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Read Inspiring Literature!⠀
Jamie Highfill entered the classroom in 2002 as an eighth-grade English teacher in Fayetteville, Arkansas. A Gulf War veteran, she had no idea that she was stepping onto another battle field.

Highfill quickly proved to be an excellent teacher. Her specialty was preparing students for Advanced Placement classes in high school, which can earn students college credit. In 2005, she was selected as co-director of the Northwest Arkansas Writing Project at the University of Arkansas, a local affiliate of an international writing program that attracts some of the world’s best teachers. In 2011, the Arkansas Council of Teachers of English Language Arts named her Middle School English Teacher of the Year. In the 2011–12 school year, 77 percent of her students scored “advanced” on state tests. That’s an amazing success rate. Typically, no more than one-quarter of students score “advanced” on state English tests, even the less rigorous ones.

Highfill’s eighth graders learned about comedy and political satire from James Thurber’s “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” and O. Henry’s “The Gift of the Magi.” They read Arthurian legends, poems by Robert Frost and Emily Dickinson, and George Orwell’s Animal Farm. They learned about internal dialogue, quest literature, parody, and symbolism. Highfill’s guide for choosing assignments was Henry David Thoreau’s maxim: “Read the best books first, or you might not have a chance to read them at all.”
Excerpt from The Education Invasion by Joy Pullman.

Unfortunately Highfill was unble to continue providing her students with a rich literature program. Read her story>>>

In today's educational culture we have all become much more involved in our children's schooling. Parents, teachers and children all deserve an outstanding Literature Syllabus. Research "best literature for xx age." Read what's being assigned to your children. Make your own lists. Share the best, most inspiring books with your children. You can do it!

Enjoy the weekend with good reads and outdoor excursions, Parmalee
Pumpkin Patches & Halloween Plans!
Pumpkin Patches
Pumpkin patches abound and, good news, they are OUTDOORS! Head out early and select your favorite sizes and shapes. You can find pumpkins, squashes, hay mazes and other delightful fall entertainment HERE! Be sure to check websites for open hours!
Halloween Fun
Whether you are staying in (CDC recommends) or going out in your neighborhood, Halloween is one of the children's favorite holidays. Hands down, they will want a costume. Some of you are planning a home night with scary movies or treasure hunts. You may need more than one Halloween night when you look over this great list from Good Housekeeping. It's an extensive list, with age recommendations.
Jack O'Lantern Time!
Take a Child Outside....
Now, more than ever, it's important for children to take the time to step away from screens and spend time in nature.

