Like you, when I'm not at school looking after the children of 'key workers', I am at home trying to support my children (one with additional needs) with their home learning as well as working from home. I realise that it can be an overwhelming task sometimes looking after children with SEN/D so thought it might be helpful if I shared some of the things we have been trying in our house. Each day I will try and share some new ideas or resources I have found that might be helpful. So that this information can be as helpful as possible please do email me your questions or topics you would like advice about to my email address Senco@gadevalley.herts.sch.uk.
Tuesday 9th June 2020
Where has the sun gone? As it looks like we might be staying inside more over the next few days I was pleased to come across today's resource. Below is a link to a blog from Herts for learning which has gathered together some great recipes to make with children. I particularly like the sound of recipe 1 - Cheesy Pastry shapes. I'm going to try making these with my boys on Friday so I'll let you know how I get on. If you decide to have a go let me know which recipes you recommend so I can share them with the group. Also remember if there is anything I can do to help please contact my by email or I am in school Monday to Wednesday so can be contacted by phone via the school office.
Thursday 4th June 2020
Good morning all. This morning, I was sent some home activities from Gade Family Support which I thought you might like to try. I also received a newsletter from DSPL8 with lots of useful information on including some great courses they are running virtually over the next few weeks.
Wednesday 3rd June 2020
Hope you are all well and safe after the half-term break. Today I was sent a lovely story by our link Autism advisory teacher. The story beautifully explains what it means to be part of a 'bubble' in school so if you are thinking of your child joining us as part of phase 2 this will be a useful resource to share with your child over the coming days.
Tuesday 19th May 2020
A reminder today that as we draw nearer to the next change in our lives this can and probably will cause anxiety in our children which they will each display in very different ways. Even if they have appeared to cope with everything that has happened so far in the last few months doesn’t mean this next step will be the same. Try and make time at regular intervals over the next few days and weeks to allow time for child to talk about how they are feeling and share any questions or worries they have. You might like to build in a special time each day e.g. just before bed or whilst eating a snack in the afternoon.
We also need to be aware that our children may also begin to display some more difficult behaviour. We need to remember this could be them coping with anxiety but not knowing how to express themselves appropriately. In schools we often talk about all behaviour being communication. At home we need to ask ourselves - What is my child trying to cope with? What are they trying to tell me? How can I support them in expressing this to me? How can I help them with this worry?
Monday 18th May 2020
As we start the last week of this half term, I don’t know about your children, but mine are fed up of home learning and are ready for a break. This week I know I am going to have to draw on every reserve I have to stay patient with them. To help keep the peace I am going to try and set out some non-negotiables that need to be completed each day before they can play. Our non-negotiables are going to me spelling practise, a reading activity and a maths activity. You might like to set your own non-negotiable at home this week as well.
Friday 15th May 2020
Social distancing is our topic for today. Obviously children find this very difficult because it is so unnatural for them to be distant from their peers etc. Whilst doing some research I came across this lovely story someone has written to help children understand the need for social distancing. You might like to read it and share it with you child today as part of their learning time.
Thursday 14th May 2020
Today we continue thinking about how to prepare our children for returning to school at some point in the future. I'm sure both you and your child/ren have lots of questions so I would love it if today you could send me some via the email and then hopefully I can put together a 'Frequently Asked Questions' hand out that you can then share with your children.
Tuesday 12th May 2020
Today I want us to take time to reflect on our lockdown experience. Below today’s post you will find a sheet you could fill in with your child or you could just use the sheet as a prompt and write down your ideas on another piece of paper. It is important to remember that we have all had very different experiences of this time at home so allow your child to be as honest as they can. If your child is able they could complete the activity by themselves by colouring the picture on the sheet or by writing or drawing their own ideas or you could scribe their ideas down for them.
Ideally to help us support your child on their return to school it would be great if you could share this information with your child’s teacher (I will let them know that you will be sending this through to them via the class email.)
