This will certainly be an unprecedented back-to-school season - for students and parents alike! As parents, we're juggling so many responsibilities with fewer support systems in place. And we're trying to manage our own stress and concerns - as well as our kids'.

What does back-to-school look like in this "new normal"? As our children and teens head back to continued online learning, how can we best support them and set them up for success? We wanted to offer a few strategies to help. Check out these tips and recommended resources from some members of our team.

Interested in additional support this fall? We're here for you! Contact our Intake Coordinator at or 626-585-8075 ext. 108 to learn more about our individual, family, and group therapy options for all ages.

Stay positive! The one thing we can all agree on is that distance learning is not how any of us wanted to start the school year- yet, here we are. No matter how you feel about it, your attitude about it does impact your kids. As parents, we are the emotional barometer for our children. They take their cues from us - the more we can stay positive and engage, the more they will too.

  • Plan to do a check-in with your child at the start and end of the day, especially at the beginning of the school year. The more we stay in communication with our children about what is going on, the more we can stay on top of issues that may arise.

  • Seek additional support! If you notice that your child is experiencing high levels of anxiety, depression, or emotion dysregulation about distance learning, do not hesitate to reach out to your school or a mental health professional for extra help and support. The social and emotional challenges families are facing these days is significant. Don't worry alone; we are in this together. 

Licensed Psychologist (PSY 21136)

Although this school year feels a little different for kiddos, it can be helpful to capture some of their favorite back-to-school rituals, even if they are learning from home!

Setting out their favorite breakfast foods the first week, picking out a new back-to-school outfit, or investing in some fun school supplies are just a few ideas that can help bolster the sense of transition and create a more positive anticipation for a new season of learning.

Associate Marriage and Family Therapist (AMFT 115379)
Associate Professional Clinical Counselor (APCC 6798)
Supervised by Monica Valdivia Aguilar, MA LMFT (LMFT 41352)

Help your child set up different, engaging work environments such as a desk in her room, the kitchen table, or outside on the porch. Maybe one space is for online classes and another is for homework. This variety will break up monotony and energize her brain.

If possible, give little ones a stationary device. Desktops and laptops are less prone to falling over or being carried away by little hands.

And do anything that involves a lot of focus early in the day when the brain and body are rested.

Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist (LMFT 101031)

Talk to your kids about what to expect - what the typical daily schedule will be with their classes and your commitments, when you will be available to help, and what supplies they'll have on hand. Discuss their concerns now and make plan to address them.

We often refer parents to the excellent online learning resources developed by Common Sense Media. Check out these articles for tips on setting up for success and staying focused, customizable templates to get organized, and more!

Director of Community Education and Outreach

Back-to-school shopping may look a little different this year! Instead of new backpacks and lunchboxes, it may be helpful to focus on making your child's school and study space comfortable and inviting. That could mean new organization supplies, sensory toys, a plant, or personal decor that helps make the space truly your child's. 

Additionally, Forest is an app that helps you put down your phone and focus on what's important in your life. You build your virtual forest as you spend time focusing, and you even have the opportunity to plant a real life tree! You can purchase the app for $2 in the app store.

Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (CA) - LPCC 6029
Licensed Professional Counselor (AZ) - LPC 1897

  • If possible, have an option for a standing desk. Sitting all day can cause fatigue and we know it's hard on the body. A standing desk is a great alternative and is a good way to get teens out of their bed when in class. Another alternative is sitting on an exercise ball! This is a great way to add variety and stay "engaged"!

  • Purchase your teen a pair of blue light reflecting glasses, which help with screen fatigue and mitigate screen-induced headaches!

  • Encourage your teen to schedule regular walk and/or stretch breaks throughout the day.

  • Accept that this will be a challenge. Home school will not go perfectly; it will be hard and all the feelings that come up with that are normal. Honor the feelings and replace "but..." with "and also...." when trying to show your teen the dialectic of the stay-at-home order.

Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW 80637)

For teens, incorporating some form of movement within the daily online schedule will be key. It takes a lot of focus to learn online, and when our bodies are settled it can really help. 

Many teens I work with enjoy taking a mid-day break by putting on their headphones and listening to a great song while walking outside.

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT 92791)

For your high school students' virtual classes this year, change up the school supply purchases. Instead of a backpack, purchase a storage caddy that you can stock with pens, pencils, highlighters, a calculator, etc.!

If possible, designate three to four places around your home where classes can "take place" so your students can easily pick up and change the environment with each class. And consider purchasing a desk calendar or wall calendar to help keep assignments organized and easily seen. This is also a great place to write a message of encouragement or motivational quote to surprise your teens when they wake up and start the school day.

Additionally, did your teens' school sponsor spirit days? If so, create your own spirit days that your teens can organize with friends! Have everyone take a picture and share with the schoolā€™s social media page or website.

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All of our therapy services are being offered via telehealth online therapy during the coronavirus crisis. Telehealth can be a safe and effective way to connect with an experienced therapist via a secure video platform. For more information, please review our online therapy FAQs and therapist tips and our coronavirus practice plan and resources. 

Interested in individual therapy?
We offer strength-based therapy for individualsgroupscouples and families.

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Comprehensive assessments - psychological, neuropsychological, academic, and cognitive - are available as well.

To learn more, call us at 626-585-8075 ext. 108 or email
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95 N. Marengo Ave. Suite 100
Pasadena, CA 91101
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PLEASE NOTE: Nothing in what you find here should be construed as medical advice pertinent to any individual. As is true with all written materials, you must be the judge of what appears valid and useful for yourself. Please take up any questions you might have regarding the content of this with your psychotherapist or physician.