Dear Kingsmead Community,
More than Hope
I have often communicated that creating a sense of hope is a primary function of education. The circumstances in which we find ourselves can sometimes lead to doubt and anxiety with regard to a hopeful future. This year, in particular, our community is faced with more complex circumstances than ever before. During the past few weeks, back at school, I have been reminded of a future that has great possibility, an optimistic projection of where we as a community are moving to; we are moving forward.
Greta Thunberg is recently quoted as saying “ Instead of looking for hope, look for action; then and only then will hope come”. We have learnt this year that to hold onto certainty in an uncertain world; to wish and dream for normality; and to hope for stability, is not enough. What we need is action.
This term we have seen our teachers, parents and students leading intentional lives. We have made sense of crisis, reflected on our current circumstances and made changes not only for now, but for the future too. Intentionally planning through the chaos has given us all a moment to make decisions, which has led to action and in turn has given us hope.
At Kingsmead we don’t wait for ‘life to happen to us’, we breathe life and action into what we have and take giant leaps – stepping up and stepping ahead.
Plans for the start of 2021
As you begin to plan for the new year, I would like to reiterate the importance of understanding the realistic expectations for the start of 2021. We will begin the new year with the same processes and procedures in place as the end of this year. The pandemic will still be with us for a while and it makes sense to start the year taking all necessary precautions into account. We are also obliged to follow the gazetted protocols as per the Department of Education and the Department of Health. We will, as always, continuously review our plans as the year begins.
- EC schedules, fixtures and events will be communicated before the year begins for your planning.
- School uniform is to be worn for the first term as we have done this term. Students are permitted to choose between their sports kit and summer uniform. The blazer will not be compulsory for the first term. Please ensure that students wear their uniform appropriately and continue to follow the uniform rules in place.
- Starting and ending times will be communicated before the year end. These will still need to be slightly staggered to avoid traffic congestion.
- Screening procedures will continue.
- Protocols pertaining to packed lunches, birthday rings etc need to continue. Break schedules will remain staggered for appropriate social distancing.
- Both JP and SP students will be allocated a ‘home’ venue as a classroom and will continue to be socially distanced.
- Parents and visiting adults will not be permitted into the school buildings unless an appointment has been made or events have been scheduled accordingly.
Our start to 2021 will continue to prioritise the health and safety of our community without compromising the educational offering for our students.
Wishing you a peaceful and blessed final few days of the term.
Head: Junior School
Discussing puberty with your daughter
Thank you to those parents/guardians who connected to the parent teen talk information evening. For those who weren’t able to join I have summarised the main points discussed.
Relationships and sexuality is a privileged and special conversation for you to have as parents with your daughters, reinforcing your family values and belief system with regards to relationships and sexuality. One of the most important factors of parenting is your relationship with your daughter. Let your daughter know that you’re available to talk at any time (and promise to not be shocked by her questions!) but it’s also important to initiate conversations, as your daughter may feel too embarrassed to broach the topic with you. She will probably be relieved to have you take the lead. It’s okay for us as adults to possibly feel awkward and nervous about having these discussions, but it is important to focus on being honest and open.
Speaking often and early
Discussions about relationships and sexuality should not be limited to one big talk, I would recommend that you weave it into regular conversations, layering more and more information over time – this way it also becomes a normal part of conversation and takes the awkwardness out of it. From early childhood, your daughters have questions and most of your discussions have probably come about as the result of her questions.
Ideally, as a parent, you’ve already started talking to your daughter about the changes our bodies go through as we grow. Knowing about puberty ahead of time, and what to expect, alleviates possible anxiety and uncertainty about the changes they are experiencing and seeing in their peers. What I have noticed coming back to school this term, is that some girls appear to feel more self-conscious about the changes that took place in their bodies during lockdown. Under normal circumstances, being with their friends daily, their physical changes would’ve progressed gradually and almost have gone unnoticed – it’s important to normalise these changes for her.
Defining healthy relationships
It’s also important to help your daughter identify what a healthy relationship looks like. Although they may not be dating yet, it’s important to build the building blocks as to how to identify healthy relationship markers, such as compassion and respect, for when they become interested in romantic relationships later on. As they approach their teen years they may be confused about whether their feelings are love or intoxication – you can help your daughter understand the difference between love and mere attraction and love.
Children are exposed to so much information about relationships and sexuality on TV and the Internet, that by the time they approach puberty, they may be familiar with some advanced ideas. However, as parents, talking about the issues of puberty remains important, as not all of the information comes from reliable sources. Also, what we see portrayed in social media typically presents a very skewed and unrealistic picture of what relationships look like. As parents, you influence your daughter’s attitudes about relationships and sexuality more than you may realise; it’s therefore of the utmost importance to have these discussions with your daughter.
The teen brain
As the brain develops from back to front, it means the part of the brain that helps pre-teens and teens to reason, plan ahead, and manage impulses (the prefrontal cortex) is one of the last areas to mature. As you probably know it doesn’t happen until around age 25! The ‘feeling centre’ of the brain that manages emotional urges, is also still under construction. So it’s also a good idea to periodically chat about internet safety with your daughter and to build on your already established digital rules and values.
This stage of childhood development is full of emotional and social changes, and girls in particular may struggle with body issues. So check in with your daughters about how they’re feeling and their thoughts on where they are.
