Elysian Charter School of Hoboken
Elysian Charter School of Hoboken
www.ecsnj.org friendsofelysian.org
Harry Laub, Ph.D., Director
Elysian Charter School
Weekly Newsletter

A Positively Different Public School

October 23, 2017         Vol. 13  Issue 7
The school newsletter is sent out on Mondays.  When there is a holiday, the newsletter is sent the following day. 

Please note:  Send news to deb.rosner@ecsnj.org by 9:00 AM on Mondays.
Harry's Corner
October 23, 2017
This article was first published on the website, www.Startempathy.org on July 27, 2016.  Thanks to Joanna Weintraub for sharing this article.
How can we develop family guidelines around conflict for children?
Written by Jennifer S Miller
After some happy outdoor play, I heard my son E run straight up to his bedroom and slam the door. As I knocked and entered his room, his face was red and wet with tears.
“What happened?” I asked. “Jonathan (E’s cousin) wouldn’t listen to me,” E sputtered between sobs. “I was mad and he put his fingers in his ears and sang so he couldn’t hear me.”
It is infuriating when one person is trying to discuss a problem and the other is putting up a wall. Friends and family members will argue. But one of the keys to maintaining and growing intimate relationships is fighting fairly. Throughout childhood, kids are beginning to understand how to disagree and struggle with another person’s perspectives. They may be more impulsive and lash out or run away or even dig in their “heels” deepening the power struggle.
I’ve heard many moms lament over their siblings fighting repeatedly over the same issues at the same time of day when patience is low and kids are tired and hungry for dinner.
So how can you deal with your children’s conflicts?
Take a look at your own arguments. Kids are learning directly from observing how we handle conflicts with our partners. Do you shout or name call or run away? Whether we like it or not, our kids are keen observers of how we work through our arguments. Their sense of security is shaken, whether they are a toddler or a teenager when they witness their parents fighting. So they are eager to see how and whether we are able to resolve our problems and move toward a closer relationship.
John Gottman, who has done extensive research on marriage, found that couples who stayed together versus those who divorced did not fight less. In fact, they fought just as often. But there were some keys to how they fought fairly.
He writes, “A lasting marriage results from a couple’s ability to resolve the conflicts that are inevitable in any relationship.” In addition, they balanced their negativity with positivity. There was, in fact, a magical amount of five positive interactions to one negative interaction, called the Gottman Ratio, that allowed for long-term, sustainable relationships. And it’s true with our parent-child and sibling relationships as well. Consider at the end of a particularly difficult day with your kids, “Did they have five positive interactions with you to counteract the one challenging one?”
Studies have been conducted on how kids’ developing brains are impacted by parents’ conflicts. Kids who lived in households with regular fighting experienced a stress level others who lived in more peaceful households did not. Over time, that stress compromised their brain development leading to impairments in learning and memory. But kids who lived in households in which parents argued but genuinely resolved the arguments (kids were aware if parents faked a resolution) were actually happier than before they experienced the argument, claims E. Mark Cummings, senior researcher at Notre Dame University. He writes
It reassures kids that parents can work things through. We know this by the feelings they show, what they say, and their behavior — they run off and play. Constructive conflict is associated with better outcomes over time.
If the quality of the fighting and subsequent interactions is critical in sustaining a healthy marital relationship, then it’s conceivable that it is also critical for sustaining positive friend and family relationships. And since kids learn directly from the modeling of their parents’ arguments, it’s worth examining how you fight with one another.
There are ways of fighting that are unfair and those are important to discuss as a family. Using physical force, for example, of any kind has been found ineffective. In fact, a recent meta-analysis of five decades of research showed that spanking a child results in short-term negative outcomes like aggression and defiance and long-term outcomes like substance abuse.
Also, when a child goes to another child or adult to get them on “their side” of the conflict, that triangulation can create deeper problems for all involved.
There are four other ways of fighting unfairly, in particular, that were identified by expert John Gottman, leading to the destructiveness of relationships. These forms of fighting were regularly found in the relationships that were headed for separation or divorce. In addition to creating an agreement between you and your partner not to use these forms of fighting, I’ve listed ways to teach your kids not to use them as well.
1. Criticism.
Though it can be tempting to criticize another (and at times, it may seem harmless), those words constitute an attack on the person you love. Focus on the problem at hand, the struggle, not the quality or character of the person with whom you are fighting. Criticism of another can remain in the heart and mind of the recipient and whittle away at the trust in a relationship.
Teaching your kids.
When my child is mad at another, I typically say “We are all learning. Your friend is learning too.” Focus on the problem not on the person. He may not be getting his needs met. We may not be able to understand why he is doing what is making us mad but we can understand that there’s a reason for it. Re-frame how you discuss the problem.
Say “What actions/choices didn’t you like?” versus “What did he do wrong?
2. Contempt.
Contempt is another way of showing disdain for another person. It may involve name-calling, hostile humor or sarcasm, dismissive or baiting body language or mockery. None of these are fighting fair. Not only are they forms of character attacks but they also have the implicit intention to harm the other’s feelings.
Teach your kids about the destructiveness of name-calling by using the broken heart example.
Teaching your kids.
It’s never okay to name call no matter how mad you are or think the other deserves it. You might ask, “If you held up a mirror and that body language or words came back to address you, how would you feel?” One way we taught kids about hurting other’s feelings in schools was by the broken heart example. Draw a simple heart on a piece of paper. Now have the child call the paper disparaging names. Tear the paper each time he calls it a name. When finished, work together to tape the paper back together. Though you can reassemble the heart, it becomes permanently damaged. Children need to understand their words can have that same impact. Don’t allow contempt to pass between siblings. Tell them to go cool off first. Then, come back and you can help kids talk to one another in constructive ways.
