Summer Fun—Ways to Stay Engaged During the Summer Months

By: Catherine Shea, FUSE Reading Teacher

The beginning of summer is an exciting time! It feels like it is full of possibilities and opportunities. We can use this time to build and expand our children’s innate curiosity and excitement about learning. Tapping into fun, authentic learning experiences can also solve the problem of “summer backslide” and keep parents and students from feeling overwhelmed or behind when school begins again.

Read. It sounds so simple, but I know it can be a challenge. Everyone knows how important reading is, but getting kids to read during the summer can feel like a herculean effort. Below are some ideas to help.

  1. Book Club! Start a book club with your child. This is an amazing experience. (As a reading teacher, I am lucky enough to have it each day!) Your child will love talking to you about the book you read together. Mix it up. Read out loud to each other sometimes and sometimes read alone silently. You will learn so much about how your child thinks and how you think.
  2. Look for a favorite! Librarians spend a lot of time studying books. Ask them to help find books that match your child’s interests. Pinterest is also full of book lists that can help. Here are a few ideas:
  • Kids love a series.
  • Comic books or graphic novels are great for reluctant or struggling readers.
  • Kids love a book that has been made into a movie. Read the book, then watch the movie and discuss the differences. What did the movie get right or wrong?
  • Strategy guides for video games are great ways to get video game fans to begin reading more.
  • Kids love historical fiction!
  • Look up lyrics to songs and sing them.
  • Don’t try to force kids to read what you think they should read. There are many things to read and comprehend in the world. Encourage them to read about things they are interested in and let them tell you what they learn.
  1. Incentives! Kids love prizes. It is amazing what they will do for a little recognition. (Again, as a reading teacher I speak from experience.) Plan something fun to do after your child finishes a book. Kids will do a lot of reading for a small reward.
  2. Drama! One of the most exciting parts of the year in our reading class is when we read and act out plays. Everyone is engaged. It is so much fun to create costumes and act out a play. Have some friends over and create a production.

Be Active.

  1. Be a tourist! Learn about the local history of the places you visit during summer break. Have your child do some research, read the guidebooks, and help you plan parts of your vacation. Each summer, my family visited Nags Head, NC, where we would see a play about the Lost Colony. After the play, we would read everything we could about that time and debate theories about what happened to those people. The play energized me to read, research, and discuss. If you are having a “staycation” this summer, be a tourist in your own town. Kids love to learn about local history. It helps them feel connected to and excited about the place they live.
  2. Plant a garden! You don’t need to dig up the yard! Your garden could be a couple of planters with your child’s choice of veggies in them. Encourage your child to research recipes and plan meals to cook when the veggies are ready. This will encourage him or her to read, plan, and measure! 
  1. Create a game! At my house we call this “Calvinball” in honor of the Calvin and Hobbes comic strips. In the comics, Calvin often creates a haphazard game full of activity and creativity. Have the kids create a game with rules and equipment that gets everyone moving. Then, have the kids teach you the game. Strategize and problem solve about the rules when snags come up. As Calvin said, “The only permanent rule in Calvinball is that you can never play it the same way twice.”

Write. After you read all these wonderful books, take exciting trips, and create a fabulous dramatic production, encourage your child to write about it all. I know. This is another thing that sounds easy but is incredibly hard. Here are ways to make writing fun.

  1. Journals! Have your children write a couple of sentences about what they do each day during the summer. Letting them pick out a new journal to write in doesn’t hurt. Each week, read the journal together and talk about the things you did that week. (There is no need to check grammar or spelling. Just make it a fun bonding experience.)
  2. Blog! is a safe blogging site for kids to publish their ideas, gaming strategies, book reviews, and summer experiences. If you use a regular blogging site like WordPress, you can make the blog private, so that only family members can look at it. Encourage grandparents and other family members to comment on the blog. This makes the experience interactive and exciting!
  3. Create! Encourage your child to create art and crafts that include poetry and stories. Have readings and art shows to celebrate your child’s creativity. The Kitchen Table Classroom is a great blog to get ideas on how to incorporate reading and writing in arts and crafts projects. There are wonderful, printable templates to help you get started.

