Homeschooling tips for students with dyspraxia

        

Bright Heart

Bright Heart

A livestream event was held this month by the Dyspraxia Foundation. One of our directors was a guest and covered homeschooling tips and general organisation for school pupils and university students.

Livestream with the Dyspraxia Foundation -
Home learning: tips and advice

Dr Ryan Stevenson, Bright Heart’s co-founder, was the Dyspraxia Foundation’s featured guest on a Livestream Q and A. This was hosted by Claire Cripps, the Youth Information Officer, earlier this month. The event was held as the Dyspraxia Foundation was inundated with queries asking for help for homeschooling and how students can manage their own work online. 

Students with dyspraxia may struggle with executive functioning and organisation, so the lockdown does pose additional challenges with their own online learning.

We have summarised key questions below so you can find the right place of interest in this video.

Click on the picture to watch the video discussing home learning tips

The Dyspraxia Foundation also created a list of resources to help their members. Some of these were covered in the livestream. Here is the free download.

 

What has been your experience with homelearning and how have you been managing your day?

We would love to hear about it on our Facebook page. Alternatively, feel free to get in touch with us to speak to one of our education specialists and find out how an experienced Bright Heart special needs tutor could help you or your child manage learning at home.


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What does SEN mean?

        

Bright Heart

Bright Heart

The terms SEN and SEND are used often. Here we discuss what they mean, considering ‘neurodiverse’ and ‘neurotypical’ brains along with the 4 broad areas of needs. 

What does SEN or SEND really mean?

For parents who have children in school or who are just looking into taking on the mantle of homeschooling, there’s a great deal to learn, and it can feel overwhelming, more so when it comes to technical language.

If your child has been given the label “SEN” or “SEND” by the school, you may be wondering what exactly it is and what it will mean for your child throughout their education and into their adulthood. In very simple terms, SEN stands for Special Educational Needs. In contrast, SEND means Special Educational Needs and Disabilities. While it may feel like SEN and SEND are the same thing, and there are many times where SEN and SEND are used interchangeably, this is not right.

The key difference is that SEND is for children (and adults) who have specific disabilities, whether or not they have special educational needs. It is common for children with disabilities to have extra educational needs, but not all disabled children fit into the SEN category.

Does SEN always mean the child has disabilities?

This is a tricky topic to explain in one article, but no, SEN does not always mean disabilities.  However, many of the special educational needs that students have may also be classed as a disability, even though it doesn’t fit into our traditional perceptions of what a ‘disability’ is.

To be classed as having a disability, there must be a significant and long-term impact on the day-to-day life of the person concerned. Where the needle falls is very different for each person, but there are many disabilities recognised by the Equalities Act 2010 that fall into the SEN category.

Learning disabilities, like dyslexia, are counted as disabilities because the impacts of dyslexia are recognised across a child’s life and even into adulthood. Traditionally, this has been seen as a negative, but there are many outspoken advocates for people with learning difficulties, which is changing perceptions and changing the language.

The phrase ‘learning difficulty’ is being replaced with ‘learning difference’ in some educational settings because it’s more descriptive of disabilities like dyslexia.

What is classed as SEN in a school setting?

In an educational setting like school, homeschool, or tutoring, SEN can cover a wide variety of educational difficulties or differences.

It’s important to note that a difference and a difficulty are not always the same thing. When students are assessed for special educational needs, it’s vital to find out how they learn and how they can be assisted to learn. For parents and educators alike, this can be the difference between education being ‘difficult’ and education being ‘different’.

Some examples of special educational needs currently recognised in UK schools and tutoring include:

It is important to cater lessons and learning to individuals in classrooms.

Neurodiverse and neurotypical brains

If your child has been diagnosed with one special educational need, there is a high chance that they may also qualify for a diagnosis for other needs too. For example, those children who are diagnosed with ADHD are more than 60% likely to also be diagnosed with ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder). There is also a good chance that the child may also be living with a specific learning difficulty too, the most common being dyslexia.

