Today is the last day of National Recreational Therapy Month. Time passes so fast! It seems like a good time to explain how Therapeutic Recreation fits into the academic tutoring at TRCTutor. Many people are familiar with Therapeutic Recreation and sports and activities for children with special needs. RTs (they are the people who provide Therapeutic Recreation) often work with wheelchair teams, aquatics, horses, ropes courses, arts and crafts, music, and other typical recreational activities for people who have disabilities. They also work in hospitals, schools, nursing homes, rehabilitation programs, private and public agencies. Therapeutic Recreation is the related service under the Federal IDEA legislation for schools. What most people do not know is that RTs also work with stress management, relaxation training, anxiety, anger management, self -destructive behaviors, behavioral management, teaching social skills, group behaviors, sensory activities, wellness, and community inclusion. This is just the short list. Contact your local Recreational Therapist, state organizations, the North Carolina Board of Recreational Therapy Licensure, National Council of Therapeutic Recreation Certification, or ATRA to learn more. That’s enough general information about Recreational Therapy/Therapeutic Recreation. What does all of this have to do with TRCTutor?
At TRCTutor, I work in collaboration with a child, his family, our academic director and teacher to ensure that services are provided in a seamless manner that will work in our tutoring system, at home, and at school. We specialize in tutoring the child who has severe anxiety which interferes with academic progress. Many of these children who are suffering from anxiety receive labels of ADHD, LD, ODD, OCD, Tourettes, Autism, Aspergers, BiPolar Disorder, Behavior Disorders, and other disorders. Some of these children are in gifted and talented programs and some are in self-contained special education classrooms, but most are in regular classrooms.
When a child comes into their session, I check-in with the child and parent about the past week and see how the day is going. Often during this time, I learn that the child’s class has moved on to new topics which are creating additional stress for the child. During the time we are discussing this change two things happen: 1) the tutor revamps his lesson plans to incorporate the new information and 2) I determine the best method to relax the child and lessen her anxiety. This may include breathing techniques, guided visualization, sensory activity, progressive muscle relaxation, physical activity, or other technique. The child and I will choose a fidget, a distractor, a puppet, or a stress technique he can use during the academic session. When the child is relaxed, the teacher will begin his session. My job also includes bringing the fun into the lesson. It is much more difficult for a child to be anxious while enjoying himself! We incorporate games, activities, arts, and things that bring “wow” into the lessons. TRCTutor uses all of the child’s learning styles to help explain academic information. Schools try, but often do not have the resources to use more than just sight (reading) and hearing (lecture) as their main teaching styles. Unfortunately, not all children learn primarily through sight and sound. When a child is unable to process new information through these main teaching methods, she begins to think that she is unable to learn and becomes very anxious at being put in a position of failure. We show the child how to learn, how to reduce stress, and how to deal with anxiety! Maybe our next blog will be from our educational director.