The most important thing we can do during the summer is model how we as parents are lifelong learners. Encourage your child to ask questions, research, and find answers. Look for answers with them, and let them teach you something new. It is also important not to fill every moment with an activity. Let them get bored and use their imaginations to create their own screen-free fun.

Anxiety in your Child

By: Alicia McQueen, School Counseling

It is not uncommon or abnormal to experience some levels of anxiety in our every day lives. Adults and children alike have every day life situations that can be anxiety inducing. However, with children, parents and schools should be aware of the increase in children with anxiety that can become hindering to a child’s activity. Some research shows that 1 out of every 8 children has the potential of developing an anxiety disorder.  While this may sound like a frightening thought, there is good news!  One, just because a child may have a tendency to be more anxious, it doesn’t mean they have an anxiety disorder.  Two, there are ways to notice and help your child to cope with their anxiety in a healthy way. Whew!

A key to helping children cope with anxiety and not develop a more complex problem, is to notice some of the common signs of anxiety in children. This can be a tricky task when considering that there are a wide range of symptoms.  However, noticing that symptoms present frequently and possibly around the same situations can be an indicator of an unhealthy anxiety.  One of the number one things to consider is whether or not the anxiety is hindering a child from every day activities.  If your child begins to withdraw from something they otherwise would enjoy doing because of a fear or anxiety, this is a sign of anxiety reaching an unhealthy stage. Additionally, children that complain of constant tummy aches, have trouble sleeping, become very clingy, lack focus, or begin having emotional outbursts that seem to be extreme may be showing signs of anxiety.

Treating and working through anxiety is key.  Avoiding or punishing the behaviors/symptoms above can lead to bigger problems.  Children need to understand their anxiety and learn to cope with it in healthy ways. Untreated anxiety can lead to confusion, poor performance in school and social situations, and problems with self-esteem.  Often, children that talk with their parents and address anxieties gain reassurance and coping strategies that help them when they find themselves getting anxious.  Reaching out to a school counselor, a community counselor, and/or a pediatrician can also be a great avenue for parents needing a little help in how to work with their anxious child.

So, what is the good news about anxiety?  Anxiety, while increasing in children, is pretty well-researched, with many successful and helpful tools available.  Knowing the signs and symptoms to look for is key in helping your child to cope in healthy ways. As always, sitting down and chatting with your child, going out to do something fun, unplugging and spending time together, or reading a good book together sparks conversations and healthy ways to work through what is stressing them.  Being in tune with how they are feeling is the best way to catch anxiety early.

Foreign Language at Any Age

By: Morgan James, Spanish Teacher

Too often we hear adults share that they do not remember much from language classes taken during school age years. Unfortunately, the expectations of becoming a fluent speaker are somewhat unrealistic. While hoping to become bilingual from a traditional school day or playing on an app for one hour a week are far-fetched, learning a foreign language at any age is not. Although it is true that many times at a younger age we have less fear to try new things, you can in fact teach”seasoned” dog new tricks. With the right tools and motivation, anyone, at any age, can learn a newlanguage.


New teaching trends and technology have made it increasingly easier to access materials to aide in the pursuit of becoming bilingual. However, hopping on an app andcompleting a game-structured lesson once or twice a week is simply not enough to become a fluent speaker. I once had a college professor share that fluency can be compared to singing a song. One of the biggest mistakes made when trying to learn a foreign language is not exercising the different skills that are part of effective communication. Learning a language is not only being able to speak words, but the ability to interpret and use in conversation.





The benefits of learning a foreign language can be life changing. Languages allow us to experience new cultures. When we travel, we are typically in a state of mind far from the everyday hustle and bustle we experience at home. This mindset often encourages us to be more open to trying new things we may not normally try within our daily routine. While we learn a great deal about others through travel, we also learn a lot about ourselves.

Traveling with children creates a global awareness far from what they would receive hearing about other places through textbooks or stories. Students will often return from school trips saying how much more they appreciate their life at home after experiencing a new country. The same can be said for adults who have traveled for business or leisure.


