Back to school looks quite different this year for both families and teachers. As students and parents adjust to their new online learning and work-from-home schedules, teachers must adapt their curricula to meet at-home learners’ needs, including special needs students.
Many teachers wonder how to make sure their special needs students are learning, even when they can’t interact with them in the classroom. Whether you’re a special education instructor or a homeschooling parent, here are four tips to help students with disabilities learn from home.
- Encourage a routine. Some students thrive on the daily routine of waking up, going to school, then heading home at 3:30. And when you take that routine away, it can be incredibly disorienting. If you’re a teacher, try to stick to a similar schedule as you would at school, whether that means regular breaks during synchronous classes or a similar amount of homework as you would give typically. If you’re a parent, try to implement a regular school-day routine with a set wakeup time, class time, and lunch break. This routine will also help your child transition more easily back to in-person classes when it’s safe to do so.
- Create learning opportunities with what’s available at home. If you’re planning after-school activities or sending work home, try to tailor projects to what parents would have on hand. Scavenger hunts for household objects, simple craft projects, or “science experiments” using pantry staples can help students engage with course material on a deeper level than they would through a screen.
- Take advantage of online resources. Many companies have begun offering free online resources for families of students who are learning from home. Not only are many of these resources designed to make learning fun, but you can track your student’s performance on games and activities to see if they’re reaching specific IEP goals. Click here to view a list of our favorite online educational tools.
- Care for your student’s mental and emotional health. Students won’t learn as well if they’re stressed about world events. By acknowledging their concerns and giving them tools to deal with their fears – like drawing, journaling, or play-acting – you’re expanding their capacity to continue absorbing material.
However, if the student is living in a student housing like the ones at Aplusstudenthousing.com or similar others, you might want to consider activities that can be completed within the available resources of the stay. You can perhaps collaborate with the caretaker at the student housing and take their advice to compile after-school activities. This way you can mostly be ensured that the student is not missing out on the after-school learning, and they are learning at a comfortable pace.
At LifeROOTS, we are committed to caring for special needs children’s families during this challenging time. We love seeing our youngest clients gain the skills they need to succeed in the classroom, in therapy, and at home. Our programs have been moved online, but we are continuing to offer therapy services – including Early Intervention – via telehealth. For more information on any of our children’s programs or to schedule a free consultation, please call us at 505-962-0270.