Lexington Middle School

 

Help Special Needs Children Enjoy the Holdiays

The holidays can be stressful for everyone, but they can be especially stressful for students with attention, learning or behavior difficulties.  The website, Understood.org, has several articles about how to help students with special needs prepare for and enjoy the holiday season.  A little planning can go a long way toward making this “the most wonderful time of the year.” 

11 Tips to Help Kids With ADHD Manage the Holidays 

8 Ways to Help Your Child With Food Sensitivities Enjoy the Holidays

Holiday Crafts for Kids With Motor Skills Issues

How to Reinvent Holiday Traditions for Kids With Learning and Attention Issues

5 Strategies for Choosing Gifts for Your Child With Learning and Attention Issues

10 Holiday Stressors for Kids With Learning and Attention Issues

6 Tips to Help Kids With Impulsivity Issues Handle Gift Exchanges


21 Things To Do During Christmas Break


 As the Christmas holiday break is coming up, many people have some extra time to spend outside of work or school.  A few things that come to mind for me include finishing up some projects around the house such as finish mudding walls in a closet and painting it or building a snowman with my daughters again.  I was thinking about Christmas break suggestions I could give and did what thousands of people do everyday to find ideas - I searched Google.  I stumbled on an article, by Laureen Miles Brunelli, with 21 great ideas on how to spend some time during this holiday season.  Her article is found at https://www.thespruce.com/things-to-do-during-christmas-break-3542442 if you would like to read through that too.  Here are some of those ideas and some suggestions to go with them:
 

  1. Decorate - cutting out some paper snowflakes with family and hanging them up in the windows or going to a relative or friend’s property to cut down a medium sized pine tree, putting it in the back of a truck, and bringing it home to decorate (with permission of course).
  2. Put on a Talent Show - inviting your children to prepare and show off a hidden talent such as singing, yo-yo skills, or other things they might be interested in.
  3. Bake - mixing some flour and sugar to make some cookies while getting the youngsters to stir, pour, and measure
  4. Make Gifts - making a photo book, painting, or sewing projects.
  5. Go To Local Holiday Events - going to a free movie at the Majestic Theater on Dec. 16th, hang with Santa at the Wilson Public Library on Dec. 14th, or the Light Up Lexington Parade which already happened.
  6. Go Shopping - finding some money to buy a new towel set for a spouse or buying a picture frame and putting pictures in them for mom or dad
  7. Watch Television Together - catching the latest America’s Got Talent with a friend that also enjoys that show or watch The Big Bang Theory with brothers or sisters
  8. Watch Family Movies - watching those movies that are good for all the ages in your family such as Wall-E or The Muppets
  9. Try A Winter Sport - trying to reinvent popular winter sports such as curling or bobsledding in your backyard or go do some skiing or snowboarding in Colorado or Wyoming…  or you could always find an ice skating rink and ice skate!
  10. Try An Indoor Sport - going to a local retirement home and playing a game of pool with family member or go over to a gym in Kearney with a friend and try racquetball
  11. Organize Kid’s Room - having a contest to see who can clean up the most objects on the floor and the winner gets two cookies you baked instead of one
  12. Volunteering - asking to help out for a canned food drive at LMS or buy a gift for those less fortunate to spread the holiday cheer
  13. Create Art - drawing a picture with a family member and hanging it on the wall as something special
  14. Go to the Museum or Local Attraction - driving to the museum in Holdrege or searching out Pioneer Village in Minden or staying here and going to the Heartland Museum of Military Vehicles and remember some of our ancestors and what they might have been doing during the holiday season
  15. Get the Homework Done - making sure your student is caught up on that homework to keep them learning and teachers would love it!
  16. Read A Book Together - reading a book, whether it is about the holidays or not, is a great time to encourage snuggling and quiet time of reflection and discussion - I would recommend “The Day The Crayons Quit” by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers for younger kiddos and “Because of Winn Dixie” by Kate Dicamillo
  17. Write A Book Together - starting by writing down parts of a made up story and then turn it into a homemade minatiare novel with pictures
  18. Take A Trip - making time to go out of town to a special place like the Big Apple in Kearney or the Children’s Museum in Lincoln
  19. Make Appointments - Doctor, Dentist, Haircut, etc. - doing those things to make sure you are good and healthy that sometimes slip through the cracks in the day-to-day business of life sometimes
  20. Take A Hike - putting on cold weather clothes and stroll through the snow in a new area and stop to make a snow angel
  21. Play Games - opening a present early so you can play it with your family such as Apples to Apples or Candyland…  or maybe a simple card game with Skittles to eat as playing chips 

I hope these give you a few ideas of things to do with your family and friends during break.  I wish everyone good hopes and health this holiday season as we have some time to reflect and focus on what is important in our lives. 


Screen Time Guidelines for Teens

As kids get older, too much screen time can interfere with activities like being physically active, doing homework, playing with friends, and spending time with family. Too much screen time also can contribute to obesity, attention problems, sleep disorders, and problems at school.

For teens, screen time can include things like researching a school project, creating music or art, or interacting with friends via social media. But it also can include less productive activities, like watching inappropriate TV shows, visiting unsafe websites, or playing violent video games.

Some studies show that teens spend almost 9 hours a day online, on the phone, watching TV, or playing games — so what's a parent to do?

Parents should continue to set limits on screen time, preview all shows and games to make sure they're OK, and stay aware of what their teens are doing online.

