Final Nest News Update 2020-21 School Year

Hello Thunderbird Families,

Through every challenge and with every opportunity, we navigated this historical school year together. We have so much to be proud of!  Ms. Weber and I extend our sincere appreciation to all our committed staff for their creative, innovative efforts.  They showed up every day with their whole heart.  We are super proud of our students, who showcased their Thunderbird spirit and their resilience, following new safety protocols with multiple learning pivots and expectations throughout the school year.  Finally, gratitude to our families for partnering together with us to help ensure the success of student learning in the virtual world.  We couldn’t have done it without you!  Below you will find some final things for you to read through.


HeadStart to Grade 9

At the end of August each year, Get a HeadStart to Grade 9 is offered. HeadStart is a voluntary, value-added summer support program offered for FREE for Grade 8 students entering Grade 9 only at one of our five WCDSB Catholic Secondary Schools.  Although this program is NOT mandatory, separate registration for HeadStart is required.

This program is only available to students enrolled in our Catholic Secondary Schools each September.  Students and parents tell us how timely and transformative this program is. REGISTRATION closes Wednesday, June 30.


Cuddle Up and Read


Did you know that the Waterloo Region is engaging in a “Cuddle Up and Read” initiative involving all school boards, community partners and our very own Dr. Jean Clinton?

Here are some resources to help us promote this initiative; we encourage you to explore the resources provided below.

All resources can be found here:


Final Words…

As we close out this school year, we must also say some goodbyes to staff who have journeyed with us.  We are thankful for their contributions and wish them all the very best as they continue their good work in our Board.  Good byes go to:

  • Mrs. Kroisenbrunner Kindergarten Teacher
  • Miss. Leusink Grade 3/4 Teacher
  • Miss. Gomes Early Childhood Educator
  • Miss. Smukavich LTO Special Education Teacher
  • Ms. Weber Vice Principal

Congratulations to, Mrs. Soulard our English as a Second Language Teacher!  Mrs. Soulard is beginning her retirement journey!  We wish you the very best!  Enjoy late nights and sleeping in Mrs. Soulard!

At this time, we are also saying goodbye to some families who may be moving over the summer and/or some families who are “graduating” from us as their oldest/only child completes Grade 8 this year.  We remain grateful to you for your partnership together with us over your time at the Thunderbird Nest and remind you that “Once a Thunderbird, Always a Thunderbird!

Please remember to check your emails and our website regularly throughout the summer as this is where we will share back to school information.

Finally, we would like to wish every Thunderbird family a safe and happy summer filled with good health, laughter, smiles and many fun memories.  We look forward to reconnecting at the end of August in preparation for September 2021.


Pick up/Drop Off Reminder

Hi Thunderbird Families,

Just a friendly reminder that our year end pick up/drop off begins tomorrow. Below you will find a schedule and instructions. Please know that even if it rains we will continue with the schedule. If you have borrowed a Chromebook, please line up at the front of the school to check it in. If you did not borrow a Chromebook you may go directly to the classroom drop of/pick up location.

So we can keep everyone safe, manage the volume, and adhere to physical distancing guidelines, we kindly ask that families carefully read and follow the schedule and guidelines listed below. Your cooperation and understanding is truly appreciated.

Pick up Schedule: 

In order to accommodate the number of families that need to drop off/pick up items and to maintain safety guidelines, we will be following an alphabetical order for our pick up:

Last name beginning with A – Fe:  Monday June 28th from 9am – 12pm

Last name beginning with Fi – Mo:  Monday June 28th from 12:40pm – 3:40pm

Last name beginning with Mu – Z:  Tuesday June 29th from 9am – 12pm

What to Expect: 

  • When you arrive, please park in the church parking lot or on Midland Drive. The front lot will be closed, unless you have a government issued accessibility parking permit.

  • No parents/students will be permitted access into the school/portables. Staff will have all student personal items packed up and ready for you to pick up at the designated spot, see below.

  • St. Isidore students or students returning to St. Isidore in September, are also required to return your Chromebook if you borrowed one. Current St. Isidore students will have their report card mailed to them.

  • All Chromebooks need to be dropped off at the front entrance of the school. We will have stations set up for Chromebooks to be checked in and checked for damage or lost accessories.

