Tuesday, June 28, 2016

It’s NOT Always The Child!

It’s NOT Always The Child!

When a child is in the wrong environment, it is easy to think that the child is extremely disruptive and has a behavioral issue.  Have you every stopped and wondered if it might be the environment the child is in before you label the child as someone who can’t listen?

As the ratio of teacher to children in the classroom is decreasing, it is a lot harder to have the one-on-one interactions that are needed.  There may be too many children in the same room for some children to process for themselves.  Imagine you have to listen to the teacher’s instructions while the child next to you is yelling for a toy, and on the other side you have a child banging his blocks while screaming at another child to leave him alone.  You can imagine it can get very loud!

For some children it is too much to process, so they might hide under a desk or find a place that is quiet.  But wait! What if the child has to be in one area in the classroom while the area that will help him/her to self-regulate is closed off, but still the child goes to that area?  The teacher will approach and ask the child to move.  At this point the child has hands covering ears and is kicking and telling the teacher, “No.”   No other words can come out since the child can’t come up with the words to tell the teacher that it is too loud.  Or maybe the child doesn’t have the language to state why he/she is feeling overwhelmed.  Is this a behavioral child?  No!  This is child is having a hard time processing the world around him/her and isn’t able to communicate that information.

Understanding that children process things differently is the first step for an educator to help this child.  Every child is different and will need different tools to get through the day.  Ways to help a child in the classroom is to have a designated area for breaks when things start to become overwhelming.  Have the child learn the word “Break” so he/she can start to ask for one when needed.  If you see that the child is covering ears, see if you can change how loud it is in the classroom or better yet have noise cancelling  head phones ready to go.  Just these simple steps can help children process their surroundings to where they are successful and not labeled as children with behavioral issues.  Sometimes the little things can make the biggest difference in children. 

By Vanessa Kahlon, MA 
Founder & Director of KFS School 
Kahlon Family Services 

Thursday, June 9, 2016

How to Get Through a Meltdown

Meltdowns are part of life for people with developmental delays. You know what it's like that moment before the meltdown starts; you know the triggers, you see the frustration on your child's face, you hear the noises they make before the storm begins. Then it happens - they yell, they cry, they throw things, they hurt themselves and others. You feel your anxiety levels amp up, because you know that you are the person who needs to help them through it, yet you feel as though there's nothing you can do.

While this might not help every situation, we have developed a few ways in which you can bare through the mighty meltdowns in your family:

(1) Catch the triggers and prevent
Prevention is better than cure. Can you alter the environment to avoid typical frustrations? Can you catch the early signs (e.g. noises, mannerisms) and remove the child from the situation?

(2) Retreat
Go somewhere quiet - especially if you are in public. There's nothing worse than the stares of strangers, judging you without knowing the full story. Find a quiet corner in the mall, beeline back to the car, find a vacant bedroom when you're at somebody's house. Just go somewhere quiet.

(3) Prioritize safety and damage control 
This might be a good time for a "bear hug". Hold your child close, to avoid them hurting themselves or others. What can you do to help your child stay safe, and not regret their actions later on?

(4) Sit and wait - then wait some more
Once your child seems to be calming down, don't start talking. Wait far longer than you think they'll need. Test the waters by asking something - if they start yelling again, they're not ready. Wait again. Once your child can talk without losing control of their body, then move to the next phase.

(5) Explain
When the coast is clear, explain the situation with empathy. Acknowledge how the child felt, while helping them to understand why they can't have what they want.

(6) Fast forgiveness
Decide to forgive quickly. You will not feel like it, but make a rule that you won't bring it up again. Leave it, and move on.

(7) Affectionate response
The first action of forgiveness, is to give your child something positive. A word of affirmation, a hug, read a story and cuddle, or share a meal together. As the adult, your job is to show unconditional love. You are not affirming "bad behavior" - remember, you dealt with the behavior - now you're affirming the child.

(8) Repair
Avoid asking your child to say, "Sorry," to someone when you know it's not a heartfelt apology. Instead, focus more on repairing the situation. If your child needs to make an apology of action to another person, have them "fix" what was broken. If it means physically fixing an item they broke, give them some tape and let them fix it. If it's giving ice to someone who is hurt, show them to the freezer and have them wrap it in paper towel. Remember - the repair is not for you, or even the other party. You are showing your child how to make "right" the wrongs in their life. This is a powerful life lesson.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Summer Camp is Coming!

