8-11 Summer Session #6

Hi parents,

Today we're going to be heading to laser tag via public MTA bus as our main event, arriving at 11am. It's located at Ultra Zone in Sherman Oaks on Ventura Boulevard at Cedros Ave. We’ve been there many times before and always had a great time. We will be doing this “Camp Style," which means we will be able to play several games of laser tag and we will have our own "party room." will be interspersing a couple of laser tag games with time for them to play in the arcade. Our rules are similar to bowling in that they are not allowed to obtain candy or prizes, just play games, ideally with partners.

They do offer sodas and lemonade at Ultra Zone (laser tag) and we will allow the kids to have some, typically up to one refill and then they have to switch to water. So, this is a slightly more “sugary” day than most (however if you have instructed us not to give your child soda or fruit juices they will have only water).

Prior to laser tag we will be going either to Jamba juice or Noah's bagels for our snack. There's a nice place to sit outdoors and will be heading out a little bit early to take advantage of the cooler weather before laser tag.

After we're done, around 1 PM, will be heading out to lunch. There is a new noodle place downstairs from laser tag that we may try or be will likely go to Hamburger Hamlet at Van Nuys Blvd. and Ventura Boulevard. It isn't too long the walk to the latter location and we are usually able to stay on the shady side of the street. However, if it's very hot, we'll accommodate.

We will likely return to the office around 3 PM and will settle in for either games or project, possibly both. Sophie is here today so those students who did not have a chance to take a picture on Friday will have an opportunity for today.

As a reminder, there will be a webinar again tomorrow evening and it will be recorded just as last time. There will be a parent meeting this weekend. If you have a preference for Saturday versus Sunday morning, please drop me a short email let me know.

8-11 Summer Session #5

Hi Parents,

I hope everyone had a safe and happy Fourth of July holiday. We are on "heat alert" today and are taking numerous precautions. For starters, we will be going to Los Encinos State Historic Park at Balboa and Ventura  at 10 AM for a tour. Normally, we would just walk there, however we will be taking an MTA bus to arrive there at approximately 9:50 AM. Jennifer, the park interpretive guide, will be meeting us and taking the kids on a brief outdoor tour, followed by an indoor tour, and then a short project. Normally we would go to The Stand after this, but instead we will be taking the bus back to have lunch at Poquito Mas, across the street from the office.

We have an indoor project planned for the afternoon after lunch. Also, there will be a raffle today and some game playing in the late afternoon. We will be using our artificial intelligence race cars with the kids, Anki Overdrive (look it up, it's pretty cool).

All of the kids have bottles of water with their names on it and we will be encouraging frequent hydration.

Upcoming Parent Meeting: You should have received an invitation about the Parent Meeting in the office being held this coming Sunday, July 8th, from 1pm-3pm. Please RSVP when you have a chance.

You are welcome to make comments below. Just remember they are public, not private, and can be viewed by anyone.

8-11 Summer Session #4

Hi Parents,

We're wrapping up our first week. Today, we'll be taking a private chartered bus to Discovery Cube, located at 11800 Foothill Blvd Los Angeles, CA 91342. The bus is scheduled to pick us up at 10am and we'll be gone for most of the day, returning at 4pm. In case you've never been to Discovery Cube, click here to view. There's quite a bit to do and see there and they typically have a good time. We'll have lunch there as well, planning on a snack just before we get on the bus (probably trail mix bars or something similar). We'll also be seeing an animation feature while we're there in the afternoon.

Since we're gone so much of the day, not much point in having Sophie with us today.

You should have all received an invitation for the Webinar to be held Tuesdays, starting this week. In case you are unable to participate, it will be recorded so you can view it at another time.

NO GROUP meeting on Wednesday. Happy July 4th to everyone!

We will resume our meetings on Friday, July 6th.

Upcoming Parent Meeting: You will also receive an invitation about the Parent Meeting in the office being held this coming Sunday, July 8th, from 1pm-3pm. Please RSVP when you have a chance.

You are welcome to make comments below. Just remember they are public, not private, and can be viewed by anyone.

8-11 Summer Session #3

Hi Parents,

We're wrapping up our first week. You should have received information about the Parent Meeting in the office being held tomorrow, Saturday, June 30, from 10am-12noon. Please find the calendar invite and RSVP if you haven't already done so.

Sophie is going to be present today as well.

