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If you have an intense child, you probably know it. Call them spirited, emotionally intense, difficult, high needs, or challenging…it doesn’t matter.

You know them and you’re tired. And defeated. And sure you’re doing everything all wrong because those parenting books other parents swear by just don’t work for you.

What is an Intense Child via

The intense child is more – more emotional, more energetic, more sensitive, more empathetic, more focused, more distracted, more, more, more – than other children.

Would you prefer to listen to this post? It’s now available as an audioblog:


Characteristics of an Intense Child

If you’re still struggling to determine whether your child is intense or just ill-behaved like everyone seems to think, take a few minutes to look through these characteristics. Do you see your child described? You’re probably dealing with an emotionally intense kiddo that just needs a different parenting approach. Let’s problem solve together.


An intense child is:

Sensitive: Intense kids may be keenly aware of other people’s moods and things like textures, noises, smells, and lights. Parties are challenging. Big stores can be overwhelming and over stimulating. Getting sensitive kids dressed becomes a problem as they notice every tag, seam, and rough spot. Food textures may be a problem – smooth food, rough food, food that touches, food with sauce, food without sauce…the sensitive child struggles with meals.

Emotional: The intense child feels everything deeply. Days are the BEST or the WORST. There is no in-between. Some may be loud and dramatic. Others may be really quiet and introspective. Whether focused inward or outward, their emotions are powerful. Life, though, is lived with exuberance.

Perseverant: The most persistent children, intense kids have a one-track mind when they decide on something. It’s virtually impossible to get them to change their minds. They can be goal-orientated, which, if properly channeled, can be an amazing trait. If left alone, though, intense children can become demanding, and try to bully others into going along with whatever it is they’ve made their minds up about.

Perceptive: It’s hard, sometimes, for an intense child to settle down and find that thing about which to make up their mind. There’s just so much going on around them in the world. Children like this are often misdiagnosed as ADD/ADHD because they just can’t seem to focus. The reality, though, is that they are busy focusing on everything – they see, feel, and hear things others are missing.

Uncomfortable with Transition: Changing from one activity to another can cause a lot of angst. And, since transitions happen ALL day EVERY day, how the intense child handles each one can have a major impact on the rest of the family. Young intense children may be clingy or have separation anxiety, while older ones can get angry and frustrated when they need to stop and do something else.


What is an Intense Child via


An intense child may also be:

Unpredictable: Intense children were often babies that could never settle into a routine. You never knew when they were hungry – or they seemed to need to eat all.the.time. Now, as older children, they are grumpy and unfocused in the morning, and ready to talk your ear off at midnight. Then next week, they may rise at the crack of dawn, and be in bed by six. You just never know what you’re going to get because it varies daily.

Energetic: Many intense children need to run, jump, climb, skip, spin, and just move in any way they possibly can. They might have been super-alert as babies… Rarely sleeping, wanting to see everything that was going on from the beginning. They do everything with gusto from the start – eating, babbling, crawling, running, talking, and then becoming the toddler tornado that made other people’s “terrible twos” stories look like a walk in the park. Now that the intense child is older, things haven’t really changed, and you might find yourself sending him outside to run laps around the cul-de-sac just to give you a minute to catch your breath…

Unable to Adapt to New Situations: Some intense children get upset in unfamiliar situations. They may even have physical reactions to the stress of the event. Raised heart rate, dilated pupils, anxiety… It can be mentally and physically stressful.

Moody: Intense children may be prone to anxiety and moodiness. They may be serious and analytical, and then angry and surly. They can be perfectionistic and get grumpy and cranky for seemingly no reason. Intense kids often have a difficult time finding enjoyment in daily life.


What is an Intense Child via


What Does YOUR Intense Child Look Like?

Do you recognize your child in the descriptions above? Most intense children will possess all of the first five characteristics in some way. The last four, well…they’re bonus characteristics.

Some of you may have kids with none of them or one or two of the traits. If you’re really lucky – like me – your child will enjoy rotating through all four of the bonus characteristics just to keep you in a constant state of unease.

As we develop our game plan for how to handle our child’s intensity during the holidays {and at other times of the year}, grab a fresh spiral notebook and jot down notes about how your child’s intensity presents itself and how that affects your family.


Identify Triggers

Now that you’ve identified the traits your child demonstrates, write the known triggers that bring those traits out.

Got an irritable and moody kiddo that gets more, um… vocal about his frustrations whenever his little sister starts humming? Write down humming next to moodiness or anger. Does your child become overly energetic and impulsive at parties and in large groups of people? Write it down.

The more detail you can come up with today, the more you’ll be able to fine-tune your game plan later this week. Take your time with this task. This is going to provide the building blocks of a successful holiday season for you, your child, and your whole family. Take the whole week – one day at a time – or take a few days per task. Just make sure you get all of your intense child’s characteristics, behaviors, and triggers down in that notebook of yours.

We’ll be back to talk about how you can use this information to make sure your whole family – your child, you, your spouse, and all of your other children – are on the same page every time you leave the house.

Did any of these characteristics ring true? How does your child show his or her intensity? Did I miss any characteristics? Share with us in the comments.

Did you miss the first post of this series? Go back and read from the beginning. Better yet, so you don’t miss any future posts about intensity, hands-on learning, creativity, and parenting, take a minute to sign up for our weekly email in the box below.


More Articles About Intense Kids


Phung Huynh is hopeful for the future.

As an art professor at Los Angeles Valley College, she is constantly inspired by the next generation. “I feel so lucky for that,” she says. “There’s an exciting new group of artists coming up right now.”

As an educator with previous experience at Pasadena’s Art Center College of Design and Scripps College in Claremont, Huynh continues to encourage budding talent. “I’m getting older,” she says. “I need to give a platform for younger and emerging artists. I try to do that as best as I can and support others.”

Huynh, who is the first creative strategist for the Office of Immigrant Affairs, often asks herself: How do you teach culture in Southern California?

One way is through language. L’Héritage Français in La Habra, the International School of Orange and The Language Academy at Aronoff Preschool in Irvine, not to mention the Irvine Chinese School and Chinese Cultural Center, are just a few places in our region offering immersive language classes for younger students. Children spend their school days conversing fully in French, Mandarin, Italian and Spanish. Circle time and songs are taught in foreign languages.

At Aronoff, the children are also introduced to Judaic culture in a fun way. Shabbat Star students light candles for the Friday school assembly and prayers are sung like Hebrew nursery rhymes.

Studies have shown that language immersion leads to long-term gains in education. It also gives kids insight into other cultures. The state of California agrees that multilingual academics are important. Recently, the California Department of Education created this goal: “By 2030, half of all kindergarten through grade 12 students will participate in programs leading to proficiency in two or more languages, either through a class, a program, or an experience. By 2040, three out of four students will be proficient in one or more languages, earning them a State Seal of Biliteracy.”

Translation: California’s multilingual education programs will make our children better global citizens.

For older pupils seeking outside-of-school assistance, Language Door in Irvine offers in-person and online classes. Arabic, Armenian, Polish, Russian, German, Dutch, Hindi and Hungarian – more than 40 languages are available.

But speech is only one aspect of culture. What about the customs, traditions and tastes?

At Chinmaya Mission in Tustin, pupils learn Hindu culture taught by swamis. Loosely translated to mean “father” or “pastor,” the swamis lead a series of Nirvana Shatkam guided meditation and Vedanta courses, while an on-site early childhood learning center introduces young learners to Hindu traditions.

This year, other teachers began offering cultural classes online. The pandemic led instructors – including Kat McDowell, who teaches Kintsugi, the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery – to pivot in the way they approach students.

Kintsugi Academy revitalized an ancient Japanese art form after the tsunami that devastated the country in 2011. The idea is to honor our broken bits by repairing cracked cups and bowls. The thought that we celebrate our scars and rebuild, even when you feel shattered, resonated with many people during the lockdown. Isolated teenagers also found solace in McDowell’s classes.

In the spring, she plans to host intimate in-person workshops. But for now, her online sessions and performances – via the live streaming platform Twitch – are the ways she reaches a younger audience. (More than a third of Twitch viewers are 10-19 years old.)

* * *

Culture in Southern California is an amalgam of different countries. We mesh here in ways that shape our region’s art and lingo. It also flavors the food we eat.

