Due to the covid-19 spread and the lockdown restrictions, millions of students were forced to shift their traditional schooling to virtual one. With these limitations, it has been a challenge for many educators, students and families, especially the parents of children with Special Education Needs (SEN). “How are the virtual classes going to help my kid who struggles with severe writing issues?”, “My 6 year old is a highly energetic kid. He can’t sit for more than 5 min in actual class?’, “How are we going to balance Work from home and online classes? It’s impossible”. I have come across these questions a gazillion times since the last 1.5 years and honestly each question was genuinely a major concern for that child.
Studies have found that 1 in 5 students learn differently. Students who struggle academically or who typically get academic support in school are more likely to fall behind during distance learning, according to one survey. So how can we help these students?
Being a remedial educator myself, I thought this crisis has given an opportunity to us to rethink how special education strategies can be applied virtually to manage, help and support those students who have specific academic and behavioral needs. Special Education Teaching is like a toolkit which can be altered as per the need and concern of the child in which they are given Individualized Education Programs (IEPs).
IEPs are like small blueprints or structures of goals specifically made for an individual student, dealing with their areas of concerns. Goals can be short or long term depending on the severity of the concerns.
Now what makes Special education an important aid in virtual learning is the ease with which we can apply the strategies online. Educators can include a pair of students having similar concerns as well as individual sessions. Educators can easily use audio-video aids to teach the content (both curriculum & skills based) for students having mixed learning styles. They can also use enlarged print of the material, screen-reading software, and speech-to-text methods while teaching.
It has been observed by many families and teachers that there has been a drastic drop in students’ interest and motivation towards attending these online classes. A significant number of students have developed a negative attitude towards virtual classes.
However special educators have already managed to tackle this problem. There are many hand-on apps and games which the special educators are now using to make the learning not just interesting and engaging but also to build students’ motivation towards online distance learning. It also gives the other stakeholders a chance to track the progress quantitatively and qualitatively due to digitised IEPs.
Special education has an array of benefits to support the kids with SEN in these troubled times. At Drishti, we have a team of well-trained special educators who have been helping and supporting the students with SEN in their academic and behavioral concerns for the last 27 years.
– By Poonam Rokade
Cluster coordinator- School counseling.
Poonam loves when there’s kindness, empathy and freedom to express oneself. She loves to read, paint and being around nature and music in her free time.