Newsletter – December 2022

December 2022 School Counselor Newsletter

Dear St. John Families,

As we head into the second trimester of the year, I’m excited to begin my second round of Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) groups.

SEL groups are a key support I offer at for students in Kindergarten through fifth grade. The groups focus on a variety of SEL skills, including emotional regulation, coping skills, friendship, and conflict resolution skills. Groups are formed with 4-6 same-grade peers and meet weekly for 30 minutes during the school day for ten weeks.

Fill out this online form if you would like your child to participate in a group. The sign-up deadline is Monday, January 9th. Please note that while I cannot guarantee a space for every student who is referred to my groups, I make every effort to get each student into a group rotation at some point during the school year.

It is privilege and joy to be your child’s school counselor! If you have any concerns about our child’s social or emotional well-being, feel free to email me at cshaw@st-johnschool.org. I’m available to speak with families and meet with students throughout the week.

Warmest wishes,

Ms. Shaw

December Resources

  • Check out these family conversation starters from Character Strong! These are great for sparking rich conversation—try them out during dinner, on a family walk or drive, or on a relaxing winter break day.
  • This year as a faculty we’ve been starting our staff meetings with a brief mindfulness activity. Mindfulness has been shown to have numerous benefits, including increased emotional regulation and academic performance, among other benefits. Many teachers are integrating a mindfulness practice in their classrooms. Here are some ways you can practice mindfulness at home, too! And additional mindfulness resources can be found on my website here.
  • Anxiety disorders are on the rise and one of the top mental health disorders diagnosed in childhood. If you’re unsure how to respond to your anxious child, check out these simple and helpful phrases and try to avoid using these. If anxiety is severely interfering with your child’s daily life, it’s important to seek help. Feel free to email me for resources or speak with your child’s pediatrician.

Newsletter – November 2022

November 2022 School Counselor Newsletter

Dear St. John Families,

Happy November! I don’t know about you, but I’ve been loving the crisp fresh air, rain, and cozy fall evenings lately. Another thing I love about this time of year is that as we move into the holiday season we are encouraged to reflect on what we’re grateful for. Professionally, at the very top of my gratitude list are the relationships I have with the students, families, and my colleagues here at St. John. I am thankful every day that I get to work with so many wonderful people!

Speaking of relationships and this time of year, conference season is upon us! While I meet with many families throughout the week, November 9th and 10th are dedicated entirely to conferences and serve as another opportunity for me to meet with families. If you’d like to arrange an in-person or Zoom conference with me, please email me directly at cshaw@st-johnschool.org to schedule one.

With gratitude,

Ms. Shaw

November Resources

Newsletter – October 2022

October 2022 School Counselor Newsletter

Dear St. John Families,

Happy October! I’ve so loved getting to reconnect with everyone since we’ve returned to school. With over a month of school under our belts, students seem settled back into the routine and rhythm of school, which has been great to see. Speaking of routines, I want to use this newsletter as an opportunity to share about the importance of routines for children.

When strong routines are in place they create consistency and predictability, which, in turn, helps children feel safe. Here at school, our students’ days are full of routines—prayer and pledge to start the day, morning meetings, prayer before meals, mindfulness practices and quiet time after lunch—I could go on! Routines and rituals are so powerful in keeping us organized and creating a sense of safety and security.

And routines and rituals are just as beneficial at home! I encourage you to check out this article from Sound Discipline on the value of routines and suggestions for ways to create them at home.

As always, please feel free to contact me at cshaw@st-johnschool.org. I work with students and families throughout the week and am happy to help you in whatever way I can!

Ms. Shaw

October Resources

  • The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is hosting a free “Family & Friends” seminar to inform people who have loved ones with a mental health condition. This is a great opportunity to learn more about mental illness and how to support someone you love who is experiencing a mental illness. Learn more and sign up here.
  • Fads, stunts, and challenges are nothing new, but some of the viral social media challenges are becoming increasingly risky and dangerous. This is a great article from Common Sense Media on how to help kids navigate viral social media challenges.
  • Looking for ways to strengthen your child’s social-emotional development? Check out this talk Hamlin Robinson School’s Learning Center is hosting on October 20th at 6:30pm.

