We are all aware of the distraction and distance our cell phones can or have created with others and the impact they can have on relationships. In November, I was reminded of the blessings that can come when devices are absent from a gathering.
During Parent/Teacher conferences we (the staff) were blessed to have supper prepared for us. As a staff we gathered in the staff room to break bread together. We had an hour to look up and meet each other face to face. During that time the room was filled with much conversation, laughter, support and really, over all, peace. It was lovely.
It wasn't until I returned to my classroom and checked my phone (that I had left on my desk) that I realized the blessing and the presence of God that existed. It hit me that NO ONE, I repeat NO ONE was on their phone or even had it out. We were truly in community. We were truly breaking bread together. We were truly in relationship with each other. We were doing what God has intended for each of His children- being in and building relationships.
God has put that deep sense of desire to connect, to belong and be face to face with others in each of us. Next time you are at home, out with family or friends, watching your kids play a sport; etc; Look Up! Don't miss the blessings God has waiting to pour out on you and those you are with.
It’s a brand new year! Welcome back to WCS in 2020. Wishing you God’s blessings, strength and grace as you journey through this year. Whether you are about to walk through the greatest year of your life, or the most challenging, know that God’s word and promises hold true. It’s a new year and as we plan how we will live our lives this year, perhaps make some changes and resolve to do things better, be guided by these words from Psalm 119 in which the psalmist recognizes God as a God who makes and keeps promises, who is strong, generous, wise, and loving. Teach me lessons for living, give me insight, guide me down the road of your commandments, give me a bent for your words of wisdom, divert my eyes from toys and trinkets, invigorate me on the pilgrim way, affirm your promises to me Let your love, God, shape my life with salvation, exactly as you promised (vs 33-41, The Message. Reframe: Today) Be confident that God will use you and build you this year. Trust that he will provide and that his grace and love will continue to flow over and through you.
Blessings for 2020.
Christmas season is here! It’s a great time of celebrating and showing good will to others. At WCS we have the blessing of keeping Christmas all year! Enjoy the words of this song:
Let’s keep Christmas the whole year through;
Think of all the good we’d do
Light the spirit of love anew
So that all the world might see.
We’d be patient and kind and good;
Understand and nee understood,
Treat each other the way we should
So, we’d live in charity.
Christmas time is a time to care,
Full of love that you want to share,
Christmas time is a time to give,
It’s a whole new way to live!
Let’s bring Christmas to every heart;
Love and joy that will ne’er depart,
Each one wanting to have a part,
What a difference that would be!
Emmanuel - God with Us
It seems everywhere we go at this time of year, Christmas carols are playing. To drive to appointments or to shop for groceries to the strains of "Oh Come, Oh Come, Emmanuel" seems out of place. But on second thought, no, actually, it's quite appropriate.
As Christ-followers, we believe that God created and is sustaining everything in all creation. In the large decisions of life, and in the nitty-gritty of the daily routines, we understand "God with us". Matthew, in his Gospel, stresses the fulfilment of the prophecies of the Old Testament and begins and ends the book (see Matthew 28:20) with promises that God is with us. Emmanuel - One of the most comforting of all the names and titles of Jesus. God with us. Emmanuel indicates Jesus' role, bringing God's presence to man. God is gracious to His people by sending the Messiah. When our sins made it impossible for us to come to Him, God took the outrageous step of coming to us, of making Himself susceptible to sorrow, familiar with temptation, and vulnerable to sin and pain and the messiness of life, in order to cancel sin's claim. Take comfort. God is with us. (Source: blueletterbible.org, faithgateway.com)
C. Verbeek, Principal
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