Advent is about faith and waiting. What are you waiting on God for this year? Remember the years of silence as God's people waited for the Messiah. Take time today, right now, to reflect on the fact that God's timing is quite different from ours.
The story of Jesus' birth gives us assurance and joy because even though the waiting lingered for decades, God broke through at just the right time.
Most of us try to grow a forest in one day. Jesus, however, invites you to begin with a tiny seed. Watch it grow and wait for it to become all that you dreamed it would be.
Are you willing to plant faith and wait upon God? Nothing seems to be appearing on the horizon today, but just wait! God always keeps his promises, even to those who have little faith. Just wait.
E. Martin (From Lifeway Devotions for Advent)
At WCS, we regularly get healthy living updates from our Public Health Nurse. This month’s focus is on sleep habits for children. Sleep is essential for everyone, especially for children who are actively growing. When we sleep, the body has time to repair itself from the wear and tear of daily living. Getting good quality sleep each day is important for children because it helps improve their:
● attention, learning and memory
● mental and physical health
● overall well-being
● growth and development
Sleep needs differ for different ages and for different kids. Pay attention to what works best for your child. General recommendations for kids based on their age are:
● Preschoolers (3-4 years) need 10-13 hours of good quality sleep with consistent bedtimes and wake up times. This might include a nap.
● Elementary school kids (5-13 years) need 9-11 hours of uninterrupted sleep with consistent bedtimes and wake up times.
● Teens (14-17) need 8-10 hours
Telltale signs indicating lack of sleep include, complaining of being tired, irritability, increased forgetfulness, difficulty learning, and lack of interest in what is happening around them. Here are some tips for bedtime routines that can help with sleep:
● Set a specific bedtime.
● No screen time one hour before bedtime.
● Avoid heavy meals and energetic play prior to bedtime.
● Routines like the three B's - bath, brush and book - are great for kids.
● Bedroom should be quiet, cool and comfortable for sleeping.
● Make use of night lights.
● Set a specific wake up time.
For more information on sleep habits, plans, and needs, see sleepfoundation.org.
For students and parents alike, even the words “report cards” can evoke feelings. A child's report card can bring feelings of joy, excitement, and pride; it can also cause concern, frustration, and uncertainty. In either case, the reporting period marks a new beginning to set goals as well as reflect on past work habits, achievements, and hardships. (“Talking to Your Child about Report Cards.” Family Education, 15 May 2019, www.familyeducation.com)
This article continues in its advice to parents that when talking to your child, to focus on the positive aspects of the report card; a child’s strengths. Then, one should be asking the right questions. For example, “Is the pace of a class too fast or too slow?” “Does your child ask questions when they don’t understand?” “Are all of the assignments getting completed?” And lastly, create realistic and attainable goals for the next reporting period.
At Woodstock Christian School it is evident that parents, as a whole, are highly interested and engaged in their child’s learning. We, as educators, look forward to discussing your child and how, together, we can make a plan for future academic success and personal growth.
Honour & Remember
The Remembrance Day Ceremony has played a major role in Remembrance since 1931. Every year, at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, we gather in memorial parks, community halls, workplaces, schools and homes to stand in honour of all who have fallen. Together, we observe a moment of silence to mark the sacrifice of the many who have fallen in the service of their country, and to acknowledge the courage of those who still serve.
To promote Remembrance, The Royal Canadian Legion erects and maintains war memorials and cenotaphs across Canada, including the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The memorials and cenotaphs serve as gathering places for ceremonies on Remembrance Day, and for other Remembrance milestones throughout the year. They are important symbols of our commitment to honouring and remembering the sacrifices of our Canadian Armed Forces, RCMP, peacekeepers, as well as their families and communities. War memorials help our communities to never forget.
The Legion is dedicated to ensuring Canadians have opportunities to remember Canada's Fallen Veterans. Legion members work tirelessly to advocate for, fundraise and coordinate the building and maintenance of memorials and cenotaphs to ensure their community has a place where people can gather to remember our Fallen heroes. We encourage all Canadians to visit their local war memorial or cenotaph and take a moment to pause, to reflect, to thank and to Remember.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them. (Source: legion.ca)
Your Child’s Mental Health
One of the areas that is becoming a larger part of my role as Director of Student Support Services is supporting students with behaviour and mental health challenges. This is a growing area of need in all schools as it is now estimated that about one in five children and youth has a diagnosable mental health condition. Chances are, your family is currently dealing with mental health issues right now.
One of the greatest barriers facing those with mental health challenges is the stigma that continues to surround them, including amongst Christians. Many are embarrassed to disclose these weaknesses and as a result do not pursue support. My prayer is that we will feel safe to talk openly about mental health issues and that others will respond with compassion and love instead of judgement and rejection.
