Dear Kingsmead Community,
We can count on you. In gratitude we reach you all today. We thank you for your guidance, your optimism and courage. We thank you for your resilience and strength and partnership. To all the mothers, mother-figures, grandmothers, aunts alike – I hope that you were given the gift of rest and affirmation this recent Mother’s Day.
I Can Count On You
Mom, whenever I feel weak,
I can count on you.
Your deep strength seems endless.
You let me draw on it,
you freely give it,
and I recover.
Mom whenever I stray from the path,
I can count on you.
You’re here for me.
You help me find my way back
to what’s right
and honest and worthwhile.
Mom whenever I get
too wrapped up in me, me, me,
I can count on you.
You quickly bring me back to earth,
reminding me of the importance
of love and service to others.
Everyone should have
a role model like you, Mom.
I love you,
and I want you to know:
you can count on me.
By Joanna Fuchs
We have experienced a successful first week onboarding our students for their online learning experience, I have no doubt, that with practice, both the teachers and students will become more familiar with the learning and will in time become far more independent. We have made a few changes to the teacher allocation in the Senior Primary to ensure that your daughters can access their teachers more effectively during the school morning. I am also hopeful that the minor technical glitches will be sorted out during this week.
We have added two icons to the Kingsmead App. In order to avoid a flood of emails coming to you, please refer to the App for all Distance Learning updates as well as Covid-19 related communication. An App alert will be sent to you via notifications when new information is uploaded. Please refer to the Roles and Responsibilities document uploaded last week. I am confident that this will assist us in managing the communications procedure effectively. If you are experiencing difficulties accessing the App, please refer your queries to Alex Bouche via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Wishing you a happy, fulfilled week ahead.
Head: Junior School
Growing Hope During Lockdown
We are all human, which means we all have struggles, problems, pains and imperfections. But even though we share these traits in common, they’re often the hardest things to share. The one thing we can share during this uncertain time is HOPE.
I can imagine that at a time like this, you may be finding yourself saying … “I really hope that”… your daughter may be echoing that exact statement, followed by … “I really hope we go back to school soon because I want to see my teachers and friends”; “I really hope that lockdown ends soon”. With this in mind, let’s remind ourselves about what HOPE really means.
To want? To desire? To expect that what’s envisioned may indeed happen? YES to all of the above. Is hope that gut feeling that it’s worth holding out and hanging on for just a little longer? ABSOLUTELY. Is hope the core of the human condition? CERTAINLY. Just the thought that there’s something totally surprising out there waiting for us is … priceless.
Hope is wearing your soul on your sleeve, holding your breath, waiting to hear. It is believing that tomorrow could be better than today, that maybe you get a second chance… that you will make a difference.
Let HOPE be the sparkle that keeps you shining during this time!
I end with the mantra that Ruth Everson shared with the staff last week during our staff development session, for those times when you may feel like things are mounting:
‘All shall be well,
and all shall be well,
and all manner of thing
shall be well.
Let it be well with your soul.’
The Hope Works Project is a great resource for your daughters to grow their HOPE. Hope Works is an initiative that will guide children through the complex landscape and give them the tools to become engaged, confident, inspired and hopeful young citizens.
Head of Student Affairs
Resources: Solution Focused Hope Webinar – Creating Best Hopes, (28 April 2020) and I hope you Dance by Mark D. Sanders (2000).
Teens in Lockdown
The New York Times released a great talk hosted by Tara Parker-Pope and Dr Lisa Damour on 21 April, which shared some poignant insights into understanding our students who are moving into the phase of early adolescence, during lockdown.
To access the full episode click here: https://timesevents.nytimes.com/teensinlockdown
In sum, Damour reminds us of the key characteristics of adolescents:
1. They seek autonomy and independence
2. They hate being told what to do!
3. They need their privacy
4. They experience fluctuations of emotions
5. Damour believes that all adolescents have two sides, one that “hangs out on the couch, is kind of immature and impulsive” and the other that is “thoughtful, mature, philosophical and wise and is invested in their own growth and development”.
At the moment, so much of this has been challenged with the lockdown. Added to that, she explains that the comforting and playful aspects of school are hard to replicate online; those things that keep our students “caught up in the current” and give momentum and energy to their motivation in getting school done. In sum she says, at the moment, school is all the vegetables with no dessert!
So what do we do about that? Well, she speaks about two main concepts repeatedly in this episode, motivation and empathy.
In order to motivate our students, we need to understand that many students thrive on working under pressure. When a student knows they have to get something done in one hour, it will get done. Our current latitude of having looser, “it can be done tomorrow” deadlines, creates a lack of motivation for adolescents. This is something to caution against as Damour reminds us that if we throw out expectations, we throw out a critical source of self-esteem.
We need to motivate our students to feel active and purposeful, not only in terms of providing a challenging curriculum with clear learning intentions and expectations, but also at home. Students need to feel helpful by contributing to the chores at home, not only for the greater good, but also because research indicates that this is a protective process in the face of chronic stress.
