Author Archives: St. Andrew's Episcopal School

Let’s Play

“What did you do at school today?”  “PLAY!” That’s the answer you want to hear!  Whether in the classroom, recess, P.E., Motor Lab, or sports, at St. Andrew’s we strive to offer PLAY consistently, thus providing physical, social, cognitive, and language development throughout your child’s day.

Research shows that play contributes to healthy brain development.  This development aids in higher grades, self regulations of emotions, executive functioning, and brains that know how it interact with others in a positive manner. However, children today have less opportunity to engage in play than past generations. (recommended 60 min.per day)  With our rushed schedules, planned activities, and lack of child-driven play, some children are experiencing ‘play deprivation’. It is essential to provide opportunities for children to initiate and direct their own play in order for them to feel in control of themselves and their environment.

Without the fundamentals of play, schools are observing increases in childhood obesity, attention deficit/hyperactive disorder (ADHD), weak bone development, anxiety and depression.

Childhood Obesity

  • Diet, exercise and active, outdoor play are important in reducing obesity in children.

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactive Disorder

  • Physical play may be beneficial in reducing disruptive behaviors associated with ADHD.

Weak Bone Development

  • Calcium and daily activity will build strong bones and reduce osteoporosis and bone fractures later in life.

Anxiety and Depression

  • Providing the choices, creativity and socializing that play provides, reduces the stress that people experience when there is a lack of control over their own lives.

St. Andrew’s will always strive in building your child’s emotional, spiritual and physical health every single day!

“Our children from their earliest years must take part in all the more lawful forms of play, for if they are not surrounded with such an atmosphere they can never grow up to be well conducted and virtuous citizens.” Plato

By Laura Gabel, 2019-2020 Head of Primary Branch


Improving Children’s Health through Play: Exploring Issues and Recommendations A collaboration between the Alliance for Childhood and the US Play Coalition 2018

Private School Benefits

Top 5 Benefits of a Private School

Many parents are now exploring private schools as an option for their children’s education. Here are the five top benefits of going to a private school, and why it’s imperative for your child to incorporate art in their day, and not just the Common Core.

1. Academic Excellence

Many private schools differ from public schools since they offer classes aimed at teaching life skills, not just graduating. They offer core subjects, but they also offer classes in technology, fine arts, music, and leadership. These help students develop their own niche and guide them in the right direction for their futures.

2. Smaller Classes

The teacher-student ratio is a big concern for parents. Parents often consider private schools because they have smaller class sizes, often near a 10:1 ratio. This allows the teacher to truly get to know each student, and learn both their strengths and weaknesses, and tailor lesson plans accordingly. If your child is struggling, these smaller class sizes allow for more one on one interaction with the teacher.

3. Confident Students

With smaller classes, every student gets more individualized attention and a greater chance to succeed. Students get a chance to debate topics and compete in national competitions. They also learn how to compete on sports teams and chess tournaments. Learning these skills helps boost students’ self-esteem.

4. Fewer Regulations

Private schools don’t have to follow all the same curriculum as public schools, allowing teachers more flexibility in the classroom. It also allows private schools to teach different classes and offer different extracurricular activities, giving the students a balanced education.

5. Religious Traditions

While they aren’t required by law, several private schools are affiliated with a certain religion. If you want your child brought with a strong religious upbringing, you have options. Schools range from those who offer chapel and religious education on-site to those who require daily worship in school.

St. Andrew’s Episcopal School is a private, christian school in Amarillo, TX. Our mission is to provide a safe, learning environment that welcomes new students of any faith and background. Please contact us to schedule a tour and see our school.

STAAR Test Tips

When Your Child Has to Take This Standardized Test

Standardized testing is coming again this spring and parents in Amarillo are wondering how they can help their children prepare for the STAAR tests. Third through eighth graders throughout Texas are preparing for this standardized test that evaluates their skills in math, science, reading, writing, and social studies. In public schools, some grades are required to achieve a passing grade to even graduate to the next grade.  This creates undue stress on students and teachers. Some students find standardized tests overwhelming already, and the “high stakes” exam just heightens their fears. If your child is in this position, there are a few STAAR testing tips you can do to ease their anxiety and help them prepare for testing.

Discuss the role of tests. Explain that the purpose of education is to prepare oneself for life’s challenges. Make sure they understand that standardized tests only measure what they’ve learned so far, not their value, overall intelligence, or personal status.

Set realistic expectations. You know your child best. Set clear, attainable expectations that match their abilities and express those expectations to your son or daughter.

Explain STAAR Testing. Explain that the STAAR test isn’t very different than any other test. For instance, if they’ve been passing math tests all year, the Math STAAR test won’t be much different.