Today we'll be starting off with about 90 minutes in the office doing a morning project after we've gone over LUNCH Points. After our morning snack, we will head off walking to California Pizza Kitchen where they are expecting us at 11 am. They are located at Woodley and Ventura. We have a tour of the facility scheduled where staff will show their organizational process how they strive to meet customer's needs, how they focus on cleanliness and proper food handling. I may not be doing a good job of describing but the kids usually enjoy it; It's more interesting than I'm describing. This will be followed by the kids having an opportunity to design their own individual pizzas, which the CPK staff will collect, bake, and serve as lunch.

Afterward, we will head downstairs to Karen's toys for a raffle shopping trip. The group will be divided into 2-3 "Teams," with a team leader and they will be given instructions on price limits plus how it is determined whether or not we will purchase the item they select. The emphasis is similar to what we do when the kids are in Gelsons market getting snacks. They need to talk to one another, determine whether they like the same items and make decisions. Just to clarify, no child will be choosing an item for purchase that they are guaranteed to receive -- all items go into the raffle.

Afterward, what we do is going to depend upon the weather, specifically how warm it is out. We're hoping to be able to return to the office for a bit, shop for afternoon snacks and take them to a nearby park along with some sporting equipment, e.g., nerf balls and paddles, badminton, kick balls, and frisbees, but this will depend on how hot it is. One choice may be to return from CPK/Karen's Toys by bus rather than walking, but again, we'll make the decision at that time.

This should leave some time at the end of the day where we will either play some games and/or talk about what the group has been doing so far.

Also, as a reminder, we have group on Monday and Friday next week. Wednesday is July 4 and we won't be meeting.

You are welcome to make comments below. Just remember they are public, not private, and can be viewed by anyone.

Dr. G.

P.S. As it turned out, we didn't go to the park after all, even though the temperature was in the high 70's. The kids seemed a little too tired for a second excursion out. They were up, however, for working on an animation. You can find it under "View Projects." It more had to do with showing them some of the ways the animation program could plus reviewed one of the critical elements of animation... having a good story.

8-11 Summer Session #2

Hi Parents,

Monday was a pretty impressive day! Collectively, your kids were simply great, having conversations, following directions, and most importantly taking some interest in working on areas that appeared meaningful. I will get a survey out so we can start having Parent Meetings. I will offer one for this weekend and will also begin the Webinar meetings next week, most likely on Tuesday.

Sophie will be here today as well.

Now, for today, once the kids are back in the office, we will review LUNCH Points for those who have it (as of this writing, the night before, it looks like we will have at two three students who will bring in certificates.  To give you an example of the kinds of behaviors parents are choosing, I saw "while getting ready for bed, made a conversation and made eye contact" and "during the afternoon, followed a single request the first time without acting upset or irritated." Hopefully you will observe a behavior your child exhibits that will prompt you to give them a LUNCH Point certificate for next time. Feel free to ask or view the tutorial on the website if you have any questions. I had to create a work-around to temporarily make everything work and you were sent an email about this yesterday afternoon.

Around 9:30am we will head to Pinz Bowling in Studio City, traveling there by public bus. For snack, we may bring items with us to have once we arrive or we will be at a nearby bakery, depends on timing (FYI, at the bakery, we have the kids splitting larger muffins or similar items. We do not permit them to get cookies or other "dessert-type" items. For bowling, we are signed up as a "Camp," which means we can bowl as many games as we wish during a two hour period. In case that turns out to be too long, they will have a brief period of time at the game arcades and be able to return to play a little more after lunch.

Lunch itself will most likely occur at the train, i.e., Carneys, which is just a minute from the bowling alley. They have a variety of hot dogs, hamburgers, tuna sandwiches, Thai wraps, and will also make grilled cheese (which we will make certain is not actually done on the grill, but on foil for families that have dietary requirements). We typically let the kids get French fries and sometimes a small shake or medium drink.

After lunch, we will most likely head back to the bowling alley to allow the kids a longer period of time in the arcade. The staff control how many games they can play and we do not permit them to use games to dispense toys or candy. We also will encourage them to pair up with others rather than just playing single player games and also to observe as other group members are playing.

Once we're done, we will head back on the bus and spend the remainder of the afternoon either doing another project or game playing. There is a chance the kids will view some short videos or animations with the goal being to stimulate interactive conversations. We will have an optional afternoon snack around 3:45 PM.

You should have received your "Parent Tips" sheet which has instructions on how to reach us during the day. Looking forward to seeing everyone together.

You are welcome to make comments below. Just remember they are public, not private, and can be viewed by anyone.

