Executive Functioning for Beginners

A piece by Nicole Bediako, Doctor Franklin Perkins School Occupational Therapist.

Hello! My name is Nicole Bediako and I’m an occupational therapist here at DFPS. I am also a mother of two small children, one toddler and one very active third grader. These times have shaken us to our very foundation. As an OT providing virtual sessions, I find myself blurring the sacred line of home versus school. All of my systems and routines that were so well established in my office have gone out the window. As a mother, I now find myself (like you) now taking on the role of teacher, technology specialist, coordinator, and regulator all in one. “Exhausting” doesn’t quite capture it – perhaps “a sturdy ship at the mercy of the Atlantic ocean during hurricane season” does?

One thing I do know is that we are all doing the very best we can. Our brains have never encountered this before. Our bodies are relying on the signals of a brain that is trying its best to keep up. There are some silver linings! Our brain is hardwired with some “cheats” that can help us despite the amount of current stress and/or lack of control we may be feeling. It all comes down to a word that we all know, but often forget – the importance of routine.

Routine builds a sense of achievement. It’s important to feel accomplished even in the “little things.” For our kiddos, include personal care tasks in a routine. Ride that momentum!

Start small. Instead of scheduling every half hour between wake up and bedtime, try scheduling the following: wake up time/bedtime, morning hygiene, meals, time outside, scheduled “productive times,” and at least 30 minutes to unplug and connect (I know it’s hard to not answer those emails that you hear on your cell phone!) Schedule time for fun. This doesn’t have to be a perfectly planned game night if that’s not your thing…watch some funny outtakes or google some easy Minute to Win It games. My son likes a schedule but he loves a checklist and then a simple activity when all the things are checked off. Try putting post-its along a wall with the last one being something you and your child both enjoy. Having a goal is helpful and with the added visual of making progress as you rip those post-its off the wall this can be great for those kiddos (and adults) that need immediate gratification.

Don’t make your frontal lobe work harder than it has to. This area of the brain is where all the planning, problem-solving, and thinking take place. Keep all school or work materials in one place. This is hard! But having things accessible will help both you and your child…our goal is to lessen the question “hey, where is my..?”

In my house we have begun a brief morning meeting, no more than 15 minutes. This helps us to map out what we have for that day and has helped to “share the load” between my children and me. It also is a perfect time to review the day’s routine.

Predictability and rhythm are naturally regulating for most adults and children. Pick at least 3 times of the day where the same thing happens. Some things we have implemented in our house is an after lunch backyard break, 3 o’clock sit down snack and every Friday is pizza and a movie. These are also times to connect and get on the same page as much as possible.

This is not a perfect prescription on how to get your child engaged in a full day of academics. I can’t promise that he/she will put away the video games and request to go for a walk. I choose to focus on small successes and those days where we stick to even 50% of our “schedule”. Thank you for reading. You are doing an amazing job!

 

Perkins COVID-19 Emergency Fund

We’re so grateful to be able to count on our strong and resilient Perkins community and we hope that you and yours are healthy and well as we all navigate these unsettling times. Our 24-hour residential programs for children, adults, and elders remain open, operating with caution and care to protect our residents and staff. They areContinue Reading

Online Family Resources

The following list of resources for families is a mere sample of the many wonderful options available online for children and adults of all ages and abilities to learn, engage, stay active, and be healthy during this unusual time. We have chosen them based on their fit for the students, adults, and families in our Perkins community, but weContinue Reading

Perkins CDC to Offer Free Emergency Child Care

Perkins Child Development Center to Offer Free Emergency Child Care Drop-in Child Care for Essential Employees and First Responders Starting Wednesday, April 1st (2020), the Perkins Child Development Center has been approved by the Department of Early Education and Care to open as an Emergency Child Care Program. This is a FREE drop-in program for those who meet the essential personnel qualificationsContinue Reading

As I See It: Power, strength of human spirit on display at Perkins School

Op-Ed by Perkins President & CEO, Michael Ames, published in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette. The stock market has dropped by over 30% since its peak in mid-February, schools have shut down, Gov. Charlie Baker has issued a stay-at-home advisory and a mandatory shutdown of non-essential businesses, and confirmed cases of Covid-19 are increasing atContinue Reading

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates

COVID-19 Updates for the Perkins Community (Last updated April 23, 2020) As Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread rapidly across communities and is an evolving situation for all of us, including Perkins, we have been and will continue to consult with State officials and our medical advisors to ensure the best and safest care for all that we workContinue Reading

2019 Annual Report – Enjoy!

We are honored to share our 2019 Annual Report, Working Together, highlighting the power of collaboration at Perkins. We are so proud of the people, teams, and programs described within. As we reflect upon another great year, we are –as always– especially appreciative to the individuals we serve, as well as their families, for their partnershipContinue Reading

Perkins Rein in A Dream to Upgrade and Expand Facilities

“They have amazing patience, caring, and understanding for each child that walks into the barn. I am thankful to Perkins for all they have done for my son.” Rein in A Dream has big news! We are excited to announce that we are planning to expand and upgrade our Rein in A Dream facilities in orderContinue Reading

Black Friday. Small Business Saturday. Cyber Monday. #GivingTuesday.

Please consider a #GIVINGTUESDAY gift to Perkins today. Together, we can help the children and adults Perkins educates and cares for grow strong, develop independence, and discover joy in environments that nourish minds, bodies, and souls. Your donation makes a difference in the lives of vulnerable individuals by enhancing the programs and services they count onContinue Reading

Perkins Conroy Speakers Series 2019-2020 Season Announced

Perkins announces their 2019-2020 Dr. Charles P. Conroy Speakers Series lineup, three installments held on their Lancaster campus in the Janeway Auditorium located at 975 Main Street. Conroy Speakers Series events are free and open to the public. This year’s lineup is sponsored by Presenting Sponsors The Shine Initiative and UMass Memorial Health Alliance –Continue Reading