Healthy nutrition practices for children, a dietitian’s perspective
Nicole P Ribeiro, RDSA, Hons Dietetics (UP), MDietetics (US)
Children are not ‘little adults’ and should be treated individually when it comes to health. Children are growing and developing bones, teeth, muscles and blood; thus, they require nutritious food in proportion to their size. Malnutrition which includes both under and over-nutrition, is associated with poor appetite for extended periods of time; limited variety of foods either due to allergies/dietary restrictions (cultural, religious); what is available in the household; or a diluted diet whereby energy dense nutrient-poor foods are consumed. Childhood obesity is a concern in today’s times, but this is variable to the sex, body composition and maturation stage of the child. The cornerstone of nutrition intervention in children is to enhance healthy growth, physical development, academic performance, reduce risk for present/future comorbidities (heart disease, osteoporosis to name a few) and create a healthy relationship with food. Not isolated to energy restriction (calories/kJ) and not being overweight/obese (American Dietetic Association, 2010).
A healthy outside starts from inside…
Body composition of preschool and school age children remains relatively consistent, with fat mass gradually decreasing and reaching a minimum between 4 and 6 years of age. Thereafter, an increase in body fatness occurs in preparation for the pubertal growth spurt. The earlier the onset, the higher the risk of adulthood obesity and related morbidity. Body image concerns are more prevalent, specifically in young females, of which a poor body image is associated with weight control issues and dieting. If not addressed, an increased risk for disordered eating may prevail. Disordered eating may also result from mislabelling overweight children as ‘fat’. Genetic predisposition, cannot be overlooked, but it is not the sole factor associated with this. Other contributors include excess energy intake, sedentary lifestyle with less expenditure of the energy consumed and/or higher prompts to eat more, larger portion sizes, and higher access to energy dense nutrient poor foods like convenience (pre-prepared foods) and take aways. Encouraging a healthy relationship with food is essential.
Create healthy habits, not restrictions…
I always emphasize a well balanced diet, consuming nutritious foods from all 3 macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein and fats) in the correct quantity to improve long term health and prevent nutritional deficiencies and/or chronic diseases of lifestyle. The energy needs of healthy children is determined by resting metabolism, rate of growth, and energy expenditure of activity. Dietary energy should be sufficient to ensure growth and spare protein from being used as a source of energy versus its primary function to maintain and/or grow muscles and maintain cellular integrity. With the avoidance of any food group comes a concomitant reduced nutrient density of a diet. Often avoiding a food group is done to assist with restricting one’s energy intake, and not just cultural/religious purposes. An example would be with exclusion of animal products, this relates to vitamin B12, iron, and zinc deficiency. You may think that other foods may compensate for the exclusion, but often the substitute has the missing nutrient in large quantities but the bioavailability thereof is minimal (20-40% vs 80-90% absorption). This deficit may hinder growth and development, not immediately but over time as the body’s stores become depleted. Careful planning is important to avoid this, especially in a growing child where deficiencies now result in larger problems later in life.
Head of Student Affairs / Cognitive Education Coordinator / NS Teacher
The Grade 7 Community Engagement Partner is the Society for Animals in Distress (SAID).
The Society for Animals in Distress (SAID) is an established non-profit organisation, since 1958, within the animal welfare sector of South Africa. SAID services indigent communities with professional veterinary care and animal care education. Their mission is to empower people and care for animals. SAID provides 100 thousand veterinary treatments per year and educate some 74 thousand people on responsible pet ownership in the impoverished communities of South Africa. SAID is the single largest welfare veterinary care provider in South Africa.
As the festive season approaches, SAID has a wonderful Christmas catalogue with a wide variety of gifts available, not just for pets. If you would like to support them please click on the link below:
Junior School Head of Service
RESPONDING WITH WONDERMENT & AWE
Which nest is best?
In celebrating the Habit of Mind, Responding with Wonderment and Awe, the Grade 1s have been on a mission to find Inyoni a new home! Inyoni, the isiZulu word for ‘bird’, is our Thinking Mascot. She currently resides in the Junior School Reception. Over the past few weeks, as part of exploring the wonders of nature, we have been learning about nests; the different types of nests, the purpose they serve and the many designs that can be found.
The students spent time researching what goes into building a nest in nature. They considered the environment around them, where the best place for Inyoni’s new home would be, whether food would be readily available, whether she would be safe and dry and most importantly, whether the nest would keep an egg safe.
The students made use of the TASC Wheel (a collaborative thinking tool) to plan, design, build and evaluate their nests. They tested their nests by shaking them to see if their egg would remain safe. Many of the groups found that this wasn’t the case and so they had to adjust and improve on their nests in order to make them safer. Our Grade 3s joined us to share the Inyoni sculptures that they had made out of paper, card and tinfoil. Some of the Inyonis even had a chance to sit in a nest. The Grade 3s shared how Inyoni helps them to mindfully get better at applying the Habits of Mind. The older students also gave the Grade 1s some tips on how to improve their nests.
Next, the Grade 1s will spend a week observing their nests, keeping a log of how they fare in the position in which they have been placed. Each group will then choose a way to communicate their findings to the rest of their peers.
This has been an amazing opportunity to design, create and collaborate!
The Grade 1 Teachers
Director of Sport