Message from the School Counsellor

Hello to fall already! In case you missed the September information in the flurry of back-to-school, I want to take a minute to re-introduce myself, especially to the new families joining the school community this year. My name is Christine Oviatt, and I am an Elementary Liaison Counsellor (sometimes also referred to as a Teacher Counsellor) in our district. I have been teaching for over fifteen years and completed my Master of Counselling degree through the University of Lethbridge. My time is shared between Park Meadows and Agnes Davidson this year, and I am excited to be continuing with these school communities as an Elementary Liaison Counsellor.

After recently attending a training on the brain and positive relationships, I wanted to share a few pieces of information that I found relevant as our students meet new friends and experience new interactions with school staff, coaches, music lesson instructors, etc.:

  • When the activity levels at school increase and interactions with new people increase, sometimes stress levels also increase.
  • Helping children to regulate, or learn to calm their brains, is a helpful skill for children so they can learn best in a variety of environments.

Co-regulation, or helping children learn alongside us how to calm down in stressful situations, involves:

  • being aware of your own feelings
  • focusing on the child’s feelings
  • using a supportive tone of voice
  • absorbing, rather than retaliating to, the child’s hostility

Research suggests that caregivers (parents, guardians, school staff, coaches, etc.) who demonstrate positive relationships and interactions with children frequently reflect on these questions:

  • Am I being physically and emotionally present with the child?
  • Am I responding in appropriate ways?
  • Am I paying attention to cues from the child’s actions or behaviours?
  • Am I correctly interpreting cues from the child?

(the above information was summarized from NM Core Concepts Training, Hull Services and Child Trauma Academy, September 2017)

Following Lethbridge School District 51’s Program Services Model for counselling, I work with the CARE Team (Making Connections Worker and FNMI School Liaison) and administrative team to provide service to all students through universal programs delivered in the classroom, targeted programs for small groups, and individual assistance to students who are referred for additional support. Each service level aims to promote knowledge and skills for children and families to build on their strengths and address challenges. I welcome your questions, and the most convenient way to reach me is through email (christine.oviatt@lethsd.ab.ca) or through my district cell phone at 403-394-6838. Please include a time and phone number that is best for me to contact you.