5 ways to advocate for your child
Perhaps the most widespread effect a nationwide shutdown has had on our children is regression. The severity of these effects has varied, depending on differences in school response and family resources. Children with special needs are particularly vulnerable to backslide. Families may not be able to provide the additional support their children need without in-person services. If these situations ring true for you and your family, we want to help you look for signs of regression in your child, and know how to advocate for him or her.
Children can’t always afford to wait for a provider or professional to notice backslide. If a child has been learning virtually for half a year, chances are regression may not be as obvious to a teacher. As a parent, you may be noticing a difference in your child’s skills due to learning at home. You may be asking, how do I identify regression? If you’re not sure if (or how much) your child has regressed since distance learning began, find a baseline for his or her skill sets at the beginning of this year. These skills could include:
- reading fluency
- language processing
- social interaction/self-regulation
Examine a sample of your child’s schoolwork from the beginning of this year. What concepts do you notice are stable? How independent was your child in these skills at the time? Some skills, such as verbal expression, will require you to recall an example outside of academic assignments.
Compare your child’s abilities in each skill to a sample they produce now. Notice what skills have grown, plateaued, or regressed. Is (s)he struggling to keep up with their age or grade level now?
Academic regression due to distance learning is prevalent and expected. But it doesn’t have to stay that way. If you have noted a regression, you may wonder, where do I go from here? Consider sharing your findings with these valuable community providers and educators:
1.) Classroom Teacher – Your child’s classroom teacher is one of your main resources. Inform him or her about your findings. Are there extra assignments that may benefit your child, and what resources does the school provide at this time?
2.) Special Education Teacher – Inform your school’s special education teacher what areas you see regression in your child, and ask how these areas can receive extra support. Pull-out services, small groups, or learning modifications may be necessary.
3.) School Providers – Reach out to a speech therapist at your child’s school. Speech therapists target not only language processing, but executive functioning skills as well like organization, planning, time management, memory, and attention. An occupational therapist may be necessary if your child needs support with motor skills.
4.) Parent or Special Needs group – Community groups that cater to families and parents with special needs children are an invaluable resource. Finding the right group for you can inform you about resources within your community from other parents who are in the same boat.
5.) Family Therapist – If your child has struggled to adjust to decreased socialization and time outdoors, and you see a decline in his or her emotional welfare, reach out to a child or family therapist. Seeing a professional about mental health can make a world of difference in situations out of our control, offering options we may not have explored.
Learning gaps occur, but they may grow if left to chance. In the midst of circumstances no one could expect, we want you to know that you have resources! If you would like to get a comprehensive, standardized evaluation that measures your child’s current skills, contact our parent representative today.