The reason why children are at higher risk of having two or more medical conditions is not currently very well established in medical literature. However, it seems to be the difference between neurotypical and neurodivergent brains. Neurotypical brains are what we don’t like to call ‘normal’ brains (in truth, no one is ‘normal’) – they would be the people in the class who react to stimuli in the way in which we’d expect them to. They are usually able to regulate their emotions and their attention more easily.

Neurodiverse, or neurodivergent, brains are the rest of the children in the class. It’s not simply a case of neurodivergent being the opposite to neurotypicals, but there are key differences that make teaching neurodivergent students more challenging for some (and more interesting for others!).

uniqueness
Students who think and perceive differently have much to offer the world.

How teaching / tutoring SEN students is different

SEN students require a different teaching / tutoring approach from your average student and, in most cases, they will need a different lifestyle approach too, to help them reach their full potential.

It’s vital that both parents and educators learn to understand the different learning styles so as to adapt lessons and home life to the needs of the child in front of them rather than the ‘typical’ child. This is not easy for a standard classroom teacher to do, but as homeschooling parents and tutors, we can offer our children the very best opportunities to learn by adjusting lessons and learning time to suit their needs and their abilities.

It is important to note that many students with SEN are not ‘unable’ to do their work. In fact, many are just as intelligent on a cognitive scale, and some even more so than their neurotypical peers. It’s just a case of finding out how they learn so that we can best embrace that.

A dyslexic student example

Take a dyslexic student, for example. Traditionally, dyslexic students have found reading difficult. For a long time, it was thought that the actual act of reading was hard for dyslexics, but after years of research, it was discovered that many dyslexics suffer from Meares–Irlen Syndrome, a condition that affects the processing of words on a page.

Black decorated letters (even serif fonts like Times New Roman) on a white page can be very challenging, but the simple act of changing the font to a sans-serif font and changing the background colour to one the child is comfortable with can make a world of difference. Equally, learning with phonics and the Latin roots to words has been shown to really improve the spelling issues many dyslexic students face, allowing them to work out the spelling from logical theory.

Oliver Twist novel
Black font on a light background with dense paragraphs (Oliver Twist), is difficult for students with dyslexia.

Many dyslexic students are much better at processing images and auditory learning and, as tutors, we can use this to our advantage by using video and audiobooks to help the child access learning.

With both the language and processing difficulties of the average dyslexic student, simple changes in the way we approach learning can mean the difference between a child who is chronically undermotivated and has low self-esteem, and a child who is supported with their learning, their abilities, and has access to materials in a way that works for them.

For all SEN students, there is a way to help them learn. While schools may prefer to go down the route of trying to make them learn the school way, as tutors, we prefer to take the approach of helping the student to find their own way of learning and using that to get the best out of them.

Toe by Toe
Toe By Toe is a small book designed for anyone who finds reading difficult.

The four broad areas of SEN

When thinking about SEN from an educational aspect, there are four main areas that educators will consider. These areas are the parts of a child’s life that will be impacted the most by their specific learning differences and educational need. They include:

In broad terms, all students will have some kind of special educational need or requirement. All children and all people are different; we have different interests and different strengths. When we do the work to recognise those strengths and work with them, we can have a big impact on both our lives and the lives of our students.

What has been your experience embracing the way your child learns to help them achieve?

We would love to hear about it on our Facebook page. Alternatively, feel free to get in touch with us to speak to one of our education specialists and find out how an experienced Bright Heart special needs tutor could help embrace your child’s unique learning style.


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Handling anxiety and tutor engagement tools

Emily

A live Q&A discussion about anxiety and some excellent practical tips for student engagement with Bright Heart tutor, Emily.                          

Bright Heart

Bright Heart

In a live Q & A, John Salmon, M.Ed, has an enlightening discussion with Bright Heart tutor, Emily. Student anxiety as well as some good tools for student engagement are covered. 