Monday 11th May 2020
Following the Prime Minister’s announcements last night, I am sure both you and your child/ren are starting to think about schools reopening. Today I wanted to reassure you that as a school we are already thinking very carefully about how to transition your children back safely and successfully.
Last week I took part in some online training considering best practise in transitioning our pupils with SEN/D back into school and so the focus of my blog posts this week will hopefully provide you with some practical tips and resources to use with your child over the coming weeks.
The biggest difficulty we have is that there is no fixed time frame as yet for children returning to school but it is important for us to begin to talk about returning to school with our children. The resource I want to share with you today is a social story written to explore this idea with your child. Below this blog post you will find two versions one has more explanation the first is mainly pictures and short sentences.
Please remember if I can help in any way please get in contact via my email.
Thursday 7th May 2020
Last week I signposted you to the great work the BBC have been doing to support home learning by expanding the BBC bitesize resources with online activities, activity sheets and daily TV shows. What you may not be aware of is that they have also gathered together lots of resources to support parents as well and there is a section called the ‘Parents’ Toolkit:SEND’. The webpage includes links to supporting your child’s wellbeing, ideas to try in isolation as well as lots of top tips to support different learning difficulties at home and finally some personal stories. If you find anything particularly helpful please let me know and I can share your feedback with the rest of the Gade Valley family.
Link to the webpage is below this blog post.
Wednesday 6th May 2020
Today’s resource was made by a secondary school colleague, but I think it could be helpful to primary school children especially those in Key Stage 2. Below this blog post is a document they prepared which suggests useful apps and websites to support children with additional needs in accessing the learning set by our wonderful class teachers. There are some great ideas on here especially for children who have dyslexia. Let me know if you try any and whether you would recommend them, and I can share your views another day on the blog. I found the links to the dictionaries helpful as sometimes when I google the meaning of a word it gives you a very difficult to understand meaning.
Tuesday 5th May 2020
I thought today I would share one of the activities we did in our house yesterday which was den building. Below this post you can see some pictures I took. What I love about this activity is it doesn’t matter what materials you have around the house anyone can make a den with pretty much anything. Why not challenge your children to build one today either outside or inside and see where their imagination takes them? Please send me any pictures of dens you make, and I’ll add them to the blog. (If you’re in need of a bit of peace and quiet this activity is great as yesterday my boys played in their den outside for well over 3 hours!)
Monday 4th May 2020.
Well here we are at the start of another week of home learning and I hope you are all looking forward to the week ahead.
Unfortunately, in our house my boys are starting to find lockdown quite frustrating, so I was very pleased to find todays resource. Today’s resource is a fantastic, comprehensive list of 100 different ways to calm down. We will definitely be trying some of these this week when we start to feel overwhelmed.
Wednesday 29th April 2020
I don't know about you but we really missed the dry, sunny weather yesterday as we were really enjoying being outside so much. As we couldn't go out for our run/bike ride yesterday we explored some of the videos on the 'go noodle' website - see the link below this post. Some of you children might be familiar with go noodle as they do have an app for phones and also some of the teachers use the videos as brain breaks at different points in the day. There is so much to explore on this website but as we needed to burn off some excess energy we scrolled to the bottom of the page and clicked on 'show us something sporty'. We had great fun trying to follow the actions on the video. Why not try adding a video to your routine today.
Tuesday 28th April 2020
Good morning, things are busy in our house today as we prepare to celebrate my youngest’s 6th birthday tomorrow. It’s tricky working out how to make it special in lockdown but my oldest has come up with some great ideas including a family quiz, via zoom, all about the birthday boy. So we are busy making a cake and writing quiz questions!
This morning I wanted to share a bit of a pep talk I have been giving myself… It’s difficult sometimes to keep the routine going but even through the birthday celebrations we will be sticking to some things on our timetable as it is so important for all of us to continue to have some feeling of normal. I know for me there have been mornings when I just wanted to stay in bed and hide under my duvet for the whole day but in the end I know that for my boys I need to keep calm and carry on! So if you are starting to feel a bit overwhelmed and fed up with our new ‘normal’ can I encourage you to keep going.