What are the signs that your child might be experiencing a mental health problem (such as anxiety, depression, or an eating disorder)? Be on the lookout for changes in the way your child is thinking, feeling, or behaving. According to Breanne Cousins-McGuire, a counsellor from the Counselling House, some indicators include:
- sleep disturbances (night mares, fear of going to sleep, waking up often, trouble falling asleep or sleeping more than usual)
- having ongoing negative thoughts and moods such as fear, guilt, sadness, shame, or confusion
- a loss of interest in activities that used to be enjoyed and spending more time alone
- having trouble concentrating, feeling angry or irritable (or having temper tantrums)
- being easily startled or constantly on the look-out for danger
- development of new fears or crying easily
- seeming dependent or clingy
- depression or anxiety
- general misbehaviour, attention seeking behaviour, or doing things that might be risky or dangerous
- poor school performance and/or attendance
- unexplained aches and pains
If you are concerned about your child’s mental health, please talk to your child’s teacher or connect with me. You are also encouraged to make an appointment with your family doctor and seek out the support of a counsellor. We are blessed to have several wonderful Christian counsellors in the Woodstock area (e.g., The Counselling House and Tina J. Smith & Associates). Getting support is critical as early intervention helps improve academic performance and health outcomes. Let’s keep talking about mental health, and know that it’s okay to ask for help.
There is a new emphasis in education on social / emotional learning and understanding the connection to academic learning. WCS has invested significant time and funds in training our staff in Responsive Classroom methods so that more and more our classrooms feel like welcoming spaces where students know they belong and are an essential part of the community. Why? So that students can learn better. The keynote speaker at the Edvance Educators Conference was Dr. Robert Loe, who spoke on the Imperative of Love. The biblical framework for his research and his talk was Matthew 22:36-39 (NIV), where Jesus is asked, "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" And Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 'This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbour as yourself.' The command to love translates into the importance of building and maintaining strong healthy and happy relationships. Happiness is not found within us, noted Dr. Loe, but between us and among us. In Christian schools, we focus both on the vertical relationship, us and God, and in horizontal, us and others, as well. Consistently, research shows us that face-to-face relationships are key. Though we are hyper-connected across social media, digital matches are no substitute for face-to-face. As Christians, created in his image, we are to reflect the perfect relational nature of God. We are created for community. (for more information check relationalschools.org)
C. Verbeek, Principal
Many of us are perhaps tired of hearing about election news. It's been 40 days since the election has been called. We often hear the term "Forty Days" in the Bible too. It is an appropriate block of time. No more, no less! We know that having the privilege to vote is indeed a "privilege." However, sometimes we forget what a privilege it is. I heard two inspiring stories in the last week that spoke of two people taking their right to vote very seriously. Inspiring Story #1: A Syrian immigrant in Toronto became a formal Canadian citizen last week and the next day he went to get his voter's card to ensure he was on the voters' list. Inspiring Story #2: I heard an interview with a very young adult, fighting a serious terminal illness, being the first one to vote in her local Advance Poll to make sure she got her privilege to vote. Beyond all the "political blather" stories like this shine brightly! Parents and anyone reading this, have you voted yet? You have until 9:30 PM this evening!
Mrs. Dieleman - Teacher/Librarian
This month, our Leadership Team program is up and running again! Teams are meeting, determining goals for the year, and beginning to serve our WCS community. Students are excited for the many ways in which they get to lead and serve. Kindergarten helpers, snow removers, facilities experts, library workers, office supporters, bus safety patrollers, praise leaders… so many ways to serve! New this year is the gardening team which has been formed in response to the Sustainability Project our seventh and eighth grade students conducted this past spring. Several years ago, Woodstock Christian School moved away from student leadership in the form of the Students’ Council model towards our current Leadership Teams model. The former model involved a large workload for a handful of leaders in the senior grades. We know that God has created each student with the capacity to lead and serve in some way. We considered how best to develop servant leadership... to provide opportunites for them as whole beings - their body, mind, heart and spirit. Students have studied the job descriptions for team membership, identified their own strengths and interests, applied - and in some cases - interviewed or auditioned for positions, and received their assignments. We are excited to see students form new partnerships within their multi-grade teams, to develop talents and character, and to serve with glad and thankful hearts.
(Related reading: The Leader in Me by Stephen Covey)
Carol Verbeek, Principal
“Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” (John 4:29) On Friday September 20th the eighth grade class travelled to Camp Bimini for our annual Grade Eight Retreat day.
