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‘Help Your Child Thrive in School and Beyond’ – National School Psychology Awareness Week 2015

SCHOOL KIDS

This week happens to be National School Psychology Awareness Week. In an effort to promote our profession and  provide an understanding of what it is that we do – because it seems to be ever evolving, changing, and growing –  each year the national association designates a week in November to present a message to the public about school psychology.

Helping Students and Families Connect the Dots and Thrive in School and Beyond.

School psychologists are trained to support and help students build their strengths, skills and abilities and realize their goals. Specifically, we have the expertise in mental health, learning, and behavior to help children  and youth succeed academically, socially, behaviorally, and emotionally. We help students build upon their strengths, skills, interests, and abilities to ‘connect the dots’ and thrive. This includes helping them identify and plan ways to accomplish short and long term goals, building better relationships, and finding ways to keep going even when things get tough.

As many in our community may wrestle with high emotion and confusing thoughts and opinions related to incredibly important matters of faith, family, belief, and hope for the future, being accepting and loving towards everyone, even those that are very different from us, while challenging, may be more important than ever. Kids in school, especially as they get older, become notoriously peer focused! Who is getting the A? Who has the coolest phone? Who does the teacher call on the most? Who got asked to the dance? Etc. Etc. Supporting our kids to be true to themselves, yet accepting of others can be such a difficult task.

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5 Tips for Creating Emotional Security for Your Children

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5 Tips for creating emotional security and safety for your children when they are away from home.

It is often discussed how to create a loving home that encompasses safety, love, and security.  We validate, empower and create open dialogue, encouraging our children to have voices amongst other things.  However, the world and especially school environments can be very different from home.  There are different elements to consider and prepare for to assist in creating a feeling of safety and emotional security for our children while in these environments outside of home.

Prepare your children for various encounters, The world can be a tricky place to navigate.  Even for adults, we encounter social situations that can be tough to navigate, and know how to react.  Helping your children to understand the various encounters they may have while outside your home can help reduce anxiety, and prepare them to handle these encounters with confidence.  How to interact with the bus driver, the teacher who may scold you, the children in the class who may have buddied up, the adults at church that say hello, are all wonderful encounters to prepare your child for.  Help them with ideas for these types of scenarios based on your families ideals and personal values.

Role Play.  Don’t let the classic “What would you do if?” questions disappear into he closet with your past!  These are still present and relevant questions to present to your child.  What would do if you were left out at school?  What would you do if you were being treated unkindly?  What would you do if you saw someone being unkind?  Role play situations like these and others with your child.  It will not guarantee your child handles every situation perfectly, but it will offer them some experience and ideas to better handle situations that may present themselves when they are away from home.

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Testing Students for a Learning Disability

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Having been in school about 2 and 1/2 months, my mailbox at school is getting busier with referrals.  As the school psychologist in an elementary building, there’s been ample time for teachers to identify concerning students, try individualized interventions, and monitor their progress. For some of those students who are still struggling, it’s time for including the school psychologist for some discussion with the parents: should we be considering testing?

How and when should parents and teachers begin to consider a child for testing?

What should you expect if you decide to move forward with testing?

As my well trained teachers know,  lack of sufficient growth to grade level instruction can be an early indication, along with insufficient rate of growth despite individualized intervention. Because of changes in the law that governs special education and testing, most school districts require some period of intensive, individualized interventions either prior to testing  or as part of the evaluation. This is called ‘response to intervention’ or R.T.I.  Throughout this time period, the expectation is that the student’s response to the intervention  (progress) is monitored and documented. This is an important concept to keep in mind and to consider prior to initiating the testing process or, at the very least, to understand once testing is underway.

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7 Rules in Shame-Based Families

Teen Family Time
Shame has been a popular psychotherapy topic in social media lately and due to its fame it is frequently on my mind.  Today I’ve been thinking specifically about shame-based families and how this toxic feeling is often handed down through generations.
Shame can be passed through a family in myriad ways.  A common path is for it to travel through family rules.  With some prompting, maybe you can recall some of your family’s rules.  What rules did your family have about touching and sexuality?  What were the rules regarding marriage, money, vacations, religion, socializing…?
In John Bradshaw’s Healing the Shame That Binds You he outlines 7 rules that are maintained by shame-based families.
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Help With Homework? Re-frame Your Approach This Year

SCHOOL KIDS

The school year is now underway, and for most of us, that can only mean one thing. It’s just a matter of days before ‘it’ begins, ‘mom, where is my science book? I know it was in my book bag and now it’s gone!’ or ‘dad, YOU SAID you would help me with my English!’ Homework season has begun.

