Page 7 - FIS World Feb 2019
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Focusing on Wellness
Boosting the social-emotional skills of students and parents
 In its most recent Strategic Plan, Frankfurt International School has committed itself to
providing students with resources that have an immediate and meaningful impact on their learning. The school recognizes that this is not achieved through the academic program alone; supporting students’ social and emotional wellness is equally important in laying a strong foundation for learning. In general, children who are challenged and feel safe and understood apply themselves better in their school environment.
The FIS Counseling Team has always supported students’ academic and personal development in an age-appropriate manner. And now, thanks to
a mandate within the school’s current Strategic Plan to “strengthen students’ social and emotional wellness and encourage a balanced and healthy life-style,” the Counseling Team has expanded to include at least one full-time counselor in each division. Two additional positions – one counselor for Grade 11–12 students and a part-time university advisor specifically for Korean students – have also been added.
According to Charlene Aspinwall, Head of Counseling in the Upper School, this translates into greater accessibility to counseling services for students, and more consistent and proactive support from counselors. With a more balanced number of students to work with, counselors have more time to address the varying developmental needs for each specific age group – self-regulation issues common with younger students, for example, or the pressures that come with the International Baccalaureate and university transitions for those in higher grades. It also means counselors have time to go into the classrooms to observe and teach. In Grades 6 and 7, for example, counselors visit enhanced-learning classes to discuss social-emotional topics to help students navigate this challenging stage in their development. In the Elementary and Primary grades, counselors teach coping strategies and mindfulness to students, and work with teachers on embedding lessons surrounding social and emotional health into their Units of Inquiry.
Going hand in hand with the support given to students in school is the parenting component. FIS prides itself on having a counseling program that caters not just to students, but also to parents. Counselors routinely provide advice and resources to help parents address issues that may be beyond their scope of expertise. They also organize parent
sessions on topics ranging from behavior and development, to dealing with the challenges that transitioning to a new school or host country can bring. Within the last several years, the counseling department has aimed even higher in providing resources for all members of the school community, bringing in quality keynote speakers to our campuses.
During the 2017/2018 school year, counselors organized a visit by acclaimed author and clinical psychologist, Dr. Michael Thompson, who offered fascinating insights on the emotional lives of boys and the role that friendships play in childhood and adolescence. More recently, FIS counselors facilitated a multi-day visit from nationally- acclaimed author, Rosalind Wiseman, and her colleague, Charlie Kuhn, who together lead Cultures of Dignity, an organization that “works with communities to shift the way they think about young people’s physical and emotional well-being.” During their visit, Ms. Wiseman and Mr. Kuhn spoke with parents and faculty on group dynamics, gender differences and the impact of social media on children. They also worked directly with students, addressing similar topics. The important common denominator for both parents and students was the importance of communicating more effectively and respectfully.
The world is a complex place and much of the harmony that we have and hope for is dependant on personal well-being – how we treat ourselves, and how we treat others. By giving special focus to the skills required to build and maintain healthy social and emotional lives, FIS and its counselors are better preparing all of us for whatever may
lie ahead.
Vera Thiers
Manager of Marketing and Outreach
Special guest speakers Rosalind Wiseman (left) and Charlie Kuhn (right) with FISW counselor Rebecca Nelson
February 2019 FIS World 5

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