Elementary Counselor

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Study Skills, Study Skills……What’s the BIG Deal??

Study skills are a BIG part of school……and life, really. And yet, a lot of kids just aren’t organized and don’t know how to study properly. It’s important to start out on the right foot for academic success, however if a student’s grades are low, there a few things that I check to make sure they’re doing. I’m going to pass them along to you so that you child can be successful from the start!

Have your child get in the habit of using their agenda
. You’re paying for that agenda. And I bet you, yourself use at least one planner on a daily basis, whether it’s your phone calendar to note appointments, your desk planner, etc. Your child’s agenda is just that – a planner. Have them start writing down their assignments/class work from the board every day. If they’re telling you that the teacher doesn’t write the assignments on the board, email the teacher and ask how they’re communicating class work to students. If you think your child is really struggling, have them highlight the work that they still have to do as homework when that subject is done and the class is moving on to a different subject. This way at 2:55pm when they are packing up their things, all they have to do is open their agenda and look for the highlighted work to know what to bring home as homework. The rest they already have done and don’t have to worry about bringing home. **This is the strategy I use in my office with students who are struggling with organization and who have grades that are dropping because of it.

Do not CRAM! Study a little at a time. Many, many kids think that the right way to study for a test is to cram for it the night before. This is a myth that can really hurt students academically if they continue to believe it. Each year gets more challenging academically (as it should), so students need to learn how to study for tests and prepare for big projects A LITTLE AT A TIME. Waiting until the night before something is due is not a good strategy to take. This teaches the valuable life lessons of problem-solving, prioritizing and time management.  If your child has a project due in two weeks and they spend one week on their poster for their project and haven’t started writing anything (and have to find sources, write a 5-page report, bibliography and present), spending an entire week on the poster is not a good use of their time. 

Have a designated study/homework area at home that is quiet and free of distraction with all needed supplies close. What you are wanting is for your child to complete their homework/studying in a timely manner without having to get up ten different times for supplies. If your study area has notebook paper, pencils, crayons, glue sticks, scissors, etc. already in it, there won’t be any need to constantly be up to get the next needed supply. If the area is quiet – read, NO TV or siblings or friends interrupting– but there is easy access to you in case of a question, the homework/studying will go very quickly and smoothly.

Utilize the folder system. If papers that are needing to travel back and forth to school (HOMEWORK, test alerts that are worth extra credit points, re-do papers) are NOT making it to their destinations, then it is time to enforce the folder system again. This is the simple two-pocket folder system that your child used to use in Kindergarten-2nd for sure. It was mandatory then. Now it is time to make it mandatory again. Label one side of the folder TAKE HOME and the other HOMEWORK. Have your child start getting in the habit of putting the appropriate papers in the correct side of the folder. They need to at least put the homework papers in the homework side of the folder. **When I have used this in my office, it is with students who are “stuffers”. They stuff their papers in their desks, in their book bags, in the recycle bin in their classrooms, in the trash can in the classroom or in the trash can on the bus.

Is It Bullying?

Let me build the scene for you……your child comes off the bus and seems lost in thought. For the rest of the afternoon they seem really quiet. You can tell something is bothering them. They finally tell you that their classmate called them stupid today. When asked, they can’t remember the details of why or how they called you that. You are trying very hard to hide how mad you are. You want to call the teacher, the principal and the classmate’s parents and tell them all what a bully that kid is! But……is it really bullying?  

For a behavior to truly be bullying, there has to be THREE key components. I teach these components to all students K-6 when I go into their classrooms for counseling and cover bullying. Those THREE components are:


            R-- Repeated. Is the behavior repeated/Has the behavior been happening OVER AND OVER?

             I—Intentional. Is the behavior intentional/Is the behavior ON PURPOSE?

             P—Power Shift. Is there a power shift in the relationship? Instead of the relationship to be “normal” (classmate – classmate; teacher – student; peer – peer; etc.), there is a power shift where one does something to feel MORE POWERFUL.


Let’s look at our above example. Your child came home quiet and withdrawn. After hearing what happened you think it is bullying. What about after applying the R.I.P. acronym?

R--       Was the classmate’s behavior REPEATED?             __NO__ -- this was the first time that your child’s classmate had been mean to them.

I--        Was the classmate’s behavior INTENTIONAL?      __NO_ --   the details that your child couldn’t remember were this:   today in class, they got their math tests back. His classmate had gotten an F and was very upset. Your child walked by the classmate’s desk right after that and accidentally knocked off all of his papers from his desk. The classmate shouted, “You’re so stupid! Watch where you’re going!” The classmate got in trouble for calling your child a name and had to stay in at recess.

P--       Was there a shift in power in the relationship?           __YES_ -- your child was very upset at being called stupid that it followed them home emotionally.

For true bullying to take place, the behavior needs to be Repeated and Intentional, at a minimum. That is why it is critical that students report things that are making them feel uncomfortable. Tell the teacher, tell your parents, tell your parents and then have your parents call and leave a voicemail for me, come see me in my office (I can get you out of class without ANYONE KNOWING). Once you report the bullying, if it happens again, report it AGAIN.

 I always tell students that I have absolutely no problem doing battle for them if someone is bullying them. If a student comes to me and tells me that someone gets a drink at the same time as them (INTENTIONAL) so they can call them names daily (REPEATED) and it is so bad that they hope every day that they don’t come out of the kitchen where they have to sit at the same lunch table as that person (that’s a DEFINITE POWER SHIFT), I will take steps to make sure that the bullying stops. 

Please don't hesitate to contact me if you feel your child is being picked on. I am here to help!

Mrs. Cross, Counselor
Mid-Buchanan Elementary
(816) 238-1646 ext. 250


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