Handling anxiety and tools for student engagement - a tutor's perspective (Livestream)

We recently held a Facebook Live Q&A with Bright Heart tutor Emily. This was a follow up from her well-received blog on practical tips for anxiety and self-care.  

This was hosted by Bright Heart director and former headteacher John Salmon, M.Ed

Emily discussed anxiety during lockdown and what she has observed in her students. She also discussed some handy tools for engagement, especially Minecraft, which is always popular with younger students! 

Please watch directly on Youtube or below, and see the list of key questions covered for your convenience.

Key questions covered

Do you have further questions about anxiety?

We would love to hear from you on our Facebook page, or feel free to get in touch with us directly. 


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Facebook Live Q & A with Jolanta Lasota, CEO of Ambitious about Autism

Live Q & A with Ambitious about Autism

A stimulating and insightful live discussion on autism dispelling misconceptions, while providing advice for parents.                            

Bright Heart

Bright Heart

In a live Q & A, John Salmon, M.Ed, has an informative discussion on autism with Jolanta Lasota, CEO of Ambitous about Autism

Facebook Live with Jolanta Lasota, CEO of Ambitious about Autism

We recently held a Facebook Live Q&A to address parents’ questions about autism.  This was hosted by Bright Heart director and former headteacher John Salmon, M.Ed., with questions answered by Jolanta Lasota, CEO of Ambitious About Autism. This national charity was set up in 1997 and provides support for children and young adults with ASC. More recently they have created colleges and schools in London to support young people with autism.

Facebook Live streaming

Key questions covered

Live Q & A with Ambitious about Autism
Click on the picture to watch the Q & A with Jolanta Lasota, CEO of Ambitous about Autism.

Do you have further questions about autism?

We would love to hear about it on our Facebook page, or feel free to get in touch directly with any questions. 


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‘Tricks and treats’ – a tutor’s perspective on anxiety

scary pumpkin

A Bright Heart tutor looks at we can do to address anxiety with some helpful tricks and treats!                            

Emily

Emily

Bright Heart tutor Emily looks at some coping tools to help when suffering with anxiety

'Tricks and treats' - a tutor's perspective on anxiety

Anxiety. It’s a term we’re all familiar with. In recent years, mental health has (thankfully) become a more ‘approachable’ subject as people try their best to empathise and understand their peers and loved ones.

Now, in the world of Covid-19, many of us experience anxiety on a day-to-day basis – some for the first time, others having their symptoms aggravated by the current climate. As it plays tricks on our minds, it becomes more vital to address this anxiety within ourselves – as well as opening the conversation with children and young people.

anxiety
Conversations about anxiety are much needed

My background

I’ve been working with children and young people for 10 years, engaging with them, encouraging their passions and enjoying their energy. Their energy has always been utterly contagious and incredibly therapeutic.

Over the last few months, I’ve continued working with clients – though mostly online – and I’ve noticed a significant change in their demeanour, engagement and energy. Everyone deals with stresses and anxieties in different way as it manifests differently in each individual. However, I have noticed that one symptom that nearly every single student has is fatigue. Initially I was really concerned, until I realised, that nearly every single person that I have met with and spoken with is experiencing the same. We’re exhausted. This is completely understandable due to the ‘fight or flight’ human instinct that has been ignited in all of us – our bodies are knackered as we try to fight an invisible enemy, fiercely protecting one another and our loved ones.

As someone born and raised in Northern Ireland, my automatic coping mechanism to anxiety is to inject humour into whatever I can. This dry (and often dark) sense of humour relieves my stress but saying that, injecting humour into Covid-19 has been a nearly impossible task – though I often try. I’ve sat here with my thoughts, trying to think of ‘wee’ tricks to treat ourselves to help us cope with our anxiety. I’ll run through a few – and I hope they’re of benefit to you! (accidental rhyme but I ‘dig it’)

scary pumpkin
Some helpful tricks to treat yourself are considered

1. Exercise

The first trick (and I would 100% call it a trick) is exercise. The one we all dread to read on every helpful website or book that we’ve read. Exercise has been scientifically proven to help with anxiety symptoms. It’s funny that I’ve read this a million times, yet I still need at least 30 minutes of ‘psyching myself up’ on the sofa to actually take that step to, get up and start exercising. Thankfully, children don’t tend to need much encouragement to go run amuck! It’s good for them – and you (but I won’t judge if you’d rather sit down with a cuppa!).

