Counsellor’s Update – April

Hello Monterey Parents and Guardians,
As it has been a while since we’ve sent one of our counselling emails out to you all, we wanted to give you an update on some exciting things we have been doing at Monterey this spring!
Our Peer Helpers program is in full swing, with volunteers helping to introduce new students to the school, tutoring kids from younger grades, and overall being social ambassadors to foster an inclusive and connected school community. We even have a team of passionate students who are working to bring a presentation to Monterey classrooms on raising awareness about Autism. As the school counsellor, Mary is working hard to bring Autism awareness and education to all our students at Monterey, and our teaching staff. We have provided some resources below for you to take a look at on the subject; our students on the Autism Spectrum are valuable members of our school community at Monterey and we are proud to help spread education for Autism Awareness month. Some talking points to touch base with your kids over the weekend are asking questions like, “Do you know what Autism is?”, “Do you know anybody who is on the Autism Spectrum?”, and “What are some things you could do next week to connect with someone on the Autism Spectrum?” Here are some of the basics you can chat about with your kids:
​Even though each person on the Autism Spectrum is unique, there are some common factors for how we can understand what you might notice in peers with Autism. It is often accompanied by sensory sensitivities, so someone on the Autism Spectrum might be especially sensitive to things like light, touch, and sound. This is why you might see someone wearing noise-cancelling headphones in a busy classroom. Eye contact can also be very difficult for someone with Autism, as well as they might have more difficulties picking up on social cues. Thinking about these conditions, how might that influence how you make a connection with someone on the Autism Spectrum?
Some exciting news is that the two of us will be attending Mindfulness training for school counsellors in June, with the plan to bring a Mindfulness program to Monterey in the fall. Keep an eye out for our June email for some great relaxation tips we’ll pass along your way, to help you and your children prepare for the stress of the end of the year!

Also, there is an amazing opportunity to take part in a free online Positive Parenting Conference! The conference runs from May 7th-14th, but you can reserve your free ticket now at the link below:

https://afineparent.com/positive-parenting-conference​

Thank you for your continued support; wishing you and your families a happy and relaxing weekend!
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Counsellor’s Update February

Here are some upcoming resources and opportunities for students and parents or guardians during the month of February. 
Grief and Loss Support Group for Students: The organization Learning Through Loss is currently accepting referrals to their 8-week community group program for students between the ages of 13-18. The program runs form April 9th – May 28th at the Burnside Gorge Community Centre. Eligible students will have experienced grief in response to loss or other changes in their lives, including (but not limited to) death of a loved one, divorce, moving, mental health challenges, or peer alienation. Please see the attached forms for more information and registration. 
Parenting in the Digital Age: ​A free opportunity for parents and guardians of children or teens. Happening on February 20th from 6pm-8pm, through Pacific Centre Family Services. Please see attached poster for the Eventbrite link for registration. 
“Teens and School… what adults can do to help” Presentation: Secondary School is an important time in a teen’s life, and for teen’s struggling with mental health and/or substance use challenges, it can be a tough time. This video presentation brings together a principal and a parent to discuss what they have done as adults to support things going well for teens in secondary school. Date & Time: Feb 19th, 6:30pm-8:30pm @ Military Family Resource Centre. RSVP: https://bit.ly/2MQEQm1
“Self-Care: When you’re a parent of a child with challenging behaviour” Presentation: This presentation will focus on the importance of taking care of ourselves as parents, learning and understanding how the stress of dealing with behaviour can impact our minds and bodies, as well as strategies to help in practicing self-care. Date & Time: Feb 21st, 7:00pm-9:00pm @ Saanich Neighbourhood Place. RSVP: https://bit.ly/2HSdRry
Something we as educators notice, is that this time of year can be especially difficult for student moods, with the holidays behind us and spring not yet upon us. It might be a good time to take a moment to talk with your child about the kinds of things they can do to make themselves feel good when they are feeling down. What are some hobbies they can engage in? How can they help others to boost their own moods? Giving kids tangible strategies to take ownership of their own happiness can really help get through darker days and colder weather… until those cherry blossoms return!

