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STEAM at Home: Keeping Your Kids Engaged This Summer

STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) implementation is a huge part of the curriculum here at All Saints Academy.  From our youngest preschoolers in our Early Childhood classes, to our graduating seniors, STEAM is incorporated into education at ASA as much as possible.  We believe this attributes to our students becoming thinkers and lifelong learners, and we are excited to see how we can further incorporate these subjects into our upcoming school year.  However, we love to encourage our families to keep the learning going at home during the summer as well.

The best part of STEAM learning is that no pencils are required!  There are plenty of ways to keep your kids learning and discovering at home while having FUN.  Ideas include:

Get Slimed.  Kids of all ages are enjoying the slime trend.  From “fluffy slime” to oozing goo, this activity is not only great for sensory play with younger students, but is also a great way to introduce the science behind a chemical reaction.  Recipes for slime vary, and depending on the ages of your children, some ingredients may need to be avoided. Research to find one that works for you and get slimed!

LEGO!  Kids love Legos (and so do adults) but did you know they are more than a toy? LEGO bricks are a wonderful way to incorporate technology and engineering into your student’s playtime this summer.  Have your child brainstorm an idea, draw out a plan, and get building!  The internet has plenty of ideas to get you started, like a LEGO zip-line for your child’s favorite mini figure, or a catapult that can launch small items all the way across the room.  The possibilities are endless with a bucket of LEGOs and a little bit of imagination.

Encourage Creativity.  Art is an important part of learning, and there are plenty of ways to let your students express themselves at home during summer vacation.  Offer a variety of materials for creating, including drawing/painting supplies, clay for sculpture, instruments for music discovery, or recorded music for movement and dance.  Consider visiting local art exhibits or going to a concert over the break to expose your child to art of different types and spark their creativity!

Number Crunching.  Math doesn’t just mean equations, pencils, and paper.  Work math into everyday fun this summer with your kids.  From helping in the kitchen with cooking and baking, to a simple trip to the grocery store, there are many ways to incorporate math skills and problem solving into your regular routine.  Your child will be enjoying “break” time but still practicing their schoolwork!

We hope this will encourage you to continue the STEAM learning at home with your children this summer.  We can’t wait to see what our students have learned when they return for the 2017-2018 school year!

College Bound: Helping Your Student Prepare

Now that school is out, we know our ASA students are enjoying their time off by relaxing, having fun, and hopefully rejuvenating from end of the year exams.  However, those who recently graduated from high school might not be getting much relaxation since college is now looming closer and they are busy with preparations to move into the next phase of life.  If you are a parent of a graduate and are facing the imminent “leaving the nest” with your student, it can be hard to know how to help them prepare for what’s coming (as well as preparing yourself!).

Here are some tips for helping your college-bound kid get ready for school this fall.

  • Make a list, check it twice.  This is especially true if your student is moving any distance away for school.  Living on your own for the first time is hard, even in a dorm situation, and not having the things you need makes life even more difficult as you adjust.  Make a master list of all the items needed for day-to-day existence, from sheets to a toothbrush, and check it off as you purchase items and pack them up.  Don’t forget to throw in a few “fun” items as well, such as a new coffee mug to brighten the mornings before class, or a favorite blanket to remind them of home.
  • Take photos.  If you attend orientation with your student, chances are you will go on a tour of the dormitories, cafeteria, student center(s), etc.  Encourage your student to take photos of each place they will need to remember (or take them yourself) so they can reference them later on and become familiar with the sights to look for around campus. Take photos of the dorm room as well, so you can visualize a setup for the space and help your student plan.  Note: if they will have a roommate, coordinate with him/her to make sure all needs are accounted for.
  • Invest in a good planner and/or calendar.  Having a planner is vital to success in college. Purchase an easy-to-use (and portable) planner for your student to use for assignments, exams, school events, and more.  A desk or wall calendar can also be helpful for quick reference.
  • Skill check.  It’s important when your student leaves for college to have a basic understanding of how to do everyday tasks such as wash a load of laundry, or cook a meal.  Encourage your student to practice these needed skills over the summer before leaving this fall so they’ll be ready when the need arises.  Note: be sure to throw some quarters in with your student’s college supplies!  Most dormitory laundry facilities require payment per load!

