Tag: University of Tennessee

Being Active Can Be Fun

By Tracey Matthews Wynter, Supervisor of the Knox County Schools Family and Community Engagement Department
        

Did you know the brain is a muscle? Well, it is…and no different than any of your other muscles: you must use it before you lose it. In need of some advice to help you and your students put the brain to use this summer? Get active! Exercise is not only important for physical health, but it can help keep the brain sharp as well. Anything that is good for the heart, is great for the brain. Knoxville has plenty of places to and activities to try to put both the body and the brain to work, so read on to hear about some of those, but also for some tips about how to get fit in your front yard, too!

All Work and No Play…

No one said you had to be as good as David Beckham or Serena Williams to enjoy sports, just go outside and play with your children. Summertime is a great time for family members to participate in some friendly competition in the outdoors. Sports like Frisbee, soccer, golf, croquet, flag football, and swimming are a great way for your little ones to release any energy that has built up during the school year and cooler months. Another great way to get fit with the family is to explore new sports together. Pick a sport that seems interesting, read books or articles regarding the origin and rules of game, maybe watch a game or match on TV, online, or in person, then try it out for yourself with friends and family!

These [Sneakers] Were Made for Walking

Summer evenings in Knoxville are amazing. To get to know your neighbors and their kids, you could start a walking club for the neighborhood. Map out a route, set a consistent day and time to meet, invite others to join, and start putting one foot in front of the other.

Go Take A Hike!

Literally! One of the greatest things about being in East Tennessee is all of the nature that surrounds us. National parks, nature trails, flowing rivers, and serene lakes all beckon. Consider taking your children out to explore.

I Spy

The age old game, “I Spy” is a great way to pull our eyes from the many screens we encounter each day. Step out the front door, sans any technology and play. The “spy” spots something and says, “I spy….” then describes the item using descriptive words while everyone else tries to be the first one to spot the selected item. Whoever spots it first becomes the next spy.

Bike Hike

Knoxville trails aren’t just for hiking! Many of the area greenways are smoothly paved and perfect for two (or three) wheels. Vehicles are typically prohibited from the areas as well, so they are safer than area sidewalks and parking lots. Grab your helmets, load up a picnic, and roll on into a good time!

Slow and Steady

Don’t think that all activity needs to be fast paced and sweat inducing! Try some slower moving activities like yoga or Tai Chi. Watch instructional videos online, if you do it on a laptop or your phone, you could even try it outside.

Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head

There’s no excuse to skip exercise on cold or rainy days. Watch exercise videos indoors or take  advantage of a local mall walking program to add variety and keep exercise going even in inclement weather.

Dance Fever

Everyone loves a good dance party. Whether you’re inside with family, visiting with friends, or enjoying a neighborhood BBQ, put on a little music and get those feet moving.

Happy Feet

1.Walking is one of the best forms of exercise. Research some of the area’s local attractions and see how many you can visit on foot. It shouldn’t be too hard downtown! Map out a route and get moving. It will be doubly beneficial because it will exercise the body and brain, as well as provide some educational incentives. Some initial ideas are: Gentle Barn, Ijams Nature Center, Knoxville Botanical Garden, Knoxville Museum of Art, McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture, Putt Putt Golf and Games, UT Gardens, and The Fruit and Berry Patch.

Talk to your family to decide which activities need to be on your Fun Family Fitness To-do List, set some personal and family fitness goals, and get active!

Please share your success stories, related tips, and topic suggestions for future articles by contacting Tracey Matthews Wynter, Knox County Schools Family and Community Engagement Department Supervisor, (865) 594-9525, tracey.matthews@knoxchools.org. For more information and resources available to Knox County Schools’ students and families, please visit us online at knoxschools.org/fce.

Knox County Schools Family Resource Center’s

FAMILY RESOURCE OF THE MONTH:

The Knoxville-Knox County Community Action Committee (CAC) Summer Food Service Program

Summer Food Service Program provides meals (breakfast, lunch, and snacks) to children at a variety of sites within Knox County to include recreation programs, summer schools, Boys and Girls Clubs, and other community youth groups. For locations and more information, call 865-546-3500.

For details and/or additional local resources, contact Tamekia Jackson, Knox County Schools Family Resource Center Director via email at tamekia.jackson@knoxschools.org or by phone at (865) 594-1192.

