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FEATURE | A parent’s guide to virtual learning

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IN this time of pandemic, we are all facing challenges in receiving services, particularly students receiving special education services.

While we all probably prefer face to face instruction, many parents in our community face additional anxiety surrounding the impact of this interruption of classroom learning time in this time of so much uncertainty. 

The National Center for Learning disability came out with a great guide to help parents improve their child’s experience with online learning. This guide highlighted four actions that parents need to take to help their child succeed in virtual learning: 

1) There are research-based best practices for children with disabilities who are engaged in online learning. Encourage your child’s teacher to use them.

  • Face-to-face interactions are key. It’s important for children with disabilities to have virtual face-to-face interactions with their teachers. Using video will allow teachers to pick up verbal and physical cues and gauge your child’s confidence and understanding during online instruction.
  • Measuring understanding needs to be ongoing. Frequent surveys, online quizzes, chats, and other ways to check understanding will be particularly important when using distance learning.
  • Students need multiple ways to engage with curricula. Online information needs to be represented in different formats, and students need options for engaging with and demonstrating their understanding. These are the hallmarks of Universal Design for Learning or UDL. Encourage teachers to integrate UDL into their online instruction.

2) Your child may need help organizing time.

  • Consider setting up specific spaces in the home where your child will engage in schoolwork. Create a calendar and clear expectations for work and play. Start with more rather than less structure, and make adjustments as your child establishes new routines.

3) Your child will need new ways to access needed services.

  • Look at your child’s Individualized Education Program or 504 plan to identify the individuals providing your child’s services. Connect with them to ask about compensatory services to support your child — their plans for the short-, medium-, and long-term — and how you might help.

4) You and your child still have rights!

  • Covid-19 did not erase your child’s rights to a free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment. Schools and districts are working hard to identify how key processes that support education are going to be implemented until schools reopen their doors. These include having a way to hold Individualized Education Program and 504 meetings virtually, and ensuring that your child is making progress in the core curriculum and receives needed accommodations to access information and demonstrate mastery of content.

You can access this guide for further details at  https://www.ncld.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/A-Parents-Guide-to-Virtual-Learning-4-Actions-To-Improve-your-Childs-Experience-with-Online-Learning.pdf

For more information on student rights to special education services, please call Northern Marianas Protection and Advocacy Systems Inc. at 235-7273/4 or visit our website at www.nmpasi.org

 

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