by: Lakshmi Mahadevan, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Extension Specialist – Special Populations, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service
Due to school closures and stay-at-home directives during the coronavirus, families need to plan for how to manage the special needs of their children on a daily basis. Particularly challenging is finding resources that allow children to maintain educational progress while faced with environmental uncertainties related to the coronavirus that may last longer than anyone planned for.
Here are a few tips and reliable sources of information that may help.
Tips & Resources
- Stay up-to-date on the impact on your child’s special education rights:
- Consult local news for information on closures, health status and managing children at home, for e.g. Creating a Productive & Fun Learning Environment at Home.
- Tap into social networks or join an online community such as Understood to talk to parents, seek support and learn strategies they are using at home.
- Stay in touch with your child’s school. Your child’s special education teachers may be providing services over the phone and online including lessons, life skills training and managing behavior plans.
- Talk to your child about the current situation, address anxieties and why extra precautions such as social distancing is needed – How to Talk to Children about COVID-19 and How to Talk About Coronavirus with Kids.
- Take advantage of free resources, like stories read for free at Audible, free worksheets at Scholastic Teachables, online field trips at Virtual Field Trips or activity guidebooks at Alphabet Activities Guidebook: Activities for Kids at Home.
- Tailor your streaming services to include educational shows like 150+ Educational Shows on Netflix
- Remember a child with special needs has a different learning style. Consider using instructional materials that are hands-on – Life Skills – Task Sheets and follow advice from sources such as Social Distancing with Kids.
- Visit authentic mental health-related information sources such as:
- Follow subject-matter websites for disability-related information such as:
- Consider using resources such as Resources for Students Who Normally Receive Speech & Language Therapy when Schools are in Session to help meet your children/s related special education service needs.
- Learn about helping all your family cope. Parent/Caregiver Guide to Helping Families Coping with the Coronavirus Disease 2019.
- Practice self-care – consider using resources such Protecting Yourself During COVID-19 Public Health Emergency.
- Share what works for you.
Remember, everyone can benefit from what you have learned, and you have now established best practices that can be used to home school your child if needed in the future.