“Planning” Ahead for 2017

By Amy Jones, Director of Resource at The Langley School

I love the comics. Here’s a strip from Luann by Greg Evans. The girl exclaims, “This is great!  No homework!!”  Her classmate stares at her in disbelief, “What about that huge science project that’s due in two days?  You haven’t even started it!”  She replies with delight, “I mean no homework TONIGHT!”

Executive functions, the thinking which takes place primarily in the pre-frontal cortex, are the functions responsible for planning — or lack thereof as we see in Luann. Many refer to these brain functions as an air traffic controller or the conductor of an orchestra. Students and adults alike use these functions not only to plan, but also to prioritize, organize, remember, reflect, and shift attention from one task to another. These functions help regulate emotions, inhibit desires, and attend to tasks. These capacities don’t mature until the mid 20s, but can be strengthened with practice — and it’s a perfect time to practice with a new year ahead!

Here at The Langley School, we are teaching these skills from an early age. In the Primary School, children are learning about time management and planning as they discuss the “before and after” as well as the present. During morning meeting, the children and their teachers review the calendar. “Today is Tuesday, December 20, yesterday was Monday, and tomorrow will be Wednesday.” In Lower School, the work continues. Schedules are on the board and teachers help students break down long-term assignments. Teachers give students more opportunities for reflection, allowing them to develop their metacognitive skills. In some grades, students keep track of their goals on their desks as well as use checklists for important routines.

Executive functions Skills Building

Middle School often presents challenges and opportunities for students, as they are changing classes and keeping track of homework in at least five different subjects. During sixth-grade orientation in the fall, teachers explicitly work with students to understand planning, time management, studying, and metacognition. In advisory at the beginning of the year, students “map” their week so they have a better understanding of the time that they have to manage. Self-reflection is built into many assignments, and students prepare to lead parent-teacher conferences by spending time in advisory thinking of their strengths and areas for improvement.

You can help your children develop better executive functioning at home. To learn more about executive functioning, and executive dysfunction, click here to view a recent PALS talk given to Langley parents by Kathy Essig of The StudyPro and to access other resources.

From New Student to Langley Ambassador

By Cory McLucas, Eighth Grade Langley Student

About three years ago, I transferred to The Langley School. I was entering sixth grade and knew no one. I was nervous, scared, and had no idea what to expect. I was worried that I would not fit in and would not be able to make new friends. Fortunately, all these feelings were washed away within the first days of school. When I walked into Langley on that first day, I was immediately greeted by students and teachers who showed me where my classes were, sat with me at lunch, and went out of their way to make sure I felt comfortable. Even though many of my classmates had known each other for years, Langley’s warm and welcoming atmosphere made it easy for me to fit in. After only one week of school, I felt as though I was a part of the school’s community and no longer felt like I was the “new kid.” I had new friends and felt accepted at my new school.

cory-mclucasAs an eighth-grader, I found myself wanting to share my experience of switching to The Langley School with prospective students and parents. The student ambassador program gave me that opportunity.  Every year, a small group of Middle School students are chosen as student ambassadors. I am one of these students. As a student ambassador, I get to communicate my experiences to families interested in the school. Since I transferred to Langley in Middle School, I can relate to many families and tell them how easy it is to make the switch to Langley.

Student ambassadors are dedicated to the positive promotion of The Langley School. We work with the Admission Office and help with events held for prospective families. At information sessions, we give parent tours, answer questions, and make sure we show parents the highlights of our school. We host students who come for a shadow visit. We also help out at school events like the Fall Fair and Grandparents & Special Friends Day. Recently, we went on a field trip to The Lab School in Washington, DC. At The Lab School, we went on a tour and got a different perspective on what makes a good tour guide. We learned a lot from this which will help us improve our ability to interact with others and better promote our school.langley-tour

As a student ambassador, I am learning many things. It has helped me improve my interview skills, made it easier for me to interact with people I don’t know, and made me appreciate the positive and welcoming Langley community. It also made me realize that I want to go to a high school that has a similar community where I can feel both challenged and supported at the same time.

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