OPENING SCHOOLS WITH SOCIAL EMOTIONAL LEARNING IN MIND

Our students more than ever need us to recognize that they need their SEL needs met differently in this time of the pandemic. I ran across a beautifully thoughtful re-entry plan written by CHAI Lifeline. I hope you can put it to positive use in your school. Link

Here are the topics it covers:

Link: SEL checklist for returning to school by CHAI Lifeline

Mind Yeti- Videos to Support Social-Emotional Learning

mindyetiElementary School Counseling - Marissa's Blog

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mind Yeti is a research-based digital library designed to help kids and their adults calm their minds, focus their attention, and connect better to the world around them.

Created by the nonprofit Committee for Children, the world leader in social-emotional education, Mind Yeti offers a growing library of short, guided audio sessions featuring diverse voices and immersive soundscapes that invite kids and their adults to practice mindfulness techniques like deep breathing, stretching, and emotional self-regulation.

Below is the introductory video. Please click the SOURCE link below for 40 free videos in both Spanish and English.

Source for more videos.

​Other Platforms to access Mind Yeti Video and Audio files.

 

A Kid’s Guide to Coronavirus via American Psychological Association (APA)

https://www.apa.org/pubs/magination/kids-guide-coronavirus-ebook.pdf

The APA posted this children’s book about COVID 19.

A Kid’s Guide to Coronavirus (PDF)

By

Rebecca Growe, MSW, LCSW and Julia Martin Burch, PhD illustrated by Viviana Garofoli

Magination Press • Washington, DC American Psychological Association

You probably already know a lot about different ways to be sick. You may know about colds, when you cough and sneeze a lot. You may know about strep throat, when it hurts to swallow, or ear infections, when your ear hurts inside.

What other ways to be sick do you know about?

Most sicknesses have been around for a long time. Scientists and doctors and all the grown-up helpers know just what to do to make people get better.

Can you think of some things that help people when they are sick?

This book is about a certain sickness. It’s called COVID-19, or coronavirus.

Have you heard of it?

Grown-ups have been talking about it a lot. You may have heard about it on TV or online.

What do you know about it already?

A lot of kids have questions about coronavirus. And without getting good answers, they might feel confused or even scared.

This book will help answer those questions!

This coronavirus is a new sickness. Grown-ups don’t know as much about it as they’d like. But here is what they do know:

Coronavirus is contagious. That means it can get people sick by moving from one person’s body to another person’s body when they touch or spend time close together. Coronavirus can move from you to someone else before you even start to feel sick.

Many people who get sick with coronavirus have a fever, a dry cough, and a little trouble breathing.

Anyone can get sick from coronavirus. It can cause big problems for older people or people who have other health issues.

Because coronavirus is such a new sickness, doctors and scientists are working really hard to learn how to help people get better and make coronavirus go away.

In fact, everyone can help out! You can do a lot to stop coronavirus from making people sick.

Can you think of any things you already do to make a difference?

You can wash your hands often with soap and water. Some people sing the ABCs while they do it—what about you?

You can also cover your coughs and sneezes with your elbow or a tissue and try not to touch your face a lot.

You can find fun ways to help, too.

Maybe you could paint a picture for your friend, or make a movie of your new dance moves to give Grandma a giggle.

You could write funny jokes on the sidewalk for your neighbors to see, or hang a sign in your window to brighten someone’s day.

Until scientists have found out how to make coronavirus go away for good, you and your family might have to make some other, bigger changes.

You might need to stay away from crowded places. This is because crowds make it easy for coronavirus to spread to more people and make them sick.

For the same reason, your parents might not work as much, or they might try to work from home. You might not be able to go to school or play with friends.

You might see people wear masks when they go outside. You might even get one of your own.

Super-heroes wear masks to protect their secret identities, right?

Now super-people everywhere are wearing masks to protect each other from coronavirus. Feel free to wear a cape, too!

These bigger changes can be hard.

What do you think some hard parts might be?

These bigger changes can be kind of nice.

What do you think some nice parts might be?

You should know that these bigger changes are temporary. That means they will not last forever.

Other things are staying exactly the same! Your grown-ups are still in charge of taking care of you. And it is still your job to be a kid, which means you still need to learn, play, and spend time with family.

What else is staying the same?

And if you ever have questions, or want to talk, your grown-ups are here to help you and to listen.

No sickness can ever change that!

The coronavirus pandemic can be frightening and confusing for children and adults alike. As a parent or caregiver, you have the challenging task of navigating and managing your own emotions and needs during the crisis while also supporting your child. The following tips offer information and concrete strategies that you can start using right away with your child and on your own.

Provide Just Enough Information

It is natural for children to be curious about

the new kind of illness they keep hearing adults discuss. Provide your young child with limited, age-appropriate facts about the virus. Focus on what they can do to keep themselves, their families, and their communities safe.

The information covered in this book is an appropriate example of how to talk with young children about the virus. Listen respectfully to their concerns and reassure them without being dismissive. Help them focus on what is in their control, such as social distancing and hand hygiene. Emphasize that it’s important they still do their “jobs” as a kid, including learning, playing, and spending time with family.

It is important to try to strike a balance between oversharing information, which may lead kids to worry about facets of the crisis they do not need to be concerned about, such as the economy, and under-sharing. Though parents sometimes withhold information from kids with the noble intention of wanting to spare them distress, too little information can send active

imaginations into overdrive, leading kids to concoct far scarier outcomes than what’s realistic.

Validate and Name Emotions

It is normal for children to have a range of emotions in response to the pandemic. Some children might feel anxious about the unknown and fearful about their safety. Others will feel sad or angry about canceled events like a vacation, or about losing their normal routine and time with teachers and friends. No matter the emotion, it is important to validate it, or in other words, to communicate to your child that their emotion makes sense and is okay for them to feel. For example, you might say, “It makes sense that you are feeling disappointed about missing your class field trip. You were really looking forward to it.” Or, “I can understand why you’re feeling worried. There are a lot of changes happening right now.” It is also helpful to specifically label the emotion your child is feeling; research demonstrates that naming an emotion decreases its intensity. In a difficult moment, taking the time to say, “I see that you are really sad” can be incredibly soothing to your child.

