9th April, 2020

How to Support Children with Special Educational Needs at Home

By Michael H

With schools shut for the foreseeable future, parents are struggling to keep their children occupied at home.

For parents whose children have special educational needs, the next few months might potentially pose even more of a problem.

That's why we wanted to round up some advice from experts and parents who've been there on how to support children with special educational needs while they're at home with you.

Hopefully, this will help you manage the situation better and make your life a little easier over the next few months.


Quickly establish a routine

Routine is important to any child (and any adult for that matter!) but it's even more important for children with SEN.

Any disruption to the norm can be very disturbing and confusing for some children.

That's why it's crucial that you establish a home routine as soon as you can.

That doesn't mean you have to timetable every single hour of the day. But be sure to keep things consistent. For example, mornings could consist of breakfast, an hour or two of learning, and then some light exercise.

Keeping to a routine and rhythm of life helps to settle children down and puts their minds at ease.

Use technology to its full potential

Rebecca Scott, a mother with an autistic child, believes that some of the new online learning opportunities are actually better for her child.

She believes that "there are different ways of achieving the same things that are more suited to some of us".

Whilst technology often gets a bad rep when it comes to children and education, you shouldn't write it off entirely. Young people have grown up with technology and are much more adept at using it. The addition of audio/visual experiences can also help SEN students to understand topics better than if they have abstract ideas in their heads.

There are plenty of great online resources you can use to keep your children engaged with their learning. We've included links to lots of them below.

Make sure you stay patient

You know as well as anyone that children with SEN can be a handful. And now that schools are closed, you'll need to spend even more time looking after them.

It's important to take some time out for yourself. If you can, take regular breaks to give yourself a breather. Your mental health is just as important.

If you feel yourself getting frustrated, try to take a step back and relax. It's natural to get worked up, but it isn't going to help you look after your child.

Be sure to join support groups for parents of SEN children. It's good to lean on others for support.

Hire an online SEN tutor


Following on from the point above, please realise that you don't have to go it alone.

Tutorful has dozens of amazing online SEN tutors who are ready and willing to give you and your child a helping hand.

They can help in all kinds of ways, from providing general learning support, to helping with specific subjects or topics. They have plenty of experience working with SEN children and so they know exactly how to provide the support they need.

You can turn your attention to something else, safe in the knowledge that your child is being engaged and entertained by their online tutor.

Start your search for an online tutor offering 1-to-1 tuition for Special Educational Needs.

"Very warm and welcoming. My son has mild autism and was very nervous about starting lessons. She soon had him smiling and laughing and enjoying every minute of learning something new."

"Deborah is a great help to my son. He is dyslexic and had been really struggling at school with his English. In the few months Deborah has been helping him we have already seen a huge difference in his work and his confidence. He looks forward to his lesson each week as Deborah has made him feel at ease and can ask her for help with anything he doesn't understand."

Learning doesn't always mean books

A lot of children with SEN don't respond well to learning from books, particularly those with dyslexia.

Fortunately, there's more to learning than reading books. There's now a wealth of online resources you can use to help develop your child's learning.

There are some great educational YouTube channels, virtual museum tours (see the resources section below) and much more. If online isn't doing it for you, then go for a walk outside or in your garden. Look at nature and develop learnings around that. Do some baking with your child and have them calculate the ratio of ingredients. Get them hands-on with arts and crafts projects.

There are plenty of exciting ways you can teach your children that you can both enjoy together.

Speak to your child's teachers

Even though schools are closed, it doesn't mean you shouldn't reach out to your child's teachers for some extra advice and support if you need it.

Most will be happy to share some tips and tricks to help homeschooling go without a hitch. Some may even be willing to speak briefly to your child every now and then.

A familiar face can reassure your child that everything is going to be okay, and settle them into their learning routine.

Helpful resources to look at

Below are some of the best resources we've found to help you support your SEN child at home.

Charities and support groups:

Scope - The disability equality charity has lots of helpful information and is on hand to support you.

Nasen - A charity that supports education for SEN children. They have a number of guides that may help you.

National Autistic Society - Help and guidance for parents with autistic children.

British Dyslexia Association - Support for people with, or parents of children with, dyslexia.

Dyspraxia Foundation - Helping people with dyspraxia, or parents of children with dyspraxia, to cope.

HE Special - A group of people who homeschool children with SEN. Lots of advice on hand here.

Learning from Home - A Facebook group for parents to share advice on homeschooling.

Educational resources:

Twinkl - Leading educational resources, now offered for free during the lockdown.

Tutorful - Find an online SEN tutor to help provide your child with extra support and care.

National Theatre Home - Watch family-friendly plays for free, streamed on the National Theatre’s site.

National History Museum - Virtual tours and online exhibitions from the home of Dippy the Dino.

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