Thursday, December 18, 2014

Peace Heroes

Have you seen our Peace Heroes Board?  It's in the Great Hall near the Nurse's office.  Every month you will find it loaded up with messages mostly from one child to another.  The children are recognizing others for showing kindness.  Sometimes a child will thank another for playing with them when they were lonely, or helping them pick up their spilled crayons, or cheering them up when they were sad, or simply being a good friend.  At the end of each month a group of fifth graders take them all down and hand out the certificates to the Peace Heroes.  We used to do monthly parties and hand out little trinkets but we found that the kids were just as happy without these things. Knowing that someone caught them being kind seems to be reward enough!

- Linda Ryden

Friday, December 12, 2014

How To Deal With Feelings At Holiday Time

Greetings Parents!  As the holidays and winter vacation approach, we enter into a very exciting time of year.  Both adults and children alike feel the joy and elation of the celebrations, but sometimes the excitement of the season may bubble over and result in meltdowns.  Below are some tips to help you get through the winter months with your sanity intact.  Enjoy.

                                                                      -Harriet Kuhn, Lafayette Psychologist

Temper Tantrums: Guidelines for Parents

By Robert G. Harrington, PhD
University of Kansas

Every teacher of young children and every new parent can expect to witness some temper tantrums in children from age 1–4 years. On average, temper tantrums are equally common in boys and girls, and more than half of young children will have one or more per week.  At home, there are predictable situations that can be expected to trigger temper tantrums, such as bedtime, suppertime, getting up, getting dressed, bath time, watching TV, parent talking on the phone, visitors at the house, family visiting another house, car rides, public places, family activities involving siblings, interactions with peers, and playtime. Other settings include transitions between activities, on the school bus, getting ready to work, interactions with other children, directives from the teacher, group activities, answering questions in class, individual seat work, and the playground.

Monday, December 8, 2014

We said "Thank you!" in Peace Class!

Last week in Peace Class we made cards to thank members of the Lafayette staff who are sometimes overlooked.  We thanked the front office staff, the custodians, the cafeteria workers, and many others who make Lafayette such a wonderful place.  The children love this project every year.  It is such fun to watch them think about just the right thing to say.  Some lucky ones got to deliver their cards in person and got to experience first hand the joy of making someone else happy.  Staff tell me that getting these cards is a highlight of their year.  I've had people hug me hard when I deliver the cards and some have even shed a tear or two of happiness.  I've added a few pictures of some of the amazing cards and the wonderful artists who created them.   - Linda

Friday, November 21, 2014

Building an "Attitude of Gratitude" in our Children

Our Peace Classes in Pre-K, Kindergarten, and First Grade this week have been focused on the words gratitude, feeling grateful and being thankful. While many children know what it means to be thankful, less have been familiar with the word grateful. Even less have recognized the word gratitude. At this age, it's a perfect time to have this important vocabulary lesson. But moving beyond vocabulary, we've read stories and had discussions around these words and how to live them. The kids have made gratitude leaf garlands (kindergarten), thankful picture frames (pre-k), and written in their Peace Journals about feeling grateful (first grade). In each class we have talked about how these feelings are so important to have each day. We've talked a bit about another gr- word that we DON'T want to be: greedy. 

As we prepare for Thanksgiving, this holiday is a good reminder for us of all we have to be thankful for. As parents, we can help our children in this regard by having regular discussions of all that we are thankful for. Do you regularly model an attitude of gratitude for your little ones? Do your children write thank-you notes to others? Do your kids understand that other children, even in this very same city, do not live the lives we do? The more we can remind our children of their good fortune, show them examples of helping others less fortunate, and talk about our gratitude, the more they will develop their own attitudes of gratitude and the less greedy they will become.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday with your families!

Monday, November 10, 2014

National School Psychology Awareness Week: November 10-14, 2014

National School Psychology Awareness Week: November 10-14, 2014

Helping Staff and Families Support Students to Thrive in School and Beyond

As parents and educators, we share the goal to help our children thrive in school, at home, and in life. This includes ensuring their safety and well-being, helping them build positive relationships, providing opportunities to gain new knowledge and skills, and encouraging them to take on challenges and persevere when things get tough. Working together, we can promote their competence, achievement, and resiliency. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Peace Club is more popular than ever!

