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April 17, 2020

What is Communication Bridge? Why is it Important?

OMG, It’s crazy right now!  Schools are scrambling around to create online classrooms while providing classwork to students so complete while they figure things out. All over the world, parents are teaming together and sharing resources teachers are doing the same. I feel like I’m dodging resources right and left!   I must admit, it is a bit overwhelming. 

I’ve been blessed with the fact both of my boys attend awesome schools that were READY!  Especially for Asar whose in Middle School, he’s been taking classes virtually from day one. As for my youngest son, he started off smoothly with a backpack full of assignments and books. But by Monday it was apparent his school was still pulling things together and then the resources links started pouring in.  And honestly, I could not keep up. I took two days to transition and then I stepped in the virtual learning space.  

After I finished the first week,  my biggest take away is that Communication is key in this new and hopefully temporary world we find ourselves.

One of the main pieces that will help you, I mean us, during this time of virtual homeschool is to create a communication bridge between yourself and teachers. Under normal circumstances, we talk to our teachers when our child is having difficulty in school during parent-teacher conferences. All of a sudden, this dynamic has changed with schools stepping into virtual learning in stages.

There are three stages toward virtual school:

Phase 1 ( Worksheet Stage) when schools sent your child home with classwork and a tentative schedule. Which gives them time to discover how to build classrooms online.

Phase 2 ( Guided Classwork) schools created an online platform with assignments that can be completed online with deadlines. While also providing tools to parents to learn how to navigate the classroom and tools to support their child. 

Phase 3 ( Virtual School ) a virtual classroom and therapy sessions have been scheduled for your child to be taught or receive services virtually with a teacher and therapist.

All of these phases need parents to create a bridge of communication between you and your child’s teachers and support team.  We are in unchartered waters which means teachers are having to quickly think out of the box and some of the assignments they create may not work in your home. You will need to let them know what’s not working.  For example, I received a call from my sons’ teacher and she asked “ Do you have the internet at home? Do you have a printer at home? Does your child have excess to a tablet or computer?” The answer to all these questions is yes. However, she didn’t ask if I had ink for my printer or paper. LOL! So when I had to start printing out assignments I had to quickly place orders to Amazon.

We have to take the lead on creating an open line of communication that will help teachers as they become overwhelmed and before our children get frustrated. Honestly, I was getting frustrated until I couldn’t take it anymore and started to ask questions and make suggestions. 

Communication Bridge Steps

Provide Feedback - Let teachers know when an assignment or resource is given to your child and they are having difficulty with it.  For example, My son was given a fractions video and then an assignment. The video did not give him a full understanding of factions and he literally said: “ I don’t understand.” I reached out to the teacher and ask for some different videos and once he watched those videos he understood. Tip: Do not put additional stress on yourself to find resources yourself.

Realistic Activities - Let teachers know when assignments or activities are assigned that are not easily completed from your home. For example,  my son was given some occupational therapy suggestions and I didn’t have some of the items to complete the exercises. I reached out to the therapist and asked for some alternatives.

Individual Education Plan Check (IEP)- Familiarize yourself with the number of hours your child receives services such as reading intervention, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and behavioral therapy.  This will help you ensure that your child is still receiving services ( even if modified) and if you are in Phase 1 or 2 you’ll know how many hours to work in these activities. For example: Left to my own devices my son would be doing speech activities every day. I realized real quick there is no way he was doing these activities every day. After reviewing the IEP I contacted the speech therapist and asked her how many days does she meet him each week. She let me know she meets him twice a week for 30 minutes. 

Tip: Communication with the therapist and find out how often and how long your child is in a Therapy session. 

Transparency -  Let the teacher know when things are not working for your child. You are not alone and teachers need to know how you feel to make changes in their curriculum.

Keep in mind that it only takes one parent to point out when something is not working for their child to help the teacher and other students grow.

To get more tips on how to manage  Virtual Schooling join my Facebook Community where we support each other with the different phases to ensure our children maintain their progress. 

Leave me a comment and let me know what stage your household is in and how are you doing?

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