Parents sometimes try to make their children feel better by pointing out that the child has many privileges, and that other people are suffering more. For example, a parent might say, “Don’t feel sad about missing vacation! We’re lucky to have somewhere to live. Other kids aren’t that lucky.” Despite the good intentions, this is not a helpful approach, as it confuses children about why they are feeling what they are feeling. It can also lead them to feel ashamed for feeling sad about missing vacation. If you would like to teach your child to reflect on what they have to be grateful for, make a family practice of writing down “gratitudes” or discussing what you are each thankful for over dinner. By doing this when your child is calm rather than feeling sad or fearful, you teach them that their “gratitudes” are things to feel uncomplicated joy about, rather than guilt or confusion.

Focus on the Present Moment

Worried brains tend to focus on the future, predicting all of the scary things that might happen. Teach your child how to gently bring their mind back to the present moment by practicing mindfulness. Being mindful simply means that you are purposefully paying attention to the present moment without judging it as good or bad. Mindfulness can be practiced in countless kid-friendly ways. For example, you can play a mindful “I spy” in which you count all of the objects of a certain color in the space around you. You can mindfully eat, dance, walk, listen to music – the sky is the limit! Build times into the day to practice, such as in transition periods or at meals.

Create a New Routine

It can feel next to impossible to maintain a routine during the quarantine. Yet, flexibly following a consistent plan day-to-day provides much-needed stability for your young child. This is particularly important given that their world has changed dramatically in a short time. Routines do not have to be complicated. For example, it can be helpful to just structure the day around basic needs such as wake-up times and bedtimes, meals, and periods in which you get active. Constructing a routine around these building blocks of physical and mental health makes it more likely that they will occur consistently.

Consider giving your child age-appropriate tasks to help the family, such as setting the table, helping to prepare food, or cleaning up after a meal. Though teaching your child a new skill takes more effort and attention in the short term, it will make your life easier (and increase your child’s level of independence and sense of competence) in the long term.

Create Memories

Look for opportunities to create new, special family rituals. These do not have to be time consuming or involve preparation. For example, you can jump-start your days with a family dance party in which a different family member chooses a song each day and everyone dances around the breakfast table. You might also help your children brainstorm ways that they can give back to their community, such as writing cards for the elderly or creating supportive signs for health-care workers. When your children look back on this time, they will remember that, despite the many challenges, the time at home also allowed your family to create memories together.

Put the Oxygen Mask on Yourself First

Whenever you can, pause and take a moment or two to check in on yourself and your emotions.

Just like your child, you will reduce your own emotional intensity by noticing and labeling your feelings. During a crisis, this kind of self-attention can feel like the last thing a busy parent or caregiver has time for. However, by ensuring that you are attuned to and taking care of your own needs, you will have reserves available to help support your children during difficult moments. You will be grateful that you preemptively invested the time in yourself when you must draw on these reserves to help a struggling child.

Make a point to practice what you preach with your children. Focus on what is in your control, such as practicing and modeling coping skills, limiting news consumption, and creating your own new routines around sleep, nutrition, and exercise. Most important–validate and be gentle with yourself. It is impossible to perfectly fulfill all of the roles you are being asked to play in this moment in time. Get comfortable with being good enough. This may look like allowing your children more time on screens than you would normally, cooking (or just heating up!) very basic meals, or practicing a coping strategy for two minutes while hiding in the bathroom.

When to Seek Help

If your child is experiencing so much anxiety or sadness about COVID-19 that it causes significant distress or begins to impact their functioning (e.g., consistent trouble sleeping, eating, or engaging in typical life activities), you should consult with a licensed psychologist or other mental health professional. There is no need to wait until social distancing restrictions are lifted. During the current crisis, many mental health providers are offering therapy over virtual meeting platforms. The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for children and adults alike. Yet within great challenges lie opportunities for growth, bravery, and resilience. You are taking a concrete, effective step forward simply by taking the time to read this book and reflect on how to help your child. Remind yourself of this whenever the “not good enough” monster strikes. You are doing the best you can, and that is enough.

Rebecca Growe, MSW, LCSW, is a clinical social worker with a private practice. She specializes in treating child and adolescent anxiety disorders, disruptive behavior, and traumatic stress. She lives in St. Louis, Missouri.

Visit http://www.growecounseling.com

Viviana Garofoli earned her degree in fine arts in 1995, and since then has dedicated her time to illustrating children’s books. She has illustrated over 20 children’s books and contributed to many editorial and textbook illustrations around the world. She lives in Buenos Aires.

@vivi_garofoli

Julia Martin Burch, PhD, is a staff psychologist at the McLean Anxiety Mastery Program at McLean Hospital in Boston. Dr. Martin Burch completed her training at Fairleigh Dickinson University and Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School. She works with children, teens, and parents and specializes in cognitive behavioral therapy

for anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and related disorders. Outside of her work at McLean, Dr. Martin Burch gives talks to clinicians, parent groups, and schools on working with anxious youth.

Magination Press is the children’s book imprint of the American Psychological Association. APA works to advance psychology as a science and profession and as a means of promoting health and human welfare. Magination Press books reach young readers and their parents and caregivers to make navigating life’s challenges a little easier. It’s the combined power of psychology and literature that makes a Magination Press book special.

Visit maginationpress.org @MaginationPress

Copyright © 2020 by Magination Press, an imprint of the American Psychological Association. Illustrations © 2020 by Viviana Garofoli. All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the United States Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced or distributed in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system,

without the prior written permission of the publisher. Permission is granted to download and print or reproduce for personal, educational, and non-commercial use only.

Magination Press is a registered trademark of the American Psychological Association. Order books at maginationpress.org or call 1-800-374-2721.

Book design by Rachel Ross

eISBN: 978-1-4338-3415-8

NASP Article on Suicide Prevention During the Pandemic

Suicide Prevention within COVID 19 Pandemic

Over the past several years in working with students at the secondary level, I have found myself approaching school breaks with trepidation for their wellness, mental health, and safety. Unfortunately, when students are out of school, our community has been impacted by student deaths resulting from suicide. Now, impact of the global pandemic has intensified the concern for students given the closures of school buildings with the reopening unknown. The mandates of “stay in place”, social distancing, and face coverings over the past few months, have resulted in drastic change in routines, increase in uncertainty, the loss of employment, and the lives of over 100,000 U.S. citizens.  Educators responded by transforming the face of schools virtually overnight from brick and mortar to computer screens within a distance learning platform.  The pandemic has intensified the concern for the safety, wellness, and mental health of our students with implications for policy and the practice of school psychologists.  

