Dear Children's School Families,
I recently spent time sorting through some memory boxes and, in doing so, came across a few parent letters written by the head of school I’d worked with at the start of my career. I’d saved them because there were “nuggets” within each that resonated with me, and I wanted to preserve them for my future. The time is now!
In one of the letters, he reflects on parents’ hopes and dreams for their children as they begin the new school year. While in the midst of the 2021-2022 academic year, these questions should remain a daily part of all we do to support our children’s learning and growth. They are:
- Does your child have faith in their ability to learn?
- Can they manage their belongings?
- Does your child feel they work hard?
- Does your child show responsibility for their belongings?
- Does your child care for others?
- What is your child anxious about in school (e.g., letting someone down, failure, looking foolish)?
- What is their attitude towards failure?
- When does your child feel important? About what?
- Does your child exhibit common sense?
- Does your child go to school with a glad and confident heart? Does your child arrive home from school with one?
- Can they self-regulate their emotions?
- Can they initiate their work and sustain attention?
Regardless of how you answered the questions above, know there is no wrong response. There are just as many response combinations as there are students at The Colorado Springs School, and then some. Like the faculty, staff, and administrators here at CSS, you play an equally – if not more – important role in your child’s development of self-concept and self-respect. To that end, let us work in partnership.
In addition to instilling a foundational base of academic knowledge within each student, we strive to grow other areas as well. As the book The Other Side of the Report Card states, “Students are more than their academic grades. The progress they make in social-emotional learning and character development is essential to their success in school and in life.”
Our Yale-based RULER program – the heart of advisory sessions hosted each week by School Counselor Heidi Cooper – supports these latter two components, which are also incorporated into our classroom culture by CSS teachers. The RULER program presents students with materials to help them generate a better understanding of themselves and navigate life and learning with others. It is our hope that, through this process, students will gain the life tools needed to support them now and well into the future.
During the 2018–2019 academic year, I had the privilege of working with a class consisting of 3- and 4-year-old students. This opportunity reinforced my confidence in the capacity of children – regardless of age – to explore, question, and navigate the world. The key for us as adults is simple: stay out of their way and listen. I witness this every day. Our PreKindergarteners begin each day independently unpacking their backpacks. Meanwhile, our older students successfully navigate and complete long-term assignments involving self-discipline and time-management skills. Overall, CSS students are continually encouraged to seek independence and self-reliance at each grade level and in age-appropriate ways.
Yesterday, you should have received an emailed copy of your child’s winter report card. In the days ahead, you will be meeting with their teacher(s) to discuss your child’s progress, to date, as well as information included on the “Other Side of the Report Card.” We encourage you to bring your questions and be prepared to offer your perspective as, together, we look to support the further development, learning, and growth of your child. In my mind, there is no better investment.