Help children with SEND to stay safe and keep learning during coronavirus (COVID-19)
Advice from parents and staff of St Giles School, Retford, for parents and carers of children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).
Children who are currently attending schools are not experiencing what they usually would, this makes things feel very different. Acknowledging this is a good thing. Your children might just want to talk things through or do reassuring things with you.
Schools are providing care, routine and places of safety for the children who need it the most. For those staying at home, the expectation is exactly the same.
Parents are not expected to ‘teach’ or ‘home school’ their children. Do not worry about this, as adding additional pressures and stresses in to households during this time is likely to be unhelpful.
Nobody knows your child better than you do. Make a note of all the things you have to do to meet the basic needs of child, their siblings and yourself. Then, make a list of everything you know they like and dislike. Ask your child’s teacher to do the same and share it with you.
Note down all of the things that make you happy, activities your like doing together with your family, help you to de-stress and be calm. Being mindful and knowing yourself might help you to recognise when you need to take 5 minutes. The ‘Incredible 5 Point Scale could help.
Using the two paragraphs above and the paragraph below, sketch out a little timetable to help keep a routine and structure to some of your days. Saturdays and Sundays should feel different to ‘school days’.
Most people find comfort from routine. Knowing what is happening and what will happen next is important. Here’s a blank schedule.
There are loads of great things happening online for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities. A list of just some of these can be found here. The Department is also keeping a list of great resources and ideas on their website.
10 top tips:
- Find a routine that works for you and your whole family. Try and follow this routine. Drawing and talking about what you are doing may help reinforce this. Sounds and places can also help to establish and reinforce routines.
- Speak to your child’s school regularly. They will want to know how you are and how things are going. Schools can offer you support, signpost you to others who may be able to help and provide you with some of the activities and resources you may need.
- Enjoy spending time with your family. Think about the things you can do to make memories together. Hand and footprints, time capsules, scrap books and shared experiences. For children who don’t speak or have more complex or profound needs, try copying noises and body movements, it’s called intensive interaction.
- Get fresh air and exercise. Play together, look at the sky. Feel the warmth, the breeze and maybe even the rain. Look at the trees, smell the grass, roll a ball, shoot a hoop, paddle in a pool.
- Think about providing experiences for all the senses. Using Christmas lights and cardboard box to make an immersive sensory room. Try a hand massage with essential oils. Rolling, squeezing, swinging, rocking can also be great fun.
- Sometimes doing nothing is great too. Relax, share a film, listen to music, meditate, make shapes out of clouds, just enjoy being still.
- Stay in touch with people who are important to you and your family. This might be on FaceTime or Skype. Hearing familiar sounds and voices can give reassurance and enjoyment.
- Don’t feel pressured in to doing loads of things because ‘everybody’ is doing it in the parents’ WhatsApp group!
- Ask for help and support. Keep talking to your friends, child’s school and family members. It’s okay not to be okay. People are interested in you and your family. Schools and other professionals, such as paediatricians are still there to help you.
- If your child can display risky behaviour, following some of these top tips could help reduce the likelihood of occurrences. Generally, people do what they do for a reason. (because they want something, because they don’t want something, because of the way it feels or because they are trying to tell you something.) To stay safer, you might:
- Manage the environment and make it safe
- Think about what the behaviour is telling you
- Follow a consistent plan
- Work as a team
- Think about your personal space
- Maintain a safe position, perhaps sat down
- Ask for help from a professional if things are too dangerous.