By Deb Miller
Akron Elementary School, Counselor
Tippecanoe Valley School Corporation
Family Groups

Akron, IN – Akron and Mentone Elementary Schools are helping students build positive relationships with other students in different grades and with staff members through family groups. The purpose of family groups is for students to interact with others in different classes and grades, to help promote the sense of belonging and community in our school, and to help fifth graders become better leaders. At Akron, each family group is made up of students in grades K-5. Each family has at least two fifth graders who will act as the leaders of the family and they will lead the activity. Staff members are also assigned and paired with a family group. The adult’s role is to assist when there are issues.

Family groups meet about one time a month to learn a character education topic that is discussed throughout the month in the classroom, daily announcements, and weekly and bi-weekly guidance lessons. The topics come from the Core Essential Values/Core Essentials curriculum. Core Essentials is used in many schools across the county. This year the monthly themes (Big Ideas) are: Wisdom, Initiative, Contentment, Cooperation, Compassion, Self-Control, Service, Individuality, Hope, and Perseverance.

Each month family groups meet to learn what the Big Idea is, how students and adults apply this big idea, and participate in a craft activity. Each theme also has an animal to identify with therefore students watch a video to learn more about this animal. For example, in September the theme was Initiative – seeing what needs to be done and doing it. Students talked in their family groups about things they can do at home and at school. They wrote these things on Popsicle sticks and created a dam with paper beavers. The beaver was the animal of the month. Before the monthly family group activities, the counselors meet with the fifth grade students to talk about leadership and what their role will be for the activities.

Fifth graders state they like leading their family and helping them learn about a topic. Family groups go along with TVSC’s mission of Student Success through the development of Character, Leadership, and Literacy. Students are learning to get along with others and become better leaders.