Back to School: Transitioning to a New Normal

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Transitioning back to school after the summer break can be challenging for many children, but this year it could prove to be even more difficult given the current pandemic. The good news is that we can help ease the transition by implementing some simple strategies at home over the next few weeks!

  1. Read books. There are so many great books about going back to school (or about school in general). Remember, most children haven’t been in school for five and half months! Books are always a great way to prepare your child for a change. This year be sure to talk about the emotions and feelings of the different characters and the reasons why the characters feel a certain way. You can also talk through some common problems and brainstorm together some possible solutions. For example, “It’s okay not to know anyone in your new class. You will make new friends.” or “I sometimes feel sad when I have to say goodbye, but I know my mommy always comes back.” It can be helpful for children to see that other children share the same feelings. Books can also help illustrate new vocabulary, and they can help set expectations. Here are a few of our favorite back-to-school books:  
  1. Practice your morning routine one to two weeks before school starts. Depending on your child’s age, it may be helpful to write out the steps (e.g. first get dressed, second brush teeth) or draw pictures next to each step for visual support. Practicing your morning routine a week or two before school starts will give you (and your child) plenty of time to figure out just how much time you both need to get out the door! It will also ease your child back into the school routine. 
  2. Meet and greet. Reach out to your child’s school to see if there is an opportunity for your child to meet their new teacher before school starts. Some preschools offer home visits before school begins; however, this year that will likely not be the case. If the teachers can’t visit your home, ask if it’s possible to schedule a virtual “meet and greet.” A familiar face can go a long way in a new environment. 
  3. Take a drive to the school. Even if your child is going back to the same school, driving to the school may help refresh your child’s memory. Talk about the positive experiences your child had this past year (and try to talk about the events that happened at school rather than during e-learning). If the school is new for your child, you may even want to get out and talk a walk around the building. Talk about what the school has, who will be there to help your child and the friends he/she will see (or meet). 
  4. Reduce screen time. We know that the increase in screen time was necessary during e-learning, but for many children, the additional screen time has persisted into the summer months. Rather than eliminating screen time abruptly, slowly reduce the time your child spends in front of a screen. For those children that are resistant, try introducing new and exciting alternative activities. Outdoor activities, such as an obstacle course, scavenger hunt, or even water balloons can be so much fun! It’s also important to talk about when/why additional screen time was acceptable. It’s inevitable that e-learning will come up again during the 2020-2021 school year, so by starting the conversation now, it will be easier to transition back to more screen time. 
  5. Talk and talk some more! There are going to be a lot of changes this year. Some changes will be small while others will be quite substantial. For example, many schools are not allowing reusable, personal water bottles. This may seem like a small, insignificant change, but for some children, it may be frustrating that he/she can’t bring their water bottle with them. I know that if I give my child a heads up for these smaller changes, it’s much easier for her to process. A much bigger change is that everyone will be wearing a mask. If your child has been home for the majority of the time, he/she may not be familiar with people in masks (or having to wear a mask). It’s important to explain to your child why wearing a mask is important and when he/she will need to wear one.  Other changes may include a different schedule (e.g. in-person school in the morning and e-learning in the afternoon or in-person learning 2 days a week and e-learning 3 days a week), no extracurricular/enrichment classes, cohorts, temperature checks and no visitors. 

Keep in mind that that this year is going to be different in so many ways and plans and protocols will constantly change. Be sure to model flexibility and positivity and keep an open mind. We can get through this together!  

Therapyworks Erin Michelle

Are you interested in services for your child? Founded by Michelle Worth and Erin Vollmer, TherapyWorks provides in-home speech, occupational and physical therapies in Michigan, Ohio and Illinois and teletherapy nationwide.

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We hope you and your family are continuing to stay safe and healthy! We have outlined our protocols for in-person sessions during COVID-19. As you know, the health and safety of our clients and therapists remain our highest priority. As always, please reach out with any questions or concerns. Thank you for your cooperation and understanding as we work together through these unprecedented times.

Hand Washing:
Upon arrival at your home, your therapist will wash their hands with soap and water and/or use hand sanitizer. We ask that you and your child also wash your hands and/or use hand sanitizer upon your therapist’s arrival.
We are asking our therapists to wear masks upon entering your home and throughout your child’s session. That said, we understand that some children have adverse reactions to seeing adults in masks and will leave it up to you and your therapist to decide your comfort level while still taking safety precautions.
We ask that parents and caregivers also follow the guidelines and wear masks when sitting in on sessions. We will not enforce that policy, but we do kindly ask for compliance.
As for your child, we realize that masks may not be appropriate for every child so we will not enforce the rule that children over the age of 2 should wear a mask.  However, if your therapist insists that your child wear a mask, then that will be a requirement directly between the two of you. We respect our therapists’ individual comfort levels with safety precautions and ask that you respect them as well.


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Before your child’s first in-person session, we are asking clients to submit an acknowledgment of these protocols and a health certification, which you can find here. Thank you again for your cooperation and for helping all of us stay healthy!