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Oak Knoll School Blog

Tips for Keeping Kids Safe This Summer

Posted by Robert Weck on Jun 5, 2021 7:53:57 PM

New Jersey’s weather has warmed up in recent weeks and the lazy and longer days of summer are on the horizon. This is certainly a relief after COVID-19 shut-downs and precautions left many of us feeling stir-crazy.

However, as schools here in our own state and across the country dismiss children for summer break, more children will be out and about attending summer camps, at town swimming pools, riding bikes, or walking around with their friends. 

Now is a prime opportunity for parents, adults, and caregivers to review safety tips with children. 

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Topics: parenting, tips, summer, safety

Prioritizing Mental Health in An Uncertain COVID World

Posted by Dr. Jennifer Butler-Sweeney, Ph.D. on May 21, 2021 1:46:16 PM

As we make progress moving forward during what has been an unprecedented year, we continue to see students struggle with so many facets of mental health and stress management. These concerns pre-existed the pandemic on many levels. However, as parents and educators, we are grappling with the multi-faceted impact of COVID-19 on various aspects of adolescent development and functioning – and as such – continue the need to see our students and their struggles through this complex lens. 

So, how do we help our students prioritize their mental health through this experience that is unique and eludes our understanding? While it is useful to engage in conversation that helps our teens understand the deleterious ways COVID-19 has exacerbated what was already a delicate balance of academic, social, and extracurricular pursuits, we are trying to move on from this discourse into a more future-oriented, affirming place. 

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Topics: parenting, mental health

What Your Child Can Expect to Learn in Preschool

Posted by Laura Perillo on May 14, 2021 1:39:09 PM

The passage of time is something that most parents wish they could freeze. Before you know it, your peaceful, sleeping infant in the car seat starts to develop their own, unique, and independent personality. 

It’s generally not until after age 2 that children begin to gain independence and show interest in exploring the world around them– two key markers that your child could be ready to start preschool. (Here are other markers to help determine if the time is right to start your child in a preschool program).

By the time your little one walks out of the house for that milestone first day of preschool, their brains are already functioning as sponges, soaking in stimuli and the world around them. In fact, between birth and three years of age, the human brain increases to 80 percent of its adult size. Enrolling your child in a preschool program boosts learning and development during this important window of time.

Young children are exposed to new experiences and opportunities in preschool. Here is what your child can expect to learn after you drop them off (hopefully without tears!) at their new preschool. 

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Topics: elementary school, pre-kindergarten, pre-K, preschool ready

How to Teach Children the Practice and Benefits of Self-Compassion

Posted by Laura Perillo on May 5, 2021 3:06:07 PM

We can all relate to those days when nothing seems to go your way. When we’re down and vulnerable, self-critique tends to creep in and – at times – can make us our own worst enemy. 

While we may think we have complete control over our negative emotions,  thoughts and behaviors, we don’t! This is a myth, says the Cultures of Dignity, an organization that works with communities to shift the way we think about young people’s physical and emotional wellbeing. In fact, they argue the opposite – that  no human has complete control over their thoughts and feelings. 

Despite challenging days life will undoubtedly continue to throw at us – pandemic-related or not – the best thing to do is face any hardship head-on through the practice of self-compassion. 

Self-compassion is defined by The Cultures of Dignity as the as “the practice of choosing to turn towards your suffering with kindness and empathy.”

Here is how to teach children to practice self-compassion and some of its benefits:

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The Benefits of Learning through Play

Posted by Laura Perillo on Apr 30, 2021 10:00:00 AM

Run, jump, play! When it comes to school, these are terms that typically don’t apply to the classroom – that is – unless it’s gym or recess time. 

Even so, the time children are allowed for recess or free play at school seems shorter these days than in years past. Thanks to the pandemic, many schools are also in half-day sessions making kids’ recess, gym or playtime non-existent in many school districts. 

Any parent will tell you that kids need to move their bodies. It’s good for their overall health, helps them to maintain a steady attitude and it’s great for their sleep cycle. 

But what many parents may not realize is that playtime works in tangent with learning. Research has found that it’s crucial for younger students at the pre-K and kindergarten levels to learn through play

Here are some of the ways that younger children can learn through play.

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Topics: project-based learning, social and emotional learning, pre-K, preschool ready

Podcast: Addressing Social and Emotional Needs During COVID-19

Posted by Meghan Hodgin on Apr 22, 2021 4:46:08 PM

In episode 10 of the Academically Speaking podcast, Laura Perillo — Oak Knoll's Marketing Content Strategist — sat down with Dr. Jennifer Butler-Sweeney, Upper School psychologist, who talks about tactics parents can use to address the social and emotional impact of COVID-19 on middle and high school students. This is the second in Oak Knoll's special four-part parenting series, Parenting During the Pandemic.

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Topics: high school, elementary school, parenting, middle school, social and emotional learning, mental health, development, podcast

How Schools Can Help Foster Inclusivity

Posted by Laura Perillo on Apr 16, 2021 11:47:47 AM

As most of the nation gears up to send their children back into the physical classroom (hopefully) after months of virtual learning, parents will place a large part of their child’s development directly back into the hands of their school system.

Schools have a tremendous impact in the lives of our children. One way to help ensure that we are raising good humans is to work in tandem with our schools to help foster inclusivity – the practice or policy of including people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized.

Every parent wants their child to feel included, accepted, to make friends and to have an overall positive experience and year in the classroom.

Here are several ways that schools can work together with parents, and their communities to help foster inclusivity.

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Topics: project-based learning, social and emotional learning, diversity, equity, inclusion and justice

Women’s History Month Highlights Female Trailblazers

Posted by Laura Perillo on Mar 15, 2021 11:00:00 AM

March is special not only for the first signs of warmer weather ahead, but it’s also the month that applauds women who are blazing trails, making differences in their communities, all while inspiring girls to become the next generation of leaders.

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Podcast: Parenting During the Pandemic Part I - Mental Health

Posted by Meghan Hodgin on Mar 10, 2021 5:44:22 PM

In episode 9 of the Academically Speaking podcast, Laura Perillo — Oak Knoll's Marketing Content Strategist — sat down with Melissa Nelson, Oak Knoll's Lower School Guidance Counselor, who talks about the pandemic's impact on the mental health of our youngest learners and how parents can support their child during this time. This is the first in Oak Knoll's special four-part parenting series, Parenting During the Pandemic. 

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Topics: parenting, mental health, COVID-19

How Super Bowl LV Highlights Social Responsibility

Posted by Laura Perillo on Feb 9, 2021 3:15:07 PM

If one thing is for sure, it’s that this past year has shined a spotlight on what it truly means to rally. We’ve rallied together in the face of a global pandemic; we’ve rallied in the face of injustice and we’ve rallied to make progress as a society when we otherwise could have rolled over and called it a day on the year 2020.

Where else have we seen a rally recently?

On Sunday, February 7, 2021, the world tuned in to watch the underdog Tampa Bay Buccaneers take on the Kansas City Chiefs during Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL. While watching the Buccaneers beat the Chiefs 31-9, it was clear — through subtle and not-so-subtle messages — the game quickly became the perfect metaphor for an unprecedented year that shines a light on social responsibility.

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Topics: athletics, student advice

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