Welcome to Counselor’s Corner with Julie Browne where...
Support is not cancelled
Education is not cancelled
Social emotional learning has not stopped
Laughter will continue
Joy will persist
With the most recent news of not returning to campus for this school year we are all, of course, feeling BIG emotions.
It is not our job to change our children's feelings but rather to feel them together and to validate them. Now is a good time to talk to your children about what is NOT in our control and what IS in our control. While we can not control the environmental rules and this virus, what can we learn and what can we do during this time that IS in our control? Spread positivity, call a friend, mail a letter, lean into music, art, gardening... maybe find a simpler form of enjoyment and ways to spread joy. Or perhaps just relax together. Get fresh air and slow down.
As we continue settling into our new norm here are some daily positive acts that are simple, easy and fun to do as a family.
Weekly SEL Activities to Warm Your Hearts and Your Homes
Optional Opportunities for all ages
We are all experiencing how this pandemic has immensely altered our daily lives into something unrecognizable. As we lean on each other and prioritize what is most important, we are coming to the realization that nothing matters more than our health and emotional well-being. With that being said, protect your joy. Whatever this looks like in your homes, revel in the moments of laughter, happiness and joy. Do not underestimate the importance of moving your body, laughing every single day and reaching out to your Derby Family.
Together We Are Better. Together We Are Stronger. Derby Cares.
Monday: Ask yourself, What do you want to remember from this time? How do you want to be remembered from quarantine?
Tuesday: Self-compassion practice:
Think of a moment that is staying with you. Maybe you snapped at your children or your parents or your sibling. Maybe you threw down your pencil in frustration today. Offer yourself forgiveness. Say it aloud. Be gentle with yourself and forgive yourself.
Quick Stretch with Carla No. 2 - Neck & Shoulders: Here
Quick Stretch with Carla No. 3 - Hips & Lower Back: Here
Thursday: Write and leave a happy note for your mail person Friday: Freeze Dance with your family!
I will be providing SEL lessons via video and you can also find them on this page. I am available to talk with parents for collaboration regarding the transition to at-home learning, anxiety and various concerns. I am also able to check-in with individual students. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can schedule a time. I am at-home with my children but I will get back to you within 24 hours.
Engage your students or children at home with meaningful projects by following Learning to Give’s Simple Safe Service guides!
Routine is an important part of our day during this unstructured time of working and learning from home. It provides security and structure in an uncertain time. The Derby school day schedule for MS and US students will be the leading guide in your child’s schedule beginning March 30. In addition to that, starting the day with routine and enforcing bedtime is essential (Monday-Friday). Waking up, getting dressed and getting “ready to learn” is a positive way to start everyone’s day. Bedtime is something that you may want to consider as non-negotiable. Healthy sleep is vital for positive mood and learning. Down time, outside time and exercise are important as well. Have your family together come up with a check-list of outside activities, exercises and board games to do for the coming days!
For Lower School students there is a lot more flexibility and the opportunity for down time in their day. You may choose to use one of the colorful block schedules we have all been seeing posted on various social media sites OR you may use another approach. Please do not feel you have to structure each moment of their day from 8:00-3:00. It is important to provide structure while being flexible for our young learners. Every single home structure is different. Everyone’s day will look different and that is OK! This opportunity will allow for learning and also encourages your child to explore their interests. Using some sort of visual schedule (created with your child) will provide routine and security. A helpful option instead of a schedule is to choose 3 things to do each day. This may be 1. log-on to your child’s teacher directed lesson 2. Write a letter to someone and 3. go outside. You can alter this each day with your child so they feel some control and are more invested.
Ideas How to Structure these Unstructured Days
Who: Grown-ups and children should create their Family Schedule together. This allows us the opportunity to utilize Executive Functioning Skills and feel like we all have some control over the day.
Create a name for your “home-school.” When: Monday - Friday Where: Kitchen; Office... decide the optimal working space with your children. This may change per activity.
Remember: It is most effective to implement a routine while being flexible and mindful of the needs of your family. Tips: Avoid triggers like hunger and sleepiness
What to Consider:
Morning routine: Get dressed and eat breakfast
Snack and meal times
On-line educational games
Outside time - Nature walk, bike ride, sports in the yard
In my second week of home-schooling my own children I have found the built-in opportunity to help develop Executive Functioning (EF) Skills. We are naturally working on them without even knowing it! EF skills include creating a schedule, goal setting, time management, prioritizing, note-taking, studying etc... You can have your child check-off items on the daily schedule once complete. Without rushing around to get out the door or run to the next scheduled activity here is time in our new situation to ask your child to clean up after each meal, turn off the lights after leaving each room, help with the chores around the house, clean out and organize a closet or room. Ask your child to summarize what they learned or share their notes with you. You can also play problem solving games (heads up, guess who).
For MS and US learners, please click here for Time Management Tips for On-line Learning
Tips for Working with Children at Home
Emotions are running high! No matter the age of your children, and even for us adults, this is an uncertain time and the range of anxiety and behaviors can be overwhelming. Whether your child is extra clingy, teary, moody or handling things in stride, here are some suggestions on how to handle these circumstances:
Create a “Kind Jar” or “Bucket” for all of your children. In Open Circle last year and this year we have discussed "How to Become a Bucket Filler" and doing acts of kindness. Each act of kindness, spreading of happiness, or completing a task with having to be asked 1 time can earn a marble or rock in their jar. Watch it grow and have them earn something once it’s full (a celebration, favorite dessert, small toy/trinket). You will also read more about what else we’ve done in Open Circle in the SEL section.
