Meeting Point: Latest From Lovaas

Back to School 2010

Meeting Point: Latest From Lovaas

Back To School Tips

By Nicole Murillo, Ph.D.
Lovaas Institute – Los Angeles

The summer days are quickly fading, and it's time to start thinking about school again. This transition can be difficult for any child. Here are some tips to help ease the transition back into school and to help your child be more successful during the first quarter of school!

Bring back the structure

The most difficult part about adjusting to school after summer vacation is moving from days that are unstructured (or structure that changes from day to day) to highly structured days. Thus, it's helpful to begin bringing back some of that structure even when your child is not in school. Some ways to do that include:

  1. Have your child do some worksheets or other classroom-type activities during the day. If you have been doing this already, make sure you do it at the same time everyday and label it so your child can begin to predict it as part of his day (e.g., after lunch say, "It's worksheet time!").
  2. Create a schedule for the day. The schedule can continue to include summer activities, but make sure you follow it pretty closely so that you begin to introduce planning and predictability into your child's day.
  3. Bedtime and wake times are sometimes followed less strictly during the summer. Make sure to re-adjust sleep and wake times at least 1 week before school starts and keep them as consistent as possible on the weekends.

Re-introduce effective interventions

Some interventions that worked during the school year may not apply to vacation time, or maybe, like most parents, you were just more lax over the summer. As the school year starts, it's important to re-introduce any techniques or interventions that contributed to your child's success at school.

  1. If your child was using a token board or reward system at school, begin to use the same one (or a closely modified version) at home. If your child had a less structured reward system (e.g., working for video game time after school) also begin to work that into his or her time at home.
  2. Reinforce appropriate behavior on a thicker (i.e., more frequent) schedule in order to promote success.
  3. Think of all the techniques that helped your child at school such as using a timer, taking breaks, any sensory devices, countdowns etc., and begin to incorporate them into your day regularly.

Prepare for socialization opportunities

Sometimes we focus so much on getting our child ready for the academic demands of school, we forget that one of the most important goals of school for many children is to socialize with others.

  1. Begin to play playground games that are commonly played at school. Check with other students or the teacher if you're not sure what kids typically play during recess. Some examples include jumping rope, handball, tetherball, etc.
  2. If your child spent most of his/her time vacationing at home or away from large groups of peers, begin taking trips to the park or other locations where children are present.
  3. Refresh his or her memory of his classmates or friends. For some children this may mean talking about each person – what they look like, what they like to play with, etc. For others, you may have to show pictures or write down the names of a few classmates with key words associated with each one.
  4. Usually the first week of school focuses on what you did over the summer. Make sure to review this with your child. Use visuals such as drawing pictures or looking at photographs to help make what he/she did over vacation more salient and memorable.
  5. Practice potential conversation topics. Usually summer months generate popular topics among children, such as popular movies or TV shows that came out over the summer. If your child enjoys movies, begin playing or discussing the most recent summer movies (e.g., Ice Age) so he or she is ready to engage in conversations about these topics. Or go see the movie again at the beginning of the school year!

But when it comes down to it, the most important thing to remember is that this is an exciting time! So, make the transition as fun and reinforcing as possible!

Do you have other ideas of skills to incorporate in the athletic arena? Share them with us here

The names of all children in this newsletter have been changed in respect for family confidentiality.



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