The Power of Compassionate Self-Talk

Posted by Deborah Farmer Kris on Mar 5, 2019 11:04:04 AM

Recently, I was talking to a former student about some of the struggles she had faced in high school -- painful insecurities, academic pressures, social missteps, and health and family concerns.   She’s nearly 30, and her journey has led her to a career that she loves and that enriches the lives of others.

It’s a familiar story -- who among us hasn’t faced and overcome challenges?  What struck me was the compassion in her voice when she talked about her teenage self. She expressed a longing to go back, give her young self a hug, and say, “I understand things feel tough right now. You will find your way through this.  You are stronger than you realize.” Her whole manner exuded empathy and kindness.

I recently spoke with Dr. Kristin Neff, the leading researcher on the topic of self-compassion, and I have had a chance to share some of what I have learned with several students here at Montrose. It’s a message worth sharing with you, too.

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Unlocking Creativity: The Dangers of Multitasking

Posted by Dr. Michael Roberto, P'20 on Feb 11, 2019 12:26:41 PM

How can focus and concentration help us become more creative? In this excerpt from his new book Unlocking Creativity, Dr. Michael Roberto –  Professor of Management at Bryant University and a proud Montrose parent –  explains.

Getting away and concentrating exclusively on a project has clear cognitive benefits.   Still, many of us spend a great deal of our day attempting to multitask.  Admit it.   How many times have you been checking email, browsing the web, or reviewing a report while on a conference call?  Or perhaps we have eaten our morning bagel and conducted a teleconference while driving to work.   We have come to believe that we are superheroes, able to juggle many duties simultaneously with ease.  In reality, we are fooling ourselves.  

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Does Music Help Students Do Their Homework?

Posted by Deborah Farmer Kris on Feb 6, 2019 1:35:39 PM

"Should I listen to music when I'm studying?"  

That’s one of the first questions middle school students asked me back in September.  Since then, I have given several parent presentations on learning and the brain, and this question has come up in every Q&A.

All of which tells me there are some active parent-child negotiations going on around homework and music!

So does music help us focus or does it distract us from learning? The short answer is this: It depends.

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"Where You Go Is Not Who You'll Be": Advice from a UPenn Admissions Dean

Posted by Mary Foley, Director of College Guidance on Jan 29, 2019 12:34:17 PM

“Form good study habits, ask for help, and read, read, read!”

This simple, sage advice came from Alison Berryman, Associate Dean of Admissions at the University of Pennsylvania.

Ms. Berryman visited Montrose School in early December to talk with our parents and students about navigating the changing landscape of college admissions.

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Too Busy? How to Improve Your Relationship With Time

Posted by Deborah Farmer Kris on Jan 15, 2019 10:21:23 AM

Let’s admit it: most of us have a bad relationship with time.  

That’s what I told the junior class during a recent discussion. We never have enough of it. It moves too fast or too slow. The weekend races by, but that meeting we don’t want to be in creeps along at an agonizing pace.

Changing our relationship with time is key to living the rich, meaningful life. Instead of time constantly driving us, we can take small steps to reclaim the steering wheel. And that means we have to make time for some reflection.

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Why I Want to be a "Good Enough" Parent

Posted by Deborah Farmer Kris on Jan 8, 2019 1:59:07 PM

Over the winter break, illness ran through my house. It really took a toll on my ambitious make-the-holidays-magical-for-the-kids to-do list. No decorating sugar cookies or wrapping up homemade caramels in wax paper squares, no sending out cards or visiting Santa Claus.  

Christmas Eve dinner consisted of a pot of spaghetti that a friend lovingly delivered when she heard of my woes.  Rather than gathering around the piano for caroling, my kids danced around the kitchen to the Chipmunk Christmas Album. In our homebound state, my daughter spent hours making homemade presents while I caught up on laundry.

And it was magically, mercifully good enough.

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Why Your Brain Loves Exercise: A Guide for Parents and Students

Posted by Deborah Farmer Kris on Dec 5, 2018 11:50:54 AM

In Habits of Mind -- a weekly class for all middle school students -- we explore how the brain works and how they can use that knowledge to become stronger students.

There are two foundational health habits that are necessary for optimal brain functioning: sleep and exercise. Without these, we compromise our brain’s ability to focus, attend, memorize, analyze, synthesize, persevere, and make sound decisions.

I recently wrote about the power of sleep for the Washington Post -- you can read it here. This week, we turned our attention to exercise.

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What Teens Need from Parents

Posted by Deborah Farmer Kris on Nov 27, 2018 9:43:03 AM

The teenage years are marked by paradoxes. Even as teens’ cognitive and problem-solving capacities are expanding, many adolescents experience declines in academic performance, coupled with an increase in behavioral and mental health concerns. Research shows that parental involvement helps stave off these negative trends — but it also reveals that parents’ school-related involvement drops during these years as teens seek greater independence. To add to the challenge, parents may find that strategies that worked in elementary school are no longer effective.

Into this mix comes a recent study of middle and high school students that highlights ways that parents can effectively adapt their involvement to meet the changing needs of adolescents. Teens and parents are on a “paired journey,” marked by shifting family dynamics. The key for parents? Engage teens in a way that honors their autonomy while also providing structure and support.

“The good news is that youth still want their parents to be involved,” says Harvard University Professor Nancy Hill, one of the study’s co-authors. 

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Veterans Day: More Than a Day Off

Posted by Maevis Fahey '21 on Nov 12, 2018 4:47:29 PM

Editor's Note: Montrose 10th grader Maevis Fahey, president of our Soldier Support Club, offers this reflection about the Veterans Day holiday.

When you hear the words “day off,” the first things that come to mind are probably relief, sleep, and time to push off all of your usual Monday morning obligations. A day off is a perfect time to take a break from any stress you may have and relax.

But this Monday is not one of those days. School is cancelled this Monday because yesterday was November 11, 2018. This marks one hundred years since the end of World War I. Every year since, the United States has recognized November 11 as a day of gratitude for all American veterans.

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The Power of a Family Story

Posted by Dr. Karen Bohlin on Nov 5, 2018 9:11:45 AM

My siblings have been telling Grandma Bohlin stories since I was a child. “Did you know she drove from New Jersey to Boston to see Grandpa in his Drum Corps Performance?” one story began. “When she hit Commonwealth Avenue, she followed the trolley tracks underground right into the station!”

Grandma Bohlin was a youthful 62 when she died of a heart attack. I never had a chance to meet her, yet I have heard so much about the days surrounding her passing that I feel like I was there.

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Welcome to the LifeCompass Blog

Mind * Heart * Character

Screenshot 2018-09-26 10.29.24Practical wisdom for today's parents and educators.


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