During the COVID-19 pandemic, California’s preschool and early intervention programs are providing services through a range of options. Those using distance learning and remote services will have fewer opportunities to observe children and collect other documentation needed to confidently rate the DRDP. The following strategies may assist assessors to observe children and collect documentation during distance learning and remote services.
Create opportunities to observe children
- Observe children during small group and one-to-one sessions. It is often difficult to observe individual children demonstrating their mastery of skills during whole group meetings in distance learning.
- Record whole group, small group, and one-to-one distance learning sessions to review at a later date.*
- Construct distance learning activities in which children communicate with adults and other children.
- Schedule one-to-one sessions. Schedule the sessions flexibly so you can observe children demonstrating skills in the family’s everyday routines and activities in addition to formal distance learning activities.
Collect additional documentation from classroom team members and other providers
- Ask paraprofessionals to record and share distance learning sessions; observe particular children for their demonstration of specific skills during distance learning sessions.
- Ask related services staff to share their observations, documentation, and recordings of children.
Collect additional documentation from families
- Conversations with families have always been an important part of completing the DRDP and are particularly important when you have fewer opportunities to observe the child. Schedule video conferences or phone calls with families to ask how their child participates in typical family routines and activities and also in both synchronous and asynchronous distance learning activities. You can find guidance for leading such conversations in the document, Leading Focused Conversations with Families to Help Complete the DRDP (2015): A Guide for Home Visitors and Others.
- Consider scheduling periodic check-ins with families during which you talk about their children’s learning, development, and progress.
- Establish practical and feasible ways for families to send photos and videos of their children participating in typical family activities and routines.* Some families simply use texting or email to share such information with practitioners. In some programs, families can share documentation though a parent communication portal (e.g., SeeSaw, Class DoJo, Canvas, Google Classroom).
- Preschool teachers can suggest fun, engaging, and developmentally appropriate learning activities aligned to the curriculum along with the required materials. Families can be asked to share photos, work samples, and especially videos of their children completing these activities. Again, families might use texts, email, or a parent communication portal to share the documentation.
Lastly, review the many strategies that are described in the document, Supplemental Guidance for Special Education on Using the DRDP During the COVID-19 Pandemic.
* Note: Assessors should follow their educational agency or institution’s policy regarding recording students, receiving photos, and receiving videos, see the following bullets.