Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Back to Scho...

Yeah, no time to even finish that title. It's GO TIME, people. Professional development done (bleh--trust falls!), kiddies back in school, and the school psychologist's to-do list is having baby to-do lists at an exponential rate. *

SO, while I haven't the time to craft a meaningful blog post, I do have time to give away free stuff that will help you survive and thrive in the new school year!

Who wants a copy of The School Psychologist's Survival Guide?

Just post a comment here or on Facey Face with one back-to-school survival tip for fellow school psychologists and I'll enter you in a drawing to win the book, using a random number generator. And then I'll try to find time to drag an infant and a toddler to the post office and send it to the winner. That's how much y'all mean to me.

Happy New School Year!

*Not to mention the mama school psychs out there who are also trying to raise small humans of your own. Your to-do list is probably insane, especially if you are trying to keep up with Pinterest moms who make adorbs "First Day of School" chalkboard signs with handcrafted wood borders they whittled themselves and bento boxes of lunch food that look like woodland animals with carrot whiskers and whatnot.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Back to School Tips for School Psychologists

When one is on maternity leave, every day is a Saturday in an unknown month. And then one Saturday your Target store is super busy and you’re like, “What is going on?!? Why is my Target packed with people?” and you realize it is actually a Saturday. And it just might be back to school time. Oh, and your friends start posting adorbs photos of their kids getting ready for first day back. So I may be slightly late for my back to school tips, but here they are. Like IEPs and assessments, better late than never. In no particular order:

1)    Go to the dentist and get your haircut. Seriously. Aint nobody got time for that once school starts. Or if you’ve already started school, book a Saturday appointment now, since the next available will be months from now. No one wants to be in October looking like the lovechild of Jafar and that Nicky girl from Orange is the New Black. 

2)    Get your forms and templates in order. You know how every year you vow to update your report templates or forms for parents/teachers and then never do it? Or is that just me? I have a fantasy of putting all my recommendations I ever have thought of into one master document, organized by theme (e.g. executive functioning, auditory memory) and then pulling recommendations into the reports, tailored for each child’s needs. And then the baby wakes up or the toddler NEEDS me to find Pinkie Pie Pony and it doesn’t happen. But if you don’t have kids, it’s go time. I will live vicariously through you.

3)    Save time and print up organization, case management, and forms/templates from a book. Now what book would have such specific forms just for school psychologists? I just can’t put my finger on such a resource…oh wait! The School Psychologist’s Survival Guide! Shameless, I know. But tens of reviewers on Amazon can't be wrong.

4)    Take a nap in the middle of the day. You will be wishing you could nap on demand once school starts. Live it up now. If you have kids, sorry you’re out of luck. Only once every Saturn Returns do kids nap at the same time when you are tired. And when they do, you have to make that phone call to your hairdresser. School psychs without kids: LIVE. IT. UP. For the rest of us, there’s no shame in calling grandma or a babysitter over to have an afternoon nap.

5)    Make a New School Year Resolution. Every school year, I vow to improve my practice in one small way. Maybe it’s taking a few webinars on play therapy or learning a new assessment, or even vowing to actually take a lunch. Mix it up, learn something new, and prioritize something about the job that you love to do and infuse it into your daily practice. My resolution? Get ready for the new WISC-V by watching training webinars, which I am pathetically super excited about! NERD ALERT. I mean, what items are they going to change? Is the typewriter picture going away? I am on the edge of my nerdy, nerdy seat.

6)    Go shopping. I hate to be predictable, but there is something so friggin’ exciting about getting a new planner, new organizational tool, new bag, new coffee mug the size of your head, or new school psychologist costume for the new year. 

So whenever your school year starts, or if it has even started already, go ahead and post an adorable picture of yourself on your Facebook page with your million bags you carry for your first day back.* And I wish you a wonderful school year!

*For fun, I asked Toddler B what mommy did for work and she said, “Carries a lot of purses.” Correct.

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Saturday, May 17, 2014

We Interrupt This Blog.

So you know how lately my blog has been terribly infrequent and sometimes a secret mommy blog instead of blog about school psychology? I recently read a review on Amazon of my blog on Kindle that was entitled “Life gets in the way” and the reader lamented that after I had a baby my blog went downhill and asked me to “please get back on topic.” Ouch. I mean, it's true, but ouch.*

Well, fair warning…I’m not gonna be prolific or on topic for a while because I have a special announcement. I’ll give you a hint: It’s 8lbs, 12oz, and she has my eyes…

Yes, I made another person!