3. Defensiveness.
Being on the defensive is a slippery slope that sinks further down into the argumentative mire. It does not help anyone work toward a resolution. It’s easy to become defensive when the other is placing blame. So make a rule in your household. Avoid words like “always” and “never” in conflicts. First of all, it can’t be true that someone is always one way or never another. And second, it leads to further escalation of the conflict and often to hurt feelings. The best way to avoid defensiveness is by owning your own role in the problem and hoping (though there’s no forcing it) others will accept their roles.
Teaching your kids.
“Always” and “never” are not permitted in arguments in our household. If they are used, it’s time to cool down and see what other words could be used. Also, teach your kids to say how they played a role in the situation first. Owning their role takes courage and teaches them how to take responsibility in the most challenging of circumstances.
4. Stonewalling.
This takes place when a person refuses to listen, shuts down the argument or gives the silent treatment such as Jonathan closing his ears and singing. Make no mistake about this technique. It is not peacemaking. Far from it, this method of fighting is aggressive and hurtful to the person on the receiving end.
Teaching your kids.
Don’t allow kids to confuse time to cool down with stonewalling. There is a significant emotional difference. In the first, a person leaves upset and returns calmer and ready for constructive dialogue. In the latter, a person leaves upset and the upset escalates with both conflict participants. Silent treatment or shutting down another person only leads to more problems, hurt and upset. When kids are calmer, encourage them to come back together to work it out. If they struggle with talking, have them write to one another. Communication between the two is critical to work through their problem. For more on facilitating problem solving between kids in conflict, check out “Working It Out.”
Establishing some guidelines for fighting fair for all family members can ensure that you are ready when the inevitable problems arise.
Guidelines for Fighting Fair
Get proactive about how you are going to calm down. What do you do when you feel the heat rising in your face from anger and frustration? Develop your own plan for calming down in advance of troubles. And have the discussion with your family. Use the Family Emotional Safety Plan as a simple guide for that discussion. Also, are there times of the day when siblings tend to fight over and again? If so, proactively institute a quiet time or “brain break” as schools who use mindfulness practices call it. A brain break involves simply sitting down and focusing on breathing to regain calm.
Trust that the other person has good intentions. If we begin from a place of blaming and accusation, defensive walls go up on both sides. In order to keep those emotional walls from being erected, we need to trust that there is a good reason behind the other’s arguments.
Start with empathy. When a conflict arises, training yourself to think about the thoughts and feelings of the other involved helps us communicate with compassion and fairness. It can be difficult to focus on empathy when we are in our own heads reinforcing our perspectives and creating new arguments to support our main points. But after a focus on calming down, we are more capable of doing this. You might begin with, “I think you are feeling worry and frustration and you want me to change my actions so that you don’t feel that way anymore. Is that correct?”
Take responsibility for your role only. Ask “What’s my role in this problem?” and “How can I articulate my role fairly?” You may say “I admit that I didn’t pick up your library book today but I am feeling frustrated because I had a good reason why I did not.” This also helps avoid the blame game. When you take responsibility for your own role in the situation, the other is more likely to take responsibility for his role as well.
Seek understanding. Often we cannot move on from our conflicts because we feel so sorely misunderstood. And at times, though it can be uncomfortable, we miss the chance to gain understanding by not sharing our feelings thinking it will leave us vulnerable. In fact, it is in the sharing of our feelings that we begin to connect more deeply on the core problem and offer a chance to resolve it constructively. In order to resolve the issue, use “I” message language. “I feel frustrated and mad when you don’t tell me you are coming home late because I’ve worked hard on a family dinner.” And make sure you offer to turn the tables to gain understanding of your partner’s perspectives.
Work together on an agreement. No agreement is going to work if needs — physical or emotional — are not met. So before finding solutions ask “What needs have to be met on both sides?” Then with those needs in mind, discuss ways you might move forward and resolve the problem.
End with love. This is typically not a possible way to close a conflict if the problem is still there, not truly resolved. But if you’ve heard each other’s feelings and thoughts, worked to understand one another and tried to resolve the problem fairly, then ending with an expression of your love and care is not only possible, it’s likely.
Conflicts are the most rigorous tests of our relationships. Reflect with your partner on your own methods of arguing so that you can ensure you are modeling the behaviors you want your kids to learn.
And give your children ample practice with calming down and then communicating with each other in respectful and constructive ways so that when they are on their own in the world, they will carry those critical problem-solving skills with them. If you do, you will feel confident that your kids will be prepared to pursue healthy, sustainable relationships.
Bio: Jennifer Miller, M.Ed. has twenty years of experience helping adults become highly effective with children. With a focus on social and emotional learning, she is a parent coach, speaker, educator, author and illustrator of the blog, Confident Parents, Confident Kids.
Reminder - Elysian Director Search Town Hall Tonight 6:00pm 
The Board wants and needs your input! All ECS parents are invited to participate in tonight's Town Hall meeting from 6:00 PM to 6:45 PM in room 317. This is an important process to give your feedback on the role and selection of our next Director.

