Resource Guide for Families and Caregivers

Resource Guide for Families and Caregivers

Restarting the 2020-2021 School Year   

For parents, family members and caregivers, supporting children during the 2020-2021 school year may bring new opportunities as well as unique challenges. Beginning in March of 2020, schools, districts and educators across Ohio quickly transitioned to remote learning in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Because many quality partnerships already existed between schools, families and the community, schools and districts led collaborative efforts to address the transition to learning at home, ensuring support for children’s social and emotional needs and additional supports for school meals, health and safety were in place. The education community and its partners are committed to reaching each child and every family during the 2020-2021 school year.

School districts across Ohio are currently delivering remote, hybrid or in-person instruction, based upon locally determined reset and restart plans. The Ohio Department of Education recognizes the increased role parents and caregivers now play in their child’s daily educational experience. It’s clear that families are balancing many of their own changes and challenges – assisting their children with remote learning, working from home, navigating the impacts of COVID-19 and taking care of other daily needs.

Below are tips, resources and other helpful information specifically for parents and caregivers to continue the partnership with their child’s school, teachers and the community during the COVID-19 pandemic.
 

STAY connected WITH YOUR CHILD’s TEACHERS AND SCHOOL

Local school districts are communicating in many ways to reach all families. Schools and teachers will most likely have different methods of staying in communication with families. It may be helpful to keep track of the ways to stay in touch with your child’s school and teachers - whether by email, phone, app, newsletter or other means.
  • Update contact information. If your phone number, email address or other contact information has recently changed, ensure you update this with your child’s school and teachers to make sure you are receiving all necessary information regarding services and programming.   
  • Understand how to best reach your child’s teachers. Find out when your child’s teachers, including intervention specialists, are holding regular check-ins for students and parents. 
  • Look for important information. Schools and districts will be communicating about many important changes to policies and procedures that may affect you and your child. This may include strategies for how you can best support your child’s learning, and what you should expect for your child’s learning experience. Be aware of the different ways the school or district is communicating with families, whether through email, website updates, phone calls or other means. Specific information from the Ohio Department of Education can be found below:
  • Parents and caregivers who have questions or need more information should reach out to their children’s teachers, principals, counselors or other school staff.
  •  Ask what resources are available. If your child’s school is offering fully remote instruction for the start of the 2020-2021 school year, stay up to date on communication from school staff about how to obtain access to technology to support learning at-home. Schools and districts may also be able to support connecting families with devices or services to provide internet access.
    • A list of free or reduced-priced internet service providers is listed in Ohio’s Remote Learning Resource Guide, under the Identifying Internet Providers and Getting Connected heading.
    • Visit the Parent and Family Digital Learning Guide from the U.S. Department of Education for tips and suggestions on monitoring your child’s progress while participating in online or remote learning.
  • Connect with your child’s school district on social media. Many school districts use Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter to get information out to families. Parents and caregivers can follow the local school districts’ accounts for timely and engaging information.  
  • Student rights and services. All families and students have different needs. If it is known that a parent, caregiver or student is having difficulty understanding or communicating in English, the school should provide interpretation or translation services for all communications. Parents and caregivers who suspect their students may have a disability or whose student may already have an individualized education program (IEPs) or Section 504 plan should ensure there are open lines of communication with their child’s school and intervention specialists about how to be successful in remote learning. Children and families experiencing homelessness or housing instability, youth in foster care or adjudicated youth can find more information about services and supports here.