Monday 27th April 2020
Good morning – hope you have all had a lovely weekend and managed to get outside for some exercise or into the garden if you have one to enjoy the marvellous weather we have been having.
Today, I just wanted to sign post you to a website where you can access reading books similar to those we use in school. Oxford Owl have allowed access to a range of their ebooks for free so if you have been missing Biff, Chip and Kipper fear no more!
Web address: https://home.oxfordowl.co.uk
Please note: You will need to create a login and specify the age of your children but once registered they can then explore a range of books. Having used this with my own children be patient when waiting for the page to turn as each page sometimes takes a little while to load and if you press the button a couple of times you will end up skipping pages. I would recommend starting with a book they have read before, if possible, especially if your child has had a break from reading so they have success with the book and build confidence to try something new.
Lastly for today, above the blog I have added the latest newsletter from Gade Family Support which includes some lovely activity ideas to complete at home.
Friday 24th April 2020
Well here we are at the end of another week of home learning and I don’t know how your week has gone but I hope you have had some success. I just wanted to share two things we have tried this week that we have found helpful.
1. We have been putting some background music on - this is something I use regularly when I am teaching at school. Once I have explained the task and they are ready to start work we pop some instrumental music on this helps to create a calm environment. Previously we had tried having the radio on but we found we ended up having a chat about whatever the presenter was talking about instead of our work! We also tried having some of our favourite tunes on but found we ended up singing along rather than concentrating on our work.
2. We have also introduced a reward system. At the beginning of the day the boys each choose something they would like to do once they have ticked off all the tasks on their to-do lists. My youngest often chooses a particular DVD that he would like to watch and my oldest chooses an activity to do (one of which was making stinging nettle tea!)
Hope you have a quiet weekend and mange to enjoy this wonderful weather. Don’t forget if I can help in anyway please do contact me via the SENCO email address.
Thursday 23rd April 2020
Sorry am posting a little late today as I have been at my other school but just wanted to let you know of a fantastic opportunity that I was sent today see note below and the leaflet below this post:
Dear Parents and Carers
A local organisation Supporting Links are running courses for Parents online for the Summer Term - we appreciate that families may now be in need of our support more than ever during this difficult time. Attached are details of 5 6 week courses that will be available for parents across Hertfordshire to access via ZOOM, free of charge.
TALKING FAMILIES - an afternoon and an evening course
TALKING TEENS - a morning and an evening course
TALKING DADS - an evening course
If you are interested in attending any of these courses please contact email@example.com as there is a referral form we can complete on your behalf or if you would like to contact Supporting Links directly they can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org 07512 709556.
School Family Support Team
Wednesday 22nd April 2020
Today I just wanted to quickly share a useful video I watched on youtube (link below this post) on how to support our children who are anxious at this time. I know this is probably advice you have possibly heard or read about but it is always useful to be reminded of how we can best support our children.
Please can I also recommend trying using some of the many resources Miss Kavanagh has found for us under the mindfulness tab on the website as well.
Tuesday 21st April 2020
I hope your first day back at home learning was a success. I can report we had a good day in the Hobbs household even though I was the only one that seemed to be doing the Joe Wicks workout!
I’m off to school today to work with the children of key workers so just wanted to sign post you to a few resources and services that I was contacted about yesterday.
1. Tuesday 5th May & Wednesday 20th May
Timings as follows: 9.00am - 9.30am, 10.00am - 10.30am, 11.00am - 11.30am, 12.00pm - 12.30pm
With the current situation, Jo will be offering the above either by telephone, zoom, Skype or whats app video call. Once everything is back to normal, Jo will run more sessions like these in the Gade Community Room.
Jo is offering these sessions to families, SENCO/INCO's or class teachers.
If you would like to book a session please let me know and I will book you in with Gade Family Support or you can contact them directly via Emma Christie, School Family Support Administrator - email@example.com
2. The Integrated Services for Learning teams have prepared three resource folders to support with:
a) General COVID-19 tools for helping children and young people understand the current context
b) A range of resources aimed to support teaching and learning
c) Resources and website links aimed to support mental health and wellbeingThese can be found by clicking the link below this blog post.
