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BULLYING: Teen shares battle of exclusion at Flower Mound school

Mental bullying can be just as damaging, and even soul crushing, as physical bullying. See how one girl coped with mental manipulation at school and view Dr. Kay Trotter talking about it on the Dallas morning news program Daybreak – WFAA-TV, Channel 8.

by CYNTHIA IZAGUIRRE, Dallas WFAA-TV, Channel 8

When 13-year-old Sara McCann was in the fifth grade her mom knew something was wrong at school.

“It’s not a shove you in the locker kind of bully,” said mother Renee McCaan. “It’s a, ‘Hey, do this and if you’re not going to do this we’re going to just discard you.'”

“It’s usually like a big group of girls,” said Sara, fighting back tears. “And I feel left out sometimes, like at lunch, whenever there’s nowhere to sit and no one will go sit with me.”

For the last three years, Sara said a group of popular girls at school made it very clear she was not good enough to join them.

“Whenever they would leave me out, I would feel like a nobody,” she said. “I mean, they wouldn’t say that to me, but it was what was implied I guess.”

Sara’s mother said this type of insidious alliance amongst students perceived to be cool caused harmful effects on her daughter.

“It’s like me putting pressure on myself saying, ‘Why am I not good enough to sit with them?'” Sara said.

According to the teen, it was covert, damaging and soul crushing – a type of mind manipulation that may not be easily detected by teachers.

“In the classroom, for example, if we have a project or something and the teacher will tell us to get in groups and it will be like a group of four and I’ll usually be like the fifth one,” she said. “I don’t have any where to go.”

When asked if she wished the teacher would break the students into groups as opposed to having them do it themselves, Sara choked up.

“Yes,” she said. “So that I would have somewhere to go.”

As Sara talked, her mother also fought back tears.

“You feel that pain,” Renee said. “You do. You feel it for your own child. You kind of inject your own memories in there. You want to swoop in and save the day.”

Renee did not talk to the principal about Sara’s issues. Instead, she sought counseling for both her and her daughter.

“I could have taken her out of the school and created a very big disadvantage for her because I’m taking the opportunity away from her to learn how to navigate these pressures in life,” she said.

Through counseling, Sara learned how to set boundaries, how to navigate the pressures and she discovered a new passion in horseback riding that has given her a new-found confidence.

“It’s not those girls that I want to feel wanted by,” she said. “It’s the people that I love that I want to feel wanted by.”

E-mail izzy@wfaa.com

View Dr. Kay Trotter talking about how to cope with mental bullying on the Dallas morning news program Daybreak – WFAA-Channel 8 Video on Bullying

WFAA-Channel 8 Video on Bullying

If you would like Dr. Kay Trotter to come talk to your group you can contact her at: Kay@KayTrotter.com, 214-499-0396, or visit her web site http://www.KayTrotter.com.

Dr Trotter also post regularly in her FaceBook fan page http://www.facebook.com/DrKaySudekumTrotter.

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Is Your Child Ready for Kindergarten?

KindergardenIs Your Child Ready for Kindergarten?Not sure if your child is ready to tackle the world of kindergarten?

For most of us the new school year is just around the corner and that means many children will be off to kindergarten for the first time. BUT is your 5-year-old really ready to start school? This question needs to be taken very seriously especially since so many districts no longer have half day kindergarten only offering full day, which is a load for many young emotionally developing children.

I routinely tell my clients that if your child has a summer birthday date, DO NOT start them. This additional year will allow your child to grow: physically, socially, and to gain the emotional maturity they will need to make their first experience at “real school” fun and enjoyable setting the tone for all future years.

In addition to summer birth dates, I also recommend that if your child has difficulty staying on task, or is developmentally delayed in language or motor skills, it might be wise to give them another year of pre-school to mature and develop. Other areas that are red flags deserving a second look at starting kindergarten next year include if your child is very shy or anxious in preschool and refuse to respond to their teacher, or your son is physically small but otherwise seems ready to go to kindergarten, would his small physical stature be an issue with his peers?

