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Counseling N

Dealing with Concerns

Nothing causes a bigger knot in a parent’s stomach than the realization that something is hurting their child. It can be a math program that isn’t working for a student, or withdrawal from peers because of playground altercations. It’s important that you share your concern if your child seems to be struggling or is having difficulties in school. The teacher may not even be aware of the problem– often the most painful situations involve conflicts with peers, and children are sometimes hesitant to share those problems with a teacher. And if the problem involves the curriculum, it can often be a case of misunderstanding as the curriculum goals are translated by the child to a parent. 

Here are some steps you can take to make sure concerns are resolved quickly: 

Write down your concerns first. This isn’t writing that you necessarily will want to show a teacher or an administrator, but it will help you focus your concerns. It might also help you diffuse some strong emotions you might be feeling. 

Be direct. It is often difficult to call a teacher directly—most classrooms do not have telephones. Call the main office and leave a message. As teachers may not have the opportunity to return your call immediately, leave a time it would be best to return the call. 

Make an appointment if needed. Be sure to let the teacher know why you are asking for the appointment. 

Keep a positive frame of mind, especially with your child. Remember that you, the teacher, and the child are the partners in your child’s education. Often a concern about school is upsetting to both you and your child. Your child’s attitude about school is tempered by your feelings and you want your child to have a positive outlook. 

Be clear about your concerns. An honest approach works best. Let the teacher know your concerns and how they came to be. Though criticism can be painful, teachers much prefer to hear concerns directly than through gossip or another individual. The teacher can offer more information or an explanation that will help the two of you plan a course of action. 

Slater Steps Up to Stop Bullying

Did you know that October was National Bullying Prevention Month? We take bullying very seriously here at Slater Middle School. We work with students in many ways to help teach them how to prevent being a victim of bullying, what to do if they are bullied, why it is important to NOT be a bystander and how to treat others with respect. We are also very concerned with the increase in cyber bullying. We want to encourage all of our families to check in with your children frequently about their on line technology use. Our middle school children are looking for ways to have their own lives, privacy and a feeling of independence. However, unrestricted and unmonitored use of technology is an invitation to cyber bullying. Please be aware of the social media that your students are accessing, whether it is on their phones or personal computers. 

During the month of October, Slater staff and students were focusing on bully prevention with a theme of “Not in Our School, Bully Free”. We held a school wide event to unite all Spartans in a pledge to take a stand and make a difference in bully prevention. 

Bullying Prevention and Awareness Facts 

•More than 160,000 U.S. students stay home from school each day from fear of being bullied. 

•Bullying directly affects a student’s ability to learn. Students who are bullied find it difficult to concentrate, show a decline in grades, and lose self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-worth. 

•Students who are bullied report more physical symptoms, such as headaches or stomachaches, and mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety, than other students. 

•In some cases, bullying has led to devastating consequences, such as school shootings and suicide. 

•Bullying affects witnesses as well as targets. Witnesses often report feeling unsafe, helpless, and afraid that they will be the next target. 

•Bullying is a community wide issue that must no longer be ignored or thought of as a rite of passage. Students, parents, and educators all have a role in addressing bullying situations and changing school culture. 

•The two keys to creating change are: increasing awareness that bullying has a lifelong impact, and giving people the tools they need to respond effectively. 

•Students can be especially effective in bullying intervention. More than 55 percent of bullying situations will stop when a peer intervenes. Student education of how to address bullying for peers is critical, as is the support of adults. 

Adjusting to Middle School Life

You may notice that the house is a little quiet the first week of school!. This is only natural as everyone adjusts to the new routines of schools. Don’t expect most children to be very chatty—it’s exhausting for anyone to juggle new classrooms, friends, early bedtimes, and new responsibilities can overwhelm even the most confident child. There are small things you can do that your child will appreciate to help them adjust to the new school year:

  • Make sure home routines are very regular!

This provides children with a sense of security as they adjust to the new demands of school. Firm bedtimes and consistent routines such as reading together just before lights out will help your child master the new routines away from home much more quickly.

  • Organize that book bag!

Now is the time for you to set up a quiet area, time, and ground rules for help with school projects or homework. Read any materials sent home about the school rules and routines carefully, so you can help your child with new responsibilities and rules.

  • Hide a note or two!

Write a short note to your child reminding them that you’re thinking of them all day long, and then hide it in their lunch or backpack. Your child will love coming across a happy note from home as they are in the  midst of adjusting to a new enviornment.

  • Plan a special event for the weekend!

It might include preparing your child’s favorite meal, or a last trip to the beach or favorite playground. Celebrate the had work your child (and you) have done all week adjusting to school by treating yourselves to time together you can both enjory.

Helping Your Child Enter a New School

For a child, enrolling in a new school is exciting, and anxiety, provoking. There are several things you can do to make the change in schools a little easier.

  ☺ Visit the school with your child!

Before your child enters the new school, make an appointment to visit the teacher and classroom. Schedule a time when you can introduce your child and yourself to the teacher as well as explore the classroom.

☺ Find out about the daily routines!

Where do the children line up to come inside in the morning? How is lunch money collected? What is the schedule for gym and art?  Is there a dress code?  Ask for a student or parent handbook, if there is one available.

☺ Request a tour of the building!

Children new to a school are often reluctant to ask about the lost and found box or the nurse’s office. Tour the school with your child to discover all the important areas, including the main office, bathrooms, library, and gym.

☺ Check on school policies!

All schools have written policies that guide their procedures. If there isn’t a school/parent handbook, ask about dropping off and picking up children, administering medication, early dismissal, and discipline, procedures.

☺ Fill out any paperwork you can before that first day!

Any paperwork, such as emergency forms or permission slips, that you can fill out beforehand is less for your child to carry back and forth that first day.

☺ Find out about supplies!

Check to see what supplies your child may need to bring along on that first day. Be prepared to supply pencils, pens, and paper for your student.  Being prepared for that first day helps your child feel secure.

☺ Follow the transportation route your child will use to get to school!

If your child will travel by bus, check with the school or the bus company about the schedule and pick-up and drop-off points. If your child is a walker, walk the route together and talk about safely walking to school. Point out landmarks that may be helpful in finding the way.

Parent Tips for Talking to Your Teen

 The single most important thing you can do for your teen is to spend at least one hour a week with each teen/child. The teen chooses and organizes the activity even if they choose not do anything. 

 Know your teen’s friends parents. Network with them, for example host a yearly barbecue to discuss teen social issues. 

 Know your teen’s friends; host a pizza party for them. Get to know them socially. 

 Know where your teen is at all times, who they are with and what time they will be home. 

 If for some reason the teen is unable to get home at assigned time, be sure they call parent. 

 If you say no, mean no, be consistent. 

 Spend time with your teen. 

 As a parent communicate with your spouse in private and agree on decisions regarding your teen. 

 The best time to give advice is when they ask for it. 

 The best way to give advice is through a letter. 

 Ask your teen to make an appointment with you to discuss their reaction to your letter. 

 Listen to your teen. Listen for understanding and without giving advice. Ask clarifying questions, “Did you mean that the teacher was frustrating or the subject was frustrating”? 

 Empower your teen by allowing them to face the consequences of their choices/actions. To rescue means to say “You can’t do it without my help”. Making excuses for them is not helpful in their development. 

 Give them opportunities to see and explore various experiences. For example, visit museums, go to the beach, movies, ballgame, volunteer in the community, serve at soup kitchen, workout, go for walk, look at old family photos, take a class (photography, art, cooking, etc.) together.