Family Resource Packs
and Annual Book Discussions
Family Resource Packs
In 2009 our PTA began funding the development (and maintenance) of resource packs on topics the pupil services staff is asked about most frequently. The selection of topics was strictly need based. We had been asked for resources on anxiety, divorce, homework, death and illness, sleep issues,etc. So we initially developed 20 packs, and have added 5-10 a year ever since. We currently have over 60. If we are asked for resources on a topic several times and we don't have a pack, one of us develops one. The packs contain a binder with an overview of the topic, a list of books for parents and children, websites, Apps, and other resources. Each pack contains at least one parent book and one child book on the topic. Where possible we put in activities the family can do with the topic. For example, in one of the anxiety packs we give materials and directions to make a comfort object that will fit in a child's pocket. We have found though feedback (each pack contains 2 evaluation forms: parent and child) what people find most useful, and suggestions to improve the packs. The feedback led us to split several of our packs between primary and upper elementary. These include anxiety, anger, death, and divorce. We have specialized some of our packs like "Separation Anxiety" vs. "Social Anxiety." Parents check these packs out and are asked to return them in 2 weeks. We have a sign out book and since we have so many they are now stored in bins in the Teachers Lounge. Eventually all the packs except one (the one on moving) has been returned. The pupil services staff (but mostly me) periodically updates the packs adding new books, websites, Apps, and activities.
The Counseling Advisory Committee searched for an alternative to Parent Presentations to meet the needs of more parents because several of our workshops had low attendance (after considerable time and effort). We tried online parent/staff book discussions. In the past we discussed "Little Girls Can Be Mean" because of the amount of relational aggression we were dealing with as young as kindergarten. We did that discussion through our Blackboard site but parents found it awkward to log in (they had to use their own child's account). The next year we discussed "Boys Adrift" because parents struggle with the decision to send young boys to kindergarten and boys often seems too impulsive for school. We used a link of the Counseling Corner Web Page and that was easier but we had to advertise that parents could post anonymously because some people did not feel comfortable signing their names in the comments. Based on feedback we now scheduled a single session Book Discussion evening for our book, I provide copies of the book to my Advisory Council to "prime the pump."
Here are some of the books we have used for Parent/Staff Book Discussion and some that are included in one of the Family Resource Packs.
Recent Evening Book Discussions
Most recently we read "Tap, Click, Read: Growing Readers in a World of Screens" by Guernsey and Levine. The book gives educators and parents an evidence-based guide to the ever growing challenge of raising children in a digital media age.
In 2017 we read Unselfie which really tied in with the Second Step lessons taught by counselors in the classroom on empathy. The author provides a discussion guide which made this an easy evening to lead Unselfie-Discussion-Guide.pdf
IWe read How Children Succeed. Paul Tough reveals ways in which parents do and do not prepare their children for adulthood. He emphasizes grit, character, and curiosity over cognitive skills.
Scream Free web site you can buy a copy of the book and they will send a free copy to a military family. I think this book is very valuable because it addresses how we as parents need to change, not change our children. You can download a free chapter of the book to see if you think it is valuable before buying.
This book is a guide to the social lives of elementary-school girls. It is engaging, clear and wise. It will keep parents from making mistakes that increase daughter's suffering. From research studies to mainstream media, the problem of social aggression has been the subject of growing concern, but most of the recent focus has been on middle- and high-school students, not on elementary-school girls. That's part of the problem, argue the authors of this reassuring guide, which offers practical tips and personal anecdotes aimed at alleviating female "relational aggression" in the critical early grades. In each chapter, the authors, both developmental psychologists, illustrate how adults can guide girls through a four-step process to identify and deal with tough social situations. Throughout, boxed activities for educators, parents, and girls themselves give the tide a highly interactive, proactive feel, and an appended section suggests ways that adults can apply the same techniques to their own lives. More than just advice about preparing girls to cope with bullying, gossip, and friendship riffs, these are empowering strategies for adults to communicate and connect with their daughters while they are at a highly receptive age and to help them develop resiliency for the future. We used this book for our first online parent staff book club.
A Way Through
Parenting Boys and Girls
Leonard Sax, the founder of the National Association for Single Sex Public Education, writes books that are very helpful to parents trying to figure out how to raise boys and girls.
His first book on this topic, Why Gender Matters reviews the research showing that girls are born with more sensitive hearing than boys, and that the difference increases as children grow up. So if a male speaks to a girl in what he thinks is a normal voice, she may hear it as yelling. When boys appear to be inattentive in class, they may need to be closer to their soft spoken female teacher. It also explains the brain research that explains why it is so hard for males to express feelings.
In Boys Adrift he explains that the main reasons for male disengagement in the real world is mainly due to 5 causes: 1) Video Games; 2) Teaching Methods; 3) Prescription Drugs; 4) Endocrine Disruptors; and 5) Devaluation of Masculinity. This book is probably the most thought provoking for parents.
Finally, in Girls on the Edge he outlines four points that need to be addressed to combat problems facing many girls in our society: 1) sexual identity; 2) the cyberbubble; 3) obsessions; and 4) environmental toxins. Sax’s are based on research and that when new research is available he updates his books on his web page www.leonardsax.com
Overall, I recommend these books to teachers, counselors, and parents raising boys and girls in America today. He challenges the reader to consider holding many children (especially boys) out of kindergarten for a year, the value of sports, how to problem solve with girls vs. boys, and many other practical matters.
Allison Edwards's book Why Smart Kids Worry: And What Parents Can Do to Help (2013) has 15 tools for parents to use to help anxious children.
Homework: A Parent's Guide to Helping Out Without Freaking Out! (2011) In this parenting book Neil McNerney forces parents to focus on their own behavior and how it is facilitating or making homework worse. It teaches parents how to consult with children and manage their own reactions. I think counselors should encourage parents to follow Neil's advice.