We hope these tips help you, and your child feel more confident as the Fall moves closer and college will begin.  Congratulations to the 2017 graduates, and to the parents that brought them this far.  Good luck as you move into this next phase of life!

Rainy Day Fun: Keep Your Kids Entertained No Matter The Weather

Now that summer is here, and the first week of summer vacation is behind us, mothers across Polk County will likely start to hear the familiar whine of “I’m bored!” ringing through their homes.  On most days, thanks to our sunny Florida weather, you can head outdoors and hit up one of our many local playgrounds, preserves, or splash parks to entertain your kids.  Older kids and teens enjoy going to the pool, or even heading to one of our nearby theme parks to burn off the boredom blues and enjoy time with friends. These are all great options…until the weather turns bad.

During this time of year, we usually experience afternoon thunderstorms, and some weeks (like now) we have cloudy, rainy weather almost all day every day.  This is when parents start to feel the walls closing in around them and their kids who are tired of watching television, have read all the books, and eaten all the snacks.  When this happens, it’s time to GET OUT, but where can you go?  Fortunately, Polk County has plenty of indoor options for kids of all ages to have a good time.

Winter Haven residents can head over to Cypress Lanes.  Our local bowling alley has daily specials (find them at http://cypresslanes.com/Specials) that guarantee a great time for you and your kids.  Meet up with a few other families and head over to enjoy an afternoon of friendly competition!  Other nearby opportunities include the Cobb Theatre, where free summer movies are being offered one day each week.  Discount popcorn and drinks are available.  Learn more at https://www.cobbtheatres.com/pdf/KidsShow-2017/COB_KidsGrand10.pdf.

If you’re in Lakeland, there is plenty of indoor fun for you too!  The Cobb in Lakeland is also offering free summer movie showings each week.  If your kids need to burn off energy, 2Infinity (http://www.2infinity.us) is a great trampoline experience in North Lakeland where your kids can jump for hours, and enjoy the trapeze, climbing ropes, foam pits, and more.  Want something more suited to younger students?  Explorations V children’s museum in downtown Lakeland (http://explorationsv.com) is a great way to blend fun and education at the same time.

Another great way to keep your kids entertained all summer long?  Our camps here at All Saints Academy!  We are offering day camp experiences of all types, from sport camps like soccer and lacrosse, to scientific studies, theatre, dance, and even readiness camps for the youngest students who are prepping for kindergarten.  Why not let your student have fun and learn at the same time?  It’s not too late to sign up for our upcoming camps.  Visit https://allsaintsacademy.com/summer2017 for information about each camp and instructions on how to register.

No matter the weather, enjoy Summer 2017 with your kids.  Camps at ASA are a great place to start!

books-484766_640Summer is finally here, and we know our ASA students are enjoying their first week of vacation with plenty of lounging around and enjoying having nothing to do.  However, we also know that can get old quickly, and students will be looking for ways to stay engaged during the remaining weeks of their break.  While it can be easy to allow time on a cell phone, a tablet, or a computer to take over, few options will help them grow the way that a good book can.  Reading isn’t just important to boost reading fluency and comprehension skills, but also to develop language, expand knowledge of various subjects, and open up other worlds to your student.

