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Remote learning tips for you & your kids!

This week I am pleased to have a guest taking over the blog. Melissa is is a pediatric OT with years of experience working with children privately and in schools. Now that we are a few months into the 2020 school year, I asked her to share some of her practical strategies to help our students (and us) adjust and succeed while learning remotely.

Hi! I'm Melissa DelaTorre. I am an occupational therapist, wife and mom of adorable twin toddlers Molly and Max. As a school-based OT, my typical (pre-COVID) days involved very little sitting or computer time. I didn't even have a desk at work! Needless to say, this shift to remote learning has been a big one for me and many therapists. In the beginning, I enjoyed the challenge of creating activities using household items as supplies and finding ways to make my sessions fun. But as these circumstances persist, I have had to move beyond creating fun sessions and concentrate on helping my students focus and engage for their entire remote learning experience.

Here are a few ideas that have helped my students succeed in remote learning:

Schedule: Remote? Hybrid? In person? Whatever it is we are all feeling the stress of

our constantly changing schedules. Children, like adults, thrive with predictable

routines. In a world where their routines were essentially thrown out the window,

they are struggling. One way to support them is to utilize a printed,

visual schedule.

boy checking off tasks from schedule

-For older children who can read, I found it helpful to

make a weekly, color- coded schedule with each

discipline, special, and teacher in their own color

(extra points if these colors coordinate with notebooks!).

-For the little ones, a daily visual schedule with use of

easily identifiable pictures can help with transitions throughout the day. You

can use clip art or actual photos of each teacher/activity.

  • Environment: The most important and possibly the hardest factor in setting up our children for success in the home, is the environment. Our homes are full of extra distractions that are not present in school. It is important to have the proper set-up to allow our children to focus.

-Seating: An ideal desk and chair setup follows a 90:90:90 rule.

The child’s hips, knees, and feet are all at a 90-degree

angle, ensuring proper body position. If you do not have

access to child-sized furniture, there are ways to achieve

this position with modifications. Books or shoe boxes can

be utilized to allow your child’s feet to reach the floor. A

pillow or rolled up towel can be placed behind their back to allow them to

sit up straight. Simple changes to their set up may have a great impact on

their ability to focus and attend. Watch for signs of poor posture and

positioning such as swinging feet, slumped posture, sitting on feet, etc.

and be sure to try some of these simple modifications!

  • Distractions: I have seen a lot of AMAZING home setups where parents go above and beyond to create a school themed learning space! As much as I love the effort, unfortunately, for some, this may be distracting and over-stimulating. A computer screen provides a ton of visual input and having the alphabet on their table may actually make it harder to attend to the screen.

-Blank slate: In efforts to further limit visual distractions, it is ideal to have

your child facing a blank wall versus a busy room or window.

-Privacy screen: If a blank slate setup is not possible, you can easily create a

privacy screen by placing a cardboard box behind the computer screen to

block out the background.

-Headphones: Headphones have helped my students (and me) to focus

during remote sessions. For children who can tolerate use of headphones,

this is a great option to limit auditory distractions. Over-the-ear versus in-

the-ear have proven to be more less distracting.