When did homework become so intense, so stressful? Does it have to be this way? Here are just a few ideas to re-frame the homework experience to make it easier on you and help you remember why we do it at all.

Pro or con, the homework debate has been going on for as long as most of us can remember. How much is enough? Is it worth it? Should you monitor your child? Most research leans towards yes, generally speaking, though not always in the way we might think. Overall, a good rule of thumb is approximately 10 minutes per grade, so a first grader completes about 10 minutes, and so on.

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Back-to-School Jitters: Tips for Parents

SCHOOL KID ANXIETY

The Back To School Jitters

For many parents, the beginning of the school year not only brings a sigh of relief, but also a feeling of panic with the emergence of the endless school supply lists, homework, and trying to get not just to bed on time but to school! For many children and teens however, the first few weeks of school are not just a struggle because they are mourning the lazy days of summer.  Many kids experience anxiety and really struggle adjusting, especially if it is one of the “firsts” – 1st grade, the start of junior high, high school, and the senior year.  These are major milestones as well as rites of passage for kids growing up into adulthood, with many hurdles and the unknown of what to expect.  Click on the link below to watch this segment for tips for parents on how to move through these first few weeks smoothly as we calm the Back To School Jitters.

 

https://kutv.com/features/fresh-living/back-to-school-jitters-tips-for-parents

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A List of Surefire Ways to Feel Happier & Fight Depression

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A List of Surefire ways to Feel Happier and Fight Depression
Over the years depression has been steadily increasing in adults as well as children.  So how can we fight these feelings of sadness? How can we help our children?  I recently came across this website that discusses nature and our mood, and why it helps.  It is a very quick read and the website offers a list of ways that we can increase our happiness; each suggestion is backed by clinically proven research.  The source offers specific ideas and things to do for adults as well as for children.  It gives suggestions that can take as little as five minutes of your time, to more extended amounts of time.
Check out his link and get see if there is a something for you to get you feeling good:
http://my.happify.com/hd/nature-makes-us-happier-infographic/?srid=self
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5 Common Creativity Myths: LCSW Julie Hanks on KSL’s Studio 5


5 Common CreativityMyths(1)

When you think of the idea of creativity, what comes to mind? A brilliant painter? A famous film director? An acclaimed composer? While those examples certainly are true, there is more to creativity than famous artists and their work. For the purpose of this discussion, the definition of creativity is the ability to make new things or think new ideas, transforming existing materials into something novel and beneficial. Here are 5 common myths about creativity:

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How to Reduce Mom Guilt: Dr. Julie Hanks on KSL’s Studio 5

5 Ways to Reduce Mom GuiltMoms have a lot to do, and we often take pride in accomplishing tasks and checking items off of our to-do lists. But when we don’t achieve what we set out to, unfortunately we can beat ourselves up (this happens particularly during changes and chapter endings, such as summer winding down and kids heading back to school). It seem to be human nature to focus on what we didn’t get done, but focusing on our shortcomings (perceived or real) can lead to great unhappiness and emotional distress. Here are 5 ways to resolve mom guilt:

1) Stop the Cycle of Comparison 

Theodore Roosevelt wrote that “comparison is the thief of joy.” I recently found myself comparing my family’s summer plans with those of some of my friends and wishing that we had done more. Thankfully, I was able to catch myself and simple say, “Stop It!” Social media makes it all too easy to compare our lives with others, but every person and every family is different, and there is something empowering about owning your own life and experience for what it is (click here for a past Studio 5 segment on avoiding comparison).

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Student Resiliency: 5 Skills Your Child Needs To Suceed This Year

SCHOOL KID ANXIETY

Over and over the term ‘resiliency’ is being used in conversations between teachers, parents, and in preparation for the upcoming school year.  Most of us use the term casually; of course, students who are ‘resilient’ will do better at school – both academically and socially – but what does resiliency really mean?  Can parents help develop these skills? Can resiliency ‘be taught?’ In one psychological study conducted by Brock (2002d), student resiliency was determined to include specific internal behavioral skills or traits and that yes, these traits could be improved or fostered. Using that study as a framework, positive student resiliency behaviors/skills include:

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