Who knew that when distance learning was implemented for 2 weeks that we would still be here over a year later? Parents are juggling employment, life, and now teaching. Becoming a teacher/ teaching assistant in what feels like overnight is tough, but for parents of children with learning differences there are more hoops to jump through. So how do you meet all of the requirements an individualized education program (IEP) has at home? Here are some strategies to make that feel easier!
Go through the current IEP
When the IEP was originally created it was created with the specific strengths and challenges that your child faces in school. But right now they are not there. Your child is going to have new challenges to face like less structure, doing school work in a new setting, not having the teacher right there with them just to name a few. These challenges may affect how the current goals are going to have to be addressed. There are going to be goals and accommodations in the current IEP that are not feasible during distance learning because they are only applicable in a school setting or ones that are too difficult to work on without extra support.This is not to say that there aren’t going to be new strengths and skills that your child will gain. By going through the IEP it gives you and your child’s teacher the opportunity to touch base on what are the most important goals and skills to focus on.
Ask for weekly check-ins
This pandemic is giving you a special opportunity to see your child’s education first hand. You are able to see how the goals are being taught, how your child is responding to the teaching, if something is or isn’t working. When you feel that something is not working for your child, don’t be afraid to voice your opinion. The teachers are trying their best to provide your child with the best education possible during a pandemic, but you are the one at home with them. You have the first hand experience on what is working and what needs to be adjusted. You also know your child the best. Make suggestions on how to present certain tasks, what will motivate them, if they need more breaks. By being honest with your child’s teacher on what is working and what is not, you give the teacher a chance to adjust their teaching strategies to better suit your child.
Work on a limited number of goals at time
It will be natural for you and your child’s teacher to want to get as much done at home as possible. But there is going to be limited teaching time. Virtual school means that the normal 6/7 hours of instruction your child would have received is now being broken down into several sessions over the school day. It is important to be realistic about what is achievable during this time. Trying to teach all of the goals into one session will not give you the opportunity to teach effectively. . Supporting your child’s education at home may feel overwhelming at times. Reach out to your child’s teacher and work together to decide on what goals to work on each week. This will make the whole process of learning at home less intimidating. This also gives you a chance to focus on teaching the skills to the best of your ability.
Request parent training
Most parents are not trained teachers or trained to deal with behaviors. You have been with your child since day 1 and you have your own special relationship with them. The parent training is not going to be to point out what you are doing wrong. But to give you guidelines on how to best encourage and support your child. Your child’s teacher knows how to teach and work on goals in a way that is effective, efficient, and individualized for your child. By working with the teacher you will be able to learn different skills to best teach your child.
Last but not least don’t be too hard on yourself or your child. This pandemic has thrown a wrench into everyone’s everyday lives. Being given the task of homeschooling on top of everything else going on is difficult to say the least. Just remember that this situation is temporary and this is a chance to learn along with your child.