Counselor's Corner

Liz Parker, School Counselor, Hominy Valley Elementary

Dear HVE Families,

I hope this newsletter finds you well, and enjoying our first taste of spring-like weather. With all the challenges the last year has brought us, the sunny days we had last week felt like an extraordinary gift. If your family is facing some particular challenges at the moment, I hope you'll contact me using the information below, and let me know how I can offer support!

- Ms. P

Changes! (Again!)

As you have probably heard, the school board just announced that we will be returning to in-person learning five days a week, beginning for K-3 students next Monday. This is a huge relief to many families, and our staff is definitely excited about a return to some normalcy in our learning.

As your school counselor, however, I want to offer a friendly reminder that change can be stressful, even when the change is a positive one. Many of the positive changes we experience as adults (like a new job, a wedding, a new house, or a baby) bring us great joy, but those changes also come with a very long to-do list, a shifting schedule, or new expectations that can feel overwhelming. The same is true for children, who thrive on established routines and clear expectations. As you and your family prepare for the exciting transition of returning to school, here are some things to keep in mind.

  • School starts very early in the morning. In the last year, many kids and adults have spent an increased amount of time in their pajamas. Getting pulled together for a 7:30 school day five days a week is going to be no small feat! It will help your child to practice in advance for those morning routines, and to start getting to bed on a regular, earlier school schedule if bedtime during virtual school has been less consistent.

  • School can be really exhausting! The first week of school we often hear of students falling asleep in the car on the way home. We do a lot in a day! It is likely that during this "first" week of school, your child will feel more tired than usual, even though this "first" week is happening in March. (And if your children are like the Parker children, then tired can lead to cranky!) Plan for your child to have some downtime to rest and recharge their batteries when you get home. (See also the suggestion above about working toward a regular, earlier bedtime.)

  • Separation anxiety can be hard. Some of our students struggle to separate themselves from the adults in their family when it is time for school. If your child has been doing virtual school at home with you, then spending five days at school may be the most your child has been away from you in almost a year! If your child tends to have big feelings about separating from their favorite grownups, give some thought to what usually helps your child to feel reassured when you are apart. The school staff will also be checking in on students who are experiencing separation anxiety during the school day. That's part of the job of working with young children!

  • There will be so many new faces! With this change in the schedule, there will now be twice as many students in your child's class, including many people they may have never met in person. This is an exciting time to make new friends, but it may also make some students feel nervous. The increased number of students in each class will also make the classroom feel louder and more crowded than your child is used to, and furniture will be rearranged for different seating options. While none of those changes are necessarily bad ones, it does mean that when your child walks into a familiar space, the space will look a lot less familiar.

  • For our students who are continuing with remote instruction through the end of the year, this may lead to some big "left out" feelings. While most of our students will be here in the building with us, we do have students in each grade whose families have chosen remote learning for the second semester. Our virtual teachers will work hard to keep these students feeling like they are a part of the community, but it may still be uncomfortable for them to see other kids in the classroom over zoom five days a week. If your child is one of those virtual students, let me know how I can support them as this transition happens.

Homework from Ms. Parker

  • My two-year-old nephew is conquering a lot of developmental challenges lately, and now when he does something new he says, "I did it! Yay!" and gives himself a little cheer. I challenge you to give yourself a cheer when you accomplish a relatively small task today. Things are hard right now, and we need all the positive affirmation we can get!
  • If you're into poetry and you haven't already seen it, watch this short video of the Wendell Berry poem The Peace of Wild Things: I found it to be really beautiful and soothing, and a great reminder for me to spend a little more time outside, appreciating nature and feeling the calm that comes with it, especially with our recent spring-like weather.
  • Do you have a job that you really love? And if so, would you like to help me with a project? This is the time of year that I'm usually organizing our annual Career Fair, but at the moment we're not able to have visitors join us inside the building, so I'm working on a virtual version instead. I'll be using the FlipGrid app to create a series of videos for our students, and I need about 20 volunteers to record themselves giving one-minute-or-less answers to five different questions about their job. If that sounds like something you'd be willing to do, send me an email!
  • Do some art with your kids this week. Our students are rarely as happy and enthusiastic as when they're working on projects with Ms. Oehm. (Shoutout to the awesome student art she has displayed in the bulletin boards photographed above!)
  • Take some deep breaths and be kind to yourself. We are doing hard things this year!
  • Let me know how I can support you and your child!