Counselor Corner

May 2021

I hope that everyone is staying safe and healthy!


It has been wonderful to welcome more students into the building! They have been teaching us all a great deal about patience, flexibility, and resilience, and I am incredibly proud of them.


I have been continuing my virtual lessons using the Second Step program. In our K - 5 classes, we have been learning about kindness, managing big emotions, and making mistakes. In grades 6 - 8, we recently focused on conflict resolution, helpful vs. unhelpful stress management techniques, and positive vs. negative self-talk. We have continued learning about how our decision-making can be impacted by emotions, and what we can do to recognize the signals our bodies give us when we begin to feel overwhelmed.


We brought g some exciting virtual presentations to all of our students! Read more information about these programs below.


Please remember that I am here to support the students however I can. I am available to meet via zoom if a student needs help or just wants to talk! Don't hesitate to reach out if I can support you in any way.


Please continue to read below for some information that I hope you will find useful! My website is updated regularly as well. You will find my virtual office there, which is updated with links to resources and lessons.


Sincerely,

Mrs. Stiles

mstiles@greenhills.org


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Discover Your Passion and Purpose

Green Hills School has been partnering with Pass it Along for a number of years now to bring their programs to our 8th grade students. We feel very lucky that, in spite of the challenges this school year has brought us, we were still be able to offer their Discover Your Passion and Purpose program to our students. This is a self-discovery program rooted in social-emotional learning. The program empowers young people to regain that unshakeable sense of self-worth and confidence. The three-part workshop helps to create connection, passion, empathy, and purpose. Discover Your Passion and Purpose builds self-esteem and self-acceptance and promotes compassion and altruism. This workshop also gently guides students as they begin their lifelong journey of recognizing, cultivating, and manifesting their larger purpose for the benefit of themselves, their communities and the world.
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Ryan's Story


As you know, Green Hills School is committed to taking serious, proactive steps to curb bullying. Our efforts this year have focused on raising awareness about bullying and cyberbullying with students.


This year, we obtained a video production titled "Ryan's Story" by Mr. John Halligan, an international speaker and author with over 11 years of experience presenting in over 2000 schools. Due to the restrictions imposed by COVID-19 preventing his in-person presentation, he has created a video version to continue reaching students' hearts and minds.We shared this video with 7th and 8th grade students. In the presentation, John relayed his own tragic experience as a Dad whose 13-year-old son took his own life in 2003, after bullying by peers, both in school and online. Mr. Halligan further shared that Ryan wrestled with underlying mental health issues and depression and that these factors contributed to Ryan's vulnerability and ultimate suicide. His story is riveting and compelling and reminds students that a face, a person, a heart, is on the other end of the screen.


The students gained a perspective from inside the family of a child victim of bullying and cyberbullying. They learned lessons about forgiveness, suicide prevention, bystanders' role, and a challenge to apologize to someone.


We were also lucky enough to be able to offer a parent presentation via Zoom with Mr. Halligan, where he relayed his personal story, and offered lessons learned regarding cyberbullying, social media, and teen depression.

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Minding Your Mind Programs - K - 6

We worked with Minding Your Mind to bring two different presentation to our students in grades K - 6. Our students in grades K - 4 were able to participate virtually in the Kind Minds program. Building off of the SEL lessons this year, students practiced how to recognize, identify, and express emotions in age appropriate ways. Kind Minds shows children how to engage in kind acts through discussions, role plays, and interactive activities. The primary goal of Kind Minds is to "cultivate positive reactions while providing children with the tools they need to create meaningful connections, leading to consistent emotional wellness."


Our students in grades 5 & 6 participated in the Changing Minds program, which focused on eliminating the stigma around mental illness. The presentation included educational resources about mental health, including:


  • the signs and symptoms of mental health conditions
  • that mental health issues are common and treatable
  • the similarities between physical and mental health
  • negative vs. positive coping skills
  • how to ask for help yourself or for a friend
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Children's System of Care Offers Support for Families

The NJ Department of Children and Families is sharing the following information regarding opportunities for families to receive support services:


"Kids, teens and young adults are coping with a lot, from uncertainty associated with the COVID-19 pandemic to the social impact of civil unrest and protests. On top of the general challenges that come with growing up, many young people are feeling heightened senses of anxiety, depression and loneliness. For some, this can lead to extreme behavioral changes – like acting out, substance use or running away from home.


