Transitioning Back into School Online and at Home

Part 2

Daily routines and schedules are an essential part of success for entering back into a regular school routine. For those students who are going to be doing school online or in some form of a hybrid model, planning to enhance executive functions by helping the student be organized, plan ahead, initiate and follow through on assignments and much more is needed.  For those students who have challenges in being and remaining focused and those who struggle with learning, the development of a successful plan is critical.

Our students have entered a school year with many unknowns. As many students with ADHD, autism spectrum disorders and learning disorders may be limited in their ability to be flexible, parents want to build a predictable structure at home.

Several components of this home “structure” should be:

  1. Set the school day up according to the same amount of time a regular class may be, included short breaks into the day after each subject. If the student is mature enough, they can schedule the times of classes starting and ending and breaks into their phone or tablets.
  2. Establish planned physical activity. We want the student, who is learning at home even more than in a traditional school environment, to have the ability to get up and move around and to have a physical outlet to better help them manage their stress and anxiety.
  3. Preplan times for the students to interact with peers, if safe to do so, then in person by following guidelines including distancing, wearing masks and using hand sanitizer. If additional physical distancing is necessary then parents and more mature students may want to set up virtual “play dates” and “hangouts” with peers.
  4. Encourage students to have direct contact with their teachers and trusted other adults who support them, on a regular basis, schedule this into their weekly routine.
  5. Be as open as grade and age appropriate with the student. When changes need to occur, help the student plan for unexpected changes. Leave communication open, we want to encourage the student to advocate for themselves and ask for clarification when uncertain of situations.

Dr. Eric J. Nach, Ph.D., M.Ed., A.S.D.C., is a Developmental and Behavioral Specialist and since 2012 has been the Founder and President of the Support for Students Growth Center in Boca Raton, FL, where they provide social, academic, behavioral and emotional support services online Nationwide.

Transitioning Back into School Online and at Home

Part 1

Online schooling at home is not ideal for students who have attentional/focusing and learning challenges. The key to navigating the following school year for most students is going to take a combination of managing stress and anxiety and developing systems to be organized and manage their time. Parents will need to be proactive and plan to put in support systems, be realistic with expectations and be creative in how to help their children be successful with their academics, social, behavioral, physiological, spiritual and emotional development.

The 4th quarter of the 2019-2020 school year found much of the Country and much of the world shifting from in person classes to at home, online classes virtually overnight. Teachers were not trained or prepared nor were students and parents and no one knew what to expect, day-to-day. Fortunately, teachers and students and their peers did know each other already.

As we enter the 2020-2021 school year, most students and teachers will be starting the year off similar to the way last year ended, with a significant difference. The change is expectations, last year was a “patch job”, a “band-aid” with little expectations, this year teachers are better prepared and students and parents will be held even more accountable to “get to class” and get the work done, on time. However, the students and the teachers, mostly, will not know each other already.

Students that have IEP’s and 504 Plans or those who should have them are going to be exceptionally challenged going into this unique start of the school year. Students who learn a-bit differently than their peers will be unknown to their teachers. Parents and students will have to advocate to the teachers to get their needs met. Support services and accommodations and modifications provided in school along with auxiliary services will be challenging to obtain.

The next few blog articles I write over the coming weeks will have scientifically-based interventions and suggestions to help our students decrease anxiety, increase their self-advocacy skills and develop their executive functioning skills (time management, organization, avoiding procrastination, etc). In the meantime, I suggest parents and students work on connecting with teachers, provide the student a dedicated “school” area and parents, write your child’s teachers a 1-page letter giving them insight into your child’s strengths and challenges, open that line of communication NOW!

Dr. Eric J. Nach, Ph.D., M.Ed., A.S.D.C., is a Developmental and Behavioral Specialist and since 2012 has been the Founder and President of the Support For Students Growth Center in Boca Raton, FL, where they provide social, academic, behavioral and emotional support services online Nationwide.

FALL Social Skills, (ages 4 into 20's) , Adapted for Time of Pandemic

The COVID-19 Pandemic is not gone yet, so how can you, as a parent, support your child as they start all online college courses? First ask yourself this. Do they have a calm and quite place to attend class via zoom or another online platform? The environment your child works in is very important and can impact their performance in school. There are two ways this can go let’s look at them both.

Alexa is enrolled in her first year of college, virtually.

Algebra 1 is the first class that she will attend via zoom Monday’s and Wednesday’s from 10:30 AM until 12PM.

Alexa is sharing the desktop which is in the common area of the family’s home.

At 8:20 AM Alexa starts to get ready for class and heads to the desktop to see her little sister playing games and refuses to leave the desktop.

Alex ais now late to log on, irritated and distracted.

Can this scenario happen in your home? If yes, then let’s discuss some solutions. One of the most important things that students want from their parent’s is respect and dignity (even though they may not reciprocate well). Young adults want to know their parents respect their time and space. The best way to give them the support they need is by showing initiative to give it to them. For example, sit down with them and plan out a schedule that says when they need the family workspace to be open and empty for them to use. In the time that they are using the space, family and all other distractions or interruptions will not be permitted. Plan ahead to make this so.