Important Announcement
Please be reminded that we are now a NUT FREE SCHOOL. This is for the safety of our students.  When bringing class snacks or providing food for your own child, please avoid peanut butter, cookies and candies containing nuts.  Thank you.

From The Music Room
Dear Parents, 
It was lovely to see so many of you at Back to School Night!!
I would like to thank the families who donated books to the Music Progrm from the ECS Fall Book Fair and also the families who sent in boxes of tissue and disinfectant wipes  which were items on my wish list. Your gifts are truly appreciated.
For those of you who are not familiar with the ECS Music Program, I would like to tell you about it.  I will be writing a series of articles that will be published though out the year.  Each article will cover one or more aspects of my program.  I hope that each of these articles will be interesting, informative and will give you a sense about what your children do in the music room on a daily basis.


At the Elysian School, students study music not only for the joy of making music, but also to gain an understanding of music as a powerful and highly expressive language. Students study a piece of music, whether vocal or instrumental, in order to gain experience and understanding of emotional content (the emotional reason for and meaning behind the music which will determine the interpretation of the music), musical concepts  (beat, rhythm pattern, meter, scale, melody, harmony, form, etc.) and physical mastery (technique). Students study improvisation and composition in order to learn to express their emotions and ideas through the language of music.  The self-discipline, creativity, and development of skills required in music can be transferred directly in to other areas of life, and support our students’ other academic endeavors.

In order to speak and understand the language of music, there are some fundamental questions which we, as listeners, students, and performers, need to ask, and over time answer, in order to speak and understand the language of music. Here are some of the questions:
Where does music come from?

How does music express emotion?
Why do composers do what they do?

How do Composers know what to do?

How can we know what composers and other professional musicians know about what makes music expressive?

How do performers study and prepare for performances?

Why do we study movement in order to understand music?  

Why study vocal music?

Why study instrumental music?
In order to help the children explore these questions, I teach music through an approach called Dalcroze Eurhythmy.  
I bring a program of Dalcroze Eurhythmy because it is the most comprehensive approach to the study of the language of music and because it provides a rigorous framework for learning by using playful, challenging movement, singing and instrumental games and improvisation to teach musical concepts. In addition, Dalcroze Eurhythmy places a child not only in the role of student, but also in the roles of peer and teacher. 
In future articles, I will explain much more about Dalcroze Eurhythmy and the various components of the music program.  I look forward to any questions or comments you may have.  I hope that these articles can answer your questions and open and interesting dialogue about arts and education. 
Mary Guthrie
Music Teacher

1st Grade Trip Cancelled This Week

1st Grade trip for Tuesday, October 24 has been cancelled due to the forecast of rain. This trip will be rescheduled.