It's always Take a Child Outside Week, a national movement encouraging outdoor time so that children can recharge, get exercise, and become more thoughtful learners. The Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History at Your Side webpage contains a variety of activities and prompts that can help guide your exploration of the outdoors. Get started with our Nature Awareness Guide and engage your senses as you observe the natural world around you.
Be Prepared
Mudslide Potential – After the Fires – During the Rainy Season
Educate yourselves, be prepared, involve older children, no need to frighten the youngest ones.
Family Events
Check websites before you go!
Santa Cruz Parent Calendar
We receive new CALENDAR posts daily, so visit our homepage and click on CALENDAR any time! https://santacruzparent.com/
Reading is thinking ~ know a virtual learner who would benefit from participating in an engaging book club? WPL’s “My First Bookclub” program will meet online twice a month to read a picture book, have a discussion, and enjoy a fun activity. School aged children in Grades 1st-3rd and 4th-5th are encouraged to participate. To register visit Watsonville Public Library. Details
How to Protect Protect Homes from Wildfires - Saturday, Saturday, October 3, 10 -11:30am - $65 Aptos/La Selva Fire Protection District - Details
Archaeology Day Santa Cruz Mission State Park, October 3, 12– 4pm - Celebrate archeology day with hands-on activities, demonstrations, and tours. How do artifacts give us clues to the past? Follow the archaeological process from the dig to the display and discover the stories told by artifacts. Rain cancels. Free. Details
Line Dance Lessons with the Sundance Saloon - Sundays, 6-9pm,
Free - Line dance lessons through live-streaming in the comfort of your own home. Details
2020 Fall Harvest Festival - Oct. 5-10, Virtual, All ages! The Harvest Festival offers interactive family-friendly events including a tide pool exploration, a backyard chicken Q&A session, and cooking classes, plus musical performances, a poetry workshop, a lecture on agroecology featuring a panel of experts, cider donut workshop, and much more. Details
Positive Discipline - Family Support Sessions - Bilingual and Free, Tuesdays, 6 - 7pm - Positive Discipline family support sessions for families within Santa Cruz City School District. Details
All the County Farmers Markets! Details
Parent-Child Home Support Program, Waldorf School, October - November, 3 Age Groups: Parent-Child (walking to 3 years) Preschool (3 years – 4 years 9 months) Kindergarten (4 years 9 months – 6 years) Details
School Day Tours by appointment, Gateway School, October 6 & 7, 9:30am - 3pm - Come and learn how Gateway School inspires curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking through innovative education for a fast-changing world. Details
Contact us today to schedule your personal tour and join us for our virtual Open House on Saturday, October 17. Please contact our Admissions Office by phone at 408-846-4042 or email admissions@mountmadonnaschool.org Details
Help for Homeschoolers Filing a Private School Affidavit Paperwork Party - Discovery Learning Center, October 4, 1pm - Details
Harvest Faire - Weekends October 3 -November 1, Step into the incredible world of steam power at the Harvest Faire & Steam Festival presented by Kinetic Steam Works and Roaring Camp Railroads. Details
Triple P Parent Workshop: How to Handle Fighting and Aggression, October 8, 3-4:30pm, Details
We are launching The Museum At Your Side — a collection of hands-on activities, informative articles, and engaging videos to connect you with nature and science wherever you are! Details
Tales to Tails - Mondays 3:30-4pm, Register! Santa Cruz Public Libraries Details
Lunafest: Films By and About Women, October 1, 7-9pm, $20 - This unique film festival highlights women as leaders in society, illustrated through seven short films by women filmmakers. Details
Ask Nicole
Tips for Supporting Distance Learning
by Nicole M. Young, MSW
When I was in college, I would not have enjoyed living and learning at my parents’ house. Even when I was in high school, I would’ve been miserable if all my classes were online since school was my social lifeline. Now, my house is a home/office/high school/college campus for two working parents, two students, two cats, and a never-ending pile of dirty dishes and laundry. I’m fortunate that my kids don’t need constant supervision, and they’ve learned to manage their own schedules and schoolwork. If you read my articles from several years ago, you’d know this was not always the case! This month’s article is for everyone who is juggling work, family, and distance learning. Stay strong!
This monthly column provides tips for raising children, based on the world-renowned Triple P – Positive Parenting Program, available to families in Santa Cruz County. If you have a question or idea for a future column, please email me at triplep@first5scc.org.
Dear Nicole,This school year is so stressful. My kids (5, 8, and 15 years old) are doing distance learning, and it’s so hard! They get bored, distracted, and take forever to do their schoolwork. I work during the day, and my husband works at night. We take turns watching the kids, but we’re totally overwhelmed. What can we do? Susannah
Dear Susannah, So many families are experiencing this! Here are some tips to try:
Be gentle with yourselves. Having realistic expectations (of both children and parents) is a key principle of positive parenting. Although parents and caregivers have more responsibility for their kids’ learning at home, most aren’t trained (or expected) to be teachers – and many don’t even understand what their kids are learning! So, start by saying positive, calming statements like, “We’re doing the best we can,” “There isn’t one ‘right’ way to parent,” or “We’ll get through this together.” And remember to breathe.
Involve your kids in creating daily routines and family rules. Look at the space they each use for distance learning (even if it’s a shared desk or table) and identify what they can do to make it more special, interesting, or unique to them. They might want to do this periodically to keep their learning space interesting and engaging.
Follow a consistent routine as much as possible. Most schools have a daily schedule for live instruction and individual work time. Have your kids follow the routine as though they’re going to school on campus – i.e. get up, eat breakfast, get dressed, brush teeth, log into class on time, etc. Some kids find it helpful to have their schedule written or printed so they have a visual reminder of what each day looks like, including classes, breaks (very important!), due dates for assignments, mealtimes, playtime, homework time, bedtime, etc.
If your kids need to share devices or take turns being online, involve them in creating agreements about how they’ll do that. Talk about family and school rules about online learning, like being respectful, responsible, and using the devices appropriately. This is also a good time to create or update family rules about when it’s learning time (vs free time), when it’s OK to interrupt a parent (vs when they need to wait), and how much recreational screen time they can have (separate from school-related screen time).
Offer “just enough” help. Stay close by and check on their progress but avoid nagging them (giving too many reminders) or doing work for them. Give descriptive praise and encourage their efforts – “You finished two assignments already. Keep it up!”
If they want help, ask questions that teach problem-solving, such as “What do you think?” or “How could you find out?” If they can’t answer after a couple prompts, help them find the answer so they stay engaged in the learning process instead of giving up.
If they’re overwhelmed by the amount of schoolwork, help them break it down into smaller “chunks” that feel more manageable. Let them have a small reward after finishing each chunk, like playing a short game or listening to a song. When they’ve finished their schoolwork for the day, let them do something they enjoy so they experience the reward of free time after working hard.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Distance learning is challenging for everyone, so we all have to do the best we can and support each other. If your kids are struggling with learning at home, reach out to their teachers and ask what resources and supports the school can provide to your kids – and to you.
Nicole Young is the mother of two children, ages 16 and 20, who also manages Santa Cruz County's Triple P - Positive Parenting Program, the world's leading positive parenting program. Scientifically proven, Triple P is made available locally by First 5 Santa Cruz County, the Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency (Mental Health Services Act) and the Santa Cruz County Human Services Department. To find a Triple P parenting class or practitioner, visit http://triplep.first5scc.org.