Across the world, both for adults and children, this period of our lives is incredibly challenging and full of uncertainty. Not being able to give an answer about when this will all be over or how it all began in the first place.
Children in particular might be struggling to understand what is really going on. It can be difficult to know what exactly you should say to them and how much you need to tell them. Although they may seem unaware, children actually know much more than we think, and it is potentially causing them worry under the surface. One father spoke of his horror after seeing his young daughter write down a list of dos and don’ts for protecting herself during the coronavirus. At only 5 years old, she was able to recall all the tips regarding handwashing, sanitising and cleaning, but she ended by recording that people die from coronavirus. The father was unaware of just how much she knew without being directly informed.
For children with SEN, this could be a particularly difficult time. In the UK, most children are currently not attending school and so for those on the autistic spectrum, this eliminates comfort of their routine. This exception does not apply to those who have parents considered key workers. Even so, at one school in particular they had 20 children of key workers attend school on the Monday and this quickly fell to 8 for the second day. This indicates that most are being kept at home or have other provisions in place.
I am by no means a professional in terms of SEN, but I have gained a lot of experience/understanding in the last year or so. I have however collaborated on this post with someone who might know a little bit more about it than I do! Leo @TheAnxiousTeac2 has been qualified for 4 years and has been in an SEN environment for over half of her teaching career, specialising with teaching a wide and complex range of physical and mental learning difficulties. We decided to work together on 2 posts which might give parents tips and ideas for things to do at home.
(Disclaimer- I am not trying to tell you how to parent your children, just a few ideas you could try)😲
Helpful Tips for Home Educating
⁃ Dealing with change of routine is going to be incredibly hard. Both a child with (or without) SEN might not understand why this is all happening. This can cause feelings of confusion and an increase in negative behaviours shown. In order to try to reduce this, be as honest and open as possible. Try to provide structure- possibly in the form of a visual timetable, which will set out the activities for the day and allow the child reassurance in knowing what’s coming next. It might be an idea for the parent and child to work together to create a timetable which is best suited to them.
⁃ An additional idea might be to work towards an end goal, something enjoyable and appealing to the child. Positive reinforcement works well to encourage on track learning. You could use a type of reward system to keep focus. Having short periods followed by reward might work better or some may prefer a block of reward at the end.
⁃ I would also suggest a workspace with very little distractions. Somewhere clean and tidy, a place that can clearly be identified as a workspace while at home. You could even make a personalised sign to encourage this and display it where everyone can see.
⁃ If your child finds sitting tricky, movement breaks could be used in aim to refocus. After a physical period of movement, someone with SEN might feel more ready to learn. If this is not the case, abort mission and try again later. You could alternatively use all practical methods to learn.
⁃ Learning through play is the best way for a child to learn and quite often they don’t realise they’re actually gaining knowledge from it. Not everything has to be English and maths paperwork. A child deserves to have fun! You could incorporate puzzles, Lego, multilink or counting bears. Most of these are available to purchase online relatively cheap. https://smile.amazon.co.uk/s?k=maths+learning+counting+resources&rh=n%3A197745031&ref=nb_sb_noss
⁃ If an activity is not working, stop. Don’t create unnecessary tension during an already stressful time. Some days a child just isn’t ready to learn so there is absolutely no need to push.
⁃ Please don’t spend a whole day learning. Do more practical things like play outside, read, crafts. For an SEN child, 2 hours is more than enough learning – have learning broken up into small tasks with plenty of breaks. Even as an adult, making someone work straight for two hours is impossible!
⁃ Don’t expect to be perfect teachers. It’s not going to be easy but hopefully in time a way that works for both you and your child will arise.
Spending all day everyday together will of course be challenging and you will get annoyed with each other. I hope that maybe some of these tips can be applied within your setting and that you see some kind of benefit!And don’t forget:
Thank you so much to Leo @theanxiousteac2 and please be sure to check out our other post which can be seen by visiting: https://theanxiousteachtwo.home.blog/2020/03/26/collaboration-free-to-use-adaptable-activities-for-sen-children-during-the-school-closures/
Also don’t forget to follow her other social pages: https://www.instagram.com/leoooooallen/ pinterest.com/anxhisteach and. ko-fi.com/theanxiousteacher
Here are some additional useful resources:
Stay safe and well💗
Ky + Leo
P.s It’s the last day enter my act of kindness giveaway. Details in previous post named ‘Acts of Kindness’