Parents: supporting children with SEND during home-based learning. 5 tips to support reading, writing, routines.

I’m a teacher. It can be really hard getting pupils to work consistently well, to the level where they make great progress.

I’m a parent. It can be really, really hard getting your child to work consistently well, to the level where they can make some progress.

Both these statements are true whether or not a child has a Special Educational Need or Disability.

I’ve put 5 quick tips below for supporting your child with routines, the development of reading and the development of their writing while they are at home with you. Some of the tips are about working closely with them; others are about promoting independence where possible. I think there is something in them for both primary and secondary. They are aimed at children with SEND but I hope will be appropriate for many, regardless of SEND status. I hope there is a flicker of something in what I’m suggesting that is useful for every parent and carer at the moment. Links at the bottom of the page.

Routines:

1. Set a timetable with your child. Review this every week or two – it will get stale and need refreshing. Listen to your child on what needs changing. Show sympathy but know what your non-negotiables are also.

2. Agree something with your child about mobile phone use. Try to trust them to have it in the room if they need to; the proof is in the work they produce.

3. Don’t expect perfection.

4. Start each day by going through what needs to be done. Don’t be militant if your child is working hard but doesn’t complete everything they aim to.

5. Try to support autonomy wherever possible. Allow your child to consider how they produce a piece of work, when a break is appropriate, etc.

Tips to support reading:

Consider whether the purpose of the task is to develop reading or to access curriculum content.

If the purpose of the task is the development of reading, you may help by:

  1. Insist on 10-15 minutes of reading per day. This reading should be out loud to an adult. It will hopefully be from a book the child is motivated to read. Make it quality, distraction-free time between you and your child as much as possible.
  2. Use the super skills for reciprocal reading (predicting, clarifying, questioning, summarising).

If the purpose of the task is to access curriculum content, you may help by:

  1. Reading the text (i.e. the instructions, the source, the pages of the textbook) for your child.
  2. Download the App ‘Seeing AI’. Your child will be able to hover over a piece of text from a screen or a book; the App will read it aloud for them.
  3. On Microsoft Edge, use the book icon in the URL to see options for making a website more accessible (text-to-speech, coloured background, etc). On Microsoft Word, you can change the colour of the page on the Display tab (page colour) to make reading easier. You can also highlight text and it will read it aloud for you.

Tips to support writing

  1. Try to understand the quality of your child’s writing when they’re at school, by looking at their school books or speaking to their class teacher. Make sure you know the level of difficulty versus the level of reluctance.
  2. Discuss the child’s work with them. Make some notes while you are both talking. Leave your child with those notes to help them to scaffold their writing.
  3. Put a small mark in your child’s book. Let them know that, by the time you check again, they should have reached your mark with their writing. Having small, achievable goals like this can really help reluctant writers.
  4. When looking at your child’s writing, focus first on the positives. Where improvements are possible (handwriting, spelling, grammar) don’t ignore the things you can praise first. As soon as you recognise improvements in these things, show that you have noticed.
  5. Consider whether typing or handwriting is the most helpful thing. Typingclub.com offers a free touch typing programme if that could help to develop typing fluency. On the newest versions of Word, there is a ‘Dictate’ button to allow speech-to-text.

Reciprocal reading strategies

https://www.readingrockets.org/strategies/reciprocal_teaching

Seeing AI

https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/seeing-ai/id999062298

Typing club

www.typingclub.com

Spellzone

www.spellzone.com

Accessibility in Microsoft Word

https://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/Accessibility/office

Accessibility in Internet Explorer

https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/17456/windows-internet-explorer-ease-of-access-options

Accessibility in Google Chrome

https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/text-to-speech/hmmfmpjefnijeadpgbfjgcmicfeddfoj

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