Welcome to the International School of Tanganyika’s Counseling Department Website. Here you will find what’s happening at the IST Elementary Campus regarding Counseling in the classrooms and around the campus. Please check back often and feel free to leave us a message with your ideas, links and good thoughts. Asante!
Throughout Elementary School this month we’ve been teaching students skills that will help keep them stay safe in potentially dangerous or abusive situations. We have been exploring touching safety through discussion, role play, puppet work, graphic novel style productions and direct instruction: focusing on teaching children to identify unsafe touches and to say “No,” get away, and tell a grown-up if someone tries to touch their private body parts. Children have also been taught not to keep secrets about touching. They have been given the chance to practice getting out of unsafe situations and to ask a grown-up for help if they need it.
Our students have learnt about three kinds of touches:
Safe Touches. These are touches that keep you safe and are good for your body. They make you feel cared for, loved, and important. Students have identified that safe touches include hugging, holding hands, pats on the back, an arm around the shoulder, and a shot from the doctor.
Unsafe Touches. These are touches that are not good for your body and hurt your body or your feelings (e.g. hitting, pushing, pinching. kicking, and touching the private parts of your body).
Unwanted Touches. These may be safe touches, yet the child doesn’t want to be touched in that way, by that person, or at that moment in time.
The children have also learnt the Touching Rule: No one should touch your private body parts except to keep you clean and healthy. Children have considered what is appropriate, at their particular age, in terms of others touching their private body parts in the name of cleanliness and health. They have also learnt that ‘private body parts’ are ‘those parts that are covered by a swimsuit’ (of the type pictured here).
As parents who came to our parent workshop on this topic at the start of the month will have heard, we recommend that at home children are taught the correct anatomical names for ‘private body parts’ so that, if necessary, they are able to communicate accurately about any touching questions or problem they may have.
All our ES students have learnt and practiced the Safety Steps that will guide them to know what to do if someone breaks the Touching Rule.
As part of learning the these Safety Steps, students have identified different grow-ups to talk to, both inside and outside the family, since parents may not always be available. They have also learnt that:
1) It is never a child’s fault if someone breaks the Touching Rule.
2) A child should never keep secrets about touching.
3) It is never too late to tell about a touching problem.
By December Break, we will have reached the end of our personal safety program teaching for this school year. However, the program is just the beginning of what we all need to do to help keep children safe. Children retain the skills they have learnt only if they keep practicing them. And for this reason, it is recommended that parents review the aforementioned personal safety rules and steps with their children on a regular basis. Please feel free to contact your child’s Counselor if you would like guidance on how to do this, or would appreciate additional information on/the chance to discuss any aspect of the Talking About Touch Program at IST.
Recently the grade 5 classes went to Mikumi where they spent time in the national park, visited the Mikumi village school and hiked to the Udzungua waterfall.
For many students, these experiences were new and/or challenging and for some it was the longest period of time that they had spent away from the family home. As the trip took them out of their usual comfort zone, it was also a great opportunity for the students to learn more about themselves – how they deal with challenges, or manage difficult emotions when away from familiarity.
Before the trip…
In the weeks leading up to the trips, students prepared by identifying their feelings surrounding the trip as well as brainstorming what to do with their more difficult emotions. What did they need to pack with them – object or attitude – in order to help with these emotions.
After the trip…
We learn a lot about ourselves when taken out of our usual routine and environment. Going to Mikumi gave students valuable information on what challenges they naturally rise to and what situations they find difficult. And hence, post trip students were encouraged to reflect on how they grew in Mikumi – what were they proud of and what did they learn about themselves during their trip. Using sentence starters as prompts, they reflected on what they did in Mikumi, as well as how they and others now perceived them.
During our recent parent talk last Wednesday, Muriel our counselor for EC and KG, presented a talk on Thriving Through Transition. While this talk referred more to moving country and transitioning to IST, I thought it might be useful to bring this subject up again here as life is full of transitions regardless of whether or not you are moving school and country.
The “W Curve” Transition model is often used to describe the process of moving country. In fact, this model is applicable for many of life’s transitions – change of job, getting married, having a baby to name but a few! The picture below is based on the W curve and captures some of the thoughts and feelings associated with transitioning.
The model talks about the different stages that we experience when going through change. In a nutshell these stages encompass feeling elated and excited about the upcoming change (the Honeymoon Phase), to overwhelmed or frustrated by the lack of familiarity (Crisis Phase), to once again feeling “at home” with our new situation or surroundings (Adjustment Phase). As we all go through many changes in life, some more significant than others, this model may feel familiar to many of us.
So what are some things that we can do to help make change easier? Well, if you have moved country the Transition tab at the top of this page is a good place to start. It also helps to recognize that transitions are hard because they can shake your sense of identity. Because we define ourselves in part by our surroundings, when they change it can be very disorienting. Remember other times in life when you have successfully dealt with transition or change – what helped you during this time? And in those times of frustrations, try to remind yourself of why you chose to make the change in the first place as this knowledge often gets lost in the chaos of the transition.