Teaching Gratefulness #Brenwoodgratefulnesschallenge

This week my son came home from school and was excited to tell me about their exercise on being thankful in class.  He said, “Mom the teacher asked us in class today what we were thankful for.”  With the sweetest grin on his face, my first thought was to prepare myself for a special mother and son bonding moment.   I asked him what his reply was and he simply said “My best friend, Reid.”  With a slight twinge of disappointment that the answer wasn’t his amazing mother, I was also very grateful that he has developed a friendship bond that is important to him.

This entire conversation made me aware of how easy it is to let our selfish nature take over in our thoughts and actions.  It became an earnest sincerity to remember the importance of teaching our children gratitude.   While this may not come as a surprise, one study linked gratitude to greater social support, stress and depression prevention, and a more optimistic outlook throughout life. The lack of teaching our children gratitude can often lead to an attitude of self-entitlement.

My experience this week also created a sense of self-awareness in my actions.  Am I showing positivity and being thankful for my day-to-day interactions?  Children learn from watching how we react to certain situations and makes this one of the most important steps in teaching gratitude.  Are you remembering to say thank you to your children for doing their chores and having the patience to teach them? Are you thankful to the people around you for their efforts and hard work?  Are you grateful for even the small things like the colors of fall, a family meal together, anything that makes us happy?  A small token of thanks can give a child confidence to try harder and do more for others.

Real life exposures, at age-appropriate times, can often give children an opportunity for a bigger visual.  We often try to shelter our children from difficult circumstances to protect them.  Any child can put a toy in a box for donations, but are they grasping the full scope of their actions?  One of my favorite projects I have organized while working for a former employer was assisting Must Ministries in their Santa Shop.  We took children to stock and shop at a store that was created to help underprivileged families in providing for Christmas for their families.   Many of the children were able to hear personal stories of sadness and abandonment of children with no parents, families of chronically ill children who were in bankruptcy from medical expenses, and many stories that were heartfelt and difficult.   The overwhelming change of attitude in many of these children in how they appreciated their lives and each other was one of the most rewarding experiences.

I want to challenge each of you to continue to teach gratefulness at home, by taking the Brenwood Academy Grateful Challenge.  With many difficult stories, news, and struggles that surround us daily, I want to encourage each of you to look at the enclosed list and choose a few of each of these items.  Share your experiences with me through e-mail or by tagging Brenwood Academy on Instagram or Facebook with #Brenwoodgratefulnesschallenge.  Please allow us to share these through social media and throughout our school.  In a school of early childhood development, a heart of Gratitude is one of the greatest lessons we can hope to teach your children.

Giving Back to Your School; Goal Scholarship

School of choice is a concept that has been in circulation for decades.  Learning, children, and paths to success for our children do not fit into a simple one-size-fits-all box, and while positive aspects of both public and private school abound, the need for alternative learning styles presents itself.  Individualized learning plans for proper growth in a child without restrictions has become a common factor of enrollment at Brenwood Academy.

As our private school begins to grow for grades K – 3rd (expanding to 5th) children with a wide varying range of skill sets can find a place to develop and work on their specific needs.   Our students range from Pre-k students able to write and read on a 2nd grade level, 2nd grade students practicing math concepts on 5th and 6th grade levels, and some are starting out several grades lower academically and are in need of more one-on-one time.  Imagine placing these children into a classroom environment that restricts them from meeting their full potential or cannot provide them with the individualized attention they need in a classroom size of 22 to 25.  Along with our proprietary curriculum centered around project based learning, our students can explore and engage in a learning style that gives them freedom to find their own path to success.

Private School scholarship options are available for families who may not financially be able to afford the full cost of private school tuition.   Brenwood Academy is an active participant in the GOAL Scholarship Program, which allows you as a parent to help support our enrolling families by applying for a 100% state income tax credit.   When you apply for your tax credit, your funds can be allocated towards private school tuition funding for your school of choice.  There is a cap on the funds that can be allocated to the GOAL Scholarship each year, which makes it critical for you to act now to request your tax credit.  You have the power to change a child by providing scholarship options for those children that may mean the difference between success in life and failure.

