Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Children Are Like Cupcakes

I met the author of this cute book about individual differences at our state counseling conference earlier this month. She was born in Rhode Island, to Ghanaian parents. Being born into another culture outside her parents' native homeland, Ansaba Gavor was raised with both Ghanaian and American values. Now that Ansaba Gavor is a bi-cultural mother to her daughter, she was inspired to write her first children's book Children Are Like Cupcakes, to encourage her daughter and other children to be comfortable with their own uniqueness. It is a great resource for elementary school counselors. The author is currently practices family counseling as a LPC.  Check out her website

Monday, November 26, 2012


This Todd Parr book was a perfect book last week leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday.  I do think it is important to teach children to show gratitude and appreciation every day, not just on Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Get Kids Thinking About Colleges

As counselors we are supposed to plant dreams and high aspirations.  We want all students to understand they need to plan on pursuing some type of post-secondary education or training.  Most elementary students have not visited a college campus (I surveyed mine) and therefore need  to start being exposed to information about colleges.  We planned this bulletin board based on an idea we saw in “Four Ways to Teach Kids about College.” We made a collage background from catalogs from many different colleges, particularly ones in our state.  We just asked 2 staff members to give us catalogs their high schoolers were getting in the mail for schools they were not interested in … We selected a balance of males and females with minority representation to feature on our “Guess Where…” board.  We tried to pick good role models, people many students would know, and again graduates from some of our state universities.  This bulletin board is interactive, guess then open folders to see the right answer.  It is attractive, interesting and informative.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Military Family Month

Military Family Month shows our appreciation not just for the men and women serving our country but for the sacrifices made by their families. I hope all counselors will do something this month in their schools to acknowledge the contribution of the children whose parents serve.
The proclamation reads in part...
Since our Nation's earliest days, courageous men and women of all backgrounds and beliefs have banded together to fight for the freedoms we cherish. Behind each of them stands a parent, a sibling, a child, a spouse -- proud family members who share the weight of deployment and make profound sacrifices on behalf of our country. During Military Family Month, we honor our military families and recommit to showing them the fullest care and respect of a grateful Nation.
In our military families, we see the best our country has to offer. They demonstrate the virtues that have made America great for more than two centuries and the values that will preserve our greatness for centuries to come. With loved ones serving far from home, military spouses take on the work of two. Their children show courage and resilience as they move from base to base, school to school, home to home. And even through the strain of deployment, military families strengthen the fabric of each community they touch and enrich our national life as shining examples of patriotism.

Saturday, November 10, 2012


With my small group members who were referred for impulse control issues we have to work on focusing.  This book by Randy Cazell (2009) can be used for a whole session.  It requires focusing to pay attention to the issues faced by the 7 characters in the book, what they did to focus better, and make a connection to which of the characters reminds member of self.  For example, one of the characters wonders around the room looking at thinks and does not have work done when it is time for recess.  Another character stays up too late and is tired in class and wants to sleep in school. I think you will find it useful for students in grades 1-3 who need coaching to pay attention better in class.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Group Proposals

I have a binder like this for all my groups.  Right now I am running 23 groups and my part-time counselor is doing eight.  Our school is so large in order to see all the children referred we must see the vast majority in groups.  Also small psychoeducational group work helps children develop skills and cope with many common challenges.  This year I am running several "impulse control" groups in both first and second grade.  I call my first  grade groups Turtle Groups and second grade Remote Controllers.  It is probably obvious that turtles pull their arms and legs in, which many young children need to do instead of touching things and others.  By second grade they can use the "tools" of the remote control to learn to pause, rewind (redo a skit), lower volume, etc.  I do separate Turtle  groups for boys and girls in first grade, but all the students referred for this group in second grade are boys.  Inside the binder is the rationale, objectives, assessments, session plans and handouts, and evaluation tools.  Running so many groups these binders with group plans are a lifesaver.  I reuse them year after year, but also revise and improve the contents.  I generally develop two new groups a year.  Creating a group proposal is time consuming but greatly enhances the effectiveness of delivery because planning is the most important indicator of a group's success.  These binders are also very helpful when I am supervising an intern or breaking in a new part-time counselor.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

4 Rs of Bullying

This is the simple bulletin board I did to remind our students what they need to do to respond to cyberbullying.  It also shows some of the student work products from the counselors' and librarian's  lessons.  On the left if a definition of cyberbullying.

Monday, November 5, 2012

4Rs of Bullying

For the fourth grade the Steps to Respect bullying education program requires the students to be able to recognize what is bullying, refuse the bullying by being assertive, report the behavior to a trusted adult, and adds record the message in the case of cyber bullying.  I taught this lesson using a Power Point but the 4 door foldable that each student completed was the key material of the lesson.  Our students like making these easy to construct summaries of lessons.  In this case they wrote the 4 Rs on the outside, on the inside they wrote the most important words, and under the flap they did a picture to remind them of the key idea of each.  For example, for Recognize they write one-sided, on purpose, repeated, and/or power.  The drawing could be a reminder of the imbalance of power.  My students took their foldables home with a letter to parents about the lessons we are teaching on digital citizenship and cyber bullying and inviting them to a parent event next week on this important topic.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Study: Parents overestimate childhood optimism and underestimate anxiety

Parents want their children to be happy.  New research by Lagattuta (2012), an associate psychology professor at UC Davis, involving more than 500 children ages 4 through 11, found that parents consistently rated their children as being less worried and more optimistic than the children rated themselves.  The researchers found that parents’ own emotions biased not only how they perceived their children’s emotions, but also the degree of discrepancy between the parent and child reports.  Children consistently provided higher ratings than their parents when reporting their worries (i.e., scared of the dark and worries about something bad happening to a family member) and lower ratings than parents when evaluating their feelings of optimism.  Hopefully awareness of this parental positivity bias may also encourage counselors to be more attuned to emotional difficulties children may be facing.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Fear In A Hat

In some of my small emotion management groups I use this activity during a session at the beginning of the working stage.  The tone could be set by introducing the topic of fear and explaining how it is normal and natural that children are experiencing all sorts of anxieties, worries and fears about what might happen (what if thinking). I have each member write personal fears anonymously on an index card which are collected and put in a hat.  In elementary students worry that someone might recognize the handwriting but if the slips are kept in a hat then handed to counselor after being read it helps keep some privacy. Each member draws a card with someone else's fear reads them aloud to the group to  and explains how the person might think,  feel, and behave. A good way of starting to deal with these fears is have them openly acknowledged , without being subject to ridicule.  Having one's fears expressed and heard can reduce their intensity.  I also found a list of top 10 common fears of childhood and as part of processing this activity shared the list with members and observed if a group member had that one (or expressed it).  A few on the master list stimulated more discussion (especially fear of parents death or divorce).  I always get feedback from parents that members came home and discussed this activity which tells me it makes an impact and furthers discussion of fears with trusted loved ones.