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Imaginary Friends: The Facts on these Fictitious Characters

I cannot think about imaginary friends without thinking of one of my favorite 90’s movies, Drop Dead Fred. In this particular comedy, a woman imaginary friendenduring a mid-life crisis is visited by her childhood imaginary friend as she copes through the termination of her marriage and the ending of her career. Although this funny flick is geared towards garnering laughs, there is a lot of truth to the plot. Yes, imaginary friends can seem silly and irrational at times but they all serve a purpose. According to an article in Psychology Today entitled “Imaginary Friends, Any in Your House?”, “For some children, imaginary friends assist in a child’s coping with a life change or acquiring a new skill. For others, their pretend friends or creatures are simply fun. Whatever purpose they serve and whatever form they take, fantasy friends indicate a fertile imagination that is as likely to belong to a child with [siblings] as to one without siblings.” Imaginary friends are a functional component of childhood growth and development and are not just indicative of the being an only child.

What Causes A Child To Have An Imaginary Friend?

Any changes that occur during a child’s life may present itself for the emergence of an imaginary friend. For instance, the birth of a new sibling may cause a child to feel less attended to or confused as to what their role is in the family. The companionship of an imaginary friend can provide an age-appropriate outlet to play out the child’s fears or insecurities. This creative medium allows the child to express the feelings and emotions that they may never get a chance to process since they do not have the vocabulary. As the child develops a new identity and gets acclimated to having a younger sibling, the presence of an imaginary friend may or may not dissipate. The creative aspects of play and exploration towards gaining a greater understanding of their environment can lengthen the duration of the imaginary friend.

Should I Be Worried If My Child Has An Imaginary Friend?

Imaginary friends are not to be worried about unless they interfere with your child’s daily functioning. If a child is having trouble interacting with other children, encourage them to incorporate their imaginary friend into their peer group as a tool to transition them into real-life social interactions. Allow your child to decide how much they want you, the parent, to engage in their fantasy play. Imaginary friends are a normal part of childhood development and can provide the voice to address troubling situations that could not be communicated in other ways. So, parents, do not neglect the imaginary friend. Pay attention to the content in which the imaginary friend appears as it can provide clues into the social-emotional world of your child.

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Choosing The Right Friends: Supporting your Child’s Resiliency Against Peer Pressure

The older they get, the more independent they get. For adolescents, the world revolves around the friendship circle. While you can’t choose friends for your children, you can teach them how to choose wisely.  Some parents don’t get involved until it’s too late, when they desperately want their children to stop hanging out with bad influences. This may be accomplished, but the problem may return when the child meets someone similar. It’s more valuable to teach children about what a good friend means, rather than seek control over each individual peer of choice. You can start by asking your children to make a list of qualities that make up a “good friend” and helping them think about it objectively.

teenage friends standing outside

When discussing specific peers in their life, you can use the following questions as a screener:

Good Friend Checklist

  • Are you able to be yourself around them?
  • Do they make you feel good about yourself?
  • Do you have interests and hobbies in common?
  • Do you take turns being leader and follower?
  • Would you stand up for each other?
  • Do they want to help you when you’re upset?
  • Do they listen when you need to talk about your feelings?
  • Do they respect you when you say “no”?
  • Can you work it out together when you have a fight?

If most of the answers are “yes”, the friendship is likely to be a positive one and hopefully boosts self-esteem. If most of the answers are “no”, the friendship could lead to insecurity and poor decision-making and should be re-considered.  The “no” answers can also help identify which skills may need to be taught or strengthened.

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How to Maximize a Playdate for a Child with Speech Delays | Pediatric Therapy Tv

In today’s webisode, a pediatric speech pathologist explains ways to help a child with speech delays play well with others. She provides useful strategies to encourage communications and respect between the children. For speech game ideas read our blog “5 Board Games That Promote Speech-Language Skills

  • The right timing for a playdate
  • How to introduce a speech delayed child to a regular child
  • What signs to look out for as the playdate progresses

Video Transcription:

Announcer: From Chicago’s leading experts in pediatrics to a worldwide
audience, this is Pediatric Therapy TV, where we provide experience and
innovation to maximize your child’s potential. Now, your host, here’s
Robyn.

