There are a lot of ways we can connect, not every family has the ability to or wants to connect in all formats, but having a wide range of options available in a way that is as efficient as possible for you (teacher, therapist, any other provider of a service) is getting pretty essential.
The way I am tackling this is to offer diverse ways to connect. It’s a non-exhaustive list that hopefully jogs some ideas. Happy Outreach!
- In Person Coaching/Meetings: Only an option if your district isn’t closed. Families choosing “drop in” services get coaching during sessions. My parents have the option of meetings held following the district’s social distancing guidelines and with a time slot that offers pre and post cleaning time.
- Google Classroom: in exchange for the parent workshops that I used to hold live, google classroom offers the option of a resource location, question and answer forum, and a “support group” kind of feel. This works best for tech savvy parents as google classroom interface is not the most transparent.
- Google Sites: This platform is more UI simple for the parent as it functions as any website would. You can make it quite easy to navigate, upload videos (internal to Google Drive or linked from YouTube), link resources, and I include a weekly Google Form Link for a tiny survey on how the At Home Unit worked/didn’t work for their students, request support, connect in a fun family poll (what is your favorite dessert?)
- Teleconferencing Software: For both individual tele”coaching” and for “live” Parent Workshops. Teleconferencing software gets me face to face with my students and parents at the same time. I don’t hold teletherapy sessions where the parent(s) is not actively involved for several reasons: engagement = better carryover, parent training = more success on goals, teleconferencing software can clip out certain sounds that we are targeting and I need a set of ears with the student(SLP only, but Big!), and some goals require communication partner for modeling purposes.
- Paper Packets: If you are based where not everyone has access to the internet and/or a device that can house a district approved teleconferencing software, paper packets may be your option. I include general resources and sort out activities within a universal theme (lots of family meals and harvest stuff this last mailing!) with companion instructions for each family’s student(s) goals. It’s an undertaking!
Emails, Phone Calls, Text Messages, Certified Mail: Regardless of the method, a goal has been to make sure that each family has had equal access to our contact information, by contacting their last provided information in the above ways. Some families have been easy to reach, others have required letters, some, the certified mail is returned by the postal service. When a family is not contactable, I let my district know.
Author: Amanda Owens MA, CCC-SLP