The Little Arabia District in West Anaheim offers tastes of Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Turkey. In the 1990s, this area began cultivating a thriving Arab-American community centered on the nearby religious centers – mosques, Coptic Orthodox and Christian Arabic churches. Yet, it’s the food that most locals in the area are familiar with. Egyptian-style feasts at El Mahroosa restaurant in Anaheim are tasty ways to introduce children to another country.

More ‘Illuminate’

Other cities such as Irvine host pop-up experiences. The 43rd annual Saint Paul’s Greek Festival on Oct. 8-10 offers “a taste of the Greek Islands without leaving Southern California.” Festivities include dance, music and Greek food. Each bite is a reference point for understanding another culture.

In a similar vein, the 47th annual Valley Greek Fest will return to Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Northridge on Memorial Day weekend 2022.

For Huynh, food also symbolizes her immigration experience – specifically, doughnuts, as 90 percent of all independent doughnut shops in SoCal are run by Cambodian families.

“As a kid my parents would take us to Ted Ngoy, the Donut King. My father is a survivor of the [Khmer Rouge] genocide in Cambodia. He biked his way to Vietnam to seek asylum. … So I feel like the pink box drawings I do reference food as a culture, and as a way to talk about our assimilation experience.”

Huynh is speaking about her next body of work, called “Donut Hole: Portraits on Pink Donut Boxes of the Second Generation.” It focuses on “The Donut Kids” of Southern California.

“These are kids that grew up in doughnut shops,” she says. “Their parents would take them to the doughnut shop at 3 in the morning, put them on the flour sacks to sleep while their parents made doughnuts, and then get them up to go to school. These kids worked in the doughnut shops, did homework at the doughnut shops, so I’m so excited to honor them.”

* * *

Honoring our past is something that Huynh examines in her public art commissions for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The idea is that through these images, passersby will learn about a neighborhood’s past and absorb some of its cultural heritage.

“Especially for public art, it’s a service for the community,” Huynh says. “It’s important to research history. Not only the written history because a lot of written history is privileged by those who can afford to write it. But the history of working folks who don’t have time to write down their history. For me, it’s important that public art reflects the community … So, I do research and interview people who live there. I try to do that because it gives me the opportunity to learn.”

At a Metro stop in El Monte, Huynh’s “In the Meadow” piece showcases a lion head, a nod to the shuttered Gay’s Lion Farm theme park and the local high school’s mascot – inklings of the city’s past. Who knew that El Monte once had a theme park dedicated to lions? Huynh wants us to remember our past so we can build a better future.

“History is alive,” she insists.

At Laurel Canyon/Valley Village, “Lucky California” features whimsical cherubs playing in blooming California poppies and plump oranges. For the Alhambra Bruscard poster, Huynh dug into the city’s history and painted its innovative iron pipe system, the first of its kind in California.

As an educator, Huynh encourages the next generation of artists to create their own path. Their cultural identity doesn’t have to limit them. She credits her relationship with another Los Angeles-based artist/activist and retired teacher for her passionate ties to history.

“It emanates from Charles Dailey, my mentor,” she says. “There are so many points of healing and connection in that relationship for me. When you’re a Vietnam war refugee [like me], and you’re seeing all these horrible Hollywood films where Asian folks have no speaking roles, women are objectified; and then for Mr. Dailey, my second dad [and an African American Vietnam veteran], calls me his child, and convinces my parents, ‘Let her be an artist’ as opposed to a doctor or a lawyer. ‘She’s going to make it.’ He believed in me. That’s life changing and powerful.”


  1. Wayfair furniture computer desk
  2. Number 1 nails
  3. 2012 scion iq
  4. Us army car accessories
  5. Steel to reel unboxing


And here is a link to just the slide deck without Loom narrative: click here.

10 days to come without rain I hear – water those plants and enjoy the sun.

 ~ Asa


Dr. Asa Sevelius, Ed.D.

Heath School Principal


May 15th, 2020

The rain tonight leads to a gorgeous day tomorrow, the perfect time to get outside, activate your body and fill your lungs as you are able, and take in the world outside of your screen. In my own yard this week, I saw a beaver and tracked him to a dam he’s building close to my home, had a giant turkey vulture land right outside my dining room window, and continued to delight in the pair of muskrats in my stream.  Contrary to popular belief, I do not live in the countryside! I live in a suburb.  The country feels like it is coming to me and, franky, I’m not mad about it.

What are you seeing? Hearing? How are you making sense of what is happening beyond the walls of your home?


Maintaining the Human Connection

There is no real substitute for human connection, and the Heath School team are working hard to ensure that each and every kid has a connection with a safe and trusted adult.  From “Art Class Freeze Dance” parties (where kids are breaking a sweat) to zoom meeting PJs & Stuffies events (where a few kids have buried themselves in a mountain of stuffed animals) to Model UN events.

More events are forthcoming, too.  Madame Kerr will be hosting theatre workshops for our students in grades 6-8 and Mrs. Huntley will soon begin music experiences for students in grades 1-5.

If you are able, join Heath Literacy Specialist, Ms. Borns-Weil, for a read-aloud of her book, Wisteria, a modern fairy tale with heart and humor, for 8-12 year olds. Sessions will take place on Zoom at Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 1:30-2:00.

Another connecting experience actually going viral is the youtube segmentcalled “Ms. O and The Baker,” a weekly brief conversation between our K-2 Guidance Counselor Alissa Ovadia and The Baker where the two dig into topics such as facing fears, managing expectations, trying something new, and understanding feelings when everything feels so hard.  I urge you to check it out and guarantee it is a just-right fit for any Heath student.

Need other ideas on how to support your students at home?  Then check out the HeathStudent Support Website here. It may be a while since you’ve visited; tons of certified fresh content is uploaded regularly, so visit again.


Honor a Teacher

Each Spring, the Brookline Education Foundation provides an opportunity for parents and guardians to honor outstanding teachers in their child's life. If you have a teacher, specialist or coach that has gone above and beyond, visit Honor a Teacher to recognize them. Especially now, saying 'Thank you' virtually will mean a lot.  Although this is a fundraiser for the BEF grant programs, no donation is required.


8th Grade Yearbooks

The student Yearbook Committee led by Ms. Cusack has been working hard to commemorate the experience of the 8th graders through the yearbook. We will be sending online ordering information soon. Please lookout for an email regarding this.

We are also working to ensure that 8th grade graduation is a special occasion. Rest assured that we are thinking of our graduates right now.  I have no one in my immediate family graduating this year, but do plan to tune into the nation-wide Class of 2020 celebrations happening online.


Museums Are Closed. Or … are they?

We can bring the art to you!  Check out these art padlets from Ms. Hockensmith and our middle school artists.  You’ll be glad you did!


Birthdays: Woot Woot!

Happy birthday to our many Heath friends – this week … Sage, Caro, Nathan S., Aya, Tommy, Ryan C., Zachary D., Chiara, Michael Sc., Daphne G., Milo, and Emma L.  We miss you and are sending you a ton of high fives!

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Technology Tips for Families

Just a few reminders or tips for families while we all spend more time using devices than we ever could have imagined.

  • When possible, have your children use technology in areas of the house that are more trafficked. It's easier for adults to check in with them and see what's going on. Bedrooms may be necessary for Zoom meetings, for everyone's sanity, but with a set of headphones, most homework probably can be done in a more open or public space.
  • Talk with your kids about their schoolwork and how much time it takes. Suggest taking breaks away from the computer between assignments or every 20-30 minutes rather than endlessly surfing online.
  • To keep students' focus on their schoolwork, have them store their cell phone in a different room while they work, to avoid being distracted.
  • Feel like you would like a little bit more control or understanding of your kids' online time? Check out Commonsense Media's Parents' Ultimate Guide to Parental Controls.

And please remember to check our Online School Resources, here. We are updating this space constantly and hope you find it useful.


I will close this week with a reminder: Need help?  Have questions? Feel stuck? Feel lost? Reach out.  Have good news? Feel successful? Celebrating a milestone? Reach out.

The doors to the school are closed, but we are still a community.  We are the calvary and we have, I think, what we need right here.

Be well; stay well.

~ Asa

Dr. Asa Sevelius, Ed.D.