These are all tough issues, but ones that need to be examined by all parents

While many school districts rely on age as the determining factor, some educators believe that the most important aspect to determining if a child is ready for kindergarten is how much previous experience he or she has had in a preschool setting. The social aspects that children learn from preschool are invaluable. Children in preschool explore the world through play, information gained in this way becomes the basis for all areas of your child’s life. Parents may see play as just “fun”, but “play is serious work for a child”. Play helps your child acquire the tools he or she will need in kindergarten.

Here are some benefit from play

  • Develop    physical    skills. Gross motor skills are developed as a child learns to reach, run, climb and balance. Fine motor skills are developed as children handle small toys.
  • Develop    cognitive    concepts. Children learn to solve problems (What does this do? puzzle piece fit here?) through play. Children also learn colors, numbers, size and shapes. They have the ability to enhance their memory skills as well as their attention span. Children move on to higher levels of thought as they play in a more stimulating environment.
  • Develop    language    skills. Language develops as a child plays and interacts with others. This begins with parents playing cooing games with their children and advances to practical levels such as telling make-believe stories and jokes.
  • Develop    social    skills. Learning to cooperate, negotiate, take turns and play by the rules are all-important skills learned in early games. These skills grow as the child plays. As a result, children learn the roles and rules of society.

What Your Child Should Know
Schools seem to expect the children entering kindergarten to know a lot more than their parents had to when they went to school. From soup to nuts, they are expected to know certain things when they walk in the door. It’s like they need to hit the ground running, not learn it once they get in.

Some districts test children before or shortly after the school year has started, using the pre-test which screens a child’s physical development, alphabet recognition and his or her knowledge of body parts, colors and shapes. It is just one indicator of their physical and cognitive development —the basic things that a 5-year-old child should know.

If your district has a pre-admission screening and your child doesn’t do well, you should request the test be performed again. If he or she still does not perform well, ask for your child to be re-evaluated three and six months later. That way, if there are any developmental or neurological difficulties, you can get a jump on them right away by contacting a child psychologist, play therapist, and or neurologist.

Kindergarten Readiness Checklist

This checklist will give you an idea on what areas your child is doing well in, and where they may need some extra attention. It’s a good idea to do the checklist, print it out and then work with your child in the areas they need extra help. In a few weeks, do the checklist again to see how much your child has improved.

Fine Motor Skills

1. Puts a 10- to 12-piece puzzle together                                              Yes            Not Yet

2. Holds scissors correctly                                                                      Yes            Not Yet

3. Holds a pencil or crayon properly                                                     Yes            Not Yet

Gross Motor Skills

1. Runs, jumps and skips                                                                       Yes            Not Yet

2. Walks backward                                                                                  Yes            Not Yet

3. Walks up and down stairs                                                                Yes            Not Yet

Social Skills

1. Uses words instead of being physical when angry                      Yes            Not Yet

2. Speaks clearly so an adult can understand him/her                  Yes            Not Yet

3. Plays with other children                                                                 Yes            Not Yet

4. Follows simple directions                                                                Yes            Not Yet

5. Expresses feelings and needs                                                          Yes            Not Yet

6. Goes to the bathroom by him/herself                                           Yes            Not Yet

7. Waits his/her turn and shares                                                        Yes            Not Yet

8. Talks in sentences                                                                             Yes            Not Yet

9. Asks questions about things around him/her                             Yes            Not Yet

10. Enjoys having books read to him/her                                         Yes            Not Yet

11. Can tell a story about a past event                                                Yes            Not Yet

12. Says “please” and “thank you”                                                      Yes            Not Yet

13. Can spend extended periods away from Mom and Dad          Yes            Not Yet

Academic Skills

1. Recognizes shapes (square, circle, triangle, rectangle)              Yes            Not Yet

2. Can sort items by color, shape and size                                        Yes            Not Yet

3. Can identify six parts of his/her body                                           Yes            Not Yet

4. Understands concept words: up, down, in, out, behind           Yes            Not Yet

5. Counts from 1 to 10                                                                          Yes            Not Yet

6. Recognizes five colors                                                                     Yes            Not Yet

7. Tries to write his/her name                                                            Yes            Not Yet

8. Recognizes his/her written name                                                 Yes            Not Yet

Personal Information

1. Knows his/her full name                                                                Yes            Not Yet

2. Knows how old he/she is                                                               Yes            Not Yet

3. Knows his/her address and telephone number                         Yes            Not Yet

4. Knows his/her mother and father’s first names                        Yes            Not Yet

If You Do Keep Your Child Out for a Year…
So what so you do if you decide to keep your child out of kindergarten for a year? What can you do to make sure he or she is ready when September rolls around again? Getting your child involved in other activities is key, You may think you are doing him a favor by keeping him home with you, but you are not. It could be one of the worst mistakes you can make.

