Musings from the School Counsellor

A New Rhythm

I love the changing of seasons, especially the transition from Summer to Fall. While I love the carefree days of summer there is something calming about establishing new routines.

A new school year is like New Year’s Eve for most of our children. With the new school year comes a mix of emotions from excitement to fear, from positive outlooks to dread, from boldness to insecurity. All of the emotions can be felt on a particular day or spread out through a week. As you try to parent your child it may feel like it is hard to keep up with their ever changing moods. Those of you with older children will experience this even more as hormones wreak havoc on your once calm and easy-going child. Be patient…they will get through this transition and so will you.

My encouragement is to take time to establish healthy habits. A time for fun, a time for work, a time for early bedtimes and a time for late night parties. Helping your child with routines is labour intensive at the start but the benefits long-term make is so worth it.

All our your children work really hard all day to follow class routines and navigate the social dynamics of school. As a result you may see more behaviours at home – behaviours that you thought you had worked through. Don’t worry, they aren’t regressing…they are just exhausted from their day. If you can add a bit more down time and fun it will probably help them to move through this phase quicker.

So, Happy New Year to you all. Please do not hesitate to reach out if there is anyway I can support you and your family.

Blazing with boldness into the unknown

As you gear up for yet another ‘return to school’ during unprecedented times I have a few helpful reminders for us all.

We have done this before and with great success. We will do it again. Rest in the fact that the Leadership Team and teachers at our school have put many hours into reorganizing and creating the safest school environment they can. Having said that, I can appreciate your concern for your children because while we care deeply for all the students in our school – no one loves them like you do.

As you speak with your children about school on Monday it is important to remember that they are watching you carefully. If you yourself are worried, it is time to do your best Academy Award winning performance. Children pick up on our stress and it makes them anxious. Fear is an emotion that is difficult to hide but managing your own worries will help to put your children at ease.

Reassure your children that they are going to be okay. They need to hear from you that they are safe. Some things to help support this might be turning the radio and television news off. The constant barrage of statistics, cases and fear is not going to help your children – or any of us for that matter. Rather, focus on all the fun things they will get to do at school and how much fun they will have with their friends.

Giving your child a chance to tell you what they are worried about is super important. During this conversation, try to be patient as they put into their own words what they are afraid of. You might be surprised what concerns they have. Be careful to validate these feelings so that they will continue to talk to you about it. However, if it is an irrational fear be sure to clear up their misconception – reassuring them that they are going to be safe.

Another helpful idea is to model for your children the things that are going to be asked of them in school. For example, draw attention to the fact that you have to wash your hands, or practice safe distancing when meeting parents on the playground. Kids watch us so much more than we know. If they see or hear that you are doing these things they will be more likely to follow and these routines will become habits.

Remember, we have done this before! We will get through this. Please contact me if there is anything I can do to support you and your family. It would be my pleasure to come alongside you.

Take good care.

The Weary World Rejoices

This line out of the song O Holy Night has stood out for me more than any other year. It isn’t a new Christmas Carol and it isn’t the catchy tune, but rather, the words seem to be in direct conflict with the year that we have lived – an oxymoron of sorts.

The year of 2020 has been like none other the most of us have experienced. Can you relate to “the weary world”?  I sure can. Weary of the COVID worries.  Weary of all the changes due to COVID.  Weary of wearing a mask.  Weary of not seeing my friends and family.  I bet you can relate to some, if not all of these.  There are so many more things that could be added to what we are weary from.  That part is easy – it is the next portion of the phrase that may be more tough.

The weary world rejoices. I read a facebook post that said, “Well there really isn’t anything to rejoice about this year.”   It saddened me that people are in that place. I know that for some the journey has been much tougher than for others.  That is not lost on me at all.  It made me think of the a quote from the late Fred Rogers, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'”  I think our 7:00 pot clanging was the perfect example of a ‘weary world rejoicing.’  Ironically, I think we have grown weary of doing this as well.

My challenge for each of us is to practice being thankful.  Practicing an attitude of gratitude changes our outlook.  When we make a conscious effort to look for the good in situations we will be changed.  At least,  our perspective will be changed.  Over time,  we will become acutely aware of the good things,  of ‘the helpers’,  or at the least a glimmer of hope in a dark situation.

So, during this break from the routine of school I challenge you to think on the things you can rejoice in. I would love it if you would share with me the positive things you noticed.  If we all purpose to look for the good, I truly believe it will be infectious and impact our families, our communities and our school.

May this break be one of rest and joy!

