Counsellor's Corner

Mental Health and Compassion

Did you know May 6-12 is Mental Health week? Visit for more information and some great articles related to mental health and the theme for this year, compassion.

Thankfully, in recent years there has been more attention to mental health and the importance mental health plays in our well being. Unfortunately, mental health still goes unaddressed because many people still feel there is a stigma to talking about it. We hope this continues to change. Everyone has mental health, we should be able to talk about it. Each year, 1 in 5 Canadians will experience a mental illness or mental health issue, but everybody has mental health. Mental health refers to a state of well being and includes our emotions, connections to others, thoughts and feelings and being able to navigate all the highs and lows in our lives. 

It is important to talk about mental health with our children.  Emotions are a huge part of our every day life and it is so important to help our children to understand and regulate their emotions. It's important to talk about our emotions, feel free to show emotions and respect others' emotions. We can help our children to develop healthy relationships, a strong sense of self and understand mental health. 

Mental health, emotions and how our brain works are discussed regularly with students at Wes Hosford. On Mondays, we have a “Mental Health Monday” announcement where I share a fun fact and activity with the school.  This week, we will focus on compassion. Compassion is when we feel kindness and want to help those who are going through a tough time. It is about caring and wanting to make a positive difference by showing understanding and support. Empathy + action = compassion. We can offer compassion to others, allow and accept compassion and support from others and practice self care when we need to be compassionate to ourselves. 

Don’t forget to wear your hats on Wednesday, May 8th to show your support for mental health!


Looking for books on a specific topic? These are great, and you can read and connect with your child too!

March - Academics, Empathy and Emotions

Naturally, school becomes a place that puts emphasis on our academic achievements.  Assignments, projects,  tests, checking in, report cards, the list goes on and on. As parents we want to know how our child is doing academically, how they compare to other students their age, and what we can do to help them along.   Students are taught hard to try their best and work hard.  What does trying your best mean and how can you support your child at home? 

As a teacher and a mom of four young children, including twins, I truly see how every child learns differently. Even my twins learn differently, it is so amazing to watch! Of course, I have always known this in my own classroom, but as a parent my own children have really been the best reminder to me that children learn and grow differently, they all have something special about them, and sometimes it isn’t about the achievement.  As my children grow and talk about learning at home, these key points often come up:

  1. We all learn differently, and that is ok. What might be easy for one person to learn could be really difficult for someone else. What you find difficult might be easy for someone else. Everyone has something that they are good at!
  2. Just try your best and don’t give up. Some things are difficult. Some things take time. You’ll get there, you can do hard things, even if it takes some extra time!
  3. Be patient and kind to everyone. Help others when you can. Take time to connect with the people in your life. 

Speaking of everyone being good at something, we also know that EQ (emotional intelligence quotient) is an important part of learning. In fact, EQ can be used to predict academic achievement, and children with a greater EQ appear to perform better academically.  Developing empathy in children can promote perspective taking, tolerance and compassion, but it can also make students better readers, writers, and communicators. Generally, the literature suggests that increasing empathy can provide students with the skills to improve communication and socialization and increase their academic success.

Empathy has been described as an affective response to another person’s situation or as an awareness of the feelings of others. Children learn empathy at home, during sports, in the classroom, and anywhere social interaction occurs. We want to raise children who are happy, successful, confident and feel good about themselves. We know that habits are formed from repeating our actions over and over. Behaviours set up pathways in the brain that become easier to access with time and repetition. This means that if we respond in a certain way, maybe involuntarily at first, the behaviour pattern may become automatic. This is why modelling at school and at home are so important, we teach our kids how to act as they watch us in day to day situations. When children observe behaviours, their brains create pathways for the behaviours which they then repeat more easily, and eventually, automatically.

How do you act when you are angry? Frustrated? Annoyed? When kids have big feelings and don’t know how to act, they may resort to these learned or observed behaviors. The message should be “stay calm” or “think clearly”.  Modelling this for our kids is the best way to teach them. We know that showing empathy is important and modelling it will help! We need to teach this to our children when they are calm. Tell your child to take a deep breath in through their nose, to give their shoulders a gentle shake and to wiggle their fingers. Try having them whisper quiet messages such as, “I’m okay,” or “Everything is okay.” Ask them to imagine themselves dealing with the problem in a positive way, or to imagine the problem solved. Take the time to discuss the situation in a calm way. 

