Dear BBH Families:
The COVID19 national crisis has created conditions in our educational system that no one could have planned for or predicted. We understand that you, as parents have been managing your own work from home arrangements, maintaining work schedules out of the home and supporting your own children’s learning while they are out of school. Teachers and school district administrators have been working very hard planning to support students and families during this crisis and ensure students do not experience learning loss. We realize that many of you have questions about the delivery, management and administration of special education services and seeking answers to questions for which guidance has slowly emerged.
Hybrid learning is an educational model where some students attend class in-person, while others are working virtually from home. Educators teach remote and in-person students using tools like video conferencing. In some cases, hybrid classes include asynchronous learning elements, like online exercises and pre-recorded video instruction, to support face-to-face classroom sessions. This approach reduces the amount of seat time in a traditional face-to-face course and moves more of the course delivery online. During classroom instruction time, we plan to have students engaged in authentic, collaborative learning experiences.
Distance Learning is a way of learning remotely without being in regular face-to-face contact with a teacher in the classroom. Distance Learning is the equivalent of a school day and attendance is required. It’s important that schools and families work together to create successful learning environments.
Brecksville-Broadview Heights has created hybrid and distance learning plans. It's important that parents and teachers set up a consistent, proactive schedule to communicate regularly in order to work through concerns and adjust plans as needed. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and make it a priority to create a support network.
Communicate Family Needs
In these unprecedented times it is important to be honest and forthcoming. Parents are encouraged to communicate to their child’s teacher the existing home environment which could include:
Parents’ work schedules.
Sibling schedules – other educational responsibilities.
Other family stressors (i.e. finances, childcare, health concerns of family members). Schools may be able to help families connect with appropriate community resources, such as food banks, health centers, behavioral health supports.
Communicate Child Individual Needs
There is an opportunity for families to observe their child's learning styles, strengths, and needs. Sharing this information with school staff will be helpful in adjusting plans as needed in these new environments. Here's what might be helpful:
Child’s reactions to various activities (i.e. face-to-face activities, written assignments or daily living activities that incorporate academic skills, need for breaks or movement).
Changes in child’s behaviors.
Reactions to a changing environment.
Communicate the time of day that your child is most responsive (morning or afternoon).
Expect that this may be challenging for both you and your child. Remember that this is not a permanent situation and that we'll get through this together!
Develop a weekly plan and schedule to include routines and structures for consistency and to balance think time, work time, and playtime for health and well-being.
Identify Your School Contacts
Some students work with numerous people that provide various supports – teacher assistants, speech and language therapists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and social workers. If all of these people are trying to contact a parent or student, it may be overwhelming to keep communication and schedules organized. Parents are encouraged to ask for only one or two points of contact from the school to help organize their time and messages. They can let the school know the best time and method for communication (i.e. text, phone, email).
Self-Care and Coping
Parents are encouraged to be patient with themselves, school staff and their children. Modify daily activities to be realistic and focus on what can be accomplished for that day. Have realistic expectations of yourself and of your child by shifting expectations. Give yourself small breaks from the stress of the situation.
Connect Daily Living Activities with Education
Many daily living activities can be connected to academic skills, such as cooking, sorting laundry, cleaning and organizing a room. Parents might want to consider reinforcing a child’s abilities in these areas as some of these tasks may also function as academic assignments.
Strive for Progress, not Perfection
Students are not expected to know everything that their teacher is giving them for assignments. Struggling to accomplish some tasks is expected and actually is part of the learning process. Your student’s teacher is not expecting the student to have an 100% on every assignment. Allow some struggle for the student in order to achieve long-term goals.
While this is certainly a stressful time, it can also be an opportunity to observe and get closer to your child while understanding more about how your child learns. Encourage all progress, no matter how small.
Links to Helpful Resources:
Family Guide to At-Home Learning This 2-page interactive family guide from CEEDAR is aligned to the CEC High Leverage Practices for special education. This guide has practical strategies that work for helping children of all ages who may be struggling with an at-home learning task. Families may find these strategies useful when helping their children complete various reading, math, and/or behavioral tasks at home.
Parents: Supporting Learning During the COVID-19 Pandemic - this module from the IRIS Center (at Vanderbilt University) is easy to navigate and provides tips for parents to support your child in reading, math, social and emotional skills, and if your child has a disability
Surviving the COVID-19 Pandemic with Children - This blog post provides even more resources and tips for families during distance learning.
Parent/Caregiver Guide to Helping Families Cope with the Coronavirus Disease 2019 - This has helpful tips for families, including a chart on how to help children of various ages cope with the changes.
CASEL Cares - includes Guidelines for Parents and Caregivers with practical suggestions for distance learning and coping with stress and anxiety
National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) – A Parent’s Guide to Virtual Learning: For those who are entitled to (and depend upon) specialized instructional services and supports to deal with disabilities, the transition to kitchen table learning is even more challenging. NCLD has created a guide specifically designed for families of children with disabilities.
Great Schools.org – At-home Learning Resources: Great School.org offers multiple family resources for families of students with disabilities both in English and Spanish
Common Sense Media - Resources for Families During the Coronavirus Pandemic: Commonsense Media has been the leading source of entertainment and technology recommendations for families and schools since 2003 and has a great link with resources for families during the pandemic.
Child Mind Institute – Supporting Families During COVID-19: The Child Mind Institute reminds us that they know parents are struggling to balance work, child care and self-care while keeping worries — both your children’s and your own — under control. You don’t have to do it alone.
Edutopia – Apps for Students with Special Needs: The coronavirus creates a unique challenge for students with special needs—educators share recommendations for apps to support learning at home. Edutopia.org has created a list of apps that may be helpful in helping families in the home.
I look forward to working with you as a partner this year. If you need any additional information, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Director of Pupil Services