Remember the three “P’s” when going back to school

Prepare, Plan, Praise

By Margaret Jones, MSW, LCSW

Many parents look forward to sending children back to school in the fall, but it can be a stressful time for kids and parents. Help ensure a smooth back to school transition for your child with the three “P’s”, prepare, plan, and praise. Planning for the start of the school year and helping your child prepare are essential parts of the back to school process. Praising your child for their efforts can build confidence that will help them be successful in school.

Preparing your young child for preschool or kindergarten: 

  • Make the First Five Count! Make sure you know your child’s strengths and needs by completing an educational screening. Use Easterseals’ online screening tool for kids up to 5 years old. 
  • Have your child memorize their full name, address, and phone number. Make sure that you have your child practice writing out this information.
  • Give your child jobs around the house to get them in the habit of following directions. Help your child develop a sense of pride in their accomplishments by praising them.
  • Work with your child on learning letters and numbers.
  • Read to your child. Books about starting school are a wonderful way to prepare your child for their first day.
  • Talk to your child about your first day of school. Let your child know that even mom and dad felt excited and nervous when starting school. 
  • Discuss with your child what to expect on the first day of school.
  • Use a timer to help your child focus for specific periods of time. This will help them get ready for classroom routines.
  • Praise your child during play, encourage them to take turns, wait, and share. This will help them be ready to do those things at school.
  • Plan time every day to talk with your child about their experiences at school.

Preparing any age child to return to school:

  • Take time to tour the school and meet the teacher, your child can join you for these activities.
  • Go school supply shopping with your child. Establish a place in your home where school supplies will be stored so kids know where to put their things.
  • Resume school year morning and bedtime routines a few weeks ahead of time so that children are ready when school starts.
  • Review the screen time rules for the school year. Determine when, where, and how much screen time your child should have.
  • Encourage your child to get involved in activities at school or in the community.
  • Find ways to be involved in your child’s classroom or extracurricular activities.
  • Plan time every day to talk to your child about their experiences at school.
  • Establish a specific place, like an office or the kitchen table, where kids will do their homework.
  • Plan an after school schedule for your child that includes snack, relaxation, play, and study.
  • Praise your child for their successes at home and school.

Additional Reading and Resources:

Margaret Jones, MSW, LCSW
Margaret Jones is a counselor at Easterseals Central Illinois. She is passionate about helping children and families. She has 15 years’ experience working with children. She is also a professor in the School of Social Work at Illinois State University.

August Service Center Spotlight: Bloomington Service Center

Reece, Dezi, our VP of Development in Bloomington, Cathy Oloffson, and our President & CEO, Steve Thompson, at the Ribbon Cutting.

Our very own Easterseals Ambassador Reece and his mom Dezi came out to celebrate The Harmony Park Project ribbon cutting this month. Reece, along with other kiddos enjoyed Bloomington’s New Harmony Park Project playground.

Harmony Park is the first entirely accessible and fully-inclusive playground in Bloomington. The new playground replaces the current structure at Rollingbrook Park. The playground design is by Cunningham Recreation, a leader in designing inclusive playgrounds to encourage and stimulate children of all ages and abilities.

August Service Center Spotlight: Peoria Service Center

One of our Swimmy Seals enjoying her class with her instructor, Lauren!

Easterseals kiddos the “Swimmy Seals” completed their Water Seals Group classes this month. The Water Seals group classes provide kiddos with water safety and aquatic social skills that focused on helping children with Autism and Sensory Processing Disorder thrive in the water.

Kiddos successfully completed the goals of this class, including helping improve water safety, social skills, motor planning, and sensory processing ability in a warm water setting.

Congratulations to our Swimming Seals for successfully completing Water Seals!

August Service Center Spotlight: Easterseals Learning Academy

Fun on the first day of school! A student enjoying a back to school activity at the ESLA.

Easterseals Learning Academy welcomed back students this month! Students started their 1st day back to school with warm welcomes from their teachers and fellow classmates. Just like the 1st day back at any school, some students were nervous, while others were ready to dive back into the day to day activities and routine at the Learning Academy.

