Yes! Educators are proving their ability to adjust the delivery of
instruction for academics, and we can adjust the delivery of social
opportunities as well. Students with IEPs need social opportunities
now more than ever! Ensuring that students with IEPs have access to
peers is a proactive, evidence-based strategy to help reduce that
anxiety, head off problems, and maintain social connections.
Currently, SEL considerations are at the forefront for all students.
An important part of SEL is “how students build relationships with
each other” (CASEL). Peer to Peer focuses on prioritizing
relationships and human connections, and these programs will support
the mental health needs of our students as we embark on this school year.
Suggestions for adapting Peer to Peer in person:
Physical proximity does not define how we socialize. Even with social
distancing, we have the opportunity to connect students. LINKS can
still sit “next to” students with IEPs in class, have lunch together,
and encourage one another. One of the primary roles of peers is to
model expected behavior. This can include how to interact with others
while sitting at a distance, stay calm, and ask for help.
You can use the LINKs boxes on the START
Peer to Peer page for activities to help students connect. And,
you can ask LINK students for ideas!
Suggestions for adapting Peer to Peer virtually:
Zoom and Google Hangouts are now familiar tools. For students that
are engaging in virtual learning, we can create times during school
hours when school staff facilitates interactions between students.
Visit the START website to access the Padlet
and the Virtual
LINKS Box. With some initial modeling and practice, older
students may be able to continue these connections independently
through the use of technology.
For younger children, connect them with each other during class time,
but also consider reaching out to families in order to facilitate
virtual “play dates” to keep them connected. Some amazing interactions
have happened online even with preschoolers.