Hoots and Salutes from Mrs. Hardage

Lake Murray Elementary School Counseling

School Counselors Make a Difference

Dear Parents,

I am so excited to have the opportunity to work with your children this year at Lake Murray Elementary School as a school counselor. I will be visiting 2nd and 4th grade classrooms for monthly guidance lessons. During these lessons, we will talk about friends, feelings, and ways to be successful students. After each lesson, I will send home information so that you may make connections with your children concerning the themes and ideas discussed in class. In addition to monthly classroom guidance lessons, I provide support to students and families. I hope that you will feel comfortable reaching out either by phone or email if you need me for any reason. Students may also request to speak with me as needed. As a school counselor at LMES, I am committed to empowering our students to make and attain goals and to meet challenges with optimism.

Looking forward to an exciting year at LMES!

Mrs. Hardage

P.S. Check out tips for positive parenting at the bottom of this newsletter! You'll be glad you did :)

"A lot of people have gone further than they thought they could, simply because someone else thought they could." ~ Anonymous

Concerns you may want to discuss with your child's school counselor:

  • Classroom Performance
  • Classroom Behavior
  • Peer Relations
  • Family Changes
  • Stress
  • Sudden changes in attitude or behavior

What's happening at LMES?

Taking the time to greet one another helps build community at LMES. Our students have been challenged to share as many ways to "say hello" as possible. Ask your child to share with you some new and interesting ways of "saying hello"!
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Teaching Humility: It's important!

Say it:

Humility is putting others first by giving up what you think you deserve.

Know it:

Ask a kid: Would it be harder to put a sibling or a friend first? Why do you think that?

How do adults in your life put kids first?

Ask a grown up: Who inspires you to put others first?

What does it cost to put others first?

See it:

Search on YouTube for the scene "Keep Swimming" in Finding Nemo. How did the fish show humility? What might have happened if they didn't work together and listen to Marlin and Nemo?

Be it:

Use scrap paper to put each family member's name in a bowl or a jar. For the rest of the month, draw a name when a decision has to be made (where to eat out, what to cook for dinner, what movie to watch, etc.). When a family member's name is drawn, they give up the chance to make the decision by saying a different family member's name, allowing that family member to make the choice.

Adventures with Artie: Humility

10 Tips for Better Behavior by Amy McCready

Sometimes, when tasks and schedules get overwhelming, it’s helpful to make a to-do list to make things feel more manageable and focused. If your children’s behavior problems have you feeling overwhelmed and not knowing what to do first, start with these 10 tips for better behavior.

1. Invest in one-on-one time with kids daily. By far, the best thing you can do to improve your children’s behavior is spending time with them individually every day, giving them the positive attention and emotional connection they’re hard-wired to need. When they don’t have that positive attention, they will seek out attention in negative ways, and consequences and other discipline methods won’t work. Aim for 10-15 minutes a day per child and you’ll see measurable improvement almost immediately.

2. Get serious about sleep. Think of how you feel when you’re overtired – cranky, irritable, your head and stomach hurt. It’s the same for kids, and most toddlers up to teens get far less sleep than their growing bodies need. Teens even need more sleep than some younger kids – so consult your family physician about the hours of sleep your kids need by age. If your child has a sleep deficit, try moving up bedtime by 10 minutes every few nights. A well-rested kid is a well-behaved kid and can function better throughout the day, including school.

3. Focus on routines. Kids thrive with a routine, so set clearly defined routines for the most challenging times of the day, like mornings, after school, mealtimes and bedtimes. Let your kids help decide how the routine will go (do we get dressed or brush teeth first? How can you help get dinner ready?) For younger kids, write out the order of the routine using pictures or words and let them decorate it, then hang it where they’ll see it every day. Then stick to it.

4. Everyone pitches in. For better behavior, kids need to understand that everyone needs to contribute to make a household run smoothly. All kids, from toddlers to teens, should have “family contributions” (not “chores!”) they do daily – this helps bring your family closer together, teaches them life skills and works to prevent the entitlement epidemic.

