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How to Succeed at Distance Learning with a Child that has an IEP

The Coronavirus Pandemic threw everyone’s life into a loophole. Within 24 hours, we all had to adjust our lives to conform to these strange, unprecedented times. Parents now had to become teachers along with working full-time from home. Teachers and educators had to face the challenge of turning their classroom into a remote learning environment overnight.

We all assumed that by the new school year, we would be back into the classroom and returned to normalcy to at least some extent. However, as the pandemic persisted and continued to worsen, schools decided to go completely online. The struggles of our students in this new virtual learning environment became more and more apparent, especially since many students with services and special needs were not getting serviced properly, if at all.

Starting with the new school year, as a parent, you should contact your child’s General Education teacher and Special Education teacher to formulate a plan. A General Education teacher will plan for an entire class, while the Special Education teacher will need to take the lesson and create a specialized version for your child that targets their needs. This sounds better on paper than in person, and this is where structure and communication become very important.

Let’s look at the situation at home.

1.Is there a quiet room or corner for your child to work?

2. Do they have access to the proper technology? If not, LAUSD has resources that I can help you access.

3. Who will be responsible with making sure your child is properly accessing the curriculum? You might have to sit down and make a schedule with your partner by switching days of the week to lighten the load.

4. Do you have the teachers contact information on hand and easily accessible?

5. Is there a place your child can step away from “the classroom” to have a break? Outside? Their bedroom? The kitchen?


As adults, we have learned how to thrive off of routine and structure. We all make daily checklists in either our minds or on paper. Students also need the structure and routine, and will need a means to organize themselves now more than ever. Having your child make a simple checklist greatly helps with the organization and reinforcing of structure of the day. This can be done on a mirror with a dry erase marker, a post-it or piece of paper, or on the computer.  

When making a schedule, you need to make sure you are adding small breaks to help your child disconnect for a moment throughout the day. These breaks can be a water break, getting the mail, watering the plants, snack, or lunch. As adults, we have learned how to incorporate these breaks in our daily routines, but children still need to learn this and might require assistance in remembering and incorporating breaks throughout their day.

I know it will be close to impossible to follow your school’s former routine, but once you have figured out a routine that works for the family, you can use the timer on your phone to mimic the school bell when it comes to transitions. Another thing you can consider is giving a warning to your child before the transition - in my classroom, I used to repeat what we are doing now and what will happen next. I would circle the clock at the time the transition would take place and give them a 5 minute warning and point to the clock, and then a 2 minute warning, again pointing at the clock. Things will change day by day, and obviously the home environment is not the same as a school environment, so just do the best that you can.  

Additional information you can use as a parent

Work on however much you can handle - do not stress yourself or your child. If your child was unable to complete the entire assignment, just turn in what was completed with a note. At the end of the day we want success, not an angry environment.

Find a tutor who knows how to work with your child and help them reach their goal.

Look for a learning pod in your community or start one. Parents are hiring private teachers to work with their children to make sure they are not falling behind.

We are here to support you during this time. Contact us for a free consultation.

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