We are excited to announce that the KFS Summer camp is just around the corner! This year we will be offering both Lower and Upper Elementary camps. This camp will be individualized to meet your children exactly where they're 'at' in life. Both groups will be packed with activity, adventure and the unique personal growth that comes from learning to be part of a group.
The camp will focus on the experiences our children need to navigate life at their level. We focus on school recess skills, as well as developing ways to be an active participant in the classroom. For some children, we pay attention to the physical activity component of recess games, whereas for others, we focus on keeping recess games fun and fair. KFS Summer Camp is fully devoted to customizing each camp to the needs of the children who attend.
Through a range of activities, such as; cooking, crafts, grocery shopping, hiking, animal care and imaginative play, we work on developing life skills. Learning how to take turns, stop something when they're asked, take care of others, advocate for themselves and learning tools for self regulation are all part of what we set out to achieve.
A typical day of KFS Summer Camp includes;
  • 9am Arrival and social time
  • 9:10am Yoga
Relaxation and breathing, followed by YEAS Yoga practice aimed at developing awareness of the body/mind connection.
  • 9:30am Morning Meeting
Discuss the schedule, icebreaker activities, general "check in."
  • 10am Physical Activity/Recess Skills
Basics of soccer, foursquare, tag etc. at Lake Park.
  • 11:30am Prepare for lunch
Campers set the table and prepare to eat as a group.
  • 12 noon Eat lunch together
Lunch is about socially engaging around the table. All campers and leaders remain at the table for the full half hour, learning to wait, make polite conversation and participate in a group plan.
  • 12:30pm Rest Time/Read Aloud
Kids have a chance to recuperate from the busy morning by listening to a story. Leaders ask comprehension questions and encourage open discussion on the themes of the book. All books are chosen to be relevant to the behavioral needs of the campers.
  • 1pm Activity
E.g. Cafe day: campers take $5 to a cafe and have to figure out what they can buy within their budget. They are expected to look the cashier in the eye and politely ask for what they want.
  • 2:30pm Yoga/Breathing
  • 2:45pm Closing Circle
A chance for kids to express the highlights, lowlights and lessons learned during the day.
This schedule is just an outline, every day is slightly different. One day per week, we run a cooking class - giving the kids a chance to see a recipe through from idea to completion. They vote on what to make, then create a shopping list and we go to the grocery store as a team. After finding the ingredients, they make the meal in the kitchen and serve it to each other. We also typically have a beach day, where we learn the skills of taking public transit and the time management to fit our activities in within our schedule. Oh - did we forget to mention sandcastles? Beach day is a great time to throw off all this serious business and have some fun!
We know that summer for the kids doesn't always mean summer for the parents so we are offering extended care until 5pm.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

To Chore, or Not to Chore?

Picture from MaryOrganizes.com
Many parents are divided on whether or not to assign chores to their growing children. We believe the key to having kids help around the house lies with assigning age-appropriate tasks. This week we have a list of Pros and Cons when it comes to dividing up household responsibilities.

  • Kids may have too many after school activities already 
  • Demanding homework loads are becoming more common 
  • Some jobs are really for adults to do, children should be able to trust their caregivers to provide basic care
  • Kids refuse to do them (or complain too much, let's be honest!)

  • Avoid having your kids form attitudes of entitlement
  • Teach vital life skills for the future (your child's future life partner will thank you) 
  • Practical help around the house - especially if you're a working parent 
  • Building a family culture where everyone has responsibilities 

Alternatives to "Chores"

If the word "chores" seems too archaic and orphanage-like, "responsibility" can be easily substituted. The schedule below (www.gonelikerainbows.com) shows a realistic version of adding expectations of home tasks into an already busy child's day.

Picture from Gone Like Rainbows 
If your children have grown up without having specific responsibilities in the house, it's likely that there will be some pushback when you ask them to start helping. With multiple children, try writing out a list of what needs to be done and each child can take turns choosing their task until they're all allocated. You could also rotate tasks every week, or "sell" older kids on specific jobs based on their competence as the oldest. Stand your ground when you've established an expectation - responsibility first, then fun. 

Isn't that how adult life (should) work? Set your kids up for success by assigning responsibilities early on.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

"Stop", "Listen", & "Wait"

"Stop”, “Listen”, & “Wait” 
By Vanessa Kahlon, MA 

For me when a child is happy, feeling safe physically and emotionally, that is when learning will take place.  Everyone pushes academics first but what about the social emotional state of the child?  When a child is under the desk or walks out of class whenever he/she are feeling overwhelmed and the adults around him/her are still pushing for the child to sit, pay attention, and stop fidgeting so the teachers can finish the lesson plan, what are we doing as educators to help every child understand what is happening with their body?