2. Nature

Nature is one of the best remedies of all time, an inexpensive treat for sure! For most of us, just visualising nature brings us a sense of calm and quiet – it encourages near instant relaxation. Walk in nature when you can, better yet – go and stomp in those puddles, play in the mud and run around until you can’t feel your legs! Especially at this time of year, with the gorgeous autumn leaves decorating the ground – it’s difficult not to want to be surrounded by natural beauty. 

Further to this, it has been proven that visiting ‘a body of water’ – a lake, a river or the sea – is soothing to the soul, that and the smell of and/or contact with soil releases serotonin! It is an ancient belief that water replenishes your energy and cleanses your mind. I don’t know about you – but the moment I sit by the lake in Wimbledon Park, I feel like I can breathe again. It’s a calming activity for you and I guarantee, the children will LOVE feeding the ducks or swans (though please don’t use bread, try oats, sunflower seeds or leftover lettuce!).

nature scene
Nature is one of the best remedies

3. Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the ‘trick’ to life. Every session I take some time to engage my students with mindfulness. These activities are often based in grounding techniques that aid with concentration. They will also help someone feel more present, which is proven to alleviate and reduce anxiety symptoms. Try your best to keep your home as your sanctuary – for your sanity and also for the rest of your family! It is challenging, Covid-19 has consumed our conversations alongside our mental and emotional energy. Undoubtedly, it is important to discuss it – it is after all a GLOBAL pandemic – but our whole lives don’t need to be consumed. 

Interestingly, two weeks ago, I set homework for all my students – they needed to find an activity that relaxed them that didn’t involve technology. This led to some interesting conversations and discoveries. Obviously, technology is great, especially now as we use it to connect with people – it means children can stay in touch with their friends, play games and make conversation. However, it’s important to know that we can still live without it! When my students returned, I found it fascinating how most of them felt like music and the arts relaxed them. Colouring became a stand-out in our conversations. Colouring books are easy to find locally and online – and an added bonus is that they now have colouring books for adults, so you will be able to join in!

4. Music

Another major trick (and treat!) is music. Full disclosure – I’m incredibly biased when it comes to music. As a professional musician, music is my life – and quite honestly, my sanity! I frequently use it to engage my students e.g. writing songs to revise topics. 

Philosopher, Arthur Schopenhauer, stated that ‘music is food for the soul’. Music has been proven to reduce stress in children and young people. Encouraging children and young people’s engagement should certainly help with anxiety symptoms – whether it is playing, singing or listening. I always lived by the motto that a home full of music is a home full of love. Of course – whenever I go home to N.I., I’m faced with Taylor Swift blasting from speakers upstairs, Shania Twain in the kitchen and some wonderful Rolling Stones echoing from the study. It’s chaotic – but it’s a nice reminder that there is energy at home. When music plays – the worries of the world melt away.

Relaxing music
'Music is food for the soul'

5. Self care

It is here that I reach my final ‘trick’, arguably the most important, self-care. When discussing self-care, people often look to the analogy of putting on your own oxygen mask before helping someone else. This, of course, is all well to remember as you watch the safety instruction on the plane before you jet off – it is an entirely different thing to remember all day, every day.

Children pick up on EVERYTHING – as I’m sure you’re all aware. If you are feeling anxious or stressed, your child will pick up on your energy. This is not said to add any more stress – rather it is a remind to care and look after yourself. Light some candles, run a bath, listen to some smooth jazz – whatever helps you relax and decompress after a long day. If you need reminding, just think of the wonderful quote (adapted) from RuPaul, ‘If you can’t love yourself, how can you love somebody else?’

Keep up the great work!

