An honest perspective: Educating your child with an IEP during COVID-19
Hear from local mom, Bridgette, about educating her child during the school closure.
Our schools are closed for the remainder of the year due to COVID-19. Everyone has been thrown into a new, uncertain reality that continues to evolve.
Parents, can you relate to this conversation?
How are you doing? Stressed.
How are you feeling? Inadequate.
Parents are stressed
Bridgette, a local mom of a child who has an Individualized Education Program (IEP), shares her emotions that she’s experiencing during the school closure.
“It’s stressful making sure everyone is getting what they need without really knowing how to do that.”
Parents also may feel inadequate when they want to help but aren’t able. “I know better, and I still get angry at myself for being angry at my children.”
Every parent is experiencing these emotions at some level, especially parents whose children have IEPs or unique educational abilities.
On top of heightened emotions, families may be spending much less or more time together than they are used to. Bridgette explains that even though activities have been canceled, parents feel the pressure of a “million things that still need to be done” without any breaks.
Missing everything about school
The challenges of social distancing are plentiful. It’s a tough pill to swallow.
Kids can’t knock on neighbors’ doors and ask to play. They can’t hang out with friends and relax. Siblings don’t always want to play together, and they fight more often than not.
“My child misses school and everything about school.”
Fear of a growing gap
For children who have IEPs and unique learning abilities, these unprecedented times bring fear.
Our current reality puts enormous stress on parents who are trying to bridge the gap. Parents may feel worried or anxious that their child could lose the traction that he or she was gaining in school.
Bridgette honestly reflects that “the impact of the school closure may not affect other children as it affects my child.”
But, perhaps, every cloud has a silver lining.
Bridgette explained that during the school year, teachers share how her child is an engaged and interested writer. Now, she has been able to experience these moments up-close and first-hand.
Without this educational opportunity at home, Bridgette wouldn’t have seen the effort her child has put in and her joy for this subject.
We have to look for the small victories around us and new discoveries around us. Celebrate them!
Bridgette shares 3 ideas that are helping her family during this time:
1. We’re ALL #InItTogether
Knowing that it’s not just our family, our school, or even our state that is experiencing a new normal puts this situation into perspective. Everyone is affected in their own unique way.
2. Emotional-support doesn’t have to be complex
It’s critical to address basic needs, such as food insecurities and technology shortages. “We also need emotional support.”
Bridgette explained that her child uses technology to see and talk with teachers. They don’t spend time focusing heavily on academics, but rather, they connect socially and emotionally.
“It’s not necessarily an in-depth conversation. But, just seeing each other has reinforced to my child know that teachers are here for us. It’s helped a lot.”
3. Families can strengthen
Families used to be on-the-go all the time. Bridgette reflected, “We’ve been able to eat dinner together and have conversations we didn’t have before. Our children are more involved with sharing chores and stepping up for household duties.”
Families can grow during this time when we have to slow down – talk to each other – and find a way to laugh together.
An unknown future
The uncertainty of the future continues to be an underlying stressor. Many questions cannot be answered. We don’t know the impact that COVID-19 will have on students, including those with IEPs and unique learning abilities.
Yet, we have witnessed that schools and educators care about students! Everyone, including parents, teachers, and students, is doing the best they can. We all miss each other because we are connected in a unique way.
We will be resilient. We’ll take it day by day.
Parents, we are #InItTogether. You’ve got this!
Great advice, Bridgette! Moms, dads, guardians, family members…You’ve Got This! Central Rivers Area Education Agency (AEA) and your local school district are here to help during this unprecedented time.
For more information, contact Amy Knupp, Executive Director of Special Education.
(You’ve Got This! is a series of blog posts designed to provide advice, support, and guidance. For more information, contact Kelsey Baker, School Psychologist.)