Monday Must: Tips for Success When Starting a Fresh School Year
Hi my name is Krista; I am the Owner and Clinical Director of Helping Hearts Learning Group, an ASD Therapy and Respite services agency. I specialize in the learning and behavioural development of children and teens who have ASD, Developmental and Learning Disabilities.
Growing up with a brother with ADHD, it has always been my passion to help children and teens in need of academic and behavioural training. After 5 years of school and working within the ABA field for 6 years, I decided to fulfil my dream and open my own business. I love sharing my insight and knowledge about the field of ABA Therapy to parents as well as anyone interested in learning more!
A lot of people have some misconceptions of ABA therapy derived from when it first was introduced into the field of special education. Although some ABA agencies still use a traditional approach, we use an individualized-evidence based approach that focuses on increasing independence across academic, self-care, communication, play and social interaction skills while also decreasing & finding alternatives for problem behaviour. Our goal at Helping Hearts Learning Group is to ensure all our services are useful & informative while also being fun & engaging for both the parents and their child or teen!
With the new school year approaching, it is important for children and their parents to be motivated and excited to begin, regardless of their behavioural or academic diagnosis. Here are some helpful tips to follow for a successful start to the school year, for children, teens and their parents:
Staying on Track: The Importance of a Routine
Routines are extremely important for everyone because they help us to create positive daily habits that promote self-care as well as healthy learning and behavioural development. This is especially true for children and teens because with a consistent schedule, they are able to thrive in every aspect of their lives. This routine should include sleep, meals, hygiene, physical skills, self-help, personal, academic and behavioural goals. This can be presented in a daily routine chart or agenda format to make it fun and interactive or by simply practicing the necessary routine skills in advance. Parents should also maintain a healthy routine in order to promote their own self-care but also to motivate their children to do so. A strong daily routine is guaranteed to set up children, teens and parents for success!
Motivation and Learning
Motivation- it is easier said than done! Although it is simply defined as the desire to complete something, it is also an opportunity to change the way you think, feel, and behave. Everyone is unique, with individualized goals and dreams they want to accomplish. When you are motivated to follow these dreams and learn, you are more likely to accomplish these goals. When you lack motivation, learning new skills becomes difficult. It is very common for you to fall into a familiar pattern and lose motivation to seek new information and learn new skills, but it is crucial to maintain motivation throughout every aspect of your life! Some ways to increase motivation include completing a list of goals and including the necessary components to complete, self-affirmation and positive thinking, positive reinforcement and rewards, taking frequent breaks, and sharing your goals with others. When you have motivation, anything is possible!
Stay Organized- it’s worth it!
If you’re someone like me who loves to stay organized, it can be therapeutic and relaxing. Without it, I would not be able to run my business effectively and efficiently. It comes easy for me, but that is not the case with everyone. Organization is a learned skill that gives chaotic life a sense of order and purpose. It gives you the opportunity to focus on important tasks instead of wasting time. This is especially true for children and teens because they are able to focus on the task at hand without the distraction of missing or misplaced items and thoughts. Some ways to assist children and teens to maintain organization include creating schedules/deadlines, frequently cleaning and decluttering, writing things down in a calendar or planner, managing time accordingly, and focusing on one task before moving to the next. These tips can also apply to parents to ensure their daily living routine is organized and consistent.
Know your child: Staying Informed
Like I said previously, everyone is unique with their own individualized goals and dreams. Nobody knows their child better than their parents. This being said, parents should always be striving to learn as much as possible about their child’s social, academic, communicative, behavioural, physical, self-help and daily living skill development. If you are concerned about the development of any of these skills it is important to seek professional assistance in order to ensure the best testing, treatments, and services available. It is also important to do your own personal research in order to better understand and assist your child or teen. This can be done by speaking to experts in the field, reading credible studies or documents and talking to other parents who share the same or similar experiences. Knowledge is power!
A Fresh Start: It’s a GREAT Thing!
A new point of view is an opportunity for new beginnings! Children and teens often imitate their parents. As their role models, it is important to display positive emotional and behavioural cues to set them up for success. Using statements like “new school year, new beginnings” and modelling appropriate school preparation behaviour will encourage children and teens to start the new school year with a fresh set of eyes. Instead of focusing on what didn’t work last year, beginning the year this way focuses on what is possible. Many children and teens with ASD have anxiety pertaining to new beginnings, so it is very important to explain the positives of a fresh start while maintaining familiarity to promote achievement and victory!