Dear Children's School Families,
A guiding principle throughout my tenure as Children’s School Director for CSS has been one of partnership. Through my years as a division director, I have often said to parents, “You know your children in a way we do not, yet we observe and see them in a setting you typically don’t.”
The hope behind this statement is that we can join together and share these perspectives with one another as we strive to make decisions that are in the best interest of our children. Another guiding force behind our work in the Children’s School division here at CSS is the desire to help each student build a strong foundation for their educational journey. This foundation includes not only core academic skills but also social-emotional learning. The premise behind the successfulness of this particular principle is similar to that of the building of a house. If the foundation of a house is weak or has an insecure spot, anything built on top of it will be that much more unstable. If the foundation of a house is strong, however, what is built on top will also be stronger.
As we wrap up yet another school year, our faculty is busy crafting the last of three annual progress reports for our students and their families. Included in this final report, you will find a section offering “Summer Suggestions.” This area may feature recommendations for summer work or projects that can be assigned to keep your child’s skills and mind sharp. Recommendations are unique to each learner and intended to help students find success in the 2022-2023 school year. In some cases, this may mean review or practice; in others, remedial work for meeting grade-level expectations. Oftentimes, language arts (reading and writing) and math skills are the primary targets of summer coursework. Generating daily routines interwoven with reading, math, or writing activities is not only fun but also provides students with added practice and exposure.
Engagement with literature each day presents students with storytelling skills, a broadened vocabulary, and a better understanding of the nuances of language. Reading to your children, having them read to you, or sharing in these roles together can also aid students’ skills development and help to strengthen the bond between parent and child. For those with busy summer schedules including long adventures out on the road, audiobooks are likewise a great resource and help to sharpen students’ listening skills. And, if writing is another area in need of practice, keeping a summer journal or writing letters to extended family members can help students practice these skills in a fun and carefree setting.
Encouraging our children to utilize math in their everyday lives, including in the summer months, is also essential in helping them acquire fundamental skills. Building a strong number sense and enhancing your child’s ability to identify connections among number families are integral components to ensuring success in the classroom and in everyday life. Can your child estimate how much your household’s weekly groceries will cost? How many miles are left to travel to the campsite? The possibilities for applying mathematics to real-world situations are endless.
The above-listed activities – and more – can enrich children’s learning, curiosity, and growth in different ways, as well as stimulate their imaginations. Teachers will soon be sharing information on workbooks and websites that may be beneficial for grade-appropriate skills development. Using these resources to test one’s language arts and math skills for several weeks before school starts, in particular, can help children “dust off the cobwebs” and sharpen their minds prior to returning to CSS. All this said, summer is also a time to relax, recharge, and refresh. It can provide wonderful family time and a space to create new memories together. Now with grown children, I still look back on our summers spent in Maine and on other cherished memories of traveling together. The trick is to find a balance between vacation and the “work of school.”
In closing, this is my last formal communication as Children’s School Director. I want to thank you for your trust in me and our faculty. As parents, I know how precious your children are to you and I know how difficult it can be to entrust them to others. I do not take that lightly and I thank you. Their resilience, grit, and quest for knowledge, alongside their humor and laughter, have enriched my days. I recently read the book The Invisible String to all classes as a vehicle for sharing with them that I will not be returning in the fall. This book speaks to the idea that we are never alone and we are all connected. Personally, I believe this. I am forever grateful for my time at CSS. During my tenure, your children have been some of my greatest teachers. I have learned and grown both personally and professionally, and that will stay with me in my future endeavors.
I wish you all the best for a healthy, safe, and enjoyable summer.
Jody Bates Bliss