Back to School 101: Transitioning and Re-engaging Students with Ms. Christina Karmecy
Ms. Christina Karmecy, Connoquenessing Valley Elementary School Counselor
Christina Karmecy is the Elementary School Counselor at Connoquenessing Valley Elementary (CVE) School. This is her fifth school year as CVE’s school counselor. Before joining the SV team, she was South Side Area School District’s elementary school counselor for six years. Ms. Karmecy received her Masters of Education in School Counseling from Slippery Rock University, and is also a National Certified Counselor. She also serves as a member of CVE’s Learn, Explore, Act, Develop (LEAD) and Diversity Teams.
IN THIS EPISODE, WE WILL REVIEW
Voices E45 Christina Karmecy
FULL TRANSCRIPT (with timecode)
00:00:02:27 - 00:00:10:06
Introduction: Welcome to Voices, a National award-winning podcast brought to you by the Seneca Valley School District.
00:00:11:24 - 00:00:19:18
Jeff Krakoff: This is Jeff Krakoff. Today I'm with Christina Karmecy, who is a school counselor at Connoquenessing Valley Elementary. Thanks for joining us.
00:00:20:05 - 00:00:21:04
Christina Karmecy: Thanks for having me.
00:00:21:25 - 00:00:32:26
Jeff Krakoff: So we're kind of just just started a new school year. Lots of things are happening with kids in all schools and all levels. Can we talk a little bit about
00:00:34:11 - 00:00:47:07
Jeff Krakoff: the importance of parents just keeping in touch with their children and, you know, checking in and finding out what's going on? How important is that and how should parent go about doing that?
00:00:47:24 - 00:01:19:00
Christina Karmecy: Yeah, that's such an important question. I think what's so interesting about this time and being a parent myself is that, you know, kids aren't the only ones who are anxious. We're all anxious with all the changes going on in our world right now. And it's important to not only check in with your child's emotions, but also your emotions as well. I go into the student's classroom throughout the year, and one important topic is how to calm down your strong emotions and just that, you know the self-regulation piece.
00:01:20:04 - 00:01:29:01
Christina Karmecy: And as a mom and a school counselor, I always have to kind of think about how am I feeling and then how does that affect my interactions with the children?
00:01:30:27 - 00:01:37:25
Christina Karmecy: So I definitely think you have to first think of yourself and how you're feeling before then you move forward and talk to kids.
00:01:39:29 - 00:02:11:04
Christina Karmecy: But right now, even before the pandemic around 2019, 2020, there was a term that was utilized in schools just to really focus on how do we work with children who are struggling with different traumas in their lives? And I think that term has kind of changed from 2019 because we could say so many kids have experienced trauma, maybe a loss of a family member, something happening, a change in a family structure like a divorce or separation. But now we're all experiencing trauma.
00:02:11:06 - 00:02:40:03
Christina Karmecy: All the kids, all the adults, right? And you know what that looks like. So the term that we use in school is trauma informed care. And I think it's kind of neat to think about what how can we then transfer those skills that what we're doing in school with these children to a home? And one thing I want to think about is how do I ask my child how they're feeling or how do I check in with them? What how can I frame a question so that it's it's helpful and I get the information that I want?
00:02:40:20 - 00:02:55:02
Jeff Krakoff: So how important is it or is it not important to kind of do the same time of the day? Is it every day or the kids start to tune that out if the first thing they get when they walk through the door is How is your day? Tell me about it when..
00:02:55:26 - 00:03:31:12
Christina Karmecy: Right and I do that as well, I think sometimes I get so excited to hear all the day goes for my own children like, Oh, they have to kind of, you know, have that time to process it themselves. But and I think what we can maybe learn from what we do here in the school building too is just kind of set the tone, you know, when students come to our school, they're, you know, we greet them with the morning greeting, you know, we were so happy that you're here, you know, and it kind of sets that tone. And I think that's definitely something that parents can do as well. But we might have to just take the cue with how we respond by really observing our child.
00:03:31:14 - 00:03:37:18
Christina Karmecy: You know, how what is their face look like? What is your body look like, you know, and take those cues from the child.
00:03:39:12 - 00:03:53:05
Jeff Krakoff: But even to your point, your own cues, I never really thought about that. But if you have something going on personally or at work that's making you anxious, probably not a good time to start a conversation with your children about school, right?
00:03:53:15 - 00:04:12:12
Christina Karmecy: Absolutely. Because you know you're not able to respond in a way that you know, that's helpful to them, but just that sense of just asking questions. And I think really engaging them to talk about how they feel or what happened in their day is is really healing. Emotionally, I know when I'm struggling with the situation how,
00:04:14:00 - 00:04:26:14
Christina Karmecy: how, how wonderful it feels just to share my emotions, even if the person I'm talking to, you can't, can't solve anything or do anything about what I'm I'm telling them, you know, just the experience of sharing what's on my mind, right? It's cathartic.
00:04:27:02 - 00:04:48:17
Jeff Krakoff: OK, well, we also all know that for children to succeed in school being organized, whether it's time management, whether it's the place where they're studying and go to school related activities, do you have any tips to share with parents, how they how to make the environment and the timing the best it can be for their kids?
00:04:49:00 - 00:05:21:19
Christina Karmecy: Absolutely! Routines are so important for every child, especially developmentally, as an elementary student. So just having the routine of, you know, when we're doing homework is important and honest. It takes the stress off of the child and the parent because it's something it's just it's going to be become a routine and just done, rather than saying you have to do your homework now, you have to do your homework now. If if it's a routine, it's an established agreement that this is when we're going to do our homework. So I know right now, you know, we're at the early September, all of the activities are just starting.