Finding Calm

Change brings stress.  Even change that is considered positive can bring with it stress.  As we have all experienced over the last several weeks change has been daily and in some cases it has been hourly.  This week, in the school system, we experienced another significant change with the opening of schools.  In my last blog post I talked about how you are the parent and here again that theme rings out.  Many of you have made a decision to send your children or keep them home without any difficulty.  Yet for others, you have really struggled trying to make the “right” decision for your family.  From my perspective there is no blanket “right” answer – and with that, there is no blanket “wrong” answer.

Over the past several weeks we have gotten to know British Columbia’s top doctor – Dr. Bonnie Henry.  Many have asked me what I think about her.  My answer usually involves something like the following, “I really like her and I think she is very good at her job.  Even if she isn’t good at her job the sense of “calm” that she brings when she speaks is so valuable.”   I realize there are many that want to debate the process of what has gone on and that is not my intention.  My goal here is to focus on our need for calm.  It is so important to create calm in your lives and the lives of your children.  I will caution you that what is calm for your family may look completely different than another family.

So…whatever your decision has been for your children regarding schools opening up…I wish you confidence and peace in your decision.  If you want or need to chat…remember I am here.

You are the parent

I consider myself to have the best job in the entire school.  I have the privilege of talking to so many students,  parents and colleagues.  These are most definitely challenging times.  As I wrote about in my last blog – we are not all in the same boat and we are not experiencing the same challenges.  For some folks I have spoken with they are truly loving the time with their families.  For other families the uncertainty of employment or the health of their loved ones has really burdened them.  Add to all this…being a teacher to you children.

I want to remind you that you are your child’s greatest teacher but you are not their school teacher.  Does that make sense?  I believe that your children are watching you and mimicking you more than you realize.  I have talked with many parents and there is a common theme to each conversation and it goes like this…”I am just so tired of fighting with them to do their work.”

Does that resonate with any of you?  Tired of the constant fight to get your kids to sit down and get work done and then after that battle…try and upload it and submit it? If this does not resonate with you – awesome – just keep on keeping on.  However, if this does resonate with you then maybe you need to rethink how you are doing things.   I believe that the parent child relationship is the most important relationship for a child.  And, that relationship is so worth preserving.

So,  stop fighting with them.  Mix it up…bake together and that can count as Science and Math.  Go for a nature walk and observe people social distancing…or not social distancing – this will spark interesting conversations…and yes, learning.  Is it exactly what they have been asked to do?  Maybe not, but they are learning and you are strengthening your relationship with them.  From my standpoint that is a huge win.  Remember – we are in the middle of a world-wide pandemic and that calls for extreme measures.  Maybe even as extreme as throwing out the curriculum and learning together…growing together…finding peace together or simply being together.

Remember…you are the parent.



We are all in the same storm…but not in the same boat

Dear Parents: 


“We are all in the same storm but we are not all in the same boat.”   Author Unknown 

 Nothing is more accurate than that statement right now. Without a doubt we have all been impacted by this pandemic yet each of us are on our own journey.   I am not sure what the journey in your boat is like but I want you to know we as a school are here to support you and your families as best as we can.  We are community after all!  Feel free to reach out to me or the School Principal if there is something specific you need support with. 

Here is a list of different websites that you might find useful.  


ICBC Information 

BC Hydro 

Fortis BC 



Mortgages Information 

 Rent Information 

Food Sources 

Salvation Army – New Westminster – By appointment – Call in advance  604-521-2421

New Life Community Church – Free Bread Saturday Mornings (while supplies last) 8765 Government Street


Muslim Food Bank – 604-446-6750 –  For individuals or families with dietary restrictions (cultural or religious)  for low

income families or refugees.


Anxiety Canada 


Kids Help Phone 



Finding your Rhythm

Dear parents, 


I know that there is so much on your plate long before we all had to self-isolate for Covid 19.  I wanted to write you and provide some helpful tips for our ‘new normal’ as you try and navigate these interesting times.   

I would encourage you to figure out a ‘new’ rhythm for your family. We always have, and always live by certain rhythms that you may not have even thought about.  The earth rotates around the sun once making a year.  The angle of the earth’s axis changes giving us seasons.  The sun rises every morning and sets every evening.  Though there are slight variations on the timing of these rhythms they are constants in our world.   

So, I encourage you to find a rhythm that works for your family.  I like to call it a rhythm instead of a schedule because it seems less rigid and gives some flexibility to your ‘new normal.    Try different things and see what works for your family.  Talk with “your people” (other parents) and see what is working for them. However, if talking to other people about this and finding out what they are doing adds to your stress then don’t talk about it.  This is not a competition.   It won’t be perfect because what we are living through is far from perfect. 

Take care and feel free to reach out if there is something I can help you with…Sue McAllister 

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