Remote learning and homeschooling are nothing new. But, they have become more popular over the last year in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. As of March 2021, 4.5-5 million children were being homeschooled in the U.S.
For children with disabilities, home education provides many benefits. Some of the biggest pros include providing the necessary accommodations your child needs, trying different learning methods to find your child’s style, and setting a flexible schedule that makes it easier on them.
That doesn’t mean that homeschooling is always easy, especially for a child with learning disabilities. Fostering a positive home learning environment is important. Not only will it make the process easier for your child, but it will make the experience less overwhelming for you, too.
If you’ve been considering homeschooling your child, let’s cover a few practical ways you can encourage the best possible learning environment.
Using Tech to Your Advantage
Technology has come a long way when it comes to remote learning. Not only is it easier for students to stay connected via online portals, but you can use tech to make learning easier for your child if they might struggle otherwise. There are countless tech tools available to make the learning experience easier for parents and students alike.
In addition to apps, programs, and portals, technology also makes it easier for your child to stay connected and receive personal attention in a way they might not otherwise. First, online learning allows you to research different methods and models that fit your child’s needs. The seven different learning styles are:
For example, if your child is verbal, you can provide headphones for them that allow them to hone in and focus on each lesson being taught. Not only will they eliminate distractions but they’ll engage your child more in what they’re learning. If they’re visual, you can use different games or videos to help them with each lesson, including math and reading.
Your child might fall into one or more of those categories, and you can use technology to make sure they’re learning the way that is most beneficial for them.
You can even encourage social learning when you connect your child directly with a teacher or mentor using Zoom or another platform. This will allow them one-on-one time instead of having to share the attention with a classroom. Having someone there to guide your child, especially when it comes to any literary struggles, can make a big difference.
Managing Your Expectations
When you’re trying to foster a positive learning environment, you’ll help yourself and your child by understanding how your child’s disabilities might impact the way they learn. Keep the following suggestions in mind when you’re trying to create the right physical and emotional space for them to learn and grow:
- Focus on your child’s strengths.
- Set reasonable expectations for them each day based on their learning ability.
- Provide guidance as much as possible, but allow for independence when you can.
- Maintain discipline.
- Foster a sense of curiosity.
If your child has a language or literacy disability, make sure you’re communicating with them continuously throughout the day. It’s not uncommon for parents of children with language delays to speak less. By communicating with them, you’ll also make sure they understand the language. That will make it easier for them to comprehend new vocabulary as they get further into their curriculum.
It’s important to find different ways to integrate language into your child’s life. Learning at home is a great place for that since you can read them everything from storybooks to food labels. It allows them to see literacy as something they will use every day. That can be a motivating tool and can help them to associate the things in their daily life with understanding language and communication.
Your expectations for your child might not be something “physical.” But, those expectations are certainly a part of the home learning environment you’re building. By showing patience, encouragement, and being reasonable, your child will feel less stressed and overwhelmed than they would in a faster-paced environment.
Setting Up the Right Space
Of course, the physical learning environment is also important. That’s especially true for children with sensory issues. Your child’s home learning space should be an area that allows them to work freely and effectively without providing too many distractions.
Developing a sensory-friendly environment is easier than you might think. Depending on what stimulates your child, you can make adjustments to any room in your house to turn it into the right learning environment. Try these tips to create a more sensory-conscious area:
- Use warm lightbulbs or natural light.
- Paint the walls neutral colors.
- Keep things organized and decluttered.
- Try to limit outdoor noises.
- Provide tactile-friendly furniture options.
- Avoid harsh smells.
A good rule of thumb is to keep your child’s learning space away from other areas. If you’re limited in your room, try to make it distinct to help avoid distractions and keep them focused on their work. For example, if you have to set up their learning space at the kitchen table, try to face their computer toward a wall or window and away from the distraction of an open kitchen. If possible, create a separate, sensory-friendly room for homeschooling. Doing so will put them in the right mindset and encourage them to stay focused, rather than risking them getting overwhelmed.
Home learning is here to stay. For parents of children with disabilities, it’s a viable option that can give your child the best chance at receiving a quality, personal education. But, before you dive into home learning head-first, keep these ideas in mind. Fostering a positive home learning environment will make a big difference in your child’s success.
The good news? You know your child better than anyone. By digging deep into your understanding of who they are and what they need, you can utilize your resources, technology, and people who are willing to help to hone in on their learning style and help them grow.
Bio: Jori Hamilton is an experienced writer residing in the Northwestern U.S. She covers a wide range of topics but takes a particular interest in covering topics related to education, business productivity, and sustainability. To learn more about Jori, you can follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.
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