by Brenda S Miles, PhD, C Psych
Clinical Paediatric Neuropsychologist
A few weeks ago we kicked off our new Possibilities Word of the Week Project. As COVID-19 continues, so does this initiative. We hope you find a small dose of direction—and a big dose of inspiration—amidst so much uncertainty.
This week’s word is match. It feels like the right word for right now, especially with so many parents telling us that school expectations for on-line learning have been a struggle. One mother described a fire-hose effect—a constant stream of worksheets and assignments coming from cyberspace with such force and frequency the family feels like they’re drowning. And often, little or no work is getting done.
So what does the word match have to do with these struggles? Well, I’m a hopeless romantic. And yes, I love all those movies where lonely people meet and fall in love. The subplots vary, but all happily-ever-after stories have one thing in common: love happens when there is a match. Mismatches, on the other hand, are disastrous. They are heartbreaking, painful, and draining. When your child’s skills don’t align with work that is expected, there is a mismatch. And the tantrums, and refusals and frustrations that happen are heartbreaking, painful and draining.
At the Possibilities Clinic, many of the children and teens we see have unique learning needs. Many have ADD and ADHD. Many have Learning Disabilities. And many have a combination of focus and learning difficulties that make learning even more challenging. For these students, accommodations are typically required. Accommodations are adjustments made so students can work around what is most challenging for them. For a smart child with dyslexia, listening to an audiobook is a great way to get grade-level information into a smart brain. For a verbally skilled student who struggles to put pencil to paper, speaking into a computer with speech-to-text software is the perfect pairing for a writing assignment.
During COVID-19, on-line learning, cluttered worksheets, and expectations for five-page stories written on paper can be a disastrous mismatch for many students, particularly those with ADD, ADHD and Learning Disabilities. Without the structure and teaching support of the physical classroom, now is not the time to forget about accommodations! Your child may need them, now more than ever.
I’m happy to hear that many parents are being inventive when it comes to stay-at-home learning. One budding astronaut is watching Chris Hadfield’s MasterClass! Another student is listening to a Harry Potter audiobook. There’s a Harry Potter movie night coming soon—with the promise of popcorn—once the book is complete!
What accommodations would be helpful to your child during the COVID-19 quarantine? Take a moment to think about how your child learns best. And how does your child convey knowledge most effectively? When it comes to story writing, perhaps a video would yield spectacular and exciting results! Maybe your child could discuss astronomy facts or medical discoveries while your smartphone or laptop captures it all. It’s likely the teacher will appreciate a MasterClass Junior Edition at a time when learning is far from conventional.
Reach out to your child’s teacher and be a matchmaker (of sorts). Discuss how work can be accommodated to best suit your child’s learning strengths and needs. Maybe the work needs to be reduced. Maybe it needs to be adjusted. Whatever accommodations you agree upon, strive for a good match—because happily ever after, or at least happy until the next assignment, is a goal worth shooting for.
Until next week, revel in possibilities.
If your family has been inspired by our Possibilities Word of the Week, send a story or photograph to firstname.lastname@example.org. It might be featured in our next post!