Children of all ages, from preschool to high school, should be continually reading to enhance their education all year long.  Here at All Saints Academy, we provide students with required reading assignments over their summer break, and we provide parents with suggested reading lists, which includes information about using reading to target learning at your student’s specific level.  However, there are a few common factors among all grade levels:

  1. Reading boosts language and vocabulary.  From the youngest kindergarteners just learning to sound out basic words, to the high school graduate heading to college, reading offers continual exposure to language development and new vocabulary. Younger students will be learning to recognize the correlation between spoken language and written language (what the words they say look like written on paper) and older students will be exposed to words they might not know.  This is a great time to encourage them to look up the meanings, find out the background of any unknown vocabulary, and perhaps even keep a log of new words they are exposed to over the summer.  Children who are voracious readers have a much larger vocabulary to pull from when writing and speaking.
  2. Reading creates thinkers.  Not only are students exposed to plenty of new vocabulary when reading, but they are also exposed to new information, other cultures, historical figures, and more.  Entire worlds can open up to a child within the pages of a book, allowing them endless discovery of all types of subjects.  Few things develop thinking skills like reading a variety of books and materials since children aren’t being taught how or what to think, but rather are being given information and allowed to process and investigate it on their own.
  3. Reading enhances prior knowledge.  While your child gleaned much information over the previous school year, he or she likely had subjects that they would have enjoyed studying in more depth, or perhaps they struggled with something that didn’t engage them and you want to help them connect with it in a better way. Books are a wonderful way to enhance any subject.  If your student was struggling with a particular time period being studied in history, historical fiction is a fantastic supplement to help them dive in and really grasp the topic.  Did your student really enjoy a particular piece of literature used in the curriculum this past year?  Look for similar works by different authors, or find more works by the same author, to help them further develop their reading skills and connect them with what they learned during the school year.

We hope these tips help you as you plan for summer vacation.  There is no better way to bust boredom than a good book!  We encourage you to frequent the local libraries this summer, or encourage your children to further explore their home library.  All Saints Academy is proud to work alongside parents and caregivers to help each of our students reach full potential.  We can’t wait to see our students back here in the Fall and hear about their reading adventures over summer break!

Showing Appreciation to Our Servicemen: How to Honor Those Who Have Served

FullSizeRender.jpgMemorial Day is coming up, and with that comes all things red, white, and blue.  While the parties, parades, and picnics are fun, it’s important to remember why we celebrate this holiday in the first place.  One of the best ways to remind yourself, and those around you, about the importance of Memorial Day is by recognizing those who have served. This is particularly important if you know someone personally who has served, or has been directly impacted by the military service.  Recently we were privileged to witness a heartwarming homecoming of SMSGT Danielle Holbert (mom of ASA students Ryan and Braylee Holbert) right here on the All Saints Campus!  She was home on a 3-week break from her one-year tour in South Korea, and surprised here kids at school!  Moments like this are great reminders of why it’s so important to recognize our military personnel and the sacrifices they make.

So, how can you show appreciation for those who protect our country?  Here are a few ideas to help you get started:

Letters of Appreciation.

A subtle way to recognize those who have served in any capacity is to write out your thanks!  A simple note to tell them that you honor and appreciate the sacrifice they made is a great way to make sure they don’t go unnoticed on Memorial Day.  Don’t forget a note to anyone you know who has lost a close loved one (like a spouse or a child) to military service.  They have sacrificed for our nation as well.  Even the youngest students can practice their writing and drawing skills to make pictures or cards for veterans and their families.

Appreciation Breakfast/Lunch.

If you know several veterans, consider having a special breakfast or lunch to honor them.  This could be a great class service project, or even something done by a family.  It doesn’t have to be expensive or fancy, but the fact that you are wiling to publicly recognize their service goes a long way!  Only know one serviceman or veteran? Consider having a breakfast or lunch for him/her and their close family.  After all, like we said above, their families sacrificed during their time spent in service too!

Pay It Forward.

Another great way to recognize our servicemen and women at this time of year is to give back!  Making a donation in their name to Wounded Warriors, or other veteran support resources is a wonderful thank-you to our military.  Let them know what you did with a note or a printout of the donation.  This could, again, be a class service project.  Have students collect coins and loose change, or send a note home to parents to give them the opportunity to contribute as well!  We are sure this will make any veteran recognized feel appreciated AND you’ll be assisting others just like them as they return home from service.

