Sunday, November 18, 2018

2018-19 Parent letter


Dear Parents/Guardians,

Welcome to the new school year!  I am very excited to continue my journey as school counselor at HMS.  My goal is to help all children feel better about themselves so that they are then better able to, and more eager to, learn in the classroom.  During the school day I am involved in many different roles.  The following is a snapshot of some of the activities I am involved in. 

I am in all of the K-3 classrooms on a daily basis teaching lessons. This year my classroom lessons will occur first thing in the morning and will focus on relaxation and calming strategies.  I will utilize portions of the Zones of Regulation curriculum, the Calm Classroom curriculum as well as the Yoga 4 Classrooms program.

The Zones of Regulation curriculum, www.zonesofregulation.com, teaches students self-regulation skills. The Zones language helps students realize when they are becoming less regulated and gives them tools to help them manage their feelings.  The Zones are broken down into the following four categories to help students more easily express their feelings. 

Text Box:  LIFE IS 10% WHAT HAPPENS TO US AND 90% HOW WE REACT TO IT. The Red Zone is used to describe extremely heightened states of alertness and intense emotions.  A person may be elated or experiencing anger, rage, explosive behavior, devastation, or terror when in the Red Zone. 

The Yellow Zone is also used to describe a heightened state of alertness and elevated emotions, however one has more control when they are in the Yellow Zone.  A person may be experiencing stress, frustration, anxiety, excitement, silliness, the wiggles, or nervousness when in the Yellow Zone.

The
 Green Zone is used to describe a calm state of alertness. A person may be described as happy, focused, content, or ready to learn when in the Green Zone.  This is the zone where optimal learning occurs.

The
 Blue Zone is used to describe low states of alertness and down feelings such as when one feels sad, tired, sick, or bored. 

The Calm Classroom curriculum, calmclassroom.com, helps students/adults learn the skills needed to promote a calm learning environment.  Its three areas of focus are self-awareness, mental focus, and emotional resilience.  Self-awareness helps us to better understand how our thoughts and emotions influence our behavior so that we can make more conscious decisions. Mental Focus helps us navigate through a world filled with distractions and helps us cultivate the skill of focused attention. Emotional Resilience allows students to utilize an effective emotional management strategy, which helps them self-regulate, and achieve a state of calm. 

Yoga 4 Classrooms, www.yoga4classrooms.com, allows for the creation of peaceful, productive, learning-ready classrooms in which students will learn to use yoga and mindfulness to improve their focus while developing a lifelong awareness of the importance of their physical and emotional health.

In combining aspects of all of these programs into my classroom lessons I hope to instill strategies for students and teachers to use throughout their day. 

Another aspect of my job is talking with students on a day-to-day basis about any issues that may arise in their lives.  I meet with students throughout the school day as needed, anything from a periodic check in to a weekly visit. All students, throughout the school year, are given the chance to have lunch with their peers in my office.  This allows the students to have a chance to become comfortable in my office, which makes them feel connected and comfortable in my space should they need to visit in the future. 

I am always available to talk with parents and teachers to provide ideas when a student/family is working through any difficult situation.  If I don’t have the answer hopefully I will be able to find a resource that will be helpful.  Please let me know if you have any questions about my role here at HMS.

I look forward to meeting all of you throughout the school year!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Zones of Regulation

I have been presenting lessons on the Zones of Regulation to all of the students at HMS.  The Zones of Regulation are concepts used to help students learn how to self-regulate.  The Zones create a system to categorize how the body feels and places all of your emotions into four easily recognizable colored zones (blue, green, red and yellow).

THE BLUE ZONE IS USED TO DESCRIBE A LOW STATE OF ALERTNESS.
*FEELINGS SUCH AS SAD, TIRED, SICK OR BORED ARE IN THE BLUE ZONE.

