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How to Stay Organized

September 05, 2018
By Mrs. Nikki Curliss

Organize School and Activity Schedules

Summer is oftentimes full of spur of the moment activities. Back to school planning allows you to get back into a routine. Either buy a calendar or make one with your kids.

Involve the family when you write down activities on the calendar. Have everyone write in their activities — piano lessons, sports practice and games, and social events. This is a great way to talk about responsibility, organization, and time management.

Have a weekly meeting to discuss the week ahead. Each day talk about the routine for that day; picking up from school, activities for the evening, dinner plans, etc.

Organize Your School Supplies

Being organized makes everything else easier. It helps you get to schoolwork faster without wasting time looking for stuff.

Recommend your children keep assignments and class information organized by subject. Set up a system at home with binders, notebooks, or folders. If your child is stuffing loose papers in their bag or grabbing different notebooks for the same class, it's time to stop and reorganize!

Regularly clean out and organize the locker. Decide where to keep returned assignments and things you want to hold on to. Offload things you no longer need to carry around.

Organize Your Space

Help your child establish a good workspace — someplace quiet enough to focus. It's best to work at a desk or table. Have a place set aside for homework. That way, when the child sits down,  they are there to work and can help focus more quickly.

Organize Your Time

Use a planner to keep track of your schoolwork:

Write down all assignments and when they're due.

Break big projects into parts. Note the dates when each part needs to be completed. Mark in the planner when to work on each part.

Mark the dates for tests, then make a note of when to study for them. Don't leave things until the last minute — you'll only end up working twice as hard to do half as well.

Enter other activities on your calendar — such as team practices, drama rehearsals, plans with friends, etc. Use the planner to schedule what time to do schoolwork on days you have other activities.

Nikki Curliss, Guidance Counselor, has been at StMM for 6 years. She enjoys spending time helping students one-on-one and with whole classroom lessons. 

Social Emotional Learning

March 06, 2018
By Mrs. Nikki Curliss

According to research published in Psychology Today, children who exhibit social-emotional skills at a young age are more likely to be successful in their 20s.

The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning identify “social and emotional” learning (SEL) as the process by which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions; to set and achieve positive goals; to feel and show empathy for others; to establish and maintain positive relationships; and to make responsible decisions”.

Managing SEL is a lifelong endeavor. Learning to manage emotions, developing a positive self-esteem, and being flexible are examples of SEL.

Children first learn how to manage their SEL at home. Just like course subjects in school, students can be taught social-emotional skills. Children need time to practice controlling themselves and regulating their behaviors. Students take cues about SEL from their parents and other adults they trust.  

Here are five strategies for promoting social-emotional learning in children:

  1. Be a good emotional role model. How do you handle stress? How do you handle problems? Are you a problem-solver and do you try to find ways to cope with your emotions?
  2. Be an “emotion coach.” It’s normal to display our feelings and show emotions. If a child is angry, help him/her voice their feelings instead of displaying anger, especially with physical results such as hitting. One way to voice feelings is with an “I statement”. “I feel ______, when you ______”.
  3. Read books with social-emotional plots. We can learn so much from books! Find books that deal with children and their emotions - being a friend, behaving at school, taking turns, being kind, being hurt by others’ words, etc. Read the stories together and talk with your child about the different emotions. What would he/she do if the student was the character in the book?
  4. Give choices. Instead of parents just solving the problem and telling a child what to do, give them options that you would deem appropriate. Helping a child by allowing him/her room to negotiate is a good life skill.
  5. Use positive discipline strategies. Do you have certain rules at home that your child follows? What happens when they don’t follow the rules? Giving children rules and guidelines is helpful. At school, students follow classroom rules and there are consequences when they go against those rules. At home, give consequences and incentives. When is the last time you told your child they did a good job getting to school on time?

Resources: Collaborative for Academic, Social, Emotional Learning

Nikki Curliss, Guidance Counselor, has been at StMM for 6 years. She enjoys spending time helping students one-on-one and with whole classroom lessons. 

Learning how to Handle Conflicts

February 07, 2018
By Mrs. Nikki Curliss

“He took my pencil.”

“She cut in line.”

“He won’t let me play soccer at recess.”

These are typical conflicts that arise. Conflicts are a part of life, but conflict management is a life skill for students to learn how to handle problems first before involving adults.

Recently, I have spent time with our students teaching some basic conflict management techniques. Here is a list of items to help your students manage situations at school and at home.  

1- First you need to cool off and think clearly. You might be upset and you might need to walk away and calm down before you get more upset.

2- Speak directly to the person. If you have a conflict you want to address it with the person so that it can be cleared up. You do not want to go tell others as a way of spreading gossip.

3-Speak assertively. You can speak directly to that person and still get your point across in a assertive way instead of an aggressive way.

4-Listen to what the other person has to say. Be willing to listen to the other person. It’s normal for us to care about our own hurt needs, but by listening you can understand why the other person behaved in this way.

5-Have options. You cannot control what others say or do, but you can control your own actions and words. Here are some options when you have a problem or conflict with another person; come up with a compromise, talk out the problem, share and take turns, walk away, tell them to stop, find another group of friends to be with.

Conflicts are a part of life, but conflict management techniques can lesson the negative effects. By practicing these techniques at home and at school, students can be better equipped to manage conflicts first before involving others and before they go from small to big problems.

Nikki Curliss, Guidance Counselor, has been at StMM for 6 years. She enjoys spending time helping students one-on-one and with whole classroom lessons. 

Why StMM?

January 08, 2018
By Mrs. Lydia Binanay

It’s that time of year again. Re-enrollment/Enrollment. Time to recommit to StMM for next year or time to choose StMM as your new school. Every year we have to ask ourselves, “Why StMM”? These days there are many options for school: secular or religious private school, traditional or year round public school, charter school, homeschool, etc. Why did you choose StMM?

    Before the “Why” you have to remember the “How”. You had to consider a number of pluses and minuses. You, perhaps, made a checklist or even a spreadsheet. Or maybe you didn’t but you kept all this info in the back of your head. Here are some things you considered:

-commute time
-bus/walk/carpool options
-school lunch/food policy
-AG program
-exceptional student accommodations
-extra curriculars (clubs, scouts)
-uniforms/dress code
-homework policy
-how you feel when you walk in
-how your kid feels when they walk in
-accessibility of staff/teachers/admin (communication)
-volunteer opportunities/requirements
-admin presence (do you see them ever?)
-religious freedom
-class size
-school size
-safe environment

After you took all that info into account, you had to ask yourself, “What is most important to me?” That one thing should outweigh all other aspects of school choice. It should outweigh all the minuses. It should be a huge plus. What was your #1 reason for choosing StMM?

I know why my family first chose StMM. I know why we continue to choose StMM year after year. We choose it for the people. Yes, StMM has great academics, fun clubs, various sports teams, a strong religious presence, cute uniforms, a safe environment, skilled teachers, involved administrators, lots of volunteer opportunities and a generous, service-oriented environment. But that’s not why we choose StMM. For us, it’s all the people that make up StMM: the kids, the parents, the teachers, the administrators, the office and church staff, the coaches, Father Staib and YOU. YOU help make StMM the great village that we need in order to raise our children to be great people. YOU make this school our home. YOU are our #1 reason for choosing StMM.

Why do YOU choose StMM?

Steps to help you decide:

Things to consider:,8599,2089618,00.html

Private vs. public

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