Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Supporting Your Remote Learner

Labor Day is behind us and schools are opening -- one way or another -- all around the country. Most students are engaged in some form of remote learning, at least part of the time, since being in school full time seems to be the exception in most places.

It was with the continuing challenges of remote learning especially in mind that Dr. Yellin and his colleagues from QED Foundation, Kim Carter and Betsey Bradley, presented a webinar last week focusing on Observations and Opportunities: Supporting Your Child in Remote Learning.

They used Betseys experiences with her own son to frame the challenges and possibilities that learning from home presents for students and parents alike. Betsey had noticed that her son was struggling with writing tasks. She knew that he had a good vocabulary and was a strong reader. But when it came time to create a report or write an essay, his work wasn't up to the level of his conversational skills. So she put on her parental detective hat and used the Neurodevelopmental Framework for Learning (NDFL) that underlies QED's approach, to examine where and why he was having difficulty.

 Betsey knew that writing involved a number of tasks that had to be performed simultaneously -- coming up with ideas, spelling, grammar, vocabulary, organization, punctuation, and actually forming the letters to write. But her son struggled with handwriting (graphomotor function) and attention difficulties made it hard for him to handle all the tasks of writing at the same time. Watching her son work at home gave her insight that she might not have gotten from just looking at a paper he had brought home from class. Once the bottlenecks in his writing became clear, it was possible to put together specific supports to help address the areas that made writing difficult. 

Some of the tools that can help students who struggle with writing can be found on the Resources page  of the Yellin Center website. Graphic organizers can be especially helpful for students who need to put their creative thoughts or academic knowledge into an organized story or essay. 

Parents whose children learn from home this fall -- even part-time -- have a unique opportunity to observe how they learn. Doing this while doing one's own job and managing other kids is not easy. But if circumstances allow, watching your child work through a lesson can provide useful insight into which areas might be challenges for him or her and how to help him or her improve.


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