Monday 20th April 2020
Firstly, I hope you have managed to enjoy some of your Easter ‘holidays’ at home. I know in our house it has been a very mixed time with some highs but also some lows. We have tried out some new recipes we wouldn’t normally have time to try e.g. hot cross buns and some new activities but also had to cope with the disappointment of not going on a much anticipated family holiday.
Turning to today and our return to home learning, my tip for today is to think about where you are doing your learning activities. This will depend very much on the age of the children but particularly for those in Y3-6 they will need to have a place to sit and work. In our house, over the holidays we have managed to clear a space to set up a little desk and work area in the hope that our Year 4 aged child will be able to concentrate better and be able to make a clearer distinction between ‘school’ time and play time. He has been given the opportunity to make this area his own and we have stuck up some of his learning resources on the wall as well. (There’s a picture of this area below to give you an idea.)
Also remember you might need to lower your expectations today as children transition to a new routine – you might not get all the tasks done- please know that’s ok. I know with my own children we might need to build back up and I will be alternating learning tasks with longer play times in between over the next few days.
Don’t forget if you have any questions, worries or have something you would like to share please do email me at Senco@gadevalley.herts.sch.uk. Also if you have any questions you would like me to answer through this blog please do send them in.
Thursday 2nd April 2020
Today I wanted to start thinking about what we are going to do for the next two weeks when we won't have school work to fill at least some of our day. I know I am going to hear the words I'm bored over and over again. So with that in mind I've gathered below some photos and links so we can have something up our sleeves when that happens.
Wednesday 1st April 2020
I’m sure you have already thought about this but time at home with you is a great time to develop your child’s life skills. Life skills are an important part of a child’s development and this unexpected time at home over the next few weeks gives you as a parent a great opportunity for your child to spend time with family members, sharing the workload and learning valuable life skills. The following is a list of suggestions; it is useful to note that almost any activity that you engage in with your children can incorporate life skills work.
Lots of conversations
Reminding them to take turns
Reminding them to listen to other people’s contribution and responding directly about that
Encouraging them to ask questions
Create their own visual timetable that includes all of the essential elements of the day
Giving them choices of 2 or 3 different activities to do next
Involving them in food planning
Art and Crafts
Maths word problems
Can be done at any time when there is a task or chore that needs to be thought through. Simply talking through the process of defining a problem, analysing the cause and evaluating the solution will give the young person a system or process that they know they are able to use.
Coping with Stress
Exercise e.g. PE with Joe (Daily at 9:00am on You Tube)
Supporting parents to prepare meals
understanding what makes a healthy menu
Creating meals from basic store cupboard ingredients
Little ones could butter their own toast or make their own sandwich for lunch
Writing shopping lists
Helping with online shopping
Costing – getting them to add up a few items on the receipt
Set up a shop at home and children can buy their own snacks
Use of calendar/schedule
Planning menu for the week
Helping with laundry
Helping lay the table or clear the table
How to use a washing machine
Telling the time
Look at the clock together at intervals throughout the day
Add timings to the your schedule/timetable for the day
In our house we have added chores to our home visual timetable and the boys have to keep the lounge tidy before they can go on their devices in the afternoon they are also laying and clearing the table after meals. Over the Easter holidays I’m going to try and teach my five year old to tell the time – wish me luck!
Tuesday 31st March 2020
Is it just me or is anyone else wishing Joe Wicks would let us get through one morning without having to do a squat? Having said that we are loving starting our day exercising altogether it really does help us get off to a good start especially since we can’t seem to do bunny hops or kangaroo jumps in our house without laughing. If you haven’t tried one of his workouts yet I really do recommend them it is a fantastic way to start the day especially if you have children who are finding it difficult to concentrate on their learning. My youngest is really benefiting from a chance to use up some of his excess energy and is then finding it easier to settle down to do his home learning tasks. If you’re up for the challenge the link to the workouts is on the P.E page!