Robyn: Hello, and welcome to Pediatric Therapy TV. I’m your host, Robyn
Ackerman, and I’m standing here today with Megan Grant, a Pediatric Speech
and Language Pathologist. Megan, can you give our viewers some tips on how
to maximize a play date with a child with delayed speech?

Megan: Sure. A play date for a child with delayed speech and language
skills isn’t going to look that much different than that of a play date for
a child with typically developing skills. However, there are some key
things to keep in mind. Make sure that you time it right. Make sure that
the play date is scheduled after naptime and after mealtime, so that the
kids are well rested, their bellies are fully and they are ready to play
and interact with each other.

Also you want to make sure to keep it brief. Sometimes, 45 minutes to an
hour is only what the kids will tolerate in the beginning, so don’t worry
that the play date should be three or four hours at a time. You definitely
need to make sure that you keep it short, especially in the beginning. Kids
will work up that way. Also, introduce a friend who’s familiar to your
child. That’s definitely going to be a key as well. Someone who is from
music class or from school is going to be more accustomed to interacting
with your child, and your child is likely going to be able to interact with
them much better than if you introduce someone who is entirely new to them.

When you do have a child who has delayed speech and language, you can pre-
teach the other child and say, “You know, Billy’s still learning how to
talk.” And let them know that that’s OK. Sometimes, kids are very
receptive and they pick up very easily on the nuances of other children, so
that’s definitely going to help as well. Keep in mind that you are going to
have to provide models, more so than with kids who are typically
developing. Kids who have delayed speech and language aren’t necessarily
going to initiate and maintain play as easily, so you’re going to have to
jump in there and let them resolve some conflicts, but definitely give them
the support that they’re going to need. And just have fun. Watch for signs
of frustration. If your child starts to break down, you definitely want to
jump in there and you can feel free to end the play date sooner than later.

Robyn: All right. Well, thank you so much, Megan, and thank you to our
viewers. And remember, keep on blossoming.

Announcer: This has been Pediatric Therapy TV, where we bring peace of mind
to your family with the best in educational programming. To subscribe to
our broadcast, read our blogs, or learn more, visit our website at
learnmore.me. That’s learnmore.me.

Monkey Bar Mania

It is time. Lunch is over and the weather is finally allowing our children to break free of their heavy winter coats and boots to enjoy the warm, fresh, and invigorating air on the playground. Antsy children struggle to contain their excitement as they take their final steps to the great outdoors- slides,Little girl climbing on monkey bars teeter-totters, swings, and kickball fields galore. Only the bravest of the brave dare take on the tall metal intimidators commonly known as the monkey bars.

Monkey bar climbing has been right of passage for children all across the playground. Conquering their cold frames take time, practice, and determination. Here are the developmental steps to achieving the ultimate goal: swinging from one end to the other without touching the ground as our ape-like friends seem to do so effortlessly.

  1. First, ask your child to reach for the monkey bars and let their feet dangle. Cheer them on and encourage them to hang on as long as they can. This will help them to strengthen the muscles in their hands and upper body.
  2. Next, encourage them to swing their legs back and forward while maintaining their tight hold on the bar. This swinging will in turn, give your child the burst of momentum they’ll need to eventually move across the bars.
  3. Next, help them coordinate the swing of their legs with the movement of an arm to reach for the next bar. Keep in mind that your child may need you to support them at their waist in order to complete the first few swings. It may also be a good idea to encourage them to first reach with their dominant hand as they may have an increased rate of success at grabbing the bar.
  4. After successfully completing one swing, talk your child through bringing their other arm to same bar that the first is holding. Once your child can successfully cross the monkey bars one at a time, they may then practice alternating hands on sequential bars. Once they’ve mastered the monkey bars, they can move on to eventually skipping one or two bars at time!