Please take a look at the GOAL Scholarship Fund website https://www.goalscholarship.org.   Please make an appointment to speak with me directly for more information on how this program can work.  Brenwood is making a huge impact in the lives of children every day.  Every dollar you redirect towards private school scholarships will cost you absolutely nothing.  Imagine making such an impact completely free.  Please consider helping Brenwood Academy make this impact.



Engineering Design: Fairy Tale STEM Activities

STEM is a regular part of our day. This month our STEM focus will be on Engineering Design, while simultaneously learning about Fairy Tales and Simple Machines. It is fascinating to see the various solutions students achieve as they work through the engineering process.  Students are allowed to apply what they know and investigate potential ideas and concepts rather than be expected to focus upon a specific “right” answer.  STEM focuses on providing the opportunity for children to collaborate, create solutions, and finally test and improve their solutions using an Engineering Design Process.

One of my goals is for the students in our class to understand that it is socially acceptable to have different ideas on how to solve a problem, while learning the valuable skill of working cooperatively towards a solution. Currently, we are collaborating to create a new home for Cinderella.  Cinderella is a well known fairy tale. In this story, Cinderella’s fairy godmother solved a lot of her problems. However, now that she has married her Prince Charming, she is in dire need of a new home to call her own! Our students are generating and comparing multiple possible designs to solve her problem. Students will work in small groups, and must use what they know about free standing structures and pulleys to design and build a castle, They are required to  include very specific criteria… such as a working drawbridge, at least 3 towers, a perimeter of at least 36 inches, etc.  Skills and tools of problem solving, patience, perseverance, and presentation are going to be needed to help Cinderella solve her problem, so that she can live happily ever after.

Anxieties In Starting A New School Year

As a child, one of the most monumental moments of your life is the start of school. There is so much excitement that builds up about being part of a classroom, picking out the perfect backpack, riding the bus, and making new friends. With all of this anticipation often comes anxiety, illness, and exhaustion which leads to the perfect storm of emotions for our young students.

Directing a preschool, you also begin to see parents struggling with these anxieties to an overwhelming point. We have identified the top three struggles and how to contend with them using the right techniques.

Children struggle with changes that may occur in their schedule or routine when they are presented with unfamiliar faces or places including “goodbyes” to their parents. Separation anxiety is a normal and necessary part of development where a child will show signs of regression, anger, crying, and sadness. The best fix for separation anxiety is always to be consistent, have a goodbye routine, and stay strong. Settling into a new routine from our experience will take anywhere from one week to one month.

As your child begins any school of any type, the spread of germs and communicable diseases are inevitably spread. Expect your child to come home with some type of cold, stomach virus, or rash within the first six months. Just like separation anxiety, seeing our little one’s sick can tug at your heartstrings. Allowing exposure to these germs can actually have positive effects on building antibodies in their immune system that will make them more resilient to viruses as they age. Exposure at a young age allows antibodies to build stronger and faster.

When the school year begins it usually follows with more scheduling “to do’s” that surface like extracurriculars, events, and priority lists. Balancing all of these can almost bring you into an exhausted state of depression where you experience burnout. Remember to slow down! Take a moment to breathe and appreciate what is causing all of the franticness in the first place by spending quality time with your children and simply take the time to play. Laughter and exercise can actually increase endorphins that bind to the opioid receptors in the brain similar to the effects of pain killers.