I hope some of these tricks and treats are beneficial to you. Heck – even just reading this will be a break (hopefully a nice one) from your day. The key thing to remember is that you are trying your best. Even on the days where you don’t feel like you are, you are. You cannot do better than your best! As I say to every student, after every session – Keep up the great work!

Contact us

If this article rings true for you, then please get in touch and let us know how best we can help.


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Bright Heart Education wins nasen award

Bright Heart wins 2020 nasen Award

We are proud winners of a nasen award for Co-Production with Children and Young People and their Families.                                     

Bright Heart

Our nurturing and person-centred approach with students, families and organisations has been validated with a 2020 nasen Award!

Bright Heart Education wins nasen award

Bright Heart has won a 2020 nasen Award! This was awarded for Co-Production with Children and Young People and their Families.

nasen award Bright Heart Education winner
Bright Heart Education is a proud recipient of a nasen award.

The nasen awards

The annual nasen awards celebrate achievements within the global SEND sector. Nasen (the National Association of Special Educational Needs) is a UK charity that has been supporting SEND practitioners for over 25 years.

The awards are typically presented at an awards dinner in central London. Due to COVID-19, the ceremony was postponed this year and the awards were announced virtually.

This year, nasen received a record number of nominations from across the world.

How does nasen judge its winners?

Nasen expects to see evidence of common features of practice across all 13 award categories. Award categories include awards for individuals as well as organisations from the UK and globally.

Common features are:

Validating our mission

Bright Heart was established to be the UK’s leading provider of tuition for students who would benefit from a more nurturing approach to learning. We strive to serve students as well as other stakeholders involved in the holistic learning process. This includes family members, tutors and local authorities.

On receiving this award, Bright Heart’s Co-founder, Dr Ryan Stevenson, noted:

We are extremely proud to have won this nasen award. It is great to see our nurturing, person-centred approach being acknowledged with this award. This is inspiring for the Bright Heart team and its dedicated tutors. We look forward to continuing to provide exceptional service to all of our students and their families.”

Bright Heart wins 2020 nasen Award
Co-founders Simon and Ryan with the nasen 2020 award for Co-Production with Children and Young People and their Families.

Bright Heart’s success working with families

Three examples of our work with families were cited for consideration by nasen in support of Bright Heart’s nomination:

Bright Heart is very appreciative of the families that offered their time to share their positive experiences of working with us as part of the awards adjudication process.

Learn more about Bright Heart’s award-winning tuition

Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us to discuss your tuition needs. Learn how one of our experienced, caring tutors could be the perfect fit for your child. We specialise in helping students with SEN, those that have fallen behind at school (possibly lacking confidence or motivation) and those being homeschooled. We currently offer a 10% discount on all online tuition due to COVID-19.

Please have a look at our Facebook page for current events, or feel free to get in touch directly to chat.


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Challenges of remote learning: a tutoring agency’s perspective​

nasen Connect September 2020

A director discusses tutoring under lockdown in an article published in nasen Connect magazine Sep 20.               

John Salmon director

John Salmon

Director John Salmon, M. Ed,  examines how tutoring evolved during lockdown and how tutees responded.

nasen Connect magazine (Sep 20)

John Salmon, director at Bright Heart Education, reflects on how support for tutees had to be adapted during lockdown and how tutees responded to a new way of working. This article was published in the nasen Connect September 2020 edition.

nasen Connect September 2020
nasen Connect is distributed to schools, SENCos and parents across England

Challenges of remote learning: a tutoring agency’s perspective

Unlike schools, tutoring agencies arguably experience closer contact with the everyday reality of many households as they directly partake in both the academic and emotional vicissitudes of families. Our first-hand knowledge has shown that adapting to online schooling has been an onerous challenge for families (as well as schools), but at the same time it has offered a more personalised learning opportunity for many
students, especially those with SEN.