Monday 30th March 2020
I hope you have had a good weekend and are ready for another week of home learning.
Today’s ideas are aimed at supporting children who have been working on improving their spelling skills particularly those who have been learning to spell the first 100 high frequency words. These words are the building blocks for writing lots of the sentences children will want or need to write. Below this post is a link to the SNIP Literacy Programme which we regularly use with children in school as it is recommended by our local Specific Learning Difficulties outreach team. At school, we use the activities for each session over a week as we have found just a few minutes a day is more effective than one long session a week. If you have any questions about this programme please get in contact via my email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Also I know the class teachers are setting some spellings each week for children to practise so please see the other document below which I found which has lots of great ways for you to practise spellings. In our house we have tried writing out the spellings as pyramids.
Friday 27th March 2020
Firstly, I hope you are all well and staying safe it seems strange to think I haven’t seen any of you this week. Please feel free to send me an email (email@example.com) and let me know how things are going.
On to today’s little tip. We have found it is important in our house to ensure we also plan in times of quiet or stillness into our day as otherwise we are all worn out by lunchtime! One thing we have been doing in the afternoon is making little beds out of blankets and cushions in the lounge and listening to the David Walliams story together which can be found at the link below this post. If David Walliams isn’t popular in your house then Audible (also see the link below) have made hundreds of stories available for free including Winnie-the-Pooh. There are also lots of songs and rhymes on Audible as well if you want to have a singing time together.
Hope you all have a great weekend and I’ll be back Monday with more ideas that are hopefully helpful to you.
Thursday 26th March 2020.
Just a quick note from me today as I’m off to look after ‘key worker’ children at my other school today.
One of my favourite sayings is: Fail to prepare prepare to fail.
So my tip for today is to create a to do list of school work activities for the children to tick off as they complete them. At home, we’ve added these to our noticeboard alongside our visual timetable. It might just be me but there is nothing quite like the feeling of ticking off everything you’ve done on a to-do list. (I have been known to write down things I’ve already done just so I can tick them off!)
In addition, I also make sure I have a look through what they are being asked to do before they do and print off any worksheets that are needed ready for them as otherwise I’ve found they switch off while I’m working out what they are being asked to do and it’s harder to get them refocused to work. So if possible try giving something they can do first e.g. time of TT Rockstars whilst you look through the work set by the teacher.
Wednesday 25th March
Today I thought I would share a bit about how to you might support your child in managing their emotions. Some of the children have been introduced to zones of regulation which very simply means that our emotions can be split into four zones (see the image below). Ideally we want to be in the green zone but sometimes things upset us and we move to the yellow or even the red zone.
How do I use this with my child?
Step 1 is to help your child recognise when they are in each “zone”. You can also model out loud how you are feeling as well e.g. “After my walk I am feeling green as I am calm and happy.” “When you don’t do as I tell you I feel yellow because I feel frustrated.”
Step 2 is to help your child create a “toolkit” of strategies to help them to move back to green. These strategies might be individual to your child and your family circumstances but some ideas might include:
Please find below a document created by our link Autism Advisory Teacher to help support you with introducing or using zones of regulation at home. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to email me – firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday 24th March 2019
From experience I know that in our house it really helps if we plan out our days at home so that everyone knows what is going to happen and can therefore prepare themselves. So since Saturday we have been using a visual timetable (see pictures below) to set out the order of the day.
How did we make it? I just made some labels on the computer but you could handwrite them. I got my children to give me ideas of things that could go on our timetable and also got them to help me to pick pictures to go with them which means they feel more involved and therefore will hopefully respond better to it.
Worth noting - On Saturday the visual timetable was initially a bit overwhelming for my son with ASD but now we are on day 4 it is working really well. I would recommend trying it for a few days and see if it helps.
In the document above Managing the transition to home schooling there are other examples of visual timetables you could use but in case it is helpful to you there is a link to our labels below.