And so through sleep deprived haze, I write to you all to share the good news and let you know that I’ll do my best to keep the blog alive. But I’m loving how life has gotten in the way of my career right now. I mean, seriously. Teeny tiny baby feet are the cutest.

Thanks to everyone for your patience and I will return to the regularly scheduled blog when I’m not disabled by fatigue. :)

*Go through the archived posts. I was a hoot B.C. (Before Children). In related news, I also think I should post a new headshot because that perky gal in my profile pic mocks me with her pre-children energy. 

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Friday, May 9, 2014

How Do I Tell My Readers I Have No Inner Monologue? I Hope I Didn’t Say That Outloud.

I once saw this horrible made-for-TV movie about a boy with Autism who was instrumental in solving a murder because he was a witness and he had a penchant for repeating things, and this is how he revealed the killer. Only instead of the classic Autistic echolalia of just repeating what is heard in one's own voice, the boy in this movie took on the ACTUAL voice of the killer and it was comical as the voice of the killer was transposed on this lip syncing boy actor. Um, that’s not really how echolalia works, guys.

I also used to work in a group home with teens on the Autism spectrum who would echo random things back, like “OJ’s going to jail!” or the old jingle to the Ross commercial.* On occasion, I would hear a child echo back a command I had given earlier, and I got to hear how I sounded through their ears. Hint: naggingly annoying.

Now that I have my own little one, I am fascinated by language development. While Toddler B doesn’t have echolalia, anyone who has a toddler knows that they are little mynah birds and will repeat ANYTHING. Be careful, parents who drop a dish and say something in colorful language in front of their toddler. Because one day, that kiddo will use that language in the correct context at preschool and you will die of embarrassment. So I’ve heard.

I get a window into how language shapes cognition and memory every night, as my girl recaps her day and I get to eavesdrop on her through the monitor. I am stunned by what she replays in her mind, her young mind not yet able to tap into Vygotsky’s inner monologue skills.** I hear myself through the voices of her teddy bears. “Oh no, Teddy, we don’t put jackets on dogs, okay?” or  “Oh, you fell? I’m so sorry, mommy will kiss it” Or “I need you to pick up your toys NOW!” If you’ve ever gotten the recap of your parenting played out with stuffed animals, you will be SHOCKED how much is getting into that little spongy brain. Just when you think that little one isn’t listening, they show proof that they remember EVERYTHING.

I see her do it during her play too. Piaget was spot on when he said that, “We can be sure that all things in a child’s life, pleasant and unpleasant, will have repercussions on her dolls.” Toddler B plays out when a kid hit her at preschool and how she reacted, shares her feelings about mommy going to work with lots of bags (school psychs, you hear me?!?), and plays “school” by making all the monkeys raise their paws to talk (tear…playing school just like her mama did when she was little. Sniff sniff).

As a parent, it is a daily reminder that what you say to your child is shaping who they are. As a school psychologist, it reminds me that the kids we work with obviously have inner speech now, so we can't be as sure as when a toddler repeats everything, but we can be reasonably sure that what we say to them can still become a part of who they are and how they think about themselves. 

*Only instead of the full jingle, this gal always left off where she got her great clothes. “Do you love it? I love it! I got it at…Do you love it? I love it! I got it at…” After 3 years of hearing this jingle, part of me wanted to fill in “ROSS!” you got it at “ROSS!” I guess I just like a sense of completion in a world of chaos. But I digress.
**I have a coworker like this too. She likes to narrate everything she does. “I’m going to put this folder here…now what was I going to do next? Ah, that’s right, go to the bathroom…” Not having private speech is cute in a toddler, not so much in a grown woman.

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Sunday, December 1, 2013

Win Nerdy Stuff!

I wonder if the day will come when I start a new blog post without a sheepish apology for the mega-lag time between posts. Perhaps when Toddler B is in college.

ANYHOO. As some of you may know, my new book, The Everything Parents Guide to Children with Executive Functioning Disorder,  just dropped! If you want to get your hands on a copy, now is your chance to win one for freeeeeeee! Perhaps you want a copy because you are a school psychologist looking for fresh recommendations for your kiddos with executive functioning challenges. Or you might be a parent who has a kiddo who could use some strategies. Or, perhaps you might have a friend or relative you want to give the book to, in an awkward holiday moment in which you basically imply he or she needs a book to help with their child. ;) In any case, you want the book? It's easy to win. You can either:

a) Comment in this post about why you want the book
b) Comment on the Facebook page for the blog about why you neeeeeeed the book.
c) Tweet @studentsgrow about why you want the book and use hashtag #schoolpsychology

Aaaaaaand go.