00:05:21:25 - 00:06:08:29
Christina Karmecy: So really, take a look at your schedule. OK, what can you do homework when you get home from school? What what does your homework after this activity? And if there's changes in that schedule, then communicate it. But you also mentioned to just places to study, and I think that's important to just that stable environment of where to get your work done. I know I run some different study skills group with the kids here at CVE, and one thing that we talk about is just having that set study space. And what that does for kids is eliminate the disruption and the inability to focus because you're working on an assignment and then oops, I need to get some crayons or markers or pencils, and it's really neat to have all of that right there so that you're prepared for anything that the assignment may ask you.
00:06:09:01 - 00:06:20:07
Jeff Krakoff: Any suggestions you. I'm not thinking of going completely feng shui here. Yeah, as far as size of room lighting, you know what's in the room? Any tips?
00:06:20:28 - 00:07:07:00
Christina Karmecy: I think that you can make any space, a good study environment. So many houses have different structures. I know in my own home we don't have our own space for homework, so we just kind of have to do it on the on our, you know, kind of kitchen table area and I just have a basket for school papers. And then even this little caddy type things where you could put different supplies, and that's been so helpful. So it's really neat how you could just make any space functional just as long as you have everything organized where it needs to be. And I was even thinking too on top of just the simple, you know, pencils, crayons, markers, maybe even adding some like note cards for study skills, highlighters, different things that they could use to make studying more productive.
00:07:07:21 - 00:07:40:06
Jeff Krakoff: All good suggestions. So now that we have the the home kind of figured out, what about in the school with elementary students, especially sometimes they're not as assertive; don't know what to do, where to go. So something happens whether they fall down or hurt themselves or emotionally something's going on or they don't know something they need to know during a school day. Do you have any tips are things that parents can consider at getting students to be better advocates for themselves.
00:07:40:21 - 00:08:14:16
Christina Karmecy: Yeah, actually, I love that you use the word assertiveness. It's definitely one of our key terms that we focus on every school year. It's actually in our counseling curriculum within the schools because it's such an important topic for students when we talk about assertiveness in the schools. You know, when you're assertive, you ask for what you want and need in a respectful way. And that's sometimes hard to do. You know, communication is really on a continuum. So we start with being passive. On the other end, it's being aggressive and where we want kids to be is this assertiveness.
00:08:14:18 - 00:08:26:25
Christina Karmecy: And you know, when you're assertive, you are able to understand your own needs with also taking into account other people's needs as well. So it's this great balance between having
00:08:28:21 - 00:09:07:00
Christina Karmecy: self-confidence, but also, you know, empathy for others. So when you're assertive you, you don't need to utilize good eye contact. You recognize the need for decent personal space. And before I go through my list of topics, you know this could be what for when children are talking to other children, if they're having an argument or disagreement, or for adults utilizing a voice that can be heard. So when you're passive, you know you're not speaking in a tone that people take you seriously or could really hear you. But if you're too loud and then people are going to kind of tone you out and assume that you're yelling, so you have to find that good balance in the volume of your voice.
00:09:07:07 - 00:09:17:18
Christina Karmecy: Use clear, concise language and then, most importantly, allow if it is a disagreement with another peer, allow time for other people to share their thoughts and ideas as well.
00:09:18:03 - 00:09:34:12
Jeff Krakoff: OK. What if an adult needs to be involved, especially with kindergarteners, first graders? This is all new. The other suggestions just how to make that decision? Do I talk to a teacher or do I go to the principal? What's the thought process in the mind of an elementary student?
00:09:34:23 - 00:10:07:07
Christina Karmecy: Well, just being in the classroom, I know many teachers really try to foster that independence of kids and that assertiveness. So one typical rule a lot of teachers have is to ask three and then me or to ask other students first if you need help than me. And I think that kind of is nice because it enables them to know that I could be a problem solver too and kind of to really think about how do I grow as a problem solver? Or or critically think, okay, what do I need to get this job done and of course, you know, every adult in this building is here to help if needed.
00:10:08:09 - 00:10:18:01
Christina Karmecy: So then it's it's actually a practice skill in the elementary, which is, you know, they're learning to do academics in elementary, but so many life skills as well.
00:10:18:10 - 00:10:35:17
Jeff Krakoff: Right.Great point. Now what if I'm a parent and there's something going on or I'm sensing something might be going on with with my child or young adult? How do they make the decision? Do I talk to a counselor? Do I talk to the administrator doI talk to a teacher?
00:10:36:22 - 00:10:55:01
Christina Karmecy: I think where you always want to start first is that classroom teacher because they have eyes on your child all day and then the classroom teacher will be a great contact to then make the referral to the school counselor, administrator or whatever step that you need next. But because that classroom teacher is with your child all day long, that's the perfect first contact to make
00:10:55:13 - 00:11:16:25
Jeff Krakoff: Great point. Great point. So this was Christina Karmecy, who is a counselor at the elementary level at Connoquenessing Valley Elementary. Thank you so much for joining us. She had some great information, and I know a lot of parents can use and put to use with with their kids who are students and have a wonderful rest of the beginning of the school year.
00:11:17:14 - 00:11:18:22
Christina Karmecy: Thank you so much.
00:11:18:25 - 00:11:20:05
Introduction: All right. You take care.
00:11:20:14 - 00:11:22:21
Christina Karmecy: Thank you. Bye.