Home school for kids who struggle in school-school

  • by

Suddenly home schooling? Kids with learning challenges may experience a transition to distance learning, but we can strategize this struggle too. This week’s podcast covers some basics of adjusting to home schooling, including a few places parents can just Let It Go! (You’re welcome for starting the song in your head) 

Some reminders and tips include:

*Know that it won’t take up the same amount of time

*Forgive yourself: you can’t replace school, even if you worked at it full-time. It’s okay not to replace school, and it’s certainly okay not to plan every activity down to the minute. School schedules are robust because they rely on the interactions of lots of people; it takes several minutes to discuss a chapter or review homework, for example, because there’s a variety of ideas and questions. With one or two students at home, things will fly by.

*Be okay with boredom. You can have some general ideas, like a menu of activities, for your kids to fill their time, but it’s okay if they are left to be creative and inventive. Coming off of schedules that have everything planned every minute is going to be uncomfortable for some kids, and this discomfort is also ok. Some ideas for “activity menus” could include: cooking or baking time, art supplies (but no assigned craft), create a game, scavenger hunt, virtual book club, make a how-to video…see? It’s still fun, but there’s no need for you to assign or pre-think every activity.

*Don’t plan down to the minute for your child. You’ll go insane trying to keep a schedule in place if you’ve created an activity for every ten-fifteen minutes. Do, however, try to maintain times for general categories, like: wake/sleep times, meals, work time, free time, activity time.

*Be clear on what’s expected in terms of finished work (if it’s just completion and compliance for now, it may not take very long. Teachers also can’t replace themselves and the dynamics of a classroom, so you’re likely looking at distance learning taking 30-50% of in-school hours, at least for now. Schools may get more sophisticated in their delivery of distance learning lessons, but for now, they are struggling to replicate the school experience for everyone at home.)

*School hours = no phone or limited, no t.v.

*Read the IEP! There will be ideas listed in the accommodations and modifications section that give you ideas of specific ways to help support your child. These ideas will (well, should) be based on your child’s specific processing deficits and academic needs. Your kid should already be using these at school, so it won’t be anything new. (I recognize my use of should here. It is indeed sometimes okay to “should” on schools, when they know best practices for our kids).

*Ask your child how to best support their success. Do they want breaks? Assignments chunked into smaller bits? Model problems? Steps written out? Sentence frames? What works at school that we could also try at home?

*Next episode I will have some very common and effective supports for most learning challenges that you can put in place for your child. Hang in there. We got this, and together we can strategize the struggle.

Hey Kid!

No school? Isn’t this so weird? I’m feeling about 100 different things right now, and I bet you are too. I mean, it is really nice to be able to stay up later and sleep in a little bit. But, then again, I miss greeting my students at the door, making them cringe with my lame jokes, and helping them problem solve. I feel worried that we won’t be going back to school for a long time, and I know school is the best part of some kids’ days. I feel guilty that I didn’t really say goodbye to anyone because I didn’t totally know how serious this would get. But I also feel excited that I will get to hear from my students once I am online teaching. But then I worry what if some kids can’t get online? What if it’s really hard to teach online?

It’s pretty normal to have a bunch of emotions right now. Maybe you even feel just really tired or worried but you can’t totally understand why. The whole world is going through a big challenge right now, and most people are feeling the way you are feeling too. There are some things that we just can’t predict or control. Those things we have to wait for. But, we do know that most schools will be having students learn online, at home. That’s going to be a big change for you, and it’s what  your grown up listened to today on this podcast. They learned that chances are the work you get from school won’t take up the whole day; you need to remember that too. They also learned that you use accommodations or modifications at school (that’s fancy language for the little changes and supports your teachers and you use to make learning right for you, like extra time, reducing the number of problems you do, sentence starters…you know). Your grown up may need you to remind them what your little changes are so they can give those to you in your home school experience. So, try to remember the helpful supports you use at school and tell your grown up about them.

Kid, I’m not going to lie to you. I feel unsure, and that is a really scary feeling. But, I am sure that we will work together and come up with ways to strategize this struggle too. We can expect to try and fail and try and fail and finally, at one point, get pretty good at online school too. I’m here for you and your grown up. Hang in there and stay strong.

All my love and a social-distance hug,