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Conquer the Back-to-School Blues

Summer is winding down, and school is fast approaching.  While this time of year brings excitement, it also triggers stressors in parents and children alike. Children wonder so many things: What classroom will they be in? Who will be in their class? How will their teacher handle their idiosyncrasies? Parents also have their own set of questions regarding their children’s return to school. Follow the tips below to help ease the whole family into the new routine of school and to help everyone conquer the back-to-school blues.

Steps to Conquer the Back-to-School Blues:

  • List the positives of each possible classroom assignment and teacher. The mere mention of your child’s classroom placement may cause him, and you as parents, concern. Instead of worrying about it, come up with a list with your child about the positives of each classroom option. Be creative and help your child explore the small (but potentially positive) details of being in every classroom available to him. For example, one classroom may be closer to the washroom, or one might have a door to the playground. Listing the positives of each potential teacher/teacher’s aide is also recommended. This can help put you and your child at ease by recognizing that there are great things about any classroom possibility.
  • Remember that there are opportunities to see friends outside of the classroom. When the class list is posted and you and your child find out that he may not have many friends in his classroom, remind him that he can see his friends before and after school, at lunch, at recess, and in elective-type classes.  Also, if there are children of concern in your child’s classroom, it is also helpful to remember that there will be some opportunities throughout the day to mingle with other kids. Listing the positives of some, or all, of the kids in your child’s class is also recommended here. This will prepare your child for the school year and for how he can get along with the peers in his classroom. Read more

Top 10 Sensory Tools for the Classroom

Below is a list of the top 10 Sensory Tools that can help regulate a child in the weighted vestClassroom:

  1. Weighted materials– These come in many forms, including belts, vests, blankets, animals and pads! These provide proprioceptive input without becoming distracting to the other students.
  2. Seat cushion– Seat cushions are generally filled with air and have a textured surface in order to provide many sensory outlets for your students without requiring them to leave their chair! The child feels the movement of the cushion as well as the texture. At the same time, the cushions are helping your child build their core strength to improve postural stability.
  3. Hand fidgets- Does your student have busy hands or seek out touch? A hand fidget is a great tool to provide that sensory input so that the student may better direct their attention to the classroom lesson or activity.
  4. Resistive foot band for chairs– Tie a resistive band around the front legs of a chair. The students may push on it with their feet to get the proprioception input that they are seeking without having to leave their chair or interrupt the class.
  5. “Helper Box”– Fill a box with books, papers or anything heavy. Have your students run an “errand” with the box to get in some needed heavy work and movement into their day!
  6. Pillow chairsCreate large pillows or purchase bean bag chairs to serve as comfortable places to take a break from the postural control needed to stay in their chair!
  7. Sound reducing headphones/ear plugs– Use these for students with auditory sensitivities when you anticipate that your classroom will become loud or when entering a loud environment (such as the lunch room).
  8. Touch box– Fill a box with rice or beans for students to dig through with their hands to provide tactile input. Another option is to fill a box with several types of materials for students to explore, such as felt and cotton.
  9. Resistive hand materials-Resistive putty, play dough or clay are all great tools to strengthen and keep hands busy!
  10. Chewy snacks or oral chew sticks– For those kids who seek proprioceptive or tactile input orally, allow them to chew on gum, eat something chewy/crunchy or provide a durable chew stick.

For more information on any of these products, please feel free to contact one of our experts!

For more on Sensory Processing Disorder, click here

 

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Recess And Behavior: Why Movement Matters

Children need movement on a daily basis! There are so many benefits of allowing children time to engage in physical movement and heavy work activities that to me, it is almost a crime to prevent children from having their physical play time.

Allowing Children To Move Benefits Everyone

Children learn and grow through movement. They refine gross motor and sports skills and they increase their motor control, coordination, and muscle strength through movement. In addition, movement promotes cognition, organized behaviors, self esteem and self confidence, self Happy Boy On Monkey Barsregulation, a calm body, and attention.

When children sit for longer than 15 minutes at a time, their attention and concentration is reduced, and discipline problems begin to increase. When this happens, children are less available to learning, more energy is spent on behavior management by the teacher/parent and the children, and nobody wins.

All children benefit from a break in their mental focus. Recess provides opportunities for unstructured physical play, which allows kids to “blow off steam”, and reduces stress. Recess increases attention and on-task behaviors, and decreases fidgety behaviors.

Additionally, we have an epidemic of childhood obesity in our country, which is heavily impacted by a lack of physical activity. Physical activity during recess promotes the health of our children now and in their future. In general, the goal should be a minimum of one hour of exercise daily by the time your child reaches elementary school and thereafter.

Removing Or Skipping Recess Can Increase Undesired Behavior

One of the biggest mistakes a teacher or other adult can make is to keep a child inside for recess, especially if the reason is as a consequence for misbehavior, tardiness, or something the child did not do. Sometimes, a class cannot go out for recess because of weather. In this case, it is definitely best to allow the children to use the gym instead. If the gym is not available, doing animal walk races, yoga, or some other kind of movement based activities in their classroom will benefit everyone.

Requiring children to sit for longer periods of time without allowing relief through movement breaks is contradictory to what adults are asking children to do in terms of academic achievement, physical health, and emotional health. Their brains and bodies need breaks in order to achieve greater academic success.

 

10 Tips To Get Your Students To Sit Quietly In Class/Circle Time

Girl Sitting LearningIt can be hard to get children to sit still in circle time or at a desk. Ideally, we can take the time to see why a child may be having trouble. For those that are young, fidgety or distracted, we need to know they are not doing it to bother us, and we need to have strategies to help them be more attentive. Remember, some children can sit still longer than others. Others children need to fidget or move because their nervous systems just are made that way.

Here are some ideas and strategies for assisting restless kids:

#1-Use a visual cue. For example, if the teacher is reading Spot, the children can hold beanbags, and every time the teacher says Spot’s name, the children have to toss the beanbag into the bucket. This keeps him attentive!

#2-Use carpet squares or bean bag chairs. Space the kids out so they are not on top of each other!

#3-Some kids can not sit unsupported (and unless you are super strong in your core, you can’t, either!). Make sure you identify these kids, and lean them against the wall, let them lie down, or give them a chair with feet on the ground.!

#4-Have the kids stand up, sit down, get involved with the story, and listen for some name or place in the story to stay attentive.

#5-Use a checklist so that kids follow and check off as things are said or done.

#6-Use multi-sensory teaching strategies. March around while doing multiplication tables, have the children stand up while speaking, and develop fun routines during the day to that will get the kids moving around. Read more

Secret Summer Tricks to Help Your Child Enjoy Reading

Kids reading in a fieldSummer can be a crazy time for families.   Kids are excited to be away from school work and educational activities, yet 30 minutes of reading a day is still recommended.  Reading can be reinforced through fun everyday summer activities.  Below are great tips to get you started!

Family reading activities (different activities for different ages):

  • Act out story after reading a book
  • Write grocery lists with your children before going grocery shopping
  • Play restaurant at lunch- create menus for the “customers” Read more

Why Can’t Johnny Sit Still? ADHD and How it Affects Your Child’s Classroom Behavior

 

A parent asked me this the other day:  She and the teachers were so frustrated with her son’s behavior.  It turns out that “Johnny”, as he is known in this blog, is a bright child with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).  Luckily for him, his parents, and his teachers, he is not alone and there are many well-validated interventions to get him to “sit still”. Johnny is just one of the estimated 8-10% of school aged children who have a diagnosis of ADHD.  The DSM-IV, which is the diagnostic manual for all mental health disorders, indicates that there are several symptoms of ADHD including:  inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity.

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