Heath School Principal


May 8th, 2020

Today in a 6th grade class I visited, students discussed the important observances happening now, including Cinco de Mayo, the 75th anniversary of V-E Day, and Asian Pacific Heritage Month. The students discussed why these special months and observances are important.  Students had great ideas, including:

  • To symbolize and mark the important contributions of all kinds of people to our community
  • These folks and experiences are a part of our american culture and these days and months help us to see all the people who make up a shared American culture
  • Keep annual traditions alive and reflect on things we might not know
  • Naming something or someone draws our attention in and helps us learn and remember
  • Because we don’t include all stories all the time, these moments help us to remember to be more inclusive

How thoughtful are these kids, huh? And, how incredibly on the money are their ideas?


Teacher's Appreciation from Heath Students

Heath School Student Council put together a Teacher's Appreciation survey which was shared with students. Based on the responses, Asha H, Sita H, Sophia S, Max P, Zara K, Sophie S, and Leila P brainstormed how to share this with teachers by creating a slideshow.  

Special shoutout to 7th graders Asha H, Sita H, and Sophia S for leading this effort and owning all parts of this project. They worked hard and made us all proud.

And, here are even more students contributed to these bucket-filling videos from our students and families:

Seeing this outpouring of support is just what the teachers here needed, now more than ever, Thank you for thanking us.


Teaching and Learning

Recently, the Public Schools of Brookline team sent out more remote learning guidance to families; in particular, our learning trajectories for the remainder of the year K-8 were released. At Heath, we have reviewed these documents as individual practitioners, and as teams; we  have mapped the learning for the next 6 weeks, and have designed the priority units of study at each grade level.  While we hope to dig into each area across every content area, we recognize that circumstances being what they are may make it impossible.  Thus, our talented team is honing in on the skills inherent in each content area and working diligently to ensure that any opportunity provided will lock onto a skill your child will be able to take with them in their learning next year.

Heath is a part of a much bigger network, intrinsically linked to a set of standards set forth by the Commonwealth. My own 7th grader, not a Brookline student, is right now knee-deep in Greek Mythology.  Next week at Heath, I’ll be joining a 7th grade Social Studies class discussing … you guessed it … the Greek gods.  While the content is fascinating, the skills are ruling the day (like, understand democratic systems, ask strong questions and find answers, organize information from multiple sources, distinguish opinion from fact, evaluate the accuracy and reliability of sources, and more).


Spring Conferences

Yesterday you received a message from interim superintendent, Ben Lummis, where he shared that K-5 conferences will not be held in their traditional format this spring. It may seem obvious, but I believe it is important to explain why this is the case before delving into how we will proceed this spring. Spring conferences are typically a time for teachers and families to talk about progress across a range of areas both academic and social emotional. Teachers spend time gathering student work products and compiling assessment information to use as artifacts in these conversations. Currently, teachers do not have access to formal or informal assessments about how students were doing academically before the closure as that information remains in the school building. In addition, because of the uncertainty ahead of us, teachers are unable to speak to the upcoming transition (ie, "What's school going to look like in the fall?"). Given the fact that Heath has been closed since March 12, the typical robust conversation you have come to expect is simply not possible.

In the spring, teachers typically make time and seek appointments with the families of each of their students. We recognize that under current circumstances, not all families would want or be able to accommodate a video or voice call in their schedule.I want to stress that it is completely fine if you choose not to set up a time to connect with your student’s teacher. If you would like to connect, please reach out to your child's teacher.

In the spring, there are also four days on which students are dismissed early from school in order to create time in teacher schedules for conferences. Like us all, teachers are balancing significant home and professional obligations. To that end, in order for teachers to build in time for parent/teacher video or voice calls, adjustments may need to be made to some online learning activities on a given day/s.

Please know that our priorities remain the physical and emotional health of our students, families, and staff during this closure. In sharing the details above, my hope is to help provide clarity and not add stress or confusion. We know students and families are doing the very best that they can, and please know that Heath staff are as well. I recognize given the unexpected nature of the extended school closure that so much has happened, been adjusted, and changed over the last several weeks. We are all adapting, managing and working very hard to serve a wide range of needs and circumstances. Our dedicated Heath faculty stand ready to support you and your children in whatever way we are able throughout the remainder of the school year.


Step Up Day

An annual tradition at Heath School is “Step Up Day,” a time when students can visit the classrooms they will be in next year and meet their future teachers. This year we can’t conduct step up day as we might typically, but we know your kids have questions!  So … if you are a kid going into K, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or 5th grades, please submit your questions here in this form: click here

We will do our best to find answers for you!  Stay tuned!


Young Scholars x BC

Yesterday, about a dozen of our Young Scholars, led by Ms. Shashoua and Ms. Morales, met up with students and professors from Boston College’s Urban Outreach Initiative for a virtual spoken word session. Together, folks created and presented poetry in real time.

Students said they felt happy, collected, calm, respected, excited, thoughtful, and contented. When creating poetry, students responded to these prompts:

  • I am …
  • I can …
  • If you only knew …
  • The truth is …
  • Why does …
  • In my community …
  • I will ...

Will you give spoken word poetry a chance in your home? These simple prompts could lend themselves to some great conversations together.

Thanks also to Mr. Ikonne and Mr. Patel for being so present and engaged during this session. Our teachers are showing up for our kids in so many ways!



So many birthdays this week! Happy birthday to Marco, Henry W., Emma Ho., Joseph Ho., Henrique, Max Gu., Alexa, Sydney, Morgan, Zhiyan, Charlotte, Margot, Sofia V., Bennet, Saige, Dylan F., Avery, Zachary, and Nina



What’s This COVID-thing? Videos Just for Kids … and Kids at Heart

Enjoy these video messages from one of my personal heroes, Heath School Nurse Gail Corcoran:

And my other hero, Lego Batman, explains COVID-19, in his own special way!  click here


Going to a Private School? Moving? Let Us Know!

If you applied to private schools and have heard back, can you send me a private message with your decision for next year. I am 1) eager to know and 2) we want to get a sense of who is returning for enrollment purposes. A private email would be appreciated.

If you are moving and won’t return to Heath in the fall, can you let me know that, too?

We will help you navigate the withdrawal process and make sure you have everything you need for a smooth transition to your next home school.


And, that’s all for now. It’s a lot. I know these messages are long, but – per usual – there is just so much going on at Heath. 

Mother’s Day is Sunday.  Three cheers to all the moms out there, most of whom are doing triple duty each day ... classwork monitor, busy professional, line cook, comforter-in-chief. So if you are a mom or you are mothering someone right now, you are enough.

Be good to yourself … and others. Send more letters, wave more frequently, and keep spreading  the love.


~ Asa

Dr. Asa Sevelius, Ed.D.

Heath School Principal



 May 1st, 2020

Dear Heath Community,

Each week here I try to deliver a message that can, hopefully, connect us all to one another and our school community. Sometimes, the messages come easily; other times, the messages come hard.  Today is one of those days when the well feels dry.  

It is hard to explain why, though. I have been a part of many warm and collaborative meetings with teachers this week, I've visited classrooms and seen some really great learning, and today we had our first Zoom faculty meeting with 60 of our staff all together.  These moments have filled me up! 

In my own home, my kids have worked extra hard this week, my daughter submitted most of her work on time, and my son is really getting the hang of counting coins! 

I can count the victories and I can see all of the good effort starting to take root.

But this is also so very exhausting. So tonight I am giving myself permission to turn off. And, I extend that permission to you, as well. But before you also “turn off,” I want to send this message, from me to you: “You did it! You really did it.  You didn’t think you could do it, but you did. And it was messy, but you put your heart into it and, well, it happened. Nobody got hurt and you had a few laughs along this way and now it is time to rest.”

Only you, dear reader, know what it is that you did.  Only you know how dry your well is right now. And only you can extend yourself the grace to rest and rejuvenate.  I hope you will.


Now Available! The Day the Crayons Quit & the sequel The Day the Crayons Came Home  

These books are a hit with the K-2 set ... and don’t be surprised if your middle schoolers want to read along, too.  Check out some of our amazing teaching & learning staff read these modern classics, here and here.  


From Our PTO Leadership Team: PTO Grants

Dear Heath Parents, Guardians, Faculty and Staff,

Through the generosity of the Heath Community and the success of the Heath Hawk Fund, the Heath PTO is currently accepting grant proposals for the 2020-2021 Spring Grant Cycle.  We know that this has been a stressful time for everyone, and hope that you can take a moment to imagine the future of our school. 