As a tutoring agency that supports many students with SEN, we have naturally been concerned about the emotional and academic impact of lockdown. Lately, we have received a number of calls for help from concerned parents, which shared a common pattern: their child had lost interest in writing, reading and numeracy and no longer tried to fulfil school expectations. Parents reported unattainable assignments
amidst mounting levels of frustration, anxiety and disengagement. The lack of structure left children fending for themselves, with minimal assistance, save for that provided by their parents – who cannot be expected to play the role of trained teachers. Traditionally, our agency had focused on in-person tuition, so we had to transition to online tutoring to adapt to the lockdown.

For some, the physical presence of a facilitator was necessary, but many tutees with SEN embraced online sessions and realised that, with the right guidance and nurturing support, much could be gained. Far from being emotionally affected by the lack of traditional schooling, many felt perfectly at home (no pun intended) with the new situation, as social interaction at school was often a cause of anxiety.

Case study

One such case was a Year 7 tutee with ADHD, who was not affected by feelings of isolation, but by lack of motivation when faced with the sudden prospect of doing all his work without the solid support system provided by school. Worse still, he was being asked to complete assignments using the very electronic devices that distracted him in the first place. Overstimulation led to distraction, which in turn led to frustration and eventually refusal to work.

Our adaptation to remote learning with him proved to be fruitful. First and foremost, as a student with ADHD he was less prone to distractions at home, as opposed to the myriad of stimuli in a school setting. Restricted internet access was necessary, but technology allowed for better differentiation, by addressing individual learning events; one specific topic could be delivered in multiple ways and be adapted to his unique style. Thus, a multimedia history session could include videos, downloadable materials, audio and interactive games. He was also able to work at his own pace, being free to view lessons and materials at his convenience, allowing for maximum flexibility. Since deadlines were relaxed, he had extra time to complete tasks. Additionally, his workspace was adapted to suit his preferences, creating an environment conducive to learning. 

He liked technology because he found it more impersonal and nonthreatening. There were no peers there to judge him, no teachers there to pressure him with impending deadlines. He dreaded the idea of completing mammoth projects under severe time constraints, but smaller chunks no longer seemed insurmountable. His innate curiosity for technology developed into a learning opportunity, as he experimented with the different features in PowerPoint, Word or Google Drive, mastering the subject matter in the process. He learned to be less dependent on text-based learning when using audio books and videos online and felt at ease with no one watching over his shoulder. 

A way forward

This experience has taught us that the value of direct support from well-qualified teachers is irreplaceable. But we also know that online learning is here to stay, not only for children who are home schooled full time, but also as an integral part of school life.

The technology industry takes giant leaps much faster than most industries, to the point where it permeates all human activity, including education. Lockdown prompted an impromptu trial for teachers, tutors, parents and students and learning from this can surely guide us when moving forward, but not by simply replicating lessons in the shape of online lessons, with ensuing workloads that must be completed by students autonomously. When managed appropriately and combined with optimal support in the hands of capable, well-trained instructors, applying technology in a student-centred learning environment can bring forth a wealth of benefits, including for those with SEN, as it provides the flexibility and sense of ownership that can be lacking in traditional classrooms. However, a balance must be struck between digital and screen-free activities and independent and teacher led activities.

With the right support, combining pedagogical and technological expertise, students with SEN can meet learning targets in nonthreatening, customised environments.

Contact us

If this article rings true for you, then please get in touch and let us know how best we can help.


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Having a SEN-friendly Summer in London during COVID-19

We look at summer activities for children and young adults with autism, learning disabilities and other special educational needs.

Bright Heart

Bright Heart

Enjoy this selection of SEN-friendly activities for this Summer in London.

Having a SEN-friendly Summer in London
during COVID-19

Finding SEN-friendly activities for summer for children and young adults with autism, learning disabilities and other special educational needs (SEN) in and around London can be a challenge. During the pandemic this is even trickier than usual. We have done a round-up on some of the events and outings that you may still enjoy at this time with your family. Here is a selection of our favourites:

Online Summer School

Song, laughter and dance are available through the Mousetrap Theatre Projects' Online Summer School.

