How to Support Parents During Distance Learning


So far in my experience with distance learning, we have done an incredible job of reaching students while outside of the classroom that we all wish we could get back to. Every educator across the globe, as well as every student working to adapt to this new way of learning, deserves a big round of applause. 

Just as deserving of praise and recognition are the parents of our students. Managing their homes, jobs, and families, parents everywhere are also doing everything they can to keep their children's education on track. Especially for the students in our special education population, regression is a real fear for our parents. From weekly therapy sessions to individualized programming and inclusive classes, we simply cannot recreate our typical in school routines at home. It is important that our parents know this, and that we remind them that they are doing a good job! There are so many ways we can support parents during distance learning. Here are the 4 that I feel are most beneficial for students with special needs.
1. A Schedule:

Creating a schedule for your students to follow at home.  Again, this does not have to be a replication of a typical in-person school day. Make it realistic and easy to follow. Consider creating a survey or form for parents to fill out to give you an idea of the types of activities your students are doing at home. Then, use the results to create individualized schedules for parents to use with their children. My suggestion is to incorporate several things that they are already doing consistently, rather than try to make an entirely new schedule. This could include online work time, sensory time, exercise time, reading time, break time, TV time, etc. 
Here is a schedule that I created that my students can complete at home.  This is a freebie in my store and is editable so that you can create your own. 

2. A Weekly Check-in:

One of the hardest things for me during the school closure has been getting in touch with parents and getting information out of them about what they need and how we can help. Some of my parents are just trying to get by and don't have as much time to engage in schoolwork, while others can't get enough material! 

While my families know I am available to them whenever they need me, it has helped to plan a consistent time to speak to each one of them, so we can both plan on it making it more likely for contact to be successful. I have found that parents are more likely to discuss their questions and concerns when they are not caught off guard. You may also consider hosting live office hours once a week for parents to tune into together so that you can address general questions and topics that apply to all of your students. Be sure to create a form that tracks all of your communication with parents. I love google sheets!

3. Go old-school!

When learning from home began, the majority of educational materials and assignments were put online through Google Classroom or other types of platforms. Not only do we have a huge population of students who do not have access to technology, but we are also working with parents who are not familiar with the online learning platforms used today. If you want to support parents who are struggling with all things virtual, I would encourage you to provide them with tangible material.  Kids love hands-on activities!  Whether it be worksheets, task boxes, boom cards, or other kinesthetic resources, I have found my parents are much more likely to work with their children using physical material than they are to learn how to navigate the online learning world. 

If you are looking to print and prep material at home for your students, check these out.  

4. Collaborate:

Among the many things I am missing about doing my job in person, working face to face with my team is one of them. So often throughout our days, we are bouncing thoughts, opinions, questions and ideas off of our co-workers in an effort to problem solve and make each other's day just a little bit easier. We all have something different to offer, and our strengths are meant to be shared. 

The announcement of new information, guidelines, and resources are continuous and overwhelming.  It is our job to communicate these changes to our families, but with the rapid posting and e-mailing we are all experiencing, it's easy to lose track of the information out there that would be helpful in supporting our parents. I encourage you to create a document, sheet, classroom, etc. that serves as a portal for any and all information that would be helpful in supporting families. 

For example, technology tips, tutoring resources, and informational articles or pamphlets. By supporting each other in this way, we will have a much easier time supporting our parents during this time.

That's all for now!

You can pin this blog for later here!

I am a High School, self-contained Autism teacher from Central New York, who is passionate about individualizing student learning. I am a mommy of three, lover of all things Disney, married to my best friend and addicted to chocolate!! I hope that you find great ideas and inspiration here, so welcome!!

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