Another important thing to model for our kids is staying positive. Find the positive and point that out to our kids, daily. Instead of pointing out the negative, or the behaviours you want them to change, tell your child what they are doing right and they will remember that! If a day isn’t going well, find what is going well and make the best of it. Perspective can change everything. Finding time to acknowledge something great that your child did only takes a few seconds and can make their day, day after day, so much better. They will feel good about themselves, and will want to continue to do the positives. 

Modelling how to act in difficult situations is so important for our children.  Try to stay positive. Try to stay calm. Try to be empathetic.  As you react to life, remember that there are pliable little brains seeing and hearing all that you say and do, forming pathways in their brains. 

At Wes Hosford, we focus on doing the right thing even when no one is looking.  We’re teaching our students to feel good about themselves, to think about others, and be kind. 

If you have any questions or are looking for support, please reach out!


Strathcona County has some great community resources available to us. Please check them out!  They also have many free courses available all season long for a variety of interests and ages. Click here to see what is being offered! 

Counselling, free parenting courses, mental health building and more are just some of the resources available to us. 

You can call 780-464-4044 or visit


Well-being and mental health | Strathcona County

Our goal is to help build a supported, safe and connected community that encourages the well-being of every single person.

March 2024 CES Presentations ( AHS also provides some great resources and online sessions for parents. Check them out here!

Mindfulness Club

Being mindful means being focused, aware and present in the moment. This can help us in many ways in and out of school.  Being mindful can help us  to stay focused and deal stress when it comes up in our lives. Being mindful lets us be aware of our bodies and our minds and also to be aware of others.  

Every Monday at lunch recess, students from all grades at Wes Hosford are welcome to come and join me at our Mindfulness Club. Students may come and go as they please, if students want to come one week and want to head outside the next week, that is ok too! I love to meet with this group and we have had such a great turnout with positive feedback.  We look forward to calm, mindful activities like listening to music, colouring, yoga, guided relaxation activities and more. We even had a special guest come to do an Indigenous Smudge with some students and would love to try this again!

Ask your child if they have tried out our Mindfulness Club! 

Parent Sessions

If you missed any of our parent presentations or are looking for more information, please follow the links below to some websites and videos from the presentations. Thank you to the Saffron Centre, the Strathcona County Family Resource Network and our wonderful parents for joining these wonderful presentations.


Foundations of Connection: How to Communicate with Your Youth 

Presented by the Saffron Centre 

If you missed it, you can check it out online here!

Foundations of Connection Presentation

Cyberworld: What happens When Youth Press Send? 

Part 1 & Part 2 

*note that the content has been slightly updated for the parent presentation since the recording has been made.

No Such Thing as a Bad Kid: Understanding What’s Behind Children’s Behaviours 

Presented by Strathcona County Family Resource Network

Here are some videos from the presentation if you missed it!

What is Stress? - YouTube

Executive Function - YouTube

Zero to Thrive: Parenting with Balanced Caregiving - YouTube

Happy Healthy Little Ones Circle of Security Parenting Being With and Shark Music - YouTube


February - Love Yourself!

We have been talking about self-esteem and self-confidence lately. With so many special days related in February; Black history month, Valentine’s Day, Random Acts of Kindness day, Family Day, Pink Shirt Day, they are all days to celebrate feeling good about yourself and making others feel great too!   Why is this important? Self-esteem is the way we think and feel about ourselves, self-confidence is our attitude about our abilities to do things.  Well, feeling good about yourself, having a positive view of yourself and the confidence to try new things can certainly make each day more enjoyable. It impacts the day to day life of kids and adults of all ages and helps them be resilient in difficult situations.  Self-esteem and confidence is going to impact daily decisions, relationships and really can shape our overall mental health and well-being. Sharing the love you have for yourself with others and treating others the way you want to be treated can make everyone feel a little better! 


