Back to School Season

Hello everyone! With schools finally reopening, in the unprecedented format of online learning, I wanted to share Anjali’s experience as she enters this new school year. This school year includes some big changes for her, including a new grade, a new teacher, a new learning format to start the year, and other factors that are changing.

Let’s cover the biggest change of them all, which is the fact that distance learning is still present for most students across the country, and even across the world. I covered the impacts of distance learning on special needs students and specifically on Anjali in my last post. However, there have been some changes from that point onwards. This includes the fact that Anjali is getting introduced to a new classroom and teacher through the online format, something that has clearly never happened before. With Anjali entering the 4th grade, her teacher has changed, and I believe that the online learning format has not been the best way for her to get used to her new class and new teacher. She simply hasn’t been able to focus much in class sessions that are held through video calls, and meeting her classmates and teachers in person would help her settle into the classroom environment a lot faster than it is in the online setting. This is, of course, not the fault of the administrators and teachers, since they are trying to make the most of the circumstances and giving their best effort to reach and connect with their students through the online format. However, I do believe that it is only a matter of time that Anjali really settles into her new learning environment and new class, even if it takes longer than it would have if school was being held in-person. 

An image of Anjali’s iPad, which was provided by her school for the distance learning education plan. Clearly, the materials list provided by teachers for back to school shopping has drastically changed for this school year.

A new grade and a new teacher involves new learning goals for Anjali. My mother has had great communication with Anjali’s new teacher, regarding Anjali’s learning goals and what areas of Anjali’s academic knowledge they both want to focus on improving. Building a strong communication and presenting to the student’s new teacher the academic areas and learning goals that you would like to see improve for the special needs student is something I would highly advise. A new teacher in a new school year can serve as an opportunity for a parent of a special needs child to get new learning goals formed for the student, which may have not been possible with the student’s previous teacher. 

Overall, I would like to wrap this post up by sharing the same message, regarding how to develop the learning and academic base of special needs students, that I’ve shared time and time again: stay persistent. Parents and teachers will need to stay persistent by providing support as tutors at home, and as advocates for new learning goals to be implemented in their child’s academic plans for school and therapy routines. This is exactly what we are doing in order to progress Anjali as a student. 

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