Counselor Corner

February 2021

I hope that everyone is staying safe and healthy!


This has been a very busy month! We wrapped up January with the Great Kindness Challenge! I was so impressed with the acts of kindness displayed by students in all grade levels! I have included some pictures below.


8th grade students will be meeting with counselors from Newton High School during the week of February 22nd to review their tentative freshman year schedule. I sent out emails regarding this along with other important information, so please email me if you have questions!


I have been continuing my virtual lessons using the Second Step program. In our K - 5 classes, we have been learning about big feelings, empathy, and perspective.. In grades 6 - 8, we have been focusing on anxiety and stress-management. We have continued learning about how our decision-making can be impacted by emotions, and what we can do to to recognize the signals our bodies give us when we begin to feel overwhelmed.


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. Email is the best way to reach me while we are fully remote.


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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Great Kindness Challenge

Green Hills students participated in the Great Kindness Challenge throughout the week of January 25 - January 29. I was so impressed by all of the random acts of kindness performed by our spectacular students. I loved hearing every day about all that they were doing to lift the spirits of those around them! Take a look at some of the pictures below!
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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) regularly.
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Angst Virtual Screening & Panel Hosted by NAMI Sussex

NAMI Sussex was kind enough to share the following opportunity with us:


Angst is a film--based education program designed to raise awareness around anxiety, with an emphasis on youth and families. The film includes interviews with kids, teens, experts, and parents. Our goal is to help people identify and understand the symptoms of anxiety and encourage them to reach out for help. We will be showing the film, which will promptly be followed by a panel discussion and include access to further resources and materials.


Click here for more information and to register for the screening.

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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!