Dear Kingsmead Community
President Cyril Ramaphosa has made some deliberate decisions this week in an attempt to protect all South Africans as far as possible. I am hopeful that together with his leadership and a commitment from all concerned, that we will see an end to the daunting community spread of Covid-19. These decisions, announced sandwiched between Human Rights Day and our Easter celebrations, give us time to reflect meaningfully on our purpose and contribution as humans. We will be on lockdown from Friday morning. Make this a time for giving, love and hopeful light.
I am confident that our Kingsmead family will rise from this stronger and even more connected than before. Let us all do what needs to be done! We miss our girls every day and cannot wait to open our doors and arms to welcome them once again.
Our team have put a few interesting articles together for you this week. Enjoy reading them.
Take care of yourselves and your families.
Head: Kingsmead Junior School
International Day of Happiness
Conceptualised and founded in 2006 by Jayme Illien, CEO of the United Nations New World Order project, the 20th of March was declared as the International Day of Happiness. The objective of the International Day of Happiness is to advance a new paradigm in order to achieve the UN’s global goals of happiness, well-being and freedom of all life on earth.
Having to enter 21 days of lockdown will no doubt impact our happiness, well-being and sense of freedom. Professor Lea Waters from the University of Melbourne, states that isolation may impact three critical components of mental health; our sense of autonomy, relatedness (a sense of being connected to others) and competency (feeling effective). It may be helpful for families to discuss what each family member thinks may be the biggest challenge of lockdown, as well as their expectations. In addition, what strength each family member has which will positively contribute and what role each person can play to make it a ‘happy’ period of time. Mike Ferry, author of ‘Teaching Happiness and Innovation’, defines happiness as an optimistic, communal and disciplined perspective on life.
The largest determinant of our happiness is our own mental, emotional and physical habits, which create the body chemistry that determines our happiness level. Shawn Anchor, author of ‘The Happiness Advantage’ states that when we are in a positive mindset our brains become more engaged, creative, motivated, energetic, resilient and productive at work – the happier we are, the more successful we become. Mike Ferry explains that thanks to plasticity of our brains, happiness and innovation can be taught, nurtured and practiced. Being in lockdown is an opportunity for us as adults to model and teach our children how to be happy, by encouraging certain habits:
- Help your child find joy in everyday things:
Research has shown that when we notice the small miracles of daily life we are happier. Even in challenging times, we are surrounded by joyful occurrences; a beautiful sunset, birds going about their daily business, the change of colours in nature at the beginning of autumn.
- Cultivate fun:
The old adage that ‘laughter is the best medicine’ is true; the more we laugh and embrace humour the happier we are, as it alters our body chemistry. Additionally, when we smile (even if we initially force a smile) the feedback from our facial muscles informs us that we are happy and improves our mood. Mike Ferry is of the opinion that happy homes inspire creative minds. Our brains are most receptive to new information when we are happy and engaged, and it is therefore crucial for learning and critical thinking.
- Model positive self-optimism and cultivate optimism:
According to research happy people give themselves ongoing reassurance, acknowledgement and praise, they are their own cheerleaders. We experience ups and downs, the key is to not spend too much energy focused on the negative but rather to acknowledge and express it, then explore possible solutions.
- Embrace all emotions:
We may experience varying degrees of loss and grief during this uncertain period of time. Acknowledging and accepting sad, angry and scared feelings is embracing the full range of being human, and deepens our ability to experience joy. Polarities of emotions may result in some discomfort, however, it is healthy to honour and feel all our feelings. As we move through the feelings the more difficult feelings begin to dissipate. Empathise with your daughter, really listen to what she has to say. Reflect back what she is saying – offering an alternative perspective to the way she’s thinking about a situation may help her to shift her feelings.
- Developing gratitude:
Children are inundated with messages from a society often caught up in consumerism, that more is better and that they have to have the next new gadget. Developing gratitude for what we already have, helps us to focus on the here and now. At the dinner table each family member may reflect on something they are grateful for. Mike Ferry states that practicing gratitude daily can rewire our brains to recognise appreciation rather than to dwell on disappointments. In turn, we will become happier.
- Being kind and the joy of contributing:
Acting with kindness increases the flow of dopamine within the do-gooder’s brain, thus we feel happy. Encourage kindness by modelling it at home. We may also explore ways in which we may contribute to those in our community who are vulnerable and less fortunate, as well as animal shelters, during lockdown.
