All this while we’ve heard a lot being said about how online homeschooling can benefit children right from kindergarten through to high school. There are even online colleges that provide students with access to online course material. But how many of us have heard about virtual learning programs for children with special needs?
Sure, being able to study online helps overcome the obstacles faced with conventional methods of imparting education. But how effective are online learning methods at helping deliver the right knowledge to children who have special needs? Those in traditional classroom have certainly made progress with the help of the right teachers and the right curriculum. But just as students in traditional schools are benefiting from technology, those with special needs too, have something special in store for them.
Special needs education usually involves a process of educating children with special needs in a manner that is best suited to address their individual needs. There are different kinds of special needs but the more common ones include children with learning disabilities, communication disabilities, physical disabilities, developmental disabilities and those with emotional and behavioral disorders. While most people may not be aware, the term ‘special needs’ covers a wide range of aspects pertaining to children who are considered ‘different’ and require specialized teaching and customized course material. With the numerous options available on account of cutting-edge technology, online homeschooling can now be used to extend the reach of education to children who were once considered out of reach. Delivering education to such children is now not only possible but also feasible and affordable.
Virtual learning programs make use of an online environment designed to deliver course material over the internet. This way, most special needs children are able to carry out their coursework from their home, which makes things a lot easier for them as well as their parents. Also, since such children require their course curriculum to be tailor-made according to each one’s abilities and needs, online courses offer the perfect solution. Not only is it easy to customize material but delivering the same is affordable too. Students no longer have to worry about keeping track of their books and assignment papers. Since everything is done online, all they need to do is log in to their web portal and access their coursework. Leveraging technology is now more of a norm rather than an option and we need to make sure we get the most out of the technology we have currently access to.
Students can submit assignments online to their teachers, who can then check them and provide feedback via the online environment itself. This greatly reduces the time involved and also contributes toward speeding up the entire process. Also, depending on each one’s individual capabilities, students are taught how to gradually explore their material on their own and are encouraged to be self-sufficient in their activities. Of course, parents and teachers are always available to jump in whenever help is needed. But being able to study independently gradually helps develop a sense of confides in such children, which can be immensely beneficial in the long run in terms of academic achievement and future prospects. The greatest benefit of employing virtual learning programs is that each student is graded and assessed according to their own individual abilities, keeping in mind their specific needs.
Another key benefit of online homeschool is that it helps foster social integration. This is a major factor that can contribute toward reducing social stigma associated with special needs and help improve academic achievement levels of such children. More than just delivering education, studying online has helped children with special needs break down traditional barriers and explore avenues that were once out of their reach. The important aspect to help children achieve this is a strong support system. Having their parents and teachers on board the same platform certainly helps bring all those involved a lot closer than traditional learning environments. Moreover, interacting online is a lot easier, faster, time-saving and much more economical. This encourages more frequent communication between parents and teachers, which is necessary in the case of children with special needs.
There are several aspects parents need to consider before opting to enroll their child with an online school. For starters there are a few things pertaining to the school’s curriculum that require evaluation such as whether the course proceeds at the individual pace of each child, builds on existing skills, provides room for independent learning and progress, and most importantly, combines learning with fun. Online courses are designed to be interactive and enjoyable in a manner that provides special needs children with fun, learning opportunities that encourage exploration and discovery in a safe and secure environment. Constant supervision by parents also reassures the child and reinforces their confidence in the online learning system.
Those with physical disabilities and other learning disorders certainly find studying online to be a viable alternative. Eliminating the need for transportation and the flexibility to alter the pace of the course as needed certainly make online schools a lot more appealing than traditional ones. Studying on a computer also allows for a lot more options for educators to create a variety of interactive content that can stimulate the child’s mind. A diverse range of multimedia tools are available that allow you to do just that. Helping children learn in a manner that encourages exploration and discovery certainly beats just having to study from books and submit coursework assignments. Students are allowed to venture into different aspects of the subject, which in turn is what holistic learning is all about. Several online modes of communication also make it much easier for student-teacher interaction and a desirable teacher-to-student ratio.
Online learning material can be designed to have an impact on a diverse range of students with different cognitive abilities. Being able to have such a significant impact on such children is not commonly observed in traditional schools, which is why academicians and educators everywhere are strongly evaluating the potential of online schools in their endeavor to help those with special needs.