Just around the corner is National School Psychologist Awareness Week 2015!

National School Psychologist Awareness Week 2015 will be celebrated from November 9-13, 2015, to focus public attention on the important role of school psychologists in promoting school and life success for students.  School psychologists work with students and teachers every day to promote wellness and resilience, reinforce communication and social skills, and increase achievement academically, socially, behaviorally, and emotionally.

Political commentary video on recent comments made by Jeb Bush.

Click to access 2015-SPAW-Poster.pdf

Teaching Internet Safety

The internet, cell phones, and modern communication technology is a new area of learning for us parents. Especially, as it applies to our kids and their use of it communicating with others. What is your stance on monitoring, educating, and setting boundaries with these technologies in your family?

A great resource that I have use as a tool to help filter and understand this topic of teaching technology safety has been Common Sense Media.

Common Sense is dedicated to helping kids thrive in a world of media and technology.  We empower parents, teachers, and policymakers by providing unbiased information, trusted advice, and innovative tools to help them harness the power of media and technology as a positive force in all kids’ lives.

The Parent  Concern page on Common Sense Media really helped me understand how to get to answers for our family. Similarly the Advice page is informative as well.

For educators they offer a Digital Citizenship curriculum for K-12. Also content in Spanish.

Cell Phone Video

Set some ground rules with a Family Media contract.

Teen/ Tween Quiz and Games to educate on Digital literacy, Inappropriate content, Online privacy, Online predators, Cyberbullying. Estimated running time: 20 minutes.

Digital Compass is the only educational game that gives kids the freedom to explore how decisions made in their digital lives can impact their relationships and future.


Super Duper Article-Teaching Children Internet Safety by Becky L. Spivey, M.Ed

Technology is not ruining our kids. Parents (and their technology) are ruining them

CDC Tips

Working on Social Skills at Home

All parents want their kids to experience social success. Here are some strategies to help instill good social skills in your children.


Milestones are important to reflect upon because you have to know first what is age appropriate.

Social Skills Milestones

By one:

  • smiles spontaneously
  • responds differently to strangers than to familiar people
  • pays attention to own name
  • responds to no
  • copies simple actions of others

Between ages one and two:

  • recognizes self in mirror or picture
  • refers to self by name
  • plays by self; initiates own play
  • imitates adult behaviors in play
  • helps put things away

Between ages two and three:

  • plays near other children
  • watches other children; joins briefly in their play
  • defends own possessions
  • begins to play house
  • symbolically uses objects, self in play
  • participates in simple group activity
  • knows gender identity

Between ages three and four:

  • joins in play with other children; begins to interact
  • shares toys; takes turns with assistance
  • begins dramatic play, acting out whole scenes

Between ages four and five:

  • plays and interacts with other children
  • dramatic play is closer to reality, with attention paid to detail, time, and space
  • plays dress-up
  • shows interest in exploring sex differences

Between ages five and six:

  • chooses own friends
  • plays simple table games
  • plays competitive games
  • engages in cooperative play with other children involving group decisions, role assignments, fair play

Learning Disabilities Association of America (1999)


Improving Kids’ Social Skills

Parents Help to Encourage Social Success at Home, Too!

Social Skills for Children with ADHD


Great examples: Parents Promoting Emotional and Social Competence in Young Children

101 ways to teach social skills

Developing Social Emotional Intelligence in teens (13-18)

PBIS world resources

Social Skills e-book

Teachers are awesome

“One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child.”
Carl Jung

I am so lucky to work with fantastic, caring, and dedicated teachers! Here are a few videos that can give a parallel peek into what I see in my schools. Thank an old teacher that inspired you.

Suicide prevention

Suicide is a major public health concern. Over 41,000 people die by suicide each year in the United States. More than twice as many people die by suicide each year than by homicide . Suicide is tragic. But it is often preventable. Knowing the risk factors for suicide and who is at risk can help reduce the suicide rate.

Who is at risk for suicide?

Suicide does not discriminate. People of all genders, ages, and ethnicities can be at risk for suicide. But people most at risk tend to share certain characteristics. The main risk factors for suicide are:

  • Depression, other mental disorders, or substance abuse disorder
  • A prior suicide attempt
  • Family history of a mental disorder or substance abuse
  • Family history of suicide
  • Family violence, including physical or sexual abuse
  • Having guns or other firearms in the home
  • Incarceration, being in prison or jail
  • Being exposed to others’ suicidal behavior, such as that of family members, peers, or media figures.

The risk for suicidal behavior is complex. Research suggests that people who attempt suicide differ from others in many aspects of how they think, react to events, and make decisions. There are differences in aspects of memory, attention, planning, and emotion, for example. These differences often occur along with disorders like depression, substance use, anxiety, and psychosis. Sometimes suicidal behavior is triggered by events such as personal loss or violence.

In order to be able to detect those at risk and prevent suicide, it is crucial that we understand the role of both long-term factors—such as experiences in childhood—and more immediate factors like mental health and recent life events. Researchers are also looking at how genes can either increase risk or make someone more resilient to loss and hardships.

