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Summer Transition

May 02, 2019
By Mrs. Nikki Curliss

Now that the calendar has been flipped to May, we all start talking about summer plans, summer camps, and finding time to relax with family. All that unstructured time can be difficult for families to have to readjust to a schedule. For some families, this can create struggles and disagreements amongst each other. I have found a parenting article:,  with advice on how to help prepare for the transition. “Change—even good change—is hard on children. It's disorienting for them not to know what to expect," says Parents advisor Eileen Kennedy-Moore, Ph.D., author of What About Me?: 12 Ways to Get Your Parents' Attention Without Hitting Your Sister.

Stick to a Schedule - This time of year our calendars get booked up with all the “end of the year” parties and school events. This makes it hard for children to keep to a schedule. How does your family react when they are overbooked? Feel free to turn down some activities for the sanity of your family. The parties and events sound like fun, but it may not be fun if everyone is cranky the next day. Make the right decision for your family and face your  “fear of of missing out”.

Maintain Friendships: At the beginning of summer, look at your calendar and find times to schedule playdates with friends. Find a camp for the kids to do together or just invite a friend over to the house for a few hours. It’s good for kids to stay connected and learn how to manage their social time with their friends in person, not just on their device. It’s also good for kids to make new friends. If your child is attending a camp, make sure to tour the facility and meet the counselors ahead of time to help ease with the transition.

Watch Your Words: Watch your child's reaction to talking about the next year. Are they nervous talking about being a year older? Are they nervous about going to a new school building? Are they disappointed that a friend isn’t returning or transitioning to the same school? Don’t just brush off their nervousness and anxiety. Listen to them and pay attention to their nonverbals. Change is inevitable, but talking about it too much doesn’t necessarily make it easier. Can you think about your transitions as a kid? Share some stories about how you handled this time in your life.

Inspire Education: Don’t just stop learning because your child isn’t in school. Find camps the children  will be engaged in and enjoy learning and broadening one’s perspective. Find workbooks and challenge your child to make a goal of completing it before the end of the summer. Find ways to make learning fun by attending local museum programs. Look up information at your local library for age appropriate discussions and workshops. Here is a list of other fun and interactive activities to try over the summer:

  • Deck of cards: used as flashcards/game of war
  • Sidewalk chalk to write out math problems, spelling words
  • Library programs, free books, audio books
  • Museum programs
  • Board games: Yahtzee, Boggle, etc
  • License plate game: addition, subtraction, math and states
  • Crafts for fine motor skills
  • Workbooks: inexpensive books at 5 Below
  • Kids cook night: theme nights learn about different countries
  • Daily journals about summer vacation
  • Volunteer programs and community service
  • Research High Schools for future visits
  • Parks programs: visit parks, register for programs
  • A-Z games: items in the grocery store
  • Missing items games
  • Plant a garden
Nikki Curliss, Guidance Counselor, has been at StMM for 8 years. She enjoys spending time helping students one-on-one and with whole classroom lessons.

StMM Guidance Schedule

March 15, 2019
By Mrs. Nikki Curliss

Throughout the year, our Guidance Counselor creates guidance lessons to help students academically, socially and personally. Through classroom lessons, the students gain a greater understanding of self-awareness and showing respect for self and others.

To help our kindergarten students with listening skills and following the rules, the students read the book, Howard B. Wigglebottom Learns to Listen and discussed the importance of being a good listener. It’s important to listen to keep up in school and to follow rules so one doesn’t get hurt. Another time, the students read the book, The Little Engine That Could,  The students thought about what they can focus on and work hard on at school. They learned the importance of perseverance and not giving up.

First grade learned about what qualities make a good friend and how to be one. After we talked about what a friend looks like, the students created friendship bracelets to remind them about the lesson.

Students in first - third grade learned about conflict management. The students watched the Kelso video series, which are short videos portraying children with small problems. The children then discussed how to handle the conflicts in the video. The students processed the small problems and talked about how to best handle the conflicts from the Kelso good choice wheel of options. Some options are; tell the person to stop, walk away, take turns, talk it out, etc.

The third grade learned about kindness by listening to a reading of Have you Filled a Bucket Today? Afterwards, the students discussed  being kind to others and filling someone else's bucket as well as your own. The students gave examples of what they do to help others, which in return, fills their own bucket. They came up with as simple tasks as holding the door open for someone, smiling at a classmate, and following directions in class.

