15.4% of pupIls in the UK have special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).
What is SEND?
SEND is a term used to describe a child who has additional needs because of a learning difficulty or disability that requires special educational support.
A child could have SEND if they:
- Find learning more difficult than children of a similar age
- Have a disability that prevents them from attending mainstream schools
The effects of additional needs on children and their education
Children with SEND may have difficulties in one or more of the following areas:
- Social, emotional and mental health – low self-esteem and anxiety
- Cognition and learning – difficulties with learning, specifically reading, spelling and understanding instructions
- Communication and interaction – trouble communicating with or understanding other people
- Physical and sensory – hearing or vision loss
How parents and teachers can support children with additional needs
There are several ways that parents and teachers can make things easier for children with SEND, including:
Creating a routine
A routine is important for every child. For children with additional needs, a structure to their daily lives will build their confidence and allow them to manage their time and behaviour. In times of uncertainty and change, it’s especially important to establish a routine and stick to it as much as possible.
Staying connected with family and friends
Regular phone or video calls with family and friends will help to prevent SEND children from feeling isolated. Interaction with other people is essential for our mental health and should be part of a daily or weekly routine. Virtual classes or playdates are a great way to keep children connected whilst following social distancing guidelines.
Enjoying activities together
Spending time together is a great way for SEND children to feel connected. Fun activities like painting, listening to stories or music, singing and using homemade instruments give children with additional needs a way to express their feelings.
Use sensory play to support learning
Sensory play helps children with SEND with their social and physical development, stress relief and happiness. Writing letters in sand, forming shapes with Playdough and transferring water from one container to another helps children with additional needs to learn about the world around them. It also helps them to develop fine motor skills.
Help available for children with additional needs and their parents or carers
Being a parent or carer of a child with additional needs can be challenging and lonely. There is support available to help you care for a child with SEND.
The SEND code of practice provides guidance on the special educational needs and disability (SEND) system for children and young people aged 0 to 25.
SEND support for children under five includes:
- A written progress check when your child is two years old
- A child health visitor carrying out a health check for your child if they’re aged 2 to 3
- A written assessment in the summer term of your child’s first year of primary school
- Making reasonable adjustments for disabled children, like providing aids like tactile signs
SEND support for children between five and 15 includes:
- A special learning programme
- Extra help from a teacher or assistant
- To work in a smaller group
- Observation in class or at break
- Help to take part in class activities
- Extra encouragement in their learning, for example, to ask questions or to try something they find difficult
- Help to communicate with other children
- Support with physical or personal care difficulties, for example, eating, getting around school safely or using the toilet
Are you a parent or teacher of a child with SEND? Share your top tips for supporting the education of children with additional needs below.