Nationally, suicide is the leading cause of death among youth. Advocacy efforts at the local, state, and national level on behalf of students has resulted in new suicide prevention policy and practice. Over the past few years, there have been several new federal and state laws that have advanced suicide prevention efforts in schools.  The recent legislation has demonstrated the commitment and recognition of policymakers around the importance of school-based prevention efforts; the approval for a 3-digit national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline system and mandated suicide prevention education for students, staff, and parents.  NASP has continued to provide leadership and advocacy efforts with suicide prevention.  NASP, in partnership with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the American School Counselor Association, and the Trevor Project authored a comprehensive guidebook [Model School District Suicide Prevention Policy] for school administrators and policymakers. This guidebook provides a framework for best practices for the continuum of K-12 suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention policies. 

At the district level, we have responded as school psychologists to address the student needs by engaging in grassroots advocacy and leadership roles to expand efforts beyond district crisis response (i.e. suicide intervention, postvention) to ensure a comprehensive suicide prevention framework. Suicide is a 24/7 issue. Thus, we partnered with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, law enforcement, community mental health agencies, and with local hospital emergency screening unit teams.  As a result, our team developed a district protocol to prevent, assess the risk of, intervene in, and respond to suicide.  Several integral components of a multi-tiered system of suicide prevention has emerged within the district; board approved suicide prevention policy, a district NASP PREPaRE trained crisis team, a district suicide prevention coordinator, a district suicide prevention council, district-wide coordinated implementation of Signs of Suicide (SOS) prevention education for students, staff, and parents, a community suicide prevention forum, suicide prevention training of trainers (TOT) of school site coordinators, suicide risk assessment protocol and training, educating the community regarding firearm safety, and postvention support in collaboration with community partners.

In March 2020, the global pandemic of COVID-19 drastically changed the landscape of education and our practice as school psychologists, especially with suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention.  Within the first week of school closure, our community was impacted by the death of a student by suicide.   To be honest, there was uncertainty in the “if” or “how” to best provide crisis response and postvention supports.  In collaboration with a few of our NASP PREPaRE community leaders -thank you Dr. Melissa Reeves and Dr. Ben Fernandez – we navigated the discussion with the site crisis leadership team, guided the response efforts, and initiated revision of our suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention protocol to address the needs within a distance learning educational milieu. As a result, our district has provided a comprehensive on-line suicide prevention protocol with embedded forms and resources.

As we continue to face social distancing and school closures in response to the global pandemic, the need for school psychologists to advocate and provide guidance and leadership in suicide prevention efforts is paramount.   Suicide prevention programs and policies expand our roles as crisis responders to include preventive supports for student wellness, mental health, and safety. The uncertainty surrounding the pandemic may generate for students intensified sense of fear, worry, isolation and suicide risk factors; simultaneously impacting youth protective factors such as hope, access to trusted adults, peer connection, and social activities. It is critical to begin or further our efforts to support our students by engaging in advocacy and providing leadership within our district, state, and at the national level with suicide prevention.

I encourage you to review the resources developed by NASP and your state professional organization.  Ask yourself what can I do, especially during this time of the global pandemic, to address student mental health needs and ensure comprehensive suicide prevention policies and practices that encompass prevention, intervention, and postvention? Each of us are “ADVOCACY”, let’s find our voice!  

NASP Comprehensive School Suicide Prevention in a Time of Distance Learning  

Preparing for Virtual School Suicide Risk Assessment Checklist  

COVID-19: Crisis & Mental Health Resources

Source

CALIFORNIA SCHOOL REOPENING GUIDEBOOK “Stronger Together”

The California Department of Education recently released a guidebook for reopening schools. I was particularly drawn to pages 34-36 on “Mental Health and The Well-being of All”. This guide book is easy to read and navigate and should be a good reference tool for reopening.

Link:

Stronger Together- Guide to Reopening Schools

Considerations for Academic Assessments and Interventions Upon the Return to School via NASP

happychildinclassroom | Oxford Learning

Considerations for Academic Assessments and Interventions Upon the Return to School

Link to PDF

COVID-19 has caused the closure of nearly all schools in the United States, affecting more than 55 million students. Efforts to continue education for children via remote instruction have been highly variable, ranging from daily contact via the web with the student’s regular teacher(s) to no contact at all. In fact, in the Los Angeles Times, Blume and Kohli reported that one-third of high school students in L.A. Unified had not checked in daily online with their teachers since schools had closed, and a much smaller number (15,000) had never checked in at all.

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic raised immediate worries about students including their access to a safe and supervised environment comparable to what they would get in school, access to food programs, access to routine and compensatory special education services for students with disabilities, and the provision of general instruction toward important grade-level objectives necessary for success as children continue in school.

Schools are working now to determine when and how students and staff may return to school safely. One of the challenges that schools must address is the significant disruption to the learning process. Because students’ experiences during remote learning were highly variable, schools will need to assume that children have lost about 25% of the prior grade level’s instruction because most schools were closed for 8–10 weeks of the typical 36-week school year. Compounding the problem of lost instruction will be missing assessment data. Children are routinely screened for important milestones in reading, math, and writing and participate in year-end accountability assessments to quantify the degree to which the schools are providing instruction that is sufficient to help most children attain proficiency. Because of the timing of the closures, spring screenings and year-end accountability assessment data will not be available.

These converging events—loss of instruction and an absence of data—create a perfect storm for school psychologists who are responsible for helping schools meet the needs of diverse learners, including identifying and making eligible those students who are in need of special education. NASP has developed a series of resources and webinars to provide actionable how-to advice to cope with missing academic data, identify children in need of instructional supports, and use the resulting data to inform referral and eligibility decisions. These are available in the NASP COVID-19 Resource Center at http://www.nasponline.org/COVID-19. Importantly, many students will be returning to school with increased social-emotional and mental health issues associated with the crisis, which will complicate school function in many ways. It will be imperative that schools attend to the mental wellness of students on a school-wide, classroom, and individual basis as intentionally as academic interventions and supports. Resources regarding students’ mental health are also available in the NASP COVID-19 Resource Center.

