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At-Home Learning Strategies for Students with PWS During COVID-19

In this webinar, Elizabeth Roof shares strategies for teaching your child with PWS at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Most of us are not trained educators, yet with COVID-19 closing schools around the country and many of us are facing distance learning for the remainder of the school year. In this webinar, Elizabeth Roof, Senior Research Specialist at Vanderbilt Research Center, shares strategies and tips for teaching your child with PWS at home. Elizabeth has kindly shared the slides from her presentation. Download the slides here.


Presentation Outline:

Realistic Expectations:

  • You are not a teacher
  • Your home is not a school
  • You cannot be teacher, aide, PT, OT, Speech and the cafeteria lady!!
  • You will not have the resources, support and curriculum you need
  • Your child will find it uncomfortable with you as teacher
  • You will have to find compromises that work for BOTH of you!
  • The school can have expectations of how it will go-but they might not work.

Ways to Manage Teaching at Home

  • Come up with a schedule that works for you and your child
  • Mornings are usually best for kids with PWS
  • Designate a school zone in your house if possible
  • Collect all of the materials and supplies you will need
  • Break activities into small chunks and take breaks
  • Use hands on activities to reinforce learning
  • Make learning fun and engaging
  • Encourage independence/self help

Reteach Old Skills

  • Get worksheets/lessons from last 3 months and rework them or do them again
  • Let your child teach you or siblings
  • Take old skills and generalize them to new situations
  • Its just as much about keeping skills versus learning new skills
  • Maintain versus attain
  • PRAISE and reinforcement
  • Work on social skills –zoom and facetime

Down Time Vs Break-Down Time

  • Take breaks to exercise, plant, clean and do projects
  • Use afternoon for break from kids- they need it and you do too
  • Have rules about when/if they can interrupt you
  • Afternoons can have reading time/PE and other activities that aren’t academic
  • Sense when your kids has had enough and end things before they do with an outburst
  • Keep things light/moving them form getting stuck

Focus On Success Not Failure

  • Highlight the things that went well and why…ask your kids
  • Be grateful for things going well-that’s on you!!
  • Start to list things that are strengths for you and your child
  • Be creative and come up with new ways to do old things
  • If things don’t go well-don’t do them that way again or don’t do them at all
  • Use self care to keep up the good work

Susan Hedstrom


Susan Hedstrom is the Executive Director for the Foundation for Prader-Willi Research. Passionate about finding treatments for PWS, Susan joined FPWR in 2009 shortly after her son, Jayden, was diagnosed with Prader-Willi Syndrome. Rather than accepting PWS as it has been defined, Susan has chosen to work with a team of pro-active and tireless individuals to accelerate PWS research in order to change the future of PWS. Inspired by her first FPWR conference and the team of researchers that were working to find answers for the syndrome, she joined the FPWR team in 2010 and led the development of the One SMALL Step walk program. Under Susan’s leadership, over $15 million has been raised for PWS related research.