Many people have some of these risk factors but do not attempt suicide. Suicide is not a normal response to stress. It is however, a sign of extreme distress, not a harmless bid for attention.

Source: NIMH Suicide Prevention

Jane Pearson on Warning Signs for Childhood Suicide

It’s a question asked by parents, educators and health professionals. How do we prevent suicide among our children? In this special podcast series devoted to Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day, Dr. Jane Pearson of the National Institute of Mental Health talks about important warning signs that come from children. She also looks at how well-intended reaction to tragedy can have unintended consequences. Dr. Pearson is with the Division of Services and Intervention Research at NIMH and a leading expert on suicide research.

Talking to Kids about Suicide

Joanne Harpel, Margo Requarth, and Nancy Rappaport. (c) AFSP Survivor Initiatives Department, 2014.

Things to consider around suicide

Ten Things Parents Can Do to Prevent Suicide

PowerPoint on Suicide– Take time to go through this is a great resource.

Preventing Youth Suicide: Tips for Parents & Educators– NASP

If you are in crisis

Call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The service is available to anyone. All calls are confidential.http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org 

Additional Resources

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK(8255)

Veterans Crisis Line 1-800-273-8255 press 1

Being Positive

I opened my email today and saw an article that said, “Bite your lip today”. As I read further it went on to say don’t say anything negative today. I like to think that I am positive (most days), but I like the idea of hanging on to noticing the content of what I say and do. So for today I will definitely be taking inventory of my positive out put.

Modeling this behavior is important for kids to see especially at school. I know at home with my own kids when visiting the beach or park we try to pick up some trash while we are there to keep it a little cleaner than we found it. I think the same concept should be played out with the people we interact with as much as possible.

A popular book in school is “How to fill your bucket”. Many schools have adopted this metaphor for being a good citizen. Below is a kid friendly reading of the book.

After reading the book here are some classroom ready materials to use.

Bucket Filler Resources

Great Scholastic Article

Free Teachers Pay Teachers link

The Ned Show Lesson Plan

Adult version of the bucket filling concept. I just put it on my reading list.

Project Based Learning (PBL)

My Middle School just took on Project Based Learning. I am excited to see increased student engagement and physical projects that represent their current learning.

Project Based Learning is a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an engaging and complex question, problem, or challenge.

Success story

Process video

Why Project BasedLearning (PBL)?

Project Based Learning’s time has come. The experience of thousands of teachers across all grade levels and subject areas, backed by research, confirms that PBL is an effective and enjoyable way to learn – and develop deeper learning competencies required for success in college, career, and civic life. Why are so many educators across the United States and around the world interested in this teaching method? The answer is a combination of timeless reasons and recent developments.

  • PBL makes school more engaging for students. Today’s students, more than ever, often find school to be boring and meaningless. In PBL, students are active, not passive; a project engages their hearts and minds, and provides real-world relevance for learning.
  • PBL improves learning. After completing a project, students understand content more deeply, remember what they learn and retain it longer than is often the case with traditional instruction. Because of this, students who gain content knowledge with PBL are better able to apply what they know and can do to new situations.
  • PBL builds success skills for college, career, and life. In the 21st century workplace and in college, success requires more than basic knowledge and skills. In a project, students learn how to take initiative and responsibility, build their confidence, solve problems, work in teams, communicate ideas, and manage themselves more effectively.
  • PBL helps address standards. The Common Core and other present-day standards emphasize real-world application of knowledge and skills, and the development of success skills such as critical thinking/problem solving, collaboration, communication in a variety of media, and speaking and presentation skills. PBL is an effective way to meet these goals.
  • PBL provides opportunities for students to use technology. Students are familiar with and enjoy using a variety of tech tools that are a perfect fit with PBL. With technology, teachers and students can not only find resources and information and create products, but also collaborate more effectively, and connect with experts, partners, and audiences around the world.
  • PBL makes teaching more enjoyable and rewarding. Projects allow teachers to work more closely with active, engaged students doing high-quality, meaningful work, and in many cases to rediscover the joy of learning alongside their students.
  • PBL connects students and schools with communities and the real world. Projects provide students with empowering opportunities to make a difference, by solving real problems and addressing real issues. Students learn how to interact with adults and organizations, are exposed to workplaces and adult jobs, and can develop career interests. Parents and community members can be involved in projects.

Source:Buck Institute for Education (BIE)

Good PBL article: Edutopia Article

45 Links To Great Project Based Learning

Speech Articulation in children

What are some signs of an articulation disorder?

An articulation disorder involves problems making sounds. Sounds can be substituted, left off, added or changed. These errors may make it hard for people to understand you.

Young children often make speech errors. For instance, many young children sound like they are making a “w” sound for an “r” sound (e.g., “wabbit” for “rabbit”) or may leave sounds out of words, such as “nana” for “banana.” The child may have an articulation disorder if these errors continue past the expected age.

