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March 20, 2020When Home Becomes School

For households with school-age children, their current situation is “School At Home!” Many parents may be wondering how they can duplicate their child’s classroom in a place that has, up until now, been their place to unwind, relax and be themselves!

For the child with special needs, this may be ‘extra’ challenging. Often, these children not only have difficulty with a break in the routine, but need time to adjust to a situation. Right away, two things come to mind: 1. Ease into the new schedule slowly. 2. Try to duplicate your child’s school setting/schedule as closely as you can. A quiet setting with no distractions is ideal!

Let’s take a look at number one first. Remember, this is similar to the first day of school, so sit down with your child and prepare them for what’s about to happen. A social story is perfect. Click on this link to print this one:

The Autism Educator (Coronavirus Social Story) Amanda McGuinness​

Let your child know your expectations and who will be taking on the role of the teacher. Include a few, concise guidelines and you are ready to begin. Have the schedule prepared and on paper. If your child doesn’t read, provide pictures. Be sure it is child-friendly. Refer to the schedule often and cross off events as they occur. Make sure that the last activity is something fun to reward your child for all of their hard work that day; a scavenger hunt or cookie baking activity. Perhaps the first day or two are shortened days to “ease” them into the new routine.

To begin number two, you may have to shoot an email to the teacher and ask her to send you a copy of your child’s school schedule. My suggestion would be to keep the order of academics the same, if at all possible. Math, reading and writing you will probably want to do in the morning. I would also suggest shorter academic periods. Maybe keep each subject area to
20-25 minutes long. Take 5 minute breaks between subjects. Perhaps after two subjects, you take a 10 minute walk outside or swing in the backyard. Remember morning snack time, as well.

Once you have finished your school day, transition right into what your child normally does when they get home after school minus homework time. Keep your afternoon light and fun and tell them how much fun it was for you to be their teacher! I am envisioning your child giving you suggestions as you go along, for example, “My teacher lets us color sometimes after we finish our work.” Or “After lunch, my teacher always reads us a book.” Give your child a few days to really get into this new way of attending school. In their eyes, not only may you be a great mom and dad, but also a great teacher!