For other playground tips and tricks, see Amanda Matthews’ blog suggesting tips to work on motor skills at the park.

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Tips to Get a Child to Try a New Food | Pediatric Therapy Tv

In today’s Webisode, a registered dietitian provides strategies to help your child to try new foods.

In this video you will learn:

  • When is it recommended to offer a child a new food
  • How many exposures to a new food before we expect a child to eat it
  • How to make a child feel comfortable with trying new foods

Video Transcription:

Announcer: From Chicago’s leading experts in pediatrics to a worldwide
audience, this is Pediatric Therapy TV, where we provide experience and
innovation to maximize your child’s potential. Now, your host, here’s
Robyn.

Robyn: Hello, and welcome to Pediatric Therapy TV. I’m your host, Robyn
Ackerman, and I’m standing here today with Stephanie Wells, a Pediatric
Registered Dietician. Stephanie, can you give us three tips on how to get a
child to try a new food?

Stephanie: Sure. The first tip would be that you want to offer the new
foods in a low pressure situation. Offer them foods at the table or on
their high chair, and consistently offer them a new food, maybe once per
week. Don’t pressure them to try the new food, but just offer it to them
and encourage them to try it, and let them sort of come around to it. Just
remember that research shows that it takes a child 8 to 15 exposures to a
new food before they might actually eat it.

The second tip would be to have them help pick out a new food that they
might want to try. And they can do that at the grocery store or the farmers
market. And also get them involved in actually preparing the food.

The third tip would be to be a good role model for your children, in terms
of eating the types of foods that you would like them to eat. It can also
be really effective if they eat in a setting with their peers. So if they
have cousins or a play group where they can eat together, and if they see
other kids eating those types of foods, then they will be more likely to
want to eat it themselves.

Robyn: All right. Well, thank you so much for the tips. And thank you to
our viewers for watching. And remember, keep on blossoming.

Announcer: This has been Pediatric Therapy TV, where we bring peace of mind
to your family with the best in educational programming. To subscribe to
our broadcast, read our blogs, or learn more, visit our website at
learnmore.me. That’s learnmore.me.

“I have no friends!”: How to Support Your Children Socially

“I have no friends.” I can only imagine how painful it must feel for parents to hear their children speak these words. It certainly breaks my heart when children confide these experiences in me during therapy. As a marriage and family therapist, I work with many children and teenagers who struggle with their peer relationships and, as a result, their emotional and behavioral functioning at home. Parents often ask me, “What can I do to help?” This blog is my attempt to explore this complicated and important question.

LISTEN, REFLECT, and EMPATHIZE

DO: Provide an open, nonjudgmental space in which your children can freely express their thoughts and feelings about experiences with peers. Let your children know that you are listening by periodically reflecting and checking in your sad lonely girlunderstanding with them (“So, during science class, everyone else around you found a partner and you couldn’t. Is that right?”).

DO: Empathize with your children by letting them know that you understand why they would feel a certain way even if you would feel differently.

DON’T: Minimize your children’s experiences. Well-meaning parents may try to reassure their children by saying, “That doesn’t mean no one likes you!” or “Who cares what other kids think?” But comments like these can make your children feel misunderstood and even ashamed by their feelings. Instead, simply reflect their experience (“It was really hard for you when you got picked last in gym”) and empathize (“I can see why you would feel sad.”)

DON’T: Problem solve too soon. Seeing your children upset may spark you to jump in and solve the problem. What children need first, however, is to feel heard and understood. Without this crucial step, children may feel blamed for the problem and, therefore, resistant to problem solve.

