This year, more students will be learning at home than ever before. Whether your family has chosen homeschooling or digital learning (or even face-to-face), there are so many advantages to creating structure in your home, both for schooling and for ABA therapy.
While some kids (including kids with special needs) may find it difficult to get into school-mode while in the house, others may find that being at home provides additional comfort to learn more easily. Whether you’ve been homeschooling for years, had countless at-home ABA therapy sessions, or are just beginning digital learning for the first time, here are a few tips to set your family up for success.
Create a dedicated learning space
If possible, designate a space in your house that is just for learning, away from where your child sleeps or watches tv. It can be as simple as a table or as elaborate as a partially repurposed room, but when your child enters the space, they should be prepared to learn without distractions.
Any learning space should also have supplies readily available, such as pens, pencils and paper, but also water, and maybe even a healthy snack. Searching for supplies can lead to distractions, and asking for water is a common kiddo excuse to get up (just ask anybody who has ever done bedtime with a young child).
If you’re doing digital learning this year, you may want to pay special attention to your computer set-up. All kids should have a comfortable chair to sit upright (and if you have a child with Autism, of course you’ll want to ensure the material meets their sensory needs). If your child will be spending large amounts of time on the computer, we recommend making sure the screen is big enough – perhaps a desktop computer or even an inexpensive monitor hooked up to a laptop.
If your family is looking for free or low-cost internet and devices, check out Wide Open School.
Build a routine
Most children, and especially children with special needs and Autism, thrive on routine. Create a visual schedule so your child knows what’s coming next and what to expect. Include structured activities throughout the day, and, when possible, let your kid have some say. It will build buy-in and encourage participation.
One of the advantages of at-home learning is the opportunity to teach daily living tasks and build habits. At home schooling allows extra time to focus on things like learning to brush teeth and toilet training, as well as household chores like emptying the dishwasher and helping with meals.
Start with short sessions and take breaks
It’s probably not reasonable to expect a child (and especially a child with special needs), to sit and focus on school work for hours on end. Just like with ABA therapy, break down new tasks into steps, focus on one thing at a time, and work with your child to master the first step before moving on to the next.
And take breaks! Whether it’s running around outside, dancing out the sillies, or calming sensory activities (consider having playdough, coloring books, or other sensory-friendly favorites on-hand), breaking up school time will help keep things fun.
At-home learning is new to many of us this year, and there may be some challenges. We know as parents and as ABA therapists that our ability to be flexible and stay positive will help our kiddos adjust to this new situation and thrive at home. To learn more about incorporating ABA therapy sessions into your at-home learning, check out our blog from earlier this month or give us a call at 770-250-0093.