Newsletter – September 2022

September 2022 School Counselor Newsletter

Dear St. John Families,

Welcome back to school! It’s been such a delight reconnecting with everyone and getting to know families new to our school. I’m so excited to get my Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) groups running! SEL groups are a great opportunity for students new to our school to make connections and friendships with peers in their classes. Read on to learn more about SEL groups and other ways I’ll be working with students this year:

SEL Groups (K-5th Grade): Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) groups are a key way I support students who need some additional social or emotional support. Groups are formed with 4-5 same-grade peers and meet for 30 minutes a week during the school day for 10 consecutive weeks. If you believe your child would benefit from some additional support and would like them to be considered for a group, please fill out this online form. The deadline to refer your child for the upcoming round of groups is Friday, September 16th.

Mental Health Awareness Elective (Middle School): New this year to our school are electives! I’m so excited to get to work with middle schoolers in this smaller group setting. In the “Mental Health Awareness” elective, students will learn about mental health and spread awareness about mental health conditions affecting children and teens. We will also explore strategies to promote mental health and gather resources to educate and share with our community. Ask your middle schooler about what electives they’re excited to try! There are so many cool ones!

1-on-1 Counseling (All students): I’m available to work with students as requested on a goal-oriented, short-term basis. Please email me to arrange this service.

If I can do anything at all to support you or your child as we start the new school year, please feel free to contact me at cshaw@st-johnschool.org. I would be so happy to help you in whatever way I can.

Let’s make it a great year!

Ms. Shaw

September Resources

  • Want to hear more about how your child’s school day went beyond “fine”? Check out these creative questions to ask that should elicit some really fun conversation!
  • September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. According to the CDC, suicide is the second leading cause of death among children aged 10-14. With this sobering statistic in mind, I want to share two important resources with our community. First is the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). They have great information and resources that every family should have easily accessible. Second, is the new nationwide suicide and crisis lifeline. Anyone can call or text “988” to be connected to the lifeline. It’s free and available 24/7.

Newsletter – June 2022

June 2022 School Counselor Newsletter

Dear St. John Families,

With two weeks left in the school year, we’ve officially hit the final countdown to summer break! It’s been another challenging COVID school year, and yet, I’ve been so impressed by the resiliency our students have demonstrated. And you, parents and caregivers, have no doubt played a pivotal role in your child’s success, so hats off to you, too! Given the number of messages I know the school is sending out this time of year, I’m purposely keeping this newsletter on the shorter end, but if I can be of any assistance to you in the final days of the school year, don’t hesitate to drop by or contact me via email at cshaw@st-johnschool.org.

I hope each of you have a very happy and healthy summer vacation and I look forward to reconnecting in the fall!

Ms. Shaw

June Resources

  • In the wake of the tragedy in Uvalde, Texas, I’ve had a number of families reach out to me seeking guidance on how to talk to children about this devastating news. This article from NPR has excellent tips that are applicable to a wide number of upsetting news events.
  • Looking for ways to create special memories and bond as a family this summer? Consider making a summer family bucket list! Check out this list for 45 ideas to get you started.
  • With the extra time spent together during the summer months, it’s natural for sibling fights to increase. Take a look at these tips from the Child Mind Institute on how to both prevent and resolve sibling fights.

Newsletter – May 2022

May 2022 School Counselor Newsletter

Dear St. John Families,

Happy May! And happy Mental Health Awareness Month! Mental health is a vital component of overall health and well-being. In 2020, it was estimated that 1 in 6 youth aged 6-17 experienced a mental health disorder. As a mental health professional, this statistic is not surprising to me and it has likely increased given the pandemic and related stressors.

