As you may know, this week is Teacher Appreciation Week. I have always been surrounded by teachers. Both of my parents were educators - my mother was a kindergarten and 1st grade teacher and my dad was a teacher and administrator in a high school. Growing up, I loved school and I loved my teachers. I have fond memories of one teacher in particular - Mrs. O’Neill. She taught me for both 4th and 5th grade. This is my thank you letter to her.
This week is Teacher Appreciation Week, and I wanted to share a gift teachers would love to receive. I have a great respect and admiration for teachers. My mom taught kindergarten and 1st grade for years, and my dad was a high school teacher and administrator, so I grew up in a family where education was highly valued and teachers were respected. It’s not surprising that for my career, I chose to focus on working with kids in a school setting. I’ve met some amazing & talented teachers over the years, both as a student and as a school counselor.
Very early in my career, a colleague shared a resource with me that I have found incredibly helpful. It’s called a Solution Wheel. When kids are having a conflict, sometimes they don’t always know what to do. In the moment, they can’t remember things that they can do to help work through a problem. Using a solution wheel is a great resource to help them figure out different ways to solve a problem.
Social Stories are a great tool to help kids manage difficult or confusing situations. It’s a way to give information about those situations, including what is expected or what might happen in a simple, supportive and reassuring way. Carol Gray initially defined and refined the process of creating social stories. They can be particularly effective with kids who are on the spectrum, but they can also be used with anyone who just needs a little help to manage a situation or events. I’ve written social stories for kids at school to help them manage continuing a grade or losing a game at recess. One of my colleagues and I even wrote a social story about not passing gas in the classroom (for real, it is the funniest social story ever!!).
The Incredible 5-Point Scale by Kari Dunn Baron and Mitzi Curtis is a great resource for people to use in a school setting, a social group setting or at home. It can be used to address a number of different issues, and it’s a great resource for working not only with kids on the spectrum, but for all kids who need a little extra teaching around social and emotional concerns.
Inside: A quick and easy to set up lesson to teach kids about the size of different problems they face, and the size of their reactions to these problems.
Sometimes, my daughter can be a little dramatic. A small issue like breaking a pencil can lead to a big reaction. The last time it happened, it made me think of a lesson I’ve done with kids in groups or in individual therapy to help them identify the size of a problem and the size of their reaction.
I was invited to join a group of wonderful bloggers to write for the series Happy New Year, Healthy Kids. This series is focused on ways we can help our kids be happy and healthy in this new year. But what do social skills and friendship have to do with health?
Think for a minute about the positive friendships in your life. Healthy friendships provide support, make you feel connected with others, reduce your stress and increase your happiness. It’s so wonderful to have these people around you! In order for kids to start and maintain friendships so they can experience these benefits too, kids need to learn social skills and how to interact positively with others.
I originally posted this back in September. I created a free printable to make implementing a kindness wall easier, see below!!
Our kids tend to get along pretty well, and even when there’s an argument, they can get past it pretty quickly. However, at the end of the summer and for the first week of the school year, our kids seemed to be more cranky and less patient with each other than normal. I’m not sure if it was because their bodies hadn’t adjusted to the new schedule or if they were just tired of going all day. All I knew was that I wanted to change how they were acting toward one another. I wanted them to focus on showing kindness to one another. When I was a School Counselor, I helped start a Kindness Wall of Fame at my school. Every time any adult saw a child do something kind, the adult could choose to give that child a star for being a kind member of our school. I decided to implement our own Kindness Wall at home.
October is National Bullying Prevention Month so I thought it would be a great time to talk about kindness. Recently I posted about creating a kindness wall in my home to promote kind acts. Today’s activity helps kids think about how your words and actions impact other people. I did this activity with my own kids to help them understand the long lasting effect their words can have, even after they say sorry.
A few weeks ago, I wrote a review of the book It’s So Much Work to Be Your Friend by Richard Lavoie. I absolutely love this book, and I wanted to focus in particular on one of his interventions that can help kids learn from their social errors in the moment - The Social Skill Autopsy. Addressing a social misstep and using it as a teachable moment is a great way to help kids identify what went wrong and what they could try again the next time.
My kids tend to get along pretty well, and even when there’s an argument, they can get past it pretty quickly. However, at the end of the summer and for the first week of the school year, our kids seemed to be more cranky and less patient with each other than normal. I’m not sure if it was because their bodies hadn’t adjusted to the new schedule or if they were just tired of going all day. All I knew was that I wanted to change how they were acting toward one another. I wanted them to focus on showing kindness to one another. When I was a School Counselor, I helped start a Kindness Wall of Fame at my school. Every time any adult saw a child do something kind, the adult could choose to give that child a star for being a kind member of our school. I decided to implement our own Kindness Wall at home.
I've been running groups as long as I can remember. I co-taught groups as part of my internship, and it seems like every counseling job I've had since then has required me to run groups. I've run groups on fire setting, anger management, improving social interactions, divorce, etc. While I was a school counselor, I ran 20 groups a week.