How can we help children to develop self-esteem, self-confidence, and know that it is important to value and love things about themselves? Modeling these things is important! Children notice and see the adults around them. Be sure to talk and act in a positive way about yourself, be open to learning new things, remember that it is okay to make mistakes and to learn from them.  Help children to understand this. Compliment them. Help them see the good in themselves, especially when they might struggle to see it. Let them make mistakes, but also help them learn from them and try again. Give them responsibilities and keep them accountable. Let them be themselves. Give them choices. Tell them they are valued and loved for who they are.  We all like to hear that, right? 


Two of my favourite books to read with kids at this time of year are “Rock What Ya Got” by Samantha Berger, and “In My Heart, A Book of Feelings” by Jo Witek.  I love reading these books and talking about all the positives that kids see in themselves, as well as the feelings and emotions that they feel.  Reading can be a great way to connect and open some discussions with your child!  A new book that I look forward to sharing with the school this month is called “Lifting Each Other Up” by Joni McCoy. I’m excited to share this with our students and hope that it helps to send a message of kindness, lifting each other up and helping others. 


Your kids are trying their hardest at school right now in a world that can seem challenging at times.   Remember, you are their safe place, and they are trying their best. Be there for them, listen to them, answer their questions, give them a break if they need it, take one with them - I bet they will love it. Try to stick to healthy routines and structure, they really can make a difference. Love yourself, and love them, find ways to bond together. 


If you or your child (children) are struggling at home, please reach out. We have so many (many free!) resources available in our community and some upcoming courses and classes that look fantastic, whether you need some extra advice or are just looking for a fun way to bond and have some fun! Check these out!  Winter Programs

Image and more on self love for kids

January - Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! We are so happy to welcome students back to school this week! We hope that you had time to rest, enjoy time with family and friends and think about your hopes for the year ahead. 

We recognize that the holiday season can be stressful and look forward to a fresh start.  Getting back into a routine can be difficult but makes us hopeful for what is ahead. The first few days back this year will have a few of our students feeling tired, grumpy, or anxious. Others may feel excited, happy and eager to return. Adults and parents may feel the same.  All of these feelings are ok and normal. Getting back to routine is so important for kids, and people of all ages too! 

Mrs. Freiheit has talked about routines and boundaries comparing kids to fish in a fish tank.  When you first put the fish in the water, they swim around frantically, bumping into the glass. Once they know the boundaries, however, they calm down, and rarely hit the glass ever again.  Boundaries can be hard at first, but we need them, and kids do well with them.  

Of course, kids are a little more complex than fish, and will continue to test those boundaries once in a while; some kids with more frequency than others. I’m sure you’ve heard it a thousand times, but one trick to reducing the frequency of the testing is consistency. The more consistent we are, the more secure our kids are in the boundaries, and the less often they’ll try inappropriate behaviors.  This is one of the reasons January can feel so refreshing, getting back to routines and boundaries can be exactly what so many of us need, especially children!

We hope that whatever your new year might look like, what your goals and hopes may be, that you find some time to focus on you and your children right now. Find something to be happy about. Find something to be grateful for. Find something to motivate you and give you hope for the year ahead. 

Have a great January and 2024!

Here are some upcoming programs through Strathcona County that you might find helpful or fun!  Winter Programs



Kids Have Stress Too! Wes Hosford Elementary School Library

If you missed this presentation and would like to have the slides e-mailed to you, please contact me at 

Presented by Strathcona County Family Resource Network 

 Even the most nurturing home and school environment includes a range of stressors that can both challenge and motivate children. While stress is a necessary part of development and learning, it’s clear that Canadian families now face more stress than ever before.

With the help of a range of educators, psychologists and stress experts from across the country, we developed the Kids Have Stress Too! ®program. The program is designed to help the important people in children's lives learn to promote resiliency by buffering the impact of stress, and building positive coping strategies to deal with life’s stressors.

We will talk about how stress can lead to Anxiety and Depression along with many other challenges. We will also talk about resources for specific mental health diagnosis. We will also cover positive, tolerable, and toxic stress, how it impacts brain development, and specific tools for parents to practice with their children to manage and reduce stress in healthy ways.


