The events of this spring certainly have tested us. Almost overnight, we transformed our School Based Therapy Services and Center for Children’s Therapy into a completely remote operation. At the time, we had 40 therapists working in schools in New York City and New Jersey, and with the sudden school closures, we had only a handful of days to adapt the entire company to this new normal and take everything virtual.
We quickly familiarized ourselves with Google Classroom, Google Meet and some 10 other platforms, so that we could use them to deliver therapy virtually to all of our students. It was quite a task, but we managed to accomplish the conversion over a weekend. So now our students are all getting whatever sessions they need with our therapists live, face-to-face.
One of our occupational therapists developed a one-page newsletter with functional activities for children to do throughout the day so parents don’t feel inundated. Parents select which activities they want to do based on their child’s performance area. Another of our therapists prepares a menu each week to help parents and caregivers with meal-planning. The newsletter and other useful tools can be downloaded in pdf format from my May 5, 2020, blog about how to speak with children about COVID-19.
Please note that nothing contained in these resources is intended to be therapeutic advice; these are simply suggestions for informational purposes.
The Joys of Homeschooling
Meanwhile, I, too, am homeschooling my own children, like every other frazzled parent, therapist and teacher out there! I have a daughter who is a high school freshman and does six hours of instruction daily, Monday through Friday. A competitive dancer, she is now doing all of her lessons and auditions remotely. She was supposed to spend the summer at the Joffrey Ballet School in New York, and she has been accepted into Barnard’s pre-college program – and is doing all of that remotely.
I also have a 3-year-old son in pre-K. Even though he has live instruction with teachers, I have to sit with him. Preschool has breaks throughout the day, a half-hour of circle time, story time one day, Spanish another, or gym, or computers.
So I’m managing my company while simultaneously managing homeschooling. It’s quite a juggling act! In our Zoom conferences and classroom meetings, all my occupational therapists get to see my 3-year-old on my lap – as do the clients I’m working with remotely.
Through it all, we have managed to establish a nice routine for everyone, and routine is the key to surviving and even thriving in this environment. We schedule homeschooling, homework, time outside every day and, of course, mealtimes. That is how we’ve adapted. But I have to say I feel tired just looking back at what we’ve had to do to get to this point.
And now I can’t wait to see everybody live, the old-fashioned way. As great as technology is, enabling us to do all that we do, it just doesn’t replace human interaction, face-to-face.
Now that we’ve nailed it with virtual teaching and therapy, we’re also prepping for summer school – even if our summer programs, too, must be delivered remotely. We’re also looking ahead to September, whether that will be face-to-face, or remote, or a combination of the two. Either way, we’re well-prepared for whatever comes because we’ve already been operating this way.
We will be ready with staff to handle the backlog of makeup sessions or compensatory sessions for those children who are too involved to benefit from remote sessions and have to make them up face-to-face when they return to school. We’re also prepared to manage all the evaluations that have been missed or put on hold through this pandemic.
Please be thinking ahead to services you might want to include in your fall programming. We make those staffing arrangements over the summer, as summer months are the best times to find top-quality professionals. So please get in touch with us so that we’re able address your needs come fall. Just give us a call.