Engaging Special Education Students Over the Holiday Season: Strategies for Success
As educators and administrators, it’s crucial to prioritize keeping special education students engaged during school breaks, particularly over the long holiday season. The importance of continuous engagement cannot be understated — it’s a cornerstone for academic retention and performance, and it supports the emotional and behavioral regulation essential for student well-being. This rings true for the approximately 15% of K-12 students in special education programs across the nation who may require more structured support to thrive outside the classroom setting.
The holiday period can disrupt the learning rhythm for many students, introducing novel distractions and removing the structured learning environment they rely on. In light of this, we’re exploring effective strategies that educators can share with parents to maintain special education student engagement during the holidays.
Personalized Learning Activities for Home: Crafting personalized activities that resonate with individual students’ interests and needs can make learning more inviting. For instance, incorporate practical math lessons through cooking for those budding chefs in your classroom.
Interactive Online Resources: Leverage the plethora of digital tools available that cater to various ages and specific needs within the special education spectrum.
Engaging Hands-on Projects: Projects that involve crafting, building, or sensory engagement can be a great way to translate educational objectives into fun, at-home activities.
Real-World Learning Applications: Use holiday activities, such as budgeting for gifts, as real-world applications of classroom lessons to make learning more relevant and engaging.
Movement-Incorporated Learning: Suggest indoor physical activities that not only promote fitness but also offer a break from more traditional learning methods.
Family Collaboration: Since the specialized support available in school may not be present at home, encourage teachers to work closely with families, offering guidance and resources to assist with at-home learning.
Routine with Flexibility: Advise parents to maintain a semblance of school routine, while also embracing the holiday spirit and allowing time for festive activities.
Social Engagement Opportunities: Foster social interactions through safe park meetups or virtual gatherings, supporting students’ social skills and connections.
Emotional and Behavioral Support: Acknowledge the emotional demands of the holiday season and ensure access to mental health resources for both students and caregivers.
In light of the challenges posed by the pandemic and the need for academic catch-up, special education students require particular attention to keep their learning on track during breaks. These strategies can empower parents and teachers to provide enriching educational experiences at home. Distribute these insights to your teaching staff and engage with us by sharing your own strategies for keeping special education students engaged over the holidays. Together, we can ensure that this holiday season is a period of continued growth and joyous learning for all students.
Additional Resources for Special Education Engagement Over the Holidays
To further assist educators and parents in keeping special education students engaged during the holiday break, we’ve compiled a list of additional resources, including tools, apps, and reading materials that offer valuable support and insights.
Tools, Apps, and Websites Catered to Special Education:
Khan Academy – Offers a range of free lessons in various subjects, some of which are specifically tailored for various learning abilities.
Bookshare – An expansive online library that provides accessible books for students with reading barriers.
Tar Heel Reader – A collection of free, easy-to-read, and accessible books on a wide range of topics.
IXL – Provides a comprehensive K-12 curriculum with a personalized learning plan tailored to each student.
Sesame Street and Autism – Resources for families with children with autism to help understand and navigate the challenges they may face.
Learning Ally – Audiobook resources that assist students with dyslexia, blindness, or other difficulties that impact reading.
Books or Articles for Further Reading on the Subject:
Understood.org – “8 tips for helping kids with social skills challenges cope with the holiday season” offers holiday-specific strategies for engaging students with different abilities.
Dr. Taylor Plumblee is an experienced education executive with demonstrated success in education management and marketing. She joined Frontline Education in 2021 and is the Manager of Product and Solution Marketing with a focus on Student & Business Solutions including School Health Management, Special Program Management, Student Information Systems, and Data & Analytics. She has taught at both the elementary and high school levels in both traditional public and public charter schools. Her areas of expertise include student services, career technical education, special education, school health management, and student information systems. Her areas of responsibility included staff professional development, guidance and student services, and master schedule at the largest high school in Central Florida, with a student enrollment of 4,300+. She directly supervised 25 faculty, 10 school counselors, and 5 support staff. Taylor graduated in 2020 from Northeastern University with her Doctorate in Education with a concentration in Curriculum, Teaching, Leadership, and Learning. Her dissertation researched the conditions under which education technology is successfully implemented in the school setting. She has found success in bringing her experience in school based-administration to the SaaS and EdTech industry.