PROBLEM SOLVE AND EMPOWER

DO: Help your children consider multiple perspectives. For example, if your children think that no one likes them because no one asks them to play at recess, ask them what else it can mean. After empathizing with them (“I can see why you would think that no one likes you.”), gently challenge them (“I wonder what else it can mean. Let’s come up with a list together.”) Encourage them to take a different perspective (“If you saw someone alone on the playground, what would you think?”) You can also give examples of your own (“If I saw someone alone, I might think that he doesn’t want to play with anyone.”)

DO: Guide your children to come up with concrete solutions. Open ended questions, such as “How can you show someone that you are a good friend?” or “How can you show someone that you want to play?” are great places to start. Coming up with a list of solutions can help your children feel empowered.

DO: Practice! Practice! Practice! Use some of the items on your list of solutions by role playing specific scenarios (ex. Asking someone to play, asking someone to be partners, complimenting someone, engaging in conversation with someone, etc.)

DO: Use praise throughout problem solving. The problem solving process can be challenging, and letting your children know that you are proud of them for thinking of ways to solve their issues can encourage problem solving in the future.

DON’T: Give your children all of your answers. Lead with open ended questions, and ask them for their own solutions. While giving a few ideas is helpful, empowering your children to problem solve can be more meaningful and encouraging.

DON’T: Confuse problem solving for taking blame. Assure your children that it is not their fault for experiencing difficulties with peers and feeling upset, anxious, sad, or angry. Explain to your children that brainstorming solutions is a way to feel better and take care of ourselves, even when something is not our fault.

REACH OUT

DO: Reach out for help. Children who have difficulties with peers may experience anxiety, depression, and/or social skills issues. Joining a social group can help your children feel belonging, build self-esteem, practice assertiveness skills, and create connections with other children who have similar experiences. North Shore Pediatric Therapy’s mental health department offers counselors, social workers, and therapists who specialize in working with children who have social struggles.

DO: Talk to your children’s school for support and guidance. Teachers, principals, and school social workers may have ideas on how to help. Or they may not be aware of your children’s experiences, and keeping them informed is important, especially is there are issues with bullying.

DO: Be creative in helping your children create connections with peers. Joining after-school programs, such as martial arts, dance, art, or music, can be a great way to meet and engage with new children. This can also be a wonderful way to boost your children’s self-esteem!

What questions do you have about helping your children with social difficulties? Please share with us.

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What To Do (and Not To Do) When Your Children are Negatively Influenced by Friends

“But Johnny says swear words, so why can’t I?!”

“But Emily gets to stay up until 10:00!”

“But Mike talks back to his parents, and he doesn’t get in trouble!”

Do these comparisons sound familiar?

Friends can heavily influence your children’s behaviors and beliefs. As children begin to spend more time at school and extracurricular activities with friends, the more they begin to learn what is accepted and rejected by their peer group. boy pretending to shoot gunAlthough you may assert specific guidelines and values in your family, your children are likely to experience varying guidelines and values in their friends’ families. These differences can feel confusing for children as they begin to realize that not every family is the same. They may also feel frustrated when they think that they have more rules and fewer privileges than their friends do. Helping your children make choices that reflect your family’s guidelines and values can be challenging for parents.

Maintaining a balance of empathy and understanding with assertiveness and firmness is key in helping your children navigate their decision-making processes. Here are some Dos and Don’ts.

DON’T:

  • Make judgments about your children’s friends and their parents. Making statements, such as, “Emily’s parents shouldn’t be letting her stay up so late!” or “Mike is being a bad boy by talking back to his parents!” is not productive for your children because they do not give your children alternative, positive choices to make. Instead of talking about other families, take the opportunity to discuss your own family’s guidelines and values.
  • Dismiss your children’s arguments. It may feel tempting to say, “These are the rules in our family, and that is that!” but taking the time to explain to your children why you have certain rules can help them feel more confident about the rules they follow, which can improve compliance.
  • Justify your rules with long explanations. Children may get lost in long explanations. To keep your children engaged, it is better to give simple, concrete explanations with room for questions. (Ex. “In our family, the rule is that when you have a problem, you use a nice, calm voice. This is because we show respect and love to each other. What questions do you have?”)

DO:

  • Reach out to parents of your children’s friends if necessary. Some behaviors can be destructive (i.e. friends who are hitting, using inappropriate language, bullying, etc.). Contacting parents to discuss your concerns may be an important step in decreasing negative influences for your children. There may also be instances in which you need to set boundaries between your children and certain peers. If this is a step you decide to take, explain to your children in a gentle and firm way without placing blame or judgments on other families. (Ex. Instead of “You can’t play with Emily anymore. She’s a mean girl,” try “When we are around friends who hit and use swear words, we are not safe. Who are some friends that use nice words that you can play with? Who are some friends that use mean words and hit? I want you to play with friends who use nice words and a safe body.”)
  • Take the opportunity to talk about your family guidelines and values in a gentle and firm way. Instead of saying what not to do (Ex. “We don’t talk back.), talk clearly about what to do (Ex. “In our family, we use nice words and a calm voice when we have a problem”) and why (Ex. “This is because we show each other respect and love.”). You can help your children explore and understand what your values are by asking open-ended questions (Ex. “What does respect mean?”) and problem solving (Ex. “How can you show respect when mommy says something you don’t like?”). Express understanding and gentleness by encouraging your children to ask questions if needed. At the same time, maintain firmness and confidence that your family’s guidelines and values are important and constant.
  • Practice making positive choices with your children. Role playing is a fun way to help your children practice what to say and do when they encounter specific instances at school, on the playground, or on play dates. (Ex. “What can you do if your friend says something mean to you?”)
  • Praise your children when they make positive choices. Be specific with your praise. Instead of “You are such a good boy,” try “I love that you used your nice words with your brother. You are doing a great job showing respect.” Using specific examples of your children’s behaviors that reflect important family values can help your children understand and feel confident about their family’s guidelines.

What have you tried to help your children who are negatively influenced by peers? What has worked best for your family? Please share with us!

 

Helping Your Child Who Is Not Social | Pediatric Therapy Tv

In today’s Webisode below, our Pediatric Neuropsychologist answers a question from a viewer on what to do when a child does not know how to make friends.

In This Video You Will Learn:

  • What to do when your child is not social
  • How to investigate the reasons
  • How to intervene on your child’s behalf

Video Transcription:

Announcer: From Chicago’s leading experts in pediatrics to a worldwide audience, this is Pediatric Therapy TV, where we provide experience and innovation to maximize your child’s potential. Now your host, here’s Robyn.

Robyn: Hello. I am Robyn Ackerman with Pediatric Therapy TV. I am standing here today with Dr. Stasi. In today’s segment we will be answering questions from our viewers. Charlie has given us a question from Kansas City. Charlie asks, “My 4-year-old son is having a hard time making friends in school. What can I do to help him?”

Dr. Stasi: Thank you. That’s a great question. What we often think about in school is the child’s academic needs and the child’s behavioral concerns. We often neglect the social emotional concerns of the child. It is just as vital to identify these concerns as the academics and the behavioral functioning. What I really recommend first, if a child is struggling in the social realm, is to make an evaluation to determine why. Is it some underlying construct that this child has, an internal deficit with interacting with another child? Is it anxiety, that they are afraid to approach others? Or is it something else? Already being teased or bullied?

Once you can identify the reason for the behavior, then we can intervene for this child to develop what is going to be appropriate. It has to be individually. We cannot just create a plan for any child to improve his or her social functioning. It has to be based on specific needs. It works as a team, then, working with the school social worker, the school psychologist, the teacher, and also outside advocates that you have, be it a child’s therapist or a neuropsychologist. We really want to intervene for the child to determine what is going on and then where to go from here.

So, I think, Charlie, the answer to your question is that we can’t answer that question. We need to figure out why. We need to determine what’s going on. Then we have the basics to really intervene and make sure that this child succeeds socially.