Whether it’s a grandparent, aunt, uncle, mom, dad, neighbor, or simply someone you pass on the street, don’t forget to thank those who have sacrificed for our country this Memorial Day.  All Saints Academy extends our thanks and appreciation to those in our Polk County community and beyond who have served our military in any capacity, and we honor those who have given the ultimate sacrifice of their lives for our freedom.

Happy Memorial Day from ASA!

Thank You to Our Teachers!

As we wrap up the 2016-2017 school year here at All Saints Academy, we can’t begin to convey our gratitude to each of our educators.  From our devoted Preschool teachers to our high school professors to our team coaches, the teachers at ASA are the very best, and they are the heart and soul of our school.
Teachers work tirelessly, often behind the scenes, and their hours are rarely clearly defined.  They show up early to decorate classrooms, head home to grade papers after their kids are in bed, or come in on the weekends to prepare the perfect activities to help each of their students succeed.  It takes a deep passion to be able to show up each day and not only teach facts, but instill a love of learning in each individual student that comes through their classroom door.  Teachers at ASA do this and more, as they go beyond the textbooks and the curriculum to bring subject to life for their classes. Students at All Saints go far because the teachers take the time each year to prune and shape and lovingly care for that love of learning to keep it growing and maturing into high school.  Because of this, our teachers are impacting lives far beyond our campus here in Central Florida.  Our students go on to change the world around them, largely because they have a lifelong love of learning that keeps them pursuing their dreams and meeting their goals.  Our teachers will never fully know the far-reaching benefits of what they do each day, but our goal is to do our best to show them!

Help us thank our teachers for another great year here at All Saints as you say goodbye for this school year.  We enjoyed a wonderful celebration with each of our instructors at our Teacher Appreciation event in Lakeland this past week.

Thank you teachers for ALL you do!

Getting Through Finals 101: Taking Care of Yourself at The End of The School Year

The 2016-2017 school year is almost over, and here at All Saints Academy students in the lower school and upper school are enjoying end-of-the-year activities, finishing up lessons, and working hard to do well on their last tests and exams.  Older students are feeling the pressure of finals, and while we know they are all more than capable of doing an exceptional job on any academic test thrown their way, we understand that these tests can be stressful or cause some anxiety.  When you pair this with long hours spent studying, students can quickly become drained and that can affect not only their mental abilities, but their physical ones as well.

We want to see our students head into summer with plenty of energy and a clean bill of health, and self care is an important part of that!  Here are some tips for staying at your best in the midst of final exams and end-of-the-school-year busyness.

1. Drink plenty of water!  Staying hydrated is key, all day every day.  If permitted, keep a bottle of water with you throughout classes and exams, and make it a personal goal to drink a minimum of the recommended 64 ounces each day.  Your body will thank you!
2. Brain food isn’t the only food you need.  Skipping meals to study or living off of granola bars won’t get you very far.  Opt for healthy, filling breakfast choices to give you a great start to the day, and attempt to eat small meals or healthy snacks every 2-3 hours to keep your blood sugar up and your energy high.
3. Rest, rest, rest.  We can’t stress the necessity of getting plenty of sleep enough.  While studying is important, staying up all night in the books will adversely affect your test-taking skills and could cause more harm in the long run.  Aim for a (relatively) early bedtime and aim for no less than 7 hours of sleep if possible.
4. Relax.  Whether you enjoy going for a run, reading a good book (for pleasure), or simply spending time with friends, take time for yourself and relax during the period of test taking this year.  If you focus on other things outside of your schoolwork, in moderation of course, you will be giving your brain a much-needed break and that can help a lot with exams of all kinds.
We hope these tips offer some help as you head into the end of the year!  The same rules apply for parents, since we know you are behind your student 100% and will be just as busy as they are during these last weeks of school and extracurricular activities.  Let’s finish the year strong at ASA!