With this in mind, it’s so important that we continue to raise awareness and promote children’s mental health. I encourage all parents and caregivers to take a look at this 3-page guide from Seattle Children’s Hospital: Mental Health and Your Child or Teen. The guide includes a summary of what mental health is, what to watch for, and recommendations for how to improve children’s mental health.

If you are concerned about your child’s mental health or well-being, please seek help. You can contact me via email at cshaw@st-johnschool.org. I provide short-term counseling to students and offer families consultation and referrals to community resources. Other good places to start are reaching out to your child’s teacher or pediatrician if you have concerns.

Warmly,

Ms. Shaw

May Resources

  • Youth Mental Health First Aid is a great (and free!) virtual course offered through Seattle Children’s Hospital. The class is offered to adults who interact with children ages 12-18 and is designed to improve participants’ knowledge of mental health and substance use problems. It also provides strategies for how to connect youth with care when needed.
  • I always like to highlight The Imagine Neighborhood podcast to families. This is a wonderful podcast designed to grow children’s emotional intelligence.
  • On June 2nd, ParentMap is hosting a free talk about children’s screen time and media use. In the talk, Dr. Dimitri Christakis, director of Seattle Children’s Research Institute’s Center for Child Health, Behavior, and Development, will present a blueprint for how parents can rebalance screen time. Learn more and register here.

Newsletter – April 2022

April 2022 School Counselor Newsletter

Dear St. John Families,

It’s sure starting to feel like spring! As our students begin to look towards the end of the year, helping them cultivate a growth mindset to finish out the year on a high note is so important. Author Carol Dweck offers three great tips for parents and caregivers on how we can motivate students at the end of the year:

1. Focus on progress: Emphasize and help your child see just how much they’ve learned so far this year.

2. Use that progress to motivate new learning: Help your child use the motivation that comes from seeing their progress thus far to push through and learn the final concepts of the year.

3. Connect your child’s learning to their own life: Talk with your child about how they can use what they have learned in school in their day-to-day life. (Example: math concepts prove useful in bake sales and lemonade stands!)

Read Dweck’s full article on “Mindsets and the End-of-Year Slump” here. And as always, please don’t hesitate to contact me if you or your student needs some additional support.

Warmly,

Ms. Shaw

April Resources

  • It’s common for kids (and adults!) to worry about things that are unlikely to happen. Example: “What if I fail this test?” or “What if she doesn’t want to be my friend anymore?” Helping your child learn to challenge these fears and anxieties is a valuable lifelong tool. Check out these 6 questions to evaluate worries. These are super effective questions that I use with students (and myself!) regularly and with great success.
  • Have a behavioral concern about your child, but not quite sure where to start? Try the Child Mind Institute’s Resource Finder. This is a great tool that enables parents and caregivers to select issues and then see a curated list of resources based on the identified concerns.
  • A strategy I often recommend to foster a positive and supportive home environment is having a regular family meeting. Family meetings are a way for members of a family to plan, problem-solve, and bond as a team. Children can learn so much during family meetings, such as listening, respecting differences, problem-solving, and more. If this concept is new to you, I encourage you to read this article from Positive Discipline—it covers what a family meeting is and offers suggestions for how to structure one.

Newsletter – March 2022

March 2022 School Counselor Newsletter

Dear St. John Families,

Happy March! This year sure feels like it’s flying by! As we look toward the approaching final trimester of the school year, I’m excited to begin my spring round of Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) groups.

SEL groups are offered to students in K-5th grade who need extra support with a particular social or emotional skill (e.g., managing feelings, growing friendship skills, etc.). Groups are formed with 3-5 same-grade peers and meet weekly for 30 minutes during the school day for eight weeks. If you would like your child to be considered for a group, please fill out this online form. The deadline to refer your child for a spring group is Friday, April 18th.

As always, please don’t hesitate to contact me if you or your student needs some additional support. Wishing your family all my best!