If you have a child in second grade or up you may have heard them talk about Peace Club.  Peace Club is different from the weekly Peace Classes that all of the kids at Lafayette take.  Peace Club is a special alternative lunch and recess program for 2nd - 5th graders.  It is a mixed-age group of anywhere from 20-50 kids that has become popular with kids who sometimes struggle with social skills, with kids who love to do arts and crafts, with kids who love to play with legos and magna-tiles and kids who like to be in a smaller environment with a higher teacher-child ratio.  Peace Club is led by Peace Teacher Linda Ryden, and the school counselors Jillian Diesner and Rashida Mosby.

Everyone who comes to Peace Club makes a promise to treat everyone else with kindness and respect,  to make sure that conflicts are worked out peacefully, and that everyone is included.  Some older children are asked to be Peace Club helpers.  If you were to drop by Peace Club you would probably be surprised by how noisy it is.  It is not "peaceful" on the surface.  But there is so much going on there that is contributing to making Lafayette a more peaceful place.  The children eat lunch together getting to know children in other grades and classes.  After lunch they have lots of options designed to encourage cooperation and social interactions.  Some children choose to make the wonderful peace posters that line the halls at Lafayette.  Many children choose to join together to make fantastic structures.  Some children play board games or guessing games or Twister. Peace Club is a welcoming community-within-a-community at Lafayette.

Check out this slideshow for a glimpse of the fun that is Peace Club!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Halloween Candy Drive for the Homeless

Halloween Candy Drive for the Homeless

The kids at Lafayette are a very generous bunch and that spirit really comes out at holiday time.  No, I'm not talking about those winter holidays, at Lafayette Halloween is time to think about generosity and compassion.  Sure we dress up as scary monsters, or favorite storybook or movie characters, but Halloween at Lafayette is about helping others.  

Our very own Kenny family - Guy, Maya, and Amalia - have been collecting Halloween costumes to share with homeless children.  What a creative and fun way to make a child in crisis happy!  

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Why College Awareness in Elementary School?

You might be wondering why your child has been coming home talking about "The Path to College" this week when it seems so very far away. For many of them, it is far away. We calculated that Pre-K students will start college in the year 2028 and complete a four-year degree in the year 2032--wow!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Building Resiliency In Children

Greetings Parents, Families and Staff.  The seasons are changing and so are your children.  This is a perfect time to read the tips below on how to increase resiliency in your children.  It will help them learn skills needed to deal effectively with everyday stress and frustration.  Enjoy!  Harriet Lurensky Kuhn, M.A., M.Ed., NCSP-Lafayette Psychologist


Building Resiliency: Helping Children Learn to Weather Tough Times

Adversity is a natural part of life. At some point, we all face difficulties, such as family problems, serious illness, a personal crisis, or a painful loss. Being resilient is important to dealing with adversities like these. While most parents hope that their children never face extreme adversity, successfully facing tough situations can actually foster growth and give children the skills to be more resilient in the future.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Lafayette's Peace of Mind Program Featured in Documentary about Mindfulness

On Wednesday, October 8, three filmmakers spent the day at Lafayette interviewing students and staff and filming Peace Classes for a documentary about mindfulness.   They were so impressed with our Peace of Mind program and they were really impressed with our students.  The kids did a beautiful job of demonstrating how we practice mindfulness in Peace class (even with cameras rolling and microphones hanging over their heads) and they were able to articulate how they practice mindfulness outside of Peace Class. They talked about using mindfulness to help them deal with anger at siblings, with the stress of test-taking, to help them focus while playing sports, to be better friends, and to be kinder to themselves and others.  The filmmakers couldn't get enough of our amazing students here at Lafayette.  Click on this link to find out more about this upcoming documentary and stay posted for more information about when it will be finished.

- Linda Ryden

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Every Day is Peace Day at Lafayette!

This past Sunday was the 30th annual International Day of Peace as established by the United Nations. It is a day to call for non-violence and peaceful interactions among all peoples and nations. 

We are so fortunate to be at a school like Lafayette, where we can celebrate Peace Day every day. There are no other schools in the metro DC area that devote as much time, energy, and resources to teaching kids about peace and conflict resolution as we do here at Lafayette.

Friday, September 19, 2014

September Back-to-School Transitions

Greetings Parents! Welcome back to school year 2014-2015.  It is now the middle of September and your child has already been in school several weeks.  The weather is beginning to transition from summer to fall.  Change is always happening in each of us and in the world around us.  We instill resiliency and teach our children success by helping them adjust to change.  Here are a few tips for a successful adjustment to school this year.  Enjoy!  