School and Work


Many studies on students taking foreign language classes have shown that the skills developed in a language class actually benefit core classes, such as math, science, history, and English. According to The College Board, the organization responsible for preparing standardized test like SAT or ACT, students who have studied a foreign languagefor 4 or more years outscored students who had not on the verbal and math portions of the test. Many colleges today promote the idea of “global citizenship”.  This is the idea that students have rights and responsibilities as members of the world, rather than members of specific nations. Many colleges like to see that students have not only satisfied college graduation requirements by taking a language, but also surpassed the minimum requirement and shown interest in becoming a “global citizen” through different cultural experiences or travels.

There have also been numerous studies showing that students learning a foreign language have increased problem solving and memorization skills. Speaking another language assists students in becoming more aware of grammar and vocabulary in their native language. Students also benefit through the use of interpersonal skills. In a world that at times feels like it is beingtaken over by machines, we sometimes see students who simply do not know how to communicate with peers outside of text and social media. Learning a second language can be a confidence boost for many students.


In the work environment, the ability to speak a second language can easily help your resume stand out from your colleagues. In some cases, the ability to speak a second language can increase your salary. Many companies operate internationally and have a need to hire staff that isbilingual. This is not only for translation, but to help the company understand customary practices andnorms of the countries they do business in.


Why Now? 


At this time, the resources available for those wishing to acquire a second language are endless. While applications and workbooks are awesome tools, aforeign language learner needs to remind himself or herself that foreign language communicationtakes practice and, moreimportantly, use. In order to achieve fluency, you need to exercise all the areas crucial to communication. No single program can achieve that. Making the language part of your everyday life is key.Even without a friend or colleague to converse with in the language being studied, there are things that can be done to aid in learning.  Set your TV orNetflix account to the language you are learning, look up 2 or 3 new vocabulary words a day in a foreign languagedictionary, get a workbook and do a page or two a day, or listento music in the target language.


One of the biggest takeaways is that adults and children do not learn new things the same way. Children learn through play and repetition. They also have stronger echoic skills or the ability to mimic sounds. However, adults learning a foreign language can be more motivated and have a greater understanding of what it takes to master a new skill.   Learning a foreign language does take commitment.  Learning something new can be frustrating when we find that we cannot simply pick up a manual or watch a YouTube video and teach ourselves how to do something. While the gratification of learning a language is far from instant, sometimes the things in life that take the most time and effort bring the greatest reward and fulfillment.


How to Keep Your Child Safe on the Internet

By: Stan Rozar, Upper School Computer Science

By definition, the Internet is a globally connected network system used to transmit data through various types of media. An Internet World Stats survey from 1999-2019 shows a formidable increase in Internet usage over those 20 years. In 1999, approximately 248 million people (0.4% of the world population) used the Internet; 2019 figures show usage by approximately 4000 million people, which is over half the world population. . These eye opening numbers clearly state the obvious, that the use of the Internet is increasing at a drastic rate year by year. I can imagine that these numbers may be very alarming to parents with regards to their children using the internet, when recent studies from a multitude of sources show that, on average, American teenagers spend six to nine hours a day with digital technology exploring various platforms (with the two most popular being social media and online gaming.) Even though social media and gaming are intended to serve as a source of positive interaction, communication, and fun, there are individuals in the world, known as Internet predators, who use these different outlets to take advantage of unsuspecting minors.

By the time a child has reached his or her adolescent years, they have heard something along the lines of “never talk to strangers under any circumstances” more than enough times, or at least they should have. Though that statement should be imbedded in a child by the time they become a teenager, contact with a stranger via internet is still much more common than one would think, due to online camouflaging and access to profiles being so easily attainable. According to the New England Journal of Public Policy, contact with online predators happens mostly in chat rooms, on social media, or in the chat feature of an online multiplayer game. Social networking websites often ask users to post a profile with their name, age, gender, hobbies, and interests. Many of these social networking sites are free and easy to use, which results in these being very appealing to online predators. As for gaming, researchers have discovered that this is just another easy way for predators to connect with children. Unlike social networks, gaming provides a unique connection composed of both a shared interest and a relationship stemmed from being on the same team, or fighting the same missions.

