House News
Dear Parents of Grade 8 students, below is a list of the area high school's Open Houses for prospective students and parents:

Norwalk Early College Academy at Norwalk High School (NECA)
http://nhs.norwalkps.org/neca
Information Sessions: Check out the NECA website for more information

Center for Global Studies at Brien McMahon (CGS), Norwalk
http://cgs.norwalkps.org/parents/how_to_apply      

Academy for Information Technology & Engineering (AITE), Stamford
http://www.aitestamford.org/
Information Sessions:

Thursday, January 19th, 2017: 6:30pm
AgriScience Program at Westhill High School, Stamford
 
Wright Technical School, Stamford, CT
Any questions regarding your child's transition to high school should be directed to his/her Guidance Counselor, Mrs. Fallon - FallonP@NorwalkPS.org
 
Nathan Hale Middle School, Norwalk CT
Message from the Guidance Office
January 14, 2017
 
The Nathan Hale Guidance Office subscribes to the Middle Years Newsletter, which we can distribute to our parents. Here is the latest issue:

Show grit
Twins Tanner and Taylor had a lot of the same subjects, but each handled schoolwork differently. Tanner took his time, studied, and got good grades. Taylor wasn't as driven and got only passing grades. The difference between them? Tanner's grit and his passion about school kept him determined to do well so he could achieve his goal of attending college. Try these three tips to foster grit in your middle grader.
Encourage effort
Share a situation that required you to confront a challenge. If your tween knows how you overcame a struggle, it will help him build confidence to do the same. Then, acknowledge his efforts when he shows grit. Be specific: Instead of just saying "Good job!" try, "Your daily practice at the pool paid off when you nailed the dive at the swim meet."
Jump the bumps
Help your middle grader learn to handle setbacks by making "stretch" goals for himself. For example, if he got a poor English grade, he might work toward  better grades on essays. His "stretches" could be to improve his thesis statements, to include more evidence to support his points, and to spend 15 minutes each night writing in a journal. Achieving tougher goals will give him grit to keep going further.
Stay excited
Perhaps your child was enthusiastic about learning Spanish when school started, but now he's lost interest. He can find ways to get excited again by looking for opportunities to use Spanish in everyday life, like talking to neighbors in their native language or translating
signs on store windows for you.

Ways with Words
No matter what classes your middle schooler is in, she'll need to learn new vocabulary. These ideas will help her pick up new words.
 
Make up crosswords
Suggest that your child use her science, math, or history vocabulary words to make up a crossword puzzle for you. She'll have to study and understand the words' meanings to give clues that make sense.

Record the meanings.
Speaking definitions out loud can make them easier to remember. Your tween could record herself saying what new terms mean and using them in sentences. Playing back the recordings will give her another way to review.

Short Stops:
Dream team
Encourage your tween to list the people in his life he could turn to if he needed help. His list might include you, teachers, coaches, relatives, or neighbors. Then, when he needs someone to talk to about a problem with a friend or why he didn't make the honors chorus, he can pick from among his "dream team."
Study hangout
Studying with friends can be motivating or middle schoolers. Suggest that  your child and her study mates hang  out at your house and divide their  work into pieces, then explain the parts to each other. They might have each person read a section in a textbook  or review separate topics in their notes.
Worth quoting
"
No one is useless in this world who 
lightens the burden of another.
" - Charles Dickens

Just for fun:
Q: What is the best thing to put in a pie?
A: Your teeth!
Prevent Bullying
Did you know that bullying often peaks in middle school? Help your tween be part of the
solution with these strategies.
Know the forms.
Point out that bullying is more than physical. Your child might recognize bullying when she sees a classmate give someone a mean shove during recess. But it's also bullying when kids spread rumors, exclude people, or text hurtful comments.
Take action.
Bystanders are the first line of defense in overcoming bullying. Maybe your tween overhears a bully say he's going to steal someone's backpack. Or she might see a bullying victim hurting herself in the restroom. If that happens, she  should immediately tell a teacher or another adult. Encourage her to be kind to kids who don't have many friends, inviting them to sit with her on the bus, for example.
Get on the same page.
If your middle schooler is bullying, discuss why her actions are harmful and wrong. Also, set consequences. If she posts mean social media messages, for instance, you might
take away her cell phone. Note: If you think your child is bullying or is a victim of bullying, take it seriously. Ask a pediatrician or mental health professional for help.
 
Parent to Parent:
Talking with my tween
When my daughter, Susie, started middle school, I got nervous about discussing "big" topics. I'd heard neighbors talk about their kids having boyfriends or even drinking alcohol. The whole thing made me want to say, "Call me when it's over!"
Luckily, I have a good friend who's been down this road. She said it's important to start conversations with Susie sooner rather than later.

If Susie mentions a friend having a crush, for example, I could open the door to a discussion by saying, "I remember having the biggest crush on a boy named Mark. Have you felt that way about anyone yet?" Or if the local news has a story about a drunk driver, I might ask her what she's learning in school about substance abuse.

Finally, my friend said tweens may shut down if they think they're being lectured. She said I should focus more on listening. That's hard for me, but I'm practicing by saying, "Would you like to hear what I think?"
Remember, we are always here to help!
Grade 6 Counselor: Liz Chakraborty -  ChakrabortyE@NorwalkPS.org
Grade 7 Counselor: Luisa Borea - BoreaL@NorwalkPS.org
Grade 8 Counselor: Phebe Fallon (also head counselor) - FallonP@NorwalkPS.org
School Social Worker: Elle Zopounidis - ZopounidisE@NorwalkPS.org
School-Based Health Center Social Worker: Carine Lauterbach -