July 15, 2020 | Comments Off on Playing To Their Strengths: Virtual Day Treatment
Alexander Youth Network is supporting academics and learning through technology.
Since March, our Day Treatment programs have seen a significant shift in how we provide this service. The structured academic and therapeutic environment has shifted to almost complete remote sessions for the 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. program, except for weekly check-in’s which can be in person (socially distanced) if a family requests. Yet, the new virtual environment has not stopped our kids from receiving the supports they need and thriving in Day Treatment.
Many of our Day Treatment teachers and managers have noticed that the virtual environment has contributed to more successes within their programs. Using resources like Google Classroom, DoxyMe, Facetime, and Zoom have allowed therapists and teachers to learn more about our children’s strengths, weaknesses, and challenges outside of the classroom. Having a more in-depth understanding of what life is like at home for our kids allows us to find innovative ways to tailor our program and resources to each child. Following the Alexander Model of Care and our person-centered plans for each child is only enhanced by being able to better meet the needs of each kid in our programs.
“The heavy use of technology has let our kids play to their strengths but also challenge them.” – Courtney Hayes, Charlotte Day Treatment Teacher
Hayes mentions that while the transition to Google Classroom was initially tough for many of her students, they were willing and excited to teach her all of the new features. They have also been excited about the versatility of assignments and projects. Operating virtually has allowed for more group work to practice social compatibility skills and gives Hayes more opportunity to provide in-depth one on one support without worrying about leading a full 20 person class.
In one case, in particular, this new approach actually helped the student in reaching treatment goals. In the past, this student used technology to escape from the classroom and social environments, but by switching to the virtual technology it has provided a unique challenge that has engaged the student in new ways. Hayes recounts that for this student the new classroom set-up has presented the challenge of staying within academic boundaries during sessions versus things like surfing the web or watching TikToks. As this student has worked on developing this new discipline, he has successfully met this goal over the past few months and this has led to success in meeting other treatment goals which include establishing relationships with friends and family members.
In addition to child and program successes, we have seen a significant increase in parent/ guardian participation. Parents are actively scheduling one on ones with counselors and teachers but also joining community events. Recently the Charlotte Day Treatment team hosted a virtual movie night and had almost all of their parents/guardians join.
“A virtual night offers parents/guardians a less formal way to engage with Alexander. Instead of a child and family team meeting, it lets us touch base with parents and kids with creating a community amongst all of our kids and parents.” – Courtney Hayes
When school starts back up in the fall we are unsure of how things will look in our schools, but regardless of what happens, we do know that many of our teachers and managers would love to continue utilizing the virtual technologies in our programming. So while the challenge of transitioning to remote life may not have been ideal, it has provided an opportunity for growth for Alexander and our kids. We look forward to seeing how our kids continue to grow and become resilient during this time of change.
Written by Emily Gordon.