Learning Together with Kind Hearts and Determined Minds
Newsletter – October 2020
Dear Parents and Carers,
We are almost at the end of Term 1 and the children are coping well with the huge adjustment of returning to school. As the global pandemic continues we are acutely aware that this does continue to be a very challenging time for children, staff and parents.
The children’s well-being is at the heart of all we do and staff have access to a wealth of knowledge and experience to ensure the children’s mental health and well-being are supported. The transition for most children was very smooth and it is clear that they had completed the work that was set during lockdown. However, as we move into our sixth week we are aware that many children (and adults) just want things to return normal and so a rollercoaster of emotions can occur. One of the support programmes we have introduced across the school is Zones of Regulation.
So, what are the Zones?
The Zones is a systematic, cognitive behavioural approach used to teach self-regulation by categorising all the different ways we feel and states of alertness we experience into four coloured zones. The Zones framework provides strategies to teach children to become more aware of and independent in controlling their emotions and impulses, manage their sensory needs, and improve their ability to problem solve conflicts.
The Zones of Regulation incorporates Social Thinking (www.socialthinking.com) concepts and numerous visuals to teach children to identify their feelings/level of alertness, understand how their behaviour impacts those around them, and learn what tools they can use to manage their feelings.
THE FOUR ZONES: OUR FEELINGS AND STATES DETERMINE OUR ZONE
The Red Zone is used to describe extremely heightened states of alertness and intense emotions. The child may be elated or experiencing anger, rage, devastation, or terror when in the Red Zone. When a child is in the red zone we ask them to STOP reminding them that when in the Red Zone it is very difficult for them to make the right decision. Strategies such as distraction, calming, humour can all be used.
The Yellow Zone is also used to describe a heightened state of alertness and elevated emotions, however, children have more control when they are in the Yellow Zone. A child may be experiencing stress, frustration, anxiety, excitement, silliness, ‘the wiggles’, or nervousness when in the Yellow Zone. When in this zone we encourage the child to SLOW DOWN.
The Green Zone is used to describe a calm state of alertness. A child may be described as happy, focused, content, or ready to learn when in the Green Zone. This is the zone where optimal learning occurs. The child is good to GO.
The Blue Zone is used to describe low states of alertness and down feelings, the child may feel sad, tired, sick, or bored. When a child is feeling in this zone a REST might be required i.e. changing what they are doing, taking a short time out, talking through what is making them sad, focussing on positives etc.
The Zones can be compared to traffic signs. When given a green light or in the Green Zone, you are “good to go”. A yellow sign means be aware or take caution, which applies to the Yellow Zone. A red light or stop sign means stop, and when you are in the Red Zone this often is the case. The Blue Zone can be compared to the rest area signs where you go to rest or re-energize. All of the zones are natural to experience, but the framework focuses on teaching children how to recognise and manage their Zone based on the environment and its demands and the people around them. For example, when playing on the playground or in an active/competitive game, children are often experiencing a heightened internal state such as silliness or excitement and are in the Yellow Zone, but it may not need to be managed. However, if the environment is changed to the classroom where there are different expectations than the playground, children may still be in the Yellow Zone but have to manage it differently so their behaviour meets the expectations of the classroom setting. For most children this is the first time they would have been introduced to this so feel free to talk to them about it and it may also be helpful at home. Google Zones of regulation and you will find many colourful posters representing the four colours.
Assessment and The Recovery Curriculum
This week teachers have been undertaking an assessment of where they feel the children are in the core subjects, Reading, Writing and Maths. This initial assessment is based on a number of elements depending on the child’s age and stage but will be a combination of mini assessments, reviewing the children’s work and through discussion with the child. The outcome of these assessments will be discussed during parent consultations and you will also receive a summary report.
The high prevalence of COVID-19 means that teachers will be unable to meet with parents in person so online zoom meetings will be organised. The meetings will be spread out over a couple of weeks and appointments during the school day and early evening will be offered. More information will be sent out regarding this nearer the time.
Attendance has dropped from an excellent 98% to 96%. Most of these absences are due to sickness or waiting on the results of COVID tests, which is understandable but some are due to holidays taken in term time. Please note, where leave of absence has not been agreed and you take your child out of school the leave will be recorded as unauthorised. The Local Authority may also issue you with a Penalty Notice. Penalty Notices are issued to each parent for each child who is absent without the consent of the Headteacher.
Penalty Notices carry a fine of £60 per parent per child if paid within 21 days increasing to £120 per parent per child if paid between 22-28 days. Failure to pay the penalty in full at the end of the 28-day period may result in prosecution by the Attendance Service. Expectations of attendance are regularly shared through newsletters and with a Recovery Curriculum being more important than ever it is vital that children are in school. As always, Attendance Ted, Punctuality Pup and attendance certificates will be awarded to classes and individuals for excellent attendance.
Homework and Out of School Connectivity
Thank you for responding to our ‘Out of School Connectivity Survey’. 100 families responded and this has provided useful information for the school. As mentioned in my previous newsletter, our aim, as much as possible, is to set homework on line; children enjoy working this way, it limits the transition of coronavirus between home and school and the class teacher is able to quickly view how your child has done. Please support the school by ensuring that work is completed by the deadline. If you are experiencing IT difficulties please email the school office at firstname.lastname@example.org prior to the deadline with your child’s name, their class and the difficulty and this will be passed on to the teacher. Most maths homework is set on a Wednesday and is due in on a Monday and Spelling Frame should be undertaken as often as possible in the week alongside daily reading.
Usually, at this time of year, we open our school to prospective parents but COVID-19 has meant that this is not possible this year. However, we have made a virtual tour video which can be viewed on the front page of our website and there is also a link via the admissions tab to two further presentations by myself and Mrs Jeffery, the Early Years Lead. If you do know of families that have children due to start school, please direct them to the website. After school tours can also be booked with myself again via the school office.
Thank you to all the parents who wear masks on site which is vital as you pass each other on the school grounds. Please remember to move quickly off site before the next bubble arrives and when waiting stand socially distant. This way we will continue to minimise the risk. As we continue to face the challenges of the pandemic it is important that we continue to support each other, following advice and guidelines when given.
Headteacher, Borough Green Primary