Help children with SEND continue their education during coronavirus (COVID-19)
Advice for parents and carers looking after children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND)
Staying at home can be more disruptive to the lives and routines of children with special educational needs and disabilities.
No one expects parents to act as teachers or childcare providers, or to provide the activities and feedback that a school or nursery would. Parents and carers should do their best to help and support their children with their learning while they are at home.
The DFE have been working with a range of other organisations to create extra resources to help you support your child at home:
Speech and Language Kids
Description: a range of education and therapy resources for speech and language problems. A podcast is also available on iTunes for verbal and non-verbal children.
Registration: not required
Description: a collection of games and resources designed for a range of educational needs and stages. It includes provision for school closure.
Description: a visual instruction app, including flash cards and picture-choosing games, for children with autism and special needs.
Description: an all-in-one app created to support people with communication and learning difficulties. For verbal and non-verbal learners.
These resources have been verified by DfE’s educational experts. A more detailed list can be found at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/help-children-with-send-continue-their-education-during-coronavirus-covid-19
There are also a number of additional resources that may be useful including:
The free eBook library has been helping children develop their reading skills at home for years. For a limited period, while the UK schools are closed, we are temporarily adding hundreds more eBooks to the library so your child has more to read. Ddo2learn
Do2learn includes free social skills, self-regulation, songs, games, communication, and life-skills https://do2learn.com/
Hungry Little Minds
Tiny Happy People
A chatty child is a happy child, so Tiny Happy People is here to help you develop your child’s communication skills through simple interaction and play.
If your child is currently supported by the Speech and Language team, please take a look at their Facebook page – ‘South Tees NHS Children and Young People’s SALT service’ for further resources and support.
Emotional health and well-being
Children and young people want to feel assured that their parents and carers can keep them safe. One of the best ways to achieve this is by talking openly about what is happening and providing honest answers to any questions they have. Explain what is being done to keep them and their loved ones safe, including any actions they can take to help, such as washing their hands more often than usual. Use words and explanations that they can understand.
There are resources available to help you do this, including the Children’s Commissioner’s Children’s Guide to Coronavirus, or https://axelscheffler.com/books-for-older-children/coronavirus
Be aware of your own reactions: Remember that children and young people often take their emotional cues from the important adults in their lives, so how you respond to the situation is very important. It is important to manage your own emotions and remain calm, listen to and acknowledge children and young people’s concerns, speak kindly to them, and answer any questions they have honestly.
Connect regularly: If it is necessary for you and your children to be in different locations to normal (for example, due to staying at home in different locations or hospitalisation) make sure you still have regular and frequent contact via the phone or video calls with them. Try to help your child understand what arrangements are being made for them and why in simple terms. Support safe ways for children and young people to maintain social interaction with their friends, for example via phone or video calls.
Create a new routine: Life is changing for all of us for a while. Routine gives children and young people an increased feeling of safety in the context of uncertainty, so think about how to develop a new routine, especially if they are not at school:
- make a plan for the day or week that includes time for learning, playing and relaxing
- if they have to stay home from school, ask teachers what you can do to support continued learning at home. The Department for Education have published a list of recommended online educational resources for home schooling
- encourage maintaining a balance between being on and offline and discover new ideas for activities to do from home. The Children’s Commissioner guide signposts to some ideas to help fight boredom
- children and young people ideally need to be active for 60 minutes a day, which can be more difficult when spending longer periods of time indoors. Plan time outside if you can do so safely or see Change4Life for ideas for indoor games and activities
- don’t forget that sleep is important for mental and physical health, so try to keep to existing bedtime routines
- it may be tempting to give children and young people treats such as sweets or chocolate but this is not good for their health, especially as they may not be as physically active as normal. See Change4Life for ideas for healthy treats
Limit exposure to media and talk more about what they have seen and heard: Like adults, children and young people may become more distressed if they see repeated coverage about the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the media. A complete news blackout is also rarely helpful as they are likely to find out from other sources, such as online or through friends. Try to avoid turning the television off or closing web pages when children or young people come into the room. This can peak their interest to find out what is happening and their imagination can take over. Instead, consider limiting the amount of exposure you and your family have to media coverage.
Young people will also hear things from friends and get information from social media. Talk to them about what is happening and ask them what they have heard. Try to answer their questions honestly and reassure them appropriately.
The following resources may also be useful in supporting your child at home:
Advice on supporting children with a learning disability or autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) from the Council for Disabled Children.