In this time of crisis, educators and parents of diverse learners are getting creative with remote teaching to meet their needs. How do we meet the unique needs of students with disabilities and English learners, both academic and non-academic, in an at-home setting?
Many students with diverse needs may be having more heightened levels of anxiety, stress, and difficulty with the changes in schooling that are occurring. Getting their child into a positive mindset and knowing what resources work best for their child will allow families to be successful in meeting their diverse learning needs.
Here are some ways families can support their children with diverse learning needs:
Create normalcy with a routine-
Despite all of the uncertainty and change children are experiencing right now, there can be a sense of normalcy through a structured routine for students at home. Try to establish a routine as soon as possible that mirrors the best parts of their school-day routine.
Families can ask their child’s teacher what the daily schedule and routines were at school, and where their child thrived most. It’s also important to think about the child’s environment and where they will be learning. Allow them to find (or choose for them) a special place they can carve out and make their own. They may find a chair or table that they want to use, or they may find a corner of the house that they want to sit at on a blanket on the ground. Give them a chance to create a “home base” that gives them a mental signal for the place they are going to learn.
Find helpful resources-
Families shouldn’t have to reinvent the wheel during this time. There’s enough stress and additional work for parents as it is. Families can find their “go-to” resources and create a resource hub that’s easy to get to.
Alternatively, at a Parent Panel earlier this week, parent and educator Mandy Wallace shared the tip of creating “stations” using old shoe boxes. These “stations” can include an art box (markers, crayons, paper); a random imagination box (whatever random toys, sticks, branches you find around); a collection box (a box that your child can go outside and collect things in).
This could be websites, books, learning platforms or apps, or friends to call for questions and ideas. If parents have resources to support their child’s learning, it will take the guesswork out of the equation. Here are some helpful resources:
Facebook Group called “Special Education Distance Learning” Google Doc: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1K2FCuy8Mn5iyX-QP9N_BZM_iXoXT4bcTesf67IQoi98/edit?fbclid=IwAR2nbZja-UHuALjlBVXdS7_AuzgiDTyxJ6MyRydb8VksdhnUU4UyH8cKjaQ#gid=0
Blog about resources during COVID-19 schooling: http://blog.abadesk.com/2020/03/16/surviving-the-covid-19-pandemic-with-children/
Use a team mindset-
Students with diverse needs have a team of teachers, administrators, and school staff who work with them daily. They know a lot about what students strengths, weaknesses, preferences, and tendencies are. Families of students with diverse learners should reach out to their child’s team of educators and tackle this from a team perspective. Although they can’t be there in person, they can still provide support and guidance to families.
Differentiate all aspects of the day-
Each student is unique in their needs and interests. Teachers plan specifically to meet the needs of students levels, learning styles, and learning needs. This can even be differentiating the work they have to do, how a student does their work, or what support they receive. Does your student prefer audiobooks in the background or do they like to read in silence? Do they like to do work inside on a desk or outside on a blanket? Think through how to differentiate all aspects of the day to meet your child’s needs.
This is a difficult time for everyone. What families and parents are doing has not been done in the last 50 years at least, and likely not in history. Children are lacking routines, social interactions, and normalcy. Students are trying to learn in the context of the trauma and crisis of a global pandemic. Parents didn’t sign up to homeschool their children, and most have challenging work situations on top of it. Families need to be patient with themselves and their children. We will get through this, but just be as patient and understanding as possible.
If you want to discuss more, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, check out our recorded webinar about equipping families of diverse learners here: https://possip.com/press-media-blog/possip-events-and-webinars/