School Readiness Camp-What to Expect/Expected and Unexpected Behaviors

Written by Rachel Ealy, M.Ed., LPC-Intern


Have you been thinking about signing your child up for Heights Family Counseling’s School Readiness Camp, but aren’t sure if it will get a good fit? Perhaps this is the first time you are hearing about the camp and want to know a little bit more about it. This week’s blog will delve deeper into the camp’s format and a couple of topics covered. Check out my last blog for more on group counseling, the benefits of group counseling, and how to talk to your child about group counseling.


Leading up to the start of our School Readiness Camp, I will be writing a blog series that highlights topics covered in the camp. Just a reminder, Heights Family Counseling’s child and adolescent therapists, Rachel and Kristin, will co-lead this camp open to children entering kindergarten through 2nd grade. The camp will be held Monday, July 29th through Friday, August 2nd from 10:00am-11:15am at our office located at 2500 Summer St., Houston, TX 77007 #1220.


Our School Readiness Camp is designed for children who are unsure of what to expect on the first day; children experiencing anxiety, nervousness, or stress related to starting school or getting in to the routine, and for those that may need to touch up on some skills before starting the school year. Being anxious or nervous about school is not a requirement! Those that are more confident and ready for the school year can help those who may be more nervous and those that are more nervous can help the children that are more confident in other ways. Let’s face it, grade school is hard and each year comes with its own challenges! There are many things to navigate including routines and schedules, school rules, making new friends, meeting lots of new adults, and perhaps getting up earlier than usual.


Camp Format


Each day camp will follow the same general format. Camp will begin promptly at 10am every morning. The children will sit in a circle to foster relationship building as well as encourage engagement in the group. The counselors will review the group rules consisting of 1) listening with your whole body (each group member will be taught how to do this), 2) respect your peers, 3) talk only when it is your turn or if there is group discussion, and 4) have fun! Next, the counselors will check in with each group member by asking a question and allowing time for each member to answer. The check-in serves to build the therapeutic relationship as well as foster emotion identification and expression. Additionally, the check-in helps to ‘break the ice,’ so to speak. The children will be encouraged to empathize with and validate their fellow group members. The next step involves introducing the day’s topic. Each day will consist of learning about the day’s topic and the counselors will answer any questions the group members may have. The counselors will then utilize handouts, games, and group discussion to teach and reinforce the topic of the day. After wrapping up the activities, the group members will learn and practice a mindful calming strategy. Group closing will involve a recap of the day and group members teaching the other members how to do the mindful calming strategy.



Group Topics


            This week’s blog will feature two of the six topics covered in the group. Stay tuned for summaries on additional topics.


Heights Family Counseling’s School Readiness Camp’s main goals are to prepare your child for starting school and to ease the transition in to elementary school. Rachel and Kristin developed a curriculum tailored specifically to assist with your child’s needs. This week I will be reviewing 1) What to expect at school and 2) expected and unexpected behaviors:


1)  What to Expect at School

During your parent-intake appointment, your counselor will gather information about your child to make sure that your child will be a good fit for the group. You will be asked what school your child will be attending. Behind the scenes, Rachel and Kristin will do as much research as possible to tailor the group to the specific needs of each member. Rachel and Kristin will gather information about each school to help each child be successful in the transition back to school. Some standard “what to expect” material will be introduced as well. Some of these include: waking up on time for school, eating a balanced breakfast in order to fuel our brains, getting used to a schedule (bell schedule for some), what a fire drill will be like, what subjects you will be required to learn, raising your hand before asking a question, what behaviors are expected in the classroom, cafeteria, and playground, and more! Your child will become more and more comfortable with starting school every day!


2)  Expected and Unexpected Behavior

Your child will learn the definitions of both expected and unexpected behavior, how expected and unexpected behaviors makes others feel, the consequences for expected and unexpected behaviors, and explore how these behaviors make them feel inside. The counselors and group members will safely roll play several different scenarios to foster a deeper understanding of the emotions connected to each behavior. Each group member will have the chance to identify both expected and unexpected behaviors during the roll play activities. Now that your child is better equipped to identify expected and unexpected behavior in themselves and others, the counselors will help prepare your child for what to do when they spot unexpected behaviors in their fellow classmates.


At the end of the week, your child will be sent home with a resource folder so that you are able to practice and reinforce the skills that they learned during camp. This will help strengthen learning and to keep anxious feelings at bay. Remember, all feelings are okay to have! If your child is still feeling anxious, that is okay. Take the time to validate and empathize with your child. Remind them that you are proud of them for preparing for the first days of school and that they have a set of new skills that will help them get through challenging times. Let them know that you are there for them and you know what it is like to start something new!


How to Sign Up


You can call our office at 713-380-1151 to sign up for our school readiness camp. Our wonderful intake specialist, Helena, will guide you through the process of getting your child set up. You can also email Rachel or Kristin directly at and We are happy to offer a free 15-minute phone consultation to answer any questions that you may have about the camp. During the parent-only intake, your counselor will gather information about your child in order to get to know your child and to makes sure that the camp is a good fit.