Tips for families with Special Educational Needs children in lockdown
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With no clear idea of when youngsters can go back to school, parents have been left to carry on their education at home.
But for families who have children with Special Educational Needs (SEN), this can be an even bigger challenge.
Sandra Govender, chief executive of Athena Education Support, a social enterprise based in Thetford, which offers training in Special Educational Needs and supports parents who have children with autism, gives tips for parents during lockdown.
Do not set unrealistic targets
"Approach each learning session as a parent with a dedication to impart knowledge to your child and not as a trained teacher determined to complete all work set.
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"Setting unrealistic targets for yourself, your child and the learning expectations, may only result in increased levels of frustration, anxiety and anger."
Set family rules
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"These rules can be positive statements about how your family wants to look after and treat its members.
"Rules help children to learn what behaviour is accepted in your family and helps adults remain consistent in the way they react towards these behaviours."
Structure each day
"Ensure that routines are in place. Always remain consistent in your approach and expectations as children are more likely to test or ignore limits when these are inconsistent."
Draw up a daily learning timetable
"This must include a session of outdoor learning.
"Keep your child’s needs, strengths and difficulties at the forefront of your planning.
"It is better to break down learning sessions into 30-minute chunks with a 10-minute break than expect a whole hour of focused learning. Use a timer for each session to avoid any frustrations and distractions."
Explain to your child that sometimes plans need to change
"Teach strategies to manage change. When leading up to the change, look at the schedule regularly with your child so that they know the routine will be different."
Capture your child’s success no matter how small
"Use tick sheets, stickers, reward charts etc to record each success."
Reward and praise often
"There is no such thing as over-rewarding or over-praising positive behaviours, effort and progress, however any praise or reward must be genuine and earned.
"Use ‘well done’, give your child a high five or a big hug (if they are comfortable with this), or put a sticker on your child’s reward chart. Remember, fives times the praise for every criticism."
Keep motivation flowing
"Keep the motivation and encouragement flowing by giving children limited choices, varying tasks, combining previously learned tasks with new tasks, prompting and plenty of praise and rewards.
"Also use every interaction within the home as a real-life teaching moment. Children learn best by watching, listening and practising."
Never give up after a few ‘failed’ attempts at teaching
"Wait a few hours or days and try that session again.
"Remember that you are your child’s role model so your demonstration of resilience will inspire them."
Take care of yourself
"Do not feel guilty for taking time for yourself when you can, even if it is just going for a walk on your own.
"Plan personal or adult time within your family schedule so that you can take a break from the pressures of the day to relax and reenergise.
"If you are not feeling yourself for any reason, seek support from family and friends. A private, selfish hour to yourself can result in three quality hours with your child."
For more help or support visit Athena Education Support here, www.athenaeducationsupport.co.uk.
Or you can contact Ms Govender via email at, firstname.lastname@example.org