5. Encourage your kids to be problem solvers. Time to retire your referee whistle – when parents step in the middle of a sibling disagreement and determine who’s at fault and dole out punishments, it actually makes things worse. To kids, they see a winner and a loser and a need to escalate the sibling rivalry. Encourage your kids to find a resolution to the problem on their own, which will help them solve conflicts as they grow older. If you have to get involved, don’t choose sides, but ask questions that will help them figure out a solution that all parties can feel good about.

6. Simplify family rules and be firm. It can be difficult for kids to keep a mess of rules straight. If it seems like you have 50 or so family rules, whittle down the list to what’s most important. Determine a consequence for each rule, make it clear to kids ahead of time of both the rules and consequences, and don’t give in.

7. Send time-out to the sidelines. Practically every parent has tried to punish or correct behavior by sending their child to “time out,” but most have found it just doesn’t work or lead to better behavior. That’s because a time out in the corner or bedroom doesn’t teach kids how to make better choices the next time, and generally, a time out just escalates a power struggle. Kids, especially the strong-willed, will push back, and hard. Instead, focus on training, not punishment. Ask, “What can we do differently next time?” and role play the do-over.

8. Just say no – to saying no. Kids barrage us with questions everyday, and more often than not, our answer is “no,” and kids resent it. Find opportunities to say “yes” when you can. If your daughter asks to go to the indoor pool in the middle of a busy weekday, try saying, “Going to the pool sounds like so much fun. Should we go tomorrow after school or on Saturday?” Of course, there will always be things that will need a big “no,” but try to redirect them to a more positive option.

9. Don’t worry, be happy. Be the example you want your kids to see. Think about how your kids might describe you to their friends – would they say you’re fun and lighthearted, or that you’re stressed and bossy? Try changing your energy by simply smiling more. It will help you keep calmer in times of stress, and your kids will notice and keep their behavior more positive, too.

10. Don’t ignore the source of misbehavior. Misbehavior is always a symptom of a deeper issue, and when we can find what causes it, we can use the right strategies to correct it. If Bella keeps dumping toys all over your desk, is she upset that you’ve been working all afternoon? Is Eli throwing a fit over having the blue plate because he really wanted to make a choice and feel independent? In the midst of misbehavior, stay calm and ask yourself what might be causing it.

Cut through the chaos by following these 10 tips, and you’ll start seeing better behavior from your kids and you can start creating a happier, more peaceful home.

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Make Homework Time Easier

by Amy McCready

How many of us have been guilty of subscribing to “red pencil mentality?” You know, when we focus on the homework mistakes rather than on what’s correct? Probably most of us; because it’s human nature. However, focusing on our kids’ mistakes or the wrong answers can be a big source of homework power struggles.

Let’s put ourselves in their shoes. What happens when someone points out our mistakes? It makes us feel judged. The same goes for kids. When we focus on what they got wrong, they feel judged and discouraged, which makes the situation ripe for eye rolls and power struggles.

To turn the tables, let’s retire the red pencil and try these tips instead:

  • Begin homework time by focusing on Rather than pointing out what’s wrong, notice progress and improvements. Praise persistence. These strategies will go a long way towards diffusing power struggles and will keep the next homework time from becoming a battle ground.
  • Comment first on the correct Your kids will feel encouraged when you point out what they did well. When you do find a mistake, don’t slide into critical mode. Stay encouraging and ask, “What did you learn from this answer that you got right that might help you solve this one?” That not only keeps them from feeling defensive, it also encourages them to think about problems creatively and see them as opportunities to learn. That’s is a great reminder for all of us.
  • Encourage mistakes! They’re are part of the learning curve, and part of what helps find innovative, new ways of doing things. Mistakes are something to be celebrated, not red-lined.

What do you say we retire the red pencil? I encourage you to adopt a new mindset when it comes to your kids’ homework and test mistakes. Not only will you avoid a power struggle or two, you’ll find your kids are more likely to try new things and take risks in their learning. When that happens, you begin to foster a sense of discovery and innovation that will take them so much further in life than any red line ever would.

