It’s exciting watching kids assemble their new school supplies, get their backpacks together and compare who is in what class. Some of my friends are teary as they launch their college kids and prepare to drop them off and return to a slightly empty house.
Speech therapists and teachers have been busy preparing their rooms, lists, and making schedules. When I was working in the schools for 20 years, the first two weeks were crazy–finding kids, making a schedule and changing it multiple times. I feel for all of you who are in the throws of that right now. It’s funny, even in private practice, I have to make a whole new schedule at the beginning of each summer and each school year, so I don’t even escape that. At least I don’t have schedule around gym, art and music classes!
As a private therapist I have a unique opportunity to coordinate with classroom teachers and therapists at a child’s schoool. I have several children whom I see every few weeks at their nursery school to communicate goals and progress with teachers. This fall I am waiting a few weeks for kids to get adjusted and then will go into their preschool classes and assess whether their language skills are carrying over into the classroom. Often with preschool children, they might offer more language and seem more advanced in an individual session than when they are in a group setting of peers and adults. I worked with one child from 2-3 years of age and as his language improved, he still didn’t apply his skills in talking with peers. I ended up working with him in his preschool setting to prompt his interactions with peers. For some reason he was very comfortable engaging with the adults, “Sherry, your orange purse is on the table.” By the end of summer camp, he was starting to initiate dialogue with peers and I was able to dismiss him.
Back to school means many things, but for me it means I have another venue in which to watch and assess a child where he is comfortable and among familiar peers and adults. I just have to wait a little while until he is adjusted and it feels like home.