And don’t forget that you the parents are your child’s first and most important teacher, but a parent also needs to know the expectations of the school system their child is going into. If your district has many schools with a variety of academic programs, it is important to look into all of them in order to determine which might be the best fit for your child.

If you would like Dr. Kay Trotter to come talk to your group or find out more about her counseling practice, you can contact her at: Kay@KayTrotter.com

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Gratitude and Praise to Teachers

As everyone heads back to school, I would like to take a moment to give Praise and Gratitude to all the Teachers that parents have entrusted to care for their most precious children.

All of us know first hand the impact teachers had on us growing up, but few of us know the loving sacrifice teachers freely make on a daily basis.

For the past four years, I have had the honor of a “backstage pass” into the real lives of teachers because I’ve watched my daughter, Kelly, serve as an elementary school teacher. Through her experience, I have personally witnessed the joys teaching has brought to her and I also understand the stressful challenges she has to balance in her life.

When I began writing this, I was instantly taken back to the year Kelly’s class had five special needs students she lovingly called “her boys.” When you entered Kelly’s classroom that year, you not only saw and heard 20+ students clamoring for attention, seeking answers to questions and desiring guidance – all of which every teacher faces daily – you also got a glimpse into the very different world of Autism as it walked hand-in-hand with a mainstream classroom. Kelly soon found herself performing a daily dance that combined the needs of her regular students with the poor communication skills, social awareness and behavioral characteristics of Autism. The tapestry woven between teacher and students was amazing – but it came at the price of stressful days, emotional exhaustion and tremendous fatigue . . . A price I know Kelly would lovingly pay again. Objectively, teaching has got to be one of the top 5 most stressful careers in the world.

Comedian Bill Cosby knows the importance of teachers and, in fact, attributes his own phenomenal success to a teacher. As a sixth-grade student in Philadelphia, he was inspired by his teacher, Mary Forchic, to follow his dreams of becoming an entertainer. Recognizing his natural storytelling abilities, she suggested “you should become either a lawyer or an actor because you lie so well.” Forchic has remained one of Cosby’s lifelong friends and Cosby has devoted a great deal of his time to ensure that all children have the opportunity to benefit from teachers like Forchic.  We could all follow Cosby’s lead and express our gratitude for the enormous contributions that dedicated teachers make to our childrens’ lives and to our community.

So many teachers are at school early and stay late, they correct papers and plan instruction on evenings and weekends — working hard to meet the educational needs of students, some of whom struggle to make progress despite the stress of life. Teachers also buy materials with money from their own pockets and volunteer their time to attend school carnivals and sporting events while also attending workshops and training to continually develop their own skills. I assure you they don’t do all this for the money.

They do it because they care about your child.

As another school year gets underway, now is an appropriate time to remind everyone to continuously thank the effective and dedicated teachers in our schools.

Yes, teachers make all the difference.

If you would like Dr. Kay Trotter to come talk to your group or find out more about her counseling practice, you can contact her at: Kay@KayTrotter.com214-499-0396, or visit her web site http://www.KayTrotter.com.

Dr Trotter also post regularly in her FaceBook fan page http://www.facebook.com/DrKaySudekumTrotter.

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Is Your Child Ready for Kindergarten?

Is Your Child Ready for Kindergarten?Not sure if your child is ready to tackle the world of kindergarten?

Is there such a thing as starting your child’s formal academic career too soon?

Can you really know if your child is ready to begin kindergarten?

While many school districts rely on age as the determining factor, some educators believe that the most important aspect to determining if a child is ready for kindergarten is how much previous experience he or she has had in a school setting.

