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Recharging your professional health during summer break

How important is it to take time away to rest and recharge?

Those of us who work primarily in school-based settings have a somewhat complicated relationship with summer break—we are grateful for extended time away from work, but the school year, while rewarding, is also incredibly demanding of our time, as well as of our physical and mental energy. By Memorial Day, many of us are celebrating our students’ achievements, counting down the days until we get a break, but also eyeing that ever-growing list of “I’ll get to it over the summer” items:

  1. Read that tall stack of journal articles.
  2. Apply techniques from those amazing evidence-based-practice presentations to our therapy.
  3. Complete CEUs required for license renewal.
  4. Create goal-directed, engaging new activities for our students.

And what’s missing from that list? While teletherapy absolutely removes the daily commute, nine months of dedicated focus on students, their schools, and their families—regardless of the service delivery model—still presents a need for clinicians to shift focus for a few weeks toward self, family, and reenergizing for the school year to come. So yes, budget some time to make headway on that to-do list, but also be sure to take care of yourself so that you are able to return to your students in August with renewed excitement for next year’s journey!

Many school-based providers have the summer off. What can school-based clinicians do to stay active and engaged in their professional lives over the summer months?

After prioritizing rest, self-care, and time with family and friends, school-based SLPs often look to a variety of summer options in order to stay engaged with and grow in their profession.

Volunteer: There are many opportunities to combine community service while leveraging our clinical skill and experience. One of PL’s lead clinicians, Gila Cohen-Shaw, has traveled to Africa to support children with speech-language impairments—you can read our Provider Spotlight featuring Gila here on the PL Blog.

Cross-discipline learning opportunities: Gaining a deeper understanding of the work our OT, school psychologist, and educator colleagues are doing alongside us each day can enrich our own clinical practices. Instead of signing up for a speech-language workshop, consider enrolling in a OT-hosted workshop on sensory processing disorders, or register for a conference directed at early childhood teachers.

Get creative: There’s nothing wrong with using goal-directed, pre-made activities during the school year when our bandwidth to create and adapt activities is limited. However, we as clinicians always have a few of those student-specific activity ideas in the back of our minds that might really increase engagement, if only we had the time to create them! Summer is the time to release our inner artists, photographers, and crafters while creating amazing new activities for our students.

When should school-based providers start checking back in and re-establishing a routine for the next school year?

Depending on your schools’ schedules (and as teletherapists, you might be working in multiple school districts and even states!), school year caseload preparation usually begins in early-to-mid August. Each year, I fully embraced summer break as an opportunity to have as much of a non-schedule as possible, seeking out all opportunities to play and explore with my children. However, once I shifted back into work-mode by mid-August, I was excited and ready to try newly-learned therapy techniques, to reveal new activities with my students, and to re-engage with my colleagues as we prepare for another school year!

Are you interested in joining the PL Care Network? Visit our Provider page to submit your application today!

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