COVID-19 Instructional Resources for Families

Links to External Websites with Educational Resources

Recommendations for Families of Students with Special Needs during School Closures

  • Tips for Families to Support Learning at Home for Students with Disabilities


    We know that each of our students has unique needs, so these tips are not designed to provide comprehensive guidance. Your child’s IEP is a great resource for specific learning goals, adaptations, academic interests and relative strengths. If you do not have a copy of your child’s most recent IEP, contact your Special Education case manager to receive one electronically. 


    → ESTABLISH A SPACE AND ROUTINE: We know students with special needs thrive in environments that are predictable, calm and have clear expectations. 

    • If possible, designate a table or area within your home for work with your child, preferably away from distractions (e.g. food, television). 
    • Engage in activities in a predictable order you can repeat each day. This will provide your child with a sense of understanding of what is happening and what is coming next. 
    • Consider making a visual schedule. There are many online resources that you can access to make an icon-based schedule of activities for free, such as:
    • Use a timer (on your phone, computer, or a physical timer) so your child knows how long they are working on a particular task or activity, and provide reminders when there are five minutes remaining, one minute, etc.


    → BALANCE ACADEMIC TASKS AND FUN BREAK ACTIVITIES: While learning is important, especially during times of stress, young people need access to leisure and recreation activities. 

    • Within your daily schedule, consider switching between an academic task and a short break with a reinforcing, fun activity. For example, you can set a timer for 20 minutes of math, and then allow your child to play with a toy or watch a video for ten minutes before resuming instruction. 
    • Use visuals like a premack board and a token board to help sustain attention to academic/pre-academic tasks. Lots of premade templates with icons for common reinforcers and activities are available online, or you can make a low-tech version using a piece of paper and a marker.


    → BE PREPARED TO ANSWER QUESTIONS: A school closure is a significant upheaval in your child’s daily life, and it is likely they will have many questions why they are not in school. 

    • Consider using a social story to explain what COVID-19 is and how it is affecting people. An example can be found here:
    • Videos may also be a clear way for your child to learn more about the virus and why schools are closed, and there are a lot of online resources to support hygiene practices such as handwashing. 
    • Emphasize with your child that this is a way to keep them and everyone else safe right now. When there is a concrete sense of when school will reopen, you can start a daily countdown so your child is prepared to return.


    → FIND WAYS TO INCORPORATE LEARNING INTO YOUR EVERYDAY TASKS: We recognize many of our families have jobs to do and households to run during this time, and there are still ways to embed academic and functional skill development into each day without significantly changing your routine. 

    • When cooking, ask your child to help measure ingredients, name the colors of the ingredients, or read the steps of the recipe. 
    • If you’re making purchases, you can ask your child to name prices, round them to the nearest dollar, add up subtotals, etc. 
    • Taking a short walk with your local community can provide a host of opportunities for learning, from identifying colors, to counting items, to finding community signs and buildings.

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