As the pandemic continues, it seems less likely that we will fully be back in the classroom by the end of the school year for many of us. This can also mean that therapy sessions are continuing over telehealth. Both remote learning and teletherapy can be a struggle for some families and every child is responding differently to these, both positively and negatively. Something else to consider is how long is the child required to be on the screen and how old is the child.
While each child is not responding in the same way, there are some methods and techniques that may be beneficial for many if not all children and families. If your child is participating in remote learning, make sure that the child has a space that is set up to be effective. This should include whatever textbook and materials the child needs and having the space be as distraction free as possible. If there are materials and activities that a child will find more entertaining within eyesight, these may make it harder to concentrate on the schoolwork. The more organized the materials are, the easier it should be for your child to be more independent. We ordered an organizer that has space for all of my daughter’s books, folders, and materials. This has been really beneficial and has made it easier for her to be able to be independent. Make sure to think about what your child needs and how to make it as accessible for them as possible. If the child is able to follow the daily schedule, make sure to have it printed out and available for the child to refer to throughout the day. For this child, it may be beneficial to have a timer available so that the child knows when to return to class after breaks. We help set a Google timer for our child so she knows when to go back after breaks and allows her some additional independence.
There has been much discussion around whether or not children should be required to keep their cameras on for remote learning. Some are saying it needs to happen so that teachers can make sure that children are paying attention and are present. Teachers are used to being able to see their students and pick up on cues of understanding and focus from these nonverbal cues. Others are saying that it is not fair to make children keep on the cameras for several reasons. They state that some children or families may not want others to see the home environment depending on their home situation. There are others who say that children are on screens too much so having them on camera and more screen time for school is not appropriate. For my first grader, they are asking that children keep their cameras on, but if your child is struggling and needs to step away from the camera to allow that to happen, but to then make sure to communicate with your child’s teacher. If your child is having a hard time with the amount of screen time, reach out to your child’s teacher to see what can be done. Teachers are in a difficult position of trying to make sure that children are learning and participating; this is often done by seeing what they are doing when in the classroom. While teachers are making adjustments, this is still one of the most effective methods for teachers to determine this. Communicating with the teacher about any concerns you have and working with them to develop an effective plan for your child if they are struggling can go a long way. Teachers want their students to learn, but with remote learning it can take longer to recognize when a child is struggling so if you approach the teacher wanting to work as a team then this process can start earlier.
For teletherapy sessions, this again is impacted by age and how each individual child responds to different situations and experiences. What will be beneficial for any child, is to make sure that you have the area set up appropriately for whatever session is going to happen. Think about what materials will be needed for the session and try to work with the therapist to have activities that grab your child’s attention. It is harder to engage virtually so if the activities are not something that engage your child, this will make the session more difficult. Talk with the therapist to have at least a few activities planned so that the session can start well. Other activities can be added and determined as the session continues, but having at least a few things to start with will make the session go more smoothly. If your child benefits from routine, it can be helpful to start with the same activity each time so that your child knows the session is starting and will know what is expected. Communication with the therapist is going to be essential to this process.
While remote learning and teletherapy sessions may not have been the path you had been hoping for and planned for, it can be successful. One of the most important elements for success is going to be communication with the teacher or therapist. Making sure that the area for learning is ready will also help them be more successful. If you have further questions about how to set up these areas or other questions about this topic, please reach out to me.