How are parents managing during home learning and is there a greater impact on children with additional learning needs?
It’s no surprise that many parents are have a mixed response to home learning at present. Some parents are embracing the opportunity to have a greater involvement in their child’s education.
I was startled but I suppose not especially surprised by the statistics I recently read. I work very closely with all the families I provide tuition to and it’s a very mixed response regarding their child receiving additional support, specifically those with EHCPs in place. What is also alarming is the information found in this report regarding emotional issues. We know that mental health difficulties are often a related to those who are neurodiverse, with learning differences of such as Dyslexia, ASC/Autism, ADHD, sensory processing difficulties and development language delay.
The impact upon parents is again varied. From talking with the parents I work with, some have commented that they have seen their child’s level of education and education development differently. They have identified areas of strength and also seen areas they hadn’t realised required development. I’ve been fortunate to work 1:1 with my learners. Some have been able to access more sessions per week. Where schools have not been able to provide the support detailed in the EHCP, I have been given the role. For other families, they have had to use their own resources to fund tuition. However, it has been wonderful to be able to see my learners develop in different ways. Some have reduced anxiety and have been more open to different activities in the safety of their own home. One learner, who had extreme anxiety related to new learning experiences, has not only embraced new IT platforms, has moved on to reading comprehension, reading books from different authors and writing full sentences, all of which the learner experienced significant anxiety towards and was resistant to change.
The research shows parents are talking about feeling alone, experiencing increased family conflict and more behaviour difficulties. Where parents are not home educating children who are neurodiverse, it would seem that parents are feeling less stressed and understandably so. From my conversations with families, they report experiencing difficulties gaining the support they usually would from school and work sent home is often not differentiated for their child’s needs. Too often I see parents are having to adapt work themselves, often feeling overwhelmed, not knowing how to make the changes. Although I also see parents who feel they are gaining a better knowledge of the way their child learns and able to implement extremely valuable and practical learning experiences.
Let’s talk IT…this has been a huge learning curve for schools, parents and children. Although, I think some of the children are one step ahead of the adults! There are a range of platforms to choose from and some easier than others to navigate. Some schools have found it very challenging to communicate their lessons and others have found systems which have suited their school. It’s also been a varied response from the students, some have enjoyed IT and the opportunity to learn at home, others have found a full timetable on a computer, without the support of learning assistants or peer interactions, isolating and stressful. Parents in particular have found navigating IT tricky at times, also having enough IT devices in the house and quiet places to work for parent and sometimes several children can be demanding. Where parents have more than one child who requires additional support, co-ordinating their availability is challenging.
It’s despairing to see parents feel they have lowered the academic expectation of their child during home schooling and this is significantly more so in families where children have additional learning needs. We can see here that a higher percentage of parents whose children don’t have learning needs, feel the time spent with their children has been positive. This is a wonderful experience for many parents who are enjoying a greater input into their child’s education. Yet those with children who require additional support are finding the situation challenging on top the general anxieties we are all experiencing during Covid-19.
There is no doubt that as a private tutor, I am in privileged position when helping the families I work with. I can differentiate work and support emotional needs. I can’t begin to formulate an answer to the question, if it is right or wrong that our schools are currently closed, there are so many layers to a complex debate and every family has a unique and valid opinion.
We are, for now, trying to help as many families as we can through our online parenting conference, “It takes A Village” March 1-5 2021. We have the support of 10 specialists who are giving their time freely. That enables us to give all the proceeds to two charities to help other families through their SEN journey.
We wanted to make sure parents could have trusted and accessible information, which could empower and equip them straight away in how they support their children.
Our online parenting conference will help support parents of children with a range of neurodiverse traits, it takes place in the evening to allow parents, grandparents and carers to be able to join in, from the comfort of their own home, we do hope that you can join us. Tickets are £10 per session, or you can buy a week long ticket to access all 10 presentations for £65.