Get your Child Excited about remote Learning

Create consistency for children while learning at home, while taking into account each child’s age and development.  
  • Set at-home behavior expectations. Parents and caregivers who are familiar with the behavior expectations at their child’s schools should review these expectations with their child, in partnership with the teacher. What does each expectation mean? What do these expectations look like at home? If your child’s school does not have behavior expectations, you can create your own for the home environment. You can set three to five behavior expectations that state the behaviors you want to see in the home environment. Examples might include being responsible, caring and respectful. Here is an example of a school district’s expectations.
  • Create a positive behavior chart. Once your behavior expectations have been established, parents and caregivers can create behavior charts to show children how the behavior expectations look at home. Include “school time” as one of the columns in the behavior chart. Use Encouraging Positive Behaviors At Home – A Chart for Families as an example. 
  • Use positive praise. Praise children when they show appropriate behaviors. This includes efforts to work hard at following set directions.
  • Create a routine. Parents and caregivers can make a daily schedule, and try to stick to it, so both parents and children know what to expect. Craft a calendar or checklist together to make it visual!
  • Stay energized! Establish regular breaks for movement and play. Get outside when possible. Have family talks that are not always focused on school. Engage in some fun conversations about topics of interest to both parents and children. Visit websites like GoNoodle for fun, active and engaging “brain breaks.”  
  • Take notice of children’s behavior. This time may be stressful for both children and families. If a child is showing signs of stress or anxiety, connect the child with supports to help him or her cope with fears. Visit this resource for more information on supporting children’s social, emotional and behavioral health. If your child is having trouble with schoolwork, feeling sad or scared about being away from friends and teachers, contact the school and teacher to discuss how you can work together for support.
  • Anticipate challenges. To help anticipate challenges, look for triggers such as the time of day or a subject the child may find difficult and choose activities where he or she will experience success. To find more information on supporting children through challenges visit Positive Behavior Supports: A Resource Collection, and reach out to your child’s teacher for more information on how to partner to support at-home learning structure. 


ENGAGE IN CHILDREN’S REMOTE LEARNING

  • Know the district’s approach to remote learning. Local schools across Ohio are being innovative as they support remote learning and every district is unique.  Parents and caregivers of students with IEPs or 504 plans should communicate with their children’s intervention specialists and discuss the teaching approaches and learning interventions their schools are using that can be done at home. Visit the Ohio Coalition for the Education of Children with Disabilities website for family information regarding COVID-19.  
  • Ask children about their schedules. Parents and caregivers can help their students by knowing the times online classes are happening and the apps or websites being used by the school to deliver online instruction. If the school is not providing online lessons, know where to pick up or access schoolwork. 
  • Help children stay on track. Parents can ask how their child’s schoolwork is being turned in to make sure their children complete it and are receiving credit. Ask your child’s teacher or other school staff how to check the online gradebook. If your child is old enough, encourage them to email their teacher if there is a missing assignment or confusion on an assignment. Help your child learn to advocate for himself or herself.
  • Be creative. Learning can happen anywhere. During unstructured times of a family’s day, like meals, outdoor activity and play time, find opportunities to build in age-appropriate information and conversation. Visit the Ohio Statewide Family Engagement Center’s website for more ideas.  
Ask for help when needed. If parents and caregivers are having trouble supporting their children’s learning, they should ask their students’ schools or teachers for help. Community organizations also are good sources of help. Connecting with other families over the phone or remotely also can be a positive way to get support. Families can also visit the Ohio Statewide Family Engagement Center’s website, to find regularly updated resources regarding remote learning and supports for the COVID-19 pandemic.


CONNECT WITH THE COMMUNITY

To best support learning at home, the Department is working to ensure each child and every family has access to the resources and services they need to be healthy and safe.   
 
  • Food services. Free school meals still are being served across the state. Many schools and community organizations have expanded their meal service to reach more students. To learn which meal options are available in your community, contact your local school or school district.
  • Local health departments. Local health departments protect and improve the health of communities by preventing and controlling the spread of disease and injury, as well as preparing for and responding to emergencies. Ohio has 113 public health departments that can assist families during COVID-19. To find a local health department, visit the Ohio Department of Health website.  
  • Local libraries. Ohio’s State Library System has many at-home learning resources. To find the nearest library, check the online directory and discover ways to access books, videos, music and other supports.  
  • Housing support. Parents and children experiencing housing instability during this time can visit the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio for more information and support.  
  • Community organizations, businesses and faith-based services. Ohio is in this together. To stop the spread of COVID-19 and ensure the safety of families and children, many local businesses and organizations are providing resources, services and necessary items. Connect with friends, neighbors and the local school to help identify these places in your community.
For more information regarding supports for families, please contact the Office of Integrated Student Supports at wholechild@education.ohio.gov.
 

Last Modified: 11/6/2020 11:41:03 AM