The COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult for everyone, especially for children with learning disabilities and special needs. We know that many local children are struggling with school in an “online” format, while extra-curricular activities and support groups that kids may look forward to remain on hold.
Your child may be feeling isolated or frustrated with learning due to these issues that are beyond anyone’s control. As a parent, you may also be worried that your child is falling behind in school due to the limitations of virtual instruction.
I recently read an interview with Dr. Gwen Wurm, a pediatric physician with the University of Miami Health System. She encourages parents to look beyond the role of “teacher,” as you will not be able to replicate your child’s normal school routine. That’s okay and to be expected! Even if your child is struggling with online learning, Dr. Wurm reminds parents that this too shall pass and there will be time to catch up. She also wants parents to give themselves space to embrace learning that is more practical in nature during the shutdowns. Here are some of her recommendations:
- Keep cooking! As a mom, I am also very sick of cleaning my kitchen a million times a day and I cannot wait for restaurants to be fully open again. But, the kitchen does make a great classroom, especially for kids with special needs. Cooking presents opportunities to tackle math, reading (use of a recipe) science, and basic independent living skills.
- Weave learning into games. Wurm is right that most board games and puzzles have learning elements built into them (i.e. spelling challenges, hand-eye coordination, color matching). She also adds that when playing the games, you can work on modeling positive behaviors such as patience and fair play.
- Use accessibility features. Reading large chunks of text on a computer screen can be challenging for kids who have ADD, ADHD or struggles with reading comprehension. The good news is that most of the virtual learning platforms that schools are using have accessibility features built in such as read aloud text, video playbacks and closed captions. If you aren’t sure how to access such features for your child, contact the school..
Dr. Wurm reminds parents, “Our expectations need to change for now. But, you are not alone in this.” I whole-heartedly agree. I wish you and your family luck in the school year ahead. Please know that we are here to answer any questions that may come up on the legal side, or to help your family begin the process of creating a special needs plan. Just contact our office at (571) 328-5795 to schedule an appointment.