December - Holiday Stress

As the holiday season approaches it can bring up so many emotions. While it is often associated with wonderful feelings, holidays can be a difficult time for some. With the added uncertainty in our world right now, this can bring on some feelings of stress and anxiety. 

We hope that our families can take some time to enjoy this special time, take some time to relax, enjoy each other and let those little things go. 


Here are some fun ideas:

-Get outside and play! Play is great for everyone, even adults! It can help relieve stress, improve brain function, increase your energy and improve your connection with others. 

-Think about what you are grateful for. That can be hard sometimes.  Make a gratitude journal, or just talk about it with your family every day. What are you grateful for each day? Here are some questions you could ask every day: What is your favourite holiday memory? What is your favourite holiday food? What brings you comfort and joy during Christmas? What is something beautiful that you saw today? What holiday song do you love most? The list could go on… 

-Play some of your favourite games together. We love board games in our house! 

-Take some time to read, together or alone. There are so many benefits to reading!

-If you can, help someone or a family in need! Donate, volunteer. It feels great to help someone who appreciates it.

I hope that all of our Wes Hosford families can take some time to reflect on your blessings, relax and enjoy some time together this month! 

Holiday Help:

A Safe Place (24Hr) -780-464-7233

Family and Community Services -780-464-4044

Victim Services - 780-449-0153

November - Bullying

Bullying is defined as a repeated aggressive behaviour where one person or group deliberately intimidates or hurts another physically or emotionally. Acts of bullying can be physical, verbal or cyber. 

This month, we will help our students to have a better understanding of bullying as we “Make a Noise About Bullying,” have important conversations and teach students what they can during Bullying awareness week, November 13-17. Throughout the week, students will participate in a variety of activities to promote kindness and help us understand bullying in order to prevent it. 

On November 17, we will wear mismatched socks to celebrate and be proud of our differences for Odd Sock Day. 

Of course, these conversations have to extend beyond the school. Ask your child what they are learning at school about bullying.  Look for books that you can read together.  Let your kids know that they can always talk to you no matter what, and approach you if they have a problem. 

Here are some resources that are helpful to understand and talk to your child about bullying.


If you have further questions or concerns, please reach out! 

 October - Digital Citizenship 

I’m sure we can all agree that technology has brought some positives and negatives into our lives.  While it can be a useful and helpful tool in so many ways, it has also been associated with the rise of anxiety and depression that we see today. I always like to think that I hope the people in my life always know they are more important than any screen in front of me and want to model proper technology use for them.  That being said, our devices seem to be the tools that we need to organize and live our daily lives and this will continue for our children too.  So, let’s teach and model digital citizenship, find a balance and enjoy the best of both worlds. 

Digital citizenship is important in the world we live in today.  We are amazed at what our youth can do with electronics and computers, see the growing use of technology daily, and unfortunately sometimes we see the disadvantages of that too.  Digital citizenship can help our students navigate technology and the digital world safely and responsibly so that these tools are used to help them learn and grow in a positive way.  It is so important to give our kids the tools they need to succeed to help them make responsible choices, treat themselves and others respectfully both on and offline.

As our children get older and want to navigate social media, there is a whole new world out there that sometimes can go unnoticed by parents. It is important to have conversations with your child about using technology responsibly. Decide on your rules and boundaries with social media with your child. Monitor their usage.  Modeling responsible technology and social media use is also important for parents too. For example, it is easy to get caught up in the digital world and feel like we as adults need to check our phones constantly. Model taking a break, put the phones away at dinner, have a conversation with your family. Kids notice when we are always on our phones too.  Have conversations about appropriate technology use and why it is important to use them responsibly.  This may include topics like cyberbullying, online safety and trustworthy people and sites, respecting privacy and more. This website below has many ideas on things that you can chat with your child about to keep them safe online. 

At school, we are doing our part to discuss responsible technology use.  We have some guest speakers coming in this month to talk about digital citizenship and online safety. Please ask your child about what they are learning and continue these discussions at home. We also had a recent parent presentation from the Saffron Centre and I will share the link below if you are interested in learning more. 

