Teaching SEN kids at home
March 28 2020
Kids with Special Educational Needs (SEN) often require extra attention and can’t learn independently. During this Covid 19 crisis, we suddenly need to become teachers as well as parents! It can be tough teaching at home, but teaching SEN kids at home can be especially challenging.
‘But we’ve always been teachers!‘ I hear you cry. Yes! We have always taught our kids – fun activities like cooking or gardening allow us to encourage reading, maths, science and creativity. These are without doubt the most fulfilling ways of teaching SEN kids at home and are amazing educational activities. However, many people (me included) will suddenly feel pressured to ensure that the kids do more formalised learning. That’s great if your child will happily sit down and do the work set by their teachers but if you have a child with special educational needs, that can be somewhat challenging.
The need for SEN Resources
We have two children with SEN at home. One has severe difficulties with literacy, which makes him incredibly reluctant to sit down and read or write, the other struggles with memory, comprehension and fatigue, as a result of a brain tumour. Both are unwilling to sit down alone and work independently. Both need prompting to put pen to paper, or even finger to keyboard!! Mine will never sit and read on their own nor will they stick to a school-like schedule.
Work to your child’s abilities
It is important that you work to your child’s, (and your own) abilities. Don’t put yourself under pressure if your kids can only concentrate for 5 minutes at a time, that is fine.
Our schedule consists mostly of short sessions of work interspersed with long sessions on the trampoline. When teaching SEN kids at home, it is important to consider what they can manage. We aim to do most reading and maths type work in the morning, and the early afternoon for more practical sessions like art, music, design technology and science. Sometimes I get lucky and they want to do the same thing. If I am smart, I can get them to prepare dinner during this time – we already know that cooking is a good learning opportunity! By mid afternoon, I have lost them completely – then the TV or the computer wins out. That’s when I get to do a little of my own work or perhaps some housework. I can get the older one to do a bit more work later in the day but my younger one will be too tired to concentrate by 2pm.
Managing your work!
Of course, if you are trying to work from home at the same time, it is near impossible to homeschool at the same time, especially if your kids need extra help. I don’t get anything done before 2pm, I am not going to beat myself up about it. The alternative is for my kids to sit, watching telly or playing computer games for hours on end. That won’t be good for them mentally or physically. We need to look after ourselves, body and mind, during this crisis.
SEN resources for home
The good news is there are some great resources out there for teaching SEN kids at home, and many of them are free. Over the next few weeks, we are going share some suggestions on how to turn those every day activities into learning opportunities, so do check back soon!
Emma Bara has taught about environmental topics and science for years, running whole school education projects, teacher training, science clubs for primary school kids and GCSE Science tutoring. David Bara has years of experience as a SEN teacher and Senior Lecturer of Special Educational Needs. They are the Co-Founders of WeCanAccess.
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