Back on Track for the New School Year

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back to school themesIt’s too easy to get wrapped up in paperwork, meetings, and more during the start of the school year. Before you get too overwhelmed, take a moment to sketch out a general plan for the upcoming school year. Look at the students who you will be working with individually or in groups. While getting to know new students, adjust and refocus based on their likes, goals, and needs.

Themes for the Year

Sometimes it is easiest to work within a theme during sessions. Whether it’s for occupational therapy, speech, social skills, or something else it keeps things flowing and actively engages kids. The best part about themes is that they will work with a wide variety of age groups and need a little adjusting here and there.

Possible themes to use over the next school year include:

  • September – apples, get to know the real me, building trust
  • October – leaves, pumpkins, autumn weather, Halloween
  • November – elections, important people in your life, being thankful, Thanksgiving
  • December – winter weather, fun in the snow, snowmen, December holidays
  • January – New Years, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, gloves, ways to keep warm
  • February – love, hearts, President’s Day, Valentine’s Day
  • March – St. Patrick’s Day, being lucky, spring weather, kites, rainbows
  • April – rain, umbrellas, clouds, Earth Day, Easter, Passover
  • May – flowers, Cinco de Mayo, Memorial Day, Mother’s Day
  • June – Flag Day, Father’s Day, end of school, summer vacation

These are simply suggestions and can easily be changed since they are so flexible. When things are busy, it will be helpful to have a general idea of which direction to go within session during the months ahead. It’s also a great idea to coordinate with classroom teachers. They may have something you can use as enrichment while working with their kids. The most important thing is to use these themes while keeping your attention on the skills and goals being worked on by each student. Incorporate interests to coordinate activities which incorporate music, art, games, technology, role play, and more.

Incorporating Interest Inventories

While you may have worked with a child before, their interests can often change without notice. The start of the school year is the perfect time to pull out some interest inventories to get to know everyone new and old. This will also allow you to learn more about popular games, television, movies, and other pop culture items that are important in the lives of the children you work with.

What are their favorites at this time? They may change and it doesn’t hurt to do this every month or two when chatting together. All of this will help to encourage participation in sessions and grow their trust in you.

Create your own interest inventories for different age groups you work with. You can also search for ideas on Pinterest and purchase premade options. It’s also nice to recheck with families for their thoughts since they know their children. Not all multilingual families will be comfortable with English, so therapists should send home translations for them.  Building relationships with them early in the year will help as time progresses.

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