Online learning has been found very effective in meeting the academic needs of children with physical and/or learning disabilities. It offers the flexibility, privacy, quietness, and one-on-one attention that many special education children need to reach their full potential. However, most online educational programs don’t offer training in some of the additional skills that special education students often needs, such as social skills and emotional maturity. In this article, we are going to look at three inexpensive (if not outright free) online tools that can help your child with skills that just aren’t taught in a textbook.
For special education students, social skills can present a challenge. Watch Me Learn is one such program, with online videos for visual learners that help them with skills that others take for granted. They use children in the videos to model appropriate behavior to make the scenarios relatable, and encourage your child to practice these behaviors. The goal of Watch Me Learn is to make learning social skills both exciting, practical, and fun. The videos are available on DVDs or streaming online, and you only need to purchase the videos that you want.
The Social Express is an online software package that helps teach your child social and emotional skills in a fun and interactive way. It helps them with things like eye contact, figurative language, inferring what it going to happen next, using appropriate social behavior, figuring out what to talk about, and more. It can be purchased via a monthly or yearly subscription, providing access to 81 interactive webisodes, assessments, teaching plans, a game room, and many other special features. These interactive videos use animated (yet realistic) characters with excellent voice-acting to engage your child and teach them critical skills at the same time.
Children with disabilities can be challenged by things that others take for granted. That’s where a program like Every Day Life comes in. Every Day Life offers online tutorials for things like shopping with a grocery list, making sure you get the correct items by going to the correct sections and carefully reading labels. It’s interactive, much like a game, and includes appropriate background noise to help simulate a real situation. Other topics include counting change, paying bills, using an ATM machine, and using a vending machine, just to name a few. These lessons are free, easy to use, available online, and no registration or sign up is required.
These three tools – Watch Me Learn, The Social Express, and Every Day Life – are just three of many additional resources and supplements available to the parents of special education students. Even on a limited budget you can get expert teaching material to help your child succeed not just academically, but social and emotionally as well. From learning how to participate in a conversation with friends to using an ATM or asking a question, your child can not only learn necessary skills but build up their self-esteem.
Mimi Rothschild is a veteran homeschooling mother of 8, writer of a series of books called Cyberspace for Kids, and passionate advocate for children and education that is truly worthy of them. In 2001, Mimi and her late husband founded Learning By Grace, a leading provider of online Christian homeschooling Academies.