The Spark! – November 2016

A Note From The Director

Dear Parents,

The holiday season is upon us and it’s always a wonderful time to have a gratitude practice and give thanks. This month, we have a special contributor, Shelly Macdonald, a Parent Educator and former Discovery mom. She has passed on some wonderful tips about fostering gratitude with our children.  We also asked our staff what they are grateful for. Be sure to check it out. 

Besides my daughter, dog, and family, I am so grateful for our Discovery teachers!  They share their passion for gymnastics, ballet, martial arts, Parkour, art, music and early childhood education with all of our students whether they are little babies or young teens.  I am also extremely grateful for our Discovery families and students. Our families become like real family to us. We talk about our children, we talk about parenting, and we talk about life. Our students share their smiles, hugs, warmth and energy with us every day. It’s a joyous feeling to see them grow up with us. 

This time of year, we are working towards the culmination of our semester’s hard work- the Nutcracker performance, USAIGC Team gymnastics meets, Parent Days for our Early Childhood program and our Parent Viewing days. We look forward to sharing all of that with you over the next couple of months. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Warm wishes,

Katie Kheel

Shelly Macdonald
Parent Educator and Coach

More than any other holiday, Thanksgiving is the perfect time to practice gratitude with our kids.
In addition to fostering positivity and overall well-being, having a gratitude practice is the number one way to combat entitlement with our kids! Thank goodness, right?!
Except your child might think, “not so much… pass the mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie… just don’t ask me to think about gratitude… or work hard for anything right now… thank you for THAT very much.”
Not to worry, gratitude is a SKILL that needs to be cultivated.
Here are 5 FUN activities to practice gratitude this Thanksgiving:
1. Gratitude Photo Scavenger Hunt: make a check list of things to photograph that represent what each person is grateful for such as something in nature, something that smells good, someone who loves me, something beautiful, something that makes me feel strong, etc.
2. Name Place Cards at Thanksgiving Table: make place cards that are folded over and big enough to hold some written appreciations. Either before sitting down or between courses, pass around the cards and write (or dictate for non-writers) something about that person for which you’re grateful. Then, the cards can be shared over dessert 🙂 Guests will love this as a party favor, too!
3. Gratitude Tree: Make a tree with small branches found in nature or at a store such as Michaels. Place them in a vase and hang gift tags, cut-out leaves or “turkeys” made from traced hands (the thumb is the head and the fingers make the feathers) with notes of gratitude. There are dozens of ways to do this – get creative!
4. Gratitude Tablecloth: Get fabric markers or permanent markers and have everyone write or draw things for which they’re grateful on the tablecloth. How fun to take it out each year and read what people wrote or drew previously… and see how your little ones have grown!
5. Gratitude ABC’s: Going around the table, the first person names something they are grateful for that starts with A, then the next person names something that starts with B, and so on all the way through the alphabet to Z.
BTW, if you try something and it doesn’t work or go the way you hoped, don’t worry. The most important thing is to have fun together! 
Over time, your child will look forward to heaping on the gratitude long before the mashed potatoes!   
Gratitude Glee
This month, we decided to ask some of our Discovery Programs teachers and staff members what they are thankful for, and here is what they said:
David Chung, Gymnastics Coach
“I’m grateful for Peter Lattanzio, my first gymnastics coach, and all the coaches and teachers and elders who have guided me along my way.”
Karin Hillman, Sensei
“I am thankful that I was lucky to have the best parents one could wish for, and that I can share my passion to dance and karate with my students at Discovery Programs.” 
Jennifer Katz, Early Childhood Teacher
“I am thankful for my two happy, healthy kids, our new puppy, and long walks in the park together.”
Julia Fidler, Program Coordinator 
“I am most thankful for the beautiful people that I spend my days with: my family, my coworkers, and our Discovery community. And, of course, I am grateful for my health!”
Sarah Roberts, Early Childhood and Dance Assistant 
I am thankful for dance, coffee, and all my wonderful friends and family!”
Scott Olsen, Parkour Coach 
“I am grateful for clean running water and central heating. Most people didn’t have such comforts until about a century ago, and even today there are millions who do not.”
Timi Mathai, Early Childhood Teacher 
“I am thankful for my friends and family, and especially to my nephews who make me smile everyday.  I am grateful to work in such a wonderful and welcoming environment, where co-workers feel more like family.  I am grateful for the push that Katie gave me two years ago that made me realize my passion to teach and the support and encouragement Discovery provides as I go back to school for my Masters.”  
Mary Cain, Gym Director/Team Coach 
Today I am thankful for goals, as they lead us to positive outcomes in our life.”
Elena Palau, Gym Coach 
“I am grateful that after 8 years of being on the waiting list my mom is finally living in a senior facility where she is safe, looked after and will enjoy the remaining years of her life surrounded by her family and people that she loves.”
Katrina Muffley, Ballet Teacher
I have so many things to be grateful for in life- truly, the list is endless. But, I am truly grateful for the opportunity, passion & calling for working with children. There are many days, especially in our world today, where one wonders ‘What can I do to change things? How can I, being just one person, make a difference in a world where so many things are out of my control?’ I believe children give our world a sense of hope- hope for the future, for humanity, & for one another!” 
Michelle Rapkin-Gallant, Gym Coach 
“I am thankful for a wonderful family and our lovable dogs.”
Nick Moran, Music Teacher
“I am grateful for good music, good friends, and for all the moments where they overlap.” 
“This is a Gratitude Tree my family did a couple years ago for Thanksgiving. We started with each person’s name on a leaf and then passed them around so everyone could write a line of appreciation about that person. We also added leaves with pictures and other things we were grateful for in our lives. (Fresh Direct boxes made the tree!)”
– Shelly Macdonald
Sensei Karin, right after finishing her 7th New York City Marathon! We are so proud of her!

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