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Communicating with the teacher of your child with special needs



Remote learning makes clear and regular contact essential

Remote learning makes clear and regular contact essential


From advocacy to providing specific information about your child, it's important to maintain parent-teacher communication to support the remote learning process. Educational consultant Barbara Darrigo, MS, of Wappingers Falls, NY, provides these tips for talking to teachers.

Set up a schedule.

Establish a regular check-in time with your child's primary teacher so you can work through problems and adjust plans, which are likely to need changing as the school year progresses. Make sure the teacher and other school staff know the best time of day and the best way to reach you, whether phone, email, or text.

Describe your home situation.

Teachers can be more helpful if they know about parents' work schedules, siblings' school schedules, and what stresses your family may under, including child care, finances, or family members with health issues.

Specify your child's needs and preferences.

Tell the teacher what learning styles and activities work best for your child: face-to-face interaction, written assignments, incorporating learning into daily life activities, need for breaks or movement. Mention any recent changes you have observed in your child's behavior and their reaction to conditions imposed by the pandemic. Note whether your child functions better in morning or afternoon. Request flexibility in areas that are especially challenging for your child, such as a need for shorter or fewer assignments.


Ask teachers to observe best practices.

Most children with disabilities do best in remote learning if they have virtual face-to-face interactions with their teachers. Through video, teachers can pick up verbal and physical cues in order to judge your child’s confidence and understanding of class material. Online information should be presented in a variety of formats, and students need different ways of responding and showing that they understand. Encourage teachers to maintain variety by incorporating Universal Design for Learning (UDL) standards into their online instruction.

Assert your child's rights.

Despite the limitations of COVID-19, your child has a right to a free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment. School staff are still figuring out how to adapt instructional methods to remote learning, so have patience, but don't give up. Your participation is essential to the process of working out how to give children an education under difficult circumstances.

 Information for this article was presented by Barbara Darrigo, M.S. to a group that participates in a Facebook online forum.

For four years Barbara Darrigo was a principal of an inner-city public school, coupled with over 20 years as a special educator. In her role as an educator, she has provided educational support for children, as well as professional development for families, educators and school communities.

After retiring in 2015, Barbara was employed by the Roslyn Public School District on Long Island where she lent her support to students and staff members. In 2019, Barbara moved back to the Hudson Valley where she once lived.

Barbara can be reached at eduhelp111@gmail.com



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