Harriet Lurensky Kuhn, M.A., M.Ed., NCSP, LPC.   Psychologist, Lafayette Elementary School and Kozy Girl, CGC, AKC/TDI Therapy Dog

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Peace Classes Underway!

Welcome to another peaceful year at Lafayette!  Lafayette's unique mindfulness and social emotional learning program, Peace of Mind, is in full swing.  Peace Classes started with Ms. Ryden teaching second - fifth grade and Ms. Diesner teaching our Early Childhood grades.  We are learning about mindfulness and having fun with some "getting to know you" activities.  In fifth grade we watched a wonderful video about kindness (actually a life insurance commercial from Thailand!).  The kids loved it so much that I told them that I would post it here on our blog so that they could share it with you.  I hope you enjoy it.  Be prepared to shed a happy tear.

If you are new to Lafayette, you might be wondering what the Peace program is all about.  There is a description of the program on the school website ( and you are always free to come in and check it out for yourself.  Kids seem to get it intuitively, but parents sometimes ask me what Peace Class is all about.  They wonder if it's some kind of hippie throwback.  In fact, Peace Class is a cutting edge program based on the latest research about how children learn and grow and thrive.  We all know that it's no longer enough to teach the 3Rs.  In this fast-paced and sometimes violent world it is crucial that we give our children the tools they need to be happy, mindful, emotionally intelligent, and able to move through the world peacefully and with confidence.

We could call it "Conflict Resolution, Mindfulness, Emotional Intelligence, Anger Management, Anxiety Reduction, Empathy Development, Communication, Compassion, Bullying Prevention, Friendship Skills, Assertiveness Training, and Make the World a Better Place Class" but that's a bit unwieldy so we settle on "Peace Class" instead.  So try to let go of any '60's-era connotations you may have of the word peace and see if for what it is here at Lafayette: A class that helps us to educate the whole child.  A class devoted to the heart and the mind. A class that will give your child some of the most important skills they will ever learn.

- Linda Ryden

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Welcome back to another great year at Lafayette!

It's finally here - the day parents dream about all summer - the first week of school! It passed in a blinding rush of hellos, hugs, laughter, "how-was-your-summer"s, and a perhaps few tears too. We've had a lot of fun seeing all the students back for another year, and are beginning to learn the names and faces of our new students too. We are so excited to be back and to have many wonderful changes happening at the same time. For an overview of the programs and services the Oasis team will be providing this year, click here. We are gearing up for a great school year, and here are just some of the upcoming events we'll be celebrating together soon:

·       Friday 9/5 and Monday 9/8: New Student Lunch Bunches for grades 1-5 (schedule forthcoming)
·       September is Peace Month
·       Weekly Peace classes begin in all grades
·       Friday 9/26: Wear your peace items to school day

·       October is College Awareness Month
·       Peace classes will include discussions on college & career
·       Friday, 10/24: Wear a college T-shirt day
·       TBA: First Oasis Advisory Group  (OAG) meeting

Stay tuned for more information on these exciting events, and drop by the Oasis to say hi if you haven't already. We'd love to see you! --Jillian

Friday, June 6, 2014

Mindfulness At Home Workshop

We had a great time at our Mindfulness at Home workshop the other night!  A nice group of parents gathered together to experience some of the mindfulness practices that we do in Peace Class.  They were so relaxed by the end of the hour that we all floated home!  I shared a bunch of resources that you can use to learn about and practice mindfulness at home.  It would be so great if the kids were able to keep up their mindfulness practice over the summer.  The resource list is below.  Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions at  I'll schedule another parent workshop in the Fall.

Resources for practicing mindfulness at home

Building Emotional Intelligence, Linda Lantieri (with cd of guided mindfulness exercises)

Sitting Still Like a Frog: Mindfulness Exercises for Kids (and their parents), Eline Snel  (book and cd)

A Still Quiet Place: A Mindfulness Program for Teaching Children and Adolescents to Ease Stress and Difficult Emotions, Amy Saltzman, MD

Ten Percent Happier , Dan Harris . 

