We understand that home learning can be challenging for many children and families, particularly those with additional needs.
Over the past year, we have all had to adapt to new ways of working and we acknowledge that this has not been easy for anyone. We fully understand that you or your child might be feeling a little anxious at this time but we wanted to assure you that we are here for you every step of the way.
The school SENDCo, your child's teacher and the support staff have been working very hard to ensure that the online teaching being delivered during this closure period, supports the needs of your child and their individual next steps in learning.
To further support you, we have put together some resources on this site that we think might help with managing learning at home. Some of these resources can be downloaded and used at home, others are just for information.
Please remember, we are here to help! If you cannot find anything you are looking for, please do not hesitate to contact your child's class teacher / SENDCo who will be able to help.
The SEND team :-)
Supporting children to stay focused on home learning.
Clear daily timetables.
Having a clear timetable for the day really helps children to know what is expected of them and also to prepare themselves for what is coming next.
Visual timetables really help and many children find it really useful to remove the picture once that session is completed. This allows them to see the day in sections and therefore make it much more manageable.
Reduce distractions and select seating wisely.
You know your child best and know what will distract them at home. Generally advice is to try to avoid seating near doors or windows as this can provide potential distractions.
Allow distraction blockers
Fidget toys are often used to provide sensory input in a less distracting way. They can help improve concentration and attention to tasks by allowing the brain to filter out the extra sensory information e.g. listening to a lesson.
Go with your child
How much or how little you expect your child to do each day will very much depend on how your child is feeling. It is really good to encourage your child to share how they are feeling at the start of each session so you can judge what you are going to ask them to do and how many learning breaks etc might be needed.
Making the learning personal to your child really helps to enhance engagement levels. The lesson of the day might be writing instructions about how to make a model castle, but your child may not be interested in castles. Always try, where possible to make the learning important to them. If your child likes Pokemon or chess for example, why not ask them to write the instructions of how to play either of these. Explain these can be shared with others who do not know how to play which gives the learning real purpose for them.
Break work down into smaller sections
Now and Next
When children are faced with a piece of work, sometimes it can feel like they have a mountain to climb. Breaking it down into much smaller sections can really help children focus on one task at a time, without feeling overwhelmed. Equally, using a 'Now and Next' model can also help to hold children's attention and keep them interested.
When using a now and next board, the now tends to be a learning / demanding activity and the next is usually a reward/motivator. For example, if your child was working in year 2 and they were writing a letter it might look a little like this:
Now: Write the introduction of the letter
Next: 5 mins lego building
Now: Write the middle of the letter
Next: 5 mins lego building... and so on.
The key to success with these boards is to ensure that children have a clear understanding of the time. Use of sand timers or even Alexa (if you have one) can be very useful.
Learning Breaks for children are when children are given a short mental break from the focused task taken at regular intervals. Most learning breaks range from around 5 to 20 minutes as a general rule, although most people prefer to keep them short. For maximum success, it’s usually best to include a physical activity.
The benefits of using learning breaks include helping children to:
- be calmer
- remain focused
- less prone to daydreaming
- in a better mental place to face the next challenge
As we all know, children have lots of expendable energy and it can often present itself at inopportune times.
Learning breaks have also shown to significantly reduce stress and anxiety levels too, providing organic improvements to learning and higher engagement levels.
Emotional support and well being.
Children can feel anxious about different things at different ages. Many of these worries are a normal part of growing up.
From the age of around 6 months to 3 years it's very common for young children to have separation anxiety. They may become clingy and cry when separated from their parents or carers. This is a normal stage in a child's development and should stop at around age 2 to 3.
It's also common for preschool-age children to develop specific fears or phobias. Common fears in early childhood include animals, insects, storms, heights, water, blood, and the dark. These fears usually go away gradually on their own.
There may also be other times in a child's life when they feel anxious. For example, many children feel anxious when going to a new school or before tests and exams. Some children feel shy in social situations and may need support with this.
With all the changes in their life during the past year, it is no surprise that many children are feeling anxious at this time.
Sometimes children can need opportunities to 'brain dump' and share their feelings and worries. Below are some idea you could use with your children, no need to print most can be done on any paper you have at home.
During these times children can find their emotions are overwhelming. The above resources can help with this but here are some strategies to also help with regulation.
Finally parents, please make sure you take time for yourselves!