Counselor's Corner

December - Holiday Stress!

As the Christmas season approaches we often find ourselves bombarded with Christmas advertising, canned Christmas music and a host of obligations that range from gift purchases to entertaining. This year there is added stress as people are separated from loved ones due to COVID.

For me, the anxiety of cooking that turkey and timing it so it’s actually done at the same time as the potatoes, actually blocks out a lot of the seasons commercialism. Lucky me! Well, I’m determined that this year will be different! I thought of planning amazing, fun activities, like sleigh rides and skating parties with beautiful bonfires like you see in Hallmark commercials, but I know that’s not likely to happen. I know that my kids don’t care what we’re doing, as long as we’re doing it together, so I’m going to keep it simple.

This weekend we’re putting up the tree and we're going to build a gingerbread house (of course I bought a kit from Costco!). Maybe we’ll go skating or for a walk through Strathcona's nature trails once or twice over the holiday, and if the weather holds we’ll go tobogganing. Most of all, though, we’ll just play together; Skip-Bo, Five Crowns and jigsaw puzzles are on our list!

I suppose I won’t be able to avoid that turkey, or painfully long line ups at Safeway, but I’ll try to be organized to avoid as much stress as possible. If the potatoes aren’t done when the turkey is… big deal. There are bigger things to worry about… and more important things to enjoy.

My hope, for all of our Wes Hosford families this year, is that you take a few minutes to relax, to enjoy your children, and to reflect on your blessings.

 

Holiday Help:

https://www.canada.ca/en/financial-consumer-agency/services/debt.html for help with Debt

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

Family and Community Services -780-464-4044

Victim Services - 780-449-0153

November - Why Read?!

Why do we ask you to include 30 minutes of reading each day in your child’s homework or bedtime routine?

Yes…we want them reading because the more you read the better you read. While every little bit of reading helps, scanning Twitter, or searching You Tube Videos, isn’t going to improve cognition. It’s not going to strengthen our brains. Reading novels or short stories, however, builds brain power the same way pumping iron builds muscles.

But… the best reason to insist that your children read, is that the act of reading increases the white matter in your brain.  White matter is what carries info between the different regions of the brain’s grey matter. Building white matter helps information be processed more efficiently. Reading requires patience, diligence, concentration, and creativity. When we read we have to think and we have to make connections to our own lives and to our own experiences.

And… reading can also help to build empathy. When you read you relate to the character. You might be fearful for them, or sad, or be cheering them on. This can affect how your child interacts with others in the real world.  Research shows that reading makes us more intelligent cognitively, as well as emotionally. Readers make smarter decisions about themselves and those around them.

So… reading improves:

-concentration

-empathy

-social skills

-intelligence

-emotional intelligence

-writing

-mental health (it can calm you, help you solve life’s problems, etc.)

-creativity

-and so much more!!!!!

 

Thank you for engaging in your child's education by reading with them!

 

October - Grit

What Is Grit?

Grit is the quality that enables individuals to work hard and stick to their long-term passions and goals. It involves working through challenges, and maintaining effort and interest despite failure, adversity, and plateaus in progress. Gritty people approach achievement as a marathon, with stamina the advantage. While disappointment and boredom may lead most people to give up, gritty people keep trying. Grit, then, can be thought of as a combination of character traits including self-discipline, resilience, perseverance, stamina, conscientiousness and self-control.

Why Is Grit Important?

Grit has been found to be a better predictor of success than Diploma Exam scores or IQ tests. There have been many studies that show the importance of self-discipline and resilience in achieving positive outcomes such as academic success, happiness, and overall contentment in life.

When children struggle with a task they may give up because they think they lack ability. It is important for students to understand that it is okay to feel confused when learning something new, and actually, it is expected. We can teach children that making mistakes or taking a long time to complete an assignment is a normal part of learning, not a sign of failure. We can teach them that having grit means that you choose to invest time and energy into a task. We teach them to be committed to the task and, over time, apply this learning to broader and broader life goals.

How Do I Encourage Grit In My Child?

  • Talk about the power of attitude and persistence (Give examples from your own life. Talk to them about how you were able to succeed in life and the road blocks and challenges you faced AND how you overcame them.)
  • Start with smaller problems and build / chunk their work into manageable bits (Ex. Start with clearing the table and work up to loading the dishwasher)
  • Praise effort and work ethic, etc. and use character trait language such as: You've been working on your homework for twenty minutes. You're becoming really persistent!" or "I see you've ignored your phone while you've been studying. That is awesome self-control!" And avoid praising intelligence (this can harm motivation and performance and lead them to the mindset that success means they are smart / failure means they are dumb)
  • Share the "why" not just the "what" meaning: share the relevance of the task (ex. "I ask you to do chores because it's my job as a parent to teach you the tools necessary to be a contributing member of society. In fact, it's a lot faster and easier for me to just do it myself, but then I wouldn't be doing my job. Plus, I love you enough to take the hard road by teaching you to do chores." As opposed to, "Because I'm your parent and I say so" or "Because I pay  the bills" or "Because when you're under my roof you'll follow my rules" etc.)
  • Teach your child to advocate for themselves; they need to learn to ask for help when they don't understand something and they need to learn that they may need to go for extra help sometimes, at recess or lunch
  • Explain that they don't always get what they want in life and that's okay (ex. They won't get invited to play every game at recess, not everyone will want to be their friend, they won't always get a medal at the end of the season...)
  • Read articles or books like "Outliers" by Gladwell that talk about the 10 000 hours of practice required to develop a skill or talent.

Talented people who don't know how to fail or struggle may not reach their potential. On the other hand people with no end of hard work and determination may be more likely to exceed their potential. Ability alone doesn't equal success; it takes a combination character traits like self-control, determination and conscientiousness.

When we give our children the gift of grit, we open doors for them!

Free Caregiver Series

Alberta Health Services, in collaboration with The Mental Health Foundation, is proud to offer FREE online programming for parents and caregivers of children and youth.

Social Skills Programs

The Learning Disabilities Association of Alberta, Edmonton chapter, is hosting social skills programs for children ages 8 to 12 years starting October 13 and teens ages 13 to 17 years starting October 9. For more information, check their website at https://www.ldedmonton.com/programs.

September - Welcome Back

My name is Sue Freiheit. I am the Assistant Principal and School Counselor. You can reach me by emailing me at susan.freiheit@eips.ca or by phoning the school.   

The following information may be helpful to share with your child.

 

Q: Why would I see the counselor?

A: A counselor 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 counselor 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 to talk to the counselor 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 about homework.”

 

Q: How do I request to see the counselor?

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. 

 

I love to see new faces in the counselling office (masks and all!) and students are very welcome to pop by and say hello.