Managing the transition to home schooling children with SEND and Autism
By Heather Ette, GRoW Team Member
Like most other children now my son is out of school amid coronavirus fears but due to his special educational needs he can’t just log in to the computer and do his schoolwork at home. My son is autistic and at school he gets adult help in every classroom. Without this intensive support he can’t write a paragraph without having a meltdown.
The prospect of remote home schooling serving as a replacement in the coming weeks or even months is more than a little daunting for most parents, let alone those of us who have children with SEN. I’m not sure how I’m going to do it, or whether I am going to do it well, all I know is that I can only do the best I can!
What I’m planning to do is worry less about providing a similar level of schooling that he would receive in a typical classroom and focus more on spending this time engaging with him so that we can both enjoy it as much as we can. I’m trying to view it as an opportunity that I will never have the chance to do again and so I’m going to try to make it as fun and enjoyable as possible.
These are the 5 key points I’m going to concentrate on:
- Introducing a loose structure that is led by my son – if it’s his decision when he does things then he is more likely to do them! I will keep to routines such as breakfast, lunch and dinner time and we will agree a timetable for the day between us.
- Include ‘Bubbles’ of activity that we can do together in short bursts – 30 mins drawing, 30 mins building lego, bake a cake, spot of gardening or play a board game together.
- Research – I’m going to spend a bit of time each day talking to him about subjects that he finds interesting – Different breeds of dogs, Pokemon, Super Mario Brothers etc. We’re going to find out as much about them as we can, researching the subjects with him on the internet, watching youtube videos or tv programmes or reading books to find out interesting facts.
- Exercise – I’m going to try to encourage him to exercise for 20 mins a day with me – throwing a ball for the dog in the garden, sit ups on the floor together, playing catch, even running up and down the stairs!
- School work – I am going to attempt to work with him to carry out one assignment a day sent from the school, if we complete it great, if we don’t, we can try again another day.
More than anything I want to try to keep a calm home environment to keep anxiety levels low and so the important thing for me is to keep things light, try to have fun, keep my mood up, remain positive, take time out for myself and my own wellbeing, reach out to my support networks on social media groups and keep expectations low.
Remember, the GRoW Team are always here to help so if you are struggling and need some advice or support do get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org. In the meantime here’s some really great advice from Dr Amelia Roberts from the UCL Centre for Inclusive Education about Managing the transition to home schooling children with SEN and Autism