Teaching via Telehealth (not only for Covid-19)
Learning has evolved over the years, and the way we teach must adapt. When the idea of online learning was first imagined, it seemed like a far off and futuristic goal. In 2020, it is a reality.
Although virtual learning has been around for a while, the covid-19 pandemic hurled a bunch of sectors into the online realm. With such a big adjustment in a short period of time, how can we provide the best services to our clients?
I would be lost without my calendar apps and day planner. Knowing what to expect (what I am doing, when I am doing it, how long until I have an activity, who I will be seeing, etc.) has been one way to help me stay calm and focused on the task at hand.
Schedules have always been a staple in the field of ABA. But how do we set up a schedule to provide structure when we are not physically in the room with our learner?
- Have the learner create the schedule
Examples include: learner can draw 5 boxes (1 for each of 5 activities); printing out the activities (“board game”, or “BG” for short form)
- You create the schedule
Examples include: share your screen and type out the schedule, remember to provide choices for your learner (“do you want to do reading first, or math?”, etc.)
It is good to review the outline and expectations at the beginning, but it is better to refer back to the schedule and expectations throughout the session (using behaviour-specific praise is a great way to remind learners of the expectations: “Great job answering the first time I asked!”).
A self-monitoring system is a great tool to implement if is applicable to your learner and their skill level.
Be prepared! This is the time to get all relevant material for your session.
Providing reinforcement virtually may require some out-of-the-box creativity.
Continue to include token boards and verbal praise, but what the learner is working for may not be the usual tickles, walks in the park, or other in-person activities. Consider some alternatives such as: silly dances, movement breaks, silly faces, playing preferred songs, watching short video clips (30 seconds – 1 minute in length).
Know Your Learner
Do you have a learner who has difficulty sitting for long periods of time when working face-to-face? Sitting for any amount of time in front of a screen can be an added struggle. Movement breaks are a great way to burn some energy, provide an activity during transitions, and re-invigorate the learner to attend to the activity.
Many learners work better with visual support – share your screen!
The visuals can be pictorial images, text cues, or a combination of both. Interactive activities can also help to keep your learner engaged.
Watch our YouTube video: Why Are Visuals So Important
Resources for Children During COVID-19
During the current COVID-19 pandemic, parents need to be armed with the right tools to not only manage, but educate their children at home.
This list is by no means to create more anxiety in an already fearful time. It is only to help those for whom it is helpful for. As a parent, if it’s easier to not attempt to educate, then do what works. your goal is to get through the next few weeks as sane and healthy as possible.
This list can be very daunting! You are probably asking, “Where do I start?!” Start with a schedule. Visually lay out what you want to work on each day and remember the acronym “KISS” (Keep it simple!). The schedule does not have to be pretty, or even laminated. A hand written schedule will do just fine.
Build in choice into the schedule. For any hope of compliance, your child should dictate order completion. End with a positive– What is your child most interested in? Example: fun app, tv show, youtube as a reward.
Keep things simple and attainable – especially in the beginning. Only put a few activities on the schedule to make it doable. Goal is to have both you and your child feel successful. If it’s too daunting, it won’t get done.
To set yourself up for success, ask yourself the following questions and be truly honest with yourself:
- What are the most doable items?
- How much time do you have to interact with your child?
- Are you working from home and actually have to get your own work done, or can you dedicate some time to your child/children?
- Do you have other children that require lots of your attention?
- Can you do some group learning with some/all of your children at once?
If you are able to dedicate a good solid 2-3 hours to work directly with your child/children, then print out some worksheets, do some science experiments/STEM activities, and even consider some good old fashioned board games to promote social interaction.
If you have more then one child who requires your attention, consider setting up some group learning times whereby you work with multiple children at once. If that is not doable, consider having one or more children work (or play) independently while you work 1:1 with one child. Then switch. Or if time is of an essence, dedicate 1:1 time with one child one day, another child the next day, etc. Consider a rotational schedule, as you can’t duplicate yourself!
If you have to get some of your own stuff done, consider online educational programs for your child(ren). Be sure to set up a check off list if you’d like any hope of your child(ren) staying on task! Consider setting timers for each learning app – e.g., do each one on the list for at least 20 minutes before logging out. Also, guided access is a great way to keep your child(ren) in the app and not escaping to YouTube! Some parents even disable wifi until learning time is complete. Sometimes this is not possible if your child(ren) need the internet for their online learning.
Teach at or just below your child’s current level so as not to overwhelm or frustrate him/her. As your child gains success, then systematically increase the difficulty of the expectations.
Pick the most functional skills to teach first – What does your child need to learn now? Life skills (e.g., hand washing!) is much more important short term than long division. If you are teaching math skills, look at the unit(s) that your child(ren) are doing in school and teach those first. If you don’t know, start with items like time and money instead of geometry.
Last, but most important, YOU CAN DO THIS!!! No one bats 1000 ever. If today doesn’t go as planned, remember tomorrow is another day.
Choiceworks – This is our #1 favorite visual schedule and calendar app! There has never been a time that we needed a visual schedule more than now!
Letter School – this is a fun way to practice fine motor skills and keep up some printing practice!
Apps by Super Duper Inc. – there are so many great apps here for lots of learning styles, skills, and ages.
Endless Alphabet – fun way for your little one to learn letters.
Breath, Think, and Do with Sesame – I bet your little one is also feeling anxious! Practice some deep breathing in a fun, interactive way.
Book Creator App – this is a fun way for children to create their own visual stories, incorporating pictures, sound, and text.
Websites Offering Free or Discounted Resources During COVID-19
Boardmaker – This is the go-to resource for creating visuals, templates, lessons and other helpful resources.
Khan Academy – An abundant resource of teaching videos and step-by-step learning.
Typing Club – keep up those typing skills!