Sing, dance, and laugh your way with your children by participating in theatre and dance-themed #EveryHomeATheatre challenges from Mousetrap Theatre Projects. Revisit past challenges or join their Online Summer School here. There are 90-minute drama workshops available on Zoom daily.  Age groups from 7 to 19 are catered for.

A SEN-friendly Cinema Outing – because it’s always better on the big screen!

Autism-friendly outings for the whole family at the Odeon Cinema are a must-do.

The Autism Friendly Screenings at Odeon Cinema are ideal for families with a child with special educational needs. Here you can all enjoy a film in an environment designed for people with Asperger’s Syndrome or who are on the autism spectrum. Low lights are left on inside the auditorium during the film and the soundtrack is quieter than it would be in a regular film screening. Another difference is that there are no trailers screened before the main film at AFS screenings.  Audience members are also not restricted from moving around, making a noise or taking a break in the middle of the film screening. Some Odeon cinemas reopened on the 4th of July and protocols are in place to ensure that they offer a safe cinema experience. Enquire on their website

Museum of London – Listen and Learn from Home

Find some 'screen-free' activities for your child to enjoy while the Listen and Learn at Home from the Museum of London.

Outings may provide relief from cabin-fever but some of you may feel more comfortable with stay-home practices at the moment. However, you can still have enjoyable cultural experiences with the family. The Museum of London is always a wonderful outing in this regard. During the pandemic, the museum has made a number of virtual tours and other activities available.  You might feel encouraged to know that some of these are also ‘screen-free’.  Find out more here.

SEN-friendly learning with 3D objects

Learning in 3D for students with SEN is available at the Museum of London

Also at the Museum of London, it is possible for students with learning difficulties to still get up close and personal with objects in 3D.  A range of 3D objects with resources designed specifically for students with special educational needs and disabilities is available

Historic Royal Palaces

Learning about history can be fun with the free resources available from Historic Royal Palaces.

For lots of ideas and resources online to help your children continue exploring history and the wider world without having to step outside the front door during the summer can be found here.

These five top history resources will keep your kids learning AND smiling while you’re staying home together. Parental participation is optional.  

SEN-Friendly Outdoor Wild Play

Outdoor wild play can be enjoyed by a variety of ages and is especially helpful for children with special educational needs.

Allowing your child to participate in outdoor activities such as these outdoor games, woodland crafts, survival skills (including shelter-building and tracking among others), have been shown to be helpful for a variety of special needs, including:

The team at Outdoor Wild Play welcomes children with special needs to their sessions. They have a strict COVID-19 protocol in place for health and safety reasons. Contact them directly to discuss which venues are available and to answer any further questions you may have.

What has been your experience as a parent of a child with SEN? We would love to hear about it on our Facebook page, or feel free to get in touch directly to chat.


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Supporting Parents of Children with SEN

Parenting is not always easy and lockdown has added to the challenges. We look at some SEN support available.

Bright Heart

Bright Heart

Community support is available for parents. It helps to share challenges and to support each other.

Supporting Parents of Children with SEN

Parenting is not always easy and lockdown has certainly added to the challenges. Many parents are finding it a struggle to balance work, their children’s homeschooling and the need to make some time for themselves. This can be especially difficult when you have a child with special needs. Parents of children with SEN are therefore sometimes in need of additional support.

Help is at hand. We’ve done a short round up on some options available.

For Parents

Support is available in the community for parents of a child with special needs.

For Dads

We recognise that dads are not always the first person in the family to reach out for help. With this in mind, we have included some options aimed specifically at dads.

There are many dads in similar situations. Connecting and sharing helps.

Giving back to the community

Being able to lean on the expertise, experience and resources of others who work with children with special needs and their families can make a real difference.  You may find you need a combination of different types of support, from therapy or counselling, to familial support for practical care-giving, to educational support from occupational therapists or tutors.

