As I write this in June, many schools have yet to disclose the new learning model for the fall. But the one thing we do know is that things are going to be different and there has been a lot of talk about various hybrid learning models to keep class numbers lower and keep everyone as safe as possible. Some examples of what models districts are exploring include: “Two-day rotation blended learning:” Students would receive in-person classroom instruction on two days a week based on their grade level. On the other days, students would work on “enrichment” learning activities that can be online, in-person, or with small groups. On Fridays, all students would participate in distance learning, “A/B blended learning model:” Half of the student population would attend class in-person four full days per week, while the other half would engage in distance learning. The students would alternate each week and “Early/late staggered schedules:” Grade level cohorts would have staggered start and dismissal class times. There would also be multiple recesses and lunch periods.
Regardless of what your child’s school decides, one thing is clear: instruction and learning is going to be very different for 2020-2021. Many students will be able to acclimate to this hybrid model without being significantly affected, but children with learning differences in particular are at a huge disadvantage. Children who already suffer with attention disorder, poor executive functioning, organizational, and/or time management skills will be the most greatly affected. So what can parents whose children have learning difficulties do to help set their child up for the best chance of success next year? We are finding there are several options for kiddos who fall into this category.
First, supplementing with a tutor for a few hours on the days/times where there is little to no instruction given from the school. This will enable the child to hone in on the subject areas where they need the most help and customize their learning experience.
Another option is to attend a charter school. With much smaller class sizes, children being taught core subjects at their learning level, not grade level, and the flexibility of picking up and dropping off as needed, a charter school is a great way for a child to get the socialization and more individualized instruction that they need. With the flexible attendance policy, a charter school also enables more freedom to accommodate additional therapies during the school day.
Lastly, we are seeing a trend in private teachers being hired to teach a small group of children in the same grade with similar learning abilities at a private facility for several hours a day en lieu of regular school. In this case, the teacher will create a completely custom curriculum for the select group of children. For example, if the group of children all have a reading disability, the teacher will create a curriculum specific to their needs with an emphasis on reading and reading comprehension. This will enable the students to continue to build their skills during this uncertain school year and ensure they are not left behind when they hopefully return to a regular school year in 2021.