Story Books:

Ahn’s Anger, Gail Silver
Steps and Stones, Gail Silver
Moody Cow Meditates, Kerry MacLean
Mindful Monkey, Happy Panda, Kerry MacLean



MINDS Incorporated – Website of Mindful Magazine. Offers tons of resources about mindfulness

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Friday, April 4, 2014

Mindfulness and Your Child: Post-Event Recap

A Pre-K student practices mindful breathing

Thanks to everyone who attended our event last night! We had almost 50 people out to learn more about Mindfulness and Your Child. First we watched a short video on Linda Ryden's Peace of Mind program and why she started the program. Next we heard a short talk from Dave Trachtenberg, Program Manager at MINDS, Inc. on the definition, science, and benefits of mindfulness. In a nutshell, Dave shared that "awareness" is another word for mindfulness and that there are thousands of scientific studies proving the benefits of mindfulness on our immune system, executive functioning, behavior, stress levels, and general health and well-being. He works primarily with teenagers and just wrapped up a mindfulness training program for teens at Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, MD. He shared some anecdotes on how those teens have benefited from the training, and how much more our students will benefit having started the training so early while their brains are still malleable. He stressed that we want our children to learn how to "pause" and have awareness of their feelings (anger, hurt, sadness, anxiety, self-judgement, etc.) before reacting or lashing out, as these feelings become more intensified in adolescence and the ramifications of poor impulse control can be much more serious. He praised Lafayette for being "the only school in the DC/MD/VA area" to have such a large and intensive mindfulness program with 700 students! We ended the event with a slideshow of some of the Peace Classes with our students (to be uploaded to the blog soon!), and Linda and I told a bit about how we run the classes. It was a nice evening, but if you missed it and would like more information on mindfulness please feel free to contact us!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

April 3, 2014 Mindfulness Event

Lafayette Elementary School
Cordially invites you to

Mindfulness and Your Child

Come hear about the benefits of Mindfulness to you and your child, and learn about Lafayette’s own cutting-edge mindfulness program, Peace of Mind.

April 3rd, 2014
7:00 p.m.

This event will follow the general HSA meeting at 6:30

5701 Broad Branch Road, NW Washington, DC 20015

For more information please contact or

A high-schooler at Wilson remembers Peace Class

Today I had a visit from a Lafayette graduate who is now in 9th grade at Wilson.  He came by, he said, to apologize to me.  He hugged me and said, "Ms. Ryden, I'm sorry for all the **** I gave you in Peace class!"  I laughed because what I remembered about him was that he was a skeptic who found Peace class a little too "touchy-feely" for his taste.  But then he said, "You know, I never appreciated what I was learning in Peace class at the time, but all through middle school I found that I was using the stuff you taught me all the time.  I guess I had to get a little more mature to realize it."  He talked about thinking about other people's feelings, understanding his own, and using the conflict resolution skills he learned at Lafayette.  Hearing a story like this obviously warms my heart because as teachers we never know whether or not we are really having an impact on a child.  It's a good reminder that we really don't know what is going on in a child's mind and we never know if the seeds we plant when they are young are going to grow and flower.  It's good to know that sometimes those flowers can bloom in the most unlikely places!

If you would like to find out more about what your child is experiencing in Peace Class come to our event, "Mindfulness and Your Child" on Thursday April 3rd at 7pm (right after the HSA general meeting).  Feel free to contact me for more information at

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Mindful Froggies

This week in Peace Class with the younger grades, we've been practicing mindfulness by pretending to be frogs. Using the book Sitting Still Like a Frog by Eline Snel and the accompanying CD, we've learned how frogs can be both very active, noisy and busy AND very still, alert, and mindful. Of course, most of the time kids' natural inclination is to be the noisy, jumpy frog. With practice, however, children can easily learn how to control those impulses for short amounts of time. Learning this skill is essential in school and in life. Being able to pause, reflect on what's happening, and then respond has all kinds of proven scientific benefits, as explained in this scholarly review of recent research on mindfulness. We will continue to practice being mindful froggies here at school, and encourage you to help your child practice this at home sometimes too. With time and practice, your energetic, hoppy frogs can also learn to be mindful and reflective...who wouldn't like that?


January Peace Heroes

Congratulations to the following boys and girls!
Grace, Delaney, Charlie, Daniel
Ella Grace A.
Aidan F.
Rory D.
Will C.P.
Evan J.
Amaan, Matthew F,  Elijah  
Delia M.
Molly H. 
Liam B.

Molly R.
Hannah L.
Malachi M.
Harrison E.
Jesse C.
Matthew B.

Ms. Mosby, Ms. Diesner, Ms. Ryden
Gillian G.
Gabriel S.
Noah G.
Elijah M.
Amaan L.
Lucy R.
Matthew F.
Priya A.
Mikayla W.
Charlie P. 
Ava Z. 
Daniel F. 
Kate T. 
Delaney S. 
Owen T. 
Zoey C. 
Changa A. 
Joseph D.  
Logan M.