One of the biggest concerns parents have had for their children the past year is regression, or learning loss. Regression shows up in all sorts of ways depending on the child, their age, and their learning needs. Parents have seen it manifest in academic, social-emotional, verbal, behavioral areas, and more. “National data from McKinsey & Company suggests that on average, students lost the equivalent of three months of learning in math and 1.5 months of learning in reading going into the academic year.” (WMTW8News).
Besides losing skills they had once mastered, completing or even attempting tasks is more of a battle with their child, many parents report. School closures have affected more than just learning. Anxiety is becoming a regular experience in school-aged children.
This regression is happening across all levels of abilities. However, it is particularly concerning for students with special needs. Schools are still held to the same standards mandated in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) as before closures, yet they are struggling to conform to them.
“The difficulties of transitioning individualized special education academic and behavioral services to online and hybrid formats have been challenging for teachers and school administrators since the onset of the pandemic — not only because of the potential for regression of students’ skills, but also because of the vulnerability of districts to be sued or otherwise held accountable for the potential violation of students’ rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act even as they navigate never-before-seen situations of educating students during a global pandemic.” (K12Dive).
Pam Garrity, Parent Representative and Community Liaison for Triton Support Services, addresses three main areas of concern parents report.
Impact of virtual learning – Keeping a child challenged and on grade level continues to present the greatest struggle for parents. They want them mastering new skills each school year but this past year has been at a stand still. In fact, many students with IEPs have not received the accommodations legally due them. A class action lawsuit in California is now underway to demand that schools provide the same accommodations a student’s IEP requires, regardless of students being at home. “Under the settlement, it is understood parents and students can immediately demand services in their child’s IEP be implemented. Students can immediately demand compensatory services for regression and file lawsuit against the school district if they fail to provide compensatory services or failed to provide services in the students’ IEPs.” (Newswise).
Even typically developing students show the need for supplemental educational support in addition to their school day to keep them on track. Triton can target your child’s areas of needs with a multidisciplinary evaluation. Triton’s evaluations show where a child’s needs lie, and puts a plan into action in addressing those needs.
If you want specific coaching on how you can help your child at home, sign up for our free parent activities here.
Socialization with peers – The lack of socialization with their peers during virtual learning impacts a child’s emotional well-being, and ultimately their relationships and performance in school. Children are not being exposed to the outings they used to on a regular basis. Everyday experiences that keep life dynamic like going to the grocery store, library, mall, and family outings, are conspicuously missing. Missing out on exercise and social opportunities at playgrounds and other social gathering places for kids (e.g. Chuck E. Cheese) leave parents with few options to give their children.
Encourage and help your child reach out to friends and family via phone or video chats. Write cards or letters to friends and family together whom they cannot see in person. Parents and teachers can promote greater interaction in the classroom by playing games even if we’re not together in person. Talk with your child’s teacher about boosting social interaction in class!
Lack of motivation – Children’s motivation to stay on task is not as strong as it was when they attended school in person. Without the regular changes in the day, monotony can decrease morale.
Some parents have found that creating a routine boosts motivation and productivity. You can create a visual schedule together and hang it somewhere for them to see on a daily basis. This should include regular activities such as lunchtime, recess, and breaks between subjects. This will reassure them when they are on task and they more easily hold themselves accountable. This offers them a sense of control over their day, and empowers them to stay on track.
For younger kids, you can use pictures instead of words. Build consistency by following the schedule each day. Parents have noted that their child does much better when they know what is expected of them each day.
If you want direction in identifying what areas your child needs support with most right now, take this 2-minute quiz.
Stay tuned this week for resources for parents! You will not want to miss Pam Garitty’s full interview on parent concerns from parents just like you. If you want to hear from other parents who know exactly what this is like, and what we can do about it, Triton is offering a virtual parent group with open discussion on regression. Coming soon!