Tips for Remote Learning During School Closures
March 31, 2020
With Governor DeWine’s recent announcement that schools will not reopen until May 1, we’re using this time to take stock of our remote learning and therapy services in order to meet the needs of our students the best we can.
We also understand that extending the school closure can really impact families like the ones we serve, who have a child on the autism spectrum or with special needs. Our Family Partnership team and our Psychology team have put together some helpful tips to help families during this uncertain time.
For Parents & Caregivers:
Create a Space.
Giving your child a designated space for daily learning provides clear expectations for when it’s time to do school work. When your child is in the space, it’s time for school. When they aren’t, work is not expected to be done.
If it’s easier to complete school work in an area that’s used for other activities as well, (e.g., the kitchen table for school work and eating) consider making a visual support, like a sign, to show when the area should be used for which activity.
Make a Plan.
Look ahead at daily lessons from classroom teachers, and have all the materials your child will need for activities out and ready before bringing your child to their designated learning space. Use a schedule to list out what your child will be doing during work time. It doesn’t have to be fancy – you can write it out or draw pictures- having your child understand the meaning of the schedule is what’s most important!
Establish a few rules for work time. While you sit and work with your child, provide them with lots and lots of praise at times they are following their rules! Be specific with your praise – add in hugs, squeezes and high-5’s for an extra bonus!
We recommend The Autism Helper’s handout- Focus on Five: Tips for Parents for Home Learning for additional schedule ideas.
Set Your Child Up for Success.
If your child is able to sit well at the table for 10 minutes, consider setting a work time for 8 minutes. (Then take a break and come back to the lesson for another 8 minute block of time later.) If during work time, you see your child show signs of wanting a break, prompt them to ask for one! Model the language “I want a break” or “Can I have a break?” for them to repeat. Show your child the sign for break and help them sign break themselves. Or have a “break” picture icon available for your child to touch or hand to you when to indicate they want a break.
Think About Motivation.
What can your child have after completing their work? A special treat, a fun, new activity with you, or iPad time? Make a list of the items and activities your child really enjoys by observing your child during free time. Use these items to motivate them during learning time! Save the best items for the hardest activities of the day! Use a First/Then strategy to tell your child when they get these items! “First a reading worksheet, Then we can build a fort” or “First science and math, Then we can go outside!”
Structure Down Time.
Rotate toys to keep things fresh. Gather up a basket full of toys that are currently around the house. Hide them away for the week. On Sunday night, bring those toys out for play. Gather up another basket of different toys and hide them away for the week. Continue rotating toys in and out. Additionally, toys can be rotated to different rooms or areas.
Look for Other Ways to Teach Throughout the Day.
Opportunities for learning are all around! Walk, march or dance around your house to find items of different colors. Point to the item, name it, and prompt your child to do the same. Toss your child on the couch and smoosh them with pillows for a sensory squeeze! As you do, name the color of the pillows. Tape pieces of construction paper to the floor and jump to each color. Play hide and seek together. Roll letters out of play-doh. Do math while baking cookies – measure the ingredients, point out the numbers on the box, and count the cookies you eat.
Give Yourself Permission to Be Perfectly Imperfect.
These are challenging times for all of us – this time at home is different. It’s out of routine for EVERYONE. Give yourself grace – focus on what you can do instead of what you can’t. You’ve got this!
For Friends and Neighbors:
At a time when it’s in everyone’s interest to stay physically distant, we are also fortunate enough to have the technology to allow us to remain connected with friends and family. If you are friends with someone who has a family member with special needs – it’s now more important than every to reach out and check in. Consider:
- Setting a goal to video chat on regular basis. Parents could even write this activity into their child’s visual schedule to add predictability to the event. If appropriate for that child, consider adding criteria or challenges.
- Challenge idea: Everyone should be dressed for the day before hopping on the call (staying in jammies all day can be tempting, but often the act of getting dressed for the day can really add a pep to your step!)
- Criteria idea: Have the child to tell you about a few different topics in order to expand the conversation, such as naming something that made them happy that day, something that they had to work through that day, and something new they tried/learned/did, etc. The goal would be to make the categories broad enough so the conversation is not robotic, but structured enough that the conversation is well rounded.
- Become pen pals with family and friends. Who doesn’t love getting mail? Whether handwriting a note or typing an email, becoming a pen pal with your family and friends is a fantastic way to keep social connections alive! For children, this activity is also a great way to target academic skills at the same time. Win-win!