How Much Is Too Much?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that parents of kids and teens 5 to 18 years old place consistent limits on the use of any media. This includes entertainment media (like watching TV and movies), as well as educational media (like creating flash cards on a smartphone app).

Not all screen time is created equal. It's up to parents to decide how (and how often) their teens use screens and whether screen time is positive or negative. For instance, time spent on homework or other educational activities might not need to be as restricted as time spent playing video games.

For teens (and kids of all ages), screen time should not replace time needed for sleeping, eating, being active, studying, and interacting with family and friends.

Screen Time Tips

The same parenting rules apply to screen time as to anything else — set a good example, establish limits, and talk with your teen about it.

To make your teen's screen time more productive:

  • Research video and computer games before letting your teen get them. Look at the ratings, which can run from EC (meaning "early childhood") to AO (meaning "adults only"). Teens probably should be limited to games rated T (for "teens") or younger. 
  • Preview games and even play them with your teen to see what they're like. The game's rating may not match what you feel is appropriate.
  • Make sure teens have a variety of free-time activities, like spending time with friends and playing sports, which can help them develop a healthy body and mind.
  • Turn off all screens during family meals and at bedtime. Also, keep devices with screens out of your teen's bedroom after bedtime, and don't allow a TV in your teen's bedroom. 
  • Treat screen time as a privilege that teens need to earn, not a right that they're entitled to. Tell them that screen time is allowed only after chores and homework are done.
  • Spend screen time together to make sure that what your teen sees is appropriate. Watch TV, play games, go online — use screen time together as a chance to interact and communicate.
  • Use screening tools on the TV, computers, and tablets to block your teen's access to inappropriate material.
  • Teach your teen about internet safety and social media smarts and make sure he or she knows the dangers of sharing private information online or sexting. 
  • Keep the computer in a common area where you can watch what's going on.

Reviewed by: Elena Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD
Date reviewed: December 2016
kidshealth.org


Choir

As we near the end of first semester it is satisfying to look back and see all of the great work we’ve done in the vocal music program this fall. Our high school students had the opportunity to attend a two-day clinic with Mack Wilberg, the music director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and sing a concert of his music with him conducting. 2018 is the 5th year the LHS choir has participated in this clinic hosted by UNK. The performance was a combined group of nearly 400 singers made up of students from Lexington High School, Kearney High School, Minden High School, Hastings High School, Nebraska Christian High School and the UNK Choraleer Choir. It is a rare and valuable opportunity to rehearse music with the composer himself as the director and our students learned a great deal from Dr. Wilberg. Currently the LHS choir is preparing music for our upcoming Holiday Concert on December 11th. We will feature two songs from Mack Wilberg as well as some seasonal classics.

In addition to preparing concerts, the HS singers have also completed auditions for the school musical “Little Shop of Horrors”. Rehearsals have just recently begun and we will be working hard through December and January to bring a giant man-eating plant from outer space to life.

Our Middle School choirs have been working on their music reading and music vocabulary skills as well as preparing for our upcoming Holiday concert on December 14th.  The 8th grade choir gave a special performance for the LMS Veteran’s Day program and did a spectacular job. The 6th, 7th and 8th grade choirs will all three be featured in our Holiday performance. 


Let's Talk

Did you know that suicide is the leading cause of death for kids ages 10-14?  That is a very scary statistic! That statistic should make you ask, "WHY?," followed by "What can I do to help lower that stat?"

Middle school is a very difficult time, but as adults, we tend to put those middle school years behind us and may even ignore what teenagers today are facing, but let’s open Pandora’s box.

As you know, some things will never change.  Kids these days are still dealing with “hormone soup": bodies are changing, brains are continuing to develop, and students are trying to figure out where they fit in.  Just like you remember it, right?  And I’m sure you also realize some people thought Junior High (as it was called back then) was great while others had a horrible experience.

Although some aspects are the same as when you were in Junior High, some very important things have changed. Now let’s fast forward, I want you to think about what has changed. 

The number one thing that comes to mind is technology.  I’m sure you weren’t exactly surprised by that answer.  And whether Junior High was difficult or easy for you, add technology into the mix and it definitely makes things more complex.  While we were lucky to have a computer in the household, a lot of kids nowadays have a tablet of some sort, game console, computer, or at the very least a cell phone with internet connection.  Many of these same youngsters have Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, or Snapchat accounts too.  So it is easy to see how something as simple as the likes and dislikes on social media can be taken very personally by these young kids.  These great tools can also be used in negative ways. In particular kids can easily be cyber bullied.  It may feel as if they can never escape it.  What seemed like such a positive advancement has now turned into a nightmare for some.  

So what can we do to help our adolescent kids?  To be honest, there are several things we should be doing.  For one, we need to be actively supervising kids devices and social media accounts.  We also need to monitor their perceptions, in particular self-perceptions.  When they are thinking emotionally instead of logically, anxiety runs high making it difficult to think rationally.  This is especially hard when it comes to technology because it is much easier to just react by firing something right back when they are feeling defensive.  Our job is to calm them down, help them see things more clearly, and then guide them to the proper response to the situation.  Teach your son or daughter the appropriate uses for social media.  I also feel that it is important to continue modeling empathy in front of our kids. Instead of being so quick to judge, we need to understand more often than not people are under a large amount of stress for one reason or another.

I will leave you with the following quote from Dr. Brenda Petersen.  She said, “We don’t get to pick what someone else’s crisis is.”  Something that seems so minor to one can be a mountain for others.  Remember, often times we only see a snippet of individuals lives.

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