The road to using technology to support your child may not always be a straight road. I have travelled down this road as a parent. At times I felt I wasn’t seeing any gains, only to realize the curves did lead to further progress.
There may be many curves along the way as you try to figure out what your child needs to best support them with their school work. As a parent, this takes time and learning. Becoming more aware of what your child needs and what best supports them will help you identify clear goals and will help you be more successful in helping your child.
As parents, we need to empower ourselves by developing a plan:
- What skills does my child need to develop?
- What technology best supports the development of these skills?
- Who can help me?
- What do I need to learn to help my child?
Once you have developed a plan, be prepared for any curves in the road.
When it feels like you are not making progress, keep going! You will soon be back on course.
Here are a few curves you may encounter:
- At first, your child may be slower when using technology than when they use pencil and paper.
- Your child may be reluctant to use technology because they are the only ones using it to support them in class and they may not want to appear different than their peers.
- Your child may not have enough preparation and training to use the technology so they won’t use it or they struggle to use it.
- The technology selected for your child may not be the right technology for them or may not be at their skill level, leaving them feeling frustrated and unsuccessful.
- School staff may not have enough training about your child’s technology and may therefore be unable to help your child learn how to use it effectively.
- Technology for your child might be set up in a way that doesn’t connect with their class work. Your child might be working on an app but the skills they are developing on the app might be lost because they cannot be applied to their classroom work.
- There is often preparation time needed to fully integrate technology. Your child may need to have workbooks and forms scanned or downloaded into the device prior to class: someone will need to do this, and someone will need to decide how this will work with the software or apps.
If you’ve encountered one or more of these curves,
DON’T GIVE UP!
How parents can best manage curves in the road:
- Learn as much as possible about various educational approaches and technology (software or apps). Consider attending workshops that review the technology your child has access to at school or the technology you feel would best support your child. At home, as possible, supplement and support the skills that are being taught at school.
- Do not wait on others to help develop your child’s skills. If you see a need, address it and ask for accommodations to be put in place even if it means getting things started before a professional assesses your child. Start right away. Learn as much as you can. You know your child best. Enlist private services and supports to help you get your child on the “right road”.
- Have professional assessments or documents to refer to when advocating for accommodations.
- Identify priorities. Focus on specific skills that you want to see developed. Progress may be limited if you focus on too many skills at once.
- Include your child in determining how technology can help them. If possible, have them help select devices for home use that they can consider “theirs” to use. They will be more interested in using technology if feel they have some ownership of it and can see how it supports their learning.
- Communicate with teachers and resource teachers. Be involved in goal setting. Determine how you can support these goals at home. For example, if subtracting double digits is a goal, you might find an app or an online game that you can use with your child at home to work on this.
- Be aware that accommodations are not based on a child’s marks but are based on documented recommendations from specialists and therapists. If your child has a learning disability and is achieving high marks, they still qualify for accommodations.
- Keep technology as an accommodation on the IEP even if your child doesn’t use technology at school for a period of time. Your child might not see the benefit of using technology for a period of time, or may find they don’t need to use it for certain subjects. There will be a time to bring the technology back into the classroom. Meanwhile, support the use of technology at home for homework assignments and monitor the need for using technology at school.
- Be creative. If your child is frustrated by technology, model for them how to use the program as they give you their ideas. Add videos or images to their work…and soon they will be asking you to move over!
Curves in the road will still get you to the desired outcome. Support your child first at home and then at school. Explain to your child how they learn best and what their rights are. Celebrate who they are and let them know you are fully confident in their abilities.
With the right support, your child can work beyond their present skill level and they can reach their full potential–with the right technology, at the right time.
Susan A. Schenk, O.T.Reg (Ont)
Copyright © 2012 Susan A. Schenk.
Susan is an Occupational Therapist with a passion for technology and children with learning difficulties: www.technologyandtoolsforkids.com