Robyn: Thank you, Dr. Stasi, and thank you, Charlie. And remember, keep on blossoming.

Announcer: This has been Pediatric Therapy TV, where we bring peace of mind to your family with the best in educational programming. To subscribe to our broadcast, read our blogs, or learn more, visit our website at LearnMore.me.

Strategies For Smooth Sailing Into Middle School

We are at that time of year-school supply lists, the cooling down of summer, and the fall wardrobe advertisements can only mean one thing: it is “back to school” time! Transitioning back to school can seem overwhelming as it is, but the shift Middle School Boy On Near Lockersfrom elementary to middle school can create unique changes and challenges for students and parents. Knowing what changes to expect, anticipating the challenges they may bring, and brainstorming strategies to address the transition can help children sail smoothly into their middle school years!

Below are some common middle school transition challenges and strategies for smooth sailing.

Middle School Schedule Changes:

One of the biggest schedule changes is the frequent transitioning from class to class during the school day. Transitioning from a summer to school schedule is challenging enough, but adding a school schedule that is completely new can be overwhelming. Your child will experience multiple firsts: first time taking multiple classes; meeting multiple teachers; and navigating between classrooms. These firsts can understandably create anxiety about being on time, going to the right class, and remembering which teacher teaches what! Since starting middle school means starting a new school entirely, another schedule change to anticipate is a different start and end time than what your child is used to.

Middle School Transition Strategies:

  • Talk to your child about her new school schedule for a couple of weeks beforehand so she knows what to expect on the first day.
  • If possible, schedule a visit with the school to familiarize your child with the building and classrooms. Take advantage of new student orientations, and find out where schedules are distributed before school starts. Then, help your child practice going from class to class.
  • Review with your child when her new school will start and end. Listen to any concerns and help come up with a plan to address them. For example, if your child is nervous about getting up on time for an earlier start time, brainstorm ways to tweak bedtime and morning routines so that your child can feel well-rested and ready for school in the morning.

Middle School Peers:

In middle school, your child is likely to see and meet children in her class that attended different elementary schools. This change can create anxieties about whether she will know students in her classes, have friends to eat lunch with, maintain old friendships, or meet new ones. Additionally, new middle schoolers make the transition from being “big fish in a little pond” in their elementary schools to “little fish in a big pond.” Shifting from being the oldest to the youngest students in school can be scary, and your child may have fears about these unknown upperclassmen.

Middle School “Friend” Strategies:

  • Acknowledge the big change in peers. Listen to your child’s fears, concerns, anxieties, and excitements and validate your child’s feelings as normal and okay.
  • Use a buddy system on the first day. Plan for your child to compare schedules with a friend and meet at school on the first day to go through their day together.
  • “Once school starts, create a space for your child to talk openly about her social experiences and listen to your child for any hints of bullying.

Classes and Homework Load:

One of the challenges I hear most is the homework load increase from elementary to middle school. Students have homework from multiple classes with varying due dates, which can create organizational difficulties. They may feel anxious about keeping track of assignments and due dates and feel overwhelmed by the increased work load.

Middle School Homework Strategies:

  • Help organize your child’s school work by creating one binder or multiple binders with a different divider for each class.
  • Use color-coded folders (ex. Blue for science homework, red for math homework, etc) so your child can transport her homework to and from school and keep track of her assignments.
  • Use a planner to write down which classes have assignments due on specific dates. You can teach your child how to use her planner before school starts so that she is not overwhelmed when teachers announce assignments.
  • Check in with your child about homework to see the areas in which your child may struggle. If your child is experiencing difficulties, reach out to teachers about peer tutoring, after-school help, or homework club.

Extra-curricular Activities:

Compared to elementary school, middle school offers many more opportunities to engage in various activities-community service, social clubs, academic clubs, and sports during and after school. These new activities can be very exciting but can also create some scheduling challenges. With an increased homework load, incorporating every activity your child is interested in may interfere with homework, already existing activities, and his sleep and rest!

