Written by Windy Chou MS, OTR/L
Many of the thoughts that race through parents’ heads when choosing a preschool involve wondering what kind of discipline system they have, what teaching philosophy the school provides academically or socially, what are the facilities like, how accommodating or communicative will the staff be about their children’s progress, and at times even the type of food served or educational level of the teaching staff… the list goes on. Usually the questions are about choosing the right school that fits their child and their family. However, the tables are turned when enrollment season begins for public school kindergarten or first grade, as children are expected to go to their “home” school based on their residing neighborhood, and attend a certain grade based on when their child is born. A child is expected to fit into a pre-set school environment and parents then ask “will my child be ready for school?” Most parents believe their children to be automatically ready for school by the time they reach the age of enrollment, and they are usually correct. Or if a child struggles with transitioning into school, they expect teachers to be the ones who will help them get their children ready for school. There is also an unspoken assumption by most school staff and teachers, that a child has attended some sort of structured or organized group that will make the transition into school easier. The ease and success of the transition to school is what is known as “school readiness.”
WHAT IS SCHOOL READINESS?
School readiness doesn’t just involve knowing your name, body parts, ABCs, or 123s but involve also the following:
Often a child who has never attended any sort of organized group activity, or spent considerable amount of time with peers or other adult authority figures, may require more assistance during the transition period or the first few weeks of school. They may require explicit teaching by parents or teachers on the non-academic skills listed above to get them ready for school. However, if a child continues to have difficulties even after preschool, or parents anticipate difficulties in the areas above, there are activities that can be done at home to promote school readiness.
The following web article authored by therapists includes ways to identify potential concerns that may impact school transition, as well as ideas for use in the home: https://childdevelopment.com.au/areas-of-concern/school-readiness/. At Almaden Valley Children's Therapy Center, we are enrolling children in a weekly OT school readiness group that can help if you believe your child needs facilitation in school readiness. More information on the group can be found here: http://www.almadenvalleychildrenstherapycenter.com/groups.html.
I have been an admirer of the work being done at Animal Assisted Happiness for a long time. As often as I can, I champion the work that they do by promoting them to organizations I belong to that give out grants or by simply adding them to my Amazon smile account so that they can receive small contributions for every dollar I spend through Amazon. I have also had the opportunity to directly see the work that they do impact the lives of children. AAH brought their animal to a school that I once worked at and the joy that it brought to both the students and the staff was palpable. I was so happy to connect with Christine, the AAH operations manager, who attended our recent grand re-opening celebration. With her help, we were able to schedule 2 visits at our clinic.
We had our first visit last week, on March 28th. They brought three bunnies, a ginny pig, and a CHICKEN! It was such a joy to hold them, pet them, and interact with everyone who also came to meet the animals. I certainly enjoyed having them for a visit and felt calmer and happier after they left. Their mission is to provide a million smiles. They can definitely add me to their smile count because I was certainly smiling afterwards!
You won't want to miss our next visit which is planned for May 24th at 2:30-3:30! Stop by after your kids get out of school. If you want to reserve a space at their next visit please sign up on our events page.
Tone of voice can convey so much to the people you are communicating with. Tone of voice is not referring to what is being said, but is rather how something is being said. Tone conveys the emotion behind the statement. Many people know and talk about how our thoughts can often be “lost in translation” when messages are sent via text message or email. Many of the children I work have difficulty deciphering the emotion behind someone else’s tone of voice or how they are being perceived by others based on their own tone of voice. Imagine going through life only being able to email or text (and not being able to use the cool little emojis)! This would inevitably lead to frustration, frequent episodes of miscommunication, and difficulty understanding someone else’s perspective; all of which is seen when our clients have difficulty with recognizing and understanding that the way something is said has meaning.
One day, while working with a client I was trying to explain to her that when she spoke to me the way she was, it made me feel bad for asking a clarifying question. It became clear based on her response to my feedback that she was unaware that her tone of voice was expressing the emotion I perceived. This was the birth of the “How Am I Feeling?” game. On another occasion, I had an older client clearly articulate to me that she has observed over time that her dads tone of voice gets louder when he is angry. Interestingly, in our conversation (with mom's help) we discovered his tone also increases when he is in a hurry. She felt that when he was in a hurry, he was actually angry at her. The subtleties of understanding the emotional messages we convey with our body language can often pose significant challenges for many children, particularly children on the autism spectrum. If this is something that is challenging for your child or a child you work with, give this game a try!
How Am I Feeling? Game
How to prepare for the game:
Tone of Voice Cards created by Brittney Weinerth MS, OTR/L at Almaden Valley Children's Therapy Center
Have the child roll one dice to determine the tone of voice and then another dice to select the phrase. They should not tell the others playing what they rolled.
The actor will have three opportunities to say the phrase in the specific tone of voice and the others in the group can try to guess how they might be feeling.
If a child has difficulty with correctly demonstrating the tone of voice then afterwards you can brainstorm with everyone what that particular tone of voice would sound/look like. For example, would the voice be loud, quiet, high pitched, low pitched, eye brows raised, frown, tears, etc. Then all participants can practice saying the phrase in the tone of voice.
That's a tough pill to swallow...literally!
On this Throw Back Thursday (TBT) I thought I would share something I wrote last year and share with our newsletter subscribers:
Getting your Child to Take a PillEvery day we receive calls and emails from parents just like you who need a little support to help their child succeed to their fullest potential. We recently recieved a question that I think many families can relate to... Getting your child to take a pill. Whether it is a vitamin, an allergy medication, a medication to manage their behaviors or any pill, this can be a tricky situation to deal with!
I wanted to pass onto you all the tips and suggestions that I shared with this family: