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    Letter to Families from Kathy Hanson - Updated May 22, 2020
    Posted on 05/22/2020
    cairn with sunset

    Dear TOPS Students and Families,

    Greetings! As this COVID situation continues on, I want you to know that all of us at TOPS are thinking of you, missing your kids and sending you our deepest wishes for the health and wellness of your families.

    This week’s topic is “loneliness”. Most of us, adults and children alike, are experiencing this emotion, to some extent. Even as a mental health professional, I have felt lonely for the physical presence of my friends and family. This, like all feelings, is a normal emotion! Last week, I wrote about the importance of first recognizing our feelings and accepting that we are having them in the moment. Then we can take a few deep breaths and begin to problem-solve, if needed. Some days when we feel lonely, we might feel better by going inward, perhaps by cooking, journaling, doing something creative, or listening to music. Other days, we may decide to go outward. This can be a telephone call, a virtual friend gathering, or quality time with the people we live with. This week, I have attached numerous resources on how we can address loneliness in ourselves and our children. I start with “ourselves” because of the old “oxygen mask” rule: first tend to our own survival needs before caring for others. The exception to this is when we care for ourselves by caring for others. I have been shopping for my elderly parents every weekend. This certainly cares for them, but it feeds my soul to do something meaningful for them.

    I have also attached resources on culturally responsive online teaching. We have been reviewing these resources, as a staff, and I found myself, as a parent, feeling greatly relieved at the ideas shared for supporting all our children’s learning experiences.

    We care for you. We care for your children. We want to help. Please let us know how we can support you and we will do our best to help.

    p.s. I will begin updating this newsletter less frequently, but I will still provide weekly videos and letters to our students on Schoology. A “library” of the counseling videos will be at the very end of this newsletter.

    Here is the link to this week’s video. It is intended to be a video for the learning community:

    Video: Loneliness

    High School Course Registration for 8th grade families:

    Our TOPS 8th graders will be dispersing to at least 9 public high schools in our district, plus private schools. Please check on my Middle School Schoology page with your student for specific information and resources for each SPS high school. Some of you have students on waiting lists and are wondering if you should have your student register for courses at their currently assigned school. The answer is YES. Your student might not get the courses they want, otherwise. This course registration has nothing to do with waitlist status.

    Garfield High School: Most of our rising 8th graders will be going to Garfield next year. Here are some Frequently Asked Questions about Garfield and the answers:
    • Can my child still register for courses?
    Yes. Online registration is over, but families can fill out the form and email it to Missy Chow, the registrar:
    • How do I make sure that my child is in Geometry?
    If a student was earning a C or higher, they are a good fit for Geometry. Our Algebra 1 code is properly listed in “historical grades” so Garfield will accept C or higher students into Geometry.
    • What about 9th grade electives?
    Garfield would like students to take:
    PE/Health (each is a semester course and a grad requirement) and a World language (also a grad requirement)
    • Who can I contact with questions?
    Registrar (Missy Chow):
    Counselor (Kandace Alston):

    Counseling Supports:

    I will be available to speak or email with you and/or your children while our school is closed (Mon. - Fri.). These sessions are FREE OF CHARGE and can happen by phone, email or video session. If you would like to set up a time to speak, please email me and I will reach out to you to schedule a time. If you or your family is in emotional crisis, call the Crisis Line at (206) 461-3222 or call 911.

    Resources specific to COVID-19:

    Support for Families During Covid-19 (Sound Supports)
    Talking to Children About Covid-19 (National Association of School Psychologists)
    Care for Your Coronavirus Anxiety (Mental Health America and Shine)

    Health Resources:

    How to Care for Yourself While Practicing Physical Distancing (Mental Health First Aid)
    Mental Health Resources (SPS Coordinated Health)
    Fitness and Character Videos for Families at Home (Access code: AtHome)
    Coping With Loneliness During the Coronavirus- Very Well Mind

    Basic Needs Resources:

    Basic Needs Emerald City Resource Guide
    Office of the Mayor: COVID Resources
    Rent Assistance- United Way King County
    Rent Assistance- All Seattle Kids Home

    Racial Equity Resources:

    Culturally Responsive Online Teaching-Teaching Tolerance
    Seattle Student Tech Exchange
    (technology donations and requests for students of color)
    Culturally Responsive Distance Learning (webinar, Zaretta Hammond) (this webinar costs money. I will be working to get the highlights to you in a future letter.)


    Parenting Supports:

    World Health Organization's Healthy Parenting tips
    ReStart: Net Addiction Resources (resources for support with internet/screen addictions)
    Sound Discipline (parenting resources and supports during school closures)
    Digital Citizenship (K-8 lessons on healthy use of digital media)
    Supporting learners with ADHD
    Parenting Advice During COVID-19- A Bulleted List to Keep on the Fridge
    - Psychology Today
    A Parent's Guide to Virtual Playdates
    - Parents Magazine
    Parenting Teens During the Coronavirus
    - LA Times
    Social Distancing With an Only Child
    - Washington Post
    Remote Playdates
    - Good Housekeeping
    COVID-19 Social Distancing: Together apart, screen time connects isolated kids with family, friends
    - USA Today

    Books I use to support students:

    Helping Your Anxious Child by Ronald Rapee, PhD et al.
    Freeing Your Child from Anxiety by Tamar Chansky, Ph.D.
    Yoga Calm for Children by Lynea Gillen, MS and Jim Gilen, RYT
    What to Do When You Worry Too Much, What to Do When Your Temper Flares, What to Do When Your Brain Gets Stuck, What to Do When You Grumble Too Much by Dawn Huebner
    The Invisible String by Geoff Stevenson - for young children to discuss difficult feelings related to death, loss and separation
    Impulse Control and Evidence-Based Insights and Activities for Teaching Kids Impulse Control by Tonia Caselman



    There are TOPS elementary and middle school counseling courses in Schoology. I will post updates and resources for your students there. Additionally, I can now email students and set up appointments with them through the site!

    Counseling Video “Library”:

    Week of 4/24/20:
    K-2: Making Lemonade Out of Lemons
    3-5: Caring for Ourselves and Others
    6-8: ANGST trailer

    Week of 5/1/20
    K-5: The Seeds We Water Will Grow & Creating Worry Time
    6-8: ANGST Resource Page (video is no longer available, but resources ARE available)

    Week of 5/8/20:
    K-5: Steps to Success- Taking on Big Challenges, Step by Step
    6-8: Letter to Middle School students on exposure therapy and breaking down big challenges into smaller steps (In Schoology)

    Week of 5/15/20:
    K-2: Using Our Senses to Feel More Peaceful
    K-5: Respectful Disagreement
    6-8: Rumi and the Metamoment (In Schoology)

    Week of 5/22/20:
    K-5: Loneliness
    6-8: Letter to students about loneliness (In Schoology)

    Kathy Hanson, M.A.Ed., Licensed Mental Health Counselor