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Hattiesburg Clinic

Back to School

By: Krystal Draughn, LCSW

Information on this page should be utilized as a guide, not medical advice. If you feel you need to speak with someone regarding behavioral therapy or counseling, please contact Connections to make an appointment.

 

August means it’s time to go back to school. School clothes and uniforms, backpacks, shoes and school supplies will be needed this month. It’s time to prepare for another school year. Some feel sadness because it signals the end of summer and others feel relief for the same reason, depending on how you’ve spent your summer. This is the time to reflect on the good times and prepare for a new school year. Besides the usual concerns, if you have a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, etc., this is the time to start putting into place a support system for a successful year. This includes support for you and your child. Here are some steps that may help you get organized:

1)    As soon as possible, introduce yourself to your child’s teacher. During “Meet the Teacher” night is a good opportunity, but it’s not the ideal time to discuss specifics of your child. If you want some time with the teacher to discuss these privately, it is best to schedule a meeting.

2)    Agenda for the teacher meeting should include an explanation of your child’s strengths and weak areas, diagnosis, medication along with side effects and any techniques from which you believe your child will benefit. If something worked well last year, pass this along to the new teacher. Don’t assume they already know this information. In addition, if you know techniques that have not been successful, this is helpful information as well.

3)    You can obtain this information from your child’s medical provider and previous teacher. It is also helpful to include your child in the discussion of strengths and weaknesses, as well as ideas about how to have a successful year. Sometimes small changes can make a big difference. The school experience is different for children today and they may identify some stressors that you would not consider.  It is helpful for children to feel safe and secure in order to learn.

4)    Share with the teacher your contact information and more than one way to contact you. Having good communication with your child’s teacher is essential to a successful school year. You don’t have to agree on everything as long as you and your child are treated respectfully. That goes both ways, teachers deserve respect as well.

5)    Consult with the teacher about interventions, as they may have ideas you have not considered and they are in the environment with your child.

Start the new school year off in a positive manner. This is the time to do reward systems for organizational skills. This might include a reward for completion of homework assignments; keeping an organized binder; bringing home notes and other information, as well as cooperating with the morning routine. Since this is the start of the day, it can set the tone for the day. Make sure you have a place for your child to place papers needing to be signed and label it, as this models organization to your child. If you have more than one child, you can have a system where “to be signed” and “return to school” are separated by child. The same is true with school clothing and backpacks. Having a “place” to put these items helps you locate them in the morning when you are rushed. I would recommend making as many preparations the night before as possible, such as placing snacks, choosing clothes, etc., and involve your child so that you are teaching them these skills. This will help them learn how to be independent, and after all, that is our job as parents – to raise them to leave home one day. Sometimes it is helpful to have a visual schedule of morning activities. Visual schedules are easier to process than written schedules and are quite easily made if you have access to a computer.

 

The following are resources you can use to design visual schedules*:

 

  • Microsoft Word or PowerPoint: Use the “Tables” feature to create custom schedules.
  • http://connectability.ca/visuals-engine: Free website; allows you to design and print communication boards from 1-16 images per page. You can use their pictures or upload your own.
  • http://lessonpix.com/: Subscription-based website; includes a searchable image library and various templates with visual schedules, first/then displays and many more. ($2/month)
  • http://www.pogoboards.com: Subscription-based program; create custom boards with access to a robust symbol library. ($9.95/month, 14-day free trial)
  • http://www.pictoselector.eu/index.php: Free Windows download; create custom boards with a large symbol library and the ability to import your own photographs.

 

For more information about how to prepare your child for a successful school year, check out these other helpful resources:

 

*Please note these are simply recommendations. They are not products or services of         

 Hattiesburg Clinic Connections, nor do we endorse these resources.

 

Information on this page should be utilized as a guide, not medical advice. If you feel you need to speak with someone regarding behavioral therapy or counseling, please contact Connections to make an appointment.