It has been another roller coaster of a week as our local school systems continue to change their previous plans in favor of exclusive virtual schooling for the fall. This has left many parents resigned to the fact that they will continue with a model of learning for their children that is less than optimal.
But don't worry, we are here to help! Here are a few tips that will help to provide structure and consistency for virtual learning:
1. Develop and implement a daily schedule. This means beyond your regularly scheduled school session. This will help your child to stay calm and structured throughout his day, making it easier to sit down at the computer when needed.
2. Add a "reward system" for attending sessions as well as completing school work. If you find this too challenging, you can even use the "Premack Principle" which is a concept in ABA that says that a less desired behavior can be reinforced by the opportunity to engage in a more desired behavior. Set something fun up for right after the school session. Or more simply, set up the expectation that your child can't engage in any electronics until all school work is done for the day.
3. Schedule frequent breaks. Many of our children have difficulty sitting for extended periods of time, let alone concentrating and learning. Plan for more frequent breaks during the virtual sessions. This might be a great thing to coordinate with the teacher.
4. Help your child to break down larger tasks into smaller, more manageable tasks. Many schools have been publishing large and overwhelming amounts of work that even adults might struggle to accomplish in a week! Model good Executive Functioning skills by sitting down to develop a written plan, estimate the time it will take, and break down tasks into smaller chunks. Plan for what materials you will need ahead of time, as well as any additional accommodations that might benefit your child such as graphic organizers.
T-Ten Services staff is able to provide more specialized help and instruction beyond the tips above. Did you know that many of our staff have an educational background and that's one of the things that makes us different than other ABA companies in the area? We believe it's very important to develop a highly individualize program for each client, based on their strengths, while remediating any weaknesses. Some examples of individual programming that we might provide would be:
- Assessment and direct instruction of missing pre-requisite skills. (Many parents are having "eye opening" moments as they watch their child try to complete the given work, only to find that they are simply missing the skills needed to do so.)
- Behavioral assistance to help your child to better attend and absorb the virtual learning sessions (think virtual school shadow!)
- Help to develop and implement motivational systems so your child will both attend and learn from virtual sessions.
- Help to break down and scaffold work assignments to help your child to feel successful in school.
- Provide additional instruction on skills that need to be strengthened.
- Provide instruction on the skills that will help your child to be more independent with virtual learning, such as self monitoring, coping skills and other executive functioning strategies.
Of course we wish everyone the best of luck as we embark on a new school year and the "new normal." We know that the prospect of more virtual learning elicits a wide range of emotions, but we hope that you know that we are here to help and support you.