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Social Work

1. What is School Social Work

School Social Work addresses many needs of students and their families. Sometimes children donít feel successful at school because they are having trouble making friends, they are struggling with schoolwork, or because of stress within their family. The School Social Worker can serve as a support person to the child and family as they work together with the school team to help the child become more successful.

2. What does the School Social Worker Do?

1. Works with Teachers to design behavior plans and classroom management strategies.
2. Works with families on behavior interventions that can support the childís school performance.
3. Helps families find support and resources in the community.
4. Works with children individually or in groups on all kinds of issues from anxiety and bullying to self-esteem and social skills.
5. Goes into classrooms to do character education lessons on empathy, problem-solving, anger management and bullying.
6. Works with the other special educators in the building to develop plans that will help children succeed in school.

3. How to Access the School Social Worker

1. You can talk with your studentís teacher about your concerns and she/he will contact the school social worker
2. You can call the school social worker directly and discuss your concerns, questions or needs .
3. The school social worker may contact you if they are made aware of or have observed something that concerns them.

**The Illinois Association for School Social Work and the Illinois Board of Mental Health have determined that a School Social Worker can meet with a student up to 5 times without requiring parent permission. Every effort is made to speak with parents and gain their permission prior to meeting with a student. There are times however, when there is an emergency situation and interventions are necessary to help the Teacher, the student or other students involved. If that is the case, parents are contacted as soon as possible after the situation has been diffused. Examples of this might be a child crying in the hallway, or a fight at recess.

Social Workers:

  • Gurrie: Jeanette Pedersen/Megan Beutjer
  • Hodgkins/Ideal: Cheryl Moran, Bilingual (Spanish/English)
  • Ideal: Ashley Beres, Bilingual (Spanish/English)
  • Seventh: Charlotte Arcus
  • Spring: Gail Weiland/Charlotte Arcus
For Families and Students
Helping Children Cope with Change & Stress
KidsHealth.org

Helping Kids Cope With Stress

To adults, childhood can seem like a carefree time. But kids still experience stress. Things like school and their social life can sometimes create pressures that can feel overwhelming for kids. As a parent, you can't protect your kids from stress ó but you can help them develop healthy ways to cope with stress and solve everyday problems.

Kids deal with stress in both healthy and unhealthy ways. And while they may not initiate a conversation about what's bothering them, they do want their parents to reach out and help them cope with their troubles.

But it's not always easy for parents to know what to do for a child who's feeling stressed.

Here are a few ideas:

Notice out loud. Tell your child when you notice that something's bothering him or her. If you can, name the feeling you think your child is experiencing. ("It seems like you're still mad about what happened at the playground.") This shouldn't sound like an accusation (as in, "OK, what happened now? Are you still mad about that?") or put a child on the spot. It's just a casual observation that you're interested in hearing more about your child's concern. Be sympathetic and show you care and want to understand.

Listen to your child. Ask your child to tell you what's wrong. Listen attentively and calmly ó with interest, patience, openness, and caring. Avoid any urge to judge, blame, lecture, or say what you think your child should have done instead. The idea is to let your child's concerns (and feelings) be heard. Try to get the whole story by asking questions like "And then what happened?" Take your time. And let your child take his or her time, too.

Comment briefly on the feelings you think your child was experiencing. For example, you might say "That must have been upsetting," "No wonder you felt mad when they wouldn't let you in the game," or "That must have seemed unfair to you." Doing this shows that you understand what your child felt, why, and that you care. Feeling understood and listened to helps your child feel supported by you, and that is especially important in times of stress.

Put a label on it. Many younger kids do not yet have words for their feelings. If your child seems angry or frustrated, use those words to help him or her learn to identify the emotions by name. Putting feelings into words helps kids communicate and develop emotional awareness ó the ability to recognize their own emotional states. Kids who can do so are less likely to reach the behavioral boiling point where strong emotions come out through behaviors rather than communicated with words.

Help your child think of things to do. If there's a specific problem that's causing stress, talk together about what to do. Encourage your child to think of a couple of ideas. You can start the brainstorming if necessary, but don't do all the work. Your child's active participation will build confidence. Support the good ideas and add to them as needed. Ask, "How do you think this will work?"

Listen and move on. Sometimes talking and listening and feeling understood is all that's needed to help a child's frustrations begin to melt away. Afterward, try changing the subject and moving on to something more positive and relaxing. Help your child think of something to do to feel better. Don't give the problem more attention than it deserves.