  • Students in portables will collect report cards/personal belongings and drop off any learning materials by lining up outside their portable doors. Staff will bring items out to you and pick up any items from the portable doors. Numbers are on the portable doors.
    • This includes:  Mr. Malatesta (P1), Mrs. Spry (P2), Mrs. MacKinnon (P3), Mr. Vuylsteke (P5), Mrs. McConnell (P6), Mr. MacMillan (P7),
      Miss Bell (P8), Miss Leusink (P9), Mrs. Herzog (P10).

  • Students with classrooms inside the school will collect report cards/personal belongings and drop off any learning materials as follows:
    • Mrs. McLaughlin: classroom door (Rm 133)
    • Mrs. Kroisenbrunner: classroom door (Rm 134)
    • Mrs. Dankowsky & Mrs. Haas Craig: classroom door (Rm 119)
    • Mrs. Gribbon-McGraw & Mrs. Goodyear: school doors closest to portables
    • Mrs. Ruetz & Mrs. Bartram: Mrs. Ruetz’ class door (Rm 111)
    • Mrs. Coelho & Mrs. Del Rosario: school doors closest to the Parish

The following are important reminders:

Chromebook Return:

  • If you borrowed a Chromebook from the school at any time please return the device with the charger. This applies to grades K-8. Grade 8 students with SEA devices staying in the WCDSB may keep their Chromebook to use in high school, if not, please return your Chromebook.
  • You will be asked to drop off the device at the front doors of the school where it will be checked to see if it is working. 
  • NOTE: any damages or lost cords will be quoted from the WCDSB IT department and families will be notified of the cost of repair(s) or replacement in the fall. Any Chromebooks not returned will be noted as lost/damaged. 

Library Books, Textbooks, and other School Materials:

  • If you happen to have any library books, home readers, math textbooks, or other school materials you are asked to return them at this time. Please drop them off to the classroom.
  • If your child’s teacher provided you with any learning materials or a red bag with learning items you may keep them. 

Report Cards:

  • Will be distributed with your child’s belongings.

Medications at School:

  • If your child has any medications at school they will be with your child’s belongings.


  • If you ordered a yearbook they will be distributed with their other items by the classroom teacher.
  • If your child is in Grade 8 they will get their yearbook on our Graduation pickup day.

Please Note: Unclaimed items will be donated to charity or thrown out after the final pick-up day, other than in very unique circumstances.

Public Health Guidelines:

  • Parents/guardians/students must complete the self-assessment tool in the link provided prior to arrival: If you are experiencing any symptoms, please do not come to the school.
  • Families are to bring their own masks, and are to be worn on the school grounds. 
  • The playground/blacktop area remains closed for gathering.
  • Once you drop off the borrowed Chromebook and have picked up all your items you are respectfully asked to leave the school grounds.
  • No social gatherings in the parking lot or school yard with other families or students during pick up/drop off times.

We truly appreciate that this is a very complex time and that there are many details that you have to read and adhere to. We will do our best to make this as smooth as possible and will have staff available to support this process. If you have any questions please feel free to call the office and we will get back to you as soon as possible.


Thank you for your continued support. Together we’ve got this!

Last Week of School Update

Hello Thunderbird Families,

Welcome to the last week of school.  We have experienced a challenging school year, but here we are on June 21st and we are so close to the end!  A sincere THANK YOU to all our staff, parents/guardians, and especially our students for showing perseverance, patience, and understanding as we navigated through this year!  It has been a team approach and together we made it thus far.  Let’s continue to show appreciation, patience, understanding, and most of all respect towards one another so we can finish strong!  Looking forward to a wonderful week ahead!  We got this, Thunderbirds!

This week is our Summer Spirit Week!  We have so many fun activities planned!  To see a schedule of events please take a look at the following link.  One thing to note is, Tuesday is Creative/Wacky Hat Day!  We cannot wait to see all of the fun hats you create!  Please take a moment to see the activities we have planned for this week. Summer Spirit Week Link

Important Update:

Last week, we shared information about student belongings and report card pickup.  Late Friday, we received word that Waterloo Region Public Health has advised the school boards to readjust their plans due to the higher than expected COVID cases in the region.  As soon as this information is shared with us, we will send out new information on the pickup of belongings and drop off of Chromebooks, textbooks, and library books.  Teachers will share this information on their classroom websites also.  Please stay tuned.  Thank you again for your continued understanding and patience as we readjust our plans.

Important Reminders:

  • We will be celebrating our Grade 8 Graduates in a special “Drive-Thru” celebration on Thursday, June 24th from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.  They have worked so hard this year under some tough circumstances, and they have shown us their resilience and commitment to their learning.  Congratulations on your Graduation from Grade 8.  Good luck with the next chapter of your life at High School.  Make us proud as you have for so many years already
  • If you are finishing school earlier, please contact Mrs. Rossiter or Mrs. Weiler to make different arrangements so we can be sure to return your child(ren)’s belongings and have school resources returned.
  • Educators will prepare asynchronous learning activities for June 25th, 28th, and 29th.  There will be no live  meetings on these days.
  • St. Isidore Students – if you borrowed a Chromebook and charger, you are asked to bring it back to St. Daniel school.  Please refer to the instructions shared later this week.  Your report card will be mailed to your home.  Please note  that you are responsible for any damage, broken or lost accessories to the Chromebook.  Any Chromebooks not returned will be your responsibility to replace.
  • Students returning to online learning in September are still required to return their Chromebook to our school.  Please refer to the instructions shared later this week.
  • The Waterloo Region Vaccine Task Force is hosting school vaccine clinics across Waterloo Region between June 22 – 26, 2021 for youth and their families.  Youth aged 12-17 and family members they live with can book appointments at these vaccine clinics to get their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.  Please see link for more details. Youth-Vaccine-School-Clinics-Letter-002

Thanks so much for your continued support!

Youth Vaccine Clinic Letter

The Waterloo Region Vaccine Task Force is hosting school vaccine clinics across Waterloo Region between June 22 – 26, 2021 for youth and their families.  

School vaccine clinics 

Youth aged 12-17 and family members they live with can book appointments at these vaccine clinics to get their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Daytime, evening, and weekend appointments are available between June 22 – 26, 2021. Free parking is available on-site at all the clinics.  

Grand River Collegiate 

175 Indian Rd, Kitchener, ON N2B 2S7     

 Southwood Secondary School 

30 Southwood Dr, Cambridge, ON N1S 4K3 

 Huron Heights Secondary School 

1825 Strasburg Rd, Kitchener, ON N2R 1S3 

How to book an appointment?  

To book an appointment please email with your name, contact information, and preferred clinic location. Someone will call you back to complete the booking process (within 48 hours). 

You can also book an appointment by calling the YMCA settlement services at 226-339-4964. 

These clinics do not take walk-ins, an appointment is needed. 

Who can get the vaccine now?  

Youth between the ages of 12 and 17 are now eligible to get their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Youth must be 12 years old at the time of their appointment 

Youth will be able to get their second dose quicker than other people so they will have both their shots before the 2021/2022 school year.  

What vaccine will be given? 

Health Canada has approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for anyone 12 years of age and older. See the resources below for more information. 

Thank you for your continued support in keeping our community safe.  

Thunderbird Update

Hello Thunderbird Families,

It is hard to believe that we are down to the final weeks of school.  What an incredible year this has been. We are so proud of our Thunderbirds and their ability to persevere and stay strong in this year that has brought so much upheaval.  We want to thank every one of you for the support, the patience, the understanding, and the joy, you and your children, have continued to bring to each day.  We are so appreciative!

As we approach these last few weeks, we continue to ask for your support in staying the course, having your children online each day, reporting absences when necessary, and continuing to promote the positive attitude you have displayed all year.

There will be an opportunity to return learning devices that you may have borrowed, along with any textbooks or library books.  It will also be an opportunity to pick up any remaining personal belongings, say goodbye to their teacher and your Term 2 Report Card.  More information as to the specifics of this day will be coming later this week including the scheduled time to come to school.  It will come via Newswire and via your child’s Google Classroom.  We need to finalize our plans so that they all meet the safety protocols set out by Waterloo Region Public Health.

The last day of school for all students is Thursday, June 24th.

June 25th, 28th, and 29th will be offline, asynchronous days.  Work/activities will be provided by teachers for these three days.  Teachers will be back in school to complete year-end tasks and will not be able to be “on-live” with their students.

Finally, it is that time of year when have some staffing changes and additions.  I would like to share with you that Ms. Weber our Vice Principal has been assigned as Vice Principal of Saint Anne school, Kitchener.  Ms. Weber has been a wonderful addition to the Thunderbird Nest and will be missed by all.  We wish Ms. Weber the very best…once a Thunderbird, always a Thunderbird!