Students in fourth and fifth grade learned about work habits and being organized. The students were led in discussions on “what do I want to do vs. what do I need to do?”. The students discussed how to handle conflicts within themselves and learn to prioritize and make time to do things they want to do.

To help our middle school students reach their potential and be successful, the students had a conversation and lesson on Learning Styles. The students took a questionnaire to find out if they were an auditory, visual or kinesthetic learner. The goal was to help give examples of different ways of learning that will help each individual student.

Technology Safety is an important topic to discuss with students in fifth-eighth. The students were engaged in an interactive survey using Kahoot. The students answered questions and had to think how to best handle situations if someone was trying to contact them or if someone was cyberbullying someone. The students learned how to protect their digital footprint.

To further help our students socially and personally, the school community participated in the Sandy Hook Promise program; Start with Hello!. StMM is a registered school with the national program and we have been an innovative school leading the discussion in the Raleigh Diocese.  This year, some 8th graders were chosen to help facilitate the program. The 8th grade students were trained on the program and helped model social cues through icebreaker activities. The program is designed to reach out to others, teach empathy and how it simply starts with “hello”.

Nikki Curliss, Guidance Counselor, has been at StMM for 8 years. She enjoys spending time helping students one-on-one and with whole classroom lessons. 


January 15, 2019
By Mrs. Nikki Curliss

January is a month of new year's resolutions, making promises to improve ourselves, and organizing our lives. To some people that might mean eating healthier, drinking more water,  or spending less time on your device. This is also the perfect time to set some goals. Academically, students set goals to improve their overall grade or a grade in a specific class. Personally and socially, students can set goals to put them on a leadership track. .

Some examples of learning how to be a leader are found in the online Forbes article: “Ten Ways Parents Can Teach Their Children to be Leaders”

Students learn about leadership by trying out sports and activities and by being on a team. Mainly, through teamwork, students learn an important component in leadership. The team practices together and competes together. By playing hard, coordinating plays, and working insync with each other to reach a common goal, teams learn an important part of leadership. Students may not always be the star of the show, play in the whole game, or make the most shots. Luckily, that is what teams are for, to work together.

When students learn to problem solve and work things out with others using empathy and sympathy, they are gaining an important leadership skill. The ability to understand others feelings is important in being an effective leader and having others follow along. Students learn how to do this by respectfully talking to peers and respecting classroom rules.

Students need to know how to embrace failure. There will be times when things don’t go as planned, but how we deal with it is very important in who we are. Adults can model this behavior to help children find a healthy way of dealing with failure and disappointment. Students who handle their disappointments by trying harder, will learn  to keep working harder to meet their goals.

Teaching students the importance of not procrastinating. Knowing how to set a goal and taking the necessary steps to meet it on time, is an important part of leadership. Leaders know how to take charge to get things accomplished. Students practice this at school as they work toward projects, tests, and papers.

Nikki Curliss, Guidance Counselor, has been at StMM for 8 years. She enjoys spending time helping students one-on-one and with whole classroom lessons. 

Peaceful Christmastime

December 19, 2018
By Mrs. Nikki Curliss

It’s the Most  _______ Time of the Year! How would you complete the sentence? During the Christmas season, we are spending more time with distant relatives, keeping watch over children who are home from school, and creating shopping lists for gifts and food.  The American Psychological Association offers tips to help parents deal with holiday stress.

Set expectations – Talk to your kids about expectations for gifts and holiday activities. Be open with them if money is an issue. Talk about the real “reason for the season”.

Keep things in perspective – Try to consider stressful situations in a broader context and keep a long-term perspective.  If conversations about political views are a difficult topic, be ready with other topics to bring up. FOOD! Food is always a fun topic.

Make connections – Good relationships with family and friends are important. So, view the holidays as a time to reconnect with people. And, put down that device. Spend time talking to others, playing games together, and enjoying less technology.

Take care of yourself – Pay attention to your own needs and feelings during the holiday season. Engage in activities that you and your family enjoy and find relaxing. Take a walk, have family movie nights, play games as a family.

If you are feeling more stress and anxiety during the Christmas season, take some time to focus on how to best handle the stress. Think about what is causing the stress and determine which of these items you can control and what you cannot control.  Despite the endless lists you are keeping, remember to spend time thinking about the real gift of the season, Christ’s birth! Are you spending time during Advent preparing for Christmas? Spend time in prayer and reflection in Church and finding ways to help others.

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