We invite members of the Heath Community to submit proposals that support the mission of the Heath PTO, which is to help create the best learning environment possible for our children.  If you have an idea for Heath or notice an important need that could be fulfilled with some funding, please do not hesitate to submit a grant proposal.  And don't be deterred by the term "grant proposal"  -  applying for funding is a simple process.  Please click on the link below to access the grant form:

No thoughtful idea is too small or too large for consideration. Please note that while there is a subsequent grant cycle in the Fall, we allocate 90% of the PTO's annual budget through the Spring Grant Cycle. Hence, larger requests should be submitted in the Spring.  

The deadline for submission is 5:00PM on Monday May 11th.

Wishing all of your families good health.

Warm regards,

Your PTO Leadership Team.

Nancy Donahoe and Masu Haque-Khan, Co-Presidents & Brenda Bickham and Marcos Lopez, Co-Treasurers


Birthdays Shout Outs!

Happiest of happy birthdays to Herman, Johmar, Ryan M., Ethan A., Max P., Madeline S., Nathan Fa., Giulia, and Ben K.  We’re so happy you were born and that we know you!



Going to a Private School? Moving? Let Us Know!

If you applied to private schools and have heard back, can you send me a private message with your decision for next year. I am 1) eager to know and 2) we want to get a sense of who is returning for enrollment purposes. A private email would be appreciated.

If you are moving and won’t return to Heath in the fall, can you let me know that, too?

We will help you navigate the withdrawal process and make sure you have everything you need for a smooth transition to your next home school.


Nurse’s Day, May 6th!

Unbelievably, we have just completed our seventh week of remote schooling in this time of COVID-19. In the days leading up to the school closings, the anxiety, worry, and fear was palpable – truly all consuming. In those days, I was leaning on one person more than any other: our school nurse, Gail Corcoran.  Since the school closings, Ms. Corcoran has remained deeply involved in the safety of our community, volunteering with the Department of Public Health and checking in on staff and families regularly.  Just yesterday I had a question for her and within minutes Gail was helping me connect the dots with a family.

On May 6th, I hope you’ll take a moment to reach out via email to Ms. Corcoran to share your thanks, especially in these times, but also to say thank you for all the little things she does for us – making sure a kid has their daily meds on time, running out to the field when a “future football star” has a sprained ankle, checking insulin levels, offering a safe space to just talk and be heard – that helps to make Heath School the place it is today. 


From Ms. Stanton and Ms. Stewart!

We are excited to announce that National Field Day is Friday, May 8th.  Students, families, and Physical Education teachers throughout the country are participating in the event!  There are so many cool activities! 

How does it work? 

Go to the Heath Physical Education Website. Click on the remote learning resources for your child’s grade and then click on the Google slide titled Remote Learning Choices.  The physical activities provided for week 7 will help you practice the skills you need to participate on Field Day.

On Friday May 8th, Click on the remote learning resources for your child’s grade and then click on the Google slide titled #NationalFieldDay.  Pick 4 activities! Descriptions and videos of how to do each activity are on the slides!

Exit Ticket! Send us an email with your answers to the questions on the last slide!  We’d love to see pictures and videos of you participating in the activities!

Physical Education Teachers, 

~ Kelly Stanton and Lauren Stewart


National Poetry Month and Poem in Your Pocket Day are in the books.  COVID-19 could not stop our librarian, Ms. Carney, from celebrating this Heath traduition.  The rain may have washed away the chalk poetry on the sidewalks around the school, but for a brief moment the words were there, calling all of us in to look and listen just a little bit more closely.

Be well, stay well, and take care of each other.

~ Asa


Dr. Asa Sevelius, Ed.D.

Heath School Principal


April 27th, 2020

Ramadan Mubarak! Today is the start of Ramadan! We recognize that there are aspects of Ramadan observances, especially for older middle schoolers who may be fasting at this time, that require particular consideration.  For example, if students are fasting, it may be hard to rise up each morning for an early online session with a teacher. We want to be able to honor your needs at this time, so please reach out to teachers and let them know how we can help.  

In past years, Muslim families in Brookline have hosted community members in an evening celebration, prayers, and a feast. Heath School staff and I hope very much to partake in this event NEXT year. Until then, be well this Ramadan. 


Finding Closure

With the news that school buildings will be closed the rest of this school year comes many questions. We are currently working behind the scenes so that we can find ways, practical and celebratory, to get true closure on the school year, like:

  • Getting into the actual building – to get stuff in lockers, musical instruments, student projects, winter boots and coats, and more. When it is safe, the district will establish protocols for retrieving such items.  We’ll have to continue to be patient on this front.
  • 8th Grade Graduation – while this milestone event won’t happen in the same way it always has, we fully intend to mark the auspicious occasion. Details to follow.
  • 5th to 6th transition – the transition from elementary to middle school is an important time at Heath School. We’ll reach out with details on how we hope to smooth this transition for these kids so that come the fall they can feel safe and prepared to enter middle school.

It is so important that in each classroom we find ways to celebrate the end of the year while helping our students look forward to what is to come.  The launch of the new school year will offer many, many new challenges, but for now we’ll focus on what is immediately ahead.


From Our Specialists

From our School Librarian, Ms. Carney!

Hello Heath Families!

April is National Poetry Month, and to mark this occasion we have been posting a "Poet of the Week" feature on the K-8 Library Website. If you and your kids have not had a chance to visit the site, the Poet of the Week page can be found here: The site also has many other resources for students. Please take a look!

One of our Heath traditions during this month is to participate in a national celebration called Poem in Your Pocket Day. This year, this special day will be next Thursday, April 30. We hope you and your family will celebrate at home. I've posted information for your own, home-grown Poem in Your Pocket Day here:

I miss seeing everyone in the library and wish you all the best!

Ms. Carney

From Our Art Teacher, Ms. Hockensmith


Post-quarantine academic burnout

If a student was asked to name a potential cause for the population’s declining performance in the classroom, a worldwide lockdown would likely be one of the first ideas to come to mind.

Obviously, this wouldn’t have been the case five years ago, but the drastic change in lifestyle was the first global, life altering event that today’s college students have had to navigate. Many were lucky enough to have teachers, professors and others in the education system working together to create a welcoming environment during the period of isolation.

But, now that class is back in session, many students feel that they are either behind or simply lacking the discipline and motivation it takes to transition away from online classes into the old “normal” setting. 

There is always the “pick yourself up by your bootstraps” mantra which many of the older generations enjoy repeating, but that does not acknowledge why students have lost their desire to relentlessly pursue personal success in the classroom.

In fact, most would probably say that they are living with a more “survive the day” attitude. In the few interactions I’ve had with peers this week, there have been multiple statements implying that the future is more of a bleak afterthought than something that should be exciting and celebrated. Obviously, everyone is struggling with the aftermath of the pandemic, but it is saddening to think that we feel unprepared for the future.

In an ideal world, people would look at these issues and attempt to tackle them head-on rather than shut down. But if there is a lack of confidence in our community of learners, there is little hope for this type of group mindset to take off.

There is a flaw in an area of the current education system that renders students helpless in regards to their own and the planet’s future.

It’s time we begin teaching future generations how to solve real-world problems rather than having them memorize minor details that will serve little to no purpose throughout their lifetimes. 


Little learners lucky

An Oral History of Early Childhood Educators During the Pandemic

Yessika Magdaleno, owner of a home-based child care program in Orange County, Calif., is a problem-solver by nature. When she opened her program 20 years ago, she attracted families by expanding her hours to nights and weekends to accommodate those with non-traditional work hours. When she felt that her own children were not well-served by the local afterschool program, Magdaleno expanded her program to include afterschool care.

But even with her knack for problem-solving, Magdaleno was unprepared for the extreme stress and uncertainty of being an early childhood educator during this pandemic year.

There were small challenges, like getting 2-year-old children to wear masks, or finding electrical outlets to accommodate all the laptops that the school-aged children in her care needed for remote learning. There were major headaches, like figuring out how to stretch state subsidies intended just for afterschool care to cover the costs of full-time care. There were humiliations, like the time, early in the pandemic, when Costco wouldn’t accept a letter authorizing Magdaleno to purchase goods for use in her “essential” business.

But most of all, there was fear. Fear about maintaining her business when the country shut down. Fear about paying her staff when enrollment declined. And at the root of it all, there was fear about the virus.

There was fear every time a child arrived with a runny nose, and every time a child mentioned attending a birthday party over the weekend. There was fear with every call that Magdaleno—a leader among home-based providers in California—received from worried colleagues.

