Every year around this time parents are starting to shop for their children’s back to school supplies. While some of these items may remain the same, so much has changed from last year’s back to school shopping. Here are some items I’d like to suggest for parents to add to this year’s list:
1. A timer – this can be used for finite breaks, but I’d like to propose parents consider using this for their child (or themselves!) when they start feeling overly anxious and filled with worry. Set the timer for 15 minutes “Worry time”. During that time, children can either talk, write, draw (or all) about their worries. It’s better to get it out! Same goes for parents. But I recommend you don’t do this with your child in ear-shot range when addressing your worries. If you have a child with Executive Functioning deficits, often times using a timer to schedule work time/break time, helps keep them on-task. There’s a famous strategy called the “Pomodoro Technique” that helps students with ADHD focus and increase their productivity. The child works for 25 minutes, takes a 5 minute break, works again for 25 minutes, takes another 5 minute break. After three 25 minute work sessions, the child should take a 20 minute break from school work. During my individualized sessions with children, I often spend a few minutes teaching this technique and working on a mindfulness activity at the beginning or end of our appointment. More than ever, our children’s social/emotional learning is paramount.
2. Dry erase board or chart – we all thrive better with a schedule, especially in unpredictable times. The only predictable thing right now is that there is so much uncertainty day to day. By adding this structure for your child, it will help with not just organizational skills such as time management, but also with social-emotional needs as well. Think of this as a “roadmap” for the week.
3. Desk and drawers or shelves – Creating a decluttered environment for your child to do school work helps manage anxiety and provides security and structure for your child. For those students with weak Executive Functioning skills, online schooling can be torture. Trying to sustain attention, shift attention, organize, plan, etc. are quite challenging with virtual learning. I have often found coming out to a child’s work space and assisting in the set up has made a huge difference in this “new normal”. Even for families who are not looking for on-going support, they can hire me as an Educational Consultant to set up their child’s work space so their child has a better chance of functioning independently.
4. Hire a professional – Lots of tutors are popping up all over the place, but parents should be wary to make sure of their credentials, credibility, and area of expertise. For the majority of children, one of these regular tutors may be sufficient. On the other hand, if you have children with ADHD and/or learning differences, you may often feel at a loss of what to do. Navigating through this school year may require more than just a tutor. Some children need explicit instruction to develop the underlying skill sets needed to be successful in virtual school. If your child needs more than just a tutor, an educational consultant such as myself may be a better option to deliver prescriptive remediation as well as learning strategies.
5. Alarm clock – This may sound silly, but in our current situation, it’s important to realize the importance of sleep hygiene. Children not only need a day time routine, but they also need a night time routine. Short term and long term memory are greatly impacted by the quality and quantity of sleep. If your child is struggling with getting adequate sleep, there are many relaxation strategies as well as Apps available to assist.
As we welcome in August, and beg for her to not give us any trouble, I’d like to also welcome you to have an awesome school year. For more information or to make an appointment, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.