KUUMBA Day is coming - Saturday, December 16, 2017

First informational meeting is Thursday, October 26, 8:15 AM 
Room of Requirement, Room 313.

Everyone is invited to attend, especially 3rd grade parents whose children are currently studying African Dance and who will be demonstrating what they have learned on KUUMBA Day - a very special one this year - our 19th!

Below is a note and photo sent by an alumni parent (in response to the request for photo of fabric.
Our son loved Kuumba Day. The kids would practice in Church Square Park after school, including fishing moves. They worked so hard and with such good spirit to put on a good show. When he outgrew is shirts, he still liked having them around so I made pillows out of them. He graduated from Elysian in 2012.

 ---- Jean O'Reilly (Mother of Nick Furtzaig)

A Brief History of Elysian’s African Dance Residency
The first KUUMBA Day spontaneously occurred the 2nd year of the Elysian Charter School.  When Elysian began in 1997, as a K-2 school, we applied to New Jersey Performing Arts Center for a matching grant, which we were awarded the following year.  We chose to have an African Dance residency and decided to give it to the oldest students in the school, who were now in 3rd grade. 
Monroe Movement generously allowed Elysian to use their space for the final demonstration of what the students learned in their residency. The whole Elysian community turned out to watch the 3rd grade dance – we wanted to see what we had paid for – and it was one of Elysian’s first wonderful community gathering after so many difficulties starting up as one of the first charter schools in the state.  Every year since, we’ve had an African Dance residency in the 3rd grade and a final celebration that has become an Elysian tradition, KUUMBA Day.
What is KUUMBA Day? KUUMBA is not only a dance performance but a culmination of learning. KUUMBA is about dancing together – it is a demonstration of community. Every child in the dance is given a tee-shirt to wear with a square of African fabric cut from the same cloth, sewn by Elysian families.  The third grade dances together to symbolize our community!

     Friends of Elysian Meeting - 2 Days Away
       Wednesday, October 25 @ 5:45 pm

The Friends of Elysian, the school’s parent-led fundraising group, would like to invite you to a meeting on Wednesday, October 25 @ 5:45 PM in Room 324.  (If you can’t make it exactly at 5:45 PM, please still feel free to stop by a little later!) 

We’ll be giving a quick recap of last year, discussing plans for this year as well as listening to your ideas and feedback. There are lots of different ways to get involved if you’re interested (beyond just the “asking for money” part). The Campaign for Elysian was a great success, but we need you (yes, YOU!) to help us set the next chapter.

At this annual meeting, we will also be confirming and adding new members and voting on our board and slate of officers. We will review these opportunities at the meeting, but if you think you might be interested in getting more involved and want to understand these roles before the meeting, please email us at friends@ecsnj.org.

It’s important that the Friends represent the interests of the entire Elysian community, so we hope you can join us.

Everyone is welcome!


* We’d like to thank Michael Oualid for coordinating a company match from AMEX!

* Thank you to Kelly Naughton, alumni Elysian parent, for leading our yoga fundraiser! 

We appreciate everyone’s support!

     PTSO Corner

Halloween Party - THIS Friday October 27, from 6:30 PM -8:30 PM.. Is your costume ready?! 

Costume contest parade at 7:30 PM, followed by a spooky dance led by Derrick! We will also be having a screening of Beetlejuice (rated PG) in one of the classrooms during the party. Sixth graders will be selling an assortment of empanadas from Empanada Cafe and bottles of water throughout the event to raise money for their class trips this year. 

Volunteers Needed for the Halloween Party - Please visit http://www.signupgenius.com/go/30e0c44a4a629a2f49-elysian2 to sign up to volunteer or donate supplies!

Coin Challenge Returns - Start saving your pennies (and nickels, dimes and quarters too!). The Elysian Coin Challenge is returning the week of November 13.

Picture Day - School Picture Day was last Friday. Please wait for your child's code from the company in order to view your photos online, place orders, or see if you'd like to sign up for retakes. 