Try some sample tests. If your child is still anxious, you can find some of the official mandated testing sample questions here. Let your child try a few questions and see how they do. It will probably boost their confidence when they see that it is similar to what they’re used to seeing on regular tests.

Let your child play outside. Let your child burn off nervous energy. Running around the neighborhood with friends does wonders.

Get a full night’s sleep. Your child can’t concentrate for hours without enough rest.

Eat a healthy breakfast. Skip the sugary cereal and make something like eggs, which have plenty of protein for prolonged focus. Make sure you child drinks plenty of fluids and dice up some fruit. You want him/her fed, but not overstuffed and uncomfortable, where they can’t work.

Put an encouraging note in their lunch.  Sometimes a simple “I love you,” or “You got this!” can make a world of difference to a kid halfway through the day. They may be getting tired or discouraged and seeing that gives them the energy to believe in themselves.

Reward your child. The STAAR test will take a toll on them, so schedule a reward for them, just for completing the test, whether it’s dinner at their favorite restaurant or tickets to a new movie.

If you are concerned standardized tests like the STAAR test do not recognize child’s value or intelligence, consider St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in Amarillo. At St. Andrew’s Episcopal, our goal in academics is to empower your child to learn independently and prepare them for high school and beyond. We focus on a balanced education, providing core academic classes of Science, Math, Language Arts, and Social Studies, combined with a robust enrichment program of Fine Arts, Athletics, Religion, Spanish, and Technology. Our students strive to be academics, artists, athletes, dreamers and doers and are ready to meet the challenges of the 21st Century.

Stress and Anxiety

Let’s be honest, school can be stressful. For many students there is a pivotal moment when the work goes from easy to challenging. When that shift occurs, most children do not have the skills to manage the increase in their stress level. As parents and caregivers, you can help your child find healthy ways to manage stress.

1. Teach Time Management Skills:

Children need to learn how to budget their time wisely while also building organizational skills. This combo will help decrease stress levels around assigned work. Don’t assume they know how to keep up with papers, assignments, or how to get/stay organized. Instead show them how to utilize their planners/calendars and binders to increase organization. Help them recognize what time they have available for studies while also managing additional commitments.

2. Encourage Good Sleep and Regular Exercise:

Adequate sleep and exercise can be very powerful weapons to fight off stress and anxiety. Many children are not getting enough sleep leaving them not at their best for school work. According to the National Sleep Foundation preschool age children (3-5 years old) should get about 10-13 hours of sleep per night. School age children (6-13) are in need of 9-11 hours of sleep per night. Teenagers (age 14-17) should be getting 8-10 hours of sleep. Most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep per night. In addition to good sleep, exercise is also important as it pumps up your endorphins to fight off stress. Regular exercise can then lead to improved sleep. Win, win!

3. Spend Time With Family:

Another crucial component for managing stress is family time and connection. Incorporating a minimum of 20 minutes 4-5 days per week of connection and conversation with your child has tremendous benefits in managing stress. With busy schedules this may be more of a challenge than you initially expect. Plan ahead and add family time to your routine.

4. Allow Daily Unstructured Time:

Finding time to unwind after a long day at work is important for most adults, so wouldn’t it be just as important for children. If they don’t find a way to let it go and have fun, then the stress will carry over with them the next day. That stress will then decrease their ability to perform assignments or learn new information. Providing time for unstructured activities such as playing on the playground, choosing board games, riding bikes, etc allows your child to let go of the days stress so they can be prepared to work hard tomorrow. Although stress can lead to anxiety, anxiety and stress are different. Stress is feeling overwhelmed with life’s pressure and goes away after the stressful situation passes. Anxiety is an intense feeling of worry or nervousness that continues after the situation has passed. Below are some symptoms that may be associated with anxiety. Keep in mind these symptoms could be a result of many different factors and may not always be the result of anxiety. If you are concerned about your child, it is best to have them evaluated by a mental health professional.

● Difficulty in class, makes careless mistakes, distraction, inattentive, restless, difficulty focusing/planning

● Hyperactivity, fidgeting, squirming, talking or moving too much, extra movement when doing simple tasks.

● Not able to complete school work, poor time management or procrastination.

● Difficulty organizing tasks and activities and managing sequential tasks, disorganized work.

● A sensitivity to social cues such as being aware of what others are thinking and feeling,

● Racy heart, clamminess, tense muscles, tummy aches, headaches, nausea, or dizziness.

● Impulsive behavior that generally happens in isolated bursts or when they are anxious..

● Child may speak about feeling worried, even if they are not able to share what they are worried about. Keep in mind, some amount of anxiety is healthy and normal. It is what motivates us to stay alive, be prepared for presentations, to take care of our responsibilities, etc. Should you be have questions or concerns regarding your child’s anxiety or stress level, reach out and obtain support for your child.

Aimee Campbell MA, LPC-S