Special Education Learn at Home Resources

The strategies and resources on this page are designed to help you create a productive, safe and healthy learning environment at home during remote learning.

Set Up for Remote Learning

Communicate

  • Encourage your child to communicate feelings and use strategies to manage them. 
  • Use a 5-point scale, an emotion thermometer, or an emotions sign to help your child identify and communicate feelings.
  • Create a space in your house for your child to calm down when feeling angry, sad, frustrated or overwhelmed.

Create a Schedule

  • Just as adults use calendars, grocery lists, and “to-do” lists to enhance memory, children benefit from visual reminders. Create a schedule to use at home, so your child knows what to expect each day. The schedule can showcase the flow of the day and include remote learning, chores, physical activity, indoor and outdoor play, rest and mealtimes.
  • Learn how to create a schedule with this video, create a schedule online, view sample daily schedules created for different age levels, or make your own by hand or on the computer. Children can help make the schedule by drawing pictures, determining which activities should be included, and the sequence of events. Older children can make their own schedule with or without your assistance depending on their level of independence.
  • Prepare your child for transitions or changes in schedule ahead of time so s/he isn’t surprised. 
  • Use timers to help your child understand the schedule and transition to new activities.

Set Up a Space

  • Create a quiet, comfortable space for your child to do schoolwork

Offer Choices

  • Offering your child choices can help give them a sense of control and reduce power struggles.
  • For example, if you want your child to clean their room you can give them a choice of what to put away first and provide them with praise or a reward for completing the task.

Family Training Videos

  • Using Schedules - Visual Schedules help both parents and children. Picture, word, or object schedules keep children focused and help reduce problem behavior. This video will show you how!
  • Transitioning from Play to Work -Transitioning from playing to eating to using the iPad can trigger outbursts. This video will give you practical, and proven, strategies to manage transitions and keep your child on schedule.

Printable Resources

Promote Positive Behavior

This guide is designed is to help parents and caregivers promote positive behavior during remote learning.

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Family Training Videos

  • Accepting No - Clear strategies to help your child learn how to accept no without tantrums.
  • Requesting - Understanding how to request things reduces frustration and tantrums. This video will give you strategies to help your child learn to communicate their needs.
  • Waiting - Clear steps to help your child understand and accept waiting.
  • Problem Behavior - This video outlines clear strategies to help keep your child safe, productive, and happy.

    More resources to support social-emotional learning can be found on the DOE’s health education page. 

Learning Activities and IEP Goals

Below are learning activities that support progress toward common IEP goals that you can do at home with your child. Some require adult support and all are hands-on. You can discuss which of these are best for your child with teachers, paraprofessionals, and related service providers.

Following directions

  • Assisting with household tasks
    • Preparing a snack or meal
    • Laundry
    • Cleaning
    • Getting the mail
    • Putting away toys and materials
    • Feeding a pet
    • Watering plants
    • Putting away groceries
  • Daily care routines
    • Taking a shower
    • Brushing teeth
    • Getting dressed
    • Helping a younger sibling with a bath, getting dressed, etc.
  • Playing board games or card games
  • Play a round of "I Spy." Describe what the object is using feature, function, and class. Examples:
    • Refrigerator: "It is big." "It keeps food cold."
    • Window: "It is made of glass." "You can see through it."
    • Chair: "It is (color). You can sit on it."
  • Do a scavenger hunt, using prepositions. E.g. "I am looking for something that is under the bed. I am looking for something that is in a drawer."

Conversation Goals

  • Ask your child to describe what they are doing as they complete an activity
  • FaceTime with a favorite family member and prompt your child to maintain the conversation on topic by making related comments and asking questions.
  • Use your child’s special interests to engage them in conversation. Ask "how?" and "why?" questions during play to expand interactions.
  • Reinforce your child for starting interactions

Answering Questions

  • Ask your student "wh" questions about ongoing activities. Examples: "What are you doing?" "What is mom/dad/grandma/aunt/brother doing?"
  • Have your child make choices by asking questions. For example, "Would you rather wear the red shirt or blue shirt today?" or "Do you want to draw a picture first or write words first?"
  • Ask your child yes or no questions.
  • Ask your child "wh" questions and "how" questions when reading books and looking at pictures.

Recall/Retell

  • Show your child pictures from family outings and events and ask them to recall details.
  • After reading a book, watching a show or movie, or completing an activity, ask your child to tell you about it. Prompt them to tell you about the beginning, middle, and end.
  • Draw pictures or write sentences to sequence common activities.

Counting

  • Count items as you complete household tasks – e.g. How many spoons are we putting away? How many pairs of socks are we folding? How many books are on that shelf?
  • Create a bar graph showing the colors of Legos, colors of gummy candies, amount of different types of coins, etc.
  • Make a paper chain to count down to a milestone. Or add a link every day to count the number of days that have passed.
  • Write numbers on index cards. Your child can attach the appropriate number of paperclips either around the edge of the card or by making a paperclip chain.
  • Use small objects (cheerios, toothpicks) to make sets of 10.

Emotional Regulation

  • Create a 5-point scale for feelings of frustration. Include your child’s own drawings and own words.
  • Build a "break station" in your house. Have a quiet space where you student can remove himself from frustrating situations and engage in calming activities.
  • Post visual supports in the most frequented rooms to remind your child to use self-regulation strategies.Label emotions and associate them with body states. Examples:
    • "I can tell that you feel angry because your voice is loud, and your heart is beating fast."
    • "She looks excited! I think she is excited because she has a big a smile and is jumping."
  • Paste delayed gratification – do activities that require waiting, such as baking.
  • Use timers to help your child stay on a task with a non-preferred activity. For example, use a first/then visual reminder and timers to let your child know that first he will do math for 15 minutes, then he can play for 15 minutes.
  • Engage your child in problem-solving activities. Think aloud about solutions. For example, direct your child to complete a task but do not give him all the needed materials. You can say something like "I really want to draw a picture, but I can’t find a pencil! Maybe I should get one from the drawer or ask Mommy where the pencils are."

Math Word Problems

  • "Think aloud" as you do daily math activities in the house. Examples: 
  • "I am making two sandwiches. Each sandwich needs 2 slices of bread. How much bread should I take out?"
  • "Bedtime is at 8:30. It takes 45 minutes to get ready for bed. What time should we start getting ready?"

Adding Detail to Writing

  • Draw pictures with details. Provide a topic for the drawing and encourage your child to add as many details as possible.
  • Write stories that your child dictates to you. Ask him/her to add details.
  • Narrate details as you complete activities or watch TV. 

Executive Functions

  • Write out a grocery list
  • Have your child give you directions for completing a task. Follow the directions as given and help them revise the directions as needed.
  • Include your child in creating daily schedules.
  • Color code materials in the home. Color coding can be used to help children complete chores (summer clothes in the green drawer, winter clothes in the blue drawer) or to understand rules (you can eat snacks from the green basket)
  • Card games (like Uno) and board games
  • If you have a multilingual household, speak with your child in multiple languages.
  • Play games like Follow the Leader, Simon Says, and Freeze Dance

Fine Motor Skills

  • Remind your child to use an appropriate grasp when writing, coloring, and cutting.
  • Create activities where your child is picking an item out of another item. E.g. - beads in dough; small toys in rice; letter shapes in water
  • String beads
  • Let your child style her hair or play with your hair
  • Practice dressing independently, including buttons and zippers, and tying shoes

More learning resources and ideas can be found on the DOE’s grade-level learn at home pages.

Related Services

Find social stories, visual aids, and at home tips for speech, physical therapy, occupational therapy and more.

Get Moving 

Make time for movement throughout the day with The Get Ready to Learn Home Series for children with a wide range of developmental and educational challenges. This program has been proven to have a positive impact on focus, attention, routines, and transitions. 

Everyday there will be a new video that will build on the previous day’s session. The get ready project also has a library of Ready Break free to families throughout remote learning.

More physical education resources can be found on the DOE’s website. 

Family Support

You play a crucial role in the education of your child, especially during remote learning. Here are some resources and contacts to support you.

Helpful Websites

  • Children’s stories in American Sign Language.
  • Do2Learn Free pages with social skills and behavioral regulation activities and guidance, learning songs and games, communication cards, academic material, and transition guides for employment and life skills.
  • Community forum on Facebook to share ideas, projects and strategies to adapt materials to better serve students with disabilities.
  • Lincoln Center Theater Performance designed especially for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders.
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