Internet predators often begintheir initial interactions with a child through a process called grooming. Grooming is the process by which a child predator gains the trust of a victim by building a relationship with the child and then breaking down his or defense. As I mentioned earlier, an Internet predator can go about pursuing this relationship through social media or online gaming using many different approaches. The most vital question and concern regarding these possibilities would include knowing when an online predator is either trying to, or isalready in contact with your child. If you notice that your child is spending a tremendous amount of time online and doesn’t tell you why, or seems to be very secretive about whatever they are doing on screen during your presence, those can be signs they are trying to hide an online relationship with a stranger. Also, if you happen to ask your child about their online activities and they respond in one or both of the following ways, it is vital that you take notice. They will either immediately get defensive or annoyed from the constant questioning, or they will clearly give off a nervous or anxious vibe during the conversation. Both reactions should result in immediate action taken by the parent.

There are several ways as a parent you can improve your child’s Internet safety; although none are completely bullet proof.  These simple actions, if monitored properly and consistently, can limit the possibilities of your child falling victim. For social media, the most important action you can take is checking the privacy settings for each of your child’s online social profiles. Each separate social media account generally has the same privacy settings as others, and you can choose exactly who has access to your child’s profile for messaging and viewing. For gaming, you can check the parental controls on the game console and restrict strangers from gaining access to your child’s profile. Most games that are designed specifically for kids have specified settings that aid in preventing inappropriate comments and messages. However, games that are designed for a more general audience have fewer controls, settings, and safeguards, and should require more surveillance from the parent.

Ultimately, the best thing you can do to protect your child on the Internet is to get directly involved. Having direct access to your child’s profile allows you to get a front row seat to seeing exactly what they see. It allows you to get a personal feel for other people your child are interacting with, the language that they use, and whether or not your child is at risk of being groomed. Sadly, however, states that even with all the media attention on the dangers of social networking, they still receive hundreds of complaints per year about children who have been victims of criminal incidents on social networks. My intention inpointing out this statistic is not to strike fear, but to expand awareness, and to bring additional light in taking proper precautions. With an appropriate combination of a parent’s direct involvement, along with a constant emphasis of the importance of never sharing any personal information with a stranger, I can confidently state that your child’s chances of falling victim to Internet predators will decrease profoundly.




Staying Active in the Cold Months

By Jerri Bragg, Physical Education Teacher & Coach

How often do you hear your kids state that they are bored when the temperature outside gets cold? I’m sure you are not the only ones scratching your heads to come up with activities or ideas to keep the little ones occupied or give them an energy release during the winter months. Below are a few great ideas to keep them busy until the temperatures climb back up, and they can escape the indoors. 

  1. Utilize this idle time to enroll them in a class or an activity and/or sport they have been wanting to try. 
  2. Visit an indoor play space in our local community or check with our local Parks & Recreation Department for updated activities and classes.
  3. Clarksville has an indoor pool, which is a great outside of the box activity. 
  4. Visit the local bowling alley. Clarksville is home to 3 different alleys, one located in city forum.  
  5. Roller Skating is another great indoor activity that will sharpen their coordination skills by taking them skating once a month or possibly make it a weekly outing. The ice skating rink is also now open downtown and provides another great winter outlet. 
  6. If we are so lucky to get snow this season, I recommend capitalizing on mother nature’s treat and bundle the little ones up and send them outside. A few hours of sledding and building snowmen usually makes for a great night’s sleep. 
  7. Staying active doesn’t always mean going to do something.  Play games at home that require movement like Twister or Dance, Dance Revolution or simply turn the lights off and arm them with glow sticks and posture yourself for a wild dance party! Hide and seek, building forts, and so many other activities will not only entertain your child, but also serve as great family memories. 

Another great resource in this modern era is the use of fitness apps. One great app is SKORKIT, provides a variety of workouts to keep you from getting bored. Also try gonoodle, which is a big hit with the kids during adverse weather and can keep them moving. YouTube activities like Debbie Doo, Dance Sweat Live, and Cosmic Kids Yoga—these are just a few to give that are sure to be a hit at your house!

