Cougar News

Welcome to our School News page! On this page you will be able to read the latest Cougar news as well as tips to help your child be successful. Be sure to visit this page often, as we'll update it frequently and communicate the exciting things happening at Lee Academy.

Junior High Jams

“Mom, do you have a dozen tiny log cabins on hand for my project? It’s due tomorrow.” If you are experiencing chills running down your spine while reading this, you know what this means. Quickly, you dismantle a train set, a Lego village, and a bulletin board. With sweat pouring into your eyes, you arrange a hundred frilly toothpicks to look like trees, build a paper dock with tiny boats, construct log cabins out of toothpicks, and design a rocky beach using real rocks! Vaguely, you remember that this is your child’s project, so you put him/her in charge of…glue. By midnight, the two of you behold a magnificent graphic map of an imaginary island and its hearty inhabitants who, sustained by the ocean and their rich cultural traditions, would astonish the teacher and the whole junior high!

In a hostile takeover like the island project, your child learned a valuable lesson: Mom or Dad will shoulder the burden of responsibility, and all he/she has to do is nod and glue. Middle schools have lists of learning outcomes for their students, and “Expect parents to craft and complete school projects” is not one of them. While you may have shared some “quality” time with your child, the rest of the family had toast for dinner, the dishes piled up in the sink, and the baby went to bed at 10:00 p.m. without a bath.

You ask, “How could I have avoided this?” Here are some simple ideas that could save your sanity!

  1. Create a time line. Even if this is a dreaded “it’s due tomorrow” assignment, a time line will diffuse anxiety.
    1. Outline the steps necessary to finish the project. Insist your child help with this.
    2. Assign a firm deadline to each of these steps.
    3. Agree upon a set number of times you will check on the project’s progress. Don’t allow the “checkpoints” to exceed five minutes.
  2. Set up a quiet space, lay out some craft supplies, set a timer, and walk away.
  3. No, really. You can do it. Walk away!
  4. Praise your child’s hard work.

Junior high is a place where your child is actively asserting his/her independence and establishing him/herself as distinct from the rest of the family. This growth process also includes learning how to take responsibility for his/her assignments. You can secretly pat yourself on the back when you see that your middle school student decided on his/her own to use real pinecones in his/her diorama of a 100-million-year-old araucaria forest.

Science Around Us

If you are like most parents, you’ve heard the questions, “Where does rain come from?” or “How does popcorn pop?” or, our all-time favorite, “Where does the water go when I flush the toilet?” While these questions can sometimes strike fear in parents (Who wants to have to say, “I don’t know,” to their child?), there are many ways to bring science into your lives, and satisfy your child’s curiosity at the same time.

Questions lead to learning, and you certainly don’t want to squash that. If you don’t know the answers to your child’s questions, admit it. It’s the perfect opportunity to learn together and grow your minds in the process. Head to the computer and do a little research together! Talk to your child about his question, and encourage him to do most of the legwork - with your assistance.

You can always try heading off some of those difficult questions before they start: Visit a local children’s science museum. To find one near you, visit the Association of Children’s Museums, or check out this worldwide list of hands-on science centers. Many science museums offer hands-on exhibits and workshops perfect for little, curious minds!

Though we don’t always think about it, science is all around us every day. Talk to your child about some of the things related to science around your home: electricity, the Internet, recycling, gardening, cooking, digestion, etc. The more you talk, the more questions you will likely encourage. But that’s okay. Go back to that opportunity to learn together!

There are endless websites you and your child can visit together to learn about science. Among them are ScienceNews for Kids, Brain POP, Zoom (by PBS), and Science With Me, as well as others. Above all, encourage those questions, frustrating as they may be sometimes. Support his interest in science and learning!

Secrets to Raising a Successful Student

Raising a child to have a love of learning and a desire to succeed is much like walking a tight rope. If you push too hard for your child to do well, your child is likely to view reading, homework, and studying for tests as one big chore. However, if you are too laid back and don’t supervise his/her learning at all outside the classroom, then your child might lack the necessary discipline and motivation to succeed. So, exactly what steps should you take now to ensure your child will become a successful student? Below are some valuable habits you can adopt to help make the learning process fun and exciting:

  1. Encourage your child and acknowledge his/her efforts in learning. Phrases such as, “you read very well,” “you should be proud of your neat handwriting,” or “you are a good speller” all go a long way toward teaching your child to want to do well. Everyone wants praise for his or her achievements, most especially your child.
  2. Never refer to school or homework as a chore. Present an upbeat attitude and your child will eventually take the cue from you to enjoy the process of school and learning. Don’t make the mistake of simply asking your child, “How was school today?” because you will invariably get the one-word answer of, “Fine.” Instead, encourage a conversation by asking, “What interesting thing happened today?” “What did you and your friends do during recess?” “What was the most fun thing you did today at school?” These questions make your child become more aware of the enjoyable moments during school.  
  3. If your child is young, set 15 to 30 minutes a day to read together. If your child is older, set a specified time (during which the television and all other electronics are turned off) for the entire family to read silently. 
  4. Keep alert to what interests your child. Does he or she like to do puzzles or does your child like to paint? Each child is born with unique traits and talents. Observe your child to discover those gifts, and then encourage him/her toward similar activities or extra-curricular programs. By doing so, you will increase your child’s creativity and self-confidence.

Being a parent or guardian is the most wonderful role an adult will ever play in life, yet it can also be challenging. After all, your children have their own minds and personalities, so to get them to adopt your attitude and viewpoint toward learning, you will need to use a lot of positive reinforcement, praise, and patience. While that may not be easy, the payoff to having your child become a successful individual is worth all of those efforts.