New Screening Procedures Will Be Required

Schools—and school psychologists—will be eager to collect fall screening data to make decisions as quickly as possible upon a return to face-to-face learning. However, fall screening must proceed differently than it has in the past.

There will be a higher prevalence of academic risk in nearly all schools. Children will be arriving at the next grade level having only received about a 75% dose of the prior year’s academic instruction. To deal with this higher base rate of risk, screening procedures must account for base rates.

The figure below shows the posttest probabilities of academic failure across varying levels of risk. The greater the prevalence of risk (move toward the right on the x-axis), the less accurate the screening will be for ruling students out as not needing academic intervention, which is the purpose of academic screening. Negative posttest probability is the probability of academic failure when a student has passed the academic screening. So at 50% risk, 10% of students passing a screening that has .90 sensitivity and .90 specificity will actually experience academic failure. As prevalence increases, negative posttest probability climbs. Once negative posttest probability is greater than 10% (VanDerHeyden, 2013), or greater than your local base rate of risk which you can estimate from past year’s proficiency rates on the year-end test, the screening is not useful to rule students out as needing more intensive academic intervention than is currently provided in their general education environment. The key message here is that single-point-in-time screenings will not be sufficient for determining academic risk in the fall.

Use Class-Wide Intervention to Improve Decision Accuracy and Provide Learning Gains for Students

How can the school psychologist proceed in an environment in which academic screenings will not be useful to determine who is really at risk? Introduce instructional trials as rapidly as possible and measure students’ learning gains as the second screening gate. Class-wide intervention (e.g., PALS, class-wide peer tutoring, PRESS center reading, Spring Math class-wide intervention) lowers the base rate of risk to allow for academic screenings to function more accurately.

In a recent study, decision accuracy was examined for fall screening, winter screening, and response to class-wide intervention with above 20th percentile performance on the year-end test as the gold standard for students in kindergarten and grades 1, 3, 5, and 7 in mathematics. Negative posttest probabilities were stronger (lower) when response to class-wide intervention was used as the screening criterion (VanDerHeyden, Broussard, & Burns, 2019).

Here is another way to view the effect of class-wide intervention as a screening gate. In this class, at the beginning of intervention, the score range is highly restricted, which makes distinguishing which children are truly at risk technically difficult if not impossible. Introducing a daily 15-min class-wide intervention increases the score ranges over weeks of intervention and makes apparent the student who really requires intensified instruction or a comprehensive eligibility evaluation.

 

 

The figures below, reprinted from VanDerHeyden (2013) shows that the same screening is not useful due to a high base rate of risk before intervention, but following class-wide intervention becomes very useful for ruling students out as needing academic intervention.

­­

Accuracy of the Mathematics Screener for Students Who Receive a Free or Reduced-Price Lunch

 Illustration of the Use of Intervention to Reduce Overall Risk and Permit More Accurate Screening Decisions

Note. From “Universal Screening May Not Be for Everyone: Using a Threshold Model as a Smarter Way to Determine Risk,” by A. M. VanDerHeyden, 2013, School Psychology Review, 42, p. 410. (https://doi.org/10.1080/02796015.2013.12087462). Copyright 2013 by the National Association of School Psychologists. Reprinted with permission.

Relying on a Period of Waiting for General Education to Improve Base Rates Is Inefficient and Unlikely to Work

There will likely be a sense of urgency around completing pending evaluations and perhaps even new evaluations. All evaluation teams are required to determine if a student’s academic concerns are a result of a lack of instruction when considering specific learning disability (SLD) identification regardless of the approach to eligibility determination that is used. Assessing the quality of instruction provided during the COVID-19 school closing is fraught with problems. Whether the instruction at home was delivered by caregivers or through an internet connection with teachers, decision teams cannot presume that the quality of core instruction replicated what would have happened in school. Except in unusual cases, the quality of instruction likely cannot be ruled sufficient.

Instruction as a cause (the most likely cause) of poor performance can only be ruled out by delivering a dose of instruction and measuring the child’s response directly. There is no substitute for that step and even if you choose to use a method other than response to intervention (RTI) to satisfy criterion 1 and 2, you still must satisfy criterion 4 to determine eligibility for SLD.

School psychologists may be tempted to institute waiting periods before recommending Tier 2 or 3 interventions as a means to avoid overpopulating those intervention groups and depleting resources. Waiting times have not been shown to lower risk over time. At best it is a tactic that will be highly variable (i.e., dependent on the quality of core instruction and teacher-initiated supplementation of core instruction) and at worst, it will be less efficient.

School psychologists should not enter a hands-off waiting period with schools. Rather, school psychologists should return to school equipped to help teachers boost their core instruction, given that children will likely be arriving with skill gaps. School psychologists can support teachers in delivering class-wide intervention and small groups to provide acquisition instruction for missing prerequisite skills and fluency-building intervention for skills that are foundational for subsequent learning at each grade level.

Decision teams can use the resulting performance data of students to determine who really needs a diagnostic assessment, individualized instruction, and potentially an eligibility evaluation. Controlling the dose of instruction allows this identification to occur in a more rapid and nimble fashion than would be possible otherwise. It is possible to make a decision about the need for more intensive academic intervention following only 4 weeks of well-implemented class-wide intervention.

Delivering High-Quality Class-Wide Intervention Requires Focus on Implementation

A new survey study out by Silva et al. (in press) examines actions taken in the name of multitiered systems of support (MTSS) and RTI. This survey replicates the findings of an earlier study (Burns, Peters, & Noell, 2008) finding that very particular barriers continue to interfere with the capacity of school psychologists to help schools use MTSS to improve achievement. School psychologists encounter the same barriers now as we did in 2008: we struggle to interpret the data we collect, to effectively get interventions underway, and to use implementation science to ensure high-quality implementation of academic interventions. In the Silva et al. (2020) study, only 7% of respondents reported looking at intervention integrity when an intervention was not working as planned.