At first, they called asking how they could keep their businesses afloat, how they could get the cleaning supplies they needed. Later, providers called to share the news that a student’s mother had tested positive, that a husband, an uncle, a mother, a sister was sick, that a friend was in the hospital.

In December, she said, “Today, I got three phone calls from three providers that got infected, and they have to close. And they don't know if they're going to get paid. That's how difficult we're living.” There’s not a lot she can do. “And listening to them, you can’t say, ‘Well, everything is going to be O.K.,’ because you don't know if everything is going to be O.K. [It’s] heartbreaking, because you have to be strong for them."

Magdaleno understood the fear viscerally. The virus came for her family, too. An uncle died. Her brother and his family were sick at Christmas. Things got so bad that Magdaleno asked if her brother had a will. What would happen to his kids? She wanted him to be prepared. It was a conversation that people were having all over Magdaleno’s community in Southern California, where COVID-19 rates were exploding.

But amid all the fear, there were good moments, too. The children in her program seemed happy. The families participated in a gift exchange at Christmas. By late winter, the school-aged kids went back to their K-12 classrooms and Magdaleno could concentrate on the babies and preschoolers for most of the day.

And, by March, after the surge, there was hope, too. Magdaleno saw that educators in her program let go of some of their fear once they got vaccinated. Daily COVID-19 case counts fell. Asked to describe her emotions in March, Magdaleno said that she was “blessed, confident, stable.” The fear was loosening its grip, day-by-day, even if there were still scars of this pandemic year.

Early childhood educators have faced a year like no other during the pandemic. It’s been a year punctuated by fear, panic, frustration, anxiety and, at times, hope. From December 2020 through May 2021, EdSurge followed seven early childhood educators from across the country. The group is comprised of women who work in a variety of roles and settings, from California to Pennsylvania. Participants were provided a small stipend for participating in this research project and took part in monthly interviews and surveys. Through these research activities, we learned, in deeply personal terms, what it looks like to teach young learners, engage with families, run businesses and manage personal and professional stress during the pandemic.

This is the story of how those educators managed—from mid-March 2020, when many early childhood education programs closed their doors, unsure if or when they would reopen, through the darkest moments of a deadly winter, to plummeting COVID-19 case counts and rising vaccine levels that the country experienced in spring 2021. This oral history presents those experiences in the words of the practitioners themselves. They’ve been condensed, lightly edited, and assembled by EdSurge researcher and labor historian Rachel Burstein.

Meet the Educators

Adrienne Briggs is owner and educator of Lil’ Bits Family Child Care Home in Philadelphia, a program serving children from ages 0 to 5.

Briggs is licensed to enroll six children, but had only three children in her program in December 2020. Briggs explained, “I have not been comfortable bringing in anybody brand new [amid concerns about safety during the pandemic]. And also, I'm not getting the type of calls that I used to because so many people are working from home.” Because she doesn’t have a mortgage or employees, Briggs was able to shoulder the lost revenue.

Shelley Jolley is an education manager and disability specialist at Rural Utah Child Development Head Start, which serves children from ages 0 to 5 near Price, Utah.

Jolley and a colleague supervise all the educators among 13 Head Start classrooms across 17,000 square miles. In addition, Jolley monitors compliance with requirements around students with disabilities.

In normal times, Jolley spends a lot of time traveling, visiting classrooms and teachers and conducting assessments and observations. She was used to video meetings even before the pandemic, given how spread out programs in her service area are, but shared, “It’s harder to build the rapport and the relationships over Zoom.”

Yessika Magdaleno is owner and educator of Little Flowers, a home-based child care program serving children from ages 0 to 12 in Garden Grove, Calif.

Magdaleno’s program is open to young children full-time, including nights and weekends. In addition, children who attend the elementary school across the street join for afterschool care. During the pandemic, Magdaleno supervised elementary-aged children during their remote learning as well.

Magdaleno explains the realities of being a family child care provider, a role she’s held for about 20 years. “You are the nutritionist, the teacher, the one that cleans, the ones that take care of the business account. And if you have employees, you take care of the employees, their payrolls. So you're the one doing everything.” These challenges have been even more acute during the pandemic, as Magdaleno sorts through unclear and changing rules and regulations, and as she struggles to protect the health and safety of the children in the program, her employees, and own family.

Maríaelena Lozano is owner and director of Westchester Academy and Learning Center, a bilingual program serving children from ages 0 to 8 in Miami.

Lozano’s program is licensed to serve 56 students through third grade, but she doesn’t currently have the space to accommodate students beyond first grade.

Eight years ago, Lozano opened her school with her brother, a retired police officer. Lozano didn’t close her program at all during the pandemic, but through May of last year she had just three students. By December, Lozano’s enrollment had rebounded, and she described her biggest challenge as one of space: “I don't have the space to grow because I'm in a rented location. So one of the goals for me for next year is to purchase a building.”

Paula Polito is owner and director of Beary Cherry Tree, a child care center that serves children from ages 0 to 5 in the Greater New Orleans Area of Louisiana.

Beary Cherry Tree has been in Polito’s family for three generations, though Polito has expanded it significantly to its current capacity of 225 children, with 14,000 square feet of space, and 60 teachers on staff.

Managing Beary Cherry Tree hasn’t always been easy for Polito. She recalls when Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans in 2005. “We lost our house … I came back to my child care center. I had $600,000 in damage. My entire building, one of the walls was on the ground and we were pregnant with our first child. I always said, ‘If I have to do another Katrina, I won't be able to do it.’” Polito describes the pandemic as, “Katrina times 10.”

Kathy Yanez is owner and educator of Nuestra Casita Nursery, a home-based program serving children ages 0 to 5 in Santa Monica, Calif.

Yanez opened her program in August 2019, after two decades as a preschool teacher in a center-based program. Yanez says, “I’ve always dreamed about being a business owner.” She “put everything I had” into renting a home to use for her program, leaving the affordable housing unit where she and her teenage daughter had been living. “I just relied on my experience, my knowledge of early childhood, and a lot of praying,” Yanez remembers.

Just as Yanez felt that she was on firm footing with enrollment, staffing and curriculum, the pandemic struck. When we spoke in December, Yanez described the first six months of the pandemic as “going into survival mode. ‘What’s going to happen next? Can I pay my rent for next month? What happens when the loan is depleted?’ It's just a lot of that.”

Shemeakia Zinnerman is a substitute teacher for 3- and 4-year-olds at Guilford Child Development, a Head Start provider in the Piedmont region of North Carolina.

Zinnerman has been working in early childhood education since 1999. She is pursuing an associate’s degree that will allow her to become a lead teacher.

The work is challenging, and can be heartbreaking, but Zinnerman says that it is deeply needed. When we met in February, she said that at Head Start, “We take on the children that nobody thinks about,” such as children with special needs and those who do not have loving, nurturing environments at home. “It's hard. Sometimes I want to cry, to be honest,” she says.

Spring 2020: ‘The Most Depressing, Scariest, Uncertain Time of My Life’

By the time we began speaking with early childhood educators in December, there was some rhythm, if not exactly stability, in the day-to-day experiences of educators. But to a one, practitioners recalled the early days of the pandemic as traumatic, especially for owners who had to make hard decisions about whether to close, how to make payroll and mortgage or rent payments, whether to charge families, and how to keep children and staff safe.

Adrienne Briggs: I shut down March 13 and did not open back up till June 9. That was the most depressing, scariest, uncertain time of my life because we were constantly being fed different things through the news. Everything was constantly changing. Didn't know whether we were right, left, up, down—none of that.

And with being in this business so long, I had stability, but that foundation felt like it was snatched totally from underneath me. So there was no stability. I didn't know how—didn't know from month to month—whether we were going to be paid, whether we were opening, just didn't know. And I run the ship by myself. So this is my sole source of income. I don't ever want to see a time like that again.

Maríaelena Lozano: We never shut down. Many parents just became afraid, and half the students didn't show up on Wednesday, March 18. I understood what was going on, and I called parents.

Everyone was like, ‘Do I still need to pay you, Miss Mel?’ I knew what was coming, so I said, ‘No, you guys don't have to pay me right now. If you're not going to bring your children, I understand.’ What am I going to do? Tell them they have to pay me? Most of them weren't even working themselves.

By mid-April, we're already a month into the pandemic, and I end up with probably seven children in school. I had been trying not to cut anyone’s hours. But depleting funds was all I was doing. I was lucky enough to have something in the bank that kept us rolling.

