• E-Learning: When Parents Become Teachers

    Posted by Kerry John on 4/7/2020


    On March 21, 2020, Illinois Governor Pritzker issued a stay-at-home order for the state of Illinois. On this day parents were asked to take on the additional role of teacher. This is an unprecedented time as families process the multiple stressors that accompany our response to a pandemic. 


    District 74 Superintendent Dr. Kim Nasshan starts her communications with district staff by reminding us to pause and breathe. I think it's great advice for parents as well. We are all doing the best we can to navigate without a guidemap. Personally, I've been trying to adapt elementary school social work services into an e-learning format. I find my worries and anxieties about this transition can mount until I remind myself that I am doing the best that can, little by little. 


    Last week I 'attended' a CASEL (Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning) webinar that focused on supporting families specifically as they take on the many challenges of e-learning. This document has a treasure trove of articles and resources- it is well worth a look. I found the following specific pieces of advice to be truly helpful:

    • Develop a routine along with your child. Allow them flexibility in their choices. This article talks about how to set up for homework success, but many of the suggestions would work well for all of e-learning. 
    • As much as possible, remove yourself from being the time keeper and use timers instead. 
    • Consider developing spaces for work, and places to calm down or take a break. If children are having a hard time with managing strong feelings (such as frustration, anger and worry), develop a game plan to help them with these feelings. This article does a great job guiding parents through developing such a game plan. 
    • Have a visual that can be referred to when checking in about feelings. In my office I use the feeling faces visual at the top of this posting, but parents can use a google image search to find a chart that will work for your particular family. 

    Finally, depending on your child's age and interests, you might consider that they start a journal. This journal could contain words and/or pictures that describe their daily activities, thoughts and feelings. It doesn't need to be elaborate, but could help children express themselves. In the future this journal will serve to remind your child of how they lived through a historic time. 

    I very much look forward to the day we meet again at Rutledge Hall- until that day, please take care as best as possible. I can always be reached at kjohn@sd74.org if you have further questions- I would welcome hearing from you!

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  • Parenting in the Age of Fortnite

    Posted by Kerry John on 10/1/2018

    The videogame Fortnite was released in March of 2017, and it has been immensely popular ever since. My students talk about it constantly, and they often cite it as the highlight of their weekend. It can be incredibly difficult to make decisions around allowing your child to access this game (or other videogames).

    I recently read the article "'I Got Five Kills!' A School Psychologist's Take on the Game Fornite"I found this article to be very helpful in understanding the obsession with Fortnite along with guiding decision making around allowing your child to play Fortnite. You too may find it helpful when navigating the tricky path of allowing your children access to videogames. 

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  • Get into Nature- for Free!

    Posted by Kerry John on 9/6/2018


    The National Park Service has an amazing opportunity for fourth graders and their families. It's called "Every Kid in a Park", and fourth graders can receive a free pass to any national park for the 2018-19 school year and summer of 2019! Studies have shown that children ages 9-11 are learning about the world around them and making connections with nature. By inviting fourth graders into national parks, it is hoped that they will continue to develop their love of nature and the outdoors. 

    Go to the website here to learn more and apply for your own pass. It's quick and easy, and not only will the fourth grader have free entry into parks but so will the rest of the family (up to three adults and all children under the age of 16). Have fun!

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  • Welcome Back to the 2018-19 School Year!

    Posted by Kerry John on 8/23/2018



    Hello and welcome back to school!

    My name is Kerry John and I am the school social worker at Rutledge Hall. I'm fortunate to know all of our Rutledge Hall students as the Second Step teacher. I look forward to getting to know each child as the year progresses!

    I hope everyone had a fun, safe and relaxing summer. I'm including one of my favorite pictures from my summer- it was taken from a porch overlooking Little Traverse Bay in Petoskey, Michigan. While it's always sad to see summer end, I'm also excited about what the school year will bring!

    I can be contacted at kjohn@sd74.edu, or 847.675.8236. Please don't hesitate to call or email with any questions or feedback you might have. Have a wonderful year!

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  • 100 Questions for Kids

    Posted by Kerry John on 4/13/2018



    Parent: "What did you do at school today?"

