Learning in a new way is different, yet challenging. It’s a new time, a new schedule, or lack of schedule and every day holds something new.
To be honest, I’m not a teacher. I do “teach” yes because I am a parent, but I’m not accustomed to teaching school work day in and out. Also teaching a child with autism takes a great deal of patience, which this week I failed at miserably many times.
I am a “type A” personality so I like to get things done. I have many lists each day and that’s the way I like it.
For our son, we get the schoolwork on Monday morning for the entire week. You are supposed to spend 3 hours per subject so that equals 12 hours per week for him. I look at the work and I try to plan but sometimes I don’t know if we will have to spend longer on a concept than the required hours. It is hard for me to estimate the time we will need and how to spread it out over the week.
I not only have to plan the work, but also my son’s moods each day and work with that. Changes in schedules, sleep times, moods, all need to be taken into consideration. It’s not just as simple as sitting down and doing the work.
What I have discovered this week is the things I do good and the things I do badly.
I have to admit that I am not proud of how I handled all of the work this week. Our son needs silence when working so that he can concentrate. We have a dog and he basically barks at every single noise – a car going by, any outside noises, inside noises, the mailman, you name it, he barks.
One day I was trying to teach a concept and we were sitting at the table, then the dog started barking, our son left went to his room, slammed the door. This happened multiple times this day. Not only was I yelling at the dog, I started getting mad at our son for not grasping the concept. I mean that’s just not right. A teacher would not do this. And to top it all off, I was then reading a note from the school board and one of the main things it was saying in distance learning was to practice patience.
Yeah, I thought to myself, you don’t live in our house. You are not dealing with autism and all the things that go with it. They say they support you, but really they can’t do this from a distance. They can provide the work, but the rest is up to the parents to figure out. Anyway, this particular day was a bad day as I was focusing on getting the work done, our son understanding the concept and then trying to find a way to put some fun into it.
So, I started thinking the next day, how can I make it fun and meaningful for him? What is the experience that I can give him to solidify concepts? What will he remember from learning at home?
I know our son learns best visually and hands on. Although I’m no expert at school, I am an expert at our son.
So, what do we do? We had received a couple of videos from school. There was a video from his geography class on the layers of the earth. We did the worksheets, watched the video and then I had an idea.
Our son had created a YouTube channel the end of the year before to do a project. We had done a couple of videos in the summer, but I thought it would be fun to do another one.
This wasn’t required from the school, but we re-created the video from the educational one that we watched but in our own way. One of our son’s therapists had taught me how to make a video where you could do certain frames and then put it all together in a movie.
I know that our son can learn anything, it’s just not in the same way as everyone else sometimes.
When we created this video, we did it in many frames. On a dry erase board, I would write down what he had to say in the first frame, we would verbally practice then I would film him. Afterwards, I would put it together into a video and then uploaded it to his YouTube channel. This time I actually figured out how to put music in it. It wasn’t professional but looked pretty good and I was proud of our work.
This also shows our son’s capabilities and it was way more fun then just doing work in the normal way. Also, he likes to watch himself!
When we were sending back the work to the teachers, I decided to send them a copy of the video. I wanted them to see what our son was capable of when given the right tools and opportunities. I thought that perhaps, they would maybe be able to incorporate more of this into his learning at school.
I was shocked when I received an email back from the head of Special Education, who had received a copy of his video from his teacher, and said that it made her day! Not only did I receive an email from her, but also from the principal saying that it made her day!
Wow, I thought, amazing! This gave me an idea to do more videos.
But, it also gave me the idea to name Fridays as “Fun Fridays.” We are going to do fun stuff every Friday going forward. Whether it’s videos or something else I can think of, but this is a learning process for me as well.
I know that going forward, I also have to relax. I have to put fun parts into our learning every day and that is my plan.
I am looking forward to more fun times while we navigate this distance learning.