To start us off, here is advice from Andrew Whitehouse, one of our SEND experts.
A little bit about Andrew Whitehouse – SEND Expert
Andrew is a specialist in neurological diversity and behaviour and provides interventions for professionals, parents and young people with Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia and related conditions. Andrew has a number of roles including training, strategies and therapies for education professionals in schools and colleges, observing learners in the learning environment and providing practical solutions to help them achieve their potential, both social and emotional and academic.
As well as running networking day courses across the UK for SEN, Andrew provides short courses for Bishop Grosseteste University and holds a number of UK and overseas contracts. Andrew delivered a TEDx Talk “From Disability to Superpowers” and has an extensive conference profile. Andrew is also a Forensic SEND Consultant and acts as an expert witness in SEND related court cases.
Andrew recently delivered the prestigious Bamford Lecture at the British Academy of Audiologists National Conference and has a prolific conference profile.
Thank you very much to my great friends at Special Direct and TTS for inviting me to write this blog post. We certainly are in unprecedented times and despite the fact that many of us are getting time off work and school, we cannot go out and we cannot ignore the fact that many of us are or, are going to be very ill. This can lead to tetchy times all round.
So, we’re home schooling… what does this mean? Goodness only knows! I have four children – 2 boys 13 and 15, and two girls 7 and 16. The boys seem to be doing work set from school in the morning and watching telly in the afternoon. And the girls? Well, eldest daughter is doing her best to help youngest daughter maintain a learning ethos.
And parents? Well, we’re working from home. And, we really are! Both with full time jobs, we really are struggling to do anything else, what with the constant barrage of emails and Skype calls. And I’m guessing that there are a million variations of the home scenario out there, and families come in all shapes and sizes! In short, we are having a vast and varied experience. However, it is not all doom and gloom and there are things that you can do to make things a little easier. Here is my take on a few hints and tips, based on questions from Special Direct
What would you say are your top tips for keeping children happy and healthy whilst at home?
- Try to maintain routines. Visual timetables are great for this, you can make one as a family the night before with everybody contributing. And try to stick to it.
- Stay clean, have regular showers, get dressed. Get up at regular times and go to bed at regular times.
- Try to have at least one family meal together each day, even if it’s only toast and tea.
- Don’t binge on food, try not to eat between meals and if you do, have planned, arranged snack times.
- Watch screen time. Try to limit and time it – there’s a lot of scary stuff online at the moment and it’s easy to be sucked in. I personally am struggling to stay off Twitter and Instagram.
- Try and do one family activity together every day. Even if it is only five minutes.
Any activity ideas you could do at home?
- Clean something, build something, repair something – every day do one thing.
- Build on what you do best. If you are a family who likes to play board games, do that. If you like computer games with the kids, kicking a ball around, riding a bike (once a day whilst maintaining social distancing), whatever you do normally – or wished you did.
Any tips for parents and their own wellbeing?
- Make a bit of time for yourself/selves. Have an hour once the children have gone to bed where you can read a book, listen to some music, watch a film – any distraction to get out of your understandably worried state.
- Look after your health and wellbeing – don’t eat and drink too much. Try to move about.
- Try to accept that you are doing your best and that these are uncertain times – you are not failing your children!
How much of your day should be ‘home-schooling?’
- You are probably not a teacher… and if you are, you are probably busy teaching (remotely or otherwise) somebody else’s children. Do your best and don’t try and force the issue. You will only end up in a confrontation.
- Some children take comfort in learning. This is ok too.
- Your key objective at the moment is to stay well and try to help everybody else in the home stay well too (both physically and mentally).
What things should children be learning? How do you decide what to teach?
- This depends on you and your child/ren. Some may prefer formal teaching methods, others more discreet and subtle.
- Maybe integrate maths into cooking, gardening, games etc.
- Keep a lockdown diary.
- Get older children to read to younger siblings.
- Take advantage of the vast array of online and television resources available at the moment.
Do you need a timetable?
- In my professional opinion… yes!
Should you give rewards? If so, what for and how?
- Rewards are definitely better than sanctions. But there are a few do’s and don’ts.
- Things at the moment change very quickly. Consider short term rewards, little and often for small achievements.
- Make sure that they are rewards that they actually like.
- Remember, different children are able to do different things, differentiate appropriately.
- Do not take rewards back as a sanction.
Most of all, do what you can and stay safe.
Your good friend, Andrew.
With thanks to Andrew Whitehouse our SEND Expert for writing this blog.
Andrew Whitehouse MSpEd CPSE (PGCert)
SEND Consultant (Forensic)