With this news, comes the welcome addition of our new Vice Principal, Paula Pizarro.  Mrs. Pizarro joins us from St. John Paul.  We are looking forward to getting to know Mrs. Pizarro, welcome to the Thunderbird Nest!

As always, if you have any questions please do not hesitate to reach out.

Take care and stay safe!




Important Update Please Read

Hello Thunderbird Families,

We hope this finds you well.  We would like to take a moment to sincerely thank you for your ongoing efforts in supporting your children with online learning and for supporting our staff and community!

I am sure you have many questions about how the next couple of weeks will look.  Please take a moment to read the letter from our Director of Education, Loretta Notten found in the link below.  Next week, we will share with you specifics that pertain to our school.  In the meantime, if you have any questions please feel free to reach out to your child’s teacher or contact the school office.

Link:  Letter to Community End of Year June 9 2021

Take good care,

Mrs. Giglio-Chiasson                                Ms. Weber
Principal                                                      Vice Principal

June Nest News

Dear Thunderbird Families:

Welcome to the month of June. It is hard to believe but we are in the final stretch of an extraordinary year!  As Catholics, we are called to meet and accompany our students and families in their journey. We do this through the creation and promotion of a school environment that reflects the reality of the Church as a community that nurtures human dignity and is dedicated to both spiritual and human development for all. What a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the uniqueness of every individual that we welcome into our Thunderbird community. 

We recognize that this has been a challenging school year and sincerely thank you for all of your support! As we move forward through the month of June, we will share more information as it becomes available as to: Chromebook return, report card and student item pick up and any other pertinent information. So please continue to monitor our school website.

We are in the home stretch, Thunderbirds! We have some fun things planned to end our year virtually together, so please be sure to continue to log on daily. 

Families, kindly remember to contact the school if your child(ren) will be absent from school. We continue to take attendance each morning and afternoon. 

Finally, please take some time to read our June Nest News. It is filled with important updates and information to keep our community connected. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your child’s teacher and we will continue to do our best to get you answers.

Stay well!


For the month of June you will see all WCDSB schools fly the Rainbow Flag. Our main reason for flying the Rainbow Flag is to say to all who come to our Catholic Schools that they are coming to a place where they are loved unconditionally by God and will be respected and valued as children of God. It communicates to all our children, youth, staff, and families that the school is a safe, welcoming place to learn and grow.

Bill 13 (the Accepting Schools Act) states:

“All students should feel safe at school and deserve a positive school climate that is inclusive and accepting regardless of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, marital status, family status or disability.”

Our hope and our goal in flying the Rainbow Flag is to create this safe and positive school climate for all our students.


June is also National Indigenous History Month.  As a community we have worked throughout the year to deepen our understanding of the role we must take in recognizing our impact on our Indigenous brothers and sisters and our part in promoting truth and reconciliation.  Our journey will continue throughout the month.
Did you know that as a school community one way we recognize our Indigenous brothers and sisters is by saying the Territorial Acknowledgement on our announcements.  The significance of the Territorial Acknowledgement is that it is a powerful way of showing respect and honoring the Indigenous Peoples of the land on which we work and live.  Acknowledgment is a simple way of resisting the erasure of Indigenous histories and working towards honoring and inviting the truth.  Our specific tract of land recognizes the Haudenosaunee, Anishinaabe and Neutral People. The Territorial Acknowledgement is as follow:

“We would like to begin by acknowledging that the land on which we gather today is the land traditionally used by the Haudenosaunee, Anishinaabe and Neutral People. We also acknowledge the enduring presence and deep traditional knowledge, laws and philosophies of the Indigenous People with whom we share this land today.”  


Friday June 4th, the WCDSB is proud to acknowledge Educational Assistants, Child Youth Care Workers and Personal Support Workers, these exceptional people make up our school Support Staff.  These caring and hard working individuals often support our most vulnerable students.  They spend a significant amount of time in collaboration with classroom teachers, Special Education Teachers, Administration and extended school board professionals to ensure the safety, education and overall wellbeing of our students with exceptionalities.

