Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Traveling with Kids (Pt. 1)

With snow on the ground today, it's hard to believe that Spring Break is next week! With only two more months of school to go before the school year is over, most of our students, teachers, and staff are ready for a week-long break! In fact, many of our TFCA families will be loading up their cars with luggage and hitting the road as soon as the final bell rings on Friday! 

Like these families, I [Krista Dulaney, Director of School Relations] will be traveling with my family next week, headed south for our family's first vacation to Walt Disney World! We will be driving to Orlando, which got me thinking -- What are we going to do to pass the hours in the car? I would rather my boys not veg out in front of a screen for 12 hours (although I have to admit...the sounds of silence from the backseat are quite nice), so what's a mom to do?

Fortunately for me -- and you! -- the Internet is full of blog posts and tutorials on how to keep your kids happy, busy, and engaged on a long car or plane trip! In Part 1 of this 2-part blog series, I'll share five of my favorite ideas from around the Web for the 5-and-under crowd. (Mrs. Tigges will take the older kids in Part 2)

1. Trip Clips
My favorite tricks for behavior management on the road is this simple trick I picked up on Pinterest via Tip Junkie. Each child gets their own clip -- a clothespin will work, and your kids can help decorate theirs -- that goes onto a front sunvisor at the beginning of the trip. Explain to your kids that their clip will stay up on the visor as long as they are behaving and obeying, but if there are tantrums or arguments, their clip will come down. Anyone who has their clip on the visor at each pit stop will get a prize! I like to take a package of fruit gummies for their prize, but you could also buy a package of inexpensive little cars or stickers, whatever it is that gets your kids motivated.

2. Goody Bags
This will not come as a shock to anyone who has been around kids, but children love surprises! One way to make traveling with kids more fun is to present your children with a goody bag of new items for the trip -- new sunglasses, a package of crayons and a coloring book. These things are inexpensive and will have value even past your trip. You can pick these up at a dollar store or dollar spot. If you really want to prolong the experience and make it even more fun, you could wrap each gift and dole them out at your bathroom/meal breaks along the way (you could combine the #1 tip with #2!).

3. Activity Trays
Dollar Tree has small metal cookie sheets for $1.00 that can be used in so many ways on a car/plane ride! This blog post has many ideas for using these cookie sheets, including magnetic paper dolls, a writing or coloring surface, magnetic puzzles, and more! With just a little bit of time and preparation, this $1.00 purchase can bring your kids hours of travel entertainment! What an inexpensive investment!

4. Audio Entertainment
Books on CD or music CDs can be a great resource to pull out on a trip, especially in the post-lunch, early afternoon time of the day. These can be rented from the library (always check the due dates, sometimes CD resources are due back earlier than books) or purchased in a store, or you can download them on iTunes if you want them on a portable device. One of our family's favorite albums for on-the-road listening is Jewel's The Merry Goes 'Round. We also have some fun alphabet songs, VeggieTales music, and other tracks on an iTunes playlist that gets used a lot.

5. Games
There is no shortage of travel games that you can play with your kids. Of course there's the classic license plate game, the alphabet game, and I Spy, but how about travel bingo and scavenger hunts? There are so many free printable versions of these games available online! You can print them out and give them to your kids with crayons or markers for one-time use OR you can laminate them or place in clear plastic sheet protectors and use over and over again by using stickers or dry erase markers to mark their game play. Circle magnets can be used to keep them on your $1.00 cookie sheets (see #3) or an inexpensive clipboard could come in handy.

Stay tuned for Part 2, which will have more ideas for older kids! Check out our Traveling with Kids Pinterest board for even more ideas!

Follow The Frankfort Christian Academy's board Traveling with Kids on Pinterest.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

What is X-treme Week?

If you follow our school on social media, you may have seen various posts about X-treme Week. I [Carrie Beth Tigges, Assistant Principal & Guidance Counselor] wanted to take a moment to explain what it is and how it is organized.  

Since the 2010-11 school year, we have offered X-treme Week in the week between the end of the 3rd quarter and beginning of the 4th quarter. The concept began with a teacher who experienced something like this as a student and wanted us to consider the idea for TFCA. There are a series of steps we have followed to develop the week.

We survey all MS/HS students with a variety of topics we feel we can adequately
Kentucky Adventures class at Red River Gorge
Teachers each develop one or two courses based on the results of the initial survey.
Students are given an opportunity to rate the listings and rank their top five preferences.
Each teacher then fully develops a course with a basic description of what students will do, how much the course will cost and what the culminating product will be (presentation, art pieces, paper, etc.).
A catalog of courses including details regarding payment plans and registration is provided to students.
Students preferences are ranked in order of the date they return their registration.
Students are placed in courses with preference being given to Seniors down to 6th graders.
Students may pay in full for the course or make payments over four months.

During the actual week, students participate in a variety of activities and educational opportunities. Some of the courses we have offered in the past include:  CERT/First Aid/CPR training, Mission X (local missions),  Pastry Basics, Cultural Cooking, Fashion, Think Greek, Forensic Science, Animal Science, Missions 101, Specialty Art classes, “Man” week with a focus on small engine repair, hunting, fishing and outdoor activities, History of Film, Strategy Week, Kentucky Adventure Week, Backpacking/Survival Skills, The Amazing Race (Kentucky History), Archaeology Dig, Military/Criminal Justice, as well as trips to Washington, DC, Williamsburg, Kentucky, Boston, MA, and Honduras. 

