How are you all holding up amidst this unprecedented time in history? It's okay to be honest. This. Is. Hard. The time of the COVID-19 pandemic has been one of many emotions for educators, parents, and especially, students. We are all beginning to understand the repercussions that this virus is having on our daily lives and how it will change our futures. The virus has impacted so many arenas, and the educational field has been hard hit with the new endeavor of Distance Learning. Parents are now teachers amongst everything else, including working from home, cleaning, cooking, and caring for other family members. It's a trying time, to say the least. The somewhat comforting part of all of this is that every single student is in the same boat. And parents -- we are all in this together.
We have all been in a period of adjustment. This includes gaining a clear understanding of how students with learning differences are faring with the removal of in-person teaching from their lives (for now). The consensus is that it's been challenging for everyone involved. First, teachers are scrambling to learn new teaching modalities, websites are crashing, online portals have become confusing and daunting to check, and screen time is at an all-time high. While it is nice to hear about free educational resources and complimentary Zoom webinars and sessions, the truth is that we are all feeling overwhelmed with everything on our plates. Now that we have been through several weeks of Distance Learning, we are hearing that schools are almost positively closed until the Fall.
Thus, this is likely our new normal. The issues are two-fold. First, we have the third of the school year that students are pretty much missing, as the learning that is occurring is not as robust as the learning that would have taken place in the classroom. We must come to accept this. However, it is vital that our students are not drowning while trying to navigate the learning challenges that come with virtual teaching formats.
We are finding that students (especially those with executive functioning needs) are having some difficulties navigating their new, mostly independent learning tracks, and we wanted you to know that we are here to support your students however we can via online sessions. Our first weeks of virtual sessions have been very successful in assisting our kids. Thinking of the alternative, we are so fortunate, that even in these hard circumstances, we have amazing technology to be able to keep connected and to keep our hard work/momentum going. Since it seems that our students will be homeschooling for the remainder of the year (and potentially beyond), it's crucial that we keep their skills up so that there is minimal to no learning loss that takes place. In fact, we hope to not only keep their skills going strong, but to build on them utilizing kids' looser schedules to our teaching advantage.
It feels like we are all climbing a mountain, but let's do it together (at a six foot, virtual distance.) :) Virtual educational therapy, learning specialist, and academic coaching/tutoring sessions are a great way to keep up with what your student has on his/her plate, maintain quality learning, organize him/herself, learn how to self-advocate, and survive the times we are currently in. Then, in the summer, we hope to focus on the sub-skills that need remediation,to review the previous grade material that was difficult, and preview the next grade to come. When fall comes around and we are (please) back in our usual routines, your child will feel academically ready and will hit the ground running with support by his/her side.
We are not surprised with the grit and resilience our students have, and we are so pleased to see how adaptable our students have been in this situation. It is so wonderful that we can still have the consistency and comfort that our kids need during this unprecedented time. We LOVE seeing their faces (even if it's on Zoom). Sending a huge socially distant hug and air high-five to you, parents. We've got this together. <3
Andrea Chernin, M.Ed., ET/P Educational Therapist/Professional Founder/Clinical Director