Wednesday, March 8, 2017

FIT- "Families in Transition" Small group

Divorce. As counselors we see all the sides of it, and the repercussion it can have on our students. There seemed to be such a need to bring attention to this topic that I started a small group for children who were going through a divorce. Keep in mind that this group is called FIT- Families In Transition- I NEVER use the word divorce in the group, and never assume that parents were married to begin with.

Of all the groups I have done this year, FIT has been the most rewarding. I was very apprehensive to do it, as it is a sensitive topic, but I felt that building a community in which people did not feel so isolated, was something I could offer- so I did.

This was a 5 week group that met during lunch. This can be adapted to all elementary school ages, as the activities are not complicated. The discussion that was created from these activities were astounding. These little people have turned some not so great situations into opportunities to be resilient and strong.

Feel free to take and manipulate into your own lessons- these are just ideas that I have tweaked as I scoured Pinterest/social media/etc. over the last few months.

This group is 5 weeks long, meeting once a week during their lunch.

Lesson 1:

I introduce the group, expectations, and have the children help me create ideas on how to be the best group possible (be kind to one another, share, take turns, etc.).

Each child was given a picture of a dumbbell (incorporating the FITness part here as much as I can!). I asked them to draw their family. Since many families have 2 homes that they visit, I asked them to write/draw/create pictures of aspects of each home/family member  that they live with. While it can be tricky to go between homes, there are lots of perks if we look at things from a positive angle.  I hang up the pictures in my room.

Lesson 2:
Go over expectations, have students eat lunch.
Our topic this week was coping skills- ways to work through problems in our life. We also talked about ways to calm down when we get angry or stressed. We brainstormed ways to cope, then played a game of BINGO using all the ideas they came up with. The students gave real life examples of times they had to cope with difficult situations in the classroom and at home.

lesson 3:
Go over expectations, have students eat lunch.

We began by talking about all the emotions that can happen when we have a change in our family dynamics. The students were each given a heart, and had the opportunity to write down feeling words that went along with how they might have felt before, during and after any family transition. Some of the students did not remember when their parents lived in the same home, others remembered it well. On the heart, they could color in different parts, and had an opportunity to share what they wanted to.
Lesson 4:
Go over expectations, have students eat lunch.

I told the students that since I loved them so much, I was giving each of them their very own house- ALL expenses paid (generous, I know). Every home has a foundation, a support system, a roof to protect them, and a chimney to release heat (stress). I gave each of them their house (see attachment), and we talked about all the parts to our house. Each person lives in a different house, and has different people who support in different ways. Some of them may have more than one place they go to live, but WHO is in their lives matter much more than WHERE they live.

Lesson 5:
Go over expectations, have students eat lunch.

Each person was asked to roll the die and pick a question based on the number they rolled. The discussion was amazing and they were able to relate to one another and share experiences.  The opening question included "what kind of family do you want when you grow up?" Open this up for sharing and give students an opportunity to tell what they want for their own future.  As for the questions I created, I asked about past, present, and future. The discussion that comes from the right questions for each group are amazing!

I hope this gives you some ideas on how to help the students who are going through, or have gone through a changing family situation.

Lunch bunching away,

Your Floridian Chick!

Friday, January 13, 2017

Building Empathy

Friends, it has been more than a while since my last post. That whole job thing gets in my way of posting and keeping you up to date on the latest details of my school counseling life.  In all honesty, life at school has been more than I could have dreamed of, and luckily lots of creating has been going on in my little corner of school these days.

I recently came across a great clip on empathy for faculty and staff that you might want to share as well. This could be used at the beginning of the year, mid year as a reminder to teachers to be empathetic, or during a month that you might focus on empathy for character education.

Empathy short video

It is a 3 minute video that truly helps you understand the difference between empathy and sympathy.

Why do teachers need this?

Sometimes we (I!) make judgements on other peoples circumstances.
Sometimes we (I!) want to tell about me, when all the other person wants is to be heard.
Sometimes we (I!) "silver line" circumstances, which is not what the person wants to hear- at ALL!

Hopefully you can share this with your staff, or at least watch it yourself. It was eye opening to me, and I hope it is for you too!

Your silver-liner,

The Floridian Chick