Middle School Extra-Curricular Activity Strategies:

  • Encourage your child to go to informational meetings to learn about opportunities. You can talk to your child about which activities she is most excited about and help her make a list to prioritize.
  • Flexibility is key-“Why don’t we try soccer and community service club and see how you feel in a few weeks? If we need to take something out or add something, we can.”
  • Creating a visual schedule with your child is a fun way to help her stay organized and accountable for her schedule.

Anticipating the changes and potential challenges that come with middle school can help parents and children work together to ensure a smooth transition!

Please let us know, what transition strategies have you used that have worked?

*North Shore Pediatric Therapy, Inc. (NSPT) intends for responses to the blogs to provide general educational information to the readership of this website; all content and answers to questions should not be understood to be specific advice intended for any particular individual(s). Questions submitted to this blog are not guaranteed to receive responses. No ongoing relationship of any sort (including but not limited to any form of professional relationship) is implied or offered by NSPT to people submitting questions. Always consult with your health professional first before initiating or changing any aspect of your treatment regimen.

5 Tips For Easing back into the school year

Another summer has flown by, and a new school year is right around the corner. Parents and children alike are wondering what the new school year will bring. Parents wonder: will my child have tons more homework this year? Will my child meet new friends? Will my child have time for extracurricular activities? Children Children walking to schoolwonder: Will I like my new teacher? Will I get a recess? Who will I eat lunch with? Will I get to ride the bus? Here are some tips on preparing for the school year ahead, so that everyone can have a smooth transition from summer into fall.

1. Map out the route to school

Whether your child is going to walk to school, take the bus, or carpool with friends, both of you will feel more confident in the transportation process if you know where your child is going (e.g. which streets), how they are going to get there (e.g. meet a friend on the corner; turn right at the red fire hydrant etc), and how long it will take. You and your child can take several practice runs at using this route before school actually begins so that you can work out any kinks that may arise.

2.Talk About Changes

Make sure to talk about any changes that may be occurring this year, such as a new teacher, a different classroom, a new school, or a longer school day. By being honest and open with your child, they will be more likely to voice their concerns, and you can then work through these fears right away. You can make a chart with your child, listing “things I am excited for” and “things I am nervous about” or “things that will be different”; focusing on the pros of this new change occurring, and reinforcing that you know change can be difficult and scary, but it will help them to grow and learn.

3. Prepare a homework space

Prepare a personalized study nook or a homework table where your child will be able to have his own space to concentrate and spread out their schoolwork. Help him to find a table and chair combination that promotes a 90 degree angle of the hips, knees, and elbows so that your child has a tall, supportive posture to elicit good postural control and attention to task. Make this area more exciting by allowing your child to hang a bulletin board nearby with a calendar or pictures on it; have a cup full of different pencils/pens/markers for a variety of assignment; or a plastic bin containing a pair of scissors, ruler, markers, glue, highlighters, etc.

4. Plan out lunches

Plan out “special” lunches that your child enjoys by creating a list that can hang on the refrigerator. This will help your child to be involved in her lunch-time meal plan, help to eliminate extra planning time for the “lunch packer” in the morning, and also help parents prepare before making a trip to the grocery store. This list can be broken into different categories, such as “fruits”, “veggies”, “sandwiches”, “snacks” and “desserts” so that your child can learn more about the food pyramid and will be able to help to pick out one item from each category when packing a lunch.

5. Ease into a sleep schedule

Start easing your child into a school schedule by having him go to bed and wake up at similar times he will have to do when school begins in a few weeks. Work together to find activities that help to calm him down and/or wake him up, to use at night to unwind before bed, or in the morning to get the body moving (e.g. a warm bubble bath; reading a book; watching 1 television show; jumping jacks; wheelbarrow walks).