Children may be experiencing a wide range of emotions during this transition, from fear and anxiety to excitement and enthusiasm. Even positive emotions can be unsettling.
- Routines, routines, routines
- Visual timetables
- Now and Next Cards
- Collaborate when planning
- Encouraging discussion
- Helpful resources
Routines, routines, routines
One of the best ways to make the transition to learning at home is to establish routines as soon as possible.
Ideas for routines
- Copy the school timetable so your child is familiar with the structure of the learning day.
- Include similar break times and meal-times (if possible and/or appropriate).
- Work with your child (see below) to replicate school. This can be made fun and playful, such as using a bell or timer to signify lesson end or time for a break. You might invent a variety of ways to ‘schoolify’ your home and your child might enjoy coming up with ideas.
- Work with your child to create a ‘school space’. If space is limited, identify a ‘school’ chair or ‘school space’ to replicate the physical environment where learning takes place.
- You may need to practice new routines (see visual timetables)
- Find ways for you and your child to use technology to meet up with others.
Children who are easily distracted
This is a useful video about designing a work space:
- Classroom Design for Children with Autism (YouTube video)
- Sensory processing – what can we remove/what can we add?
- Visual timetables.
- Structured ways to de-stress.
- Quiet spaces to learn.
- Ways to maintain exercise.
Many children don’t take information in well when they listen. This includes instructions, information and explanations.
Many schools use visual timetables which help children build routines. These are helpful for anxious children, those with low motivation, those with autism, sensory processing difficulties, speech communication and language difficulties and those with sequencing difficulties.
The visual timetable should be used to show your routine clearly. You can identify what the current activity is, and what the next one will be. If possible, involve your child in making the visual timetable, either by:
- selecting picture from online
- taking or selecting photographs.
Visual timetables can be stored on the computer and shown when needed.
- Visual Timetables - Primary Resources (Twinkl website)
Now and Next Cards
Some children who struggle to concentrate or remain motivated may benefit from ‘Now and Next’ Cards. This is a particularly good way of introducing rewards for task completion.
If your child struggles with this, make the ‘target task’ very short, followed swiftly by the reward activity. The reward activity might be a ‘special interest’ such as playing with trains or lego. Gradually, the child will trust the reward process and you can extend the target task gradually.
- Now and Next Board and Cards Resource Pack (Twinkl website)
Collaborate when planning
One of the most powerful resources at your fingertips is your child/children.
Ask them how the family can make things work. Questions might include:
- What is the best way for me to help you?
- How can we make a space for you to learn best?
- How are we doing?
- What can we improve?
Children are great problem solvers. Involving them in the required steps such as designing the workspace and creating the visual resources can help them feel secure involved and motivated.
This can work in ‘micro steps’ for children who are hard to motivate.
Working together on preparing the materials needed for a lesson and getting the space set up can help.
In school, children are learning in groups, so doing computer-based work yourself alongside them can show solidarity.
Here are some ideas to help children bridge the gap between being at home and getting ready to learn. They are designed for you and your child or for two or more children to work together to start thinking about their learning.
It can be very hard to start work from a standing start, so these will help children to think and talk about a topic area, so they are ‘warmed up’ for the following activities.
If your child is stuck, ask them what they are thinking:
- Where did you get stuck?
- What did you start to do?
- Tell me how you are thinking about this.
This works well before 'diving in' and trying to instruct them. It helps to encourage independent thinking and problem solving.
Ask children which is the odd-one out. Encourage lots of different answers. Encourage a discussion about the themes that emerge.
Use a range of pictures that help children to think and talk about different topic areas.
Use visual frameworks to deepen concepts. Ask children to identify the similarities and differences in a range of topics:
- Between Romans and modern life.
- Between cars and horses (to explore life processes).
- Between characters in a novel.
Venn diagrams can also be used to sort:
- Warm blooded/mammals.
- Factors of 2 and factors of 5.
- Viking objects/modern objects.
A suggested verb wheel based on Bloom's taxonomy full of great ideas for activities across different domains. It includes:
- Lesson activity verbs: exciting ways of asking children to think about their activities.
- Activity outcomes: suggestions for a product or activity that children could produce.
These ideas work well for children of different ages working together:
- Lesson activity verbs: Analyse / Sort / Categorise / Investigate / Compare / Debate / Differentiate / Examine
- Activity outcomes: Survey / Syllogism / Model / Conclusion / Graph / Argument broken down / Questionnaire / Report
- Lesson activity verbs: Apply / Modify / Build / Construct / Solve / Report / Sketch / Produce
- Activity outcomes: Diagram / Sculpture / Photograph / Forecast / Illustration / List / Project / Puzzle / Cartoon / Filmstrip
- Lesson activity verbs: Explain / Relate / Describe / Paraphrase / Confirm / Convert / Match / Infer / Discuss / Estimate / Predict
- Activity outcomes: Speech / Story / Analogy / Photograph / Cartoon / Collage / Graph / Outline / Drama / Poster / Summary / Tape recording / Diagram
- Lesson activity verbs: Solve / Critique / Criticize / Appraise / Assess / Conclude / Justify / Judge
- Activity outcomes: Editorial / Conclusion / Valuing / Self-evaluation / Group discussion / Survey / Recommendation / Court trial
- Lesson activity verbs: Draw / Identify / Locate / Select / Label / Outline / Write / List / Recite / Name / State / Record / Repeat
- Activity outcomes: People / Events / Recordings / Dictionary / Television shows / Definition / Text reading / Magazine articles
- Lesson activity verbs: Combine / Compose / Design / Generate / Invent / Plan / Formulate / Devise / Originate / Revise / Hypothesize
- Activity outcomes: Poem / Article / Book / Play / Cartoon / Story / Invention / Game / Report / Song / Experiment / Set of rules, principles or standards
Finally, ensure regular contact online with friends and family for you and your children. Community is vital to support all of us through this challenging time.
- Supporting young people through disruption (YouTube video, Anna Freud Centre)
- Transition toolkit (Autism Education Trust website)
- Supporting schools & colleges: A guide to supporting the mental health and wellbeing of pupils and students during periods of disruption (PDF, Anna Freud Centre website)
- Supporting schools and colleges through disruption (YouTube video, Anna Freud Centre)
Parents and carers
- Supporting parents and carers through disruption (YouTube video, Anna Freud Centre)
- Resources for parents (The Communication Trust website)
- Home schooling advice from the DfE (Gov.uk website)
- Contact - national charity for families of children with disabilities (Contact website)