Google+ Elementary School Counselor blog, by Scott Ertl, Elementary School Counselor: 2017

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Know anyone with a brain that goes faster than normal?

Peter Shankman shares how to view ADHD as a gift
instead of a curse.

Without a doubt, Peter Shankman is the fastest talker that I know. So it's a challenge to keep up with him since he has so much passion and desire to help others however he can.
Peter is an accomplished entrepreneur, keynote speaker, and author--but more importantly, he is a man on a mission to empower everyone to recognize their fullest potential and live it out each day. He especially wants people with ADHD, ADD, OCD, and autism to identify and build on their strengths. While it's important to know and overcome your limitations, it's more exciting and fun to engage your super powers into full force!

Different ≠ Wrong or Broken
Different = Amazing and Gifted

As a school counselor, I would often meet with teachers and parents to create behavioral plans to help students get organized, increase their self-awareness, and stay focused on raising their hand instead of blurting out in class. While those are good, Peter says that it's even more important to focus on identifying and building on their strengths

But what are their strengths? It's often just taking a new perspective on their weaknesses. While an impulsive child can be annoying, seeing them as "spontaneous" reframes their energy as a mental strength since we value kids who take the initiative. 
"Inventors aren't followers," Peter says, "They don't fear mistakes. They are risk-takers who enjoy the thrill of discovery and making breakthroughs."
We just need to help them see when to use their spontaneity--like in brainstorming ideas or creating multiple possibilities for solving a problem. At these times, they are like executives who need scribes to record the ideas to later assess on how to best execute them.

Impulsive → Spontaneous
Talkative → Communicative
Hyperactive → Energetic

I asked Peter how teachers and counselors can help kids succeed in school, he said, "Find the ways you are setting them up for failure--and stop. When you are getting the same poor results, remember that you are the adult and you can change what you do to get a better result." 

Students usually don't want to be bad. It's just easier for them to give up than to keep a sustained effort that goes unnoticed because "that's the way you should behave anyway."

3 quick ways to empower kids with ADHD in your class:
  1. Let them know in advance that you are going to call on them to answer the first reading comprehension question about a story they just read so they can be prepared.
  2. Ask them to be your helper and deliver a message to another teacher when they finish their work (correctly).
  3. Allow them to move in class instead of forcing them to sit still all day. They need a way to release their extra energy and anxiety without distracting others. Provide yoga balls, wiggle seats, Bouncy Bands, standing desks, or any other flexible seating options for them to do their best in class.
"Never let kids forget that they are awesome.
Build on their strengths so they can turn their stumbling blocks into stepping stones." 

~Peter Shankman

Want to hear more? Faster Than Normal is the #1 rated ADHD weekly podcast on iTunes. It focuses on sharing success stories from the likes of Seth Godin, Tony Robbins, JetBlue Founder David Neeleman, and many others who have ADHD and/or support those who do. Also, Peter has a Faster Than Normal book coming out in October 2017 that spells out the secrets to increasing productivity. 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

5 life lessons kids learn at summer camp

What can kids learn from summer camp?

While camp counselors aren't the same as school counselors, they do strive to teach campers important life lessons that can serve them well in school and beyond.
  1. First, camp is a safe place to try new things. Kids can try out something for the first time without any worry about messing up or getting a bad grade. They feel more comfortable and relaxed at camp when they learn something for the first time--no matter how many mistakes happened along the way. Whether it's horseback riding, fishing, or dancing, kids find great pleasure in the satisfaction of doing something new for the first time.
  2. Kids get an opportunity to unplug from their technology addiction when they get engaged in nature, soccer, music, theater, crafts, swimming, or any of the other numerous activities at camp. (Many camps don't even allow phones or other mobile devices as a way to help kids get back to the basics.)
  3. Camp provides a place for kids to make new friends with others. These friendships can last for years or just the summer, but they all share fun memories about things they did together at camp. Often times, these new friendships help kids discover similarities with others despite being "different" in other ways.
  4.  Most importantly, kids learn the importance of playing, relaxing, and having fun. The school year can be frustrating, difficult and high-pressure for many kids. They deserve some time to laugh and be active without being competitive or serious. After camp, many kids decide to continue developing their newfound hobbies with their parents or friends as a way to create more joy together in their lives.
  5. Kids get to be active. They can try soccer, tennis, biking, hiking, jumping on the trampoline, and many more sports. Instead of watching TV, playing a video game, or surfing the Internet, kids are actually engaging in different activities. Kids can find a natural way to relieve stress through movement as a way to stimulate adrenaline, endorphins, and better relaxation.
Overall, camp has lots of benefits! However, there can be several drawbacks to camp.
  • Cost. Many families can't afford camp. Ask the camp director if there is a sliding scale or financial assistance and you might be able to get some help. Offer to volunteer in exchange for free tuition--just don't hover over your child. Let them experience camp without your over-involvement. They need to get away from you too. If all else fails, save up. Pick a camp to attend for next summer and show the benefits of earning money and saving it for something you want to do.
  • Exposure. Kids will probably be exposed to others with different backgrounds. Camp Counselors might have different rules, expectations, communication styles and discipline than their campers' parents. Talk with kids about how camp is alike and different than home. See if there's anything that can be improved at home to create more fun, less stress, and greater joy together.
  • Disappointment. There are many times when campers are disappointed for one reason or another: Their best friend wasn't able to attend camp with them; They didn't like the food; or They wanted to be in a different group that appeared to be having more fun. Talk about what you can do when you feel disappointed.
 Here's a link to a national directory to find a list of summer camps in your area:

Add a link on your school counselor website to the specific summer camp directory in your area so parents will find new camps that their children will be able to attend. Feel free to copy and paste any of the above information to your counselor newsletter or website to share camp information with your parents.


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