The ink has barely dried on my Beach Themed blog posts and already I’m realizing people are posting first day of school pics of their kids. That can only mean one thing – it’s back to school time!

Looks like it’s time to shift gears.

I’m excited, though, because at the end of August I’ll be starting a new position providing group music therapy services at the Children’s Resource Center, a school for children with special needs in Miami.

I’m thrilled about this, because since leaving my job at United Cerebral Palsy of Miami, I’ve really missed providing group sessions in the school setting.

This upcoming change already has my wheels turning for new session ideas. And although I have a TON of homemade props and visuals, I am always on the lookout for new materials that I can bring into my sessions.

This week I’ve been thinking about a few ways you can get geared up for the new school year if you work with children and teens with special needs too:

1. Go straight to the Dollar Section of Target. I don’t know about you, but I love perusing the aisles of Target. Even if there are only three things on my list, I always somehow manage to check out with an entire cartful of things. My last trip was no exception. I immediately hit the Dollar Section and it was a GOLD MINE!

Check out the picture at the top of this post. There are flash cards for everything from the alphabet to the U.S. presidents to dinosaurs. I found large colorful calendars with stick-on pieces for the days of the week and months of the year. I found a felt map of the United States with cutouts of each state and a special landmark you can find in each one. I found little games and visuals to help with spelling, counting, and numeral recognition. Even lacing games to work on fine motor skills! I really had to stop myself from cleaning out the entire aisle.

2. Check out the E-Course Tune In To Teens. Tune In To Teens is a 5-hour video CMTE course that I designed for music therapists based on feedback I was getting about what would be most helpful for them when session planning. The course includes an entire section on how to find music that’s appropriate and appealing for teen clients. The course also includes a vast amount of intervention ideas that can be tweaked and adapted to fit a wide variety of levels and needs. And participants have lifetime access to the course forum where we continue to share new session ideas and pop songs we like. Have you checked out this one by JT yet?

Course Forum

You can click here to learn more about what’s inside the Tune In To Teens E-Course and to enroll OR watch video of a sneak peak into the course here.

3. Incorporate a Back to School Book ‘n Song. While at story time with my 2-year-old last week I came across a book that would be perfect to use with young clients on the first day of school. It’s a book based on the tune we all know, “Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush.” But there are extra verses added about the first day of school. It’s perfect for children who might be a little overwhelmed and apprehensive about the whole experience.

Mulberry Bush

4. Introduce a Back to School “Get To Know Ya” Song.  I wrote “It’s the First Day of School” a few years ago to help the children (and me!) learn the names of everyone in their class. The song also provides the opportunity for children to work on expressive language skills by prompting the child to say “My name is _________.” You can take a listen to that song by clicking here and scrolling down to the audio player.

There you have it – a few ideas to help you gear up for back to school time.

What ideas do you have for easing into the first day and first few weeks of school? I’d love to hear in the comments below.