From the President...
As were settling into the rhythms of distance learning, increased concerns with Covid, and moving into chilly weather (maybe?), we hope you are also finding some silver liningscollege kids coming home for 2 months, roasting one turkey instead of two, kids getting to manage home school and in-person school. But over at the Safe Community Coalition we have big news! Today we’re launching our big program for the year: Managing the Moments.

Managing the Moments is a series of short videos for the community featuring the psychologists, psychiatrists and social workers of the SCC’s Mental Health Committee. The segments, approximately 10 minutes each, touch on a wide variety of topics designed to help parents in dealing with a range of issues, from younger childrens challenges with distance learning to college admissions during Covid. See below for more!

Please note we are still in need of board volunteers to manage Sixth Grade Ethics Days and to represent elementary and middle schools students and parents. Please contact us if you are interested!

As always, let us know how the SCC can help in your community, school, and home!

Elizabeth Hale, President
SCC in the Community
We are so excited to announce the launch of our first Managing the Moments videos! The COVID-19 pandemic has been extremely stressful for people. Fear and anxiety about a new disease, all the changes we have made to keep ourselves and our families healthy, and what could happen can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Seeing a growing need among their patients and clients, members of the SCC’s Mental Health Committee approached the Board with a vision of casual discussions to educate and support our community during this very challenging time. And with an inability to provide our normal documentary film screenings and bringing in nationally-recognized speakers, this seemed like the best way to implement the SCCs mission this year.

These videos, the basis for our “Managing the Moments” 2020-2021 theme, are meant to begin a discussion of mental health issues, educate us all on how to promote healthy coping strategies, and encourage us to keep our well-being in the forefront of how we navigate through life’s upheavals. Each video features mental health providers discussing important topics in mental health relevant to the pandemic, stressors of learning and working from home, and concerns of the future. (Though indeed these topics are relevant to all of our lives most of the time!) Most videos are accompanied by printable tip sheets or presentation slides to help us retain or share the messages.
The first six videos feature a range of topical issues:

  • Deescalating Conflict addresses how in this time of learning from home and working from home, conditions are ripe for conflict, yet healthy conflict can be achieved when addressed in a constructive, productive way.

  • Effective Communication features practical tools to ensure everyone in a family is being listened to, being heard, and being understood. Using the 3Rs—Receive the message, Review it, and Respond to it—families can better work through obstacles in both getting their messages across and ensuring the messages are being received in a positive way. 

  • How to Talk to Your Parents includes helpful techniques for kids, teens, and even adults to initiate a conversation without an anticipated negative reaction. Concrete steps for everything from timing, boundaries and how to frame a conversation to make it productive instead of confrontational.

  • Brain Breaks During Distance Learning focuses on the three types of breaks—mindful, movement and sensory—that all ages can use to refocus, release stress and maximize learning potential.

  • Self Care and Calming Techniques addresses the impact of anxiety—the most contagious emotion—on family members and demonstrates some interesting dynamic ways to press the pause button on anxiety and regroup.

  • How Are You? addresses the degrees to which different people are managing in an environment where a secure base can feel elusive when the sands are continually shifting, and talks about ways to access additional resources if more help may be needed.  
Take a Break

With the days getting shorter and cooler and our need for fresh ideas of building breaks into the day, we’ve gathered this list of 50+ Family Activities to Manage the Moments This Winter. What would add? What would your kids add? Let us know and we’ll keep the list updated.
Upcoming Events
From our friends at Challenge Success

Navigating School During Uncertain Times

Thursday, November 12th at 5pm PT | 8pm ET
$10 registration
Register HERE
How can parents best support the personal and academic needs of their children while also attending to their own professional and family needs? 
In this presentation, parents will receive strategies for remote, in-person, or hybrid school and will learn how they can establish a healthier home environment for their school-aged child, reduce academic stress without sacrificing achievement, and increase resilience, creativity, and well-being.
Parenting in Place Masterclass

ARE YOU…Worried about your child’s education in this unprecedented school year? Burned out and struggling to manage your moods, energy, and mental well-being? Concerned about setbacks in your child’s social and emotional development? Seeking support in talking with children about race, divisiveness in politics, and other challenging subjects? Craving practical strategies for helping your child (and your family) thrive and prepare for what’s next?