In a context of elevated base rates of academic risk, we must do better. When children return to school, hopefully this fall, there will be an opportunity for school psychologists to be highly useful instructional allies to teachers. We can use our rapport and trust with teachers to connect, support, and empower them to do what works. Implementing class-wide academic intervention will produce achievement gains for students and as a wonderful side effect, will give us the best data upon which to base referral and eligibility decisions.

This series of resources and webinars will equip you to move forward with the right actions to screen, implement class-wide interventions in reading, writing, and math, and to use the resulting data for referral and eligibility decision making regarding SLD.

References

Blume, H., & Kohli, S. (2020, March 30). 15,000 L.A. high school students are AWOL online, 40,000 fail to check in daily amid coronavirus closures. Los Angeles Timeshttps://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-03-30/coronavirus-los-angeles-schools-15000-high-school-students-absent

Burns, M. K., Peters, R., & Noell, G. H. (2008). Using performance feedback to enhance implementation fidelity of the problem-solving team process. Journal of School Psychology, 46, 537–550. doi:10.1016/j.jsp.2008.04.001

Silva, M. R., Collier-Meek, M. A., Codding, R. S., Kleinert, W. L., & Feinberg, A. (2020). Data Collection and Analysis in Response-to-Intervention: A Survey of School Psychologists. Contemporary School Psychology. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40688-020-00280-2

VanDerHeyden, A. M. (2013). Universal screening may not be for everyone: Using a threshold model as a smarter way to determine risk. School Psychology Review, 42, 402–414.

VanDerHeyden, A. M., Broussard, C., & Burns, M. K. (2019). Classification Agreement for Gated Screening in Mathematics: Subskill Mastery Measurement and Classwide Intervention. Assessment for Effective Intervention. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1177/1534508419882484

Contributor: Amanda VanDerHeyden

Please cite as:

National Association of School Psychologists. (2020). Considerations for academic assessments and interventions upon a return to school [handout]. Author.

© 2020, National Association of School Psychologists, 4340 East West Highway, Suite 402, Bethesda, MD 20814, 301-657-0270, http://www.nasponline.org

School Reentry Considerations Supporting Student Social and Emotional Learning and Mental and Behavioral Health Amidst COVID-19 via NASP and ASCA

NASP and the American School Counselor Association has released guidance for SEL and school re-entry considerations. This is a timely resource as we know all districts are in the process of planning for reentry. Please share it with your district leadership teams. I love how NASP is always NASPing.

Link to School Reentry Considerations Supporting Student Social and Emotional Learning and Mental and Behavioral Health Amidst COVID-19

Strengthening Positive Parenting Practices During a Public Health Crisis (NASP Article)

Latino Dads Improve Parenting Skills By Reading To Their Kids : Shots - Health News : NPR

Strengthening Positive Parenting Practices During a Public Health Crisis
— Read on https://www.nasponline.org/resources-and-publications/resources-and-podcasts/covid-19-resource-center/special-education-resources/strengthening-positive-parenting-practices-during-a-public-health-crisis

Link to PDF: Here

Strengthening Positive Parenting Practices During a Public Health Crisis

PART 1: INTRODUCTION

During these times of stress and uncertainty, it can feel like our worlds have been turned upside down. This is not only true of service providers, students, and teachers, but also the families we serve. We know that increased stressors including job insecurity, housing insecurity, and generalized anxiety regarding health can impact the wellness of all members of the family system. Similarly, when one member of a family group is experiencing distress, this can cause shifts in the behavior, thinking, and relatedness of other members of the system (Bowen, 1966; Boyd-Franklin & Bry, 2012). With great levels of stress, risky parenting behaviors may come to the fore. Cumulatively, these risky parenting behaviors—even when they do not rise to the level of reportable abuse or neglect—remain a significant societal problem, and the likelihood for it to increase may be exacerbated by global crises and stressors.

In most cases, parents are able to maintain safe parenting practices, even during difficult times. A lot of parents are feeling overwhelmed and emotionally exhausted. In fact, many feel like they are not being the kind of parents they want to be or typically are. One of the first steps we can take in building partnerships is to validate and normalize parents’ reactions and experiences. Reminding parents that their feelings are normal reactions to a very abnormal situation can be invaluable. Alternatively, some parents are experiencing extraordinary distress, and they may make parenting choices that are less than optimal. In these situations, there may be a need to recognize and respond to suspicions of child maltreatment. The first step in responding to risky parenting practices is to work to enhance parenting capacity, to help families succeed and thrive. Understanding that parents and caregivers desire and want to be better parents is instrumental in helping them succeed (Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina, 2018). One of the most important roles of the school psychologist in supporting families is to mitigate risk factors and enhance protective factors. Such a framework can decrease the likelihood of abuse, maltreatment, and neglect and help families thrive.

Increasing Protective Factors

  1. Parental Resilience: Parenting is hard and all parents will encounter crises at some point, but parents who can weather the challenges and bounce back have safer, healthier children. School psychologists can promote parental resilience through promoting basic problem-solving skills, providing crisis support as needed, and helping parents access needed resources and community supports.
  2. Social Connections: Parenting is much easier if parents don’t do it all alone. Having a support network is important for a person’s social and emotional needs. Parents connected to community and friends are better able to meet children’s needs. Promoting virtual or phone contact between parents and support networks can ease parental distress, and can support and strengthen healthy parenting practices.
  3. Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development: Knowing what milestones are coming and how to effectively deal with them help prepare parents to care for their children. Knowledge of parenting and child development is like having directions to find your destination rather than hoping the signs you need will be clear and visible.
  4. Concrete Support in Times of Need: We all need a hand now and then. Parents who have dependable support and are not afraid to turn to others for help are less likely to be involved in abuse and neglect. Thus, supporting parents in reaching out to community supports can strengthen parental well-being and improve child-rearing practices.
  5. Social and Emotional Competence of Children: Many of the activities professionals do with children promote a child’s ability to interact positively with others and parents’ ability to nurture that development. Giving a child language to express his or her emotions, role modeling how to respond sensitively to a child, and promoting attachment and bonding between parents and children are all ways to help prevent child maltreatment (Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina, 2018).

