Thursday, September 6, 2012

TOO Much Worrying!!!

Oftentimes the transitions that happen at the beginning of the new school year can cause or heighten excessive worrying for some students.  The students worry about a number of things including leaving their parents, making new friends, wondering if the school work will be too difficult, who will pick them up and are their parents safe. 

Sometimes as the children grow older, unfortunately,  their worries get bigger too!  As school counselors this is often something we hear about especially at the beginning of a new school year.

I have worked with students individually and in small group setting to help the students gain some coping skills to help them manage these worries.  I have come across some wonderful tools for working with worrying students in the school setting.

One of my favorite tools to use for excessive worrying is a workbook entitled What to Do When You Worry Too Much, a Kid's Guide to Overcoming Anxiety.  The workbook is written by Dawn Huebner, Ph. D. a psychologist and author!
This workbook is divided into specific interactive chapters and is appropriate for children ages 6-12 years old. 
Each chapter progresses from the previous chapter, starting out asking "Are you Growing Worries?" in chapter 1 and ending with "You Can Do It!" in chapter 9.
Dr. Huebner has a very nice introduction to parents and caregivers explaining how to use this interactive workbook.  The kids that I have worked with using this workbook have found it relate-able and helpful for overcoming worries!!!

Another of Dr. Huebner's books that I have used is entitled Sometimes I Worry Too Much, But Now I Know How to Stop.   This is a great book for individuals to look through and read about a girl that has let her worries get out of hand.  It very nicely helps kids not feel alone in their worrying as the young girl, Anna, shares her physical and emotional symptoms of her worrying.  This book teaches kids that there are professionals who work with children with excessive worrying.  Here, I have included a link to Dr. Huebner's website for you to reference.

Another tool that I have on hand is the You Can Control Your Worries GameBook, written/created by Susan Pelton.  This GameBook has 3 different games that cover the top 10 ways to deal with anxiety.  The book is small and can easily be taken with you to a classroom, or another building.  The games in this book really encourages the children to talk about their worrying feeling rather than keeping them inside.  This GameBook works well for kids from K-6th.  I have found it available here at the Guidance Group store.

What are your favorite tools for helping kids deal with too much worrying?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

How Do You Feel Today?

I have a very kid friendly poster in my office that simply asks How Do You Feel Today?  The poster was copyrighted in 1995 by Frank Schaeffer Publishing (Click here for an Amazon Link to buy this poster!).


I can not tell you how many very therapeutic conversations have happened in the 7 years it has been in my office!!!  I have it right at kid eye level in my office.  Many kids before they even say anything else will go to it or point at what they are feeling today!!!!  Even the 5th grade boys use it!!!

The kids' facial expressions on the poster are so well illustrated and it has such diversity that the kids immediately relate to it!!!

This poster not only has the usual feelings but it also includes feelings that are very specific to the school setting, like surprised, jealous, proud and impatient.  It also uses angry instead of "mad".  It is a great way to learn new feelings vocabulary and put a name to an unfamiliar feeling!!

Do you have a great feelings conversation starter?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Do You Lunch Bunch?

One of the coolest ways to get to really know your students as school counselors is to offer Lunch Bunches!!!  I do Lunch Bunches at both of my schools and I get to see a ton kids in the process!! 

I have hosted Lunch Bunches for new students, for students needing review of study skills, for IEP students as a related service, to practice and learn social skills for kids on the Autism Spectrum, for girl bullying, for behavior modification, as a reward and for those kids that need a little extra TLC!!!

Some Lunch Bunches run a few weeks, some go the entire school year based on IEP mandates.  Some Lunch bunches are begin at the start of the new school year, and some I collaborate with teachers to work on a need or skill in a particular grade or class!!

I personally invite all my Lunch Bunch kids with this neat-o cool invitation I made which I converted to Google Docs to share with you!!  Click here to view!!

I also send a letter home to parents, especially if the groups are mandated by IEPs or are focusing on a specific issue.  I created a Word Document, formatted to allow for our letterhead.  I converted the document to Google Docs, you can access it here!

For IEP students, I also keep a confidential log of the dates, topics, materials, and attendance for each Lunch Bunch.  I have used these in IEP meetings to discuss progress.

The kids really seem to enjoy the Lunch Bunches and I really enjoy working with the students in this capacity.  I learn so much from our time together!!!

How have you used Lunch Bunches in your school counseling program?  I'd love to learn your ideas!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

A PSR Gathering: Accomplishments box

A PSR Gathering: Accomplishments box. Just came across this idea on another blog and I thought how cool!!!

More First Day Kinderdergarten Reads!!

For the Kindergartners, starting school for the first time can bring about many different emotions!!  Some of the kiddos have difficulty leaving mom or dad.  One of the Kindergarten teachers shared The Kissing Hand, by Audrey Penn on the first day.  The book is about Chester the raccoon leaving his parents for the first time.  He doesn't want to go, and his mother assures  him it will be okay.  To help him she places a kiss in his left hand and tells him that she she will be with him all day!!  How sweet!!  This book is a great conversation starter about common feelings such as fear, nervousness, love and courage.  The book is beautifully illustrated and pulls the kids in right away!!!


Our Kindergarten teacher also did a very cute activity with the studetns afterward to reinforce the idea of the book.  The children, with some assistance traced their left hands on costruction paper and glued pre-cut red hearts onto the hands, just like Chester's mom did in the book!!  The new kindergartners really enjoyed this activity.

What books and activities do you use for the first day of school?