Another common situation is

Jared has a zoom class Tuesday’s and Thursday’s from 11:30AM to 1PM.

Jared’s mom comes barging into his room 5 minutes after his class is over to see if he is done with his work.

Jared responds with “I’m almost done with my notes from class I’m going to complete today’s assignment after I’m done.”

* 1 hour later *

Jared’s mom comes in to talk about how she is worried he is going to fail because she sees that he isn’t completing his work. She says that he isn’t dedicated to school.

Have you had this conversation with your child before? The one thing students need is to be treated more like adults. Students have made it clear that they want less support and more distance. No more hovering asking about every assignment they are given. They have been doing it in school alone for a while, don’t treat this any different. Your college-age child is grateful for everything you do, although they may not be able to show it. Sometimes both parent and young adult need to communicate their needs of one another.

For young adults attending college for the first time or taking classes online for the first time, who, could be characterized as having anxiety or depression, being “gifted”, have ADHD, autism or “Asperger’s”, or have learning, behavior, or emotional challenges, may have additional challenges in a virtual world. Help is available.

Your kids don’t deserve to struggle this school year. Visit our website, then call or email us to discover how the Support For Students Growth Center can help.

Compromise or Giving in?

Is the pandemic wearing the family down?  Do you find yourself giving in to the kids for everything just to avoid conflict?

Are there long-term effects of your short-term solutions of giving in?  Is it compromise or giving in?

Compromising means settling a dispute with a mutual agreement. By parents giving in to what the child wants, does that mean it’s necessarily what is best for your child? Oftentimes not.  When the child is young and you give in to their every whim, it sets the tone for how they deal with your decisions as they age.

When evaluating whether you are compromising or giving in let’s look at the 4 R’s.

  1. Rewards-Make decisions that are beneficial for you and your child. If both you and the child do not benefit, it may be giving in.
  1. Responsibilities-Members of the family should have their age and grade appropriate roles and responsibilities. Parents who use healthy modeling are helping their young children early on, learn what their responsibilities are as a contributor to the family.
  1. Risk-Decisions made should never put the child at risk. For example, riding their skateboard outside when there is lightning storm going on.  Even though a parent may have told the child to come inside and the child chose to stay out and skate, this decision is a “risk” behavior. If a “risk” behavior is not met with an immediate and impactful consequence, the child may continue behaving in risky behaviors. This is an at-risk situation for the child and perhaps those around them.

As the adult, you set the boundaries, not the child.  By giving in, the child learns how to not have limits, in turn, promoting reckless behavior. Additionally, consider yourself, your family and others to keep the child from interpersonal harm when evaluating risk.

  1. Relationships– In parent-child relationships there is always give and take. Compromise is not the same as giving in or manipulating behavior, compromise is mutually beneficial, healthy behaviors.

Compromise involves the first three r’s, rewards, responsibilities and risk. When we compromise it can actually improve relationships and promote healthy decisions for the family.  It’s a great way to enhance structure and communication in your home.

(Pickhardt, 2012)

Dear Parents and Colleagues– I want to share this letter I received from one of our parents who brings her elementary school aged son to us to help with his executive functioning, anxiety and behavior challenges, I think many of you can relate. Dr. Nach, Pres., Support for Students Growth Center

May 5, 2020

Growing up and into my adult life, I took the ability to plan, organize, and execute tasks for granted. This came naturally to me so I assumed that it also came naturally to everyone else. It wasn’t until my son was born that that I began to see things differently. My son is extremely bright, but he has his challenges. As he grew older and school became more difficult, he began to exhibit an increase in non-compliant behavior and have tantrums in school. His teachers and school administrators worked with us to try to determine what was triggering his behaviors and develop strategies to overcome them. The strategies developed helped to improve some of the behaviors but he was still struggling with controlling his outbursts in class. I knew he was able to do the work and began to suspect his behavior was manifesting as a result of anxiety.

The recent school closures due to COVID-19 and working with my son through eLearning was an eye opener. I began to see firsthand how he approached his school work, what triggered his non-compliant behavior, and what his coping mechanisms were. When given an assignment where he was asked to provide answers that required more than a single sentence or where he had to give examples and provide evidence from text he read or different sources, he would stare at the blank sheet of paper in front of him and not know where to begin. I witnessed him grow increasingly frustrated and agitated with himself and the assignment. This would inevitably result in a tantrum. When the tantrum passed and he was ready to return to work, I would sit with him and ask him questions to draw the information out and organize his thoughts. It was apparent that he understood the assignment, had the information needed, and knew what he wanted to say. What he couldn’t do, was get his thoughts out or get them organized. Then it clicked. He wasn’t lazy, bored in class, or a behavior problem. He was frustrated and did not know how to figure out a solution. What I took for granted and came so easily to me was a struggle for my son. I realized that not everyone has strong executive function skills. How could it be expected of him to be able to plan, organize, or structure his thoughts when he has never been taught how to do this? I am grateful for this realization as now I know how to help my son and find resources that will empower him.

