I am an avid reader and love to get book recommendations from others. Mrs. Slagen (5th grade) and Mrs. Jolley (library) both recommended this book to me and I recently finished listening to it in the car. It tells a wonderful story of a 6th grader who struggles with fitting in and dealing with her undiscovered learning disability. While addressing these important topics, the book also inspires the reader to think about empathy and how important it is to show kindness to others. I would highly recommend this book to 4th graders and beyond.
Many of the boys I talk with at school love to talk about the video games that they enjoy playing at home. During these conversations we often talk about the content of these games and whether they are appropriate for their age. I have had 1st and 2nd graders share with me that they are playing games such as "Modern Warfare", "Grand Theft Auto" and "Halo", all of which are rated "M" for mature. Most of the boys minimize the level of violence that occurs in these games, however, I continue to be concerned about the violence that they are exposed to. Research studies have shown a link between aggressive ways of thinking and behaving and violent video games. A study completed at Iowa State University (follow this link to see the study)showed a relationship between these games and aggressive behavior in children. It may not be the popular decision as a parent to say "No" when your child wants these video games and claims that all of their peers are playing them, but it is an important decision. As a mom of 2 boys (5th grade and 1st grade), my boys know that these games will not enter our home. Media has an incredibly strong impact on children and it is important that parents monitor tv shows, apps and video games that their children are exposed to. It is easy to set age restrictions on your television and on the purchases your child can make on their ipad/ipod. Again, it may not be the most popular decision you make as a parent, but it's an important one.
On another note, here is a great book I found that addresses the issue of screen time and placing limits on screen time.
Thanks for reading!
I have found that many students need a little extra help to regulate themselves while they are at school - they may have excess energy, may become frustrated easily or may become anxious. Sensory strategies can be calming and helpful. While researching this topic online I found a number of interesting and easy to make sensory bags. I tried making them with 2 students and they both really enjoyed the activity and stated that they felt the bags would help them.
Here is one of my students adding objects to his bag. He told me today that his sister wanted to make one too!
Here are the directions.
Have a great weekend!
Welcome back to another school year. I find that as my children get older and their schedules get more involved, the summer months go by faster and faster. I had a great summer traveling, spending time by the pool, going to the beach and reading lots of great books. My hope is that everyone comes back to school rejuvenated and refreshed! We have many new students at the South this year and I have invited our new students to join me for lunch this week to learn more about each other and out school. We are going to play one of the kids favorite games - Jenga with a twist. I wrote questions on the Jenga blocks that help us to get to know one another. Some of the questions include: Where is your favorite place? If you had 3 wishes, what would they be? What is your favorite part of school. Below are our new 5th grade students playing the game. I'd say it was a hit because they all asked if they could have lunch with me again! I'm looking forward to meeting all of our new students this week!
Have a great day!
On our last Early Thursday, the Elementary and Middle School Counselors were fortunate to be able to go on a "field trip" to Luminosity Behavioral Health Services in Stoughton Center. We had a delicious lunch while the founders and clinicians working at Luminosity talked with us about the services they provide for Stoughton residents and those living in nearby communities. I was impressed with the array of services they provide! They are a multi-cultural/multi-lingual counseling agency that provides assistance to children, teens and adults through individual, group and family counseling. In addition, they also provide community support to families/individuals that need assistance navigating through the varied agencies that offer support to families in need. The clinicians and support staff I was fortunate enough to meet impressed me with their caring approach and they seem to truly go above and beyond while working to support families. They are located at 810 Washington St, and the phone number is 781-344-0102. Take a minute to check out their website: www.luminosityMA.org.
While teaching a lesson in 3rd grade today, one of my students shared that she had found one of the Calm It Down Dance Videos on Youtube. She shared with the class that she looked for it when her brother was being mean and making her mad. How awesome that she remembered our lesson and was resourceful enough to look for the video on her own! Here is a link to the older students version of the Calm It Down Video. Here is a link to a video of a classroom of students watching and dancing to the younger version of the Calm It Down Video. Enjoy and thanks to my room 8 student who shared the idea!
All of our classes have completed the Empathy unit, so your child should be able to tell you what empathy is ( we use the phrase "putting yourself in someone else's shoes). Hopefully they can also talk about compassion, which is empathy in action.
We are now focusing on Emotion Regulation and students in grades 2-5 have been watching and dancing along to (although the 4th and 5th graders think they are too cool to dance along!) the Calm Down Dance Videos. Take a minute to visit the Second Step Website (links and codes are included in my blog entry from September) to learn more. The songs are very catchy and teach students the steps to calm down - which are 1. Stop, 2. Name Your Feeling 3. Calm Down (belly breathing, self-talk and counting). In 5th grade, we watched a prezi regarding test anxiety as the students prepare to take MCAS in a few weeks.
Kindergarten and 1st graders will start learning about strong emotions and how to handle these feelings effectively.
I hope this update is helpful. I can't believe how quickly the year is moving forward. I'm absolutely ready for the sunshine and warm weather that will come with spring!
The Stoughton Youth Commission is running another session of their Strengthening Families Program. It's a great program that focuses on building communication skills, reducing family conflict and reducing stress. I would strongly encourage families to look into participating. It starts on January 28th and runs for 5 weeks at the SYC and includes dinner for your family. Please see the attached flyer for more information and call me if you have any questions.
Here's a quick Second Step update -
In all grades we have shifted gears from talking about positive learning skills and have been working on the identification of feelings and emotional regulation. 4th and 5th graders have learned about the key parts of the brain that are involved in strong emotions (the amygdala and the pre-frontal cortex). If you get a chance, ask them about these parts of the brain and what their jobs are.
Have a wonderful long weekend! Take some time to relax! I'm heading up north to ski with my family and looking forward to spending time outdoors and appreciating the beauty of the NH mountains!
It's been a while since I added a new post. Like everyone else, the time before vacation became pretty hectic! I'm glad to be back to a normal routine. I have been working with students to introduce them to different coping strategies, including Yoga and Progressive Muscle Relaxation. Youtube is a great source of videos which show kid-friendly exercises. I have used this Progressive muscle relaxation video with students as young as 3rd grade and they reported that they found it helpful. The students I tried this yoga video with were also really positive about it. There are tons of options on Youtube and it might be fun to explore them with your child on a cold, winter weekend day. Brrr.
Have fun trying these out. I'll write again soon to add a Second Step update.
I know my family meals don't typically look like this and I'm guessing yours don't either! We try to eat together as a family as much as possible, however, it's often a simple meal and my boys are eager to be off and running as soon as they are done eating. Based on my reading of "The Secret of Happy Families", I've been trying to ask my boys one or two pointed questions at each meal to make our time at the table more meaningful. I've been met with mixed results. Sometimes it works and sometimes I get responses like "I don't know", but sometimes I learn great stuff about their day or their perception of how things are going in school or with friends. While surfing the website Teacherspayteachers.com I found great "End of the day questions" that could be used at home as well to start conversations. Here are the questions (click on questions and they should be there).
I hope you like them!
Second Step Updates:
K: Assertiveness skills- how to speak assertively to peers, teachers. Assertive communication includes using a strong voice, respectful words and making good eye contact.
Grades 1, 2, & 3 are starting the Empathy Unit. We are learning about different feelings and how to use facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice to determine how someone is feeling. We also discuss why this is important.
Grades 4 & 5 are learning about the importance of understanding that we all have different perspectives about situations and that we can get along better with friends if we understand and respect our friends differing points of view.
I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving with their families!
As I wrote on my home page, I have been a Counselor at the South School for over 10 years. I am constantly trying to improve my skills as a Counselor and to learn new strategies that I can pass along to my students.