Do not meet resistance with resistance. If your child is having a temper tantrum, resisting it or arguing with them will not stop the tantrum or relieve it. Your child is unable to process with you until the tantrum is over and the emotions have calmed down. Try having a “tantrum” with them. This will likely stop them in their tracks and may even make them laugh therefore ending the tantrum. (Dr. Shefali is an amazing resource for more help on this matter)
We often try to, or want to, change a behavior we are seeing our children exhibit. Do not try to change the behavior. Instead get to what is underneath the behavior. Is she scared? Is he anxious? Frustrated? Once your child can identify their emotion behind the behavior, progress has already been made.
Empathy. Provide pure empathy. “I see and hear you are very frustrated/sad/angry/scared right now.” This is unfair. Kids feel ripped off. Of course they do! (Please visit https://www.lynnlyonsnh.com/about/ for additional, helpful information)
Identify what is in your/their control. “You seem to have a lot of questions and concerns about the Coronavirus. What can we do for our part?"(wash hands, not go out, check on neighbors and family members via phone, spread kindness and positivity…)
Create a plan and problem solve together. “I know you are frustrated about home-school. It is still important to learn, so what can we come-up with together? Would you like to Facetime someone from school? Let’s incorporate more (downtime, science time) tomorrow.” Or perhaps, “I see how difficult this is being away from your friends. Scientists and the government are giving us information that we need to respect and try to understand. What can we do during this time to make things more fun? What is it you miss the most so we can make plans in the future to definitely make this happen?”
Outside time, break breaks and mindfulness activities are even more important now than ever! Go on a nature walk, swing in the backyard, utilize breathing tools, exercise and get off screens when you can!
Resources and On-line Story Books About How to Talk to Children about COVID-19
As we continue to talk with our children surrounding COVID-19:
Be factual and correct misinformation
Model calm and compassion
Do not dismiss their concerns
Focus on what we can do to keep ourselves healthy; hand washing, social distancing
Be mindful of creating social connection through social media and phone calls
Pre-K - Grade 4, join Mrs. Browne as she reads "The Happiness Spot" by Diane Alber. Watch >
Start a Happiness Jar or Kindness Bucket to celebrate all the little or large happy and kind moments. Further connect to these visual aids for happiness spots, breathing exercises and positive recognition: https://dianealber.com/spot-book-printables/
Grade 5- join Mrs. Browne as she reads “A Kids Book on Failyre” by Dr. Laymon Hicks. Watch >
Continue the lesson by discussing how failure and mistakes are not only okay but how they help us learn! Point out successful, famous people who have made mistakes and grew from them (JK Rowling, Michael Jordan, .There have also been numerous inventions created by mistake (the microwave, popsicles, slinky, chocolate chip cookies, etc..)
The Zones of Regulation framework is an evidence based emotional regulation curriculum. We have used the Zones at Derby in Kindergarten - 2nd grade. Your children may remember the color zones and how they connect to how we feel and look.
*Green = This is the optimal zone for learning. Calm and relaxed. School listening look is in effect and students are showing interest and attention to the teacher. Blue = Tired, sad, sick or bored. Yellow = Anxious, energetic, silly. Red = Dangerous or destructive behaviors. Yelling, hitting, throwing something.
To encourage children to stay in, or return to, the Green Zone we must help first identify what zone they are in, THEN remind them of the TOOLS we all have to get back to Green.
TOOLS may include:
Breathing tools - We practice so many! There is the balloon belly, flower, blow a bubble, tape measure, Derby breath, counting five fingers in and out, etc...
Take a Break - get a drink, a snack, take a walk, exercise, etc...
Empathy Tool - The child can try to understand what others see, feel or experience. The grown-up can also help by empathizing with what the child is feeling.
Voice - Use your voice to say how you feel or to ask a grown-up for help.
Courage - Be, or act, brave even if you’re scared or upset.
Power of Choice - Mind over Matter. Identify what you can do in a situation and choose.
Happiness - if you practice gratefulness, smile often and perform acts of kindness, your brain may be more positive and therefore happier! It may be easier to get back to Green if you are in a happy mood.
Fidget and Movement - You may need to move around, stand-up or play with something quietly in your hand, That’s ok if it’s not too disruptive to you or others.
Let it Go - If it is a small-sized problem you may want to let it go.
Identify the Size of a Problem - Does the size of your reaction match the size of the problem?
While the world is turned on its head, we have the opportunity to leverage the power of emotional intelligence to keep our feet on the ground and our minds directed toward building the future that we want for our students and ourselves. We can’t control what has happened, but we can control how we respond to what is happening. Give yourself and everyone around you the permission to feel all emotions. It starts and ends with self- and social-compassion. Lean into SEL.
Christina Cipriano, Ph.D., Ed.M., Marc Brackett, Ph.D.
Occupational Therapy (OT) Support
Emotional regulation, fine motor & gross motor ideas & games:
We may find our children struggling with emotional regulation and are likely in need of sensory support. The world of OT also supports fine and gross motor skills. Please review these fun tools as possible options:
Join our Admission’s Office for a virtual look at Derby! Hear from a panel of faculty, students, and parents, learn about our Distance Learning program, and join the discussion to discover how our community is continuing to “Improve Both Mind and Heart.”