Tammy Cook

Even though it’s important to make sure students are continuing to do their work, Cook said it’s important for parents not to feel overwhelmed. 

MANSFIELD — With schools out of the classroom, students with disabilities are at risk of falling behind. 

Tammy Cook, special education teacher at Prospect Elementary for developmentally disabled children grades K-3, has checked in with her students and their parents every day since schools closed. 

“I specifically work with the third graders, and next year they’re going to go to Malabar (Elementary), and I need my third graders to be up to task with the other students in the third grade,” Cook said. 

Cook and her co-worker Kathy Wright prepared three-week take home packets for their students to work on after Gov. Mike DeWine called for all Ohio schools to close because of the coronavirus. 

With developmentally disabled children that may lose information quickly, Cook needs them to continue on their educational path, however she does not want to overwhelm parents. 

In the packets, Cook has kept it structured in a way so that her students can remain on the same schedule they would be in the regular classroom setting. After students complete each of their assignments, parents must then initial it. 

For as long as students will be out, Cook has given parents access to websites like Clever and Epic for their children to continue learning. 

“From my perspective, this is not spring break, this is not summer break. Just because we’re not in school does not mean that the learning ceases. We need to continue on; continue pushing," Cook said.  

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With developmentally disabled children that lose information quickly, Cook needs them to continue on their educational path. 

Alisha Lawrence, director of Behavior Support Services at The Silver Lining Group, has been working closely with parents and students via TeleHealth by offering two training courses: parent/caregiver training and coaching; and how to structure the environment. 

Through those programs, it’s an opportunity for students to use things in their natural environment to enhance and strengthen their skills in the long run, according to Lawrence. 

“If you want the ability to gain skills, you need to be able to use them functionally or you basically lose that skill,” Lawrence said.  

Lawrence advised that during this time of isolation and children being at home all day, it’s important for parents to “pick and choose what battles they want to fight."

“I think that is key to helping the whole family structure be able to get through this current pandemic we’re facing, and really prioritizing needs within the household with the assistance of the parents,” Lawrence said.  

This story is brought to you in part by the Little Buckeye Children's Museum, a local children's museum that is proud to provide children and families opportunities to learn and discover through the power of play every day in Richland County. As a nonprofit, Little Buckeye Children's Museum appreciates the support of the community it serves. If you would like to support Little Buckeye Children's Museum and its mission for healthy child development, click here.

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Thrive Reporter

Tierra Thomas is the Thrive Reporter. She was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio and graduated from Kent State University with a degree in Journalism and Mass Communications. When she's not writing news, she's writing fiction or taking photos.