Written by Cara Fisher-Wellvang, MA, LCPC, ATR and Brad Drozdowski, MT-BC
School is starting back up and whether you’re preparing for another round of remote learning or gearing up to go back in person, things are going to be different this Fall. ITA is here for you with some creative ideas to make your transition back into school successful and enjoyable.
Here are 8 back-to-school tips and creative projects from Art Therapist Cara Fisher-Wellvang and Music Therapist Brad Drozdowski.
Creating and Getting Used to New Routines:
1. It’s About Time for a Rhyme! (hey, that… er, nevermind)
Whether you’re getting used to heading back to school in-person or getting used to your virtual classroom, rhymes can help us learn and remember new skills and important information. You can even make up catchy melodies and jingles to make your rhymes more memorable.
Try some of these rhymes and come up with your own!
Have a question? Need to ask?
Just be sure to wear a mask!
Have an answer? You’re the one who knows?
Say it proudly, but cover your nose!
Taking a break to play the flute?
I hope you’ve got your mic on mute!
Late to class, heart skipped a beat!
Hurry, fast – but keep six feet!
Way too early… In a trance…
Don’t forget to put on pants!
2. Create Song Playlists to Help Structure Your Day
It can be hard to notice the transitions in our day when we’re doing all of our work and classes from home. Making personalized music playlists to help separate time in transitions and activities can be helpful to break up the monotony. It might not be so easy to change your scenery when working from home, but you have full control over a soundtrack!
Here are some different playlist ideas by activity for your consideration:
- study/homework playlist
- relaxation playlist
- cathartic burst of rage playlist
- winding down from cathartic rage playlist
- walking the dog playlist
- making dinner playlist
- exercise playlist
- staring at the ceiling playlist
- trying to image you’re on the beach playlist
The sky is the limit with playlists, get creative and fine-tune (no pun intended) your music listening to every aspect of your day/week.
3. Mask Play
While some kids may already be used to wearing a mask, for others this might be a new and difficult transition. You can start wearing and talking about the importance of masks at home. You can even use clean masks as part of play with your kids or help them make masks for their toys and stuffed animals. Watch this video for an example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lRVCvT4lBpQ
4. How Much IS 6 Feet? Approximately 1 music therapist
Use a creative form of measurement to help your kids remember how to stay 6 feet apart. We’ve figured out that 6 feet is about the length of: 2 guitars, 3 ukuleles, 14 markers stacked together, 24 egg shakers, 3 toddlers, or 1 tall music therapist.
Planning for Support and Self Care:
5. Schedule Plenty of Breaks.
Take time to get outside, move your body, and do something fun every day. Schedule it at a regular time or make an effort to do it when you can. For some families this might mean making sure to take two walks outside each day. For others this might mean periodic dance breaks. You can figure out what works best for you and your family and try to build it into your daily routines.
6. Check Your Internet Connection
Sharing internet bandwidth during a pandemic is 2020’s version of waiting for your sibling to free up the bathroom in the morning before school. Be sure you know how far you can stretch your internet and consider the following tips for optimizing your internet use in your household:
- Close extra browsers and windows when you’re not using them.
- Put your phone or tablet on airplane mode or turn off the WiFi when you’re not using them and don’t need to be reached.
- Regularly close all of the apps and open windows on your phone and consider clearing the cache on your computer.
- Work with the people in your household to create a schedule for your meetings so that you know when internet use will be in the highest demand. Work together to be sure everyone gets what they need.
- Download your music and podcasts (using WiFi) so you don’t have to use up internet bandwidth streaming while you work. Plan and save your content ahead of time to save on processing.
7. Customize Your Workspace
Work together with your kids to help them customize their workspace. Whether you’re a parent working from home or a student setting up a remote learning or homework space, surround your work area with what you love – posters of your favorite musicians and albums, action figures from your favorite shows and comics, photos of important friends and family, or places that you miss like a favorite vacation spot. Other things to consider might be trinkets that define you, fidget objects that help you focus and relax, and any self-care materials you need on-hand like essential oils or noise-canceling headphones. Maybe you are a person that thrives on minimalism and a clean, open work area is key to boosting your focus. Your workspace can be a painting of your productivity and personality – how you frame it is important, and it’s up to you!
8. Write a Postcard to Yourself
We all need a little extra support during this time—sometimes that might come from our friends and loved ones, and sometimes it might come from ourselves. Writing a card or sending mail tells our loved ones that we care, why not share a little of that love with our future selves? Work together with your kids to write a post card to your future self to remind yourself that you’re doing your best and to take care of each other. Write it to celebrate a future accomplishment (like learning to ride a bike, making it through finals, or for being a human living through a pandemic). You could even send yourself $10 in the future! Wouldn’t that be nice? Send yourself $10 dollars and forget that you did it, then get it in the mail months later? Sweet! It could be the thing to make your future self’s day! Buy some ice cream with that $10 or put it back in the mail for future ice cream! Send yourself a list of your favorite ice cream flavors so you don’t forget! Send money to the future and buy ice cream with it… just don’t spend it all in one place… or time…
We hope you enjoyed our top 10 back-to-school tips and projects. From ITA to all parents out there and students of all ages – we hope you have a safe and healthy return to the classroom – wherever that may be – and wish you a happy and productive year of learning and growth.