Animal Science class visits Frankfort Veterinary Clinic
While Elementary students do not participate in X-treme Week trips, we try to include them by doing fun activities at school, with a "Drop Everything And..." theme each day. For instance, this year Monday we "dropped everything" to Pray, Tuesday we danced, Wednesday we moved (exercised), and Thursday we read.

When asked what they were most looking forward to this year, an overwhelming number said X-treme Week. This week is high interest, hands on, and really allows students to build relationships with faculty. We continue to build on the classes we've developed. It is our hope to further add AP prep, more service opportunities, and fine arts opportunities.

Click here to see photos from X-treme Week 2014! You can also follow the hashtag #TFCAXtreme2014 on Facebook and Twitter for more shared content!

Carrie Beth Tigges
Assistant Principal and Guidance Counselor

Monday, March 10, 2014

How to Help Your Child with Anxiety

Worry. Angst. Tears. Sadness. Stomachaches. Headaches. Avoidance.  

Any of these words ring a bell?

Many children and adolescents struggle daily with anxiety. They are perfectionists and will redo projects and papers until they are just right. They will avoid activities and will not try new things because they might not be able to do them well. Students will repeatedly want to stay home from school or want to leave school with stomachaches or headaches to avoid speaking in front of their class or taking an exam.

All of these actions are “normal” for students to deal with in their lives. But what can you, as a parent, do to help them navigate these choppy waters?

1 – Pray with and for your children. This may go without saying, but God loves them even more than you do and he cares for them! Pray for wisdom to know when it is something they should figure out themselves and when you need to intervene.
2 – Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Seek out the school counselor, a pastor or lay person that can counsel with you and/or your child. Sometimes a mental health professional and your pediatrician should be involved.
3 – Don’t merely look for ways to avoid difficult situations or times your child will experience anxiety, but walk through it with them. Ask “what if” questions and have them brainstorm responses. For example, if they are afraid of speaking/giving a report in front of their class, ask them what they think might happen/why they are afraid. Then work through how they can respond/react in that situation. Sometimes merely having an “escape plan” mentally helps them feel prepared.
4 - Watch for signs that their anxiety is spinning out of control. What are their eating habits? How are they acting/interacting socially? Are their fears unrealistic? Are symptoms becoming more prevalent?
5 – Look for opportunities to teach relaxation techniques. Focused breathing, thinking of things that make them feel safe and happy and exercise can all be ways to reduce anxiety and stress.
6 – Look for ways to gently and gradually expose them to situations that make them anxious. Ease them into transitioning until they are comfortable and have success doing it on their own.
7 – Stop Googling and reading sites like WebMD or Wikipedia! They just give you all the worst case scenarios of what may be wrong with your child and that just adds to YOUR stress and anxiety!

When in doubt – seek out your doctor and/or professional counselor to help. Children aren’t cookie cutters and do not all experience anxiety and/or depression the same way. Never feel ashamed or like you as a parent has failed if you have to seek help for your child. Getting them the help they need IS being a good parent!

Carrie Beth Tigges
Assistant Principal & Guidance Counselor

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Why Celebrate Lent?

Photo credit:  http://www.goodshepherddet.com/
Growing up in a denomination that didn’t really emphasize Lent, my first real encounter with the season was in college.  The idea of fasting was something I had read about in the Bible, of course, but never practiced in my own life.  Fast forward a few years, and I have been truly blessed by belonging to a church that does practice Lent and encourages families to fast, pray and give extra focus to Christ as we look forward to Holy Week.

Maybe you already observe Lent in your home and your church, but maybe you don’t.  Here are some reasons I would encourage you to consider it:

It dedicates 40 days to giving up something that takes our time (TV, social media, other pasttimes) and using the time we have freed up to focus on God.  You can take that 30 minutes a day and read scripture, pray, fast, etc.
It pushes us toward a season of “cleaning house” or repentance.  What areas of your life does God want to expose the cobwebs?  What have you been holding onto that you need to release control of to Him?
It gives us an opportunity to really teach our children about Lent, Holy Week, Passover and the spiritual discipline of fasting. In our wild and crazy lives, it is refreshing to set aside time truly focused on God and His word.
Pick a time to read through one of the gospels together through the Lent season.  Our church is reading through the book of Matthew and each day has a set scripture passage to read.  We often read this at the dinner table before or after our meal.
Our worship pastor encouraged us to have a “Technology free Tuesday” where all phones, ipads and computers are put up each evening and we play games, read together, go for a walk, etc. and really spend time focused on our families.
Another component many weave into the Lent season is a focus on service.  Pick a ministry your family can serve through Lent.  If you are fasting from chocolate or soft drinks, take the money you normally spend on that and give it to a local ministry.

If you want to know more about Lent and how your family can incorporate this season into your spiritual life, check out these resources:

I pray your family will feel renewed in their relationship with Christ and each other as you experience Lent together!  

I want to leave you with this verse –“ Create in me a new heart, O God, and renew a right Spirit within me”  Psalm 51:10

Carrie Beth Tigges
Assistant Principal