Chili Cook-Off - Save the date and get your recipes ready for Saturday, January 6, 2018 at the Elks Club! 

PTSO Dues Reminder - Last Chance - It's not too late to send in your PTSO dues. We are asking $25 per student. Turn into the office in any envelope, with your children's name.

Last Week for the Kidstuff Coupon Book Fundraiser! 

If you have not purchased a coupon book for $25, see Regan in Room 317 or leave a check with your child's name and class and she will send a book home with your child. (She will be on the 8th grade trip Wed-Fri, so if you don't get a book by the end of the week you will get one on Monday.)

Also, 7th and 8th grade families, please send in $25 for the book that was sent home OR return the book to Regan's room. 

Thank you so much for all your support of 8th grade. 
Notes from the Nurse

Diane DeSombre, RN's email is nurse@ecsnj.org

Please contact her if your child is absent or will be tardy.

      Elysian Collects Box Tops and LABELS for Education
         Look for the container near Deb's desk in the office!  Thank you! 
As per state law, we no longer publish the exact location of trips for security reasons.
Please read the calendar weekly, as changes are updated regularly.

    Monday, October 23
    • 6th Grade trip
    • Town Hall Meeting, 6:00 PM, Room 317
    • Board Meeting, 7:00 PM
    Tuesday, October 24
    • 1st Grade Trip  CANCELLED
    • Play Practice 3:00 PM - 3:45 PM
    Wednesday, October 25
    • 7th-8th Grade Overnight Trip
    • Friends of Elysian Meeting, 5:45 PM, Room TBA
    Thursday, October 26
    • 7th-8th Grade Overnight Trip
    • Kuumba Informational Meeting, 8:15 AM, Room 313
    • Rugby Practice, 3:00 PM to 3:45 PM, 1600 Park 
    Friday, October 27
    • 7th-8th Grade Returns from Trip
    • Elysian Halloween Party, Gym, 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM
    Monday, October 30
    • Track Practice, 3:00 PM - 3:45 PM. 1600 Park
    • High School Night for parents of students 6th, 7th, and 8th, 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM
    Tuesday, October 31
    • Play Practice, 3:00 PM - 4:15 PM
    Thursday, November 2
    • Rugby Practice, 3:00 PM to 3:45 PM, 1600 Park
    Friday, November 3
    • Open House for Prospective Parents, 8:45 AM
    Saturday. November 4
    • Track Meet, 10:00 AM, Lincoln Park
    Monday, November 6 
    • Track Practice, 3:00 PM to 3:45 PM, 1600 Park
    Tuesday, November 7
    • Play Practice, 3:00 PM - 4:15 PM
    Wednesday, November 8
    • 3rd Grade Trip 
    Thursday, November 9
    • 6th Grade Trip
    • 8th Grade Trip
    • Rugby Practice, 3:00 PM - 3:45 PM
    Friday, November 10
    • Veterans Day, Elysian Closed
    Sunday, November 12
    • Track Meet, 10:00 AM, Lincoln Park 
    Monday, November 13
    • Track Practice, 3:00 PM to 3:45 PM, 1600 Park
    Monday, November 13 - Friday, November 17
    • Parent Conferences
    Tuesday, November 14
    • Play Practice, 3:00 PM - 4:15 PM
    • Parent Conferences 
    Wednesday, November 15
    • 1/2 Day of School
    • Parent Conferences 
    Thursday, November 16
    • 4th Grade Trip 
    • Parent Conferences
    Friday, November 17 
    • Parent Conferences 
    Saturday, November 18 
    • Track Meet, 10:00 AM, Lincoln Park
    Tuesday, November 21
    • Play Practice, 3:00 PM - 4:15 PM
    Wednesday, November 22
    • 1/2 Day of School
    Thursday, November 23 - Friday, November 24
    • Thanksgiving Break, Elysian Closed
    Monday, November 27
    • Open House For Prospective Parents, 6:00 PM
    • Board Meeting 7:00 PM
    Tuesday, November 28
    Play Practice, 3:00 PM - 4:15 PM

    SAVE THE DATE - Mark Your Calendars
    Saturday, December 16 is KUUMBA Day!  More Info to Follow

    1460 Garden Street, Hoboken, NJ 07030
    Harry Laub, Ph.D., Director | harry.laub@ecsnj.org | Phone:201.876.0102 | Fax:201.876.9576
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