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Principals Notes
We have arrived at, perhaps, the most challenging time for the school year. Up until the winter holiday, students and teachers are filled with energy striving to climb a summit of academic goals. Teachers are encouraging students, "I know you can!" Students are nervously repeating, "I think I can."
However, what is next? For some, like a roller coaster, they have arrived at the first big hill and now it is time to coast into May. "It's downhill, baby, enjoy the ride." Effort begins to diminish. Attitudes and behaviors show unexpected twists and turns. Eventually the ride concludes with enough success to pass SBACs and advance to the next grade level but learning new concepts has diminished. For some, the summer slide begins in the spring. Others recognize the winter holiday is a brief plateau to recharge, because there are more summits to conquer. SBAC. Graduation. Resilience to endure homelessness or a bully. Improving reading proficiency while dealing with dyslexia. Fortitude in the face of immigrant biases and language barriers
If you think you can reach the summit of success, you are right. Therefore, what is next? Reinforce the ideas that lead to success:
• Eat healthy, balanced meals
• Get adequate rest and sleep
• Complete homework assignments daily
• Read a book or magazine of interest every day
• Monitor the use of social media and time playing electronic games
• Exercise daily
• Extra-curriculum activities are beneficial and fun, but do not overcommit

Also, now would be a prime time for a parent-teacher conversation about a child's progress. As a child I excelled in science- I lagged in language arts - I was disinterested in history but loved geography. Each child has unique strengths and weaknesses. Children develop, both academically and physically, unevenly with spurts and pauses. Talk to your child's teacher about how to help your child during this spring semester. You want to see your child finish strong. You want to say to your child, "I knew you could." You want to hear your child say, "I knew I could too."

KIDS AND EXERCISE When most adults think about exercise, they imagine working out in the gym, running on a treadmill, or lifting weights. However, for kids, exercise means playing and being physically active. Kids exercise when they have gym class at school, during recess, at dance class or soccer practice, while riding bikes, or when playing tag.
THE MANY BENEFITS OF EXERCISE Everyone can benefit from regular exercise. Active kids will have:
• Stronger muscles and bones
• Leaner bodies
• Less risk of becoming overweight
• A lower chance of getting type 2 diabetes
• Lower blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels
• A better outlook on life

Besides enjoying the health benefits of regular exercise, fit kids sleep better. They are also better able to handle physical and emotional challenges, from running to catch a bus to studying for a test.
If you've ever watched kids on a playground, you've seen the three elements of fitness in action when they:  Run away from the kid who's "it" (endurance)  Cross the monkey bars (strength)  Bend down to tie their shoes (flexibility) Parents should encourage their kids to do a variety of activities so that they can work on all three elements.


If you are a parent of school-aged children, you are probably on the lookout for inexpensive, entertaining and (dare I say) educational activities to keep your kids occupied during spring break. Sure, you could just plop 'em in front of the TV, phone or game stations and 10 bags of Doritos, but there might just be better ways to keep your children entertained. Here are a few alternatives to the TV sitter that you and your kids will actually enjoy!
1. Be tourists in your own town. When you are spending time in a new town or city, you tend to see things and visit landmarks that the locals have learned to ignore. This can be a fun departure from routine to put on a tourist's hat in your own backyard. When we lived in Washington state Laura and I would go to different places every weekend. I was one of the more fun experiences of my life.
2. Have a backyard picnic. Taking lunch out of the dining room and into the backyard can be a fun and easy way to spice up an otherwise uneventful day. Bust out your favorite-checkered blanket, whip up some sandwiches, and for extra nostalgia points, have your kids help you pack it all into a classic picnic basket then head outside for a lunch in the sun!
3. Take a mini vacation. Of course, everyone would love a casual week in the Bahamas, but your kids do not need their spring vacation to look like something out of a movie. Instead, take a road trip and visit your parents, your siblings or an old college friend who has kids around the same age as yours. Even if it is just 45 minutes down the road, the change of scenery will be exciting departure from everyday life, you will get to catch up with people you might not see very often, and your kids can make some new friends.
4. Cook with your kids Quick! What is your child's favorite homemade food? Mac and cheese? Spaghetti? Chocolate chip cookies? Whatever their culinary preferences, they can probably be convinced to spend a few hours with you in the kitchen to help whip up their favorite meal. Cooking with your kids instills them with the fuzzy feelings of responsibility and accomplishment, and it helps teach them real life skills they will use for years to come. Some of my fondest childhood memories arose from helping my parents prepare family meals: stirring fragrant chicken noodle soup, stealing spoonful's of cookie dough, and squinting into the oven window trying to watch the biscuits rise.

5. Spend the day at your local library. In the immortal words of Arthur, the Aardvark: "Having fun isn't hard when you've got a library card!" Show your kids the whimsical magic of the public library by spending an afternoon browsing the shelves. Ely library has both a children's reading room with lots of comfortable chairs AND a ton of weekly scheduled events for kids. Check the calendar before you go, and make sure you let them sign up for their very own library card before the day is up

6. Explore museums, zoos and conservatories that are relatively close by. A museum day is a great way to keep kids entertained and educated while they are out of school. While some can be pricey and boring for kids, if you know where to look, you are sure to find at least a few options for cheap (or free!).
7. Take hikes and nature walks Nothing's better than the great outdoors. Peel your little ones off the couch and take them on a walk through the local forest, on a stone-skipping trip to Sunnyside, or on a hike up the nearest mountain. There is nothing like the smell of the air on a crisp spring day, and if you are lucky, you might even spot some exciting wildlife along the way! Make sure to pack snacks and plenty of water, and do not hesitate to let your kids stop and explore their surroundings as often as they like.
Excerpt from Brad's Deal, 10 Fun Things to do With Kids During Spring Break by Caroline Thompson