Counsellor’s Update Jan 10th

Good morning Parents/Guardians,

Happy New Year and welcome back! As we head into a new year and a new term, it is a chance for fresh starts, but also potential new anxieties and challenges. There are some useful programs available for you and your children coming up in the near future that I wanted to let you know about to help youth with anxiety.

Teen Mindfulness groups for teens ages 13-17. The necessary criteria to be eligible for this group is that your child must be experiencing anxiety, stress, and/or worrying (no formal diagnosis required), have an ability to attend an Information Session as well as all 6 group sessions, and must not currently be experiencing moderate to severe mental health symptoms. The next information sessions are January 16th and 23rd, from 4:30-6:30pm at the Downtown YMCA, located at 851 Broughton St. Attending an information session is mandatory prior to participating in the program. Register for an upcoming information session by emailing us at mindfulness@vancouverislandy.ca. Or for more information call: 250-386-7511 ext. 413.Information Sessions: Downtown Victoria Y – January 16th & 23rd, 2019, 4:30-6:30pm. Program Sessions: Downtown Victoria Y – February 6th to March 13th, 2019 (weekly on Wednesdays from 4:30-6pm)

First FamilySmart Meeting of 2019 is Thursday January17th  – Anxiety: An Occupational Therapist’s Approach. Sean Boulet, an Occupational Therapist with Island Health, is back again to talk about anxiety, not only as it relates to teens, and younger children, but also parents will benefit from Sean’s perspective and experience. Youth and Service Providers are welcome to attend! What will you learn: – Physical, Psychological, Behaviour and Emotion Signs of Anxiety – Strategies to calm and regulate – Exposure Therapy Date & Time: Thursday January 17th,  7:00 pm – 9:00 pm Location : Saanich Neighbourhood Place ( Inside Pearkes Rec. Center ) RSVP: https://bit.ly/2Tug8Kr

A great free resource for you to sign up for is Big Life Journal: https://biglifejournal.com/ where if you click on the “Free Printables” red tab at the right of the page, you can sign up to get fun activities focusing on Growth Mindset emailed to you every Friday!

I would also like to take this opportunity at the start of this year to introduce Sarah Wilson to you, who will be my School Counselling internship student here at Monterey for the next two years. Some of you may already know Sarah as our school’s drama teacher, and I am excited to have her take on this additional role at Monterey. One of the projects she will be working on during this time is keeping our school’s counselling website updated with resources for you and your children on anything to do with counsellor-related topics. Continue reading “Counsellor’s Update Jan 10th”

Counsellor Update Nov 4 2018

Good Afternoon parents,

As we head into the holiday season this can often be a stressful time for both children and their families. I wanted to bring up how supporting your child’s problem solving skills can help them build their confidence and self-efficacy which can decrease feelings of stress and anxiety and can help build their resiliency and foster their success.

Problem Solving

When I speak to students who share that they are feeling stressed or anxious, once we get to the cause of the problem, it is often due to their lack of confidence in their own problem solving skills. For example, some issues such as planning when to do homework and when to play, how to deal with conflict, how to apologize, how to share their feelings, etc. In the end, this all links to their ability to think through a process which can help them to get the resolution they want. Therefore, it can be very helpful to talk to kids about this issues, ask them what they would do, and how they think others would respond do their actions. Another option is to allow children to be a part of family problem solving, for example, how do you choose what to make for dinner? How do you choose who gets to watch their show when there are two shows on at once? What does the process look like when you are choosing whether to buy something or not? Allowing children to engage in these problem solving skills at home, with the support of a caring family member can help them build their confidence and resiliency when they are faced with an issue on their own. My hope is that students will have the chance to practice their skills with guidance and then be able to use those skills independently. Here are some guiding questions you can use with your child:

 

What would you do if I didn’t show up when I was supposed to pick you up friend school/a friend’s house/etc.? What would you do if you didn’t have a phone? What would you do if there were no phones available? What would you do next? Then what?