Tracey Matthews currently serves as Knox County Schools’ District-wide Family and Community Engagement Supervisor. In this position, Tracey has been entrusted with the responsibility to facilitate the district’s course toward building stronger and lasting partnerships between families, schools, and the community. For more information, please visit the Family and Community Engagement at knoxschools.org.

The Cerebral Development Of Teens

By Tracey Matthews Wynter, Supervisor of the Knox County Schools Family and Community Engagement Department
        

Untitled-13The process of developing maturity can be difficult for both parents and teens, but by better understanding how the teenage brain works, a world of difference can be made for everyone.

In past parenting models, parents have been encouraged to “hold their breath” and wait out the teenage years of rebellion. The problem with this parenting style is that it can foster a negative expectation of teens. While some teens will figure things out on their own and discover the ability to make good decisions early on, others rely heavily on their parents’ experiences, understanding and guidance. Read more →

Score A “Touchdown” With Your Goal Setting

By Tracey Matthews Wynter, Supervisor of the Knox County Schools Family and Community Engagement Department
        

This year, I presented each of the students in Ms. Collins’ fourth grade class at West Hills Elementary School with a set of sticker charts and stickers. With the gift, came a challenge: to set a goal in the upcoming year to do something new, do something differently, or do something better than they had before. They were told to reward themselves with a sticker each day they accomplished their goal. I promised to do the same. Read more →

Has Social Media Replaced The “Gift” Of Time

By Tracey Matthews Wynter, Supervisor of the Knox County Schools Family and Community Engagement Department
        

Tweets, posts, tags, likes, pins, chats, PMs and snaps…just a few terms that describe how connected we have become in the 21st Century, but do we know how to disconnect in order to spend quality time with others?  Is social media actually making us more anti-social?  Is it time for a “digital detox?”

Social media and networking sites are playing an increasingly important role in our lives, especially with young people.  The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry states that children age 13-17 spend at least two hours a day on social networking sites, and more than 60 percent of these teenagers have at least one “profile” on social media.  Additionally, according to a recent Pew Research Center report, 57 percent of teenagers have met a new friend online.  Social media and online gameplay are the most common digital venues for meeting friends.

What happened to the good old days of sharing the “gift” of time with those with whom we are closest?  I know, I know…everyone is incredibly busy these days. Considering how technology has made our lives more automated and fast, we should actually have more time today than we’ve ever had in the past. Take, for example, the concept of a “drive-thru.”  Now, there are not only drive-thru restaurants, but drive-thru car washes, drive-thru markets, and even drive-thru zoos and wedding chapels. In Los Angeles, the Robert L. Adams Mortuary offers “drive-thru viewing” and displays the deceased in a glass window where loved ones can pay their respects from the street.  The Kocian Law Group in Connecticut offers drive-thru legal advice, and in Houston, Texas the Succeed in Life Center offers advice and prayers from a drive-thru window! This phenomenon is happening in many places so clearly, time is not the issue.  Making quality time for others, is.

Personally Reconnecting With Those We Love

Step 1:  List all optional activities in which you make time to enjoy (e.g., going to a movie theater, watching television, going out to dinner, surfing your social media pages or the Internet, reading for pleasure, listening to music, going shopping for fun, etc.).

Step 2:  Next to that list, list the virtual “friends” with whom you would like to more personally connect or reconnect.

Step 3: Once a week, perhaps, intentionally plan to exchange one of your optional activities for personally connecting with a significant friend or loved one with whom you have primarily relied on social media to maintain your relationship.

Alternatives to Social Media

Send an actual letter or card (rather than an e-card), and include phrases such as, “I made time for you. You are very important to me.” Send a few, and maybe start with those serving in the military.

Phone a friend – texting is great because we can go back and read messages as many times as we wish.  However, hearing someone’s voice can be even more special.

Surprise friends by planning a personal visit or make arrangements to spend quality time together.

When friends are ill or in the hospital, actually go and visit them and take a card, flowers or crossword puzzles to show your concern.

Take a small batch of baked good to your friends and neighbors who are not users of social media

Take Inventory

QualityTime is a relatively new app for Android smartphones that helps manage your “digital diet.”  It allows the user to monitor and get real time reports on how much time is spent on your smartphone, whether it be social media or other favorite apps.  It tracks total usage, screen unlocks and individual apps with hourly, daily and weekly summary reporting options.  Users will have the ability to curb habits by setting up time restrictions such as alerts, the “take-a-break” function and scheduled breaks.

