So…..it looks like schools around the country are going virtual this fall. At least, most of them.
What does that mean for you?
Well, many parents are opting to homeschool instead. And, the rest (with the exception of those who have the option of in-person school) are going to do virtual school at home.
Does that thought sound a little scary?
If so, you aren’t alone.
It’s understandable. Especially if you have a child with ADHD, SPD, autism, or any other diagnosis that makes traditional learning difficult. And truthfully, your child doesn’t need a diagnosis to have trouble learning in the standard way public schools teach.
Thank goodness for our teachers who are doing an incredible job – now and always.
But, no learning method is one-size-fits-all. And however your child learns best is A-okay.
The beauty of school at home (no matter which route you choose) is that you have the flexibility to tailor lessons in a way that your child learns best.
With virtual public school, there is a little bit less leeway, but you still have freedom to make accommodations where needed.
Whether you are homeschooling or doing virtual public school, here are some educational tools to help your child thrive while learning at home.
Weighted lap blankets are a good option for kids who need help settling themselves and feeling calm. They can ease anxiety or just help a child self-regulate enough to sit still and focus for a bit. Plus, they cost less and are more portable than a standard weighted blanket.
Seats like these are an inexpensive and space-saving alternative to an exercise ball. They allow kids to move around and get their wiggles out. This particular one also provides necessary input for sensory seekers and helps increase core strength and balance.
These nifty little pieces of rubber wrap around chair legs (they work great at the kitchen table!) and allow your child to fidget and move their feet while getting their work done. Great for kiddos who like to be on the go.
You may not think of a mini trampoline as an educational tool, but they really do prove themselves useful during school time. Trampolines provide a convenient option for movement breaks in between lessons and PE indoors during inclement weather. Again, awesome for kids who have lots of energy to burn.
Fidget toys come in all shapes and sizes. They are a low-cost tool to have handy for kids that need to keep their hands busy so their brains can focus.
For kids with fine motor delays, holding a pencil can be uncomfortable. Sometimes even painful. Handwriting suffers and often, kids will even refuse all written work.
It’s entirely possible (and something we’d encourage!) to accommodate your child by letting them type or say the answer out loud. But pencil grips can also make writing easier and more comfortable when necessary.
Oftentimes kids with ADHD, SPD, or an autism diagnosis are sensory seekers. Kids with oral input needs tend to chew on pen caps, bite their nails, or stick toys in their mouth. These things are unsanitary and sometimes a choking hazard. Chew necklaces are a safe, hygienic, and fun alternative.
Also for oral sensory input, bubblegum is a nice occasional treat. Chewing gum and blowing bubbles is a fun way to keep kids focused on the lesson at hand.
Other snacks that provide oral sensory input are carrots, celery, apples, pretzels, or beef jerky. Foods that provide texture, crunch, or work the jaw muscles when chewing are good for helping kids self-regulate and focus.
There are plenty of ways to customize learning at home to fit your child.
You can take lessons outside when the weather is nice.
You can listen to audiobooks in the car if you are always on the go.
You can let your child stand instead of sit if that’s what they prefer.
You can keep lessons short and take lots of breaks.
Really, the possibilities are endless.
But it’s also a good idea to put together a toolkit you can pull out when needed. The ones listed above are a great starting point, but as you and your child embark on this educational journey together, you’ll start to pinpoint what works (and what doesn’t).
And you’ll find yourself adding to your toolkit often. Remember though, it isn’t always about spending money on physical products. Just stopping to pay attention to what your child needs will allow you to make necessary adjustments that will improve learning and help both of you to have fun and enjoy this time together.
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