PART 2: THE ROLE OF THE SCHOOL PSYCHOLOGIST

Begin with asking, “What can I do?” Many of us are feeling equally overwhelmed by the unexpected stressors brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Reflect on how you have functioned in your role and consider how your skills can be best utilized given the limitations of remote learning. Developing your own professional action plan will help you address the mountain of need one pebble at a time, thus helping you be more effective in your work and at the same time reducing unnecessary stress and anxiety that can arise out of uncertainty.

Action Plan

  1. Reflect on the needs of your individual school and the children/families you serve.
  2. Consider your role and function as a school psychologist within the present societal context.
  3. Identify ways in which you can support families and children proactively.
  4. Identify ways in which you can support teachers or other school officials as they engage with their students.
  5. Create weekly benchmarks and regularly review whether you are making progress toward goals.

As schools operate through a remote learning format, school psychologists can support families in managing stressors through both prevention and intervention frameworks. Our unique skill set equips us to examine our schools from the perspective of individuals and communities and help identify and connect those in need with the support necessary to help families maintain their emotional health. Be a STAR during this challenging time, and use this parent training practice to support the families you are working with.

Teach Your Parents to Stop, Think, Act, and Reflect Parent Response/Feedback to the Activity
S Stop: (A) Have the parent identify when they are about to lose their temper with their kids. Coach the parent to take a brief break before responding to their children. (B) Ask the parent: What has been causing you to “lose your cool” recently in your interactions with your kid(s)? (A)

 

 

(B)

T Think: (A) Have the parent identify alternative manners to respond to challenging child behaviors. (B) Ask the parent: How can you respond differently to your child(ren) when they behave in ways you believe are inappropriate? (A)

 

(B)

A Act: Have the parent try out their new strategy. (A) How did things go when you tried your new strategy? (A)
R Reflect: Have the parent reflect on what went right and what can be improved when they tried out their new response to their children’s challenging behavior(s).(A) What can you do differently next time to more effectively parent your child(ren) when they are engaging in this challenging behavior(s)? (A)

PART 3: PRACTICAL ACTION STEPS

Parents want what is best for their children. Unfortunately, stress and stressors can get in the way and impede healthy parenting. The COVID-19 pandemic is resulting in huge stress for families. Direct and indirect fallout from the pandemic can sometimes result in parents interacting with their children in ways they may later regret. Here are some tips school psychologists can share with stressed out parents during these difficult times.

Assessing Parenting Stress Levels

How parents handle stress, including the fallout from COVID-19, can contribute to risky parenting behaviors. One way to help parents is to teach them self-monitoring of their distress. Parents can rate their stress level, through a simple thermometer metaphor. Teach parents to ask themselves: “On a scale of 1–10, how stressed out am I feeling at the moment?” Have the parent identify two or three simple coping skills they regularly use, which they could use quickly and easily to destress. This includes brief activities such as listening to music, playing a video game, or taking a walk in the backyard. Set up a system where parents complete this self-assessment a few times throughout the day. When stress levels are high, have parents use one of their identified coping skills. You can find a feelings thermometer and many useful cognitive–behavioral therapy (CBT) worksheets online here. Also, reputable CBT and psychoeducation worksheets that can be helpful when working with parents and families can be found here.

In addition to assessing current stress levels, there are other steps we can take to better understand and address the needs of the families school psychologists support. As we seek to support all families, it may become apparent that specific families need more direct care. Your parents may find websites on how to start an individual mindfulness practice or on parental mindfulness helpful. To better understand these specific contextual needs of our families, consider the following.

  1. Assess parent/family stress and resources: Conduct a brief needs assessment to identify primary areas of concern (food insecurity, housing insecurity, stress management, managing remote learning, family dynamics). A needs assessment is a systematic process to identify or determine family needs, and to identify barriers impeding access to needed resources. Identifying the discrepancy between the current condition and the desired one should be prioritized by you as the school psychologist, so that you can provide the tools and resources that can best mitigate the discrepancies between current and desired conditions.
  2. Safety Plan: Support the family in developing a safety plan. This plan should clearly describe challenges to safety of family members and steps that can be taken to manage threats to a parent or child’s safety. A safety plan is designed to mitigate threats to a family member’s safety using the least intrusive means possible. Here is an example of a safety plan.
  3. Check in: Identify school personnel or other individuals who can conduct regular meetings with the family to assess family temperature and continue to clarify strengths and needs. This could be school or community social workers, case workers, or a trusted professional or community member with the training and expertise to help strengthen families.

Promote Positive Communication

Good communication between parents and children is critical for developing a positive parent–child relationship and for subsequent development. If you notice coercive, concerning, or poor quality communication or parenting behaviors occurring in the family home, work with the parent(s) to emphasize basic parent training strategies. Basic parent training strategies you can share with parents you are working with include:

  1. Praise: Teach parents to praise their kids regularly for demonstrating a strong effort or doing something right. Remind the parents you are supporting that the more frequently they praise a behavior, the more likely it is their child will behave the same way again.
  2. Mindful Parenting: Promote the value of present moment engagement as it pertains to parent–child interactions. Emphasize to parents that providing their full attention to their children, to what is happening in the here-and-now, will help them better understand what their children are thinking and feeling, lessen disagreement, and strengthen the parent–child bond.
  3. Active Listening: Active listening is a useful tool to promote positive parenting practices. When school psychologists provide psychoeducation on active listening, parents learn how to listen, both verbally and nonverbally, to strengthen their relationships with their children and others. Providing psychoeducation to parents regarding how to reflect back the words, sentiments, or emotions expressed by the child can make active listening particularly effective in promoting communication.
  4. Child-Led Play or Special Time Together: Reinforce to parents the power of time spent together with their children. Regular (even short) periods of play with younger children or parent–child activities with older children and adolescents can strengthen communication and the overall parent–child relationship.
  5. Ignoring: Ignoring can help quickly end attention-seeking behaviors such as whining or tantrums. Ignoring is an active practice. This will require ongoing work and support with parents. However, teaching parents to ignore attention seeking behaviors can help end challenging behaviors by the child early, before they escalate and cause upheaval within the household. You as the school psychologist should work with the parent to teach them how to remove attention from the child and the negative behavior(s) they are exhibiting, to promote stress and relaxation within the household.