THE GREEN ZONE IS USED TO DESCRIBE AN IDEAL STATE OF ALERTNESS.
*FEELINGS SUCH AS CALM, HAPPY, FOCUSED, OR CONTENT ARE IN THE GREEN ZONE.
*WE ARE IN CONTROL WHEN WE ARE IN THE GREEN ZONE.

THE RED ZONE IS USED TO DESCRIBE AN EXTREMELY HEIGHTENED STATE OF ALERTNESS.
*WHEN YOU ARE IN THE RED ZONE YOU MAY BE EXPERIENCING RAGE, EXPLOSIVE BEHAVIOR, PANIC, EXTREME GRIEF, TERROR OR ELATION.

THE YELLOW ZONE IS A HEIGHTENED STATE OF ALERTNESS.
*WHEN YOU ARE IN THE YELLOW ZONE YOU MAY BE EXPERIENCING STRESS, FRUSTRATION, ANXIETY, EXCITEMENT, SILLINESS OR FEAR.
*IN THE YELLOW ZONE YOU ARE MAINTAINING SOME LEVEL OF CONTROL.
The Zones are very user friendly and you can easily incorporate the language at home with your children.  Be sure to ask your kids about what they are learning! 


Source: Zones of Regulation by Leah Kuypers

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Apologizing

We've all been there - our children make a mistake and we rush in to demand they apologize.  It turns out there is a better way to show children that even though they misbehaved they aren't "bad".   Try helping your child calm down first and giving them some time to collect their thoughts.  Once they are calm, talk about how their behavior has affected someone else by giving concrete examples that they will understand and relate to.  Then talk it through together to help them figure out what they could do next time instead of making the poor choice.  Since, we can't take the words or actions away, help your child think about what they can do to make the other person feel better. They may want to draw them a picture or share a toy together - which will help your child understand that they are responsible for correcting their own mistakes.  Lastly, encourage and guide your child to apologize for their actions.  This could be done verbally or written depending on the child's comfort level.  Following these steps will help teach your child to mean their apology instead of simply forcing them to apologize.  Once you have guided them to an apology be sure to compliment your child for helping make someone feel better and taking responsibility.  By following these steps we can teach our children to take responsibility for their mistakes instead of simply saying the rote words, "I'm sorry".

You may also want to read a story such as Sorry! by Trudy Ludwig.  In this children's book, the author emphasizes how to take ownership of our actions and right our wrong.  It also acknowledges how their is a whole lot more to apologizing than a careless word tossed out.
 

Saturday, February 13, 2016

The effects of intense emotions

Emotions, particularly intense emotions send our body into overdrive and can cause complex physical responses.  When we're angry our heart rate increases, adrenaline flows and blood pressure spikes.  Anxiety is a shockingly complex disorder, and one that can completely change your body's chemistry. The stress that anxiety puts on your body can lead to a host of different issues. One of the most common is stomach pain but it can also lead to vomiting, nausea or diarrhea.  Anxiety releases epinephrine, which causes the body to produce extra levels of stomach acid. That acidity causes the lining in the esophagus to become irritated, and this can lead to not only stomach pain, but also nausea and vomiting. Due to the extra acids in your stomach if anxiety is left  untreated it can lead to additional health concerns.  
Learning how to regulate our emotions more effectively will drastically improve these intense feelings.  Follow these tips when your emotions are on overdrive to help regulate your body; 
*Eat healthy - include fruits, vegetables, water, whole grain carbohydrates in your regular diet  
* Breathe deeply
* Exercise
*Take a break and do something that you enjoy
*Visualize yourself facing and conquering your fears
* Get support from family or friends
*Make a plan as to how you are going to tackle the problem and feel in control again
* Rest and recharge
* Try peppermint tea, ginger, crackers, toast or whatever comfort food helps calm your upset stomach
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www.webmd.com/parenting/.../anxiety-stress-and-stomachaches

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Saturday, January 23, 2016

New study shows the #1 reason that kids are bullied

In a recent study done by Dr. Puhl, deputy director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at the University of Connecticut in Hartford, it was found that bullying about body size is more common than kids being bullied for any other reason.  Below are the results of the study.

