Making sure that your child with learning differences gets appropriate support during blended learning is going to add another layer of challenge to the school year, but with a few practical tips, it will be much less complicated. Emma is on an IEP and luckily her school makes the necessary accommodations for on a daily basis, and many of her needs are met through the curriculum. However, I know this is not the case for all schools. My daughter’s school is designed like this because this is their niche! So if your child goes to a school and focusing on learning differences isn’t their “niche” then I recommend you make sure your child’s needs are being met while we are in these complicated times.
It is important that you know your child with an IEP is protected by law to get the special services that they are entitled to. It’s also important to remember being out of school due to a pandemic is not something the school can control. Flexibility and patience will go a long way in maintaining a good balance of school and home during any blended learning.
● Keep a copy of your child’s IEP, and pay special attention to the section on minutes per day and per week. Understand that in-person schooling is different than in blended learning. For example, if your child has a per-day requirement of 20 minutes for math, 45 minutes for reading, and 15 minutes for writing your child may not get all 80 of those minutes with their special education (SPED) teacher online every day. Some of the minutes built into IEPs take into consideration the child needing to move around the building to different classrooms, etc.
○ You can reasonably expect your child’s teacher to be communicating with you about the blended learning plan, and to explain how your child’s curricular needs are being met (potentially) with fewer minutes.
○ Some children with focus and attention issues can struggle especially when not in the physical presence of their teacher. Many SPED teachers like to do a video meeting with their students to help with blended
instruction. For practicality’s sake, this is often with multiple students at once and that can also be a challenge.
○ For a few of the meetings, stay near your child during their video instruction to help them stay focused. Listen to and point out the expectations the teacher is setting, and reinforce those with your child.
● Depending on your child’s needs and circumstances, some of their blended learning may be delivered by their regular education teacher and some by their SPED teacher. Request that both the regular ed teacher and the SPED teacher give you clear guidance on what is expected in writing for your sake but also for your child’s.
○ For example, ask the SPED and regular ed teacher to send you an outline of what your child will be doing week to week. That will help you support your child and make sure they stay on track.
● Make sure to ask your child’s SPED teacher any questions you have as they come up. Don’t let any confusion or frustrations you or your child have linger. Speak up and encourage your child to self-advocate as well. Your child’s teacher wants to help!