PART 4: INTENSIVE AND INDIVIDUALIZED INTERVENTION

Even with robust support and interventions in place, there is a possibility that a small portion of the populations we serve may need more intensive interventions. The number of families who are engaging in risky parenting behaviors and who are at risk for engaging in child maltreatment or abuse may increase during times of global crisis. Intensive, individualized interventions—either immediately or at a later date—may be necessary for some families. When appropriate, the school psychologist may be able to provide these services directly. Your role also may include consultation and referral of the family to more focused and specialized clinical and community-based supports. While there are a wide range of choices to consider in intensive interventions, a sample of evidence-based interventions that may have utility in supporting families in distress who may be engaging in risky parenting behaviors include the following.

Interventions Focused on Young Children Birth to Age 5

  1. Attachment and Biobehavioral Catch-up (ABC)
  2. Child–Parent Psychotherapy (CPP)
  3. Parent–Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT)
  4. Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care for Preschoolers (MTFC)
  5. The Incredible Years* (IY)
  6. Triple-P* (PPP)

*Modules and research also support these programs with older children (i.e., middle childhood and adolescence).

Interventions Focused on Middle Childhood and Adolescence

  1. Trauma-Focused Cognitive–Behavioral Therapy
  2. Alternatives for Families: A Cognitive–Behavioral Therapy
  3. Multisystemic Therapy – for Child Abuse and Neglect
  4. DBT Skills

PART 5: ENSURING CHILD AND FAMILY SAFETY

The COVID-19 pandemic is impacting families in unalterable ways. For many families, loss of employment, social isolation, and myriad other challenges brought forward through the pandemic are increasing family distress. These challenges will likely continue and possibly even worsen in the coming months. School psychologists will encounter family dynamics in new and profound manners through teletherapy. While most encounters will be adaptive, healthy, or even humorous, others may expose the school psychologist to the escalating stress and challenges experienced by many families. At times such unwitting encounters may even result in school psychologists who witness events, interactions, or behaviors that rise to the level of a reportable offense. Remember, as school psychologists we are all mandated reporters. Thus, we must be prepared to contact our statewide child protective services office should we observe anything in the home through teletherapy services that raises a reasonable suspicion of child maltreatment.

Parents and families generally want what is best for their children. When parents and caregivers are under duress, their ability to engage in healthy parenting practices may decline. It is important that we consider the robust and broad risk and protective factors that may impact child rearing and caregiving capabilities. During times of global health or related crises, such as COVID-19, school psychologists play a key role in strengthening families. With their breadth and depth of knowledge, school psychologists must strive to use their skills to promote healthy parenting behaviors.

RESOURCES: Help and Safety Contacts/Hotlines

References

Boyd-Franklin, N., & Bry, B. H. (2012). Reaching out in family therapy: Home-based, school, and community interventions. Guilford Press.

Bowen, M. (1966). The use of family theory in clinical practice. Comprehensive psychiatry, 7(5), 345–374.

Prevent Child Abuse, North Carolina. (2018). Recognizing and Responding to Suspicions of Child Maltreatment: A Training for Adults Working with Children and Families. (Retrieved from https://preventchildabusenc-lms.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/RR-full_2018.pdf)

Contributors: Kirby Wycoff, Michele Messer, and Aaron Gubi

Please cite as: National Association of School Psychologists. (2020). Strengthening positive parenting practices during a public health crisis [handout]. Author.

© 2020, National Association of School Psychologists, 4340 East West Highway, Suite 402, Bethesda, MD 20814, 301-657-0270, http://www.nasponline.org

COVID-19 Resources for Parents of Children with Intellectual or Other Developmental Disabilities – From The STRYDD Center

