How To Plan A Virtual Extended School Year

Categories: Basic Skills

Remote learning was thrown at us in March along with many other life stressors. In my district, each preschooler was given an iPad to access our online classrooms. That chaotic spring semester prepared me for our Extended School Year (ESY) to be done online. I was ready to continue training my families and challenging them to use more classroom based materials in the home. So ESY is here, now what?

Take Home Bags

I was lucky enough to be given time to get into my classroom to create individualized bags for each student who qualified for ESY. If you haven’t had that chance, see if your district would allow you access or try to recreate resources at home. These bags make remote learning hands on and more accessible!

My ESY bags included:

Daily Canvas Lessons

I post lessons daily in my Canvas classroom. The lessons and activities follow a structured routine of circle time, gross motor, language/literacy, math, alternate curriculum and IEP activities, and free play; similar to my classroom lesson plans. I am able to take this time to train families on strategies that I use in the classroom and how to implement them daily using the materials I sent home. Some of the strategies and lessons we work on are ways to help their child gain independence in functional routines, using visuals when giving verbal directions, using communication systems in home, expanding language through play, IEP goal practice in the home, and helping their child through frustrations or intense behaviors. My two-year-old son is a great partner for my videos! It is important to remind my families to focus on the strategies and language I am using, NOT what my son is doing.

Live Circles 

I am also hosting live circles once a week! Live circles include our hello song, Zones of Regulation check in, boom card activities, adapted books, core board activities (a grid of core words represented by pictures), and time for any questions families have. This gives families a live opportunity to see the strategies used when modeling language with a core-board and the difference between that and their child’s Picture Exchange Communication System. Being live also helps me connect and check-in with families and students, and gives comfort by showing that I am still here for them.

Remote learning has been full of unknowns and unpredictability. The most important part to remote learning is to maintain parent/child relationships and to teach parents how to help their child maintain their skills. Families are in constant contact with me using Class Dojo to write messages and send pictures of their child’s progress. The plus to all of this is that we will be more prepared if this happens again in the fall. Happy ESY!


  1. I really appreciate your list of items and the pictures!! Very helpful!

  2. Live circles?! I would totally be doing that for my ESY class if I was able too! I did take home packets too!! ESY has been the best experience for me with DL so far!

  3. Hi Patricia, great to hear these were helpful! Thanks for reading 🙂


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