Using Everyday Routines to Coach Families

I am so excited to share with you two books that I cannot seem to get enough of during this quarantine.  Most likely, some or all of your work has been based around teleservices of some kind.  The challenges that come with that type of service, especially with our youngest learners can be daunting!  You might be experiencing fleeting engagement and attention spans, parents trying to keep a household together while showing up for a session, and the list goes on!  This experience has opened up more conversation and deepened relationships with families as many have no other choice but to work through tantrums and find new ways to connect with their child. Maybe you are thinking to yourself, “I don’t even know what to tell this family because it’s hard not physically being there”.  This is natural, and OK!  Shift your mindset, because you ARE good at your job and you have only been in this new position of teleservices for about 10 weeks or so!  I wanted to share some ideas with you that might make you feel more empowered when working with kiddos that don’t have the tolerance to sit for a session-I am here to inspire you to take on that coaching role!

I Don’t Know How to Be a Coach

Coaching is simply being responsible for training in one way or another, instructing relevant skills, and providing encouragement.  Oh wait…you do that, already don’t you? Yes, you do! If we can all work on our coaching craft with families then you have now inspired empowerment.  A family does not have to rely on only the teacher being able to get their child through a routine or a tantrum over a transition.  Here are a few helpful hints:

  • Ask the parent to think about something they would like to see their child doing more of (ie: using words or pointing to something) and some things they want to see less of (tantrums). That can be a great starting point for knowing what to prepare for sessions.
  • Use reinforcing routines in the day to inspire. For example, the parent would like their child to tell them what they want instead of making choices for them. Use this to help you with scheduling times: ie: schedule their session during snack or lunch time.
  • Use positive specific praise as feedback. Encouraging families with, “Mom great job waiting until she looked at you before giving the snack.”
  • Pick 1-2 strategies to work on with a family and practice with them. For example, maybe you’re going to teach the family how to play “Good Morning Elmo” during your session and they’ll repeat it during morning or nap time wake up. 

Homemade Books

 As you might be able to tell, I am passionate about empowering families with building skills using their everyday routines.  This is THEIR baby.  They need to feel confident in knowing that they are their child’s best teacher!  An idea that I found in the AMAZING book, The Activity Kit for Babies and Toddlers at Risk is Homemade Books.  I am sure you are used to making social stories for your students and families and these books take a similar approach.  They’re meant to help children learn about themselves and their world by using the repetitive language approach.  Check out the video to learn more!

Must Read Early Childhood Books

Over the next few months I want to really highlight some of the incredible ideas these two books have to offer.  The first one that I am obsessed with is The Activity Kit for Babies and Toddlers at Risk.  I love this book so much because it’s an easy read, explains the features of common delays and Autism Spectrum characteristics, and gives real world examples for families to use.  What more could we all need right now? The second book I love is An Early Start for Your Child with Autism.  This book is written for parents (and service providers) using such a friendly language.  Again, it uses everyday activities that do not require additional costs to families, you use what you have in your home already! Happy Coaching!

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