Top tips for parents and carers
by Dave Green
If you are home-schooling a child with a developmental delay, or have had your EHCP process halted, this article may help.
The pandemic has a lot to answer for. For example, my son was halfway through his MOT on his old van when the process was suspended. The essential work has been completed, but he holds a certificate which says the vehicle has failed. The garage, uncertainly, said he’d probably be able to drive it around anyway. I told him to keep a record of everything and carry that around with him.
Which got me thinking. What about all those other systems in suspended animation? Those crucial intervention programmes for SEND pupils, EHCP assessments, Tribunal hearings, bespoke learning pathways… Suddenly the parent is responsible for all this and more. As a principle carer, source of love, affection, food and home routines, of course we expect the parent to reign supreme. But a specialist educator? SENCo, class teacher, teaching assistant and educational psychologist all rolled into one? That’s a lot to ask. So I’ve compiled a few simple tips to help get you through these difficult times.
- Avoid doing nothing about your predicament, to resign yourself to an overwhelming sense of fatalism. You will need to draw on all your inner resources, and use whatever help you can get, and make a plan. There are many fine people on social media (such as SENCo forums on Twitter) with ideas and resources.
- Keep a journal. This is good for your own mental health but is also a way of noting any learning successes and things that didn’t quite work out, plus significant developmental shifts. This is your own baselines for your child’s communication, self-regulation, cognition and social awareness skills.
- Take pictures. Keep a visual record of activities, games, learning, cookery, exercise, and that bicarbonate and vinegar volcano you spent all day building (if you are feeling brave). If you are confident enough, you can share these little stories on social media – this will build new connections. You may feel less isolated from the world.
- Don’t worry about the pressure of a learning timetable. Clearly schools need them as a way of managing their numbers, and you need some kind of structure in order to build a sense of purpose each day. But keep it flexible. If it falls apart, or you head down a fruitful avenue, or even a surreal rabbit hole, go with the flow, enjoy. You can return to the structure another day. Learning and fun are not necessary separate concepts.
- Finally, check out assessment platforms online. There are systems out there which will help you track, collate, monitor and evidence all you are doing, so that when your child does return to school full time, they can hit the ground running.
Do take care, and take it day by day. Remember, teachers have bad days and good days all the time. And do reach out if you would like more help or advice.
Dave Green has worked for 30 years in mainstream and special education, specialising in social, emotional and behavioural difficulties and developmental delays. He now works as a consultant and keen advocate for the PAGS® online platform https://www.pagsprofile.com/. Dave is the Chairman of The Society of Education Consultants, Senior Leader in Education and Affiliated Partner for PAGS®