The social aspects that children learn from preschool are invaluable. We may see it as play and fun, but play is serious work for a child. It ends up helping a 4-year-old acquire the tools he will need in kindergarten.

What Your Child Should Know
Schools seem to expect the children entering kindergarten to know a lot more than their parents had to when they went to school. From soup to nuts, they are expected to know certain things when they walk in the door. It’s like they need to hit the ground running, not learn it once they get in.

Some districts test children before or shortly after the school year has started, using the pre-test which screens a child’s physical development, alphabet recognition and his or her knowledge of body parts, colors and shapes. It is just one indicator of their physical and cognitive development —the basic things that a 5-year-old child should know.

If your district has a pre-admission screening and your child doesn’t do well, you should request the test be performed again. If he or she still does not perform well, ask for your child to be re-evaluated three and six months later. That way, if there are any developmental or neurological difficulties, you can get a jump on them right away by contacting a child psychologist, play therapist, and or neurologist.

Kindergarten Readiness Checklist

This checklist will give you an idea on what areas your child is doing well in, and where they may need some extra attention. It’s a good idea to do the checklist, print it out and then work with your child in the areas they need extra help. In a few weeks, do the checklist again to see how much your child has improved.

Fine Motor Skills

1. Puts a 10- to 12-piece puzzle together                                              Yes            Not Yet

2. Holds scissors correctly                                                                      Yes            Not Yet

3. Holds a pencil or crayon properly                                                     Yes            Not Yet

Gross Motor Skills

1. Runs, jumps and skips                                                                       Yes            Not Yet

2. Walks backward                                                                                  Yes            Not Yet

3. Walks up and down stairs                                                                Yes            Not Yet

Social Skills

1. Uses words instead of being physical when angry                      Yes            Not Yet

2. Speaks clearly so an adult can understand him/her                  Yes            Not Yet

3. Plays with other children                                                                 Yes            Not Yet

4. Follows simple directions                                                                Yes            Not Yet

5. Expresses feelings and needs                                                          Yes            Not Yet

6. Goes to the bathroom by him/herself                                           Yes            Not Yet

7. Waits his/her turn and shares                                                        Yes            Not Yet

8. Talks in sentences                                                                             Yes            Not Yet

9. Asks questions about things around him/her                             Yes            Not Yet

10. Enjoys having books read to him/her                                         Yes            Not Yet

11. Can tell a story about a past event                                                Yes            Not Yet

12. Says “please” and “thank you”                                                      Yes            Not Yet

13. Can spend extended periods away from Mom and Dad          Yes            Not Yet

Academic Skills

1. Recognizes shapes (square, circle, triangle, rectangle)              Yes            Not Yet

2. Can sort items by color, shape and size                                        Yes            Not Yet

3. Can identify six parts of his/her body                                           Yes            Not Yet

4. Understands concept words: up, down, in, out, behind           Yes            Not Yet

5. Counts from 1 to 10                                                                          Yes            Not Yet

6. Recognizes five colors                                                                     Yes            Not Yet

7. Tries to write his/her name                                                            Yes            Not Yet

8. Recognizes his/her written name                                                 Yes            Not Yet

Personal Information

1. Knows his/her full name                                                                Yes            Not Yet

2. Knows how old he/she is                                                               Yes            Not Yet

3. Knows his/her address and telephone number                         Yes            Not Yet

4. Knows his/her mother and father’s first names                        Yes            Not Yet

If You Do Keep Your Child Out for a Year…
So what so you do if you decide to keep your child out of kindergarten for a year? What can you do to make sure he or she is ready when September rolls around again? Getting your child involved in other activities is key, You may think you are doing him a favor by keeping him home with you, but you are not. It could be one of the worst mistakes you can make.

And don’t forget that you the parents are your child’s first and most important teacher, but a parent also needs to know the expectations of the school system their child is going into. If your district has many schools with a variety of academic programs, it is important to look into all of them in order to determine which might be the best fit for your child.

If you would like Dr. Kay Trotter to come talk to your group or find out more about her counseling practice, you can contact her at: Kay@KayTrotter.com 

Read More
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