Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Buddy Bench

I hope everyone had a smooth start to the school year!  I've enjoyed seeing all of the returning students after the summer break and meeting the new faces as well.  I've had the chance to visit the students in their new classrooms, at lunch and on the playground.  I spoke with all of the students about an exciting new addition to our playground...the buddy bench.  The buddy bench is an idea that originated in Germany and that was discovered by a young boy in Pennsylvania.  If students are feeling lonely, sad or unsure of who or what to play with they have the opportunity to sit on the buddy bench.  The other students who see them sit down with them in order to talk and/or invite them to play.  It's a great way for students to connect with each other, make new friends and feel empathy towards their classmates.
I'm excited to start my classroom lessons in most of the rooms next week - I will let you know in my next post what the first lesson entailed.  Enjoy the long weekend!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Ten Tips for a Happy First Day of School

The following items are tips for preparing for a smooth first day of school. 

*When talking with your child about the school year focus on the positive things that will be happening such as seeing old friends and making new ones, having fun and learning new things.  
*Reading stories to children that deal with first day of school jitters and then discussing the characters, how they felt and how they are feeling would also help ease their mind.  Some options are The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn, Franklin Goes to School by Paulette Bourgeois and Brenda Clark, I Don’t Want to go Back to School by Marisbina Russo, First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg, I am Absolutely too Small for School by Lauren Child, First Day of School by Mercer Mayer, Splat the Cat Back to School, Splat by Rob Scotton.
*Visit the school playground and spend some time on it before the busyness of the school year begins.
*Make and practice your new school routine prior to the first day to help your child get better acquainted with the morning schedule.  This could include getting up at your regular school time, having breakfast, getting dressed and ready for the day, the walk to the bus stop etc.  A daily routine will help your child on the 1st day of school and every day after. 
*In order to diminish the hecticness of the morning get clothing, lunches/snacks, and backpacks ready the night before school.  Designate a spot in your home to keep all school items.
*If possible, have a play date with a classmate prior to the start of school so that your child has a familiar face to look for in the classroom.
*Let your child know how much fun school is, children pick up on our unspoken signals.  Make sure you’re sending positive messages.
*Before bed or before you leave the house check to make sure your child has everything they need for the day – snack, homework, notes for school, proper outwear (depending on the season).
*Keep a calendar where events are written down to help your child and your family with scheduling and organization.

*If your child continues to be anxious about being away from you - here are some ideas to help the morning separation go easier; teach them deep breathing exercise to calm down, play relaxing music, don’t let them see that you are upset/worried/scared about their day ahead as they will immediately pick up on those emotions, give them a small transitional object to keep in their backpack such as a worry stone, bracelet, picture etc.  Help your child learn and understand that separations are a reality, they can be fun, they are temporary, and the reunion with their family is something to look forward to.

Welcome to the new school year!

I am very excited to introduce you to my new counseling blog!  I hope that you will find the information posted here helpful and if there is a topic that you feel I should address please let me know. 

For my first post I would like to give you an overview of my counseling program here at Harold Martin School.  My goal as school counselor 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 and beyond.  In order to achieve this goal I engage in a myriad of activities throughout the school day.  I am frequently in and out of the classrooms getting to know children but I also spend a block of time in each classroom during the week presenting counseling lessons from the 2nd Step Program.  The presented lessons focus on learning feelings, empathy skills, impulse control, problem solving and anger management.  Throughout the lessons the students do activities, role-plays, relaxation skills (belly breaths, visualization, yoga) and we enjoy thoughtful discussions.  

I am also available to meet with students weekly or as needed as concerns arise.  All of the students at HMS have the opportunity to eat lunch with me in my office with their peers.  This is a fun way to get students comfortable in my space should they need to talk to me in the future.  I am always available to talk/meet with parents and teachers to give ideas or resources during the school year.  Feel free to call or email me with any questions, concerns or for further information about my program or curriculum.

Please check back frequently to read more!