Am I bashing social media networks?  Not at all!  Social media is one of the best connection tools we have on the planet.  We should use social media to enhance the personal relationships we already have…not replace them.

Please share your success stories, related tips, and/or topic suggestions for future articles by contacting Mrs. Tracey Matthews Wynter, Knox County Schools Family and Community Engagement Department Supervisor, 865-594-9525, tracey.matthews@knoxchools.org. For more information and resources available to Knox County Schools’ students and families, please visit us online at knoxschools.org/fce.

FAMILY RESOURCE CENTER’S RESOURCE OF

THE MONTH:

Coats for The Cold

Coats for the Cold is an annual community drive to collect thousands of coats for those in need in our communities. The 2015 distribution date is Saturday, December 5 at Knox Area Rescue Ministries (KARM) Stores Clearance Center, 4302 Asheville Highway (in the Holston Shopping Center). If you would like to “give back” after receiving a coat, KARM will need volunteers to help pack up the remaining coats on December 7th and 8th.  Visit karm.org , select “Get Involved,” and then “Events,” for more details!

For additional local resources, contact Mrs. Tamekia Jackson, Knox County Schools Family Resource Center Director, tamekia.jackson@knoxschools.org, 865-594-1192.

Happy Holidays!

Tracey Matthews currently serves as Knox County Schools’ District-wide Family and Community Engagement Supervisor. In this position, Tracey has been entrusted with the responsibility to facilitate the district’s course toward building stronger and lasting partnerships between families, schools, and the community. For more information, please visit the Family and Community Engagement at knoxschools.org.

Being Thankful For Gratitude

By Tracey Matthews Wynter, Supervisor of the Knox County Schools Family and Community Engagement Department
        

Last month I came across a great article about gratitude.  Being that this is what I personally consider the best year of my life, I couldn’t resist reading it.  This month I would like to share a fellow author’s perspective as it is directly related to this month’s topic, “Giving Thanks”, and specifically how gratitude applies to the past, present, and the future. Below are excerpts from the article written by Dr. Harvey B. Simon, editor of Harvard Men’s Health Watch. Read more →

Teaching Children To Listen Mindfully

By Tracey Matthews Wynter, Supervisor of the Knox County Schools Family and Community Engagement Department
        

“Next to physical survival, the greatest need of a human being is psychological survival–to be understood, to be affirmed, to be validated, to be appreciated.”

– Stephen Covey

Whew!  That’s a lot to swallow, so let’s zoom our lens on the importance of teaching our children how to truly and sincerely listen.  It is extremely important to first learn how to listen so that we can then affirm, validate, and show appreciation of others.  We’re obviously not talking about traditional “listening”. Meaningful listening is more than “hearing”. It demonstrates care, compassion, and concern.

Listening is a skill not often deliberately “taught” to children, yet it’s an extremely valuable attribute that is essential in family, other personal, and school relationships. It will prove invaluable later in life in your child’s relationships at work and as adults in general.  Read below to find a few strategies that we, along with our children, might consider in practicing the skill of meaningful listening.

STEP 1: Change Our Purpose for Listening… “Most people don’t listen with the intent to understand.  Most people listen with the intent to reply.”  -Stephen Covey

Sometimes I find myself enthusiastically waiting for the other person to finish what they are saying so that I can respond with my bit of wisdom and advice.  What about you? We sometimes even decide prematurely in our minds what the other person means before they even finish sharing their thoughts! Stephen Covey says we often listen autobiographically, which involves us selectively focusing on what is being said and then interpreting it only from our own personal experiences, biases, and other personal frames of reference.1 Instead, we should clear our minds in order to listen to hear and understand to get a better picture of what they are thinking and feeling.  We might even repeat to the person what was heard to confirm understanding as well as reassure the person they’ve been heard. 

STEP 2: Stop, Look and Listen! “When you listen with empathy to another person, you give that person ‘psychological air’. And after that vital need is met, you can then focus on influencing or problem solving.”    -Stephen Covey

The next tier of meaningful listening is known as “emphatic” listening. This involves not only hearing, reflecting, and intellectually understanding the words (about 10 percent of our communication) that are said, but also paying attention to sounds or the inflection in words/voice (30 percent) and observing body language (60 percent).   So, in essence, it means using both sides of our brains and listening emotionally with our ears, eyes, and most importantly our heart.