This day is devoted to appreciating, celebrating and honouring the daily impact they make on student success.  Please join us in recognizing the following AMAZING Support Staff team at St. Daniel School: Mr. Devereaux, Ms. Murphy, Mr. Chamberlain, Mrs. Marton, Miss. Sehl, Mrs. Maruna, Mrs. Snyder, Mrs. Marshall, Mrs. Galarza, Mrs. Schmidt and Mrs. Natale. We couldn’t do it without you! Thank You!!


Gathered to Become 

During the week of May 25-May 28 our school community had the opportunity to host the WCDSB Becoming Butterfly in celebration of our Pastoral Theme – Gathered to Become. Throughout the week students reflected on the journey of the butterfly from chrysalis to butterfly and how, we, too, are called to transformation. 

Please see our collaborative school slides to see some highlights from the week: St. Daniel Becoming Butterfly Collaborative Slides


Relay For Life:

St. Mary’s high school is hosting this year’s virtual Relay for Life event!  Our school has registered to participate and will collect donations using this link:  St. Daniel Relay for Life Fundraising Page 

Please click on the link and make a small donation to important cancer research.  Anyone can donate – not just students and St. Daniel community members, using the same link.

For information about all of the teams from the WCDSB in the St. Mary’s Family of Schools, please visit: Relay For Life at WCDSB (Waterloo Catholic District School Board): Team List – Relay For Life (

Thank you for your participation!

The Waterloo Catholic District School Board assesses the viability of the Extended Day Program at all schools every year.  A program is determined viable when there is sufficient parental interest. Parents demonstrate their interest by pre-registering for the Extended Day Program between January and April. Parents will be notified in or around May if the Extended Day Program will be offered at their school. Once a location has been determined viable, registration is ongoing, and children may enroll throughout the school year.

 Please Pre-Register now to show your interest in having/keeping the Extended Day Program at your school!

To view the Extended Day Parent Handbook, click here


Kindergarten Registration

We can’t wait to meet you! Families of students who are eligible to start kindergarten for the 2021/22 school year, please register online and we will contact you with further registration details: Register Here. If you have any questions, please contact us at 519-893-8801. Year One (born in 2017) or your child (born in 2016) who presently is NOT attending Year One (JK) but will be attending Year Two (SK) in 2021. If your child is already a kindergarten student at St. Daniel you do NOT need to reregister them, this is only for new students. 


Transportation for the 2021-2022 School Year

Student Transportation Services Waterloo Region (STSWR) is eagerly preparing to transport students for the upcoming school year and need families in bus zones to tell their needs by Friday, July 1st, 2021 so STSWR can provide smooth bus service for all in September. You can always let transportation know later if your plans change and you may opt out of busing altogether, or for either morning or afternoon busing.
Parents/guardians can find out if they live in the bus zone by using the “Transportation Eligibility” portal on our website at

The “Do Not Ride” form lets your school, your bus driver, and STSWR know that your child will not be taking the bus in one, or both, directions. When STSWR receives this form from you, your child’s transportation arrangement will be changed accordingly within 2-3 business days.

Frequently Asked Questions


Do I use the “Do Not Ride” form if my child is eligible for transportation, attended in-person during the 2020-2021 school year and is continuing in-person for September 2021?


  • If your child is assigned to the bus this school year, do not use the form; they will be automatically assigned for September 2021.
  • If your child opted out of transportation this school year, but now requires transportation for September 2021, please use the “Do Not Ride” form to have their busing reinstated


Do I use the “Do Not Ride” form if my child is eligible for transportation, enrolled in distance learning during the 2020-2021 school year, but is switching to in-person for September 2021?


  • Your child will be automatically assigned for September 2021.
  • If your child requires partial or no busing, please fill out the “Do Not Ride” form.

How do I opt back in to busing?


  • If your child qualifies for busing you can opt-in again at any time using the same “Do Not Ride” form.

More details regarding busing for September 2021 will be posted when directives from the Ministry are announced. If you have any questions about your child’s school transportation, please contact Student Transportation Services of Waterloo Region at 519-744-7575 ext. 221.


Student Activity Council

A huge shoutout  to Mr. Vuylsteke and our SAC Team for planning such fun theme days and special activities this year. Our Tie Dye Day May 28th was a blast! 

Our next Spirit Day:   June 25th (creative/wacky hat day)

Don’t forget that every Wednesday is spirit day. Be sure you wear your spirit wear or our school colours, blue and white!

