My ‘ah ha!‘ Lockdown homeschooling moments
(This post is an adapted version of the original post on Nystagmus Network which you can read here)
Lockdown is ‘over’ and G has resumed going back to school- for now. I learnt a lot during the first, second and third lockdown and I would have loved to write a gloating piece reflecting on my tremendous success at homeschooling. But in all honesty I felt absolutely battered by the end. My endurance, patience and enthusiasm ran dry and I was VERY excited at the prospect of her returning to school. Honestly my respect for teachers has grown to an exponential level to the point where they are up there with doctors and surgeons!
It has been incredibly insightful to understanding how complex it can be to teach a child with additional needs. It employed all my skills and took a lot of planning, creativity and outside the box thinking.
My top 10 retrospective tips to homeschooling a child
with SEND are as follows:
- Make a plan.
- Be prepared to abandon said plan.
- Make it short, sweet, and fun.
- Use their interests – and weave in learning that way. For example was my daughters love of all things superhero:
* I was able to download some words to describe a superhero as well as what a villain was. (Twinkl)
* She coloured in the pictures (I printed in black and white) and then
* Used the words to make up a superhero song.
* I sent her on missions around the house finding key objects, getting her to use her vision more specifically.
* We played target ‘shooting’ number games in the garden.
* We treasure hunted with key phonics sounds and she absolutely loved it.
- Plan work around the time they are most rested and able to engage. I had an hour – two max in the morning 9 onwards, after that snacks, play and fatigue kicked in and kicked me out!
- Instead of trying to do everything each day, just pick one thing and chunk it.
An example ‘Maths’: 10 mins playing with the abacus (yes she prefers tactile visual 3d objects when learning maths).
10 mins on the computer later on.
Mix it in with ‘Shop play’ with her and her sister and bingo you have 30/40 mins of maths done.
- Be kind to your own mental health – it is ok to move away from academic learning. Let go of the guilt!
- Having the visual impairment Nystagmus means her eyes fatigue far quicker and so recognising that ‘Less is more’ was a big thing and so TV and screen time was limited to after lunch only. This was to keep her behaviour and temperament in check for the whole day.Having the morning free of screen time gave her space to feel … bored. And though this can be incredibly annoying for us parents, what has transpired was a growth in her independent play.
- Try and use the ’20.20.20’ rule when she is watching TV.
So for every twenty minutes watching a screen she needs to stop and focus on something 20ft away for 20 seconds.
This gives her eyes and brain the chance to adjust and recalibrate. Thus reducing eye strain.
- Lockdown has shown me that the key thing my daughter needed to learn alongside her academic attainment was determination and a willingness to try.
In my effort to support my daughter
I am also guilty of facilitating
things far too much for her
She has grown used to always asking for help instead of trying to overcome challenges herself. Perseverance is a skill and very much linked to confidence. Being comfortable with getting things wrong is also very much part of our children’s journey.As a parent of a child with needs, I always wanted to mitigate her feeling of helplessness. I wanted her to always feel she can ‘do it’.
But by sometimes putting in help prematurely, I’ve limited her chances in developing resilience and self confidence.
Hopefully we do not have to go into another lockdown, but its useful for me to reflect and feel better prepared if we do end up taking up the reigns once again.