With the closure of schools across the UK, many parents are being left in a very difficult position of having to educate and earn.
Me again! Once again, I'm sat back at my computer looking through Social media, watching the developments and news reports about the virus, with the dreading feeling that from this evening schools will be closed until further notice. I can educate and train adults that’s not a problem but children, especially those on the spectrum...now that’s a whole new task one that any of us will require support.
Let’s just start by saying that not all children will need to be at home and that schools will remain open for some children. These children will have parents who are considered ‘Key Workers’ or who are vulnerable and have additional needs.
This article from Sky News goes into more detail, but effectively if you are:
Clinical National Health Service staff
Teachers and nursery nurses
Police officers, community support officers and some civilian police staff
Prison officers and some other prison staff
Probation Service staff
Social workers, educational psychologists and therapists
Local authority planners
Connexions personal advisers
Some Ministry of Defence personnel
Environmental health officers
Highways England traffic officers
this list will depend on your areas and Local Authority.
In addition to these key workers children who are considered vulnerable will also be able to attend school i.e. those with an EHC or social worker involvement. Some schools are saying this is discretionary but best to check with your child’s school directly.
Whois considered vulnerable? In guidelines released today the goverment says this is any child who is:
supported by social care,
those with safeguarding and welfare needs, including child in need plans or those on child protection plans,
‘looked after’ children,
disabled children and those with education, health and care (EHC) plans.
Further guidance for parents and carers can be found here
For the rest of us whose children will be at home, are you ready for a rollercoaster of a few months?
We must all be feeling anxious, worried, confused but at the same time let's look at this as a positive thing. You have the opportunity to spend time as a family without the pressures of having to go and do this or do that. The schools may be setting work and for some kids that is great, but others may struggle to engage in this, I know I would! (can anyone actually explain to me the bus stop technique for long division ???)
Get the basics down to begin with and you will be off to a great start:
Routine - just because the children aren't in school doesn't mean you have to scrap your routine or it might be a perfect time to put one in.
Get handy with the printer and laminator if you have one or be creative and over the weekend get your children to draw their own visuals. We have a selection you can download for free or Twinkl have given everyone access to their huge collection absolutely free.
Expectations - Let’s get this one out there. If you are expecting your children to sit down at 9:00 am and work through to 3:30pm with a lunch break and two 20 minutes breaks, it's not gonna happen. Make sure your expectations are realistic for your situation otherwise you will drive yourself crazy. Learning can come in many different forms to worksheets and test.
Which brings me onto...
Experiment - Does your child like baking? Gardening or Board games? Think about it when you bake your weighing ingredients, time management following instructions. A game of monopoly is all about money transactions taking turns and think things through. Snakes and ladders simple addition. There are many things we do in our daily lives that can be used for education and doing them alongside mum and dad is the best way to learn
Screen time - the dread of every parent, ours is the XBOX, our lad is planning on sitting on there for the next six months (not gonna happen mate).
Schedule screen time into the routine or even better make them earn it. Instead of it being a given that your child will get screen time, get your children to earn time tokens by carrying out certain jobs or completing bits of work. Support this with a visual chart of coins in a jar. Just one important rule if they earn it don't take it away, the punishment is they won't earn more.
One last thing...
Have fun and treasure the time- I saw this on social media the other day and I think it sums this point up well.
Lots of orginisations have come together as well to offer their resources for free:
If all else fails I will be in the cupboard under the stairs with a bottle of red and my Sudoku book, your welcome to join me.
Stay Safe and Well my friends.
ASD Helping Hands