In the news
The saying goes, “Everything you need to know, you learned in kindergarten.” This may have been the case years ago, but in the year 2020, the positive effects of early childhood education (ECE) and pre-kindergarten cannot be minimized. In fact, the positive effects of early childhood education have been found to persist for years. Researchers from the Harvard Graduate School of Education found that children who attend high-quality ECE programs are, “less likely to be placed in special education, less likely to be retained in a grade, and more likely to graduate from high school than peers who didn’t attend such programs,” (McCoy et al., 2017).
The recipe for success in early childhood education is not found in early literacy programs or high-stakes academic programs, but rather in “soft skills” and social emotional learning - self-regulation, sharing, communicating feelings, teamwork, and problem solving. Skilled early childhood educators weave opportunities for non-academic skill-building and predictable routines throughout the day. These educators introduce literacy and numeracy skills, but also focus on social-emotional competencies and executive function skills.
“There is increasing evidence that social-emotional skills may play a role (in academic success), as they support children's ability to continuously engage in learning environments, manage their own behaviors, and get along well with others,” said Dr. Dana Charles McCoy of the Harvard Graduate School of Education (2017). Research has shown that teaching young students how to follow a schedule or comfort an upset friend are actually integral to learning literacy and math. “A focus on literacy, language, and mathematics predictably leads to stronger vocabulary skills and stronger geometry knowledge — but it has also been found to lead to a stronger working memory and greater flexible thinking,” (Weiland & Yoshikawa, 2013).
St. Luke’s Episcopal School’s Early Childhood program is based on educating the whole child and providing opportunities to practice vital life-skills in a safe environment. The cornerstone of St. Luke’s program is the social and emotional development of each child. St. Luke’s students gain foundational academic readiness through play, exploration, and careful adult guidance. Hands-on learning, multi-sensory stimulating activities, and direct social-emotional instruction prepare learners for their time long beyond preschool. For more information about St. Luke’s Episcopal School’s Early Childhood program, visit www.sles-sa.org or call 210-826-0664.
McCoy, D. C., Yoshikawa, H., Ziol-Guest, K. M., Duncan, G. J., Schindler, H. S., Magnuson, K., Shonkoff, J. P. (2017). Impacts of Early Childhood Education on Medium- and Long-Term Educational Outcomes. Educational Researcher, 46(8), 474–487. https://doi.org/10.3102/0013189X17737739
Weiland, C. & Yoshikawa, H. (2013). Impacts of a prekindergarten program on children's mathematics, language, literacy, executive function, and emotional skills. Child Development, 84(6), 2112-2130. https://doi.org/10.1111/cdev.12099.
Making the decision to send your child to private school takes thoughtful deliberation and extensive research. Many families choose private institutions for their rigorous academic programs, unique educational philosophies, or religious beliefs. At St. Luke’s Episcopal School, we recognize the sacrifice that parents make when investing in their child’s educational future by enrolling them in a private school. In an effort to help navigate the private school enrollment process, the education experts at St. Luke's have compiled a series of considerations to help guide your decision making process.
What type of school is right for your child?
Parents need to consider who their child is, as well as their academic and social emotional needs. Would your child flourish in a large class size, or would they benefit from specialized instruction? Does your child need academic support? Perhaps your child would flourish in a program that is child-centered or provides an enriched curriculum. Finding the best fit for your child will ultimately help you reach your most important goal: your child’s happiness.
What goals do you have for your child’s education?
Are you looking for a traditional educational experience, advanced academic program, or a more holistic approach to education? Private schools articulate their purpose and philosophy through their mission. Discerning parents should examine the mission of the school and determine if it aligns with the goals they hold for their child’s education.
What school is right for your family?
Certainly, the cost of tuition and fees is important for most families when choosing a school. However, there are private schools at almost any budget. Many schools offer robust financial support. Aside from finances, you should also investigate whether prospective schools offer additional services and support that your family may require. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 60% of households with children under 18 have two parents in the workforce. These complicated schedules require extended care for young children, after school enrichment courses, academic tutoring, and athletic/intramural activities for older children. Lastly, does the school community feel welcoming and supportive? The sense of community, parental participation and support should all be considered in this decision. You are choosing a second home for your child and ultimately, your family.
Why St. Luke’s Episcopal School?
St. Luke’s Episcopal School is a special environment, unlike any other school in the city of San Antonio. Our school embodies a holistic educational vision which attends to the growth of the mind, body, and spirit in a hospitable, inclusive Christian community. Students are known, loved, challenged, and nurtured by experienced educators who are deeply committed to each student’s growth and development. SLES offers a broad array of programs and opportunities in a safe and inclusive environment which fosters personal and intellectual growth, critical thinking, and a love of life-long learning. Our dedication to keeping class sizes small enables a level of individualized, personalized attention and teacher-student relationship that enhances authentic and deep learning.
Call St. Luke’s for a personalized tour, where you can witness our classrooms in action and interact with faculty and current parents. We strongly encourage you to visit us and experience all that St. Luke’s has to offer your child.
In the afternoon, you might see St. Luke’s Episcopal School (SLES) students sitting in middle level English teacher Jen Wentlandt’s classroom with their eyes closed, quietly breathing. This is exactly what they should be doing.