Click this link for more ideas on ways to keep your kids active during the cold months:

A Long Break Away from School…Part 1

By Gina Goostree, Head of Lower SchoolB

With our anxiety rising, we wonder, can life get anymore hectic or stressful? As important as time management is, there is a rather simple strategy with powerful results: take a break! Take a long, long break!

Working hard and balancing assignments, projects, quizzes, tests, social obligations, are all part of a successful student life, but breaks are important, too. Families are busy these days. After work, school, extra- curricular activities, meetings, housework, preparing dinner, and the other inevitable realities of life, there is not a lot of time leftover. So, what should parents do when their children have Summer, Fall, Winter, and Spring Breaks from school? Spend some quality time with your children. Turn off all electronic devices and your children will receive many benefits.

When speaking with school children, one common theme they mentioned was experiential learning with parents. Some children enjoyed hunting, fishing, drying apples, baking with their mother, working on projects with their dad, goofing around, watching movies, painting, crafts, and game nights just to name a few of the activities they love to do with their parents. Your child does not necessarily know they are learning while having fun with you. More importantly, parents and children are making lasting memories.

If you feel the need to travel during these breaks, I suggest purchasing the book, “V is for Volunteer”, a Tennessee alphabet, by Mike Shoulders. Your child will discover Tennessee’s natural wonders and fascinating history while traveling through the book from A to Z. This is a great book to read with your child, then, take a few field trips to travel throughout Tennessee to learn about our home state.

Speaking of reading….go to the public library with your child. Reading is developmentally important for children as they expand their vocabulary, learn empathy, and develop their imaginations. Libraries are an exercise in the joy of possibility. Children can read anything, be anything, and imagine anything.

Go outdoors with your children. This creates healthy life styles while actively moving with your child. Taking children in the environment where learning takes place is a great way to spend quality time with your child. Go outside during cold weather as well as warm. Children are so busy playing and having fun that they often forget the cooler or colder temperatures. Here are some suggestions for getting your child into the great outdoors:

  1. Inspire curiosity by being curious yourself.The most important part of prioritizing the natural world is to give your child the gift of enthusiasm. A parent’s excitement is contagious to their children, and when we show awe in nature, our children follow suit.
  2. Simply be in nature with no other distractions.Just show up and observe. Find a spot near a pond or creek and encourage your child to wait and observe. If they are still and quiet, they may observe nature uninterrupted.
  3. Limit electronic devices while commuting.While carpooling in the mornings, turn off the devices and instead encourage your children to look out the window. Early morning skies are beautiful with arrays of different colors and birds. Talk to your children about the different patterns clouds make while commuting.
  4. Seek out natural, untouched spaces and return often to them.A suburban field, edge of a forest, or even a small ravine at the end of the street can be teeming with wildlife and spaces to observe and explore. Returning to the same spot throughout the seasons will allow for observations of change and cycles of life.
  5. Stop thinking about nature time as leisure time.Time in nature is an essential investment in our children’s health

and well-being. Changing our mindset will change our priorities. If we view nature time as essential to good health, we will be more likely to engage in it. Nurturing creativity and wonder is part of the responsibility as parents if we want to raise healthy, well- balanced children.

6. Read about nature with your child.

Want to encourage and inspire? Check out books from the local library that are colorful with nature language and adventure.

7. Plant a small garden.

If you have the space, help your child plant a few vegetables. Bean and pea plants grow quickly and can be eaten when mature, teaching your child about food and the wonder of growth.

8. Look at the stars.

Drive out of the city some morning or evening for your own stargazing with a blanket and/or telescope or binoculars. Stargazing offers a deeper, more expansive understanding of the infinite. Allow time to think about it, and talk with your child about that wonder.

9. Get organized.

If your older child is interested, encourage him/her to get involved in the local community. Find an outdoor space, like a field or creek, to restore, and encourage your child to become an active participant in protecting it.

Have you ever thought of hosting a family game night? Nothing brings families together like some friendly competition. These days, there are more ways than ever for your entire family to stay entertained. Although your children may find it hard to believe, there was a time long, long ago when families used to gather around the table and play real-life, interactive games together, well into the night.

Begin Your Journey.