CIS counseling updates
Andrea's Early Childhood and Elementary School Counselor's Page
CIS recently held it's first ever Kindergarten to Grade 5 "Kindness Week." Planned by the after-school Kindness Club, Ms. Brandi and myself, we put together a week full of events to spread kindness and build a sense of community around the school. Some of our highlights included our community puzzle, meet a new friend lunch switch and that catch someone being kind hearts that we put on our kindness tree. Check out some more of our photos at #CISKindkids
One of my favorite activities as a school counselor is hosting a lunch bunch. A lunch bunch is a fantastic opportunity for me to get to know students better in a relaxed, more informal time during the day. Throughout the year I try to offer as many lunch bunch opportunities as I can for students in Kindergarten to Grade 5. The focus of a lunch bunch could be to strengthen friendships, get to know a group of students better or to focus on a particular goal or area of need that is not being met during my regular guidance lessons.
After receiving an invitation from me a couple of days prior, a "'lunch bunch''' group of 3-6 students will bring either their packed lunch from home or their school lunch on a tray to A5. We start by eating our lunches and getting to know one another better through conversation, sharing simple questions and answers or trying to find things we all have in common . We will then will work together on an activity or may play a game together. Some favorites usually involve Spot-It, Uno or Thoughts and Feelings sentence completion games.
I so often find that kids really value having some small group time together to spend with their peers as it can be challenging to really get to know people and connect in a meaningful way outside during recess with 200 other students running around. Lunch bunch groups are in high demand so I am trying hard to meet with as many groups as possible throughout the school year -- I just wish I had more time to meet with everyone!
Today is a pink civvies day in support of breast cancer research and to bring awareness to bullying. In preparation, I shared a mini-presentation with Elementary students throughout the week on understanding the difference between "rude moments", "being mean" and "bullying" and discussed with them ways to deal with each. We defined bullying as "When someone says or does something Intentionally hurtful and they keep doing it even when you tell them to stop or show them that you're upset" and spoke about what this could look like in different situations. We then watched the following animated videos (http://www.pacer.org/bullying/classroom/elementary/united-video-series.asp) and discussed how everyone can stop bullying from happening by: including people (if you see someone sitting alone, go over and talk to them or invite them to join), accepting everyone (we are all different but we all have feelings) and through spreading kindness.
Fortunately, we don't have a lot of bullying at CIS but it is important that kids know to get help from an adult if they, or people they know, are being bullied. We concluded with a short activity to 'spread kindness' by writing a note to someone assigned to each student in the class and letting them know what they appreciate about them. I hope everyone remembers to try and continue to spread kindness each day knowing that even a small gesture can make a huge difference!
For Canadian Thanksgiving I wanted to reflect on the concept of gratitude and how important it is for us to raise a generation of thoughtful, thankful children. Many of our kids live in a world with an abundance of material possessions, busy schedules, and conveniences at their fingertips. Further, as adults it is very easy to get wrapped up in daily frustrations as we rush from place-to-place with our hectic lives and busy schedules. Taking the time to slow down and voice appreciation for the small things can be difficult to remember.
There have been many articles and studies that looked at how cultivating an attitude of gratitude in our children actually leads to happier, more empathetic young people who are able to lead more socially secure and confident lives. I recently read an article titled “11 Tips for Instilling True Gratitude In Your Kids” by Andrea Reisel (see link below.) In this article she points to the correlation between attitudes of gratitude and happiness and how this connects to better self-esteem and general positivity in children.
One of the key ways to develop this perspective with our children is through modelling it as an adult. Consciously creating a time everyday to share gratitude's as a family, noticing simple things that make us happy and expressing thanks are some of the ways Reisel mentions in her article. Combining this with reminding our children to notice and be thankful for the small things and having real life experiences with saving for desired items can have a great impact in instilling the spirit of gratitude.
Today I feel grateful to be surrounded by amazing colleagues who challenge me daily and to have many reminders, like this article, to take the time to reflect on the abundance of positive things I have in my life. I also plan to reflect on the concept of gratitude throughout my guidance classes this year and to do my part in helping guide a generation of appreciative and compassionate children.
We are so fortunate to have so many parents willing to volunteer their time to help out in the classrooms, in the lunchroom and outside on the playground. We offered two training days for our volunteers where they were given a crash course on Positive Discipline as well as the procedures to follow as a parent volunteer. There was lots of role-playing and rich discussions afterwards. It was wonderful to meet a new group of parents and we truly appreciate all they do for our students at CIS. Thank-you to all who came out for the training!
In the wake of the recent tragic events in Las Vegas, I thought it would be important to post some information on how to talk to young people about this, and other, terrifying events. Although many of our younger students may be unaware, there may be some older students who have seen the news and have a lot of questions or reactions to this event. Please reassure your children and students that we live in a very safe, loving community here in the Cayman Islands. Please also limit exposure and time spent watching these powerful images and events on television. These are hard to process for adults and are even more confusing for children.
If questions are asked at school or at home they should be answered truthfully and factually without providing too much detail. Be sure to clarify the distance of this event from the Cayman Islands, again reassuring safety. Please remember to model being calm and optimistic.
If there are any children, parents or staff members that are experiencing any worry or anxiety because of this event I encourage you to listen with patience and empathy. I am also definitely available to meet with anyone who needs some extra support.
In the interesting articles section of this site, I have included an article with more information for educators and parents when helping children deal with acts of terrorism.
Wishing you all a peaceful day.
The first month is almost over and it truly has been an amazing start to the school year! This year we welcomed 33 new students into our Elementary School and 49 into our Early Childhood program. I was able to meet with all of our new elementary students for grade level lunch bunch sessions where the students had an opportunity to relax and meet some new friends who were also new to CIS and the Cayman Islands. It is always reassuring to connect with others who have had a similar experience and can really understand how challenging a can sometimes be.
Hi! I am the Early Childhood and Elementary School Counselor at Cayman International School in the beautiful Cayman Islands. I am originally from Canada but have lived internationally since 2000. I truly feel like the luckiest staff member at our school as I have the opportunity to work with every student from Pre-K 3 to Grade 5 through guidance classes, small-group activities and individual counseling sessions. I love my job and love being part of this amazing school.