There are many habits we may model and teach children to learn to cultivate happiness, I have chosen to highlight a few of the pertinent habits. During lockdown it is important to be cognisant that time spent alone is important, however, it also provides us with an opportunity to reconnect with family and family rituals, such as having dinner together, and to just be in the here and now. Lockdown is forcing us to realise that life may work better when we are able to depend on one another, but to also look at what we are able to control and manage in our own lives. Happiness is a choice we make, and a perspective we should nurture and practice while trying to remain optimistic in very uncertain times.
Junior School Psychologist
The Value of Reading and Listening
How to Raise a Reader …
Supporting your daughter’s reading development during this uncertain time should remain a priority and you may feel at a loss as how to go about it. This short snippet will hopefully provide you with some clarity and ideas going forward…
“Never treat books like a chore.” That’s one of the key bits of advice New York Times Book Review Editor, Pamela Paul, has for parents who want their children to experience what she calls the “natural, timeless, time-stopping joys of reading.” Home is a place where our girls learn to love to read.
It starts with you as parents … If you want your daughter to be excited about reading, you should be, too. These precious years when your daughter is living at home, observing your approach to life, are a great time to nurture your own reading habits. You are her reading role model! See reading as a full experience – feel the weight of the book, have books visible, images visible, smell the book, turn the pages of the book – all these aspects are developing various skills and habits that allow your daughter to gather data through all her senses.
Parental reading support during distance learning
To build fluency, comprehension, word-solving and a love for reading in a supportive, loving environment.
How to support your daughter?
When an error is made WAIT to give your daughter a chance to work on it independently. When you are certain they are going to keep going, stop them saying something like, “Try that again,” or “Make it match.”
Ask questions that invite recall AND thinking, such as, “Why do you think __ happened?” or “What do you think __ means?” Urge re-reading to build comprehension as needed.
Model expressive reading and have your daughter echo read. Encourage just-right pacing (not too fast, not too slow). Demonstrate how to attend to the punctuation (pausing at the end of sentences, adding expression based on the punctuation mark).
Coupled with reading comes guided listening
Effective listening skills are essential for successful social interaction at home, at school, and in the community. Guided listening illustrates how parents can champion purposeful listening and help their daughter better understand her language strengths and needs. It shows the value of recording and sharing the ideas of others and frees children to listen more attentively, organise their responses, and watch for the subtle cues in a text, that are an important part of listening.
Some strategies to engage your daughters in listening:
• Allow her to make inferences and predictions while you are reading aloud to her.
• Allow her to illustrate her thoughts and predictions.
• Share some reflection stems with her:
– One thing that sticks out for you …
– The main idea is …
– What is the message of this story?
– The character I most like is… why…
– When I think about what I read, I was most surprised by …
– How does what we read help you in your everyday life…
Use this image below for additional pre, during and post reading/listening activities:
Remember reading is the cake of life and not the spinach.
Yours in reading,
Head of Student Affairs/Cognitive Education
The Service team is very excited and motivated to keep service going in spite of isolation. We are encouraging passive opportunities that can be done at home that do not involve food preparation (due to health reasons) or deliveries (due to isolation reasons).
A Service@Home group has been created on Microsoft Teams. Parents, staff and students in Grade 6 and 7 are encouraged to join. If you would like to join, please use the following link:
Mrs Venter will be sharing ideas on passive Service opportunities that can be done at home. If you join now you will need to scroll up to view the ideas that have already been shared. Six different opportunities will be posted every week that can all be done at home. If you would like to submit a photo of your completed item, please send it to email@example.com
Once school resumes the students can bring their completed items and then we will arrange for the donations to take place.
Let’s keep on giving without expecting reward…even from home.
Junior School Head of Service
ARTS & MUSIC
Our Grade 4-7 Choir did us proud at the annual Singing Sistas choir festival at St Mary’s. Well done to our choir for their enthusiastic performance! A sincere thank you to all the parents and siblings who came to support us!
Thank you to our parents who have embraced online music lessons. It has worked so well and by all accounts, our students are loving seeing their teachers for their music lessons. If you have not yet made contact with your music teacher regarding online lessons, please do so as soon as possible.
We will also launch group music making this week! More information will be posted on the app during the course of the week.
Elsabé Fourie Mia Loock
Director of Arts & Music Head of Junior School Music
Let this difficult period in time highlight the strength each and every one of us holds. Let us take responsibility for our fellow human beings through the smart choices we make during this impending lockdown. It takes a global epidemic to make one realise that at the end of day, no person is immune regardless of race, sex, gender, age, or nationality, to name a few. Let us stand together and fight against the virus as one enormous team.
Junior School Head of Sports & Head of Transformation, Diversity and Inclusion