Not all sound substitutions and omissions are speech errors. Instead, they may be related to a feature of a dialect or accent. For example, speakers of African American Vernacular English (AAVE) may use a “d” sound for a “th” sound (e.g., “dis” for “this”). This is not a speech sound disorder, but rather one of the phonological features of AAVE.

Source: ASHA

All kids come to speaking differently and at their own speed. Here is a chart to show  to figure out ages that children should acquire sounds by:

Another articulation chart

This is the most basic approach to fixing speech sounds and works for many children.  You will stay on each step until the child can do it with 80-90% accuracy.  That may take several weeks per step so have patience!

Step One: Sound in Isolation

The first step to teaching the child a new sound is helping her say the sound all by itself.  We call this “saying the sound in isolation” and it means just the sound, not a word or syllable that contains the sound, but just the sound.

For example, if you want to teach the child to say “sock”, “sun”, and “soup”, you should work on the “sssss” sound.

That link will also give you ideas on how to help the child make each particular sound.

Step Two: Sound in Syllables

For this step, you will have the child pair the sound with various vowels to make nonsense syllables.  For example, if the sound was /b/, you would have the child say “buh”, “boh”, “bah”, “bee”, etc.

Step Three: Sound in Single Words

Now it’s time to have the child say the sound in single words like bear, ball, book, rub, elbow.

Step Four: Sound in Sentences

Once the child can say the sound in single words, you’ll want to have the child make up a sentence with that word.

Step Five: Sound in Structured Conversation

Now you’ll want to have the child answer open-ended questions, like “how was your last birthday party?” while remembering to use the sound correctly.  You want your child to be speaking answers that consist of a couple sentences together.

Step Six: Conversational Speech

The final step is to help the child remember to say the sound correctly in conversational speech.

Source: Carrie Clark, CCC-SLP
Speech and Language Kids


Types of Articulation Errors – A Simple Guide

Articulation Screener here is the article that goes with the screener. Plus the App for IPad: Here it allows for only one free screener. Each additional screener cost .99 cents.

Articulation Therapy Process

Kids need recess


The IPA/USA Elementary Recess Handbook presents a strong case for school recess. Here are just a few of the ways they say recess fits the bill for elementary aged children.

Recess meets a child’s social and emotional needs in these ways:

  • For many children, the chance to play with friends is an important reason for coming to school.
  • Recess can lower stress and anxiety. Without a chance to relieve stress, children sometimes resort to outbursts, nail-biting and temper tantrums.
  • Recess provides a non-threatening way for children of different cultures to learn from each other.
  • Recess gives some children a chance to break away from classmates, collect their thoughts and be alone for a while.

Recess promotes brain development and learning in these ways:

  • Students who do not get a break are much more fidgety. Plus they miss out on watching and learning from other children.
  • Unstructured play allows children to explore and exercise their sense of wonder, which leads to creativity.
  • Vigorous exercise helps the heart pump fresh oxygen into the blood to nourish sluggish brains.

Recess meets the child’s physical needs in these ways:

  • Physical activity can reduce cardiac risk factors like obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and inactive life styles.
  • Play in the great outdoors stimulates the senses: children breathe fresh air, move on blades of green grass, smell fresh plants and run to favorite landmarks.
  • Through rough and tumble play, children learn about their bodies’ capabilities and how to control themselves in their environment.
  • Activities like jump rope, kickball and hopscotch encourage children to take turns, negotiate rules, and cooperate.



American Academy of Pediatrics Policy Statement: The Crucial Role of Recess in School

Scholastic Article: Recess makes kids smarter

Superduper Handout: Benefits of Recess

It’s a Kid’s Job Playing Helps Kids Learn and Grow

Here are some of the programs devoted to recess — and physical activity in general — in schools:

Playworks (playworks.org) — The company works with schools and youth organizations to create playground programs for every child, saying, “We ensure they have a place that is safe and welcoming — where they can play, thrive and contribute.” The company has programs in 21 states, including Colorado (but none listed in Pueblo so far).

Peaceful Playgrounds (peacefulplaygrounds.com) — Peaceful Playgrounds creates physical activity programs that can be purchased by organizations and schools, everything from recess kits to pedometers for students.

Yoga 4 Classrooms (yoga4classrooms.com) and Yoga Kids (yogakids.com) — These programs provide educators with training and activities to introduce simple yoga to students.

Take 10! (take10.net) — Promotes healthy movement activities.

Fuel Up to Play 60 (fueluptoplay60.com) The National Dairy Council and the NFL, with the USDA, provide programs and funds for healthy eating and physical activity programs in schools. The goal is to encourage kids to eat right and play for 60 minutes every day.

— Source: Colorado Department of Education

Kids need breakfast before school

An emerging body of research is documenting the adverse effects of skipped breakfast on various aspects of cognitive performance: alertness, attention, memory, processing of complex visual display, problem solving, and mathematics. – Basch, 2011

Research laundry list of benefits of eating and draw backs of not eating breakfast and the effects on learning.

Great Article: Does Eating Breakfast Affect Children’s Learning?

Pick the right cereal: How much sugar is in your cereal?