Limit stress where possible. If certain situations are causing stress, see if there are ways to change things. For instance, if too many after-school activities consistently cause homework stress, it might be necessary to limit activities to leave time and energy for homework.

Just be there. Kids don't always feel like talking about what's bothering them. Sometimes that's OK. Let your kids know you'll be there when they do feel like talking. Even when kids don't want to talk, they usually don't want parents to leave them alone. You can help your child feel better just by being there ó keeping him or her company, spending time together. So if you notice that your child seems to be down in the dumps, stressed, or having a bad day ó but doesn't feel like talking ó initiate something you can do together. Take a walk, watch a movie, shoot some hoops, or bake some cookies. Isn't it nice to know that your presence really counts?

Be patient. As a parent, it hurts to see your child unhappy or stressed. But try to resist the urge to fix every problem. Instead, focus on helping your child, slowly but surely, grow into a good problem-solver ó a kid who knows how to roll with life's ups and downs, put feelings into words, calm down when needed, and bounce back to try again.

Parents can't solve every problem as kids go through life. But by teaching healthy coping strategies, you'll prepare your kids to manage the stresses that come in the future.

Reviewed by: D'Arcy Lyness, PhD






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WHEN SOMETHING SCARY HAPPENS

Deciding what the adultís role should be in helping children work through the violence they are exposed to presents a big challenge. Most of us would prefer to avoid dealing with disturbing issues in order to protect childrenís innocence for as long as possible. But not talking to children about the violence they hear about--or actually see first-hand--denies them the opportunity to sort out what they hear and figure out what it means. Below are some strategies adapted from the book "Remote Control Childhood?" by author, educator and advocate, Diane E. Levin.
  • Trusted adults play a vital role in helping children sort out what they have heard and need to figure out. Let children know it is okay to raise these kinds of issues with you.
  • Donít expect young children to understand violence as adults do. When working on these issues with a child, try to find out as much as you can about what she knows and understands or is struggling to understand. Base your response on what you find out. Some children may experience very strong feelings, while others very little. Respect these differences in coping.
  • When children hear about some thing scary or disturbing, they sometimes relate it to themselves and start to worry about their own safety. Even when you canít make a situation better, reassure children about their safety.
  • Answer questions and clear up misconceptions but donít try to give children all the information available about a news story. The best guide is to follow the childís lead, giving small pieces of information at a time and seeing how the child responds before deciding what to say next.
  • Look for opportunities to help children learn alternatives to the violence they hear about on the news. One effective way is to point to examples from the childís own experience. For instance, you might say, "I get really upset when people solve their problems by hurting each other. Remember when you got really angry at Sandy for _____? You didnít hurt her. You told her _____." It is also important to make positive conflict resolution a regular part of childrenís lives.
  • Maintain and support your family's schedule and routine as best you can. Consistency creates a feeling of security.

Books:

1. Love, Hugs and Hope: When Scary Things Happen by Christy Monson

2. Why Did It Happen?: Helping Children Cope in a Violent World by Janice Cohn

3. When Something Bad Happens: A Guide to Help Kids Cope (An Elf-Help book for kids), by Ted O'Neal

Websites with helpful information: (copy and paste into browser)
Take a look at these sites and see what will be useful to you and your family. Sometimes I find that even the "experts" can disagree or contradict each other, so as you read, take away the information that makes sense to you and fits in with your existing values and beliefs.

Brainline.org: Website for those coping with traumatic brain injury of a loved one
http://www.brainline.org/landing_pages/Family.html

National Association of School Psychologists
http://www.nasponline.org/resources/crisis_safety/terror_general.aspx

Child and Youth Health
http://www.cyh.com/HealthTopics/HealthTopicDetails.aspx?p=114&np=141&id=1560
Social Work Contacts
+ Arcus, Charlotte
+ Beres, Ashley
+ Beutjer, Megan
+ Moran, Cheryl
+ Pedersen, Jeanette
+ Weiland, Gail
Click on name to see details.
Community Resources
 Buddy's Place brochure.pdf
Buddy's Place grief support group
 Raise the bar summer camp 2015_0.pdf
Fitness Summer Camp for Kids with Autism or special needs. Registration deadline June 7th!
 Services - Pillars.webarchive
Agency for families and children offering counseling and support services.
 The Family Institute.odt
The Family Institute - Counseling for families and children. Offices in the LaGrange area.
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