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Thursday, September 19, 2013

It's Pre-order Time!

Hi friends,

You know what takes a lot of executive functioning skills? Writing a book on executive functioning. For those of you who follow my Facebook page for the blog, you probably got my random posts about how I was ironically stuck on the chapter on task completion, or couldn't get started on the chapter on task initiation.

I should back up. I guess I assumed you all have your finger on the pulse of my writing career. I wrote a book about how to support children's executive functioning skills (all the planning, organizing, and self-regulation skills kids need to reach their goals). The fine folks at the "Everything" Guides contacted me with an idea to write a book that would explain executive functioning to parents and give them practical day-to-day advice about how to support executive functioning. The book covers how to support and develop the "Top Ten Executive Functions" including:

  • Task Initiation
  • Response inhibition (controlling impulses)
  • Focus
  • Time management
  • Working memory
  • Flexibility
  • Self-regulation
  • Completing tasks
  • Organization
Just think of all the recommendations you can pull out of the chapters and put in your school psych reports! Imagine all the tips you will be able to share at team meetings! So without further ado...the world's longest titled book....I present to you:

The Everything Parent's Guide to Children with Executive Functioning Disorder: Strategies to help your Child Achieve Time Management Skills, Focus and Organizational Skills to Succeed in School and Life! 

This might be the best part of the writing process...publishing time! So check it out on Amazon.com and pre-order today!

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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Horrible Books for Children


Sometimes, I have poignant posts about school psychology that are woven into a delightful tale from working with a student. Other times, you get my ramblings about random stuff that occurs to me and happens to be loosely related to school psychology. This is one of those posts. What can I say, I’m still adjusting to being back at school and I need some time to dust off the thoughtful reflection part of my brain.

My mom was a teacher for 30 million years and just retired. She has about 300 million books she doesn’t know what to do with. Oh wait, yes she does—send them to her granddaughter, Toddler B! We have the world’s most extensive library and the good news is that Toddler B can’t get enough of shared book reading. She is practically exhibiting Kindergarten common core standards for retelling. Brings a tear to my eye. My baby is growing up so fast. Sniffle. 

The only problem is that some of the beloved books I remember from my childhood actually suck. I usually realize it about half way through reading out loud to my girl.

Take Little Red Riding Hood, for example. I remembered it was a cute little tale of a girl who takes goodies to her grandma and outsmarts a wolf. What actually happens:

Me: So little red riding hood and her grandmother got eaten up…um…by the wolf and..erm..the hunter…[reads silently: CUTS OPEN THE WOLF AND RED RIDING HOOD AND GRANDMA COME TUMBLING OUT]

Me: the hunter…um, The End! Pass me Curious George!

Or when I read The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. I remembered it as a cute little tale of a boy’s nice relationship with nature. Turns out, the kid is a greedy little taker and takes everything from the poor tree until it is a sad, sad stump and dies. Neat. Nice message.

The worst so far is the poem Waltzing Matilda. I remember it as a jaunty little poem about an Australian bushman doing…um…I don’t really know. Perhaps waltzing. But no, it is a charming tale of an Australian bushman stealing sheep and then KILLING HIMSELF AND HAUNTING PEOPLE. Well that’s a nice one for right before bed, isn’t it?*

Looks like a fun and jaunty little tale, right?
Note to self: preview all children’s books before my daughter turns into a wolf-slaying, greedy, nature-hating, sheep stealer with suicidal ideation. Or, should I just realize that I read twisted books as a kid and turned out to be a pretty darn snazzy individual? Even though I use the word “snazzy” to describe myself, I think you get my point.  I just can’t help but analyze children’s literature themes when reading to my child. It’s a sickness. I might just have to have a psychological debriefing after the sketchy ones. Or stick those guys in the garage. Haven’t decided yet.

At least I warned you this post was going nowhere. You’re welcome.

* And don’t even get me started on the pre-teaching of vocabulary I had to do to enhance comprehension in this one. Jumbuck? Billabong? Swagman? I should have given up on this poem from the start.  

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