Sometimes it is just as important for educators to “Stop”, “Listen”, & “Wait” for the child to come back into his/her own body to proceed.  Talk to the child about what is bothering him/her.  You might be surprised that the child will tell you what is bothering them so it is our job as educators to “Listen” and see what WE can change for the child to help them learn.  The child being heard is the first step for the child to feel safe in any setting.   The child might say that he/she need a “Break” so having a break area can be the first step this child will need to learn.  

In the classroom, having jobs for the child so he/she starts to feel good about himself/herself is key.  Maybe the child will need to put paper in the printer or take out the trash. When a child is feeling part of the classroom you will see a change in behavior. They might be the first person to raise their hand for a job, where before he/she would never raise a hand.  The child will see himself/herself in a positive light, which will then increase his/her self-esteem.   As the child’s self esteem increases they are most likely to take more risks in their learning environment such as reading out loud if that was an issue at one time or answering a question that is stated to the group.  

Being an educator is very hard work and each child has their own learning styles, which makes things more complicated.  But to be able to slow the classroom down a bit and take a step back and see how each child learns you will find that the children will be more receptive once presented with the learning materials.   

We just need to “Stop”, “Listen”, & “Wait”.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

"One Liners" for Those Challenging Parenting Moments That Push Our Buttons

By Janina Nadaner, MFT

"I hate you! You are the worst mother in the world"-screams a 6 year old Jack after you informed him that he may not continue his video game until his one daily household chore is done. 

What do you do? Do you retort, your blood pressure rising, " Do not talk to me this way, young man, or you will be grounded for one week"......or perhaps try one of the more effective one-liners: " Well, you’ll better get used to me, I am the only mother you will ever have" and then calmly and with a smile on your face disconnect or confiscate the device and exit. 

Having a menu of effective one-liners can protect us from losing our cool and giving our child the power to rattle our emotions. And when we are cool and collected, we can turn even the most difficult parenting into truly teachable moments. 

Here are some examples:Your child is arguing with you and won't stop, following you from one room to another. Do you argue back, plead, try winning the argument, scream with exasperation?

Why not pull out a more effective one liner: "I love you too much to argue with you" and then promptly exit (to a safe time out place somewhere in the house). 

Other effective one liners you may want to try:

1.    When your child is screaming at you" It's not fair", try saying " Who's ever told you that things in life are fair" 

2.    When your child announces that she is packing her suitcase and leaving, try saying" That would be a mistake. I know you can make good decisions. Let me know how I can help."

3.    When your child has done something that needs a consequence but you are yet no sure what that consequence should be, try saying" Bummer. How sad for you. I am going to think about what consequence is appropriate and get back to you. And you do some thinking, too"

4.    When your child is trying to disrupt a family event by running around wildly and screaming on top of his lungs, try saying: " It looks like you have something to say. Let me know when you are ready to talk in a regular voice so I can listen". 

When we meet our child's anger with anger, we are feeding them a diet of negative attention and emotion, which is exhausting for both children and adults and greatly ineffective. So, have your one liners ready and pull them out at the right times. And enjoy increased cooperation and respectful behavior in your family. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Thank You for attending KFS Open House

Thank you for coming to the KFS Open House! 

    From our whole team at KFS we THANK YOU all for attending our KFS School Open House on February 28th, we enjoyed every minute of it! It was amazing to have the whole community and families come together and meeting all our parents, family members and children having the opportunity to share the learning that goes on in the classroom and get a glance of what we do everyday. We hope that it was informative, as well as fun for you as all learning should always be! We are looking forward to a productive partnership with our community to ensure our children can achieve their highest potential.

A huge thanks goes out to those who spoke at the Open house!

Tejal Desai (Parent)

Susan McCormick (Learning Specialist)

Lindy Joffeot (OT Professional)

Karla Cianci (JCC Assistant Director) 

KFS School Program revolves around 4 essential pillars for a child's well-being:


"Only children believe they are capable of everything". Our educational inspiration stems from believing in the potential and strength of each child.  We actively guide every aspect of each child's individuality, character and well-being on a personal level and in a group setting. We provide each child with a comprehensive environment to nurture his/her learning style through their own curiosity, passion for learning, and social interaction. We strive to create opportunities for learning, exploration, creativity and self-expression. Our approach is to provide a smaller classroom setting, with one-on-one attention, allowing our environment to be warm and welcoming. We encourage children's ability to make choices, problem solve, master skills and develop relationships.

"The night before Open House, I was thinking of what I want to say, and my son told me, "Mommy it's very easy, you can say, 'I love my School and My School loves me.'" I told him myself that really says it all. As a parent and for my child as a student that goes to KFS School that's what he needs from a school" - Tejal, parent of a KFS Student