 

When someone says something hurtful to you, what would you do? What would you say? Then what? How do you think they would react?

 

If you had a problem that you couldn’t handle, and you were unable to reach me, what would you do (at school/at home/at a friend’s house)? (You can also consider giving them a specific example of what the problem might be)

 

If you had to do your homework, and nobody was around to help you, how would you get started? What materials would you need? How could you get help if I wasn’t here?

 

Feel free to make up any situation you think your child may encounter in their real life. The more catered-to-them the example is the better as they will be motivated to work through the issue with you.

 

Also, I have some new resources for you that I thought might be helpful so please read the attached documents as well as the opportunities below:

 

Computer/Gaming Addiction

Shannon Husk, please E-mail me for details

Prevention and Community Engagement Service Provider

https://www.bcresponsiblegambling.ca

 

Thursday Dec

ember 6th: Networking and Parent Support Meeting

This month we are having a very different type of parent meeting. Since it is December we are having a combination of parent networking and support.

Here are the details:

Join us for an opportunity to meet other parents who have challenging kids. We will not have a presentation for this meeting. This is one of the few opportunities to come and just get together with other parents. Talk about the good things and the not so good things, the funny things and the hard things.

There will be Christmas snacks and Tea.

Date & Time: Thursday Dec. 6th, 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Location: Saanich Neighbourhood Place ( Inside Pearkes Rec. Centre)

RSVP: https://bit.ly/2DxU6Sb

 

DISCOVERY

Youth & Family Substance Use Services

See Attached Brochure

2nd Floor – 530 Fraser Street

Victoria, BC V9A 6H7

Phone:  250- 519-5313

Fax:  250 -519-5314

Email:  discovery.southisland@viha.ca

Counsellor’s Update October 31st

Hello Monterey Middle School Families,

I wanted to share with you a bit of information about what I am seeing here in my office in hopes that this will give you some ideas about what kind of conversations to have with your children:

Trust: Students are having a hard time deciphering between trustworthy friends and non-trustworthy friends. Therefore, talking about healthy vs. unhealthy relationships with your children may be helpful. Here are some suggestions:

What qualities does a true friend have? What qualities do you have as a true friend? What do you need to work on? How would others describe you as a friend? What kind of secrets do you tell vs. the type you keep? Who do you tell when you know a secret? What kind of secrets do you share amongst friends? What kind should you keep to yourself? Help your child identify who their friends are that they can really trust vs. people they are friendly with.

Three rules for sharing information or making statements out loud: Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind? If it is not all three things then perhaps this is something you keep to yourself.

Friendships: What is the difference between being friendly and being real friends? What kind of friend are you? What kind of friend would you like to be? What qualities do you appreciate in your friends? How can you gain those qualities? What could you work on?

Gossip: What do you do when someone shares a secret with you about someone else? How do you respond? A good suggestion is to say something like: Why are you telling me this?

What do you say when someone says something mean about someone else to you? Some suggestions are: “That’s your opinion.” “I don’t think so”. “What does this have to do with me?” “That’s not true”. “That’s not kind”.

These are just suggestions but definitely topics of concern at the middle school level. If you would like more suggestions or input please feel free to reply to this Email and I’ll get back to you.

Addtionally, here are some workshops coming up in November that you may be interested in attending:

(1) “Managing Screen Time in Children with ADHD”   November 1st , Presenter Dr. David Erickson PhD

 

Children with ADHD are high risk for spending excessive amounts of time on their electronic devices. Dr. Erickson will present strategies for parents to use in the home setting to make positive use of these devices taking into account problems their children may have with impulse control, time management, inattention, sleep, distractibility, and social skills. There will also be ample opportunity for participants to share what is working for them in their homes as they attempt to deal with with many of the above issues.