History is filled with stories of mistakes that turn out to be brilliant inventions or positive turns in the road for people. Celebrate them, and your kid for trying their best and persevering! It’s a game-changer!

Homework Tips for Kids

Created by Lake Murray Elementary Guidance Dept. Hardage 2016

You Can Succeed In School (Mrs. Hardage says so!)

Homework without Tears!!!

Organize your homework and have a study place.

  1. Turn off the television and find a quiet study place.

  2. Use your agenda! Always write down your homework and do a quick check each afternoon to be sure you have what you need

before packing up to go home.

3.Organize your work in a way that works for you. (expandable or

labeled folders)

4. Put completed work back in your backpack.

Organize your time.

  1. Make a schedule and always include time for homework.

  2. Take a short time out, if needed. Reward yourself.

  3. Do the hardest assignment first.

  4. Study spelling words, math facts, etc. a little each day.

Everyone learns in a different way.

  1. Use flashcards or Quizlet

  2. Write down the main ideas.

  3. Highlight.

  4. Use songs or word games.

  5. Use silly sentences.

  6. Make up questions.

  7. Have an adult ask you questions.

How to Study for a test:

  1. Go over the review questions.

  2. Study key vocabulary words.

  3. Take notes on flashcards or use Quizlet online.

  4. Have a homework buddy.

  5. Review homework.


Be a good listener

Ask questions


Write neatly

Have a good attitude!

A New Way to Connect with Our Children: What do they really think about us?

Ask your children 23 questions for a fresh new perspective on your parenting. (adapted from JoyInMyKitchen.com)

Do you need a fresh perspective on what your kids think about you?

These questions will give you that. The answers will encourage you, make you laugh and cry, and remind you that they do see what often seems unnoticed. Some will probably reveal areas you can improve to better love and serve your kids.

1. What is something I always say to you?

2. What makes me happy?

3. What makes me sad?

4. How do I make you laugh?

5. What was I like as a child?

6. How old am I?

7. How tall am I?

8. What is my favorite thing to do?

9. What do I do when you’re not around?

10. If I become famous, what will it be for?

11. What am I really good at?

12. What am I not very good at?

13. What do I do for a job?

14. What is my favorite food?

15. What makes you proud of me?

16. If I were a character, who would I be?

17. What do we enjoy doing together?

18. How are we the same?

19. How are we different?

20. How do you know I love you?

21. What do I like most about dad/mom?

22. Where is my favorite place to go?

23. How old was I when you were born?

Positive Pareting Tip: Stop saying "You're so smart"! Try this instead...

Encouraging Words by Amy McCready

Do you ever feel like the only words that come out of your mouth are direct orders? “Empty the trash, be nice to your sister, quit jumping on the couch!!!” A big part of preventing bad behavior, however, is to provide encouraging words to reinforce good behavior when you see it.

And a quick “good job” doesn’t cut it—in fact, phrases like “good boy,” “you’re so smart!” and “you’re the best on your team!” are not considered encouraging words. Instead of focusing on positive internal qualities, they put the emphasis on outward praise, which does nothing to promote good behavior in the future.

True encouraging words focus on the deed, not the doer. It motivates a child from the inside to demonstrate similar positive behavior in the future, and to value things like hard work, improvement, teamwork and perseverance.

List of Encouraging Words and Phrases

Encouraging words can be as simple as, “Thanks for your help!” or “You really worked hard!” Here are a few more examples to try around your house:

Thank you for your help!
You should be proud of yourself!
Look at your improvement!
That “A” reflects a lot of hard work!
You worked really hard to get this room clean!
Thanks for helping set the table, that made a big difference.
I noticed you were really patient with your little brother.
What do you think about it?
You seem to really enjoy science.
Your hard work paid off!
That’s a tough one, but you’ll figure it out.
Look how far you’ve come!
I trust your judgment.
The time you’re putting into your homework is really paying off.
I love being with you.
You really put a smile on her face with your kind words!
That’s coming along nicely!
You really worked it out!
That’s a very good observation.
Thank you for your cooperation.
I see a very thorough job!
That’s what we call perseverance!
I can tell you really care.
You make it look easy!
You’ve really got the hang of it!
I can tell you spent a lot of time thinking this through.
I really feel like a team when we work like this!