Summer Plans Simplified: Preparing for Your Summer Vacation

Summer break is right around the corner here at All Saints Academy, and once school ends, the fun of traveling, relaxation, and making memories with your family begins!   However, if you aren’t prepared ahead of time, summer break can easily be frustrating due to a change in routine and lack of structure.  You can avoid this headache by establishing a loose “game plan” for your break, so you stay on top of vacation instead of heading back to school in the fall more exhausted than you were at the beginning of summer!

Here are our top 3 tips for planning ahead for summer break 2017:

  1. Organize your calendar. Whether you use a digital calendar or app on your phone, or an old-fashioned desk calendar, making sure that your days/times/appointments are written down in one place makes it much easier to plan out your summer. For example, you don’t want to plan a 2 week trip when you have long-awaited dentist appointments scheduled for your kids. Additionally, activities like summer camps and travels need to be mapped out carefully so as not to interfere with each other, or with the first day of school starting back up in the fall.
  2. Continue learning at home! Just because school is over for summer, your child’s education is not. Enhance your child’s learning with educational camps (such as those offered here at ASA), art classes, music lessons, educational trips, etc. Also, encourage daily reading for your kids. They can choose the materials (as long as they are challenging and at least on grade level) but require a minimum amount of time spend in books each day. This will keep their brains engaged and will make the transition back to school at the end of summer much easier.
  3. Make a bucket list! At the beginning of summer break, have each of your children make a bucket list for what they’d like to accomplish over the coming weeks. They could be simple, individual goals (like perfecting their free-throw, or beating their own running time) or an activity for the whole family (like a trip or a local outing), but take the time to sit down and discuss each child’s list as a group. While you might not accomplish every single item on each list, you can condense the lists down to one master family list, and work hard to check off the items over your summer break. It prevents boredom, and builds relationships within your family!

While we know it’s hard to stay engaged when summer is this close at hand, we encourage our students, faculty, and parents to finish the school year strong! We are so proud of our ASA students and all they have accomplished this school year, and we can’t wait to see what you do over the summer!

Stay Connected at ASA with A Swipe of Your Screen

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All Saints Academy is very open with our support and promotion of digital media and technology, both on our campus and in our curricula.  This support carries over to our school within the community and among our ASA families as well, through social media, our website, and even our blog.  No longer do you have to keep a printout of your child’s school calendar on your fridge or your desk.  You simply click the site and the calendar is always right at your fingertips, no matter where you are!  In this same way, our social media sites allow you to stay up to date with what’s going on at All Saints and communicate with other parents, students, and faculty.

Where can you look for All Saints online?

Facebook is our primary way to share ALL info about what’s going on at ASA.  Here we can create events for you to join, share photos, advertise for our school, and more.  We post on here consistently throughout the day so chances are you’ll find what you’re looking for!  Like our page, and our posts will show up in your own personal newsfeed as they go live, so you won’t miss out on anything going on at our school.  Find our Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/LetsGoSaints/.

Not a fan of Facebook, or don’t want to go to the trouble of getting an account?  We share school events, photos, and information about our school on our Google+ page daily.  This account is accessible without being a part of Google+ yourself, so you don’t have to commit.  Simply follow this link https://plus.google.com/117265607845281462002 to keep up with ASA!

Finally, if Twitter is more of your style, you can find us there too!  We share short updates about what’s going on at All Saints on our Twitter page each day, and it’s also a great way for us to connect with other Twitter users in the community.  Follow us at https://twitter.com/AllSaints_FL to stay in touch!

We can’t wait to hear from you, and interact with you through our online pages.  All Saints loves using the same technology we integrate into our school to connect with our families and our neighbors in the Polk County community.  Get on your phone, your tablet, or your computer and get connected with ASA!

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