All Parents, Caregivers and professionals are welcome

Dr. Erickson has over 40 years experience as a Psychologist working with children and families and is the creator of the Behavior Toolbox

The ToolBox contains practical strategies to deal with a wide variety of child and family concerns. The main database of over 7000 strategies covers more than 100 different topic areas from anxiety, depression, developing friendships, managing anger, dealing with natural disasters, and refugee adjustment. Website:  http://www.behaviortoolbox.com

 

Date & Time: Thursday November 1st, 7 – 9 pm

Location: Saanich Neighbourhood Place

RSVP: https://bit.ly/2CM6uhI

 

 

(2) “Anger Management for Parents of Children who are Explosive” November 26th

 

This workshop is designed to help parents recognize the early stages of anger and teach their children tools to self-calm and self regulate. Strategies and tools learned in this workshop can be applied to children with different needs and of all ages – including adults.

Parents, caregivers, those working with children, and professionals welcome!

Presented by Katherine Paxton CCC

 

Date & Time: Monday November 26th, 6:30 – 8:30 pm

Location: The Military Family Resource Centre, 2610 Rosebank Road

RSVP: https://bit.ly/2ykcf2l   or Lisa.Tate@familysmart.ca

 

Counsellor Introduction Oct 16th

Monterey Guardians,

I would like to introduce myself, Mary Klovance, the Counsellor here at Monterey. I am very excited to start my new position here to help support your children throughout middle school. I am also very excited that I will get the chance to teach each one of your children during exploratory, Mash Up Fridays, at some point during the year! If you have any social-emotional concerns about your child, please feel free to connect with me by calling the school or emailing me at mklovance at sd61.bc.ca. I am happy to speak over the phone, via email, or arrange a time to meet depending on your preference.

Something I have found so important for student success and building confidence, independence, and reducing student anxiety, is allowing students the opportunity to engage in problem solving with minimal assistance from adults. While there can be serious matters involving youth that call for parental intervention and decision-making, in most instances, by allowing children the space to navigate challenges and find their own solutions, including working through their feelings of discomfort and actions associated with this, we build their capacity for resilience and self-confidence in dealing with difficult situation

s in the future. We become more of a “coach” and less of a “general manager”.

Some ways you can support your child without taking away their autonomy are:

·         Demonstrate interest in how they are doing and what they are doing or how they might be feeling about specific changes going on in their lives

·         Asking for permission to provide solutions to issues, for example saying something as simple as “Would you like my support/empathy?  Or my advice?”

·         Accepting that your child may not want to engage in an in-depth conversation with you everyday and that they may begin to hold back in sharing personal issues

·         Accept that it is very normal, and an integral part of becoming a teenager, for youth to practice autonomy and be less forthcoming about their daily lives in an attempt to shift away from childhood reliance on parents and enter the early stages of adulthood as they begin to problem solve with less help from their parents

·         Be responsive when they open up to you; make eye contact, provide verbal and nonverbal cues that you are listening and understand what they are saying

·         Use “I” statements when engaging in conflict resolution such as:
“I feel scared when you don’t come home at the time we agreed upon. In the future I would like you to call me as soon as you know you are going to be late so I know you are safe.”

·         Encourage your child to be a part of decisions that may personally affect them and support them in helping to determine the best option for themselves

·         Acknowledge and accept their choices when they have come to a decision about something important and support their decision if you can.

The institute of child psychology is offering a workshop at Camosun College called “Childhood Anxiety: Understanding and Helping Children Heal” on October 27th, 2018. Here is a link for more details if you are interested in signing up:

https://instituteofchildpsychology.com/services/workshop_detail/anxiety_victoria_2018

Additionally, here are a few books you may be interested in checking out from the library:

Kids are Worth it, by Barbara Coloroso

Anxious Kids, Anxious Parents by Reid Wilson PHD and Lynn Lyons LICSW

Hold on to your kids: Why parents need to matter more than peers by Gordon Neufeld, PhD and Gabor mate, MD

I have also attached a PDF file myself and my previous colleagues at Oak Bay High School created with a list of community services and local counsellors.

I look forward to working more closely with Monterey students, and please reach out to me if concerns arise with which you think I may be able to offer assistance,

Mary Klovance, BA, BEd, MA