Checking In…

As the month of July is coming to a close, it means our summer is more than half over.  This has been a summer like no other.  Travel bans and social distancing restrictions have altered the plans for most of us and we still seem to have more questions than answers regarding COVID 19; especially when we try to figure out what the 2020-2021 school year will look like.  So how are you and your family holding up?  Hopefully you have been able to enjoy the extended family time and are making fun memories.  Lots of family photos and game nights.  For some people I know, these times have been full of challenges.  My students with special needs, both academic and social, have been faced with additional obstacles.  They had a difficult time making the transition to online learning, sometimes had limited access to their academic support and missed the social interaction.  Many of these students haven’t developed the social skills yet to be able to initiate contact outside the structured setting of a classroom so this has been an especially lonely time for them.  Parent’s concerns are growing as the new school year may look similar to the end of the previous year.

So what can you do to help prepare your child for September while still getting the most enjoyment out of summer?

  1. Have your child identify three activities they would like to complete before school begins and schedule them.  Engage your child in the planning of these activities using the 5 “W” strategy (Who, What, Where, When, Why and How).  Takes pictures of the day and create an album, either digital or paper.
  2.  Contact the parent’s of classmates and set up “Social Time” before school begins.  If social distancing cannot be maintained, a virtual call may be scheduled.  Help your child to identify topics of conversation and questions that can be asked before the interaction occurs.  Set a realistic time frame for the visit to last.  Short and successful is better than long and irritating.
  3. Limit screen time.  The current limitations on our activities has increased the amount of screen time for most Americans.  This increased time can be especially detrimental to children.  Summer is a good time to detox from screens and explore other interests.
  4. Help your child connect with nature.  Our brains are wired to connect with nature and this connection provides a calming effect.  Taking walks in the park or at the beach have been proven to increase cognition and decrease anxiety and depression.
  5. Start a Mindfulness program with your child.  There are several apps available to get you started or simply put on your favorite music, close your eyes and begin to focus on your breathing.  Be prepared to do this for only a couple of minutes to start and don’t judge-you can’t do mindfulness training wrong!
  6. Begin to develop a schedule and routines with your child.  Include summer work if there is any to be completed.  If your school system has identified what their return plan is, begin to discuss this with your child so they can be prepared.  Ask them for their thoughts and address their concerns as this can decrease some of the stress they may be feeling.  Reach out to a guidance counselor, homeroom teacher and/or administrator if you need additional assistance in addressing their concerns.

If you recognize your child struggling with the organizational and cognitive demands of school, no matter their age, help is available.  Parents too can benefit from assistance setting up a schedule that works for everyone.


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