DCF's Children's System of Care (CSOC), formerly the Division of Child Behavioral Health Services, serves children and adolescents with emotional and behavioral health care challenges and their families; children with developmental and intellectual disabilities and their families; and, children with substance use challenges and their families. CSOC is committed to providing services based on the needs of the child and family in a family-centered, community-based environment.


The Children's System of Care offers a wide range of services for children up to age 21 for behavioral health or developmental disability needs. These services include community-based services, in-home services, out-of-home residential services, and family support services. For questions about or to access behavioral health or developmental disability services for children and youth, call the 24-hour, toll-free Access Line at: 1-877-652-7624."

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Helping Kids Make Decisions

Making important decisions is challenging, even for grown-ups. Decision-making is a skill that is developed over time, and is often a critical part of social and professional success. This article (click here) from the Child Mind Institute provides some advice and guidance about how to best help children develop this crucial skill.
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Mindful Minutes

It likely goes without saying that students might be feeling more stress and anxiety lately. One practice that can help decrease and manage overwhelming feelings when they arise is mindfulness. Mindfulness helps to bring our focus to the present moment to observe our thoughts without judgment. The practice can also help to minimize negative thoughts that can spiral out of control. I have created a playlist of short mindful minute exercises for students to listen to when they feel the need to reset their thoughts or emotions. I will be adding to the playlist (click here) throughout the rest of the year.
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44 Books About Mental Health for Young People

I know that I am always looking for book recommendations for my students and for my own children at home. I especially love it when the book can help a child process feelings or gain a better understanding of common emotional challenges. Child Mind Institute has provided a wonderful list of 44 books, that include books appropriate for ages 5 - 15. The books focus on a range of mental health topics, including anxiety, bullying, depression, self-esteem, grief, and more. Click here to read the list.
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What Can You Control?

Many young people are feeling stressed and overwhelmed right now. One way to help manage stress is to focus on letting go of things that are not in our control. I usually start talking with students about this in the early elementary grades when we discuss tattling vs. getting help, and recognizing that we cannot always control the behavior of others. Right now, there are many aspects of their lives that students cannot control: school being fully remote, sports and extracurricular activities being canceled, social lives being impacted, etc. But, there are many things that they can control: finding gratitude in small things, connecting with friends in different ways, learning something new, etc. The more they shift their focus away from the things outside of their control, and towards the things within their control, the more they likely they will be to build healthy coping and stress-management skills.
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Signs of Depression During COVID

It is absolutely normal for students to be struggling emotionally right now. We are going on nine months of incredible stress and uncertainty, and there are bound to be huge feelings about it. But, when does it move from the expected ups and downs and frustrations into something more serious like depression? It is important to be able to recognize the signs of depression in children, and I think this article does a good job of helping us do that. To paraphrase the article, "If you see the signs take note. If they last, take action." Click here to read the article.

Dealing with Big Feelings

It is not unusual for children to have a difficult time navigating big emotions, even under the best of circumstances. It is no surprise, then, that managing these big feelings might be even more challenging during these times. As adults, it is important for us to equip ourselves with strategies to help our children cope when they feel overwhelmed. We may be seeing more anger or lashing out than we are accustomed to, and I read an article recently that I thought offered some useful suggestions about how to best help children handle their more difficult emotions. Click here to read the article.
I have updated my webpage to include a virtual office where you will be able to find lessons and other helpful resources! It is a work in progress, so be sure to check in regularly for new information! Click on my bitmoji above to take a look around!
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We are thrilled to incorporate the Second Step social-emotional learning curriculum into our school this year for grades K-8. Second Step is a research-based social-emotional learning program designed to improve students’ social-emotional skills, such as emotion management, impulse control, problem solving, and empathy. Second Step skills and concepts are designed to help students both in and out of school. The curriculum includes an entire Bullying Prevention Unit, and it can be implemented both virtually and in-person!


Grades 6 - 8 will begin the year by focusing on mindsets & goals. We will learn more about developing a growth-mindset, building empathy, creating action plans, and goal-setting!


Grades K - 5 will begin with a focus on respect, assertiveness, empathy, and positive self-talk!