For many of us, this is the start of a new school year. For others of us, it’s just another week of therapy. Either way, this post can apply to starting a new school year or beginning therapy with a new client.
One of the best pieces of advice I was given after having my boys was “Start as you mean to go on.” When beginning something new, decide if it is a habit you want to create or if it’s a habit you’re going to have to break later. For example, if I didn’t want to have to rock my babies to sleep every night (not very practical with twins), then I shouldn’t start doing that at the beginning. I’ve found that this advice applies to my therapy sessions as well.
Whenever you are starting therapy with a new client or beginning a new school year, think about what you expect from your clients/students and what they should expect in their sessions. What kind of behavior do you expect? What kind of routine do you want to establish? Do they earn a reward each session or work toward a goal to receive something?
This doesn’t mean you can’t make changes or adjust your sessions, but children thrive and learn on routine. So, before starting that first session, think about what you want to happen consistently. A few of these may include:
For young children
Where to sit (at a table or on the floor)?
How to start the session (with a song, a book, or other activity)?
How long to work before getting a break?
Do the children receive a sticker or prize at the end?
Do the parents get a home program or time to ask questions at the end?
For school-aged children
Do they come to therapy on their own or do you pick them up from class?
Where do they sit?
What are acceptable behaviors or noise levels? What happens if they do not follow the rules?
How do you start the session (with a new vocabulary word, sound hunt, grammar fix-up, or general social conversation)?
Type of activities (games, themes, reading, writing prompts, etc.)?
Do they earn something (stickers or points for prizes)? Is it based on behavior, effort, meeting a goal, or a combination of these?
So, the next time you are starting therapy with a new client or beginning a new school year, establish your routines early and be consistent. “Start as you mean to go on.”