    Child: "Nothing."

    Sound familiar? I regularly have parents tell me that this is a common exchange at home. It can be hard to get the ball rolling when talking about school, but creative questions can help. When searching for unique questions for children, I found the following list. Some questions are about school while others are about preferences, experiences, or descriptions. I suspect these questions could lead to fascinating conversations- you might want to try them in your home!

    1. What was your favorite part of the day?
    2. What was your least favorite part of the day?
    3. What’s one of your most favorite memories?
    4. If you had $20, what would you do with it?
    5. What do you want to be when you grow up?
    6. What’s your dream vacation?
    7. What makes a good friend?
    8. Describe yourself in one word.
    9. What’s your favorite book?
    10. What’s your favorite meal?
    11. What’s your favorite dessert?
    12. If you could make your own movie, what would you call it?
    13. If you had to give all of your toys away, who would you give them to?
    14. What is your favorite word?
    15. What’s the funniest thing you can think of?
    16. If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
    17. If you could build anything in the backyard, what would it be?
    18. If you had one super power- what would it be?
    19. If you could go anywhere, where would you go?
    20. If you had to leave home for an emergency, what 3 things would you take?
    21. What do you like best about your sister? Brother?
    22. What two things do you like about YOU best?
    23. What do you think you need to work on?
    24. If you were President, what would you do first?
    25. If you could outlaw one vegetable, what would it be?
    26. What do you miss about being little?
    27. What’s the hardest part about growing up?
    28. What’s the best thing about growing up?
    29. What do you think your first job will be?
    30. Who do you admire the most?
    31. What’s your most embarrassing moment?
    32. What do you like most about school?
    33. What do you like least about school?
    34. What’s the most important part of being a happy family?
    35. What goal to you have for this year?
    36. What’s your idea of a perfect day?
    37. What’s your favorite season?
    38. If you could eat one food everyday, what would it be?
    39. If you could meet anyone from history, who would it be?
    40. If you could be any animal for a day, what would you be?
    41. If you were invisible for a day, what would you do?
    42. If you went back in time, what would you do?
    43. If you could make one law, what would it be?
    44. What’s your most favorite breakfast food? Lunch? Dinner?
    45. If you could shrink down to ant-sized, what would you do?
    46. If you were 100 feet tall, what would you do?
    47. What do you like better: going to bed, or waking up?
    48. Do you like swimming or sledding better?
    49. What’s your favorite tv show?
    50. If you could invent an app, what would it do?
    51.  Would you rather always wear wet clothes or never shower again?
    52. Would you rather only communicate with a Light Brite or an Etch a Sketch?
    53. Would you rather always feeling like you have to sneeze or that you are always being tickled?
    54. Would you rather have tentacles for arms or legs?
    55. Would you rather wear your shoes on the wrong feet or wear your pants backwards?
    56. Would you rather skydive or scuba dive?
    57. Would you rather have $100 or give $1000 to charity?
    58. Would you rather spend a night in a cemetery or a haunted house?
    59. Would you rather be invisible or walk through walls?
    60. Would you rather go back in time or into the future?
    61. Would you rather see everything in slow motion or in fast forward?
    62. Would you rather be alone or with friends?
    63. Would you rather drink chocolate milk or hot chocolate?
    64. Would you rather crawl or hop everywhere?
    65. Would you rather be at the beach or a huge playground?
    66. Would you rather have a pet monkey or reindeer?
    67. Would you rather listen to music or read a book?
    68. Would you rather have a car that could fly or go underwater?
    69. Would you rather eat lettuce or carrots?
    70. Would you rather eat cake or ice cream?
    71. Would you rather clean your room or the table after dinner?
    72. Would you rather have a pet goat or chicken?
    73. Would you rather have a robot or space ship?
    74. Would you rather camp in a tent or a camper?
    75. Would you rather go to school on a bus or giant dinosaur?
    76. Would you rather have an otter or dolphin in your bathtub?
    77. Would you rather swim in marshmallows or m&m’s?
    78. Would you rather have blue hair or blue feet?
    79. Would you rather have a bucket stuck on your hand or foot?
    80. Would you rather go to the doctor or dentist?
    81. Would you rather take a train ride or airplane ride?
    82. Would you rather be inside all day or outside all day?
    83. Would you rather live in the city or a farm?
    84. Would you rather get rid of the TV or your tablets?
    85. Would rather go to the mountains or the bottom of the sea?
    86. Would you rather have a squirrel tail or deer antlers?
    87. Would you rather walk on your hands everywhere or roll everywhere?
    88. Would you rather do all of the cooking or all of the cleaning?
    89. Would you rather have a clown nose or a clown wig?
    90. Would you rather live 100 years ago or 100 years in the future?
    91. Would you rather eat only pizza or only hotdogs for a month?
    92. Would you rather live in Antartica or in space for a year?
    93. Would you rather eat all hot foods or all cold foots?
    94. Would you rather drink milk or water with every meal?
    95. Would you rather have a small house or a small car?
    96. Would you rather shovel snow or rake leaves?
    97. Would you rather have to put ketchup on everything or have no dessert again?
    98. Would you rather drive a race car or a jet plane?
    99. Would you rather have a dinosaur or a giant whale as a pet?
    100. Would you rather were a swim suit in a snowstorm or a snow suit in a swimming pool?
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  • Think Summer