Then the last week of April came. I had three children in school. I was like, ‘I'll do it myself,’ and that's really what I did. I sent everyone home for about 10 days. I was working mad hours because I was taking care of the students and then I was preparing everything for the PPP, and just doing everything I needed to do. I was working seven days a week. I was very stressed out, but the three parents that needed us, they needed us. They were still working. Single moms. What are they going to do?

Paula Polito: We shut our doors on Friday, March 13. I didn't have a crystal ball, but what I did know is that I was about to lay off 50 full-time women who needed the check I gave them to put food on their table.

So I told everybody they were about to get a check so they'd have a little bit to float on, but I said, ‘I want everybody to get on unemployment right now.’ We didn't reopen our doors until June 1.

Kathy Yanez: When COVID hit, basically my numbers started quickly decreasing. I had about 11 families, and three got out. Because of the cost of rent and the cost of managing a business, I saw if I were to lose any more families, that would be it for us. That month—I think it was April—I sent my landlord a notification that I was losing numbers quite quickly and that I would probably have to close. And my daughter and I would just end up homeless.

But the families that stayed continued providing tuition monthly, so that covered our rent. And slowly, slowly, as all the policies came into place with COVID, families started coming back.

I'm very shocked that I'm still here. And I'm grateful to God that I'm still here. I prayed a lot.

Summer and Fall 2020: ‘It Was Just a Lot … Trying to Stay Afloat’

In the summer and fall of 2020, practitioners began to adopt new routines. Programs that had closed reopened for in-person learning in most, but not all, cases. Enrollment rebounded for many programs. Practitioners contended with quarantines and school closures in some cases. Goods became more readily available, but the costs of conducting business increased as providers invested in cleaning supplies, outdoor structures and staffing to accommodate stable groups of students. And providers were still navigating new guidelines and funding options.

Kathy Yanez: For the first two-and-a-half months, I was really trying to find the loans available. I didn't understand, because everything just flooded in about PPP loans and who qualified, who didn't qualify.

Those were really new waters for me. It was just a lot—the stress of what was going on, trying to stay afloat, and then not qualifying for PPP at the beginning. Eventually, I did end up with an SBA loan and a PPP loan.

Paula Polito: It was a Thursday in October and one of my [part-time teachers] tests positive. We communicate, we prepare to shut that classroom down. The next day, an adjacent classroom, another teacher tests positive. So we're communicating with all the families that we’re having to shut down that classroom.

Fast forward to Sunday, my director who's pregnant winds up testing positive. Sunday night, another teacher and Monday morning another teacher tests positive. So that's when I said, ‘We're calling it.’ It's what’s safest to do. But it's still frustrating because you don't want to do it.

And that was one of the risks, right? I mean, I knew when I reopened my center, I could potentially get COVID. And I was willing to take that risk because, if not, I'm going out of business.

Shemeakia Zinnerman: You work harder now—I mean, from home—than you would in a classroom. A classroom, you can be hands-on. I can really help the child with his own [work], but you can't really do that when you're doing virtual … We see them doing colors, shapes, numbers on the screen. If they're drawing, we’re watching, like, ‘How do they hold a pencil?’ We pay attention. That's how we have to get some of our assessments.

December 2020: ‘We’re Just Adding on to the Stress.’

At the time of our December interviews, most of the United States was setting records for COVID-19 case counts, hospitalizations and deaths on a near-daily basis. Meanwhile, early childhood educators who were part of our project had adjusted to new routines and guidelines, even as they remained anxious about their own safety and the safety of children and families that they served.

Maríaelena Lozano: It is scary to be working with the students, because we don't want to get sick, but we also don't want to spread the disease or the virus out. If we're not the only normal moment that the child has, if those eight hours that they're in school are not normal for them, then we're just adding on to the stress. We're worried about our money, and we're worried about not having a job, and we're worried about all these things. Nobody's worried about the students.

Shemeakia Zinnerman: I do worry about my safety, [as we prepare to open in-person]. Because you never know what the kids have been around. Yes, ma'am. I do. It's going to be hard. But our center is getting stuff to put in place to help protect us.

I feel like some of the challenges are you don't know the [students] that need help, have behaviors, IEPs. You don't know exactly how they're going to do, really, when they do get in the classroom, you know? That's a challenge you're going to have. They're at home with their moms right now, but how's it going to be when we go back to a real classroom? To me, that's going to be a challenge.

Adrienne Briggs: A 5-year-old in my program was like, ‘I don't like COVID, I'm tired of COVID. I want to be with my friends. I want to be able to hug my friends. I want to be close to my friends.’ Because that was a big change. We hugged each other coming in, going out.

They don't have a problem with the masks. Even if somebody's mask is slipping down, they'll remind each other, ‘Fix your mask.’ They help each other count to do the hand washing. I bought special booties for them to put on to cover their shoes.

January 2021: ‘I Am Working Around the Clock.’

Nationwide, daily recorded COVID-19 cases peaked in January, with average daily cases well over a quarter of a million for stretches of the month. Educators in our project were not immune to this trend. “Extremely prevalent.” “Has spiked.” “Extremely high.” “Still increasing.” “Numbers have risen.” “Big concern.” These are some of the words that educators used to describe the COVID-19 situation in their communities.

Even in the midst of the pandemic, some educators tried to stay positive—vaccines were on the horizon, and many people began to envision the end of this crisis. When asked to share three emotions that they were experiencing at the time of the January survey, a majority of participants listed “hopeful.” At the same time, most participants expressed that they were anxious, apprehensive, worried or stressed.

Kathy Yanez: I am working around the clock. COVID has given us a scare. We had two positive COVID cases. We had to keep the program closed for three weeks and tested three times before reopening child care. This has been a very costly experience for all families and staff.

I got the rapid test. Within 20 minutes, they said, ‘You're positive.’ Then I said, ‘Oh, wow. So I have to remain closed for two weeks.’ I let my parents know. It was quite frustrating for them because everybody was ready to come back. It was shocking. I was shocked, and then I was really scared because I was, like, ‘Oh, my goodness, I don't want to end up in a hospital.’ Luckily, I never had any symptoms.

Shelley Jolley: We are supporting each other when staff have to be out for COVID and providing virtual services for families who are quarantined or prefer virtual services. Our staff and families have been so great about following our COVID plan, which includes wearing masks, cleaning and sanitizing, and social distancing. We have only had to close three classrooms for a short period of time throughout the last year.

We are excited that the vaccine has become available.

Yessika Magdaleno: I received texts and phone calls from fellow providers that have closed due to COVID-19, been exposed to the virus, been infected, have family members that have died because of the virus. And we still have not been recognized to be important at the state level in California.

February 2021: ‘There Has to Be a Point That It Has to End. And I Think We're Reaching That Point.’

By February, COVID-19 case counts were retreating nationally, though still high in many areas. Most of the educators in our group were excited to receive the vaccine, though access remained limited even in places where early childhood educators were prioritized.

Paula Polito: There's hopefulness. I just went to the cafeteria to warm my lunch up, and one of my teachers said, ‘Paula, I got my vaccine. It's scheduled for Saturday.’ So that’s what I'm hearing. I think across the state and within our little community here, people are feeling confident because they are getting vaccinated.

One of my teachers came in today, and she said, ‘Paula, I just want to let you know how much I really enjoyed [the professional development class that the center offered]. I forgot how much I really needed that.’ That was just so good to hear. Our teachers still want to get back to that rich work we were doing and stop worrying about, ‘Do we have to quarantine a class?’ ‘Am I going to get COVID?’ ‘Is my kid going to get COVID?’ They didn't sign up for that. They signed up to teach young children.

Kathy Yanez: It is upsetting to not be included in the first round [of vaccine distribution], especially because we have been open the whole time. We feel very exposed, especially working with children. I don't want to get angry. At times, I do. I'm like, ‘Ugh, I'm so mad,’ but I let that go really quickly. My energy does affect the way children feel around me, and so it's very important for me to [be] composed, to maintain a healthy persona.

I think you have to just think like that because otherwise, you will let yourself fall into a very deep depression. I think, in this time, it is very easy to do that—to become stuck in a depression.

Shelley Jolley: We have actually had COVID hitting Utah a lot harder. We've had to close two centers down for a few weeks, and we've had to quarantine several teachers just in the last month, so it's been a little crazy. We have a shutdown plan for COVID, with guidelines for teachers, so it's pretty quick to put in place the virtual visits and stuff. But it's just been challenging. The change is stressful for the kids.