Thank you so much for your participation with our ThoughtExchange question. Your thoughts will help shape our role for the upcoming 2021-2022 school year. If you are interested in being part of St. Daniel School Advisory Council for the new school year please look for the forms on your child’s Cash-online account in September. To know what we do please check out our tab on the St. Daniel School Website or you can follow the link here:


We have had a significant number of chromebooks being returned to the school that need to be repaired.  Missing keys, broken screens and damaged covers are expensive to repair and sometimes our technicians are not able to repair them.

You are responsible for the repair costs should you cause damage to the chromebook – whether it was intentional or just an accident.  We are asking that you continue to take extra caution when using the school chromebooks so we can continue to use them at home and once we are back in the building together.  Thank you for your support around this.


Parish information for Parent Updates

First Communion & Confirmation Postponed until the Fall 

 for more information, see our video : PLEASE CLICK HERE  or speak with Sarah

Outdoor Masses

Once we enter Stage 1, the Bishop has given us permission to celebrate Sunday Mass outdoors, provided all public measures are in place. 

Fr. Tim & Sarah are actively engaged in this planning process and look forward to the opportunity to gather again for Mass with the congregation.  More information will be available closer to our opening.

We are looking for a part-time Bookkeeper

Knowledge and Skill Requirements:

  • College diploma in accounting/bookkeeping
  • Strong computer skills
  • Working Knowledge of MS office and QuickBooks Pro Desktop
  • Working knowledge of Census software
  • 3-5 years of relevant experience considered an asset

For information & to apply:   PLEASE CLICK HERE 

Our 55th Anniversary

On Monday, May 31, the parish celebrated our 55th Anniversary! We celebrated with a Zoom Coffee Sunday on the 30th and Zoom Rosary on the 31st.

Corpus Christi

This Sunday is the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi). Following our 10AM Livestream Mass on YouTube, we will offer Virtual Eucharistic Adoration until 11:30 AM.

Please continue to follow us on social media (Facebook, Twitter & Instagram) to stay up-to-date on life in the parish.

Sarah Mounsteven-Bertling:

Father Tim:

Parish Website:


Umbrella Project Skills for May: Mastery


Welcome to June and Mastery month in The Umbrella Project. Mastery is a great way to wrap up the year because it requires us to use many of the skills we have learned about over the year.  Mastery is our ability to work towards excelling at something – our craft, our relationships, our jobs and many others. The early stages of mastery requires many of our Umbrella Skills to push through the boredom, fear, impatience and other difficult emotions of the learning journey. Over time, we build strength and confidence and are able to accomplish great things.


Everyone holds his fortune in his own hands, like a sculptor the raw material he will fashion into a figure. But it’s the same with that type of artistic activity as with all others: We are merely born with the capability to do it. The skill to mold the material into what we want must be learned and attentively cultivated.” —Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe 

Help your child discover their natural inclinations and curiosities

The best masters start with a deep interest and curiosity in the area they are working towards mastering. The journey to mastery requires time, patience and overcoming obstacles so this interest (see intrinsic motivation skill tips) is paramount in persevering through the learning process. You may have a vision for your child but if this doesn’t align with their personal interests it is unlikely that they will go on to master this path while building their well-being.  Trying to master something you don’t care about is arduous, requires lots of will power and depletes our energy and happiness.  

When you start with your child’s natural interests, they are much more likely to engage with the process of learning and mastering their chosen activity. Start by helping your child notice the subjects they are most engaged in and the problems they most want to solve. Try to be specific when having these conversations ie. What unit in science did you like the most and why instead of what subject do you like…  For example, this year my daughter noticed that she really loved learning about energy in science and is also concerned about the environment which led her to thinking about the jobs that might exist in sustainable energy.  She is far from having to make these types of life decisions but reflecting on things that peak interest will help her engage and learn when opportunities present themselves.

Cultivating the capacity for uncertainty and resistance

We joke in our house that physical and mental discomfort is “iron body training”, strengthening and toughening our body and minds. While this is a funny frame we can put on difficulty there is a lot of science behind this idea. We aren’t going to feel great all the time. Difficult situations and feelings are a normal part of the package of being human.  

When we seek only pleasure in life, we spend much of our time looking for ways to short-cut through or distract ourselves from anything difficult. Living with this mentality is actually doing ourselves quite a disservice as it is precisely the challenges we are avoiding that give us the “iron body” required to take on life challenges and mysteries on our path to mastery. These skills are critical for adapting to changes, learning from failure, tolerating boredom and pushing through to our goals and dreams. When we stay within the confines of easy and comfortable we quit easily and miss the chance to grow and expand.