    Posted by Kerry John on 3/16/2018

    It can be difficult to "think summer" when it is a 30 degree day in March, but now is the time! Lincolnwood Parks and Recreation has released its summer camp information, and Lincolnwood District 74 has published its summer school brochure. Both summer camp and summer school are fantastic options for our students. Kids can even attend summer school in the morning and then head to Proesel Park for an afternoon of camp! It's the best of both worlds. 


    If you are a family that qualifies for free/reduced lunch, you are also eligible to receive summer camp and summer school support. I suggest starting now in pursuing this option- the deadline to apply for summer camp support is April 27th. I am happy to answer questions about summer school and summer camp scholarships. I also help families in their application process. If you would like more information or would like to pursue a scholarship, please email or call (847-745-3797) anytime! 

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  • Get Out There- For Free!

    Posted by Kerry John on 2/2/2018


    Chicago has an amazing array of museums with multiple exhibits that cater to children. Most museums also have "free" days or hours where the entry fee is waived. With this cold weather, why not take advantage of those opportunities?


    Click here to get a list of the free days and hours for Chicago museums. Coming up on President's Day weekend both the Adler Planetarium and Chicago History Museum offer options.  Enjoy a little culture while staying warm too!

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  • Local Volunteer Opportunities

    Posted by Kerry John on 12/8/2017

    With Winter Break approaching at a rapid pace, families may be considering ways to fill their time. One possibility is to think about volunteering as a family. If you are seeking volunteer opportunities, you may want to consider VolunteerMatch.org. This website allows people to seek out volunteering possibilities based on location, type of non-profit organization, and if children can also volunteer. There are many fantastic options- check it out!

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  • Turkey Trot Time

    Posted by Kerry John on 11/10/2017


    It's that time of the year again:

    Lincolnwood Turkey Trot Time!

    Coming up on Sunday November 19th, Lincolnwood will host the annual Turkey Trot. This is a fantastic way for families to spend time together while focusing on fitness. Children and adults can choose to participate in either a run or walk; there is even a "Drumstick Dash" for children under 6! You can find out more about this event by clicking here- gobble gobble!

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  • Snake Oil!

    Posted by Kerry John on 10/27/2017


    I get to play a lot of games with my students as we work on sportsmanship, taking turns and being a positive game partner. One of my new favorites is a game called Snake Oil. In this game, the players take turns playing the role of the "customer". Each "customer" is given a character- for example, you could be a couch potato, a babysitter, or a superhero. The other players use word cards to come up with a "product" that they need to sell to the customer. The "customer" decides the best "product" to see who wins the round. 


    Without fail I've found students to get really energized and excited by this game. I often see a whole new side to their personalities emerge as they engage their creativity and 'sell' their products. I've also played this game with my own family- players ranged in age from 6 to 60+, and everyone loved it! Click here for more information- and have fun!

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