Maríaelena Lozano: I feel like coronavirus has brought a lot of attention to early education, but it hasn't brought a lot of solutions. Those teachers, they still have to hug the babies. They still have to pick up the babies. They still have to change the babies’ diapers. At the end of the day, these are the risks we are taking. We're at a higher risk.

Adrienne Briggs: I know this is going to sound crazy, but it's not as hard now, I guess, because I've gotten into the pattern of doing extra cleaning and preparation to follow COVID-19 protocols. The day runs much smoother when the program is open five days a week. I'm able to capture more teaching moments rather than the redirection moments. And I see that joy back in the students because they're more so back into their normal routine and they're able to see their friends on a more regular basis.

Shemeakia Zinnerman: My biggest challenge is being a bus monitor. … On the bus, it's like a sheet of plastic that separates each child where they have their own space. It's one child to a seat, and we make it so they don't pass each other getting on and off the bus. It was a challenge at first, but I'm getting the hang of it. I like this better than being at home.

I protect myself. I always have on my mask, my shield, I'm always washing my hands, I always have on gloves. I make sure that the children's masks are on. I think I protect myself very well.

Maríaelena Lozano: People are forgetting that all of the stresses that we're experiencing, [the children are] experiencing them more, because they're seeing us stressed out. They don't have the logical ability yet to reason out what's going on. Students are talking about coronavirus like it's a person. I have a little girl at school that tells me, ‘When corona leaves…’ She's just so casual. ‘Yeah, when corona leaves, I'm going to go to Disney World.’ So, I laugh. I'm like, ‘When corona leaves, huh? O.K. We're going to work on corona leaving together.’

Yessika Magdaleno: Emotionally, we're not right. We're not right. We're stressing out.

There has to be a point that it has to end. And I think we're reaching that point, because numbers are going down. People [are] being more aware of what they need to do.

Adrienne Briggs: I'm content with my four students because I do know their whereabouts, their comings and their goings for the most part, so that's not a stressor. I do have that level of trust with them, that if something was wrong with one of the children they would really say so. Prime example: One of the children had a runny nose and was sneezing the other week. I let the mother know. The mother kept her child home until the runny nose stopped. It was never any fever or any real COVID [symptoms], but just for the precaution of her own child and the rest of the children here and myself, she kept the child home. So that's the type of families that I have.

March 2021: ‘I Am Beginning to See Some Normalcy.’

By March, nationwide COVID-19 rates were at their lowest levels since the fall. And most early childhood educators across the country were eligible for vaccines. COVID-19 protocols remained largely unchanged for educators in our project.

With declining cases and growing availability of vaccines, educators in our project were more positive in their outlook than in the past. Asked to name three emotions they were experiencing at the time of our March survey, nearly half expressed that they were “hopeful,” “thankful,” and “busy.” In contrast to previous months, 13 of 17 listed emotions were positive, while only three— “tired,” “overworked,” and “frustrated”—were negative, and one was neutral.

Paula Polito: Allowing access to vaccines for my teachers has given them the confidence to come to work feeling safe.

Shelley Jolley: We have some classrooms with children with behavior concerns. It is challenging to observe and address those virtually. We are still discouraged from traveling across counties and meeting with our staff in-person due to COVID concerns.

Adrienne Briggs: The past two weeks have been me acting silly with the children by dressing up in colorful wigs and Dr. Seuss headbands that represented different characters from his books. … I am beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel and some normalcy.

Yessika Magdaleno: I lost some kids that I haven't been able to replace. Of course, we lost some income.

Many providers have already received their vaccines, and that has given them peace.

Maríaelena Lozano: I have taken some time away from my schooling to focus on the growth of the business and to search for another building. I am also focused on securing good teachers and aides for my classrooms because our growth has been such that we require more help now to continue providing quality early education services.

As a whole, I feel like many things in my life are aligning. It is not a specific interaction or occurrence; it's more like everything. All my hard work, all my energy output, all my prayers—just everything is working itself out. Sometimes, when I realize it, it feels surreal.

Shemeakia Zinnerman: I am looking forward to getting back to normal, to the day I do not have to wear a mask to breathe the air.

April 2021: ‘A Lot of the Stress Has Been Released.’

By April, COVID-19 case counts were continuing to decline as more of the adult population got vaccinated. Some educators reported taking a break from COVID-related news consumption to allay their nerves. Most educators in our project had received their vaccines or had scheduled appointments. A few owners felt stable enough in their enrollment and revenue that they were considering expanding their operations. Many were experiencing the effect of consumer good price increases. All were looking to the future with hope.

Adrienne Briggs: A lot of the stress has been released. Most of the stress was just the unknown, just not knowing from one day to the next what the safety levels were going to be and everything.

Yessika Magdaleno: Things are much better. We're more stable. We know what we have to do. I think we have the rules already in our mind. The children are more stable as well. They know they have to wear their mask, they have to wash their hands, they have to take their temperature. So everything is more stable. My helpers, too, they're not anxious anymore of what can happen. Most of us already have the vaccination, so they feel more secure.

Kathy Yanez: I'm pretty happy. Pretty happy I have the vaccine. We continue to wear our masks, although we are vaccinated. And just out and about, it just feels comfortable being around a larger group. The vaccine brings a lot of hope. There’s hope that we can work and not feel so vulnerable, that I won't end up in the hospital on a breathing machine. There’s hope that this business, this place, is not going to disappear.

Maríaelena Lozano: Things are great. I don't know how else to say it. I always want to be thankful and mindful of the things that I say, because I don't want to appear like I don't understand how lucky I am. I know that I'm lucky. Things are good. Things are so good in the school. We're going to buy a building. That's going to happen. We're going to maybe have a second school. As long as I can work with my landlord, then I'll have two locations.

Shelley Jolley: I think we're in the recovery, moving forward mode. So it seems like it's looking up. We only have three weeks left of kids in session. And so the really exciting thing, too, is today, we just got the notice that we don't have limits on our class sizes now, so we can open up the classroom to all of our students.

Shemeakia Zinnerman: I said, ‘I know [co-workers who’ve received the vaccine are] fine, then I shouldn't have a problem.’ And I didn't want to limit my mobility. I want to be able to get out and go. And after a while, that's about the only way you're going to be able to get up and go—is if you had the vaccine.

My first vaccination, I was scared. I was panicky and I was scared. The lady played some music to calm me down. For the second shot, I wasn't scared. I was straight. I was in and out, and it was fine.

May 2021: ‘Thank You For Teaching Me To Be a Better Human.’

In May, vaccines were readily available, and national COVID-19 rates were at their lowest levels since last summer. Many educators in our project were more hopeful about the future than they had been at any point since the pandemic began.

“Excited.” “Happy.” “Grateful.” “Optimistic.” These were the emotions that more than one member of our project used to describe their mood during the month of May.

Maríaelena Lozano: A first grader wrote me a card for Teacher Appreciation Day that read, ‘Thank you for teaching me to be a better human.’ I'm still over here crying.

Shelley Jolley: Now that our COVID restrictions are lifting, I was able to visit three program sites and deliver a small appreciation gift to each staff member. It was so great to see them in-person and let them know how much we appreciate all they do for children and families!

Kathy Yanez: My program has grown into infant, toddlers and preschool programs. I am running all three programs with the help of new staff members. There are a lot of families in need of child care, plenty of applicants on our waiting list.

As summer begins, educators in EdSurge’s project are looking toward the future. For the first time in over a year, many are looking forward to visiting with family and friends without deep fear that they will contract the virus.

All are thinking and talking about “getting back to normal,” as Paula Polito describes it. But their sense of what normalcy might entail, and their timelines for when it might be possible, vary.

Polito looks forward to the new school year in New Orleans, when there are “no masks or temperature checks” and when she is able to “welcome parents back into the center.”

Maríaelena Lozano is also looking forward to “a smooth new school year,” but she can only guess at whether that will be possible, particularly as changes to Florida state guidance concern her.

But to a one, the educators agree with Shemeakia Zinnerman, who says, “I am looking forward to a brand new year with the children.” A new year, they hope, will bring a fresh start.

Hands-On Literacy Intervention Activities

Oxford University Press

2 teens reading
In this post, Peter Redpath, co-author of Incredible English, teacher trainer and ELT consultant, discusses practising and correcting pronunciation through activities that encourage students to read aloud in class.