Parenting in Place is a unique live masterclass series featuring prominent thought leaders in parenting, neuroscience, education, and well-being. The series initially came together in summer 2020 as nine weekly events in response to the challenges families were facing while quarantining, social distancing, and remote learning, and in an era of heightened racial strife. The next Parenting in Place series begins Tuesday, November 17, 8 p.m. and will run for 8 weeks (taking 2 weeks off over the December holidays). The $39 series includes:

  • 8 live events with Q&A and a (very) active chat
  • Access to all replays through mid-February
  • Downloadable takeaways from all our speakers
  • A resource bundle of more than 20 bonuses
  • A Facebook community for ongoing connection

With a fantastic slate of speakers and topics, designed specifically around the challenges we're all facing. You can check out the full lineup of classes and register HERE.
Pandemic Resources
As a new feature of our newsletter, we are sharing local resources to address the myriad needs surrounding the Covid pandemic.
From the Fairfax Prevention Coalition, a partnership of parents, youth, schools, healthcare providers, government agencies, law enforcement, faith-based organizations, media, nonprofits (including the SCC), businesses, policymakers, and volunteers, working together, to combat substance misuse in our community:

The Fairfax Prevention Coalition has resources for mental health, peer support, family services, and many others in addition to substance abuse services.
COVID Support Warm Line

Peer operators provide local, state, and national resources to assist callers in their recovery. A new warm line from Mental Health America of Virginia (MHAV) has been created to support those struggling with trauma, grief, and distress caused by COVID-19.

1-866-400-MHAV (6428)

The Warm Line is a peer-run service for residents of Virginia operating 9 a.m. - 9 p.m., weekdays, 5 - 9 p.m. Sat, Sun and holidays. We offer this support line for individuals, family members, and other concerned parties who would like someone to talk to, or who request community mental health resources, or who have specific questions about their recovery journey. The peers who answer our Warm Line listen with compassion and provide non-judgmental support. Read more about the Warm Line.

A Warm Line is not a Hotline, which is for individuals in need of emergency services. If you are in crisis, please call the National Crisis Hotlines 1-800-273-8255, or 911. Mental Health America also has a partnership with Crisis Text Line; text MHA to 741741 if you'd like to use the Crisis Text Line if you feel like you're in crisis.
Reading List
Outdoor Time

From the Washington Post’s Lean and Fit newsletter: How to embrace being outdoors in winter, rather than dreading it. It’s all about changing your attitude – and your clothes. It’s full of great tips, and there are even more in the comments; I love how our readers chip in with good advice. My new mantra is an old Norwegian saying: There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.
More from our friends at Challenge Success
Effective Homework Practices During COVID and Beyond

During this unique school year, students, educators, and families across the country are grappling with the challenges and stressors of doing school in a whole new, and largely unfamiliar way. Whether adapting to in-person school that looks wildly different, adjusting to a hybrid model that combines in-person with online learning, or settling in at home for an entirely remote experience, the definition of “homework” has likely shifted over the last six months. For the majority of kids, pretty much everything is homework right now.

Long before the pandemic hit, Challenge Success was hard at work updating our homework white paper, Quality Over Quantity: Elements of Effective Homework, to reflect the new peer-reviewed research that has emerged since the publication of our original paper in 2012. We were initially tempted to hold back these updated findings given the unprecedented and fluid educational landscape we are currently facing; but we realized it’s more important than ever to think critically and thoughtfully about the purpose of homework, especially given the blur between home and school and the educational inequities facing so many kids right now. Based on the research, we know that it is essential for student well-being that time spent doing work outside of a teacher-directed “classroom” is experienced by students as purposeful, meaningful, and engaging. 

The good news is that our original findings about homework continue to hold true based on the most recent research – especially in the current context. We know that: 

  1. The amount of time spent on homework is not necessarily related to increased academic achievement in middle and high school, and there is no correlation at all between homework and achievement in elementary school (except for self-directed reading). 
  2. When assigned, homework should be high quality and engaging.
  3. Too much homework may increase stress and interfere with sleep, downtime, family time, and other important activities that are critical to student well-being. Maintaining these protective activities is essential in a time when a variety of in-person social interactions are missing for kids.  

This new paper reviews the most current research on homework, highlights the elements of effective homework, and offers essential questions for both parents and educators to ask about how homework can be improved. We invite you to share Quality Over Quantity: Elements of Effective Homework with your school and professional communities and engage in dialogue about how homework practices can better support all students equitably during this time of online learning. Read recent coverage of our white paper in The Washington Post
The SCC thrives in its 25th year as an all-volunteer organization with funding from community grants and individual donors including the New Dominion Women’s Club, Rotary Club of McLean, McLean Community Foundation, the Zavela Foundation, and through the SCC Mental Health Committee. We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and welcome all donations.