A Bird’s Eye View of Virtual Learning for Children with Special Needs
COVID-19 has impacted our world in numerous ways. Here in our nation’s capital and surrounding suburbs, children have had to adjust to remote learning. Some students are returning back to school at the time of this writing with varying “hybrid” schedules, while others are continuing remote learning from home. As a therapist working with young children and their families in the D.C. area, I am seeing the ways that the pandemic is affecting education and challenging families to adapt in order to support the learning and emotional needs of their children.
As remote learning has posed significant challenges for students spanning from elementary school up through the graduate level, there are unique challenges for children have learning and behavioral challenges. Directors of Special Education Departments within schools are challenged to amend Individualized Educational Plans to meet children where they are by developing distant learning plans or remote learning contingency plans for children with IEP’s. I encourage parents to explore the wealth of online resources as well: I recommend Additude Magazine, which offers a lot of helpful articles and webinars, and A Day in Our Shoes, which has great information to help support parents of students with disabilities.
I recently interviewed Dr. Rukiya Jeffers Ware who is a Special Education Teacher, a Silver Medalist of the U.S.A. Women’s Track Team, and the author of Kia and the Magical Spikes. As parents, we are the experts on our children and rely upon recommendations of specialists who can assist and guide us along the path of parenting. Dr. Jeffers Ware shared key tips that parents can utilize to help their children reach their maximum academic potential during the pandemic:
- Reading- Create a reading space at home and utilize books on their grade level or one grade level above that are challenging. Utilize audio books to give your child a visual break as many have engaged in virtual learning for hours during the day.
- Math- Utilize manipulatives at home to help with counting, flash cards, and fidgets that they can use off camera that aren’t distracting to their peers. Here are two helpful math links: Virtual Manipuatives and Math Worksheets
- Written Expression- Take pictures and upload an array of pictures that can prompt journal writing. Provide off screen brain break times, dance, and wiggle break times.
Online learning will undoubtedly cause challenges. Somewhat like a bird’s eye view, parents need to have the correct lenses on when working with your child. Parenting expert Dr. Ross Greene shares ways that parents can adopt the “right lenses.” In the article “Lives in the balance Dr. Greene emphasizes that “unsolved problems” cause challenging episodes and details a three-step model which involves collaboration and proactively working to promote success: Walking Tour for Parents.
At the Sibley Group, we are able to assist parents with advocating for their children’s behavioral needs by collaborating with teachers and school counselors, classroom observations, and providing recommendations for 504 plans and IEP’s. While students are engaged in remote learning we are able to fine-tune behavioral reward systems, parent coaching, and work with children to increase their stamina, organizational skills, planning, and organizing.