do you want to be in this
challenging moment? It is who do you
want your child to be. Be it, be patient,
be gentle with yourself. They will
follow your lead.
By Cary Anne Fitzgerald, PDHP Parent and Community Coordinator
In more recent years, the brain has fascinated me. As I firmed up my teaching, I reached often
to the cognitive processes my students had at their disposal and lined up my
lesson plans and my objectives against them, aligning them with their
developmental stages and watching them progress. I even had action words listed in my planbook
to assure all learning styles were addressed.
In the parenting role, I often reflect on this “edu-speak”
& how it may escape the radar of a parent who does not have a background in
this field. When we are in our
workshops, we break it down together when necessary and I see that recognition
come across – a glimmer in an eye, a steady nod, a thoughtful tilt of one’s
posture, leaning in and reading as “go on, tell us more”. Yes,
us educators have this access. But how
can a parent use this knowledge?
We know that science is now telling us that brain
development reaches its totality around or beyond age 25. This makes me consider our average teenager
who does not have a fully developed sense of reactivity, consequence and
ethics. Now, relate this to children
younger and younger living digital lives – some react inappropriately, some
post things without thinking of how far or how hard its message will go. Knowing what is socially & emotionally
typical in your child’s development throughout their lives is a great way to
begin. Noting that sometimes, these
stages are not pleasant ones, but we can use these to our advantage to moderate
this unpleasantness. It often seems we
are so aware of this up until age five and then there seems to be a lack of
information. It may feel overwhelming to
add this in to all we do as parents, maybe its not what we grew up with and it
is out of our comfort zone. We may feel
shame or guilt because it is something at which we are not adept. What if we were to consider not the shame,
but the gain. The gain is a better
understanding of our children, a stronger connection and a gift of skill. This is a great time to seek out the
professionals in our children’s lives.
Consider the teachers we have rapport with, the guidance counselor who
attends to these concepts all the time or the pediatrician who is often
checking in on these items. Know that regardless
of at what stage our children are, we can influence their brains very