Counsellor's Corner

January - Back to Routines

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. Freheit 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 behavior.  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. 

We are here if you need us, have questions or concerns.  If you find you are needing extra supports at home, remember that our community has some great services to offer. Check down below for some more information and upcoming classes offered in the community!

Have a great January and 2023!

 

Parent Mindfulness Session February 15

Mindfulness: Supporting Your Child's Social and Emotional Well-being This session will explore the topic of mindfulness and how mindfulness strategies can help support their child’s social and emotional well-being. Explore how our brain’s stress responses (fight, flight, or freeze) may impact our social and emotional well-being and how we can use mindfulness to calm our brain. We will discuss how the brain influences thinking, emotions, self-regulation, and behaviour. Improved social emotional skills using mindfulness can lead to better focus in school, better cooperation with others, improved self-awareness, self-regulation, decrease stress/anxiety, and improve our overall sense of well-being. Through an interactive session, participants will be guided through some mindfulness activities that they can use with their children and explore learning from the MindUP program. February 15, 2023 6:30pm - 8:30pm Register: https://buff.ly/3GCaa4m #MHCBAlberta #RVSed #mentalhealth #mindfulness

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 Wednesday 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! 

Resources

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 www.strathcona.ca/wellbeing

 

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.

www.strathcona.ca

 

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, especially when we are still missing out on some things that feel normal for us. 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 tons of benefits to reading, you can read about them in November’s update. 

-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:

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 - 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!

October - Digital Citizenship

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.  This can prevent many issues that might arise and help our children to build some healthy digital habits. 

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 and social media responsibly. Decide on your rules and boundaries with social media with your child. Monitor their usage.  Modelling 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 of all ages 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. 

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. 

Below are a few links that have some great tips and things to think about when it comes to digital citizenship. 

https://mediasmarts.ca/digital-citizen-day

https://mediasmarts.ca/parents

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

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 new beginnings.  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 be at school Mondays and Wednesdays this year. You can reach me by emailing me at christy.nichol@eips.ca 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 about homework.”

 

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 - Summer Reading

I hope you all look forward to a relaxing summer. 

Of course, I have to put a plug in for getting your children to read and write over the holidays. I have attached a link to a K-3 and a 4-6 reading chart that you may choose to use. They are reward charts, so, depending on their age, maybe 20 minutes of reading a day could earn a Loonie, or maybe a star chart on the fridge might be incentive enough. Or maybe your child likes to sit at the computer all day and needs a carrot dangled to encourage playing outside and running around! Well, a healthy balance is always best.

These are examples of titles that can be found at the County Library:

Div 1

West Meadows Detectives: The Case of Maker Mischief

Cam Jansen: The Mystery of the Stolen Diamonds

A to Z Mysteries: The Bald Bandit

Ivy and Bean

Stink, the Incredible Shrinking Kid

Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Underworlds: The Battle Begins

Judy Moody

Beat Quest: Ferno the Fire Dragon

 

Div 2

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda

Circus Mirandus

Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer

The Dragon in the Sock Drawer

Amulet

Wings of Fire: The Dragonet Prophecy

The Terrible Two

 

Whatever adventures you have this summer I hope they're safe and fun with no sunburns or mosquito bites!

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