If you work with children via telehealth now, you know how difficult it can be to foster that personal feeling of being connected with your students.
It’s hard for children to cope with multiple online sessions for school, speech therapy, OT, ABA, and often more. Whether they’re on the autism spectrum, have other learning disabilities, or are typically-developing, they’re experiencing Zoom Fatigue. You probably are, too.
How do you help your students feel connected to you and to each other when you can’t be together in person? Here are some things that some find helpful:
- Don’t forget the daily “HI” and “BYE” when you unmute everyone and let them call out their greetings. It may sound like chaos, but they love it and look forward to it!
- Give everyone a turn to share something special from home, even if they are too old for “Show and Tell”. Five minutes, one child per day, is time well spent. During a global crisis, most children revert to younger behaviors, and they may be thrilled to have a time for “Show and Tell.” You might want to re-name it for older students, something like “Share and Discuss,” or “Artifacts from Your Home Base.”
- If you can, (depending on the size of your caseload and confidentiality restrictions) try to reach out individually to each child by text, phone, or 1:1 Zoom. Tell them something you admire about them and why you enjoy having them in your class or group. If your caseload is too big for frequent individual contact, consider reaching out personally to just one student a week until each child has had a one-on-one message from you. It will help them feel connected to you and to school or therapy even though you can’t be with them in person.
Don’t forget to take care of yourself, too. Zoom fatigue is just as real for adults as it is for our students, so make sure you find time to recover. Turn off all of your electronics. Take a walk and get some fresh air and sunshine. Read a book with paper pages just for fun (not anything work related). Connect with your family, friends, and pets. You deserve to pamper yourself after caring for so many others for so long!