STEP 3: Practice When Our Children Argue or Strongly Disagree…”You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view–until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” –To Kill A Mockingbird

Play this version of Win, Lose, or Draw! which involves role switching when your children argue.  For just a few minutes, ask your children to stop, switch bodies, and speak from their opponent’s point of view as clearly and fairly as possible.3  The first person who makes a new point to support their opponent’s position wins! If the other person can communicate their understanding the other person’s position before the judge bangs his/her gavel, it’s a tie. In the end when they come up with a fair solution, there will not be any losers.

Variation: Conduct a mini court.  Casually let each person state their case and then offer them a more mature perspective considering both of their positions. Then, let them try to decide the verdict.  If they cannot compromise and come up with a fair and reasonable solution, YOU be the judge! Clearly explain why you made your final decision in order to turn this argument into a great learning opportunity.  Most importantly, communicate how you listened with ears, eyes, heart, and how that influenced your final verdict.

Fun Twist: Deduct court costs from their allowance if you had to serve as the judge.

Children who are purposefully taught to meaningfully listen, consider another person’s point of view, and how someone else sees or thinks about something are more likely to grow up to be considerate and caring adults. Taking the time to teach and demonstrate these skills is critical to their current and future success.

Please share your success stories, related tips, and/or topic suggestions for future articles by contacting Mrs. Tracey Matthews Wynter, Knox County Schools Family and Community Engagement Department Supervisor, 865-594-9525, tracey.matthews@knoxchools.org. For more information and resources available to Knox County Schools’ students and families, please visit us online at knoxschools.org/fce.

FAMILY RESOURCE CENTER’S RESOURCE OF

THE MONTH:

Knoxville Mentoring Programs

Mentoring programs provide children opportunities to listen, as well as to be meaningfully listened to. Please visit the Knox County Schools Family Resource Center website at knoxschools.org/frc and select “Local Mentoring Programs” to see the variety of mentoring resources and opportunities available to families in Knox County.

 For additional local resources, contact Mrs. Tamekia Jackson, Knox County Schools Family Resource Center Director, at tamekia.jackson@knoxschools.org, 865-594-1192.

Happy fall, y’all!

Tracey Matthews currently serves as Knox County Schools’ District-wide Family and Community Engagement Supervisor. In this position, Tracey has been entrusted with the responsibility to facilitate the district’s course toward building stronger and lasting partnerships between families, schools, and the community. For more information, please visit the Family and Community Engagement at knoxschools.org.

Creative Parenting Solutions

By Tracey Matthews Wynter, Supervisor of the Knox County Schools Family and Community Engagement Department
        

This month’s theme is “Creativity.” I can tell that I am ready to assume my impending role as a full time parent of three boys as my first instinct for this month’s article was to write about how to parent children creatively! Let us know what you think about some of the parenting ideas below that are not only creative, but also almost guaranteed to be very effective as well! Read more →

Homework: Theirs…Not Ours!

By Tracey Matthews Wynter, Supervisor of the Knox County Schools Family and Community Engagement Department
        

This month’s theme is “Empowering Parents”, and empowering parents is directly related and connected to empowering children. Check out the following opportunities that will not only provide us as parents more time to be “parents” but also simultaneously increase the “power” and capacity of our children to think and work smarter and more independently when it comes to homework and at-home learning.  Read more →

Getting Ready for The New School Year: The Do’s and the Don’ts

By Tracey Matthews Wynter, Supervisor of the Knox County Schools Family and Community Engagement Department
Contributing writer: Roseline Pierre, Intern, University of Tennessee
        

Summer is almost over and it’s time to start getting your child ready to go back to school.  There are many tasks you can hand over to your child to help prepare him or her for the new school year and make your job as a parent easier.  These ideas will help relieve some of your normal parenting duties as well as teach your children responsibility and promote independence.  While these “soft skills” are indirectly tied to academic learning, they are just as important in preparing our youth to be young leaders.  While many of you may gasp at some of the suggestions, please continue reading as we’ve included a parent-friendly way to “ease” into sharing hard-to-let-go responsibilities with your children. Read more →

Learning The Basics: Life 101 For Young People

By Tracey Matthews Wynter, Supervisor of the Knox County Schools Family and Community Engagement Department
Contributing writer: Roseline Pierre, Intern, University of Tennessee
        

While this article will cover skills for all ages, it is the parents of our recent high school graduates who will find this information a must! School has always been the “job” of students, thus, parents often take on more of the basic life skill tasks that leaves young people less able to function as independently as we would like as they leave for college.  However, it’s never too late—or too early—to teach children these important tasks. Read more →