Student Support at the Junior School

All children learn at different rates and in different ways. At any time a child may require extra assistance with a particular project or an extra challenge in an area where they excel, and some some children require ongoing support. Our learning resource specialists help support students and their teachers.  

Learning resource specialists:

  • provide assistance and enrichment on a long- and short-term basis;
  • work with teachers to adapt the curriculum;
  • develop Individual Education Plans;
  • provide support and strategies for parents; and
  • assess student needs and refer students to outside specialists when required.

Growing up isn’t always easy. Life is increasingly complex and fast-paced, and our children often need support to help them adjust to life’s changes and challenges.

Between the ages of 5 and 11, the most common difficulties that students encounter include:

  • attachment issues (e.g., separation anxiety);
  • grief and loss issues;
  • adjustment to change (e.g., a new school, parental separation or divorce);
  • peer issues and social anxiety;
  • depression;
  • behavioural challenges; and
  • organization, planning and managing stress.

A counsellor is available at the Junior School four days a week to promote healthy, positive adjustment and resilience for students as they navigate school and family life in their early years. We focus on maximizing students' success in all areas of life by building coping mechanisms, developing character, promoting overall wellness, and equipping them with the skills and strategies to manage their emotions effectively. 

Working closely as part of a team with other Junior School teachers, the counsellor’s role is to support, nurture and enhance the social-emotional growth and development of students, working with them individually and in small groups. The counsellor also visits classrooms to hold discussions on topics such as managing emotions, healthy relationships, decision making, self-discipline and sexual health.

Usually student needs are identified by teachers, in which case parents are consulted, and counselling proceeds with parental involvement and consent. When necessary, we can make referrals to professionals in the community.

If a student attends St. Michaels University School from an early age, they will experience three very different parts of SMUS as they move from Junior to Middle, then from Middle to Senior schools. It's important that our students make a smooth and happy transition from one school to another, which is why we run yearly orientation programs with our Grades 5 and 8 classes.

Junior to Middle School

Grade 5 students and their parents benefit from an extensive orientation process that begins in the spring, when Middle School Director Kate Knight and Assistant Director Dariol Haydock visit the Grade 5 class at Junior School to talk about the Middle School experience. 

Then in May, the Middle School hosts a new student and parent evening, which gives Grade 5 students and their parents an opportunity to meet Middle School faculty, ask questions and get to know the facilities.

That same month, Grade 5 students spend an orientation day on the Middle School campus, where they experience a little bit of what their next year at SMUS will be like. Paired with Grade 6 buddies, the students attend classes and meet their future teachers, go for lunch at the Sun Centre dining hall, and explore the campus that will become their academic home in September.

Kate Knight and Dariol Haydock follow up with another Junior School visit before the end of the school year to spend some time with their future Grade 6 class.

The WEB and Link Orientation Programs

WEB (Where Everybody Belongs) and Link Crew are Middle and Senior school transition programs built on the belief that students are the best people to help other students succeed in a new environment.

Both programs recruit older students to act as role models, motivators, leaders and teachers who guide their new schoolmates to discover what it takes to be successful in their new school. WEB leaders and Link Crew kick off with the school year with a fun and energetic orientation day that makes students excited and proud to be attending their new school and allows them to begin developing relationships and strategies that will contribute to their success.

Academic and social follow-up activities continue throughout the year, providing students with a structure that helps them make real and lasting connections with one another.