Are your children grumpier than usual, reluctant to engage in activities they usually enjoy, or seeming to withdraw to be alone for longer periods of the day? Yes, they may be experiencing what we all are with being stuck at home and missing our friends – but they also may be experiencing some anxiety about what is going on in the world around them.
While exposing children to TOO much Covid-19 information (e.g. watching the news all day) will undoubtedly overload them with anxiety, keeping open communication with them about some of the basic factual aspects of Coronavirus will help them keep perspective and manage their anxious thoughts. Encourage them to ask you questions and explain that sometimes your answer might be, “I don’t know.” Model and point out things you are doing to help yourself be less anxious, such as exercising, listening to music, or taking deep breaths.
Here are some great links with video clips about how to talk to your kids about Coronavirus and also some local resources specific to this time:
Coronavirus Resources in RVA, ChildSavers
Talking to Kids About the Coronavirus
Talking to Children about Covid-19: A Parent Resource, National Association of School Psychologists
Don’t forget, if your child would like to speak with me over Zoom or Google Hangout, just email me at email@example.com and we will set up a meeting time! Hang in there; we will get through this together.
Hi Chamberlayne friends!
While we are physically home from school, I am still “here” to address your School Counseling needs! Stay tuned for more frequent posts on this blog. Henrico’s School Counselors are all collaborating to share resources and ideas, and I will post those here as I receive them to make sure your family’s needs are still being addressed as best we can.
For MANY of us adults, this is the first time we’ve experienced a health crisis this widespread; but for ALL of our children, this is a first for them. They are watching how we respond and will mimic our levels of panic and care regarding the situation. Here are some tips for the coming weeks:
- Create and maintain a daily routine for your family. Your school-age children are used to operating on a schedule Monday-Friday, and truthfully all children (no matter their age!) feel safer with clear boundaries, expectations, and routines. In a time when we may not be able to tell them what’s happening next OUTSIDE our houses, being able to tell them what’s happening next INSIDE our homes will provide them much-needed comfort and reassurance. Build in times for fun, relaxation, and free choice activities too – just keep it within structured times as much as possible. This will help you, too!
- If you or your children struggle with anxiety, set aside times each day for activities that help you manage that. For some, movement activities like yoga, jogging, or dancing is most calming. For others, working with their hands through projects like writing, drawing, or building crafts is most helpful. For those who need social connection to feel most at ease, try a daily phone call or FaceTime call with a family member or friend who gives you a positive perspective.
- Speaking of phones and FaceTime…. whether or not you normally have screen time limits in your home, I recommend you set some for the next few weeks. There are lots of educational apps and virtual learning that can be accessed through technology, which is great; however, making clear boundaries to when the screens need to be put down will keep your children from becoming too dependent on devices. Research has shown over and over that too much screen time affects our brains and emotional health in a negative way. When a device is being used, set a timer on it or on your own phone and be firm that when that timer goes off, the device is turned off and plugged in. It will be challenging at first, but you won’t regret it! If your child is not used to that boundary, set up a reward system: for example, turning it off without a fuss 3x in a row may result in extra screen time.
- Lots of educational websites are giving free access to e-learning materials during this unprecedented time. Here is a counselor website that has some free coronavirus-specific printable activities (such as mindfulness bingo and a daily schedule template): http://www.counselorkeri.com
- Here is a link to a letter detailing some Henrico County mental health resources: HC mental health numbers and links
If you or your student wants to chat, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out this Google form to request a call, email, or Google Hangout with me: Request a chat with Ms. Holcomb
I will miss seeing your students’ faces and getting their hugs and hope we are back in business here at Chamberlayne soon! In the meantime, don’t hesitate to reach out if I can be of any help.
Meet Z! Z is the main character in the books and lessons that are part of the Sanford Harmony Social-Emotional Learning curriculum. This school year, every elementary school in HCPS is using Sanford Harmony in K-5 classrooms!
One of our goals at Chamberlayne is to help students grow as good citizens and compassionate friends while also becoming academic scholars. Teachers can integrate Sanford Harmony’s quick activities into their classes’ daily routines – often during morning meetings – to build classroom community. In addition, this school year my monthly classroom counseling lessons align with the Sanford Harmony units: diversity, empathy, communication, problem-solving, and peer relationships. These are such important qualities and skills to nurture and grow in our students and ourselves!
To learn more about Sanford Harmony (there are tons of activities for free you could also do at home!) – check it out online https://online.sanfordharmony.org/ or ask your Chamberlayne student to tell you more about Z!
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!