RHES Counseling Newsletter

Volume II

Dear Red Hill Families,

We are here to support your students as they prepare to transition into Stage 3. Whether your child will be attending school in-person or remaining virtual, they may be experiencing some big emotions right now. Please don't hesitate to reach out if there is anything we can do to help--whether that means connecting you with helpful resources, meeting on Zoom with your child, or simply talking through your concerns.

Best wishes,

Ari Zlotnick (Ms. Z), School Counselor Karen Ferrer, School Psychologist

Tips for a Smooth Transition to In-Person Learning

Get back on a regular sleep schedule

  • At least a week before returning to in-person learning, start incrementally pushing up bedtime to help ease the transition.

Have conversations about possible changes

  • For months we have heard and seen many different accounts about COVID-19, and kids have too. Have open, age-appropriate conversations with your children to help them know they are not alone, that we do not have all the answers, that flexibility is very important in this time of COVID-19, and that their health and safety is a top priority.

Help your child understand that not all their classmates or friends may be at school

  • Explain that every family is different, and that household members' health and other factors influence decisions about returning to school.

Be proactive about back-to-school anxiety

  • After spending many months at home, children may feel nervous about going back to school and being apart from family. Start having conversations about going back to school and find out how they feel. Talk about situations that could cause stress such as changes happening at school or in the classroom.

Practice mask etiquette

  • Before school starts, take some time to teach your children how to wear their masks properly. Practice wearing masks for short periods at home and especially when they are out in public. See the next page for tips on helping your child prepare for mask-wearing.

Prepare for new school procedures, such as temperature checks, masks, and social distancing

  • For young students, getting their temperature checked may be unsettling. Prior to school starting, get out the thermometer or a picture of a thermometer and explain what it does and how it helps. Let them practice taking a stuffed animal or doll’s temperature.

  • Discuss the purpose of social distancing and practice staying six feet apart in different settings. Talk about ways to have fun safely and brainstorm ideas for recess games that can be played six feet apart.

Practice proper hand hygiene

  • You can use songs, rhymes, or other strategies to help your child remember the steps for hand-washing. You can also help by modeling proper hand hygiene and providing reminders.

If your child needs extra support when preparing to return, contact Ms. Z (azlotnick@k12albemarle.org)

Adapted from SSM Health

Tips for Acclimating Your Child to Mask-Wearing

Explain why we have to wear a mask

  • If applicable or appropriate, give them a brief explanation of why we should wear a mask.

  • Social stories or videos can be helpful for this. Contact Ms. Z (azlotnick@k12albemarle.org) if you would like recommendations!

Allow child to choose a preferred mask

  • Material, Loops vs. Ties, Design

  • Smell

    • Consider spraying with a preferred scent or washing with preferred detergent

    • If child is sensitive to smells, wash with scent free detergent

  • If possible, have multiple masks so child can have choice each time they are asked to wear a mask

Make it more enjoyable and less aversive

  • Allow them to practice in a preferred place (i.e. on couch, in their bed, holding preferred toy, in your lap, etc.) Once they are successful here, you can move to other areas of the house and eventually out in the community.

  • Let them put a mask on a favorite doll or stuffed animal to help normalize mask-wearing

  • Model wearing a mask yourself.

  • While wearing the mask, allow them to hold preferred putty, fidgets, etc. to keep their hands busy.

  • Take mask breaks! Once you are practicing wearing the mask for longer periods of time and/or out in the community, have times built into your outing where you find a secluded space to go mask free for a few minutes. Adapted from Lauren Rothgeb, ACPS Autism/Behavior Specialist

Monthly Mindful Moment: Fall Leaf Breathing

Take a family walk and choose one leaf for each person. Then use the guide below to practice deep breathing using the leaf!

Email Ms. Z (azlotnick@k12albemarle.org) a picture of your family's Monthly Mindful Moment to see it featured on Red Hill's website or twitter account!

Big picture

Donate to Snowflakes of Cheer

Red Hill's Snowflakes of Cheer Program provides clothing (and occasionally food) for students and their siblings, newborn through eighth grade. Traditionally, we put each participating student's shirt, pants, and shoe sizes on a paper snowflake so that families can choose one (or more) and purchase the items listed. This year, we are doing Snowflakes of Cheer electronically. Please complete this form to sign up to shop for a student. We will email you the information that would have been on the snowflake.

Mental Health Services in Our Community

Many local service providers are offering virtual counseling sessions! Please contact Ms. Z if you would like more information. In the event of a mental health crisis, you can contact Region Ten Emergency Services 24 hours per day, 7 days per week at 434-972-1800 or 1-866-694-1605.