Talking About Touching: A Personal Safety Program


IMG_2903Dear Parents,

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.


How Do You Feel About Going To Mikumi?


Grade 5 classes have spent recent Second Step lessons preparing themselves to deal with the tough feelings they may encounter during their up-coming trips to Mikumi.

Initially, classes brainstormed the whole gamut of feelings they associate with the up-coming trip:

Then each student circled the feelings that applied to him or her personally, before finding other people who shared their sentiments. This gave them tangible proof that they were not the only person in the world feeling a certain way!

Good feelings are easy to handle, but what was each student’s plan for dealing with the tough feelings that might appear during their time in Mikumi – feelings like being nervous, homesick, worried, scared, or annoyed?

The next thing the students did was to identify and explain, though graphic illustration, their personal style for coping with tough feelings. Listening to music, getting active, reading, talking to friends, and being alone were all popular strategies:

Once everyone had thought of personal coping strategies, the students shared what they would like OTHER people to do for them when they were experiencing “tough” feelings. Requests varied from, “Please just act normally” to, “Do something to make me laugh”. And from, “Leave me alone” to, “Give me a hug:”

The final task for the fifth graders was to contemplate what skills they possessed that would enable them to support their classmates through the ‘tough times’. Were they good at listening to others problems? Were they the sort of person who could make others laugh and take their minds off tough feelings? Once everyone had decided where their skills lay, they physically linked themselves together with others with similar skills:

At the end of it all one student asked, “Why are we spending so much time getting ready for Mikumi? It’s only a few days away from home!” Our answer: Because we hope that the preparation for Mikumi equips all our grade 5 children with life skills that they’ll use well beyond the few days they spend in Mikumi.

If you are reading this as the parent of a grade 5 child, do leave a comment and us know how helpful you think these preparation lessons have been.

Parent Workshop: Anger Management


Anger-Management – This Term’s Teaching Topic



Nicki Lorenzini (Teaching Second Step in grade 1 and grade 5)

Kate Kersey (Teaching Second Step in grade 2 and grade 4)

Glen Blair (Teaching Second Step in grade 3)

Click on the image to view this poster.

Second Step – Impulse Control and Problem Solving

Dear Families,

All students in grades 1 through 5 will soon start Unit 2 of the Second Step Guidance Curriculum. This unit focuses on impulse control and problem solving.

"When is impulse control hard?" "When we are angry!" Grade 5 use tableaux to answer questions about impulse control.

 Impulse control means slowing down and thinking rather than doing the first thing that pops into your head.

Problem solving is a strategy for dealing with problems we face with other people and as individuals.

How can we share? Grade 1 roleplay problem-solving for daily issues!

Calming down techniques are taught to give children the skills to compose themselves so that a given problem can be solved more effectively.

"When you finish the body outline, start putting on the calming down techniques. Perhaps you could write, 'Go for a walk' on the foot......'"

Your children will learn and practice steps for calming down and solving problems. You can help by practicing these new skills at home with your child. For example, reinforcing calming-down skills at home might go something like this:

Your child comes in upset about a younger brother or sister playing with their new toy. You might choose to comment that you can see they are very upset. Then you might suggest they try taking three deep breaths, then counting backwards slowly (with you if they are young) before they decide what to do.

After your child has calmed down, you might then help them practice the Second Step problem-solving steps by having them tell you what the problem is and then thinking of some ideas that might solve it. Then you can help them go through each of their possible solutions and ask: Is it safe? How might people feel about it? Is it fair? Will it work? Once they have chosen what they think is a good solution, suggest they give it  a try. If it works, great! If not, then encourage them to try something else.

You will find copies of the posters Claming Yourself Down and How to Solve Problems at the end of this post. We will be using these posters during Second Step lessons; feel free to post them at home.

In this unit, your child will also practice using such skills as apologizing, ignoring distractions, and dealing with peer pressure. These steps to problem solving are not absolute rules; rather they are guidelines for being safe and fair. If your family uses different steps, do please discuss these with your child.

Please contact the Counseling Team if you have any questions about impulse control, problem solving skills or the Second Step Curriculum


Nicki Lorenzini (teaching Second Step in grades 1 and 5)

Kate Kersey (teaching Second Step in grades 2 and 4)

Glen Blair (teaching Second Step in grade 3)

Empathy Parent Workshop




Why children need it

How to help them learn it


Monday October 31st

7:15-8:00 ES Staffroom

This is the first in a series of parent workshops facilitated by the Elementary Counselors.

EMPATHY = knowing & responding well to your emotions & others’ emotions.

Come if you are interested in:

  • Learning how empathy is taught through the Second Step Guidance Curriculum new at IST this year
  • Understanding why empathy is central to developing good social skills in young children.
  • Hearing about the age appropriate empathy skills you should aim to develop in your own child/children.
  • Joining a parent discussion on how empathy skills can be developed at home.
  • Receiving a Tips Sheet on activities and opportunities for building empathy skills within your family.

Next Month’s Parent Workshops…

Positive Discipline – Monday November 14th

Developing the Homework Habit – Monday November 28th