A feeling empowered mom, Shirley A.
Boca Raton, Florida

Virtual – Nationwide – Proven Social Skills Groups

(since 2012)

Now is the time to help ensure your children will experience success, socially and emotionally, while practicing “physical distancing”.

By Learning and Practicing how to Communicate and Socialization they will feel Empowered now and when they are around their peers, in person, once again.

Each group meeting includes a “Parent Component” to empower parents with “TOOLS” to help empower their children.

Due to the current COVID-19 situation we will continue offering virtual-groups in the safety and convenience of your own home, now and throughout the summer. Over a dozen unique groups, for children, teens and young adults, who may have:

High-Functioning Autism
Social Anxiety

You can count on our programs continuing to run “virtually” throughout the summer and year-round.

To sign-up or if you have questions simply contact Paula at 561-990-7305 or text 954-290-9612.

Summer Special

11 consecutive group sessions for the price of 10 for $700. (Reg. $770)

With the added hardship many families are experiencing due to COVID-19, we would like to offer new participants a cost-free initial consultation*.  Please phone, text or email to schedule a ZOOM or phone consultation with Dr. Eric Nach.

*New participants must schedule a virtual placement interview to ensure proper group placement.

What Can Parents Do to Build Resiliency in Children?

The Components of Resilience:
1. COMPETENCE-the ability as parents to know and recognize what young people are doing right and give them opportunities to develop important skills so they feel competent. It is helpful to understand it is necessary to allow young people to recover themselves after a fall.
Reflect on your child’s competence and ask yourself the below questions:

  • Do I help my child focus on his strengths and build on them?
  • Do I communicate in a way that empowers my child to make his own decisions or do I lecture or guide her to my solution?
  • Do I let him make safe mistakes, so he has the opportunity to right himself, or do I try to protect her from every fall?

2. CONFIDENCE– Children need confidence to be able to navigate and survive in the world. Inspire them to think out of the box to jump over obstacles and recover from challenges.
In thinking about your child’s degree of confidence, consider the following questions:

  • Do I praise him/her enough? Is it honest praise? Don’t say, “Your so smart. “ Say instead, “your hard work is paying off.
  • Do I encourage her to try a little harder because I believe in her or do I push her to beyond realistically high expectations?

3. CONNECTION– Connection with others, at school and within the community. This offers young people the security that allows them independence and to be creative in forming solutions in real life. Children with close linkage to family, friends, school and community develop solid sense of security, producing strong values and prevents them from seeking “destructive alternatives”.
Mull this over when considering your child’s connection:

  • Do we build a sense of physical safety and emotional security in our home?
  • Do I allow my child to express all types of emotions, or do I squelch his unpleasant feelings? Is he learning that going to other people for emotional support during difficult times is productive or shameful?
  • Do I understand the challenges my child will put me through is part of her path towards independence and normal for her development, or will I take them personally and let my feelings harm the relationship?

4. CHARACTER– Children need a clear sense of right and wrong to ensure they are prepared to make wise life choices.
Ask yourself these basic questions:

  • Do I help my child understand how her behaviors affect others; the good and the bad ways.
  • Do I notice and respect when my child sticks to something?

5. CONTRIBUTION– Young people who contribute to the well-being of others will receive gratitude, they will learn contributing feels good. As a result, they may turn to others when they need help without shame. Children need to realize that the world is a better place because they are in it.
Consider the following questions below while evaluating sense of contribution:

  • Do I create opportunities for my child to contribute to others in the world who may be less fortunate with freedom, money, human contact and security as they need?
  • Have I empowered my child the belief that she can improve the world by contributing in some specific way?

6. COPING– Young people learn to cope effectively with stress they are more prepared to overcome life’s barriers and challenges. Instill positive, adaptive coping strategies to effectively teach stress-reduction skills.
Some questions to ask ourselves include:

  • Have I taught my child the difference between a real emergency and something that just feels like a crisis?
  • Do I model positive coping strategies, such as mediation, exercise, good nutrition and adequate sleep?

7. CONTROL– Young people who have learned privileges and respect are earned by demonstrated responsibility are able to make wise decisions and feel a sense of control. Once young people realize they can control the outcomes of their decisions and actions they learn the consequences of their decisions. On the other hand, if parents make all the decisions, they are denied opportunities to learn control.
Consider these questions regarding control:

  • Do I help my child understand that life’s events are not purely random, and most things happen as a direct result of someone’s actions and choices?
  • Do I reward demonstrated responsibility with increased privileges?

American Academy of Pediatrics. (2014). Building the 7 Cs of Resilience in Your Child. American Academy of Pediatrics, 1-3.