Exceptional Children's Department, Scotland County Schools
January 2018 "Happy New Year"
Program Specialist Tip of the Month
Occupational Therapy Corner--Karen Hunter, Lead Occupational Therapist
“Kids just can’t write anymore!”…How many times have we heard this statement? It is true; the art of handwriting seems to be lost on many students. In my opinion this is due to lack of foundational skills (think play-doh, climbing trees, etc.) as well as the skill of handwriting, specifically letter formation, not being taught. The introduction of so much technology so soon doesn’t help either J That being said there are many simple hacks that can be helpful when children are working on handwriting skills. These skills can be used in the classroom or at home.
· Use sandpaper under writing paper
· Trace baseline with highlighter or bold marker
· Trace baseline with glue and allow it to dry –DIY raised line paper!
· Use mechanical pencils to decrease pressure-dark writing
· Set appropriate lengths of time for working on handwriting tasks
· Use sky/ground paper (blue top line, green baseline)
· Use box and dot paper
· Green dot at left margin, red dot at right margin
· Trial a variety of pencil grips
· Incorporate strengthening, fine motor coordination tasks within environment to work
on muscles and arches necessary for handwriting
· Trial different pencils
· Practice letter formation in other modes such as writing in sand or salt, air writing with
a pool noodle, rainbow writing, etc.
Handwriting really is a necessary and important skill, no matter how much technology we introduce! Please contact me with any questions or for further suggestions. Happy New Year!
The Speech Room--Amanda Hill, Lead Speech/Language Pathologist
A common language issue reported in the classroom is that students have a difficult time following directions. Below are some strategies to implement prior to making a language referral.
1. When giving directions, repeat them again using different words.
2. Using gestures when giving directions can be beneficial.
3. If there are several directions, give one to two directions at a time versus all at one time.
4. Be specific when giving directions.
5. If possible, give a visual cue. For example, if making an activity you can demonstrate the steps as you go along. Showing the completed project would also provide them assistance.
6. When working with projects that have multi-step directions, it may be helpful to write the directions on the board.
7. Create a list of common directions that are used throughout the day. When needed, they can be laminated and placed on the board for the entire class, or can be smaller to be placed on the individual’s desk.
8. The student may benefit from sitting next to an individual who would be willing to provide assistance with multi-step tasks.
From the School Psychologist
The Importance of Practicing Self-Care in the New Year
By Jana Maine
NCSPA Coastal Region Representative
As we come back from our holiday break, we are returning to our deadlines, timelines, and workload. The end of the school year “crunch time” is approaching and we all know things are about to get stressful. Why not make self-care our New Year’s resolution?
Self-care is important to ensure that we don’t burnout. It provides us with ways to manage stress and helps us to be better professionals. When you aren’t taking care of yourself, it is difficult to work effectively, think clearly, and maintain your energy.
Here are some suggestions that may help inspire your own self-care practices:
1. Create a work-life balance. This can be hard when your workload is overwhelming, but creating a work-life balance is so important to maintaining your self-care. Yes, there will be days when you have to take work home. Try to make these days an exception to the rule. Without a work-life balance, we are more likely to experience burnout and it becomes difficult to enjoy the time we have with our family and friends.
2. Exercise. Exercise is one of the most important things you can do for your health. It helps to improve mental health and mood in addition to reducing risk of cardiovascular disease and increasing chances of living longer. According to the Center for Disease Control, “Regular physical activity can help keep your thinking, learning, and judgment skills sharp as you age. It can also reduce your risk of depression and may help you sleep better.”
3. Eat Healthy and Sleep. Eating healthy is important so that you get the proper nutrients to maintain your focus and energy throughout the day. Sleep is also vital to your physical and emotional health. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, people experiencing sleep deprivation “take longer to finish tasks, have a slower reaction time, and make more mistakes”.
4. Recharge during the school day by taking a lunch break or short walk. Because we are skilled at multi-tasking by the nature of our profession, we sometimes forget to take a few moments for ourselves at work--even if it’s just taking a lunch break or a short walk around the track at school (Branstetter, 2012). Take breaks at work to help recharge your energy.
5. Visit a classroom or interact with students. Sometimes our days can be difficult and our work can take a toll on us. On these days, I try to visit a classroom or interact with kids—without any objectives. For me this helps to refresh my perspective and helps remind me why I enjoy my profession. Take a few minutes to assist in a classroom, read to a student, or play a short game (Branstetter, 2012).
6. Talk to a colleague. Seek support, advice, and comfort from other teachers and support staff when needed. Our colleagues often understand our perspectives immediately and can offer solutions or comfort (Branstetter, 2012).
7. Get organized. Organization is key for maintaining our abilities to work efficiently and can help to prevent future stress. Create an organizational system that works for you such as a tracking spreadsheet for annual reviews or reevaluation deadlines.
8. Find ways to relax. Everyone has different ideas of what is relaxing. Find yours! Perhaps it’s taking a bubble bath, watching a TV show, doing yoga, or practicing meditation. Some people may feel relaxed when they are surrounded by nature and enjoy activities such as hiking or going to the beach to unwind. Breathing exercises, mindfulness, or meditation may help to cope with stress in the moment.
9. Focus on the positives. It is easy to feel surrounded by negativity at times. For example, I often hear about interventions that are “not working”, the students who have significant difficulties, or the frustration that school teams and parents feel. Make efforts to focus on the positives that occur at work. It may be that you helped an IEP team make a good decision, that you inspired a classroom teacher with your suggestions, or that a student is making educational growth due to your instruction or intervention. Celebrate the ways you have made a positive impact in your work.
Branstetter, R. (2012). The School Psychologist's Survival Guide. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Physical Activity and Health. (2015, June 04). Retrieved December 23, 2017, from https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/pa-health/index.htm
Sleep Deprivation and Deficiency - Why Is Sleep Important? (n.d.). Retrieved December 23, 2017, from https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/node/4605
Jan 15 Dr. King Holiday
Jan 18 AU Coaching Team Meeting 2-3pm in PD1
Jan 18 Speech Teachers' Meeting 2-3pm in the upstairs conference room
Jan 23 Program Specialist Meeting 2:15-3:15 in the C&I conference room
Jan 23 & 25 EC Monthly Meeting 3:30-4:30 in PD1
Jan 25 New EC Teachers' support meeting 8-4pm in PD2
Jan 29-Feb 1 Adolescent Literacy Training at Sandhills Community College
Jan 31 EC 3rd Grade RTA Good Cause Exemption list due to Dr. Dulin