Staying on top of these anxieties and allowing your child and yourself to deal with these difficulties will create a positive and successful school year. We are always available to speak to you directly and provide resources for anything that you may have concerns about that we can work through with your family.
A list of insightful articles that cover more specifics on these topics:


August 2017 The Dream Classroom

Our students are beginning the school year creating their very own classroom community… a “Dream Classroom”.  All students from Pre-K to 3rd grade are planning,  problem solving, collaborating, and creating a classroom design(s). Students are working on issues (such as behavior management, class jobs, etc.)  that require them to make their own decisions while addressing various ‘classroom’ issues or topics that arise. Students will be incorporating skills acquired in reading, writing, and math while working to solve the problems faced. As the children work to create their “Dream Classroom”, there will be opportunities for independent work as well as partner collaboration.  The final product will be based on each student’s imagination, creativity, and knowledge base.

The “Dream Classroom” was chosen for our first project, because I want our students to understand that classrooms should function as a positive community environment. Even though our class does consist of  multi-aged children, different learning levels, and a variety of learning styles—it is important to understand that we can all function together as a cohesive unit. I look forward to seeing the final product and to a great year! We are definitely off to a wonderful start!!

Enrollment Decisions for April 2017

Enrollment decisions for Fall 2017 are on the table, so what is the difference between private Pre-K versus GA Pre-K.   Being a part of the value of Brenwood Academy, one of the top GA Pre-K centers in Canton, it becomes critical to help parents understand why tuition payments for our private program is an invaluable investment over a free state program.

As the old saying goes “you get what you pay for”, and what you’re paying for is an investment in a learning foundation, limitless learning boundaries, leadership skills, and a child’s ability to articulate their own objectives and ideas.  With intimate private classrooms, our environment and pedagogy of project based learning is instilled every day in the learning foundation of our students.

I have the stimulating experience of witnessing Project Based Learning in action every week.  An impressionable experience was watching our 5-8-year-old students develop their own in house Olympic games.  Each child was either grouped together or developed their own Olympic challenge.  The assignment challenged them to learn about the history of the Olympics and the job of the Olympic Committee.  They were then challenged to plan, organize, market, create and manage the first Brenwood Olympics!  The execution, and feeling of accomplishment was an investment in these students that was immeasurable, and a foundation development that will last a lifetime.

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You’re still questioning the price tag that may seem impossible?   Let’s dig a little deeper at the prioritization of how we are budgeting for life.  According to Edmunds.com, the average monthly payment on a new vehicle is $479. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2014, the average American household spent $2,787 on restaurant meals and takeout.  Us News posted a 13 point article that would save close to $1000 monthly on unnecessary expenses.

In addition to the unnecessary budget indulgences, parents are spending hundreds in extracurricular activities around Canton for football, cheerleading, and gymnastics.  Are these the valued investments that will set my child up with a solid platform to succeed in life?

Project based learning and constructivism in learning creates excitement and a craving for learning.  It projects a child out of their seat of being a “passive listener” and entices them to learning more when they are actively involved.  PBL creates a learning style that is universal across all platforms of life that set’s them up for success in any environment with creative learning, communication, and collaboration skills.



Life Cycles In April

It’s hard to believe that April is already here!  It will be a very busy month at Brenwood.  Students will be visiting Dahlonega Gold Mine for an exciting and educational day.  They will experience the thrill of gold panning and discover the history of how mining affected different parts of the United States.
In class, students will be learning about different life cycles.  They will watch caterpillars hatch into butterflies, and they will also be hatching chicks!  Students will take complete responsibility as far as researching the process of incubation and charting the growth development of the chicks.  They will also come up with a plan of how to take care of the chicks once they hatch.
I can’t wait to watch these young learners take charge of this experience!

Endangered Animal App February Projects

The elementary students are in the midst of completing an endangered animal research project.  They are each creating an app designed to inform users of the endangered animal of their choice.  Students are learning about the white rhino, the mountain gorilla, the mexican wolf and many more endangered animals.
Last week, we were visited by a boa constrictor named Nicola, a western hognose snake named Digglet, and an axolotl named Barry.  If you don’t know what an axolotl is, please look it up.  They are amazing.
Next month, all students will begin to learn the recorder!  It will be exciting to watch these young students turn into little musicians.