Overview PDF

A Guide For Families with A Child with An Intellectual and/orDevelopmental Disability During the Covid-19 Pandemic
From The STRYDD Center–Supporting Trauma Recovery for Youth with Developmental Disabilities
Long Island Jewish Medical Center, Northwell Health System
April, 2020
To support your child who has special needs during this time:
1. Help your child understand the changes that are happening. Give your child opportunities to express concerns. Children’s understanding of the challenges we are all experiencing and the changes to their routine will vary depending on their age, developmental status, and special needs issues. Younger children may have worries based on concrete reasoning and beliefs. Young children have a tendency to be “egocentric” in the sense of overestimating the child’s own role in “causing” events. For example, a 6-year-old wondered whether her having had a non-coronavirus illness was why no one could go to her school. An older child may develop misunderstandings based on “all-or-nothing” thinking, such a boy’s belief that because of his (mild) asthma if infected with COVID-19 he would certainly die. Sometimes teens with cognitive delays pass misunderstandings back and forth within their peer group (even if they are only communicating remotely). At all ages, children may have some misunderstandings that need clarifying. We will provide resources available at various developmental levels to explain and reinforce understanding of current changes.
Some general principles:
 Give your child an opportunity to express feelings, ask questions, and voice concerns.
 Some children may not use words to express concerns, but their play or drawings may provide strong clues, such as when a child starts acting out stories about people being sick when the child had not been doing this previously. For some children, expression of concerns is less direct but will be shown in behavior changes (as discussed further below).
 In addressing concerns, choose a time and place that works for you and your child. If you can, address simple questions when your child brings them up, but it is ok to let the child know you will talk further later. For some children, having a regular time and place will help them develop awareness of thoughts and feelings that they may not think of otherwise. For these children, a visual calendar may help keep this routine as well as reduce anxieties about what comes next in the day or week. (See below re: routines.)
 Give accurate information, but at your child’s level of understanding. Use concrete language for young children, those with cognitive delays, and those with difficulty with abstract language. When possible, do this in a conversation that allows you to check what your child has understood and follow up over time.
 Be honest. It is ok to let your child know when you do not have answers (such as, when school will open). Share that you will let your child know when you find out.
 For some children, visual support such as a simple social story can be helpful. Also, consider using resources developed in a variety of mediums such as children’s books, simple videos developed to address specific issues and children’s toys to illustrate and to help your child understand. (We provide COVID-19 related stories in our resource materials.) For a child who demonstrates concerns in play, you may also be able to respond, at least initially, in that medium. For example, for the child who is acting out themes about people getting sick, depending on the situations to which the child was exposed, you might role play actions a family member or a doctor takes to help people who are sick get better. You could also read a book or share through words the actions people take. Use materials at your child’s level of understanding that also fit your child’s preferred communication style. For example, a young teen with significant cognitive delay was very proud of his reading skills. He loved reading books designed for much younger children that used pictures and words to address concerns. In contrast, a boy with a significant reading disability and language processing issues was not interested in looking at most of those books, declaring them to be “for babies,” but would talk about issues when they could be related to sports—an area in which he excelled.
 Limit your child’s exposure to media discussions and adult conversations about COVID-19. The information may be confusing to young children and those with cognitive delays—and too much exposure is likely to heighten anxiety. Try to check what your child heard and what the child understood. Clarify misperceptions and address concerns. Remember that “out of sight is not necessarily “out of earshot.” For example, a parent who was talking on the phone about the illness of a family friend thought she was having an “adult only” conversation since her
children were in a different room; she was startled when her daughter asked a little later how the friend was doing. There is more opportunity for this to happen during periods of COVID-19 “sheltering in place” with many parents and children at home when they would have been at work or school.
2. Consider the changes your child is experiencing. Changes may include losses such as limited contact with important people (for example, grandparents or significant providers), or lost opportunities for activities to which your child was looking forward. Try to help your child with strategies for compensating when this is possible—and remind your child that many of the changes are time-limited.
3. Maintain structure and routines.
 Try to maintain routines for your child. Build on old ones when practical, establish new ones when necessary. This helps establish some predictability in a changing world. For example, a mother reported that her family’s days were working better when she restructured “shelter in place” weekdays to follow the family’s school day morning routines about getting dressed, eating, and then going to a specific place set up for learning (but in her house rather than the school building). You know your own child and your child’s best balance between structure and flexibility. To the extent possible, try to honor this.
 In planning your family schedule, do take into account needs of all family members—including your own!
4. Support emotional expression and emotional coping skills. Acknowledge and accept your child’s feelings—for example, saying that you can understand that your child might be sad (about missing someone the child cannot see or something the child cannot do) or might be frightened by some part of the situation. The resource materials provide many suggestions for aiding emotional expression and coping. Tailor them to your child’s skills and preferences. For example, the mother
of a ten-year-old boy who has autism noticed that her son—although very verbal–could express feelings and talk about them more readily when he could draw simple illustrations (often with simple cartoon-like stick figures). He made a poster of strategies he knew, including ones developed with his school counselor, to help him calm down and then was able to discuss which ones would work best at home.
5. Remember that all behavior is communication. If you are seeing an increase in behavioral problems such as irritability, a return to less mature behaviors, disruption in sleep or eating patterns, or physical complaints that on checking do not seem to have a physical basis, consider the following:
 Is there something in the current situation that is confusing or frightening to your child? (Please see first section on talking with your child).
 Is the behavior, although seeming like a step backwards, actually a request for reassurance that can be ok (on a temporary basis) for this situation—such as a child who had been sleeping on her own seeking the reassurance of coming into her parents’ bed?
 How are you doing with providing some structure and routines for your child?
 How are you doing with self-care? Your needs are very important and should be balanced with those of your child. Most children will pick up on and react to a parent’s level of stress.
Manage your own anxiety – breathe, take a break, talk to someone, don’t expect too much of yourself or your child at this time.
6. Cope with the move—at least temporarily—to a virtual world for education and many resources.
 On-line access: We provide information about a resource for families with limited on-line access.
 Education: With many school systems moving at least temporarily to virtual learning, parents are reporting a range of experiences for their children who are supposed to receive educational accommodations or related services such as speech therapy or occupational therapy.
 If you have access to your providers, please work with them on expectations and guidance for services for your child. Discuss any special issues you may be having, such as dealing with your child’s understanding of or compliance with on-line learning.
 If you do not have access to your providers, we list and briefly describe some of the many sites that provide support for structured learning activities.
 Educational entitlement: As of April 2020, schools that are providing instruction are still required to provide accommodations for your child’s special needs, as specified on IEPs and 504 plans—although there is discussion of possible future “waivers” (at least temporary changes in some of the rules). We provide links regarding educational rights and issues.
 Other services you may be receiving: Your child may have been receiving Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) services, or your family may be entitled to other in-home services. Check with  your service providers about what they are able to offer, which can depend on a range of factors. Some in-home services are considered “essential services” that may be provided during social distancing, when providers are available. Some providers may be able to provide “virtual” (on-line) consultation during social distancing. Know your rights. (See information under educational access in the accompanying resource list).
7. Reinforce your child’s skill development—by everyday activities as well as formal learning.
8. Maintain socialization and social skills
 Encourage “play dates” or check-ins via video meeting software or other means, where possible.
 Use appropriate cautions concerning supervision of children’s interactions online including online gaming – there is a great deal of socializing going on right now. Children with disabilities can be teased, bullied, or manipulated – they may also obtain much needed social
support on such platforms. This might mean supervising or considering parental controls to monitor/control access to sites. See Parents’ Ultimate Guide to Parental Controls.
9. When needed, get information about how to deal with children’s health issues, including special health care needs in the current context: Many children with disabilities have special health care needs. Dealing with these needs can be challenging and may be more stressful during the pandemic. We provide resources to help address this issue.
10. Support your child with serious illness or death of a loved one: Your family may be experiencing the loss of people who have played an important role in your child’s life—such as a parent, grandparent, or extended family member, or teachers and other significant individuals. This can have a strong effect on children—including very young children and those with significant delays. We provide material on addressing your child’s response to separation, illness and loss.
11.Parent self-care: You are responding to your child with special needs in the context of your family’s other challenges. In addition to ongoing individual and family needs, many parents are coping with new work challenges (such as working at home, risks as an “essential worker,” or loss of work), financial uncertainties and hardships, and/or illness and loss of loved ones. Remember that taking care of yourself is critical for being able to also respond to your child’s needs. We provide
resources that address issues of self-care and balancing needs.

Resources

COVID-19 Resources for Parents of Children with Intellectual or Other Developmental Disabilities PDF