Ms. Shaw

March Resources

  • The news and images coming out of Ukraine can feel scary, upsetting, and confusing to children. NPR spoke with child development experts to get their recommendations on how to help children when the news is scary. The suggestions in this article are excellent and I highly recommend taking a look.
  • If perfectionism is a theme that comes up a lot in your house, check out these great tips: 7 Ways to Help Your Child With Perfectionism.
  • Many families struggle with deciding what the right age is for their child to get a cellphone. If this is something you’re currently considering, check out Common Sense Media’s resources. They have an article dedicated to this very topic with great questions to help you consider whether your child is ready for their own phone.

Newsletter – February 2022

February 2022 School Counselor Newsletter

Dear St. John Families,

Happy Catholic Schools Week! I’m so grateful to be a part of the wonderful St. John School community and am so excited to celebrate our school and Catholic education this week! Looking to next week, I’m keeping the celebrations going as February 7-11 is National School Counseling Week!

The goal of National School Counseling Week is to focus public attention on the important contributions made by school counselors within the U.S. school systems. If you’d like to learn more about the role of school counselors, please check out this infographic or head to my website.

I want to reiterate just how fortunate I feel to be your child’s school counselor. It’s an honor and privilege to hold this special role and I feel so blessed to be supported by the wonderful community here at St. John!

Wishing your family all my best,

Ms. Shaw

February Resources

  • Here’s a simple tip from a local therapist to connect with children: instead of questions, try statements that show you’re interested and paying attention (e.g., instead of “Did your test go ok?” try, “I was thinking about you during your math test.”) See more here.
  • As the pandemic stretches on, we’ve all had to learn new skills to manage the stress: bouncing back from disappointment, going with the flow when plans change, managing uncertainty. Flexible thinking is a valuable resiliency skill that helps children in these areas. Check out this article from the Child Mind Institute with concrete tips to help kids with flexible thinking.
  • You may have heard of PEPS (Program for Early Parent Support), but did you know they now offer a program for Parents of Adolescents and Teens called “PAT”? This virtual program is open to parents and caregivers with children ages 10-19 and covers a wide range of topics relevant to children during these years. Learn more here.

Newsletter – January 2022

January 2022 School Counselor Newsletter

Dear St. John Families,

Happy New Year! I hope your family had a safe winter break and you were able to find moments of warmth, connection, and hope.

With the new year comes new Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) groups! SEL groups are offered at St. John to support students in K-5th grade who need extra support with a particular social or emotional skill (e.g., controlling feelings, coping with anxiety, friendship skills, etc.). Groups are formed with 3-5 same-grade peers and meet weekly for 30 minutes during the school day for eight weeks.

If you would like your child to be considered for a group, please fill out this online form. The deadline to refer your child for a winter group is Wednesday, January 12th. Please note that while I cannot guarantee a space for every student who is referred to my groups, I make every effort to get each student into a group rotation at some point during the school year.

As always, please don’t hesitate to contact me if your student needs some additional support. I am available to meet with students during the school day both in person and via Zoom.

Warmly,

Ms. Shaw

January Resources

  • On January 18th, ParentMap is hosting a free talk with the highly regarded Dr. Edward Hallowell titled, “In Praise of Learning Differences: Focusing on Strengths and Abilities.” Dr. Hallowell will share how parents can help kids with ADHD, dyslexia, and other learning differences harness their unique strengths to be successful in school and life. Learn more and register here. Note, if you cannot attend this event live, ParentMap archives their talks on their Facebook page here.
  • Growth Mindset is the SEL theme here at St. John this month. Enrich what your child is learning by listening to the Big Life Journal’s growth mindset podcast!
  • The winter months can be a particularly blue time of the year for many. The post-holiday letdown combined with our dark and cold days can often lead to a decline in mood and motivation. To learn about how to distinguish between typical winter blues and something more severe, check out this article from Seattle Children’s Hospital—it’s packed with tons of great insights and resources.