Friendship Counselors

Friendship Counselors

Written by Padmini Raman, SCEF VP-Communications

Some people naturally have the ability to calm and relax those they are talking to. I recently had an opportunity to sit down with Mrs. Meredith Larsen and Ms.Karin Bloom. They are the lovely Friendship Counselors for our children who attend Heather, Arundel, Brittan Acres and White Oaks Elementary schools. While talking to them I realized how calming they are. They radiate compassion. Between the two of them they provide counseling and emotional support to over 1900 students! Our children are lucky to have them.

Here is a gist of what they had to say about this vital SCEF funded program.

When starting kindergarten, children come from all sorts of backgrounds and experiences. The goal of our Counselors is to create a common language, a common behavior standard that all children can follow. According to Ms.Bloom, this can be as simple as using a hand wave to invite someone to join you in the playground. For a child who is still not comfortable talking to others, this is very helpful. Mrs. Larsen teaches them about “Compassion Bucket” and how to keep it full. You should also not let anyone empty it for you…..Lessons that even adults can take to heart!

Teaching children about eye contact while talking, respecting others’ personal space, listening skills, teaching the difference between tattling and problem solving, role playing, body safety…..the list of what they teach our children to adapt and thrive in a school environment is endless.

For older children, Conflict Resolution is of critical importance. The method our counselors use is called the 4 square apology. This involves:

  • Accepting your mistake
  • Thinking about how your actions made others feel
  • What can you do to fix it
  • What do you do the next time a similar situation arises

Another vital skill being taught to older children is Being a Leader.

Children are shown how to be helpful and accepting of those who are different from them. This builds compassion and understanding and creates a positive school climate. Creating these skills in our children at a young age builds character, aids in the development of the whole child and prevents bullying at the older class levels. If a problem does arise at any time, children are also more inclined to come to their counselor for help and listen to them because a positive relation has already been forged between them.

Other areas our counselors help with include grief and loss counseling, dealing with changes in the family due to divorce, anxiety and coping skills. They also provide referrals to children who need extra support and help. The help they give our teachers and principals is invaluable.

Our counselors would also like to stress the fact that parents do not have to contact them only if there is a problem…..they would love to hear from you! Let us all take the time to send a very big THANK YOU their way. In many ways they make the everyday experience of our children positive and encouraging.

Thank you for your gift to SCEF which ensures that these key programs can continue and be enhanced for the benefit of all our children.

We’re all in this together.

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