We started our day in devotions which were led by Pastor John Moelker from Covenant CRC in Woodstock. The focus of our devotion was on the theme of testimony, he led us through the story of Jesus talking with the Samaritan woman at the well from John 4. As we worked through the story we came to the realization that after the Samaritan women spent time face-to-face with Jesus she immediately went and invited others from town to come, see who Jesus was. After some discussion we came to the conclusion that we have a responsibility as followers of Jesus to share our story with others. It is our responsibility to simply invite others to come and see. We are not expected to make followers of Jesus that work is left for the Holy Spirit to accomplish in their lives. Our role is to simply share our own personal experience with Jesus. Our story does not always have to be a complex, planned out testimony; it can be a simple statement much like what we read in John 4:29. The Samaritan woman simply gave an invitation for the people from town to come and see.
At Woodstock Christian School, we spend countless hours with our students teaching, leading and guiding them with the hope that they will each come and see who Jesus is. In our classroom this year, we of course spend time learning about all of the things we need to learn in eighth grade. However, one aspect of my job as a teacher that I appreciate is the ability I have to invite students to come and see. Please pray with me that as we teach our children about who Jesus is, that they may all come and see who Jesus is in their lives.
Mr. Tony Schaafsma, Grade 8 Teacher
We all know what overflowing looks like: The moment you are not paying attention while pouring coffee into your mug or juice into your glass. The rain comes teeming down and eavestroughs or street gutters cannot handle the load. Spring runoff from melting snow swells creeks and rivers beyond their banks. Dictionary.com provides these definitions for the verb o·ver·flowed, o·ver·flown, o·ver·flow·ing.
● to flow or run over, as rivers or water:
● to have the contents flowing over or spilling, as an overfull container:
● to pass from one place or part to another as if flowing from an overfull space:
● to be filled or supplied with in great measure
I am drawn to the last two definitions in this list when thinking about the WCS theme for this year: Overflowing with Thankfulness. God is full of grace and mercy, full of love and compassion. Many, many Bible passages tell us about the nature of God and frequently use the words, 'full', 'abounding', 'all'. Our response to Him comes from the recognition of His greatness. As we discipline ourselves to be conscious of the blessings He pours out, knowing that we are filled and supplied in great measure, those blessings can pass from us to others. Look at what God is doing in your life, in your community, and let His goodness and grace overflow through you.
C. Verbeek, Principal
Back in April of 2018, I wrote an article about Responsive Classroom. In July 2019, I went for a week long seminar to be trained in Responsive Classroom specific to teaching intermediate level students. There are many RC practices that are consistently shared between primary, junior and intermediate teaching levels. One RC practice that is distinctly different at the intermediate level is the ‘Morning Meeting’. RC practices aim to mature and progress the social, emotional and cognitive domains of a learner. The purpose of the meeting is to give students a safe place to practice positive, intentional, social interaction. The group is led to greet and converse with one another through games, prompting questions and discussions. At the intermediate level ‘morning meeting’ becomes Responsive Advisory Meeting.
RAM is altered in appropriate ways to provide a safe place for adolescents to interact with one another. 12 year olds desire to be with friends, reflect on who they are becoming, feel safer in smaller groups and are ready to take on responsibilities (Wood, 2017). At 12 years of age, students are increasingly able to plan for and organize themselves. RAMs focus on 7 areas to support social, emotional and cognitive development: student-to-student affiliation, academic readiness, advisor-advisee relationship, communication and social skills, re-engagement, reflection/recalibration and service learning (Benson et.al., 2018). The students meet, and interact, in small groups of 4-6 students. Each RAM contains a greeting time, announcements, guided interaction (skill based), an activity (skill based) and a reflection. The teacher’s ‘advisory’ role is to consistently meet with small groups, noting and encouraging positive interaction and development. The teacher also meets individually with students to discuss short, and long term goal setting, and to monitor goal attainment.
There is much evidence that RAM is having a positive effect on our grade 7 learning community. Daily, students are practising active listening and speaking/presentation skills. Students report they enjoy sharing their feelings, and knowledge, with peers in ‘safe’ small groups. Students have begun intentional short-term goal setting, developing self-regulation skills and building confidence to use and share their God given talents.
Field Studies at WCS
It is almost fall, and our out-of-school explorations are about to begin. We are excited about learning about God and his creation in our classrooms, but there is something special about getting beyond our classroom and school walls and investigating, first hand, other spaces, and other parts of creation. As parents, guardians, or grandparents, you are also invited into these learning experiences. If you have signed up as a chaperone for one of the WCS field trips, here are a few items to remember:
● Please be familiar with the WCS Code of Conduct as this applies to all of the adults who interact with our students.
● Be punctual both with school departure times and arranged meeting times at the venue
● Use your cell phone/device to snap a few photos, but keep your attention on the students, rather than your screen.
● Be conscientious about sharing photos. Some of our students are on the 'do not photograph' list.
● Make sure your police check is current. Check in with the office if you are unsure.
● Be amazed at what God has done. Have fun and learn along with the students!
C. Verbeek, Principal