Astor's Early Childhood Program. Hard To Prove it Works. Easy To Know It Does.

by Virginia Hayes Sibbison, Ph.D.

To know the programs work, you only have to watch the kids,
talk to their parents and read the reports of kindergarten teachers.

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Tips For Summer-To-School Transition

The new school year is starting soon! All families have to face the transition from summer to school, but if your child has learning challenges or behavioral struggles, that transition can be downright scary.

Here are some quick tips for getting your child (and yourself) ready for the year to begin.

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Astor’s Head Start Programs: Support Students in the Classroom!

This I have never understood:

How can anyone, anywhere not want to support a program that gives those who are most defenseless, who are without a voice, without a constituency, without a lobby, a chance?

Head Start works. By all the metrics it has an immediate effect on the kids. On IQ scores, academic achievement, crime, and poor health.

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What Really Prevents School Violence?

School communities are the most critical factor in the prevention of school violence.  The more inclusive and welcoming the school community, the more connected most youth in that community feel.  The more connected youth feel, the more likely it is that any youth contemplating violence will be revealed to caring adults early in the path toward an actual violent act.

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How to Help your Child Grieve

Over 20 years ago, I discussed theses seven steps of grieving in a book called “Bereavement: Counseling the Grieving throughout the Lifecycle” and while some are self-evident others require more explanation.

It is important to stress to a child what you keep after a death.

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Astor Wind Chimes and the Changing of the Seasons

I can only imagine how its making, or rather how the entire arts program at Astor calms, soothes and encourages the children. It gives them a voice, rouses their creative spirit and ensures that the mission of Astor – that every child deserves a childhood – is fulfilled.

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Focusing on Children’s Strength Will Yield High Returns

Mental health treatment providers and educators must work collaboratively with children and families to identify their unique skills, talents and interests.

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Strive to Thrive: Train Your Toddler’s Brain, Part 3

Last fall, I wrote about self-regulation, the important “brain training” that is needed for children to be competent and confident.   Parents can help their babies develop this important skill with warm, responsive, and predictable parenting.  When your children are toddlers, you can continue to train their brains by developing your own calmness, telling your toddler what to expect, and teaching them how to behave.

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Strive to Thrive: How to Train Your Toddler’s Brain, Part 2

Self-regulation, or the ability to choose behaviors that are right for the context a child is in, is very important and we can all help our kids get better and better at it as they grow up.

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Strive to Thrive: Building Confidence in Your Kids, Part I

Did you know that the roots of confidence and competence start when your child is just a baby? In my business, we call these roots “self-regulation,” which is a fancy way to say that a child (or adult) can be in charge of their own thinking, emotions, and behaviors.

By helping your kids develop the ability to be in charge of themselves in a healthy way, you can build their confidence in themselves and make them more likely to do well at home, in school, and with friends.  In short, YOU can TRAIN YOUR CHILD’S BRAIN.

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Tools I Learned At Astor

Life Lessons Learned At Astor Still Resonate

More than fifty years have passed since I was a boy residing at Astor Home. The tools I learned and that have been with me throughout my journey since I left Astor have provided me with support, resource and a moral code to live by.

These tools included: patience, practice and a love for learning. The same tools it takes to master many subject areas and to become master in a profession (i.e., Astronaut, Doctor, Engineer, etc.). I became confident, open to learning, open to new things and respectful of wisdom.

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Strive to Thrive: 6 Ways To Build A Stronger Family NOW!

A discussion on what it takes to be a “successful” family.

I am not talking being a rich family, or a famous family. I am not even talking about being a trouble-free family. I am talking about being the kind of family that endures during hard times and rolls with the punches, stays connected to one another, and raises kids that go on to have the same connected, strong kind of family when they grow up. Scientists have studied families for many years, and they have found that there are some ways to make families stronger.

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Life Lessons Learned At Astor: Exercise Patience

I Learned Appropriate Responses To My Emotions
While I Was A Young Student At Astor.

While at Astor, I learned a lot of lessons and skills that have served me well over the past several decades since I was a student in the residential program. One lesson that I thought appropriate to write about today, especially in light of the infamous shooting death of a young Black man in Florida, has to do with reactions and how we should control them as individuals and as a group.

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Do Families Have to Strive to Thrive?

Astor Services has been helping families and kids thrive for a long time now.  In my job at Astor I try to help staff bring the best practices to our families and kids; I find those practices by reading about what scientists who study families have discovered about helping families and kids heal.

But a few years ago, something changed in my life.  I became a Mom.  When I had my twins, my questions changed from, “How can Astor help families and kids who are struggling with mental health and behavioral issues?,” to “What does the science say about helping all families stay more connected, feel healthy and happy, and help their kids grow and thrive?”  Most importantly, “Can science provide families and kids who are struggling with mental health issues a road map to recovery?”

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