Here are some common examples of iron body training to share with your children:

— Accepting boredom as part of the journey to mastery

— Feeling anxious about trying something new and doing it anyways

— Taking on a challenge when the outcome is uncertain

— Purposely facing small versions of your fears

There are so many ways we can encourage our children to face and adapt to the difficult and even see this as strength. Start by helping them expect these challenges along the way and explain how iron body training works. Then celebrate the power and strength that comes when they get through these tough spots. This will cultivate their capacity for overcoming uncertainty and set them on a trajectory towards mastery. 

Use timed intervals of practice to improve mastery

In working towards mastering anything, deliberate focused practice plays a critical role. Robert Greene, world renown master in the subject of mastery, emphasizes this important idea:

“This process of hardwiring cannot occur if you are constantly distracted, moving from one task to another. In such a case, the neural pathways dedicated to this skill never get established; what you learn is too tenuous to remain rooted in the brain. It is better to dedicate two or three hours of intense focus to a skill than to spend eight hours of diffused concentration on it. You want to be as immediately present to what you are doing as possible.” 

In a generation plagued with infinite distraction, how do we create space for focus and hard wiring of skills?

One great way to help children accomplish distraction free work is to have them work in manageable blocks with intentional rest in between. Start with 20 minute intervals of practice/work with 10 minute rests and adjust according to your child’s current capacity (maximum 1 hour of work before a break). Instead of a long and distracted work session, this will allow for shorter focused bursts of work with anticipated breaks in between… a much better strategy for learning.

Here are a few tips for creating focus:

— Set a timer for the work and rest intervals

— Turn off notifications on computers, set phones to airplane mode or put them in another room if your child has their own devices

— Encourage your child to get water, go pee or take care of any other distracting needs that may come up

— Use headphones if the environment is noisy

— Have  your child get the work ready to go in advance so there is no set up prep

— Have your child plan what will happen in the rest intervals – ie. go outside, dance around the house, get a snack etc.

Teach your children to value focus and practice this skill regularly.

Want to learn more? You can watch this short video I recorded for you.

Encourage learning over proving yourself

One of the biggest mistakes we make in learning is to imagine we need to impress people and prove ourselves instead of being able to accept that we don’t know everything… That’s why we are learning. It is distracting and tiring to feel that we need to be constantly proving how much we know and undermines the actual learning process. Kids who feel this way are likely to quit at first sign of failure or when someone comes along who is more experienced as if that person or experience is a threat to their identity.   

To help your children master skills with an open mind and humility, teach them “The Terrible 10 Rule”, which is as follows: expect the first 10 times you try something new to be terrible.

A simple but a clear message about expectations for the learning process.

Why would we expect to be good at things we haven’t learned or practiced yet?  

By setting our expectations of ourselves as absolute beginners it allows our egos the space to relax through the first few attempts at anything new. It also allows us to learn from those around us with more experience instead of finding ourselves in a mental competition for who is better. Explain to your children that time and experience are the critical ingredients to mastery, not some natural talent we are simply born with and ready to display on the first attempt.

I explain more in this summary video

Until next time, 

Dr. Jen, The Umbrella Project

PA Day Reminder

Hi Thunderbird Families,

Just a friendly reminder that tomorrow (Friday) is a PA Day.

Friendly Reminder

Hi Thunderbird Families,

Closes today June 3rd at 4:00 PM

Please note that ALL PARENTS who want online learning for the next year MUST COMPLETE the survey – even if you completed it in March.  

Please note, that if you register for St Isidore, our virtual school, you will no longer be affiliated with your current home school, (for the 2021-2022 school year).  You will have the option to re-register for the following school year (2022-2023)

We know that some students have found virtual to be a good way to learn.  We do, in the main, feel that for a variety of reasons not only connected to academics, but to a young person’s social emotional well-being, that attending school in person is likely the preferred option for most students, when all things are equal.  Please give this decision careful consideration.  The transition survey will be available directly from our Board homepage or can be accessed directly here: Survey Link

All other families do NOT need to complete the survey and can trust that their children are automatically registered for in-school learning at their home school, St. Daniel C.E.S.

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