Therefore, she stresses that keeping some form of routine (she refers to an aspirational routine here, since many of us have not yet reached a routine with which we are satisfied), as routines minimize the energy needed to make decisions throughout the day. Here, she gives a great tip to parents on how to know if your child is spending too much time on a device, something we are all questioning. Damour suggests that it is okay to provide more time on devices, provided that it is not at the expense of sleep, socialization and studying, or any aspect of family life that you hold dear in terms of your values.
Many adolescents may have sleep routines that are out of sync at the moment and she advises parents that slight adjustments are acceptable, provided that, once again, it is not at the expense of sharing family time, helping around the house and being an active participant in the family.
Further to this, Damour suggests that adolescents may also be seeking more alone time and advises that parents allow their children some “off the clock” time, where they can just “be”, which they would have in a normal school day.
Empathy is another concept Damour refers to frequently. We need to have empathy for the losses and disappointments that our daughters have experienced. This is their first major setback and it is kind to acknowledge that this is not normal and that none of us have experienced something like this before. She suggests that we assist our daughters by reaching out to the “kid on the couch” and recruiting the more mature side of their personality by empathising with them and recognising the deep sense of loss they may be feeling rather than throwing solutions at them. It is also important however, to remind adolescents that they will come through this and they are part of a cohort who will get to the other side together. This sense of belonging, sharing and bonding is something that, in my own professional life, I have experienced as the greatest source of strength and resilience for young adolescents. When there is a shared experience, adolescents tend to lift each other quite naturally.
Teenagers struggle to name their emotions and so as a parent, you may find that they will externalise and make you feel what they are feeling. For example, saying “I am bored” and rejecting every creative, magnificent idea you have to solve the dilemma! In this time, you might feel helpless. Damour suggests we recognise that feeling and reflect it back to your daughter, “I am feeling pretty helpless right now in trying to find a solution, I am wondering if you are too?”. It is important for us to feel our feelings as parents too and have our own, appropriate sounding boards as adults.
Importantly, Damour suggests that this is a key time for psychology. It is an opportunity for all of us to recognise that emotional wellbeing is not feeling happy all of the time. It is experiencing the right feeling at the right time. It is important for us to help our girls to be able to name their emotions and recognise them as data that is part of a tracking system. Emotions are not fires that need to be put out, we do not need to fear them, however we need to be able to role model to our children in this time. She also reminds us that as human beings we are enormously resilient and we should concentrate on healthy psychological defense mechanisms (some of you may recognise seeking humour or facts during this time as soothing), to help us to cope.
We also need to acknowledge that right now, we cannot always be the parent that we want to be. We may respond in ways that we do not consider ideal or appropriate. In these times, it is still important to role model for our children. In these moments, we can acknowledge the parts we stand by, but also recognise and express what we didn’t like about how we acted and apologise. This is a teachable moment and an opportunity to show our children how to cope in a positive way.
In sum, we can continue to look after our blossoming adolescents in this time of pandemic by recognising what it means to be a teenager, empathising with them on how difficult and disappointing this time is and continuing to motivate them with sound levels of motivation and expectation.
If you feel that you need support during this time, please contact our Educational Psychologist, Moira Severin: email@example.com
Dr Marisa Di Terlizzi
Deputy Head: Head of Senior Primary
Thank you to every girl who sent a Mother’s Day letter or made a beautiful card for a granny at Park Care. You made Mother’s Day at Park Care extra special this year!
You can volunteer from the comfort of your own home by making multiplication tables flash cards for the Grade 7 class of Isipho Primary School in Soweto. We would like to give the entire class a set of flash cards upon their return to school.
Create a complete set of multiplication tables flash cards (1-12 times tables) with the correct answer at the back. Flash cards must be on cardboard and should be creative, colourful, fun and correct! Please tie each set with an elastic band/ribbon and put a complete set in a Ziplock bag.
Submit a photo of your flash cards to Janelle Mitchell (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Read for Hope
Not all students in South Africa have been able to continue their education via online learning during lockdown. Many students do not have the resources to participate in online learning, even if their school offers the opportunity. In the South African spirit of ubuntu, Pamela Kantor, a teacher from Johannesburg who teaches many students from the Alexandra township, started Read for Hope after her request for recordings of people reading children’s books went viral.
Parents, girls and siblings can contribute to this initiative by recording themselves reading any children’s book. These recordings will be forwarded to the parents of students without access to online learning through Read for Hope and also to our partner organisation, Isipho Primary School in Soweto. Recordings can be voice recordings, live videos or videos showing pictures from the book.
More opportunities will be shared weekly and we look forward to your contributions.
Director of Service
ARTS & MUSIC
The Music department had our first Online Rehearsals last week and we had SO MUCH FUN! It was a joy to see our students’ smiling faces. We enjoyed getting reconnected and look forward to making music this week
We have invited all parents whose children are involved in Music in the Junior School to the following WhatsApp groups:
• JS Orchestra
• Grade 4-7 Choir (Grade 2s & 3s will join Ms Muller for singing during online Music lessons)
• Grade 1-3 Winds; Grade 4-7 Winds
• Grade 1-3 Strings; Grade 4-7 Strings
• Drum Gym
• Marimba participants:
The groups are set up according to last term’s schedule, so will read Tuesdays SP/ Wednesday JP AM/ Wednesday JP PM/ Thursday JP 1/ Thursday JP 2/ Friday SP AM/ Friday SP PM.
