YES, it’s Teacher Appreciation Week! YES, it’s Nurse’s Week! YES, Mother’s Day is this week! But did you know: May is also Mental Health Awareness Month. Our students’ (and our own!) mental health is just as important as our physical health, and they are entwined in many ways.
Make it a goal for your family to talk more about mental health. Model talking about your positive feelings as well as healthy ways you get through anxiety, depression, compulsions, impulsiveness, or other mental and emotional difficulties. Help students understand that struggling with mental health issues is sometimes part of life and that it does not make a person “bad” or “abnormal.” Paying attention to our mental health and addressing struggles in healthy ways as they come up is a skill that will serve our students throughout their lives!
How can we become more aware of our mental health? Try making it a practice to check in with yourself just 2 minutes a day. Remember playing “the quiet game” as kids? (Little did we know the real winners were the adults, who needed the silence!) That may not work these days, but you and your children may respond well to 2 minutes on one of these apps (recommended by HCPS’s Social and Emotional Support Services team):
www.calm.com | www.getsomeheadspace.com | www.donothingfor2minutes.com | http://simplynoise.com
Reaching out for help is also normal! Don’t hesitate to give me a call at school (261-5030) if you’d like me to talk with your students about anything. Another great resource for “students” of all ages (adults included!) is Henrico Mental Health (727-8500).
In January, we learned about the importance of spreading kindness to those around us. Some students practiced giving compliments by playing a game with “compli-mittens” (January was SO COLD – brrrrr!!!), while other classes worked on filling people’s “buckets” (Have You Filled a Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud is a great addition for your home library!). Check out this video of all of the HCPS elementary School Counselors talking about spreading kindness like confetti:
Kindness Video HCPS
Today I am dressed as the Color Monster for Storybook Character Day! I rarely read the same book with students of all grade levels, but when I read “The Color Monster” by Anna Llenas recently, I decided to share it with everyone from PreK-5th. What a cool book for kids to learn about emotions!
In it, the Color Monster starts out with his feelings (represented by colors) all mixed up. He has a hard time knowing how to act or how to get help with his feelings because he can’t really identify how he feels. By the end (spoiler alert!), his friend helps him separate out his feelings so that he can respond appropriately to each one. I am dressed as the mixed up Color Monster from the beginning today, but I certainly felt HAPPY (yellow in the book) when so many students came up to me during arrival to tell me which “color” they were feeling this morning!
The first step to dealing with our feelings appropriately is stopping to identify how we’re feeling when we’ve just experiencing one or two “colors,” before we get overwhelmed by a bunch of feelings all mixed together that we haven’t addressed. This takes practice! Encourage your child to verbalize how he/she is feeling at different moments, or to write or draw about the feeling. In next month’s classroom counseling lessons, we’ll explore healthy and appropriate ways to respond to difficult feelings that we all have sometimes, like anger, sadness, fear, frustration, and worry.
October is a busy month at Chamberlayne! Here are some important dates for this month:
October 9-26 is the HCPS Gifted referral window for students in 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades. If you would like your student screened to see if they can be identified as Gifted in either Math, Language Arts, or both (“General Intellect”), email me, use the “contact” link above (which sends me an email), or send a note in to me through your child’s teacher. Referrals must be in writing and must be received during these windows: 10/9-10/26 for 3rd-5th and 1/3-1/18 for K-2nd.
October 15 and October 22 are the two remaining dates you can apply for holiday assistance for your family through Henrico Christmas Mother. For the times, location, and list of what to bring with you to apply, reach out to me or Mr. Robinson at school (261-5030) or contact Henrico Christmas Mother directly (236-9741). Their website is www.henricochristmasmother.org if you want more information on applying or donating to help others this year.
October 22-26 is a double whammy this year! Nationally, that week is both College & Career Awareness Week AND Red Ribbon Week. At Chamberlayne, we will celebrate with different Spirit Days every day that week.
October 26 we will host our annual Fall Festival from 5:30-7:30 p.m. We always have a packed house for this evening of fun, food, and games, and in turn the money raised at the event goes towards supporting school activities throughout the year.
Check your students’ Friday folders for more information about these events & others throughout the year!
WELCOME BACK, Chamberlayne Gamechangers!!! We are all so excited for a brand new school year! We will continue to promote our 3 schoolwide expectations in all grade levels and in all areas of our campus: We are safe, We are respectful, and We are responsible. In my monthly counseling lessons, we will explore what these character traits mean and practice how to demonstrate them in our daily routines. We will also explore Emotional Intelligence and how identifying the emotions we’re feeling can help us react in healthy and appropriate ways as we grow and learn. Stay tuned for more blog posts this year!
We are continuing to learn about GROWTH MINDSET in classroom counseling lessons this month. Websites like this one (Mindset Works) explain the science behind mindset messages and how they can help our brains grow and make new connections, leading to higher achievement. It’s pretty fascinating stuff, really! If you’re interested in learning more about it, look up Carol Dweck’s “Ted Talk.” A simple way to change a statement from fixed mindset to growth mindset is to add the word “yet!” For example, “I don’t understand fractions” becomes “I don’t understand fractions YET”; “I can’t ride a bike” becomes “I can’t ride a bike YET”; “I’m not good at organizing my things” becomes “I’m not good at organizing my things YET.” Continuing to try instead of quitting when facing a challenge is one of the most useful skills we can develop.
As part of our lessons, students decorated bookmarks with growth mindset messages. A few even added their own personal messages!
This month, our classroom guidance lessons in every grade focused on how the brain works. We learned that, like a muscle, brains get stronger when we exercise them! Any time we learn something new or face a challenge, our brains get exercise. Here are some fun ways for you and your family to exercise your brains over Spring Break: 10 Brain Exercises.
Higher Achievement is now recruiting for their 2018 Summer Academy and next year’s After School Program! If you have a current 4th or 5th grader who is zoned to eventually attend Wilder Middle School, learn more about Higher Achievement here. Homework help, field trips, mentoring, dinner, fun electives… what more could you ask for?! And did I mention… it’s FREE!
For more info or an application, contact Ms. Jess Pare at firstname.lastname@example.org or (804) 441-8303.
Last week, Chamberlayne participated in the nation-wide Great Kindness Challenge! Students and staff who completed a Random Acts of Kindness checklist earned a heart for their grade level. Hearts are being posted on this bulletin board today to see which grade level had the most students complete the challenge, and the results will be announced tomorrow! Our counseling lessons this month were about how every person – regardless of age, income, beauty, intelligence, athletic ability, etc. – can do “ordinary” acts of kindness that create “extraordinary” ripple effects of kindness to make the world a better place.
If you have teenagers in your family, check out this free workshop coming up this Thursday evening, 11/30, at Hermitage High School! Topics that will be covered include Depression, Substance Abuse, Grief, Healthy Friendships, Internet Safety, and more! Register or get more information by clicking the link below.
Critical Teen Issues Workshop_Flyer