Of course, if you have any questions, please reach out! 

Enjoy your Thanksgiving long weekends with family and friends, get outside and find something to be grateful for!

Welcome Back - September

September - Welcome Back

My name is Christy Nichol. I hope that everyone has enjoyed a restful summer and is feeling refreshed and ready for a new year.  I hope you had time to connect with family and friends, enjoy some time together and make some special memories over the summer. If your child  finished the summer scavenger hunt, have them stop by and show me! I may have a prize for them! 

I am a busy mom of four and love spending time with kids.  I have been teaching a variety of classes from Grades 1-6 since 2007, with a few breaks in between to stay at home with my own babies. I have a passion for mental health and I am grateful to be back at Wes Hosford part time this year as a School Counsellor.  I will typically be at school Mondays all day and Tuesday and Thursday afternoons this year. This may change from time to time, so I’ll try to post a schedule outside of my office so students know when I am in the school.   You can reach me by emailing me at or by phoning the school when I am in. 

I hope to visit all our Wes Hosford classrooms in the first few weeks of September to see some familiar faces and meet new ones too. 

If you think your child may benefit from coming to see me, the following information may be helpful to share with them.

Q: Why would I see the counsellor?

A: A counsellor is an adult who acts as your advocate. An advocate is someone who wants to listen to what you have to say and helps you come up with solutions.  It does not mean I can solve the problems for you; it does mean that you have a safe place you can go to when you are not sure what to do.

Also, a counsellor can:

-make sure you’ve got all the right facts.

-help you express your needs and feelings.

-help you figure out what to do next.

-help you tap into your own strengths and resources.


Q:  What sorts of things can I talk to the counsellor about?

A:  You may want to talk to me if you have any academic, or personal concerns.  For example:

“I’m having trouble making friends.”

“I’m having a hard time paying attention in class.”

“My parents and I argue often.”


Q: How do I request to see the counsellor?

A: Let the office or your teacher know you need to see me and I will let your teacher know when you can come to my counselling office. Don't worry, no one else needs to know we are chatting! 


Q: Is what I say kept private?

A: All information shared is considered confidential or private unless we have been given permission by you to share the information or if the information interferes with one or more of three legal restrictions: the student is planning to harm themselves or someone else; someone is harming the student; a judge or FOIP request occurs and records are subpoenaed.

Enjoy these first few weeks of back! They can be full of excitement and many emotions! 

June - Welcome Summer!

Wow, where did the school year go? 

I have really enjoyed my second year as the Counsellor at Wes Hosford and loved getting to know all of our students, parents and building those connections. As I think about all my learning and growth over the past few years as a teacher, counsellor, and parent, one word that really resonates with me is connection. The power of connecting with a child in meaningful ways can be one of the most important things that you do for them. 

As we look forward to summer adventures, I hope that our families have time to rest, relax and connect with each other. I hope that your summers are full of sunshine, smiles, and adventure. 

Of course, I recommend that you also find time for daily reading over the summer. Take the time to read with them, and also model the importance of reading and spend some time reading a book yourself. The library and Strathcona County offer some great programs for children of all ages, you can check them out here:

Strathcona County Summer Programs

Strathcona County Library

If you are looking for more resources on connecting with your family, parenting or more, our county offers some great courses for parents and children! Family Resource Network Events

Are your children BORED?  Check out this summer bucket list and see how many things you can complete together! 

Enjoy this gift of time and summer with your children! Someone once told me, “you only get 18 summers as children, enjoy them!” 

Have a great summer and I’ll see you in September! 

-Mrs. Nichol 

** If you are needing support over the summer, our Family and Community Services Network is here to help. Please reach out if you need! If you are in a crisis situation, here is a list of numbers that may be helpful. If it is an emergency, call 911! 


ADHD resources

I often have parents asking about resources for students with ADHD.  This website is amazing and has so much information for parents!

There is an upcoming parent session that may be of interest to you. Please note that the picture says 6:30 pm but it will be at 7:30 MT. It is too far away to join in person, but here is the registration for the zoom meeting:

May 8, 7:30pm Welcome to Your Child's ADHD Brain with Aaron Bailey