oliversnannies logo.png

It's hard to believe it's that time for Back to School! Summer has come and gone and it's time for new adventures in school. Whether it is a new grade, new school or town, back to school comes with a mix of emotions ranging from nerves to full excitement. For parents, you are all feeling those same emotions watching your kids journey into the next school year. This school year is set to again look very different than years past.

For our September newsletter, we interviewed local clinical psychologist and certified school psychologist on a variety of topics from the anxiety of the unknown of this year to how to spot a possible learning disorder and how to set yourself, and your kids up for success!

An Interview with Dr. Liz Matheis

  • Tell me about yourself and your practice. How did you get started?

I am a small private practice that I started full time 2012 and part time since 2008. I started the practice out of my home (my transformed dining room) where it remained until 2015 when I hired an employee to help with evening work. We moved into an office in Lake Hiawatha and then ultimately to where we have been since December 2018, which is in Livingston.

  • As we have all navigated through the most uncertain school years over the last year and a half, how can parents best prepare their children for the transition to fulltime in person schooling? 

I would try to revert back to our pre-pandemic way of preparing for school, which is to gather school supplies, new clothes and new sneakers, with the addition of new masks. Things will continue to look and feel differently in terms of wearing masks, needing to hand sanitize, maintain 3 feet, etc. In every other way, I encourage parents to prepare for the upcoming school year like any other year.

  • What are signs that a parent should be on the lookout for in regards to educational disabilities such as anxiety, ADHD, etc? 

high agitation, sleeplessness, over sleeping, over or under eating, difficulty with transitions, difficulty with handing in assignments on time, difficulty attending, difficulty understanding lessons and completing homework

  • What are some tips and tricks that a parent or caregiver can use to help engage their child when it comes to their school work?
  • Set a timer and work against the timer
  • Take movement breaks
  • Pair end of homework with an incentive - IPAD time, etc
  • Break down complex tasks into parts with time limits
  • Depending on your child, either start homework right away or offer an hour of decompression time (without screens) prior to starting homework

  • What is the best advice you can share to a parent who may be struggling with a child who is having difficulty in school?

Reach out to your child’s teacher and offer your observations. Monitor your child’s struggles and request an I&RS plan, 504 Accommodation Plan or IEP depending on the severity of your child’s struggles and your teacher’s observations and documentation of progress or lack of it.

  • What are some recommendations to setting up an in home school environment ? (i.e. for homework after school or any virtual learning that may come with this new school year). 
  • Create a work space designated for completing homework assignments that is not in a central part of the house
  • Keep the work space free of materials
  • Make sure all needed materials are inside a desk drawer or basket 
  • Place the desk in a corner of the room between two walls that are not near a window or door to minimize distractions

  • How are you addressing back to school anxiety with the rise of cases with Delta and growing uncertainty?

Some of our children are not as afraid of the virus as they are to the return to school and the social interactions that they are anticipating. Social anxiety is at an all time high. Our children need guidance in navigating social interactions. I believe that our children, our younger children, need and want permission from their parents to socialize. We have developed the idea that socializing and interacting with other people is unsafe. As parents, let's give our children and teens opportunities to be with other children and interact with each other. Parents may wish to keep social time outdoors or with a limited number of people.  

For children worried about the virus, parents should confidently state that we will follow the safety precautions of masks, distancing, and vaccines when they are available to our children under 12 and to not share their uncertainties about the virus. Additional tips include : Avoid sharing new facts about the virus and keep the tv off in terms of the news regarding the virus.

  • Let’s talk a little bit about vaccines, masking and schools. As we all know, it has been the controversial topic over the last few months. How are you seeing the effects of the policies, vaccine mandates and hesitancy, masking policies and the overall unknown of what this school year may bring affect the children you work with?

The anticipation is the worst part of it all. Our children are used to wearing the masks. As parents, we want our children in school because education is best served in school. The good news is that the number of cases were not that high in the schools and that’s good.

Ideally, it would be great if our children didn’t heave to wear masks so they can see each other and their teachers. I think our kids crave and miss the usual interactions, sitting next to each other and not having to worry about how far or close they are to each other.


Books to Calm the Back to School Jitters

  1. "The Pigeon HAS to go to School!" By, Mo Williams
  2. “The King of Kindergarten,” by Derrick Barnes and Vanessa Brantley-Newton
  3. “All Are Welcome,” by Alexandra Penfold and Suzanne Kaufman
  4. "Sounds Like School Spirit," by Meg Fleming and Lucy Ruth Cummins
  5. "Little Ghoul Goes to School," by Jef Czekaj

A Lasting Impact

Heartwarming story of a teacher's long lasting impact on her student

"Mary Dillon, my third-grade teacher, was tough, loving, and never gave up on any of her students. She made a major impact on my life. She was there for me — and paid for my hair and nails to be done — for one of my high school proms. She was there for me on my wedding day and in the room with me for the birth of my only child, battling and beating cancer all the while. Her constant drive and passion has always given me hope and love. She’s been in my life for over 20 years and I pray for at least another 20 more."


Looking for after school help?

Oliver's Nannies offers a variety of solutions such as driving sitters and part-time nannies . Schedules can both be ongoing with a permanent team or as needed through our FLEXCare program. Our part-time nanny program is great for families with children in school who need help with school pickup, transportation to and from activities, after school homework help and even light housework!

Want to learn more?

Call us!