Strategies for Back to School

My name is Lisa Jackson and I am a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant in the school system for Washington County Virginia. We all know back to school time can be overwhelming so I would like to discuss a few tips that might help get the school year off to a great start!

Backpack Tips

The first thing is a properly fitting backpack. A backpack that does not fit properly has the potential to cause back, neck, and shoulder pain. When looking for a backpack you want one that is proportionate to your child’s width as well as height. The height of the backpack should extend about 2 inches from below the shoulder blades to the waist. Also look for a backpack with compartments to help evenly distribute weight, a wheeled backpack is also a great option.  The graphic below is a great resource from the American Occupational Therapy Association about backpack strategies.

Image from the American Occupational Therapy Association:

Snack Skills

Next let’s discuss lunch time and snack time at school. Sometimes it can be difficult for children to open the items that are in their lunch. A few things that might make this easier is just practicing opening what is going to be in their lunch, putting food items into easy open containers or ziplock bags, or doing fine motor and hand strengthening activities to help strengthen little hands. Some fun and simple activities are:

·         Playing with play dough

·         Using tongs or tweezers

·         Peeling stickers and putting them on a picture

·         Finger painting

·         Legos

·         Bubble Wrap

·         Coloring

·         Using a spray bottle for water paint

We want to keep our children as safe and healthy as possible, so being able to open their own food limits the amount of hands that come in contact with what they are eating.

Child playing with playdough for occupational therapy

Conquer Homework Anxiety

Lastly, let’s talk about homework time which can be the most dreaded part of a child’s day. Some tips to help homework be a little less stressful:

  • Make a homework plan so the child knows the expectations. Some may need a break after school while others may benefit from coming home and doing it straight away.
  • Add movement/sensory breaks into the homework time.
  • Adequate lighting to limit eye strain.
  • Different seating options or standing to complete work.
  •  A homework area free of clutter and distractions.
  • “20/20/20” rule: Take a break every 20 minutes, stop for 20 seconds, and look at least 20 feet away from the homework or computer.
Pediatric Therapy services include physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, aba therapy at Blue Mountain Therapy in Abingdon Virginia