Therapy & school

October 10, 2019
School
By Reframing Disability

So, your little one is about to start school? Wow! Where did the time go? 

There is a lot to do, and to think about, in the lead up to school starting. One thing that many families don’t realise until school starts, is that time for therapy is dramatically reduced. Now that children are at school five days a week, how do families make therapy work?

Quote “Last year our kiddo was at preschool 3 days, so we managed our sessions in the other days. When school started, we had to think about how to fit in therapy too.”

Here are some ideas from other parents:

After school 

This is always an option, but see how your child is managing. Many younger ones are exhausted by the end of the school day, especially in the beginning. This could be a better option for older children as they can manage more in a day.

Quote: “Best advice I was given by another mum was not to do any therapy during first term. I can see why. Our kiddo came home exhausted!”

Before school 

This is a good option, especially if you have a little one who wakes early, and you have hours before school starts. At the start of the day, children are fresh and have more energy. 

Be mindful of how this will fit in with your everyday morning routine though, because getting ready in the morning, especially if you have more than one child, can be a challenge without therapy on top! 

However, if you have goals around dressing or feeding, this could be the ideal time to practice those skills.

During school. 

Check with your school on this one. Some schools are happy to have therapists come to the school and others are not so keen. Be aware that schools don’t have to let therapists attend.

School sessions can be great, especially if you are working on skills which are particularly relevant to the classroom, or involve interaction with other children. Perhaps you have a goal around social skills, and your therapist could involve friends (or potential friends) in your child’s class. Working on these skills, with children they socialise with every day, makes a lot of sense. Some families budget funds by engaging therapy assistants to run programs, like Lego group, during school lunch times, with 2-3 children.

During school hours is an opportunity for your therapy team to relay information and share strategies with your child’s teacher or support staff. This means your teacher is better prepared to support your child in the classroom and has the opportunity to ask questions. This could be an OT showing the best way to support a child to hold a pencil and form letters, or a Speech Pathologist to teach the teacher to use a communication device. 

Quote: “We had a couple of sessions with our physiotherapist at school, which really helped our son to use the play equipment he was struggling with”

School holidays.

If it’s tough to manage therapy during the school term, especially with extra-curricular activities, then school holidays may be the way to go. This can also be a great time to take advantage of intensive therapy sessions or camps with other children. But listen to your child too, because they may want to have play dates or enjoy some down time, so try and find a balance between childhood and therapy.

Quote: “We only do therapy during holidays now. We found the break during term and more repetitive skill building during holidays gave better results too.”

Quote: “We do blocks of therapy during school term. The school holidays are our time to school all therapy and focus on our family time.”

Weekends

If you think that a weekend time slot would suit your child, the best advice I can give you is to get in quick! These times are premium, so best to think ahead of time and speak with your therapist if you want to secure this popular time slot.

Starting school is such an exciting time! And just a little stressful for most families. It is important to give your child time to be one of the kids, make new friends, adapt to change, make mistakes, and learn new things. It is a busy time. And can be exhausting for our little ones, who often have to work harder at every-day things than typical kids. It’s ok to wind back on therapy, or to give therapy a break while our kids settle into the new school life. Sometimes, the best thing to do, is to follow your child’s lead, and take one day at a time.

Reframing Disability

By Reframing Disability

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