Andrew and Candace gather the pepper and soap. Their son Jacob, 7, needs it for a science project, where he’ll mix both before placing his finger in the middle. The outcome: The pepper darts to the edges of the dish.
The project, however, is more than a lesson in cause and effect. It’s a symbol of the family’s perseverance.
Jacob, a student in Perkins’ Deafblind Program, has always struggled to do schoolwork at home. Amid the realities of remote learning, that means Andrew and Candace have had to become educators themselves.
“At first, only his teachers could show him how to do the work,” says Andrew. “But the support we’ve received from Perkins has been amazing. Now we’re able to go over more materials with him ourselves.”
To avoid setbacks, continued learning was crucial for Perkins students.
Since March, all Perkins parents have stepped up and taken on even more active roles in their children’s education. Perkins teachers, meanwhile, have been there every step of the way, conducting class remotely and collaborating with families to give parents everything they need to keep their kids on track.
In some cases, it’s as simple as a teacher helping a family identify household objects that can be used as classroom materials.
In others, a teacher might give a parent suggestions on how to create an optimal learning environment based on their child’s needs, like making sure a room isn’t too bright, cluttered or otherwise distracting.
Teachers also pre-record lessons in various subjects and share them with parents so they can work with their kids at their own pace.
“The teachers have been so helpful, developing materials to give us as parents,” adds Andrew. And, as always, parents continue to provide teachers with essential insights.
“It is thanks to this amazing exchange of information and shared partnership that we are achieving this level of learning,” says Ed Bosso, superintendent and president of Educational Programs. “We simply couldn’t be here without this crucial teamwork.”
And just like every student’s education on campus, the collaboration between parents and teachers is entirely individualized based on the family’s needs.
For Alisha, whose 2-and-a-half-year-old son Tiago receives services from the Infant-Toddler Program, the biggest help has been teacher-parent coaching.
“Tiago refuses to participate in any kind of online activity. He has a very strong aversion to it,” she says. “Through the teacher-parent consults, the teacher will come on and instruct me and help me work with him as they would in person. So I can still show them what we’re doing over Zoom — we’re playing, and they can watch and help me figure things out. It’s been really helpful.”
In stepping up to the plate in this way, parents continue to be invaluable partners for teachers as they work to keep their students engaged and learning.
“It’s been amazing to see how families have balanced their children’s remote learning schedule with their own work schedules,” says Erin Moynihan, a teacher in the Lower School. “My students’ families have been great support with everything from logging them onto virtual meetings to encouraging communicating with assistive devices or practicing braille and so much more.”
With schools across the country grappling with the challenges of remote learning, many educators have voiced concerns about the potential for students to fall behind.
We have kept our students engaged and empowered their parents, thanks in large part to your belief in our mission. And this fall that work is continuing, in person and remotely, with your unwavering belief in the potential of children with disabilities.