47% of those surveyed listed body size/being overweight as the number one reason for children being bullied.
Tied with 11% each were physical disabilities and race.
Coming in at 9% was sexual orientation.
Family income constituted 4%.
Academic ability was listed 3% of the time.
Religion was 2% of the survey.
Lastly, 13% listed "other" as the reason that children are bullied.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

How to stop saying No

We all resort to the reflexive no when we are asked a request from our child - often we barely hear the request.  I'm as guilty of this as many parents are, particularly when I'm stressed or when I can't handle all of their requests.  Instead of saying no - these three alternatives will help give kids some age- appropriate control over their world.

1.  Instead of saying "No" say..."You're really growing up!  From now on, I'm going to let you be responsible for certain things."
This alternative can be used during the morning routine which is stressful for many families.  Instead of badgering your child to get dressed, eat and get out the door teach your child to get up and manage their own morning routine.  Turning over the responsibility to your child will empower them to make their own choices while still getting the job done.  Let your child know what needs to happen every morning, give them the tools they need and make it clear that they are responsible for getting it done. Saying to your child you've shown how responsible you can be and you are now in charge of your morning will make it happen and your child will feel the pride they deserve.

2.  Instead of saying "No" say..."When you finish X, you may enjoy Y."
Let you child know that when all of the must do activities are finished then they can enjoy their free time.  Once children have the information they need they won't be checking with you all the time and you won't be saying no all of the time.

3.  Instead of "No" say..."Let's talk about it."
As our children grow up they gain more responsibility and they encounter new opportunities.  When faced with a new request respond with, "let's talk about that."  Ask your child why it is important to them, if I say yes to the request what are some important things that you need to remember to do, and lastly what can I as your parent do to help you be more successful.  It is important to let your kids know that we are listening to them, taking their needs and desires into account and considering them.

Source:  Parents magazine - January 2016


 

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

8 Tips to Keeping your Kids Healthy

I recently read an article in Parent's magazine (January 2016 issue) that listed, in their view, the eight best ways to keep your kids healthy.  I found the information helpful and very user friendly and wanted to pass it along to you.

1.  Offer lots of fruits and veggies - Children need to be taught to like fruits and vegetables.  Often when kids reject a food it is because it is unfamiliar, not due to true dislike.  Children need to be offered the same food many times, up to 15, before they will like or tolerate them.

2. Teach hand-washing - People's hands are the number one source for spreading infection.  We transfer germs from our hands into our body when we touch our eyes, mouth, or nose.  Young children touch their face as often as 50 times an hour!  As a result children need to be taught to wash their hands properly and we need to frequently wipe down the "hot spots" in our houses (door handles, toys, keyboards).

3. Vaccinate on time - The vaccine schedule is designed to give immunizations to children when they are the most effective.

4.  Brush teeth with fluoride - Even mild tooth decay can affect kids' health by causing pain, poor eating, and interrupted sleep.  Simply brushing protects teeth - if you use fluoride.

5.  Enforce a regular bedtime - Delaying a child's bedtime doesn't do them any favors.  Children who don't get enough sleep can become hyperactive and their school performance suffers.  After kindergarten kids need nine to eleven hours of sleep.  So set a regular bedtime routine and stick to it.

6. Insist on a helmet - Wearing a helmet can prevent serous injuries - yet less than half of kids wear them.  Insist that your child wears a helmet when they ride anything with wheels.

7.  Apply sunscreen, all year long - Sunburn in childhood is particularly risky.  The earlier in a child's life that skin cells become damaged, the greater their chance of developing skin cancer over their lifetimes.  Kids have a thinner outer protective layer than an adult's does so they are more sensitive to the harmful effects of ultraviolet radiation.

8.  Use safety straps - Make sure you follow the instructions on your child's car seat/booster seat/seatbelt.  Enforce the use of a safety straps for yourself and your children whenever they are riding in a car.