P.S. The day went extremely smoothly. Probably the biggest area we worked on was emotional control related to trying new foods. There were about three group members with very limited skills and we had multiple opportunities to work on this during the day. You will be able to view videos of these interventions at the parent meetings. Additionally, some of the participants can be somewhat rigidly focused on wanting to engage in particular activities and dealing with these urges was another area of focus. Finally, we are observing the "social modeling" aspect of our program begin to have a greater positive effect on their behavior.

P.P.S. So, timing to go for the morning snack didn't work out as planned; the bus was about 20 minutes late heading to bowling. Instead, we offered the group plain bagels, with or without cream cheese, during bowling. Although not what we had planned, this actually worked out better because we were able to use "Contingency Management" techniques to set up conditions where they were more motivated to attempt behaviors that are "lower probability." In each case, we had some degree of success and continued this again at lunchtime for relevant students. For our afternoon snack, we did go to a bakery as promised, but elected to go to the Gelsons bakery and allowed them to have two small cookies. One student only wanted to have a croissant, which we did not permit since that wasn't one of the choices. Learning to accept or pass on items without making a big deal of out of it is one of the global group goals related to choice-making and emotional control. They all had bottles of water with them (we put their names on the caps and refill as needed).

P.P.P.S.  We watched some animations in the afternoon while all of the kids had an opportunity to take turns walking Sophie (she loved it!). Teaching them basic procedures, such as having her walk on their left, giving her proper commands to "sit," "heel," or "wait," and saying them assertively but without harshness or anger is a real skill-buildling exercise on its own.

8-11 Summer Session #1

Hi Parents,

Today, being our first day, is what we call our "Close to Home" session. We will be heading back to the office after your children have been dropped off and doing introductions, basic group rules and giving everyone an idea of what lies ahead.

Sophie is here today with your kids. If your child is afraid of dogs, she will likely leave them alone. We gradually introduce them to being near her and not overreacting when they see her. They will also see other children petting and interacting with her, which is a form of social modeling.

Snacktime should occur around 10 AM and will most likely occur at Gelsons market. We typically start in the produce section and the Gelsons produce staff will wash everything for us. We may also get some chips and, because it's summer, bottles of water. This is one of the naturalistic opportunities for your children to practice decision-making, negotiating, and free-form conversations.

Returning from snack, we would either start a project or play some games, depending on the mood of the group.

We have a lunch reservation at Maria's Italian Kitchen for 12 noon and will likely be there 75 to 90 minutes. We plan to be back at the office by around 1:30 PM in order to help them settle in and prepare for a magician from the Magic Apple who will be coming at 2 PM for short magic show and teach your kids some magic tricks. This activity will last about an hour. This is the first time we are doing this, so hopefully will go off without a hitch.

After the magic show/activity, we will either work on a project or play games for about 30-45 minutes.

There will be an optional afternoon snack around 3:45 PM and the day will likely conclude with them watching some short animations which we will be discussing as a group. However, this can change depending upon what we feel is best for them at that moment in time.

You should have received your "Parent Tips" sheet which has instructions on how to reach us during the day. Looking forward to seeing everyone together.

You are welcome to make comments below. Just remember they are public, not private, and can be viewed by anyone.

Dr. G.

P.S. This morning we completed our first animation project. Look under "View Projects" at www.lunchgroups.com .

P.P.S. The LUNCH Points Program will be available tomorrow later morning. Here's the tutorial your kids created:

P.P.P.S. We had an opportunity to work on goal-setting and all of the students participated. This information will be available for review at the first parent session.

Getting Ready

Hi Summer Group Parents,

Things are settling down and we're finalizing preparations for the Summer LUNCH Groups program. Just a few housekeeping and informational pieces to make sure everyone's "in the loop."

Treatment Agreements/Materials Fee

You should have received the instructions for completing the treatment agreement and paying the materials fee. Click here for the link. Email me if you don't have the password.

Parent Orientations

Orientations are required for all NEW families. Those parents whose children have attended a school year program should review the video that will be posted and sent to you by Friday.

We held an orientation last weekend, have another orientation tomorrow (June 21st) from 3-5pm, scheduled primarily for 8-11 families, although others are welcome to attend. We have a final orientation meeting for 11-13 and 14-17 Groups set for July 8th, 9:30-11:30am. If you are a new family and have not attended or signed up for an orientation, please contact me.

General Information

  • All groups are from 9am-5pm
  • You may view the calendars for your child's summer program by using the navigation link at the top of the web site
  • Your child will not need water bottles, money, or other items
  • If they do bring a cell phone, we will ask them to keep it off or on silent. They are not permitted to take it out during group sessions
  • You will receive an email describing the main points of our day 15 minutes after you drop off your child

If you have other questions, please send me an email.

Dr. G.