Dear Strawberry Point School Families:Welcome to the 2020/2021 School Year!
We have eagerly anticipated the start of a new school year, and are excited and looking forward to “seeing” you all at school this week! We know that these are challenging and uncertain times. We hope that the return to school, even if remotely, will bring some normalcy, structure, and connection into your homes. There is a lot going on this weekend - between the fires, air quality, Covid safety, etc. We are aware that these are all impacting our families in different ways. It is safe to say that everyone is experiencing some form of stress and anxiety. Stress and anxiety are very healthy and “normal” responses to what is happening around us. The kids are feeling it. The parents and guardians are feeling it. The teachers and staff are feeling it. This is hard. There is no doubt about it. It is hard to put our heads around this new and different return to school, amidst all that is going on around us. The nervous excitement of prepping the backpacks tonight will be missed all over Mill Valley.
That being said, we know that our children are looking to us as role models, to help them through their feelings, and to let them know that while school may look different this Fall, it is still going to be filled with fun, creativity, learning, growth and social interactions, just in new and unique ways. The teachers have been busy working hard this summer, planning out new and interesting ways to teach and connect with your children online. We invite you to join us in modeling a positive outlook for our kids, because they are looking to us to ground them. We know that it’s not going to be easy. We as Counselors are struggling with our own feelings as well. We have all of the tools and strategies at our disposal, yet we too are working through all the difficult and overwhelming feelings. We are right there with you. It is great to name the feelings out loud and to give our children the opportunity to feel what is real for them. This is hard and disappointing. This is not the way any of us want things to be. Yet, it is just as critical to let students know that we got this. We ARE going to get through this together.
Your MVSD Elementary Counseling team is here for you and your family. We understand the social and emotional well-being of our children is more important than ever. Here are a few key steps your Counseling team is taking to provide necessary and supportive services:
Remote-Learning Needs Assessment: By now, you received a needs assessment (Strawberry Point School's Need Assessment) from your school Principal. Your feedback will help guide what services and resources our counseling team offer to you and your families in the coming months. We greatly appreciate you taking the time to complete it by this Friday, August 28th.
Connecting with the Counselor: Please indicate on the form if you would like your school counselor to be in touch with you about your child’s social and emotional well-being this Fall.
Social Emotional Learning (SEL): We will begin to teach SEL lessons in your children’s classrooms after Labor Day. Each class will receive two lessons a month. These lessons will be based on the Kimochis and Toolbox SEL programs. In addition, we will be addressing other SEL related themes, including, anxiety and stress, zoom fatigue, self-care, social isolation, and anti-racism.
One-to-one Counseling Services: As always, we will continue to provide one-on-one counseling services for students in need. If you have concerns about your child, please indicate so on the needs assessment and/or be in touch directly with your teacher. They will be sure to connect with us as soon as possible.
New Families and Students: Welcome new families! We cannot wait to meet you and your child/children. We are aware that starting the school year off in remote learning presents a new set of challenges for new students and families. While we cannot offer in-person new student groups at this time, we are putting together a few offerings to connect with them and you. Please stay tuned for news on this...
Coffee With The Counselor (for Parents and Guardians): We are pleased to offer a new counseling program for our parents and guardians this Fall, Coffee with the Counselor. For now, this will take place on Zoom, the last Friday of each month. This program will begin on Friday, September 25th. Look out for more info on ParentSquare soon. We will be covering a variety of SEL and counseling related themes. This will be a great way to share resources, connect with other families, and learn new tools and strategies.
Resources: We launched a new Mill Valley Elementary School Counselors website last Spring in response to distance learning. We will continue to build and grow the site by adding new resources and offerings. It includes a great deal of tips and tools on anxiety and stress, brain breaks, book lists, zoom fatigue, mindfulness and breathing etc. Please visit HERE to learn more. We cannot stress enough how important your breathing tool will be this Fall.
If you have access to a printer, we recommend printing out these resources and walking through them with your family. We hope you find them as useful as we do!
- Avoid the School Work Blues
- Help Your Child Combat Loneliness
- How to Keep "School You" and "Home You" Separate
- Organizing Your Child's Learning Space
- Things I can Control
**Calm Down Corner**:
This is something we suggest for every family! The Toolbox program recommends that each classroom has a designated “calm down” or “take a break corner”, offered as a safe space for students to breathe, calm down and take space, when they are struggling to join the classroom for learning. They sit in this calm down space until they are ready to return to learning time. If possible, we highly recommend making your own calm down corner at home. This corner does not need to include all that much. A bean bag, pillow or cozy carpet will do. A little home-made sign, “My calm down corner” will provide some ownership to the space. A “break” box with a few books, a stuffed animal, a fidget (if you have one), drawing materials etc, would be a great addition as well. Make a list with your child of what household items you could pull together for this space. What you’re looking for are items that help your child/children self-regulate, feel good and safe, and calm down. At the very least, it is a great place to take a few deep breaths. Distance learning can be challenging for some. This is a great way to provide a place for them to calm down, engage in self-regulation and self-care, and then return to learning. Here are a few examples of “Cool Down Corners” at home:
We wish everyone a very happy first day back to school. We look forward to seeing your faces soon! We are always here to support students and families, in addition to providing resources. Please be in touch if you have any questions or concerns.
Best,Margaret McClung Jason Mountsier Jen Ferrer Meredith MishelStrawberry & Old Mill Tam Valley Edna Maguire Park & Old Mill