Sheltered Diaries: Together, but Separate

When you have a child with a learning difference, teaching at home can be a daunting task. How do you keep a child engaged when they feel so scattered? How do you convince them that you can teach when you’re not convinced yourself?

I mean, even neurotypical kids can smell fear.

I cannot stress enough how lucky we’ve been this year at Tiny’s school – his teacher, his special education coordinator that makes sure he’s understanding the new math concepts third graders learn (guys, did you know third graders do algebra now?), his speech therapist that helps him work on his conversation skills – everyone feels like a cohesive team.

But when we got the word that the district would be closing because of COVID-19, I won’t lie – I worried that our cohesive team, now scattered, would falter.

But so far, it’s been going very well. That coordinator is now meeting with Tiny online twice a week, where they do videoconference sessions to go over new concepts. Tiny’s teacher gave her class nine assignments to turn in by Friday, but only six were mandatory – and Tiny muscled through all nine. His specials teachers have been providing music enrichment, art projects, and gym assignments, too.

And the Dallas ISD special education team has been hard at work providing opportunities for parents like myself to get some additional guidance, too.

As we wind down our second full week of this, and knowing that we have until at least May 4 before things change, I can say it feels like we’re starting to get a tentative handle on juggling everything. Today, Tiny finished his lessons by 1 p.m., and then called his friend Cooper to have a videoconference. They both went outside, where they giggled, talked, and even somehow ran together (each holding his own iPad) – two friends, playing together, yet miles apart.

If anything, it was the embodiment of together but separate for now.

Today, I’ll leave you with that bit of hope. Tomorrow, I’m going to show you some fun things to check out next week if you’re looking for some brain breaks. Have some suggestions? Please share them in the comments below!


Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson, Digital Editor at People Newspapers, cut her teeth on community journalism, starting in Arkansas. Recently, she's taken home a few awards for her writing, including first place for her tornado coverage from the National Newspapers Association's 2020 Better Newspaper Contest, a Gold award for Best Series at the 2018 National Association of Real Estate Editors journalism awards, a 2018 Hugh Aynesworth Award for Editorial Opinion from the Dallas Press Club, and a 2019 award from NAREE for a piece linking Medicaid expansion with housing insecurity. She is a member of the Education Writers Association, the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Association of Real Estate Editors, the News Leaders Association, the News Product Alliance, and the Online News Association. She doesn't like lima beans, black licorice or the word synergy. You can reach her at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *