12th November 2021
Children with special educational needs (SEN) learn best in a different way from most children. This could be due to a specific learning difficulty (SpLD), such as dyslexia, or a disability, such as autism. Supporting children with special educational needs requires a unique approach for every individual child.
In 2020, it was reported that there were 1.37 million pupils in the UK with SEN, so they are a lot more common than you might think. Implementing good SEN practices can be helpful for all children, especially as not all children with SEN are identified.
With that in mind, we’ve listed some of our best tips for supporting children with special educational needs below, which will be useful for children without SEN too.
If you’re looking for some online learning support for your child, we are here to help. Your Favourite Teacher offers online courses for GCSE English Language, English Literature, Maths and Science, as well as for Functional Skills English and Maths.
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As mentioned, there are various types of SEN that all require a unique approach when it comes to providing support. Some of the most common SEN needs, which we will discuss in more depth below, are:
Around 1 in 10 people in the UK have some degree of dyslexia. It affects a person’s ability to read, write and spell, which comes from difficulty when interpreting words and language.
Slow processing speed, which could be spotted by children needing to re-read the same section of text several times, or read very slowly or hesitantly, can be an indicator of dyslexia. Children with dyslexia might also put letters the wrong way round, confuse letters like b and d, and miss out letters when spelling.
Children with dyslexia are highly creative, with an amazing ability to see things holistically and recognise patterns, making them great at identifying and solving problems. Tom Cruise, who you’ve probably seen in a few blockbuster films, was diagnosed with dyslexia at age 7. However, this didn’t stop him from being able to read and memorise his lines for countless films, as he found unique ways to work around his learning difference.
Black and white text is difficult for dyslexics to decode. Try printing resources on pastel shade paper, or use resources with less strong font and background contrasts. Coloured overlays or reading rulers, which can sometimes be provided by schools, also help to make reading easier.
Videos are a great way to help combat slow processing speeds. Unlike live lessons, where it’s easy to get behind after not quite catching 1 or 2 sentences, videos can be paused and rewound so any information that was missed the first time can be re-visited.
Children with dyslexia also tend to find that duel-coded videos are easier to interpret when learning. These types of videos involve hearing and seeing simultaneously, and often include both text and diagrams to speed up their processing time. With Your Favourite Teacher, our pre-recorded GCSE lessons are dual-coded and packed with visual animations.
ADHD stands for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and causes inattentiveness and difficulty controlling impulsive behaviours.
This tends to be recognised when children have a short attention span and are easily distracted, or are fidgety and unable to sit still and focus. Children with ADHD are also energetic and resilient when it comes to taking on challenges. ADD, which stands for attention deficit disorder, is a type of ADHD that doesn’t involve fidgeting and constant movement.
Children with ADHD are energetic, spontaneous, creative and inventive, which makes them really positive people to be around and great at generating original ideas.
Those with ADHD and ADD benefit from following consistent learning routines. Regular breaks are also necessary to help maintain concentration. Your Favourite Teacher lessons all follow the same structure to make it easier to establish routines. Plus, our chunked lessons, with bitesize lessons, allow for regular breaks, which keep learning time focused. We do also have a routine planner, which is free for you to download and use.
Frequent positive reinforcement and incentives, which Your Favourite Teacher provides by children earning coins, badges, certificates, ranks and streaks whilst learning, are also effective at getting children with ADD/ADHD to stay engaged with learning.
It is estimated that 1 in 100 children in the UK has a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD), or simply autism, can cause a variety of challenges which is why we refer to it as a spectrum.
These can include difficulty with social communication and interaction, such as being unable to understand metaphors or know how to respond to jokes, hypersensitivity, especially in relation to changes in routines, and highly focused interests.
People with autism are incredible at logical thinking and can memorise and learn information quickly. They are also exceptionally honest and reliable and can concentrate for long periods of time when motivated.
Establishing clear and consistent learning routines, and developing a schedule with your child, can really help autistic children excel. If changes to routines are needed, try to give your child as much advance notice as possible. Also, make sure to be explicit and direct when explaining ideas or tasks.
Furthermore, computer-based learning can be easier for children on the spectrum as it is socially undemanding. There is no need to understand and respond to non-verbal cues with online learning. The Your Favourite Teacher platform is entirely based online and doesn’t require any physical conversation, which makes learning less stressful for children with ASD. However, you can still track and monitor your child’s progress as they go, which is an aspect that is commonly lost with computer-based learning.
Those with dyscalculia have difficulty processing numbers and quantities.
Children with dyscalculia often struggle to understand the concept of place value, which makes counting or ordering numbers challenging. They also have trouble memorising arithmetic facts and rules. This can make tackling maths problems more challenging, particularly mental maths and problem-solving.
However, children with dyscalculia excel at practical activities. They are commonly wildly creative with fantastic intuitive thinking skills.
When it comes to supporting dyscalculic children with maths, using real-life scenarios and physical objects can help them process problems easier. For example, coins don’t just have to be used for money questions, they can also be used to explain ”sharing into a given ratio”.
Additionally, breaking down questions into logical steps and using visual diagrams are useful to help children with dyscalculia comprehend and know how to approach maths questions. The Your Favourite Teacher approach involves having clear step-by-step explanations, and lots of visuals, in our maths videos and topic pages. This helps children understand questions without becoming overwhelmed.
Again, our videos are dual-coded to help dyscalculic children form relationships between diagrams and calculations.
Dysgraphia causes children to struggle with acquiring and recalling the fine motor skills required to be able to write numbers and words.
One of the biggest indicators of dysgraphia is unclear and inconsistent handwriting. Other signs of dysgraphia include cramped grip, difficulty spelling, and writing words out of order, or even backwards.
Children with dysgraphia typically have excellent verbal and listening skills, meaning they become masters at memorisation and storytelling.
The best way for children with dysgraphia to learn is on a computer so that the need for handwriting is removed. This allows for ease of correction, without the stigma of crossing out or erasing errors, plus students don’t have to worry about spelling as much, due to inbuilt spell checkers. With Your Favourite Teacher, all learning is online and our note-taking tool makes typing and creating notes easier.
The stress of having to receive information during a lesson whilst also struggling to write the key information down can be minimised by using audio recordings and providing basic notes that children can simply annotate any extra details on themselves.
With Your Favourite Teacher, children can focus on simply listening to our videos, if they wish, and our topics pages provide a summary of the key information from each lesson, so children with dysgraphia can simply copy and paste and then make their own.
If you think your child might have SEN or just needs some extra support, every school has an SEN coordinator or ‘SENCO’ who you can contact directly through your child’s school. Alternatively, if your child is homeschooled then get in touch with your local council.
Your local Parent Partnership (a statutory service that offers free, confidential and impartial guidance and support for parents of children with special educational needs) or Information, Advice and Support (IAS) Service can also give you advice about SEN.
Learning through a mix of learning styles supports children with every kind of SEN. Your Favourite Teacher has activities for all three learning styles, which includes auditory, visual and kinaesthetic learning. With hundreds of videos, topic pages, worksheets and quizzes, we have thousands of hours worth of content to support children with SEN.
You can try Your Favourite Teacher for free by signing up for a trial today! You can also watch a guided walkthrough video to see the range of amazing features we have to offer.