Kelley Flatters -7th Grade Counselor Lauren Paulhamus -8th Grade Counselor 1 1. Brain and lid flipping 2. Family Student Involvement 3. Resources and Routines 4. Critical Conversations We hope by the end of this presentation you will walk

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  1. Kelley Flatters -7th Grade Counselor Lauren Paulhamus -8th Grade Counselor 1

  2. 1. Brain and lid flipping 2. Family Student Involvement 3. Resources and Routines 4. Critical Conversations We hope by the end of this presentation you will walk away with information about the following. We also have several handouts available that go into more detail about a few things we cover tonight. 2

  3. A quick look at brain development and what you’re working with during the teen years…. There are 3 big peaks in brain development. Two in early childhood and the third during our teen years. What’s different is how that development looks. From birth to 6 you SEE the change happening--they learn to talk, walk, read and write. In the teen years the brain development is not always visible and not always consistent--but A LOT is happening under that lid. During these peaks there is a lot of learning AND a lot of trimming--our brain cuts out what we’re not using and practicing. That is why it’s so important to repeat (and repeat and repeat). Routines are super important during these years. And this stage of growth requires a lot of coaching from you as your student learns to practice new skills. 3

  4. Prefrontal Cortex Amygdala One of the biggest parts of your teen’s brain that is under development is the prefrontal cortex--which is responsible for rational thought, problem solving and thinking ahead (eg about potential consequences for actions) Whereas the amygdala, the emotional center of our brain, is fully developed and has been practicing the art of emotionally reacting since birth. In middle school we teach students about flipping your lid, also called an amygdala hijack--which is when emotions are so strong they interfere with the ability to think rationally and problem solve--in the hand model of the brain our emotional brain (the thumb) “flips” our thinking brain (our fingers). In order to problem solve and think rationally again we need to flip our top closed. We can do this by coping with, or processing how we’re feeling which looks different for everyone. Two quick research backed tips we can share with you are deep breathing and naming the emotion you are feeling. It is usually easy to tell when someone’s lid is flipped---and... this is not a good time for a conversation. Teens need space and time to calm down so that they can hear you when you talk to them about the consequences of their choices and learn when you ask them how they will handle things differently the next time. 4

  5. Helicopter and Lawnmower v.s. Lighthouse Because your student’s brain is under construction it is important now more than ever for you to be involved. But it is the way you’re involved that counts. How many of you have heard the term “Helicopter Parent”? (when we refer to ‘parent’ know that we realize this can mean guardian, grandparent, uncle, etc) Helicopter - Hovers closely over student - watches every move and swoops in to rescue their student. Lawn Mower - NEW term describing parents who remove every obstacle for their students in hopes of setting them up to be successful. All parents have good intentions--and sometimes there is a time and place to swoop in or mow down an obstacle, (Think toddler learning to walk--you want to hover--to pick them up if they teeter and you should remove obstables--pick up toys, close the baby gate) but consistent swooping or mowing can backfire later. Kids need opportunities to practice dealing with challenges and defeat. Middle School example: your student forgets their violin at home. Family races to drop it off at school before Orchestra so they don’t have to weather the consequences. First time mistake--who wouldn’t want to help out if they can? The key would be to have a follow up conversation that involves asking your child what they think they can do to solve the problem, which will help them consider alternatives and avoid repeating the same mistake twice. Considering alternatives and problem solving/planning is how students build new pathways in their brain. 5

  6. But what if it happens again? We’re going to encourage you to be a Lighthouse parent... Lighthouse - Lighthouse parents are always there in the way that your student knows they can always come to you for support (vs always there right next to them:). Lighthouses point out or reveal obstacles but don’t remove them, they help to provide direction when the seas get rough... If we want to develop resilient teens, the best way for them to learn is through natural consequences, experiencing disappointment, and going through the process of picking themselves back up and looking for a different path or outcome.

  7. Email!!!! first.last@shorelineschools.org Teachers!! Einstein website, Facebook and Twitter Counselor-Paulhamus, Flatters and Antes-Tadros (FB=Albert Einstein Middle School, @EinsteinTigers) Family Advocate-White CANVAS Attendance-Alford District website Registrar-Buchanan Einstein Newsletter Administrators-Fritz, Emanuel, Estephan PTSA Website and PTSA Facebook Page Security-Aspen Parent Community Facebook Page Nurse-Nurse V. Since your student is still learning how to problem solve your guidance is super important in middle school. A simple way to help your student learn to problem solve is to identify the problem, the available resources for support, and how to access those resources. And there are many resources available! Both for parents and for kids. A good rule of thumb is to contact the person closest to the issue--in most cases this will be your student’s teachers. And this is a great time for family AND student involvement--students should be emailing their teachers---with your guidance. Sit by them to help them figure out what the issue is and what kind of help they need---have your student draft the email and give suggestions before they send it. Encourage your student to follow up with their teacher the next day. Just a side note--if your lid is flipped (yours or your student) that’s probably not the best time to send an email. Draft one and model walking away from the draft and returning to it later when your thinking cap is back on. 6

  8. ROUTINES, ROUTINES, ROUTINES 1. Set up a consistent, nightly homework routine. 2. Follow a consistent bedtime routine. 3. Use the planner and reward planner use! 4. Check CANVAS weekly (or more!) with your student. 5. Check online Math homework with your student. Earlier we mentioned the importance of repetitive practice and routines. The brain works like a muscle. Students need to practice practice practice for skills to become habit. It usually takes about 7 weeks for a habit to stick. One way you can support your student’s success at school is to establish a homework routine. A consistent, nightly homework routine also helps improve organization, helps avoid procrastination and avoid last minute test prep. Keep the homework routine even though there is no homework--students can read or review their notes for 30 minutes if there is nothing to “complete”. Your student may not always be motivated to keep their homework routine--it may require some rewards to stick with it before it becomes a habit. Organization is a skill students build! Help them build this skill by rewarding their planner use and checking CANVAS with your student. (If you’re unsure how to use Canvas please go to the Canvas station tonight!) Attention and focus are also skills you can build. Multitasking does not help build it. Please encourage your students to work without the distractions of phones, music or tv. Consider gum or mint instead. 7

  9. Critical Conversations ● Input from Teen ● Identify Guidelines and Expectations ● Discuss Consequences Middle school is a great time to revisit house rules and expectations but approach it may need to be more of a conversation vs the dictatorship of toddler/childhood. That doesn’t mean you have to start from scratch! Each conversation should start with some non-negotiables--things that are the rule no matter what. For example, your non-negotiable for curfew might be a 7pm curfew every weeknight but you could be flexible on the weekend. You would also want to discuss how curfew could be affected (for better or for worse) by choices or school performance. Known and consistent consequences help you separate the behavior from the individual and can make enforcing the consequences a less emotional process. A guideline for establishing consequences--keep them simple, enforceable and aligned with your family values and expectations. Use the 6 Cs for consequences! Curfew, cell phone, cash, car, clothes and computer Since your students don’t drive (yet!), car could be where you are willing to drive your student based on their choices. For example, you will always drive them to sports practice but if their grades are below a C you will not drive them to a friend’s house this weekend. 8

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