ESLA aims to provide students with disabilities access to a more inclusive and sensory friendly school experience. The Learning Academy is designed with a high staff to student ratio, fully equipped classrooms and therapy rooms, evidenced based instructional strategies that empower each student to achieve peak academic performance, increase social and emotional skills, communication skills and functional like skills for independence. 

August Service Center Spotlight: Timber Pointe Outdoor Center

Kris Hinderks has worked at Timber Pointe Outdoor Center as the Kitchen Director for the past 6 years. A different camp comes in each week and they range anywhere from 50 to 250 campers.

Kris, bottom center, surrounded by campers and counselors during one of this summer’s camp sessions.

“I plan, manage and prepare all of the meals from the moment they arrive at camp until the last meal is served. On average, I feed about 60,000 meals during the 10 weeks of summer camps. Seeing all the happy and joyful faces from the campers is what inspires me to keep coming back to Timber Pointe each summer. I have built some lasting friendships with some of the returning campers and I look forward to seeing their smiles and receiving their hugs each year I see them! The thing that I love most about Timber Pointe is that we are all one big family helping and supporting each other.”

A Look Back: Easterseals Central Illinois and the 1980s

Through the 80’s the organization continued to grow and innovate treatment methods. In July of 1985, Easterseals established the Central Illinois Center for Independent Living. It was later spun off as an independent, not-for-profit organization and is known today as Advocates for Access.

In 1986, Easterseals marked the 50th anniversary of service in the Peoria Area and hosted the first “Lekotek” program in downstate Illinois. Lekotek is a Swedish word meaning “play library”. This innovative program made adaptations to toys and loaned them to children with disabilities and their families. Certified Lekotek Leaders showed parents how to use both conventional as well as adaptive toys to effectively engage, motivate and teach their child. This groundbreaking programs helped to form the play-based therapy strategies used today.

In 1989, ground was broken on “The House of Dreams,” a $269,000 luxury home whose proceeds went to fund services for children at Easterseals. Take a look at the newspaper clipping below to read more on the story of this dream house.

What We Do

What is Easterseals?

Easterseals provides services to help children and adults with disabilities and/or special needs as well as support to their families. We’ve been helping families for nearly 100 years. Today, Easterseals assists more than one million individuals and their families annually at more than 550 Easterseals service sites across the country. Each center provides top-quality, innovative services tailored to meet the specific needs of the people we serve.

What types of services does Easterseals Central Illinois provide?

At Easterseals we know that early identification of developmental delays in children, and therapeutic intervention to support development, make a big difference!  Our dedicated team of physicians, therapists and staff help children and families reach new milestones each and every day.  We provide a wide variety of services, supports and community education designed to promote progress.  Therapy at Easterseals is provided by credentialed and licensed therapists who specialize in pediatric services.  Therapists are credentialed and enrolled as providers for Early Intervention and major insurance companies.

Our primary services include:

Who We Are

Our Mission.

Easterseals Central Illinois provides exceptional services to ensure that children with developmental delays and disabilities can reach their full potential.

We do this through providing comprehensive pediatric therapy including  ABA Therapy, Developmental Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Speech Therapy and more. We have counseling services, clinics, aquatic therapy prorams, advocacy programs, family and community trainings and social skills groups.  Our experts collaborate to treat the whole child,  while supporting the family that surrounds them.  

The Story of Easterseals Central Illinois

In 1919 Dr. Hugh Cooper, M.D. and Dr. S.H. Easton, M.D. started the ‘Crippled Childrens Clinic’ in downtown Peoria. This once-a-week clinic provided necessary medical attention to children in the area with disabilities. With the help of the ‘Crippled Childrens Coordianting Committee’ the mission grew to include championing education, recreation and therapy services for children with Developmental Dealys and Disabilties in Central Illinois. Today we serve nearly 6,000 families at our 4 locations