Pine Tree Society is a leader in distance learning for students with special needs. From early intervention for preschoolers to maintaining speech and language skills in high school, Pine Tree Society is expert at meeting the individual needs of students of all ages.
Whether you are a parent homeschooling or a teacher providing distance learning, here are our top tips for making distance learning a success.
Motivate and engage. Keep the philosophy that YES this child can participate and be successful to the best of their ability in distance learning and telepractice sessions. Keep in mind that just because you are in front of a computer screen, it doesn’t mean you have to sit for the whole session. If needed, build in movement activities too!
Be creative. Look for blogs and, if you have social media accounts like Facebook and Instagram, look for groups that are posting tips and ideas. Search “distance learning” on TeachersPayTeachers.com for free resources every week!
Be flexible. Look for activities that can meet multiple goal areas rather than worrying about one activity for each goal. Remind yourself and others that it won’t look the same and it won’t always be perfect, but we are in this together, and together we can succeed!
For Deaf students: Share materials, lesson plans and lesson goals with the interpreter in advance of the lesson. This allows the interpreter to support the short and long-term goals of each assignment.
For Deaf students: Do a test run on technology before the student is present. Video interpreting requires a stronger connection than video meetings that use spoken language. Hard-wired connections are best.
For Deaf students: Consider the strengths and learning style of the student and be creative and flexible. Remember, when the Deaf student isn’t looking at the screen they can’t “hear” what is being taught. Also, interpreters need to be able to hear all the conversations in the room.
Start small and work your way up. You know your child. Choose activities and length of sessions to match the child’s attention span and slowly build up as appropriate for all involved. We don’t want the children to become overwhelmed and refuse altogether.
Remember that there may be multiple learners in the home and a limited number of devices. Work with families to schedule times that work best for everyone and try to ensure that everyone gets a break from the screen.
Use virtual backgrounds to keep children engaged. Children struggle to maintain attention during distance learning, so keep your screen exciting and fresh. Change your background as needed to keep their attention. You can also match backgrounds to themes or stories!
Don’t be too hard on yourself. We want to be able to connect with every child, every day. We all have days that are challenging. We just need to accept that and try again the next day!
Through strategic use of technology, Pine Tree Society meets the needs of students statewide; bringing much needed services to rural parts of the state where access would otherwise be limited. To find out how Pine Tree Society can support you, please contact Terry Berkowitz, Chief Operating Officer at 207-443-3341 or firstname.lastname@example.org.