Back to School

I awoke this morning to a crisp, cool weather that reminds us that it’s almost that time of year again… Time to head back to school! What have you done to prepare for the first day of school? Are you taking a last minute vacation? Have you already started your school shopping? Well here are some tips from the staff of BDS to help make the first day of school a success.

Get those school supplies, but remember that each teacher may have their own list. However, items such as hand sanitizer and tissue are always welcome in classrooms.

Prepare a study space at home for children to do their homework in and make it conducive to learning. Let children take an active role in choosing the space as well a decorating it (if you can). This space can double as a space for therapy sessions. 

Get those sleep schedules back on track. We all allow children’s sleep patterns to get a bit off during their time out of school. Now is the time to get them back on track. Children should probably wake up or be woken up at the time they need to get up for school. 

In Maryland, children 4 and under are required nap time in school. If you know what time the school/classroom schedules naps, you may want to plan for that too. If you don’t know, try to get in contact with the school to find out when it will be. Remember, teachers go back before the students do.

Make meals match the school schedule. If you know what time your child will eat lunch at school, switch their lunch at home to that time. Include any snack times they would have at school. Once again, if you don’t know contact the school or teacher. 

Gentle reminders can help. Remind students that they are going to school next week. If your child does well with visual reminders, make a countdown calendar. 

Be creative with it. On the last page, put “The First Day of School 2019” with the date, a picture of the bus (if your child rides one) and the school. Include all fun facts about your child and don’t forget to take a picture of your child. 

Get your child to help you prepare for the first day. Have your student help lay out their clothes, fix their lunch (if they take one), and pack their backpack. These steps can also help with independence later in life. While you’re picking out clothing you can talk about colors, what the weather is supposed to be like for the week, and why the clothing is appropriate (think long pants versus shorts or long sleeves versus short sleeves). Take every opportunity you can to teach. 

Remember to lead with positivity and optimism. Discuss how you are both hoping for a great school year and how wonderful it will be to meet some new people or see some old ones. Students see so many people throughout their days. There are school administrative staff, teacher, other students, bus drivers, janitors, nurses… that’s a lot of people. I’m sure there are bound to be some old and new faces. 

We also want to talk about behaviors and skills the student will learn. Let your child know that you have some set expectations and goals in these areas. You may want to use phrases like, “I’m so excited to see what you learn this year and I’m expecting you to be on your best behavior.” If you think that is too much something like, “I’m really expecting the best from you,” might be the way to go. 

Most of us know what’s on the calendar for our students to learn this year, but we want to continuously provide encouragement and reinforcement for the behaviors and skills we want to see. Set your expectations high, but reasonable. I’m not expecting someone who is just learning to count to understand principles of macroeconomics by the end of the school year. 

If you need a bit more guidance and assistance getting ready for school, feel free to contact us at You can also give us a call at 855-255-5270. 

Wishing you a wonderful school year,

Barbara Erby-Young, BCBA, LBA

Preparing for Hazards: Emergency Protocols

As a follow up to my recent Emergency Protocol email, I wanted to post a few extra resources for people who were interested. I think it is important to prepare ourselves and our children for unseen emergencies.

While making a plan is important, practicing it is equally important. Knowing what to do in case of emergencies may help save your life, your child’s life, and that of any First Responders. If you would like a link to our Emergency Protocols form to help you prepare, feel free to email us at We will continue to add resources to this page as we locate them, so bookmark it for easy return.

Have a wonderful day and stay safe,




Build A Kit

How To Prepare For A Hurricane 

23 Tips To Help You Prepare For Tornado Season

Tips to Prepare for Tornado Season


Photo by Simon Maage on Unsplash

Thanks… Giving


With so much going on in the world around us, I hope you and your family are doing well. Everyone is off work at Breakthrough Developmental Services tomorrow for the Thanksgiving Holiday. We’re all excited to be able to spend time with our families and hope you enjoy your time with your own family.

You may not be familiar with some of the assignments I give people who are part of our Parent Coaching Program. So, I wanted to share one here… especially since tomorrow is Thanksgiving.

Sometimes families may have an assignment from my book Beginning Your Child’s Journey of Change. We intermix these with other assignments like the one below as a part of our programs to provoke thought and change mindsets.

This Week’s Assignment: In your journal, note 5 things you’re grateful for this week.

Give it a try and let me know what you think. Have a wonderful start to the holiday season.

Happy Thanksgiving!