Parenting Virtual Learners

Edition 5

Supporting Your Virtual Student

With the holiday season nearly upon us, and as your student's "Learning Coach", it is a good time to address your current support system.


Take a few breathes

Many of the families reported struggling the first few weeks, however as the students learned routines and became more familiar with the technology, this got better. Remember to celebrate your successes and learn from the "teachable moments". You've got this!


Continue to develop the Learning Space

If the kitchen table doubles as a learning space, remove all kitchen items (cups, salt and pepper shakers etc.) while your child is learning. Place learning materials (pens, pencils, markers, scissors etc.) in baskets or containers so they can easily be moved.


Review the schedule

Look at the schedule. If you have a middle or high school student, late afternoon or early evening might be when they are awake and ready to learn. Are you including "Brain Breaks" or movement activities to help your student's brain recharge? (See video below as an example)


Develop a Relationship with the Teacher

Reach out to the teacher and discuss the best way and times to communicate. Think of your teachers as collaborators, problems solvers, and supporters. Discuss what is working and if your child needs additional support. The key is to keep communication lines open.


Have Multiple Students?

Be aware of when your children have asynchronous learning versus synchronous learning.


Asynchronous Learning - Happens when independent work is being done, usually on a flexible schedule


Synchronous Learning - Happens in real time. The student, teacher, and other classmates interacti in a specific virtual space at a set time.


  • For elementary students for example, times such as Lunch, Recess, and Encore (special areas such as gym) can be more flexible.
  • Building in breaks, either separately or together, also gives time to regroup.
  • Having a more advanced learner teach a new skill or concept. Encouraging siblings to practice problem solving skills.
Brain Breaks - Action Songs for Kids - Body Boogie Dance - Kids Dance Songs by The Learning Station

Helping Students Be Safe on Social Media

For many of us, Social Media has become an important way to stay in touch with family, friends and loved ones. Especially when so many of our students are having limited social interactions. It can be a positive way for youth to reach out to peers. Like most things, there are good and bad points about using social media. There are a number of things that parents and caregivers need to consider when students have screen time. Click on the article below to learn more.

New Program for Children With Disabilities or Complex Medical Needs

The State of Tennessee's Katie Beckett program is designed for children under the age of 18 with disabilities or complex medical needs and are not Medicaid eligible due to their parent's income or assets. The program will provide services and/or help pay for medical care that private insurances will not cover.


Katie Beckett Part A


  • Will serve up to 300 children with the most significant disabilities or complex medical needs
  • Includes services such as home health, private duty nursing, durable medical equipment or supplies, occupational, physical and speech therapies among other services
  • Receive up to 15,00 a year in home and community based services include respite, supportive in home car and home/ vehicle modifications


Katie Beckett Part B


  • Will serve up to 2,700 children with disabilities of complex medical needs
  • Participants will not be enrolled in Medicaid and will receive up to $10,000 a year in services for their child
  • Families will have the flexibility to choose any or all of the following services within their budget: premium assistance, a health-care savings type account, reimbursement for services that would benefit the child but can’t be covered under a health-care savings account, self-directed respite and supportive home care services, or an array of services from a community-based provider


To apply for Tennessee’s Katie Beckett Program, follow the steps below:


  1. The application will start with a self-referral online at TennCare Connect. To begin a self-referral, you must create a TennCare Connect account. You can DO THIS NOW so you’ll be ready to apply. You can find the TennCare Connect site and instructions on how to create an account here: https://tenncareconnect.tn.gov/services/homepage
  2. Filling out the self-referral online is the fastest way to apply for the program. But if you
    don’t have a computer, a Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD) case manager can help you complete the self-referral.
Click Here & Learn More about the Katie Brackett Waiver

East Tennessee Regional Office: (888) 531-9876

Family-Focused Presentation via WebEx Katie Brackett Program

Monday, Nov. 16th, 4-5pm

This is an online event.

Family-Focused Presentation via WebEx on Monday, November 16, 2020 from 3:00pm-4:00pm CST (4:00pm-5:00pm EST) to assist people in learning more about the self-referral, assessment and enrollment process. The information to join is below. Please note that if you or any of the families are unable to attend, we will record it and place it on the Katie Beckett web page on the DIDD site.


Information to Join the Family-Focused Katie Beckett Presentation:

Meeting link: https://bit.ly/2IfKyzq

Meeting number (access code): 178 003 4906

Meeting password: DIDD


To receive a callback, provide your phone number when you join the event, or call the number below and enter the access code.

US TOLL +1-415-655-0003

Access code: 178 003 4906

Supportive Learning Parent Training

Many of the families have been asking for a "Parent Training" to develop resources in supporting your student's learning at home. Below is a self paced training that was developed by the IRIS Center that is free to parents, care givers, or anyone that would like more information to help support Virtual Student learning. Click on the button below - it is a FREE training!

For the Families that Chose to Return to "In Person" School

Many families struggled with making decisions dealing with their student(s) educational needs, and we want to continue to support all families as they continue on their educational journey. Below are some social stories developed by TRIAD and Children's Hospital to help families to begin the transition to "In Person" school. Included are stories for various age groups and suggestions for introducing the new safety routines at school.
Skills That You Can Practice at Home

Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt