During the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve done much of my clinical work online via Zoom, the same tool that many of my patients are using to attend school. Many of the kids I see in my child neuropsychology practice have attention, executive functioning, and learning differences. Given the current circumstances, we inevitably talk about the impact of remote learning on education. Some of the kids report they don’t mind remote learning because they have fewer hours of schoolwork to do than in traditional schooling. Others miss interacting with their peers, even online. However, they almost universally wish they could be back at school because online classes are boring, and they are given busy work to do. Their experience of school online is generally not fun.
That probably shouldn’t be unexpected. While improvements have been made from the hastily constructed remote learning environments constructed in the spring of 2020, most teachers have had little or no instruction on how to effectively teach online. Classroom teachers often prepare their materials as if for real-life schools as opposed to remote schooling. They are still learning to design their classes to be screen-based and often do not have the types of materials that can keep them engaging. These classes are tough enough for typically developing students, but for kids with ADHD, LD, and processing issues even more problematic. For kids with learning and executive-functioning issues, the first and most crucial step for teachers is to capture their attention and engagement. If you want to find online education, where teachers know how to teach and your kids will love, come with the team at LW4K LIVE and go to Outschool.
Outschool is a marketplace of online classes where teachers teach to their passions. The qualities that make Outschool classes different from traditional schools is that they were always designed to be provided via video chat Zoom technologies. There are many traditional subjects taught in an engaging fashion for kids from kindergarten through high school. However, there are also classes that teach skills in math, science, and reading that use topics that interest kids (such as Harry Potter, dinosaurs, video creation, and Marvel superheroes) to practice basic academic skills. Many other types of classes are offered in fields diverse as Art, Coding, Life Skills, Music, and Wellness. There are also courses such as our LW4K LIVE classes that teach skills such as executive functions, problem-solving, organization, and self-control.
Outschool was designed for all kids, but many parents are reporting that it is an excellent place for kids who are alternative, complex, or 2E learners. This may be due in part to the classes being targeted to an interest that helps keep these learners engaged. Many of the classes are small. often between 6 and 10 kids. Youngsters are encouraged to be involved and talk during classes, but some anxious kids are more comfortable taking their time before engaging.
One of the things that makes Outschool classes unique is that most of the teachers choose to develop classes about their passions and interests. Outschool classes are well-suited for complex learners because parents can often find a class that matches their children’s specific interests and passions. In doing so, they nurture their children’s passions, encouraging them to want to learn more about a particular topic and perhaps pursue it even beyond the Outschool class.
Here are a few comments (changed to protect confidentiality) that provide a sense of how Outschool meets the needs of alternative learners:
A great opportunity for my son (who is affected by Autism) to socialize with other kids who love Pokemon. The teacher created an environment that encouraged kindness, fairness, and positivity.
My daughter has ADHD and dysgraphia, and she can get easily upset and distracted. His teacher always encourages her and keeps her engaged and focused. When she began class, she knew very few letters in cursive and struggled with handwriting in general. She has become a confident and proficient cursive writer.
My son loved this class! Jackie made the classes fun and engaging for the kids. My son has ADHD, but Jackie was able to gently direct his attention back and keep him focused. I learned by observing the class in the background. I’d definitely recommend these classes.
One of the reasons we started LearningWorks for Kids 15 years ago was our recognition that the first step to educating alternative and complex learners is to engage them in the learning process. While we chose to use games, apps, and technology to capture attention and persistence, there are also many other ways to do this. A great classroom teacher in a traditional setting is one. The COVID-19 pandemic has opened our eyes to an entirely new set of educational options to educate alternative and complex learners online. I encourage parents to explore Outschool and other options for engaging in online learning for these kids.