Studies carried out by mentalhealth.org have found that 286,000 children in the UK are estimated to have Special Education Needs, many of which will be affected by the recent closures of all schools in the UK. Parents will be hugely concerned for their children’s educational development, as well as making sure that they are giving their children the right level of support. 

With that in mind, we’ve teamed up with Nicola Anderson, Head of Customer Support at leading online tutoring service MyTutor, to offer this advice on how to provide the IDEAL homeschooling for children with special education needs.

FIND READING THEY ENJOY

Even for children without reading problems, the books on the school syllabus don’t exactly spark passion in students. But if your child can find books they find exciting, it’s far more likely that they’ll be enthusiastic to engage with homeschooling, in turn helping them improve their reading skills. 

Whether it’s crime fiction, graphic novels, books about artists or a book of jokes, encouraging them to find literature they’re keen on returning to can be a huge help.

PERSONALISE THEIR LEARNING

People with learning difficulties often learn best by using learning styles other than just staring at a book and copying things out. 

Visual learning, for example, works by the student remembering information better by creating mind maps and illustrations whereas auditory learning involves students picking up information by listening. Learners who respond well to this type of study style benefit from having things explained to them by a person in front of them. What’s more, in the student’s own time, they can also use audiobooks or watch videos to help them learn. 

And a physical (kinesthetic) learning style is when the student’s body is engaged, not just their mind. This could mean writing out equations in the air, or using repeated actions to signify acronyms or key dates. 

Get your child to try a few different methods out and find what works best for them. 

KEEP A DEDICATED STUDY SPACE AND GET ORGANISED

This sudden change in routine can be destabilising to your child’s learning. Avoid some of this disruption by helping your child be as well-organised as possible. Start with a timetable and folders with all of their subject syllabuses printed and sorted.

Keeping an organised desk space in a quiet corner of the house is key. This is the place they’ll keep their books, notepads, timetable and pens – everything they use to learn. Especially if they suffer with anxiety, having a space at home where they know they can sit down and concentrate – and enter ‘study mode’ – can make a big difference to how well they can focus and retain information.

TAKE REGULAR BREAKS AND BOOST THEIR CONFIDENCE

If your child is working extra hard to revise their course material and push through their reading difficulties, it can be tiring. By weaving in regular breaks to their studying – every 45 mins (or more or less depending on what works for them) – they’ll feel less daunted when they sit down to start, and more likely to get through everything they need to work on that day.

It’s also worth reminding your teen that reading and academic study are only one facet of life’s rich tapestry, and there are lots of other things they can be good at and proud to achieve. Your child might be really good at sport, at art, building things, cooking – whatever they’re good at and enjoy will help them feel proud of themselves. Encourage a diversity of interests and goals.

GET SOME EXTRA HELP

With the extra organisation and work that gets asked of teens, a one-to-one tutor can be one of the best ways to provide the support they need – especially for those kids who need a little extra help (and for you, the parent, who still needs to run a home and complete their own work). 

A tutor can be a lifeline for kids with subjects they may have fallen behind in, particularly adept at boosting confidence and responding to specific learner needs. What’s more, they can also help out with making a revision timetable and revision notes that fit their learning style. Some of the most credible, reputable platforms to find the ideal tutor for you include MyTutor, Tutorhub and Tutorful.