As you progress and gain a sense of feeling supported from within your community, don’t lose sight of how you initially felt before you received the help you needed.  Try to find ways to give back where you can. To help manage the pressures of special needs parenting, we should be willing to reach out and accept help. We should also be prepared to offer it.  It is in community that we can make progress, knowing that we don’t journey alone.

You may find your community within a Facebook Group you belong to, a book club, a church or sports club, your family circle or a non-profit organisation you’ve dealt with.

Don't hesitate to get help for yourself or child should you feel it's needed

What has been your experience as a parent of a child with SEN? We would love to hear about it on our Facebook page, or feel free to get in touch directly to chat.


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Your child’s mental health during times of stress

boy with anxiety

We bring attention to some warning signs relating to mental health. This is particular important at this time.    

Bright Heart

Bright Heart

In time of stress, mental health is increasingly important. We consider some warning signs.

Your child’s mental health during times of stress

According to The Guardian, fewer young people are receiving help with mental health issues. This is despite levels of anxiety and depression having risen sharply in the under 18 age group. 

Reasons include mental health services being suspended or restricted and a lack of in-person engagement. The closure of schools – a first point of referral for distressed children – has certainly not helped.  

an unhappy girl doing homework
Learning and engagement is strongly affected by one's mental and emotional state.

Lockdowns have negatively impacted many children

Almost one in four children living under COVID-19 lockdowns, social restrictions and school closures are dealing with feelings of anxiety, with many at risk of lasting psychological distress, including depression. In recent surveys by Save the Children of over 6000 children and parents in the US, Germany, Finland, Spain and the UK, up to 65 per cent of the children struggled with boredom and feelings of isolation.”  

Reliefweb International, 7 May 2020

The pandemic has turned the lives of millions of children and young people upside down. Many young people are finding it hard to cope with isolation, a loss of routine, anxiety about the future, a disruption to their education, and in some cases difficult or traumatic experiences at home.”

Emma Thomas of YoungMinds, a leading UK not-for-profit championing mental health for young people

boy with anxiety
We all have times when we need to talk to someone. This is especially true for children.

The impact of COVID-19 on children's mental health

While it has been a challenging time for parents, children have felt the effects of social distancing and isolation with far-reaching effects. The British Psychological Society, together with more than thirty other organisations, have written an open letter to the Government. This letter was urging them to limit the long-term impact of the pandemic on young people’s mental health.

What should parents consider for their child's mental health?

Previously, we covered the importance of planning an active day in our homeschooling tips for parents and the importance of physical activity. Eating regular meals, getting sufficient sleep and limiting screen time go together with this.

Good mental health is a much-needed foundation for learning.

However, you may find your children require additional support.  

Some warning signs to be aware of in your child’s behaviour that could indicate impaired mental health can be remembered by using the acronym MASK:

M – Mood

They get irritable, argumentative or aggressive towards you. They may blame you if things go wrong. They can also become withdrawn.

A – Actions

They may experience changes in eating and sleeping patterns. Look out for any signs of bullying, over- or under-eating or self-harm.

S – Social

They suddenly appear especially bored, lonely or withdrawn or they start to get into trouble. Losing interest in friends and other things they liked to do or loss of interest and motivation with schoolwork are common warning signs.

K - Keep talking

Refusing or being reluctant to talk about how they’re feeling is common. But keep listening and ask how they are feeling. When they do open up, make sure they know there’s someone there who really cares.

Please note that these symptoms are by no means diagnostic in nature. Professional advice is always preferable, especially if you have any doubt as to what may be causing the change in your child’s behaviour.

Attention and active listening go a long way in making sure your child does not slip under the radar.

Where can I get extra help for my child's mental health?

Fortunately, there is plenty of help at hand and we recommend reaching out to the team at YoungMinds where you will find many resources and professional support available.

Other sources of support include:

The NSPCC and the Mental Health Foundation.

We are also here to help with any learning issues relating to anxiety and social and emotional mental health. Feel free to get in touch with one of our experienced directors to discuss your needs. We offer a free consultation and a free trial lesson to help build rapport.


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