On the new schedule – join one of the Grade 1-3 marimba or Grade 4-7 sessions
All musicians are invited to participate, not only ‘existing’ members of these groups – the intention is to include all our musicians in our online music community.
If you are not part of a WhatsApp group yet, please email email@example.com with your contact details so I can add you.
We are following the schedule below for our Junior School and Senior School Arts & Music extra-curricular activities:
- Teachers will send a ZOOM link on the WhatsApp group and a reminder on the day.
- Sheet music and tracks to play along with will be posted on the WhatsApp groups and emailed to parents.
- You do not need to excuse yourself if you can’t make the rehearsals, it is meant to be fun; no pressure.
- See the ‘Top Tips for Zoom rehearsals’ + ‘How to record a track’ tips posted on the groups.
We realise families are juggling devices and managing the use of WiFi and data in their homes for children and adults to learn and work. Individual music lessons should take priority to ensure that momentum is maintained in our students’ music education.
All the best from the Music Department.
Physical wellness during lockdown
If there was ever a time that physical wellness was important, it is now during the lockdown. More than ever we need to find ways to cope with the stress and anxiety of these uncertain times. The economic pressures experienced by the adults and academic anxieties experienced by the students can never be underestimated. Exercise helps to boost ones’ immune system, reduce anxiety and is good for the brain.
Sara Arfeen Khan (Bollywood star) speaks of her daily workout with her family via online sessions. “Positive thinking is important during these times. However, putting your body through a fitness regime makes your mind strong, gets rid of fear and gives evidence to your brain that you are a winner.”
The word exercise or physical wellness often sends many cowering behind the couch, so let us look at ways we can achieve the benefits and have fun at the same time.
Close your curtains, crank up the volume and dance to your favourite hits. 8 music tracks will give you on average 30 minutes of cardiovascular workout.
Invite colleagues to a walking meeting online via your phone. That way you are all killing two birds with one stone.
Master a jump routine
Skipping routines are awesome for all ages and require minimal equipment. Be courageous and learn how to ‘double dutch’ as a family.
Now is your time to learn a skill you always wanted to as a child. This is good family time as you learn the different tricks from your young children.
Learn one arm balance a week. Yoga requires building core strength as well as strength in your shoulders and arms. Avoid injury and setting unrealistic goals by starting with simple moves and increase the degree of difficulty as you gain your strength.
Don’t forget to eat well, rest and keep yourself hydrated even during the cooler months of winter. Most importantly HAVE FUN!
Junior School Head of Sports
As the designated grocery shopper in my home, I have looked forward to the short drive up the road to replenish our essential supplies. Armed with my mask, I have gone about my aisle by aisle routine guided by my barely legible shopping list compiled by my teenage sons. However, over the recent trips I have felt a loss in my shopping experience. This was exacerbated by the most welcome three-hour window of daily exercise introduced in level 4 of lockdown. In both experiences, I realised that I was struggling to connect with the people I met. They were unable to read my lips, but it became more evident that eye contact and acknowledgement are most important, because it is in the softness of the eyes and its curvature, that we can still see the smile.
As I look back at our Kingsmead Hello campaign, I realised that, now more than ever, we must be explicit in our greetings, as our usual facial features are hidden behind non-transparent facial masks. It is so easy to hide behind our masks and replicate scenes synonymous with those in the underground trains in some European countries, especially now as we practice social distancing. There are many ways to greet whilst practicing social distancing. However, the one that has spoken to me, is the greeting “Namaste”. “Namaste” is a greeting and parting used by Hindus and Buddhists alike. “The gesture Namaste represents the belief that there is a divine spark within each of us that is located in the heart chakra. The gesture is an acknowledgment of the soul in one by the soul in another”.
“Namaste” is more than just a phrase that symbolises the end of a yoga session. The spiritual meaning is profound. It conveys the acknowledgement that there is divineness in each one of us, regardless of diversity. “I bow to you; the divine in me respectfully recognises the divine in you”. I felt this spoke to our ethos as South Africans of Ubuntu in a different way but interconnecting, nevertheless.
“It’s a way to acknowledge that the divinity in me honours and sees the divinity in you,” said Suhag Shukla, the executive director of the Hindu American Foundation in Philadelphia. “It’s a healthy greeting that is hygienic and sends a really powerful message to the world right now. We are so polarized, socially and politically, that it is a great reminder that our actions have an impact beyond our nuclear spaces that we create.”
The fear of causing offence or appropriating another’s culture whilst adopting such alternatives is often what leads many to choose the simple wave and avoid contact. However, we have seen heads of state, Prince Charles and our very own president using this greeting. Suhag Shukla, goes on to explain that intent is the fine line between appropriation and appreciation. “As long as people have an intent of looking out for the well-being of others and being mindful of the germs we are spreading, then there is the right intent”. By Julia Barajas.
Junior School Head of Transformation, Diversity and Inclusion