About 70 families with a total of more than 200 parents and students attended a family night hosted by School of the Osage Upper Elementary on Tuesday night. The night was centered around hot topics including problem solving, cyber-bullying, home safety, anger management, reading success and transition to sixth grade.
"This is a brand new event. We have guidance groups. From our guidance advisory groups, one of our goals this year was to increase our parent involvement. We have done that several ways. We created a parent passport. We thought this would be another great avenue. We thought it would be a good way to involve parents in problem solving and bullying," Elementary Counselor Beverly Kincade said. "More so for us than bullying is the prevention aspect of it."
Kincade teaches guidance classes where students learn how to recognize their emotions, how to calm down, what to do in specific situations and how to solve particular problems in a positive way.
"92.56 percent of our students have had zero referrals to the office this year. So out of the about 426 students, only 33 students out of our building has had a referral for the entire year! That is really amazing," she said.
Some students recently went through a six-week bullying prevention program. Topics discussed include introduction to bullying, strategies for bystanders and targets. They learned what to do if a person is displaying bullying behaviors and how to ask for help.
"Really, we are just showcasing all the work we have done in our school," Kincade said. "In third grade, we really work a lot on anger management and in fourth grade we talk a lot about problem solving skills especially using 'I feel' statements, identifying how people are feeling by facial expression and tone."
Kincade's goal is to empower students to be problem solvers. Through her teaching, she got the students involved in the process by making posters and videos about the topics.
During the family night, a student-produced video was shown. The video showcased students acting out scenarios and following the school's problem solving model. The model is used in various situations. Before asking for help, students are to first be aware of their problem. They then stop and ask themselves if they are calm enough to solve the problem. If not, they calm down by using techniques learned in class including counting to ten, taking deep breaths, thinking calming thoughts and saying positives things to themselves.
"They are going to learn a lot from the speakers but they will learn a lot from themselves and the students," Kincade said of the family night.
Kincade said her hope for the night was that it would open up communication between the parents and kids and empower them to problem solve.
Page 2 of 2 - Students from grades second through fifth attended with their parents from both Mills and Upper Elementary. "I am so lucky to be in a district and community with great support. I am able to do all these wonderful things because of all the support," Kincade said.
Kincade said the school will be planning another family night for later this school year.