The new class, Health and Wellness is offered to all SLES 4th-8th grade students, who attend in small, multi- grade level groups. One of the great strengths and hallmarks of a SLES education is our holistic vision of educating the mind, body, and spirit of each child here. Our new, innovative Health and Wellness class embodies this integrated learning ethos. Once a week, students meet with Mrs. Wentlandt to learn about mindfulness, self-reflection, nutrition, peer relationships, conflict resolution, and practical skills for physical, social, and emotional well-being. Through class discussions, journaling, research, and documentaries, our students become better equipped to address the myriad of stresses and challenges of adolescent and adult life. This is one tangible example of the breadth and depth of a St. Luke’s education.
Studying mental health, mindfulness, and wellness has strong, long-lasting benefits for people of all ages, including young people. “The pre-teen and teen years are marked with significant and unique stressors, including identity and self image, peer pressure, parent and teacher expectations, social media, you name it,” says Mrs. Wentlandt. “Research shows that practicing mindfulness literally rewires the brain to become more powerful and able to concentrate. It can also decrease the likelihood of experiencing depression and anxiety.”
SLES students are experiencing positive results after just a few classes. “I love our class! Mrs. W has a passion for mental health and she puts a lot of thought into making sure we stay healthy. A healthy brain and a healthy heart will help us to be better and happier students,” says SLES 8th grader Irene Sheerin.
In recent years, a considerable amount of research and attention has focused on comparing the PK-8 school model with the elementary, then middle school format. What has emerged is evidence that the PK-8 model offers unique strengths for students during this period of considerable cognitive, physical, and social-emotional growth. At St. Luke’s Episcopal School (SLES), creating a nurturing environment facilitates the ability to provide a challenging, rigorous education. St. Luke’s prepares students with a solid foundation of learning skills and a strong knowledge base, ensuring a smooth and successful transition to high school. Our model also permits us to offer leadership opportunities to our Middle School students at a time when they are naturally developing these skills and need the exposure, encouragement, and responsibility that come with being the oldest students in a school. At SLES Middle School is not in the middle. Our sixth, seventh and eighth graders assume authentic leadership roles, which results in greater levels of confidence and self-esteem as they progress toward high school. As an Episcopal school, we value a truly holistic vision of educating the mind, body, and spirit, so developing leadership skills is an intrinsic part of our mission.
At St. Luke’s, everybody knows your name. There is a sense of belonging that deepens as a child grows from pre-kindergarten to eighth grade, both for the child and for the family. Parents at a PK – 8th grade school are more inclined to stay connected and involved beyond the elementary school years, a factor which correlates highly with student success. The school becomes a virtual neighborhood in which families raise their children together, creating enduring bonds with one another and with the faculty and administration. In a culture which often diminishes the joy and wonder of childhood in a rushed acceleration to premature adulthood, PK-8 schools provide a measured and secure place to navigate the challenges of adolescence and emerging adulthood.
Students and their parents have the unique benefit of choosing the right high school at the right time: when students and their families more deeply understand the student’s strengths, interests, affinities, passions and challenges. Throughout the eighth grade year, we communicate with students and their parents to help determine the best high school options for every student. One of the most gratifying experiences is to hear from our alumni as to how well they were prepared to flourish academically, socially, and emotionally, in high school and beyond.
We invite you to join us on Wednesday, October 16 for our Admission Preview starting with registration at 8:45 a.m. Parents will have the opportunity to hear from school administrators and tour our hilltop campus. If you are not able to join us on October 16th please contact Margaret Ann Casseb, Director of Admission, at email@example.com or call 210.826.0664 ext.239 to schedule an individual tour.
“Summer time and the living’s easy”. So goes the classic tune from Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess. Certainly summer for children is a delight and wonder, a time to relax and explore. A time for travel with family and friends, a time to play at the beach, lake, or mountains. Our children need unstructured time to be themselves and to cultivate their imaginations without the ceaseless drone and distraction of social media and electronic stimuli. Ideally, summer can be a time for recharging and renewing ourselves, children and parents, and of deepening our family bonds.
As we prepare for the start of a new school year, we turn our focus on how best to prepare our children for an exciting and engaging year of learning and growth. Below are some time tested ways we can help our children to successfully start the school year.
- Transition to school year routines. School is a highly structured environment. Children need a good night’s sleep to function well. It is a good idea to start moving to good sleep habits in the weeks before school. Likewise with other activities, such as family meals or extracurricular activities (sports, dance, music, etc.), it is good to begin to move towards making such activities part of the daily routine. School can seem exhausting to children, particularly the first few weeks. Transitioning to a school schedule can help to alleviate this stress for children (and parents!).
- Talk positively about school. Children can be nervous about new classmates, new teachers, and a new environment, even in the same school. Parents can reassure their children that they will be with friends and teachers who know them and will support and care for them. At St. Luke’s, we continually stress the vital influence and importance of a strong partnership between parents and teachers. We want each child to flourish and believe that happens best when there is clear communication between the school and its families.
- Talk about their school day. Parents can talk about the many exciting activities their child were be participating in, when school begins and ends, how carpool will work, and how proud they are of their child.
- Visit the school and classrooms before the start of the new school year. At. St. Luke’s, we begin our school year with “Meet the Teacher” day where students and parents can come and visit the teachers and classrooms, set up their lockers, meet their friends and classmates, and hear more from their teachers what they will be learning and about exciting upcoming classroom events and activities. And then, everyone goes to the Rollercade to enjoy some great fun!
I hope everyone enjoys a great start to the new school year!