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Backpack 101: Organization Tips to Keep Your Student’s Bag Under Control

We’re well into our first full week of school here at All Saints Academy, and we love having our students and faculty back on campus ready to enjoy a GREAT year. The first part of the year is always fun, because the newness and excitement carries over into the classrooms, and all the way down to the students’ supplies. New backpacks, new folders, new pencils, fun erasers, and all of the other goodies picked up in preparation for school are now ready to be used, and it gives the beginning of the year an extra bit of joy, especially for younger students. However, that fresh new backpack and shiny pencil case can quickly turn into an ugly mess if you’re not prepared. Backpacks undergo a lot of wear and tear each year, and that’s just on the outside! Inside, by next semester, you could likely find crumpled papers, lost homework, remnants of snacks and wrappers, half-used pencils, and a plethora of other things. So, how can you keep your student’s bag under control all year long?

A few organization tips can make all the difference!

  • Prepare for organization with designated pockets, folders, binders, and bags. Much like organizing their bedroom, or you organizing your office, if your student has a predetermined place for each item in his or her bag, it’s more likely to stay organized for the long term. Have a particular bag for pens, pencils, and related supplies, so they stay together and are easy to access. Your student’s teachers will likely provide instruction on organizing homework folders, binders, etc., but there might also be general use notebooks or binders in your student’s bag. Have them labeled, and take out anything that doesn’t have a purpose or isn’t used regularly. Don’t forget to include the little things in your plan! Smaller items like earbuds, cell phones, etc. should also have a set spot within the bag.
  • Have a weekly “bag dump”. Fridays are a great day for this, since it’s the last school day for the week and it gives you a fresh start on Sunday night when you’re preparing for Monday morning’s school routine. Have your child(ren) empty their entire bag of its contents, and sort through everything. Older students can do this on their own, while younger children might need some help. Any unneeded papers, garbage, crumbs, etc. can be cleaned out and thrown away, and you can “reset” the organization system for the week by making sure everything else in the bag is put back in its place. This is a great way to ensure you don’t miss important notes from teachers, permission slips, etc. as well!
  • Add it to your laundry list! Periodically, use the weekly bag dump as a time to wash and dry your child’s backpack if possible. Many of them can be washed on the gentle cycle and hung to dry. This will keep it fresh for the entire school year. If you can’t fully launder it, spot clean it as needed, and let it air out for the weekend before repacking it!

Hopefully these tips will keep your student’s backpack ready to go all year long, and you won’t be left with a huge mess at the end of school. The same ideas can apply to lunch boxes, gym bags, and even your own briefcase for work, so set yourself up for a successful year and get organized!

Back to School: Preparing Your Young Student

Excitement is buzzing here on the All Saints Academy campus, because this week is our first day back for the 2017-2018 school year! For returning students, we’re sure you have already checked off your lists for supplies, uniforms, and even athletic equipment. Some of you may have even started your team practices or had club meetings already. We have a few tips to help you give your child the best start possible to a successful school year:

  • Adjust to an earlier bedtime. If you don’t already, aim to have your child in bed by no later than 8:30 on a school night if possible. If you have a bedtime close to this already, you shouldn’t have to do much to prep for the start of the school year, but if your young student is used to a late summer bedtime, begin transitioning to an earlier time in increments. Shoot for 10 minutes earlier, then 20, and so forth until you work your way back to a reasonable time. Adequate rest equals more success for students of all ages.
  • Attend any orientations offered so your child can meet his or her teacher(s), see their classroom, and begin to feel comfortable in the environment at school. If allowed, take photos of the classroom when you go for a preview, so you can look at them repeatedly with your child at home and talk about what their days will be like at school. Being prepared verbally AND visually can help reduce anxiety, especially for young children.
  • Make their first day something special to look forward to. Many families have first day of school traditions. Make yours something your student will look forward to. This could be a small gift, a special breakfast, or a treat in their lunchbox.
  • An old fashioned note in your child’s backpack or lunchbox is never a bad idea. Even older students can use a word of encouragement on the first day of school, and it helps you feel not so far away. For young children, a simple note (or even a drawn picture!) is a great idea. For older students, just knowing you’re thinking of them can be a huge boost in their day.

We can’t wait to see all of our students, old and new, on campus this week at ASA. We are ready to make this the BEST school year yet!

New Website Release! All Saints Academy’s New Integrated Site

This week, we were excited to launch our brand new integrated website for All Saints Academy. Our new site not only got a facelift and a fresh new look, but we updated and improved all aspects of the web experience for both ASA families and visitors to our website. What’s new and what can you expect?

First, we have an all new parent portal. To access, simply click on the yellow “Login” button in the top righthand corner of the home page. This will take you to the login page for the parent portal where you can access your student’s courses and schedule, and other pertinent information to help you manage your child’s school experience here at ASA.

Other new features of the integrated site include a quick link to the school calendar at the top of the home page, a Campus Life page where you can access dining services information (such as weekly menus), an Athletics page where you can easily link over to our sports site, and more. New visitors can find plenty of information about what we stand for at ASA and what makes us the premier private school in Polk County, Florida, as well as information about our curriculum, tuition and fees, and more.

If you haven’t already, head over to the new ASA site and look around! https://www.allsaintsacademy.com/page We can’t wait to see how this integrated website will help our current and future ASA families better navigate their experience at All Saints Academy, and how it will make this school year our best one yet!

Preparing Your Student for The Transition to Middle School

Middle school is traditionally difficult since it falls during a time when students are going through many physical and psychological changes, and are learning a whole new way to relate to one another and the world around them. As they mature, life can be confusing for your child, and when you throw in a complete transition at school as well, it could cause problems. While there isn’t a way to make life transitions “easy”, you can make them better with specialized support for your student and a few key tips to try as you head into the next school year.

First, familiarize your student with the new environment at their middle school. Oftentimes, students will be changing campuses altogether when they move up to middle school. Here at ASA, our students remain on the same campus, but will be transitioning into the “Upper School” portion, which feels like a whole new world. Regardless of the change, whether across the campus or across town, take your student to any and all orientations offered in the new place, including teacher meet-and-greets, sporting events and pep rallies, etc. Any opportunity to expose your child to the new people and places that will greet them on the first day of Middle School will help them feel more comfortable when the day arrives. ASA offers a “Gearing Up for Middle School” weeklong camp for rising 6th graders starting July 24th.

Also, help your student get comfortable with some of their new tasks and responsibilities. The summer before middle school begins is a vital time to teach time management and self-imposed scheduling. Middle school means your child will be changing classes, managing a lunch break, etc. It’s necessary for them to know how to manage their time so they aren’t late to class, or don’t miss lunch. Learning to stick to a schedule is important at this age and will continue to gain importance as they head toward college and adulthood. Small tasks should be practiced as well, like remembering the code to the lock on their locker (and how to unlock it), packing for school the night before (including gym clothes, sporting equipment, instruments, and other items needed for their day), and lunch, if they aren’t buying from school. While you will likely help them with some of these tasks for a period of time, they need to learn how to do these things on their own as they pass through the middle school years.

That leads us to the final way to prep your student for middle school, and that tip is: step back. By stepping back and letting your child take over more tasks and responsibility, you are allowing them to fly, and that is an important part of growing up. Yes, they still need you and will require your support for a long while. Remember to keep asking about their day, keep up with their friends and their grades, and involve yourself in every area where you can offer support. But when it comes to managing their days, it’s time to let them learn some lessons on their own, and take on the challenge of blossoming into young adults.

We look forward to seeing our newest middle schoolers here at ASA in just a few short weeks, and we can’t wait to welcome ALL of our students back to campus!

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!

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