The best part about using encouraging words with your kids is the glow of happiness you’ll see on their faces. After all, “Your hard work is really paying off!” says you noticed their work, while, “You’re so smart,” might be hard to live up to next time. Try a few of these encouraging words with your kids, and watch their behavior—and effort—improve.

Positive Parenting Tip: End the whining and nagging with 3 simple words!

End Child Nagging & Negotiating with Just

Three Simple Words by Amy McCready

When it comes to persistence, few things compare to a child nagging and negotiating to try and get what he wants. And few people know that better than a parent who has given that child an answer they don’t want to hear.

From the famed “Are we there yet?” to this morning’s “Can I have ice cream for breakfast?” to this afternoon’s “Can I have ice cream for dinner?” kids are notorious for their one-track minds, and they will ask…and ask…and ask…just in case you’ve changed your mind in the last minute.

Child nagging is a learned behavior that children of any age can pick up. They might continue to use it because once, in a moment of weakness, you caved and let them stay up an extra half hour after they asked for the eighth time.

But like any learned behavior, child nagging can be unlearned. The solution comes fromLynn Lott, co-author of the Positive Discipline series of books, and it works on kids as young as two or three, all the way through their teens.

It only takes three simple words: “Asked and Answered.”

The concept is simple. When seven-year-old Daniel begs to dig a giant hole in the front yard and gets “no” for an answer, chances are he’ll be back in five minutes asking again – this time with a “pleeeeeeaase” just so you know he really, really wants to dig the hole.

Instead of repeating yourself or jumping in to a lecture, avoid child nagging by getting eye to eye and follow the process below:

Step One: Ask, “Have you ever heard of ‘Asked and Answered’?” (He’ll probably say no.)

Step Two: Ask, “Did you ask me a question about digging a hole?” (He’ll say yes.)

Step Three: Ask, “Did I answer it?” (He’ll probably say, “Yes, but, I really ….”)

Step Four: Ask, “Do I look like the kind of mom/dad/teacher who will change her/his mind if you ask me the same thing over and over?” (Chances are Daniel will walk away, maybe with a frustrated grunt, and engage in something else.)

Step Five: If Daniel asks again, simply say, “Asked and Answered.” (No other words are necessary!) Once this technique has been established, these are the only words you should need to say to address nagging questions.

Consistency is key! Once you decide to use “Asked and Answered” with your nagging child, be sure to stick to it. If 14-year-old Emma is particularly determined to keep asking to get her eyebrow pierced, stay strong. Answering her question again – or worse yet, changing your answer – will reinforce to her that her nagging works. Although it’ll take some patience, your child will eventually connect the dots and you’ll see results!

Make “Asked and Answered” a joint effort with your spouse, and consider including any family or friends who may have to deal with child nagging and negotiating from your child. When Daniel and Emma realize that they won’t get a “yes,” even after they’ve asked twelve times, they’ll get the hint and retire this tactic.

Speech and Language Pathologist, Stacy Pulley reports this technique works well for children with communication challenges, particularly those with Autism. She suggests bringing a notebook or a chalk/dry erase board into the mix and writing down a question once they’ve asked it more than once, keeping in mind their reading level. Or, draw a picture. Then, when your child asks again, point to the board or notebook to remind them that they’ve asked, and you’ve answered. Be sure to use as few words as possible and stay consistent in your language to help them understand the connection as they learn to listen to and respect your answers.

Adding this tool to your parenting toolbox is a positive step toward ending the child nagging and negotiating that can wear on even the most resolute of parents. Then, be sure to follow through and stay consistent – and before you know it, 20 questions will be a fun game once again, and no longer a negotiation tactic!