Sometimes it is worth questioning our procedures and attitudes in the classroom: asking the question “why”? Why use this technique or procedure and what is its value? By doing so, we continually reassess our attitudes, principles and procedures as a teacher. We avoid becoming dinosaurs. 

Reading aloud was a regular activity in language lessons when I was a schoolboy. Some of us loved it; others hated it. The procedure went something like this: one of the kids in the class read from the textbook, but only the first sentence of the text. Then a different child would read the next sentence and so on, around the classroom. Some teachers worked methodically around the classroom; you knew when your turn would come

For some children (sadly, myself included), it was an opportunity to turn off and only turn on when the child seated alongside started to read aloud. Other teachers were more alert to the tricks of children like me. They chose the reader at random so you never knew when you might be exposed as a daydreamer.

As I struggled through my sentence the teacher corrected me–and believe me, in my case, there was a lot to correct!  At the end of the sentence I heaved a mental sigh of relief as the spotlight of the teacher’s attention moved onto the next pupil. By the end of the reading aloud activity a lot of correction had taken place. After that, we worked through a comprehension task (usually 10 comprehension questions!).

Does this sound familiar to you? Reading out loud in front of the whole class is a technique almost as old as formal education itself. And it hasn’t gone away. Around the world, it remains a methodological mainstay for many teachers. But, as with everything we do, it is always worth asking the question: what are my principles for doing this? Why ask my students to read out loud? Pedagogically, what value does it have? What are the outcomes for my learners?

For a start, it is a real life skill. We read to our children at bedtime; we read out clips from the newspaper to our partners; newscasters and radio presenters read scripts to us. But if you think about it, it is quite a restricted list. We do not spend much of our time reading aloud. And when we do, it is usually only a snippet, a small amount. 

So why do we ask our pupils to read aloud in the classroom? What are the aims?

Well, one possible aim, and one often cited by teachers, is to improve pronunciation. But I need to be careful here. If the text is 20 sentences long and 20 children read a sentence each and each child makes only two errors, potentially I will have corrected 40 pronunciation errors by the end of the activity. 40 pronunciation errors are eminently forgettable. It’s too much.

To make pronunciation work targeted and effective I need to select what the children read aloud/pronounce and to restrict the quantity. Maybe two or three sentences only? I can anticipate the pronunciation problems my learners will have with the three sentences and be prepared to deal with them. Now my pronunciation work is more manageable, both for me and for the children.

It is possible, in fact, to argue that reading aloud is a combination of reading skills and speaking skills. I think it’s a good idea to keep the two skills separated in this particular instance. Reading aloud to work on pronunciation will be most effective for the kids if they are not distracted by trying to understand the text. In other words, this type of work is best done after they have worked on comprehension of the text i.e. completed the tasks that help them to understand the text. It is the last thing we do rather than, as is so often the case, the first thing we do.

Can you think of a learning aim that justifies reading aloud as I describe?

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Categories: Pronunciation, Skills, Young Learners | Tags: Children, Classroom activities, Error correction, Peter Redpath, Pronunciation, Reading aloud, Reading skills, Skills, Speaking errors | Permalink.


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Interactive Notebooks for Little Learners (Guest Post by Lucky Little Learners)

Hi all! Meg, Jennifer’s assistant here, with a guest post from Angie of Lucky Little Learners. Jennifer’s still recovering from her surgery, and some great teaching bloggers have offered to step in and blog in her place. I hope you enjoy this post from Angie, I know I learned several great tips.

Interactive Notebooks for Little Learners

Hey everyone!My name is Angie and I blog over at Lucky Little Learners.I am so excited that Jennifer has asked me to write a guest blog post here because we all know how much of an INB GODDESS she is to us all!Thank you Jennifer for this amazing opportunity!

You may not know this but I am a 2nd grade teacher in Minnesota.So, being a teacher of LITTLE LEARNERS, I am here to bring you some tips and tricks for making interactive notebooks successful in the younger grades.Some of the most common challenges that I hear from primary teachers are that interactive notebooks are hard to keep organized, fall apart, hard to cut, not sure how to store them, and take time.My response to that is that IF DONE CORRECTLY, these challenges don’t need to be an issue and interactive notebooks can be your favorite teaching tool too!

QUESTION #1:How do you store interactive notebooks for the LITTLE LEARNERS?

How to store interactive notebooks for the LITTLE LEARNERS

My students keep their interactive notebooks in a tub near my desk.Each student has an assigned tub number.I can quickly count the number of notebooks in each tub so that I can see if they are all turned in at the end of our math period.I also like that they are near my desk so that it is a quick and efficient way for me to grade and/or leave comments in each notebook.

QUESTION #2:How do you keep the interactive notebooks from falling apart?

Keep the interactive notebooks from falling apart

I prefer that my students use spiral notebooks instead of composition notebooks.That’s just my preference.There are benefits to both.Composition notebook pages are not going to fall apart.Spiral notebooks are larger in size, which I love for my LITTLE LEARNERS.Because the spiral notebooks are placed into the storage containers, the pages stay in the notebooks.

Keep the interactive notebooks from falling apart

Another tip with interactive notebooks is that Elmer’s “drippy glue” vs. glue sticks are going to create a better hold with the flip flaps, spinners, pockets, etc.I feel that “drippy glue” from the bottle gets a little messy with the LITTLE LEARNERS so I made these glue sponges.If you don’t use glue sponges yet, START TOMORROW!I purchased plastic containers and dish sponges.Simply dump the “drippy glue” onto the sponges, attach the lid, and you are ready to go!Yes, that easy!The glue soaks into the sponge and the students simply wipe the paper they need glued onto the sponge and then place into the notebook.This has been a life-saver in my classroom!

QUESTION #3:How do you organize your interactive notebooks?

Organize your interactive notebooks

Before my students created their first interactive notebook activity, they glue a table of contents on the first few pages of their notebooks.Trust me, you will thank me later for this tip!

Organize your interactive notebooks

Another nice feature that I like to use are these tabs.They provide a quick and easy reference to past activities for re-teaching and sharing time.

Organize your interactive notebooks

Some teachers don’t use tabs but instead will cut the corners of each page once finished.This allows for the students to quickly find the next page that they will need for the next interactive activity they will do.Personally, I use the yarn technique.Simply tie a piece of yarn to the top of each spiral notebook and when your students are finished with their activity, they lay the yarn down onto the page and it will be ready to go for the next day!

QUESTION #4:How do you fit interactive notebooking into your busy schedule?

Fitting interactive notebooking into your busy schedule

One thing that has helped me to save time is to assemble all of the interactive notebooks pages that I know I will be using.I like to have an example for my LITTLE LEARNERS to see prior to completing and I don’t know about you but once the school year is in full force, it is hard to find the extra time to do anything!I assembled all of my interactive notebook pages over the summer but if you are starting these mid-year, you could assemble them all over the weekend or break.Then I store them in a binder with section dividers for each skill.Again, you will thank me later.

Another tip that I have is to schedule this time into your schedule.You can choose to do it daily, every other day, once a week…that’s the beauty of them!There is no right or wrong way but schedule it in!I like to use them as one of our math stations but I occasionally use them as a whole group activity too.If you are new to interactive notebooks, I suggest starting small.Make it your goal to use them once a week.I promise your students will be wanting to use them more!I’m not even kidding, mine cheer when I take out my interactive notebook binder to show them the example of the page that they will be doing for the day.Ha!Ha!(I do teach 2nd grade.)

QUESTION #5:What are some tips for a smooth implementation of interactive notebooks?

I think that it is important to have a system in place prior to implementation.Have your storage containers, yarn/tabs, table of contents, and glue method ready to go. 

Tips for a smooth implementation of interactive notebooks

We all know that our students work at different paces.To avoid the nightmare of having a million little pieces of paper stuffed into desks because the student ran out of time, place an envelope on the back of each students’ notebook.I have also seen teachers use a plastic Ziploc bag instead.For those who take longer, they can place their pieces that did not get finished into the envelope and work on this at a later time.No more lost pieces!!!

Lucky Little Learners Products at Teachers Pay Teachers

I hope that after reading this blog post you learned a new tip or trick for implementing interactive notebooks for your LITTLE LEARNERS.If you are interested, I have a bunch of interactive notebooks for sale in my TPT store. 

Do you use Interactive Notebooks with your little learners? Do they enjoy learning with them? Share your experience and ask Angie any additional questions in the comments!

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Great tips for using Interactive Notebooks with little learners!

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